Drumbeat: March 28, 2012

France poised to release strategic oil reserves, on US request

PARIS — France's government says it is considering releasing oil from its strategic reserves as part of a U.S.-led effort to increase supply to bring down high prices.

Industry Minister Eric Besson said "the United States asked, and France welcomed this hypothesis."

Crude Declines for First Day in Four on Rising Stockpiles

Oil declined for the first time in four days amid signs of increasing supply in the U.S. and speculation that western countries may tap emergency reserves.

New York futures slipped as much as 1.2 percent before a government report that may show inventories rose to a six-month high last week. Prices also declined after French Industry Minister Eric Besson said the U.S. proposed releasing oil from strategic reserves to curb rising prices.

Why Saudi and American bluffing won't lower oil prices (Hint: It doesn't work when people know you're bluffing)

It seems that while all three countries have the stated wish to bring down oil prices, they appear to lack the power or at least the desire to do so. So, they are left with bluffing. It's true that oil markets move on rumors and sentiment, but not as far nor for as long as people believe. The joint U.S.-Great Britain announcement caused oil prices to fall sharply the same day before recovering nearly the entire loss by the close. The Saudi announcement that it might increase production caused a sharper one-day fall which was largely recouped the following day.

Gas tops $3.90 a gallon

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The price of an average gallon of regular gas surpassed the $3.90 mark Wednesday, moving to within a dime of the $4 threshold.

The average price rose 1.3 cents to $3.911 in the latest daily survey conducted for the motorist group AAA. The price has risen for 19 consecutive days.

Gas Prices Have Taken Air Out of US Recovery: Welch

What looked to be a fairly robust economic recovery has turned lackluster thanks to rising gas prices and uncertainty over demand, according to author and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

India Oil Secretary: Sought INR400 Billion Additional Fuel Subsidy For This Fiscal Year

NEW DELHI – India's oil ministry has sought an additional INR400 billion in cash subsidies for this financial year through March to compensate fuel retailers for losses incurred on selling diesel and cooking fuels at state-set discounted prices, oil secretary G.C. Chaturvedi told reporters Wednesday.

The ministry has separately asked for an additional INR50 billion in cash subsidies to compensate retailers for losses on gasoline sales.

Gazprom to launch Sakhalin-3 gas field this year

(Reuters) - Russia's top gas producer Gazprom said on Wednesday it is aiming to launch gas output at a field at Sakhalin-3 project later this year.

Gazprom said it will start producing gas at the Kirinskoye field, which is a part of the Sakhalin-3 offshore project on Russia's Pacific island of the same name.

Statoil Considers Closing Mongstad Oil Refinery - Report

OSLO – Norwegian oil giant Statoil ASA (STO) is considering closing its Mongstad oil refinery on the west coast of Norway due to overcapacity in the market, higher crude oil costs, and lower margins, according to the Norwegian weekly Teknisk Ukeblad.

Transocean Biggest Winner From 28% Jump in Oil Rig Rates

Transocean Ltd. (RIG), the deep-water rig owner that’s trailed competitors in the stock market since its equipment burned and sank in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, is set to benefit the most this year from a surge in demand.

Rental rates for ultra-deep-water rigs, the world’s most complex and expensive drilling vessels, should climb 28 percent to a record $714,000 a day by the third quarter from about $560,000 currently, according to estimates by Ole Slorer, an analyst at Morgan Stanley who dubs the move a “super spike.”

Domestic drilling advocates warn of increased global demand for oil, dwindling supply

All over the world, more people are buying cars and using gas as growth in the global economy increases the demand for fuel. Likewise, oil supplies are projected to get tighter and tighter.

"China was at 5 million barrels a day in 2005. Today, they are at 10 (million). By 2015, they are going to be at 15-million-barrels-a-day demand," said John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil and founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy. "That's 10 million new barrels over 10 years. India is going from 4 to 7 (million) in the next three to four years."

Tedious peak oil claims from the EU Energy Policy Blog

Not all peak oil analysis comes across as sloppy, misleading, and a bit tedious, but this one does: “Peak Oil Driving The Global Gas Shift.” Of course sloppy analysis abounds on the internet, and the best approach is usually to ignore it, but this example appears on the somewhat respectable site of the EU Energy Policy Blog.

Benefiting From $200 Oil

Today we are concerned about peak oil because global demand in oil and gas is increasing 3% a year, while production is decreasing 3% a year. There have been tensions with Iran trying to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, which will affect 35% of seaborne traded oil. The Obama administration itself is already concerned about oil prices and is now focusing on increasing the drilling rate of oil domestically.

The fact is that U.S. imports of oil have skyrocketed. 30 years ago the United States imported 28% of its oil, while in 2010, oil imports had risen to 49%. Most of those imports are coming from Canada, the country with the third largest oil reserves in the world after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

Kjell Aleklett: The New York Times Exaggerates The Significance of Shale Oil

The article reminds us that since Nixon’s time every president has had the same goal of giving the USA “independence from foreign energy sources”. One can interpret the article as saying that the USA is now on the way to reaching this goal but let us compare some of the statements in the article to what the USA’s Energy Information Agency (EIA) says.

ESF Professor to Speak on Energy Issues in U.K.

ESF Professor Charles Hall will travel to the United Kingdom next week to discuss energy and economic issues with British business, education and government leaders, including members of Parliament.

Hall, a systems ecologist with an interest in biophysical economics and the relationship between energy and society, is scheduled to begin his visit Monday, March 26, in a meeting with representatives of Atkins, one of the largest engineering and design consultancies in the world. He is expected to discuss both the economic implications of a declining energy return on investment (EROI) and biophysical economics, which combines knowledge of economy and thermodynamics to analyze the economic process.

BP Gains Access to Liquids-Rich Ohio Shale With 84,000 Acres

BP Plc (BP/), Europe’s second-largest oil producer, entered into the Utica shale formation in Ohio with a deal to lease 84,000 acres of land for an undisclosed price.

Gas Leak on Offshore Platform Forces Evacuation in North Sea

LONDON — A major gas leak on an offshore platform in the North Sea forced crews to evacuate it and other equipment in the area on Tuesday because of the risk of explosion, and ships and aircraft were ordered to stay miles away. Total, the French energy company that operates the platform, said it might take as long as six months to stop the release of gas.

"May be months" to stop North Sea gas cloud - Total

(Reuters) - A cloud of explosive natural gas boiling up from the North Sea out of a leak at Total's evacuated Elgin platform forced another shutdown off the Scottish coast on Tuesday as the French firm warned it could take six months to halt the flow.

Dubbed "the well from hell" by an environmentalist who said the unusually high pressure of the undersea reservoirs made it especially hard to shut off, the loss of oil and gas output from Elgin - as well as the prospect of a big repair bill - helped drive Total's share price down six percent on the Paris bourse.

Total dismisses blast risk at North Sea gas leak

(Reuters) - French oil major Total dismissed fears on Wednesday of a blast at its Elgin North Sea platform, even though explosive natural gas is bubbling up less than 100 metres from a flare left burning when workers had to evacuate the site.

Total's North Sea gas leak 'no Deepwater Horizon'

Total's North Sea gas leak, which is now into its fouth day, is not expected to be as serious as BP's Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf Mexico, says credit rating agency Fitch.

Brazil oil workers file lawsuit against Chevron

(Reuters) - Brazil's largest oil workers federation filed a civil lawsuit against oil company Chevron and drilling firm Transocean in a federal court in Rio de Janeiro, according to documents filed with the court on Tuesday.

The lawsuit seeks the cancellation of Chevron's concession to drill and produce oil in the offshore Frade field where it spilled at least 2,400 barrels of crude last November.

Beirut: Gasoline distribution halted after Bassil fails to sign weekly update

Bassil’s move, the second in two weeks, raised fears of a return to last year's controversy when the energy minister refused for several weeks to sign an update until the government helped citizens deal with surging gasoline prices.

Kazakh prosecutor says Almaty bomb plot foiled

ASTANA (Reuters) - Kazakhstan's prosecutor-general said on Wednesday that security services had foiled a plot organised by an associate of fugitive billionaire Mukhtar Ablyazov to bomb the commercial capital of the oil-producing Central Asian state.

India, China to maintain ties with Iran despite US, EU sanctions

New Delhi: India and China on Wednesday indicated that they will continue to maintain normal relations with Iran, while citing high crude oil prices and energy security concerns.

India Said to Plan Using Foreign Currency for Iran Oil Deals

India may continue paying for Iranian (OPCRIRAN) oil in foreign currencies until European Union sanctions take effect in July, when buyers will start using rupees, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Analysis: Libya's oil contracts to be unsure for months more

LONDON (Reuters) - Uncertainty about oil and gas companies' contracts with Libya, soon to be scrutinized and potentially revised, will persist until new leaders take power after June elections, delaying the industry's return to normal in the post-Gaddafi era.

Greece, Israel, Cyprus to step up natural gas production, but exports could take a decade

VOULIAGMENI, Greece — Energy Ministers from Greece, Israel and Cyprus promised Wednesday to increase cooperation to exploit natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean, but warned that large-scale exports could take a decade.

Greece, whose economy has been ravaged by a financial crisis, hopes to eventually start its own gas production and act as a transit point for supplies from Israel and Cyprus. It has no plans, however, to abandon more advanced gas projects it is involved with in Azerbaijan and Russia.

Israel willing to sell gas to Arab neighbours

ATHENS (Reuters) - Israel is willing to sell some of its new natural gas bonanza to Arab neighbours, in the hope this will improve relations in the troubled region, the country's energy minister said on Wednesday.

Gas production is set to soar in Israel following the discovery of some of the world's largest offshore reserves.

Cyprus to seek partnerships for possible LNG plant

(Reuters) - Cyprus would seek financing from other countries and companies to help it build energy infrastructure such as a key plant to liquefy natural gas, the country's energy minister said on Wednesday.

Cyprus reported its first natural gas discovery in December, when U.S. based Noble Energy said it had discovered an estimated 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet in a block south of the island.

Final Sunrise LNG decision unlikely before late 2014

(Reuters) - Australia's Woodside Petroleum (WPL.AX) will not make a final investment decision on its stalled Sunrise LNG project until sometime from the latter half of 2014 to 2015 due to a parliamentary election in East Timor this year, a minority stakeholder in the project said.

Woodside and East Timor are at odds over how to develop substantial offshore gas reserves in the region, with Woodside wanting to use a floating LNG plant, while East Timor wants the plant built on shore to create more jobs.

Oil firm TNK-BP plans power plant for own needs

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's third-largest oil producer TNK-BP said it has prepared a plan to increase power generation to cover the bulk of what it needs, partly to limit the single largest cost on its books as state electricity tariffs rise.

The government has increased electricity tariffs by around 127 percent from 2007 to 2011 - more than any other tariff, including transportation - to raise funds to modernise its creaking power grid and draw more revenues to the state budget.

Job growth expected from cheap natural gas

The nation's fast-growing supply of cheap natural gas is setting off a manufacturing revival that's expected to create hundreds of thousands of jobs as companies build or expand plants to take advantage of the low prices.

LNG-Soaked Japan Burns Oil as Nuclear Reactors Sit Idle

Japan is consuming the most oil in four years as it runs out of capacity to use liquefied natural gas as a stopgap for idled nuclear-power plants.

$1.2 Million Fine for Indian Point Fire

The owner of the Indian Point nuclear plant has agreed to pay a $1.2 million penalty for a transformer explosion at its Unit 2 reactor that spilled oil into the Hudson River in November 2010. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said that “longstanding structural conditions” led to the failure of a containment system that should have prevented the oil from flowing into the river.

New-Build Nuclear Power: A High-Risk Gamble

By the time any new nuclear power plant could be built in the UK, the market for its electricity will be disappearing. The rapidly falling cost of renewables, with the likely completion of the European internal market for electricity means that consumers, large and small, will be empowered to generate much of their own electricity or to buy it from anywhere in Europe.

Nuclear power is expensive and costs are rising. Meanwhile, the cost of most renewables is falling.

End of coal power plants? EPA proposes new rules

The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed the first-ever standards to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants -- a move welcomed by environmentalists but criticized by some utilities as well as Republicans, who are expected to use it as election campaign fodder.

China Beats U.S. With Power From Coal Processing Trapping Carbon

China can’t quit coal. But with efforts from entrepreneurs, mining enterprises and electricity giants, it’s ready to tackle its addiction, says Zhou Fengqi, senior adviser to the Energy Research Institute of the government’s National Development and Reform Commission.

“Now that people have meat and fish to eat every day, the environment has also become a big concern,” Zhou says. “China is not like a developed country. We can’t simply stop using coal. If we want to use it, we have to clean it up.”

Thanks to Fracking, Cheap Natural Gas Makes Inroads as U.S. Vehicle Fuel

Natural gas, whose price is at record lows thanks to a shale-drilling boom, is gaining traction as an alternative energy in the United States, with automakers jumping on the bandwagon.

The use of natural gas instead of oil-based gasoline to drive the country's cars and trucks "is definitely starting to take off," said Mark Hanson, an analyst at investment-research firm Morningstar.

No drive for natural gas cars

As the price of gasoline rises to $4 a gallon and natural gas prices continue falling, the public seems largely uninterested in compressed natural gas cars, also known as CNG vehicles. The vehicles have been touted as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline, and reduces America's dependence on imported oil by replacing it with American-produced natural gas.

Tiny cars often aren't the most fuel-efficient

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- When most people look at really tiny cars they figure they must get really good fuel economy.

And when compared to trucks or family sedans, they do.

But subcompact and mini-cars -- the likes of the Fiat 500 and Chevrolet Sonic -- usually don't get much, if any, better fuel economy than roomier compact cars.

EU push for ocean energy set to fall short

LONDON/MADRID (Reuters) - Europe's wave and tidal power technology is likely to disappoint EU expectations for 2020 and take over a decade to contribute to energy supply in a significant way, even though it is chalking up rapid growth and drawing in big industrial investors.

SEI: Scarcity of metals could hamper low-carbon development

The world’s transition to a low-carbon economy could be seriously hampered by a scarcity of key metals, a new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has warned.

The study, produced in partnership with the business leaders’ initiative 3C (Combat Climate Change), analysed known resources and locations of five metals – indium, tellurium, neodymium, lithium and cobalt.

Going green won't kill jobs during hard times

Claims that environmental regulations will worsen unemployment are false. When the economy is struggling, the opposite is true.

How SolarCity Makes Energy Efficiency Easy

SolarCity’s business model is simple: it wants to make the act of buying and installing solar power as easy as any other home upgrade, while allowing homeowners to pay it off gradually rather than all at once. Very quietly, though, SolarCity has been doing the same thing with energy efficiency—providing home energy audits, and then working with homeowners to upgrade their heaters, air-conditioners and other energy sucking devices.

Noise Pollution Is Changing Forests

The scientists set up motion-activated cameras at various sites in the Rattlesnake Canyon Wildlife Area, in northwestern New Mexico. Some sites were quiet; others were near natural gas wells, equipped with noisy compressors.

Dr. Francis’s team found that in noisy areas, many mice seek out pinyon seeds while scrub jays avoid them altogether.

Portland's urban agriculture movement is more than just gardening

For most, the definition of permaculture is to maximize yield out of soil, according to O’Leary. “But I’m also interested in the broader sense of permaculture; of how do we organize society that’s a bit less energy intensive.”

Fracking could foil carbon capture plans

Talk about the law of unintended consequences. Cracking open solid rock in a bid to squeeze out natural gas could spoil future efforts to store the carbon dioxide we release from burning fossil fuels.

Farming needs 'climate-smart' revolution, says report

Major changes are needed in agriculture and food consumption around the world if future generations are to be adequately fed, a major report warns.

Farming must intensify sustainably, cut waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farms, it says.

I just heard on the radio that the IPCC has just released a report on the connection between extreme weather events and climate change. But I can't seem to find anyone covering it on the web. Has anyone else run across this story?

I did find this from yesterday's Daily Kos:

"The IPCC tomorrow releases the complete electronic version of its Special Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change– Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)."


Report pdf available here.

Summary for policymakers.

[large pdf]

The character and severity of impacts from climate extremes depend not only on the extremes themselves but also on exposure and vulnerability. In this report, adverse impacts are considered disasters when they produce widespread damage and cause severe alterations in the normal functioning of communities or societies. Climate extremes, exposure, and vulnerability are influenced by a wide range of factors, including anthropogenic climate change, natural climate variability, and socioeconomic development (Figure SPM.1). Disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change focus on reducing exposure and vulnerability and increasing resilience to the potential adverse impacts of climate extremes, even though risks cannot fully be eliminated (Figure SPM.2). Although mitigation of climate change is not the focus of this report, adaptation and mitigation can complement each other and together can significantly reduce the risks of climate change. [SYR AR4, 5.3]

The IPCC released the executive summary back in November. I don't see any link to the full SREX report posted on the IPCC web site. Maybe there will be a link added later today...

E. Swanson

Agreed -- I'm impressed with the presentation. IPCC's material is often really opaque, but I come away persuaded of the value they can bring. I believe IPCC has learned from its past missteps in communicating the risks it sees, and has refined its message.

Tiny cars often aren't the most fuel-efficient

The article makes the point that aerodynamics is important in cars designed for energy efficiency, especially for highway driving where aerodynamic forces are a larger factor in fuel consumption. The writers focus on EPA combined mileage, not the highway mileage which may be important for freeway commuters. Moreover, the article points to the Chevy Sonic and then links to their test using the turbocharged version. The Chevy Sonic continued GM's angular sculpturing of body panels, which tends to produce more drag when the wind causes the air flow to have a side impact. There's little mention of relatively small cars with good aerodynamics which is one area in which the Toyota Prius design excels. I think a car like the new version of the Nissan Versa sedan might provide an example of a small car with good MPG ratings, as it achieves nearly 40 MPH in EPA testing...

E. Swanson

The problem here is not just aerodynamics.

Small cars are generally cheap cars, and efficient ICE cars are generally have far more parts and expensive control systems to squeeze the last MPG out of the fuel. That makes them more expensive, bulkier and difficult to sell in the sub-compact market.

In Europe manufacturers sell a small number of cheap cars optimised for MPG as part of their general greenwashing, and partly to meet EU regulations and targets. My car is a Skoda Fabia, with a Volkswagon 1.2litre 3 cyclinder diesel engine, which does better MPG than most Prii, and costs about $19,000 including 20% sales tax. It is a 'tweaked' version of the standard model, adding the electronics and technology of fuel efficiency but removing 'luxuries' like spare wheels, fancy hifi. and weighty air conditioning, to cut weight and cost.

It looks and feels like a cheap car, it sounds and drives like a tractor, but if you drive it like a granny it will return 80mpg (imperial) as I achieved yesterday, driving cross country in light traffic, at speeds up to 55mph.


The problem here is not just aerodynamics.

Off course it is not! In this country it is all about money. With small cars American car makers have to face up to fierce European and Asian competition. The only market on this planet where people are brainwashed into believing that bigger cars can be more fuel efficient is in America.
Just go to Aerodynamics and look at the list of the cars with the best drag co-efficiency and you will know what I mean.

Ironically the best one is the EV 1, build in 96 - which was killed by GM itself.

I drive a 2002 VW Jetta dti and get 4,5 to 4,8 lt/100km on a regular basis. Nothing missing in luxury I could think off either.

It is all in the eye of the beholder (and the good PR the car makers are using).



Edit: for the mathematically challenged:
4.5l/100km = 52.2mpg US or 62.7 Imp
4.8l/100km = 49 mpg US or 58.8 Imp

Same mileage for my 2002 TDI. With only 90 hp, not enough zoom for most Americans, though.

People buy horsepower, but they drive torque.

Sounds like a fun car, even on American roads.

This is important to grasp, but I don't think consumers care to grasp it.

I owned a car that is designed for HP. It is a momentum car for sure, and it is low on torque. Talk about a different drive! At roughly 240 hp stock and 2.0 liters of displacement, there is little torque to drive. More recent models had more torque and more displacement (and a lower redline) specifically for the US market.

Fuel efficient? Hell no. I loved that car but sold it when I moved down south and needed a small truck (yeah, I know, they don't make real small trucks any more!, whole 'nother thread)

Now take my wife's car, a Yaris. For every day driving it is geared to give a zippy city experience, ok on the highway and it's all the car we need!

So don't forget the gearing!

My fear is that "we" will go from fuel wasting to radical shortages without enjoying the opportunity to have consumer choices that really matter.

I think an important point that is missed in all this is that many Americans feel they have no choice but to buy a big car. If you have kids (like I do) you don't want them killed by some SUV just because it saved you a few dollars to drive a Yaris. Nothing is more important to me than keeping myself and loved ones from death or serious injury. Yes I know SUV's tip but I drive a honking 4 star crash tested minivan slowly because I WANT TO LIVE against all these SUV'ers texting while hurtling down a street at 20 mph over the limit. Ever hear of Star Wars? We'll in American its CAR WARS and I will cut back on other parts of my budget to live. And don't tell me about stats- it only take one accident to change your life forever. Unless the govt. stops people from getting the biggest monster vehicle available many of us will be forced into defensive purchases. Good luck waiting for the US to take away people's constitutional right to drive the biggest thing they can find and run over small cars.

Some of us refuse to give in to that fear. I drive a small, nimble car because I have avoided accidents that appeared certain by driving out of them.

Try driving a minivan through the ditch to avoid someone who just cut you off hard without flipping it or ending up stuck in the bottom nose first.

There's more than one strategy to winning Car Wars.


I agree about being able to avoid accidents, rather that surviving them. I used to ride motor bikes, and learnt by experience, it hurts when you hit things. So now I drive as everyone is out to kill me and avoid the problems before they are a problem.

While I am here, how many people claim the safety reason to drive large cars/trucks, and yet don't wear seat belts, because it is there right not to. I have a relative in the States, just like this, she doesn't even wear a helmet on a motor bike, yet her large car is for safety reasons. Give me a break.

It's not the US constitutional right that bothers me - it's the indirectly subsidized US gas prices making it affordable.

I agree that vehicle size/safety has turned into an arms race in the USA these days. But so what? Cars are still a helluva lot safer than they used to be in the big picture. Life is always a risk. I don't think small modern cars are such a bad one to take.

Heck, the people of 2050 or 2100 will probably think we were crazy to feel safe even in our current huge SUVs. Even if vehicle safety doesn't get dramatically improved by then, emergency medical care probably will.

Franky, I wouldn't want to be your children in 2050. I know. Your individual action probably means nothing . But we are dooming our children to a very grim, hot, and dry future.

The takeaway from this thread is that the American car market (or should I say marketers) is/are biased away from small efficient cars. I drive a 2007 Yaris- the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid of that year. It's 10% less efficient than the 2001 Suzuki Swift I owned before it. The North American Yaris is far less efficient than versions in other markets; it would be nice to get a Japan market Yaris with a one litre engine, and stop-start tech. And 69 horsepower versus the Canadian spec of 106 horsepower.

With regards to aerodynamics: the chief issue is frontal area. I looked at the list of vehicle drag co-efficients mentioned above and found the previous generation of the Suzuki Swift at #21, better than the 2004 Prius. I owned an '89, (which also made about 70 horsepower, interestingly enough), and a '95. The reason it's there is because they're about 6 " narrower than most subcompacts, and probably 8 or 10" narrower than bigger cars.

So: you can do two things to make a car more efficient right off the bat: reduce the frontal area, and reduce the horsepower.

The North American dealers have done neither, and have in fact increased both over the past 20 years at the small car end of the market.


Should also consider weight. In city driving that is the main determinant of fuel use. Small cars sold in the US are heavier than the European equivalents due to crash-resistance requirements for example. The result is that indeed some very small-looking cars are not very light and not as fuel efficient as could be. E.g., a "Smart Car" sold in the US is no more fuel efficient than my Toyota Echo which is twice as "big".

I know it goes against conventional wisdom, but safety equipment does not seem to be a significant factor in increased weight if US cars...
added 125 pounds to the average passenger car in model year 2001

That's only like half the weight of the average driver here in the land of milk and honey :-)

I was looking at the specs for the new Dodge Dart. It's almost 800 lbs. heavier than the 1995 Neon which is similar in size (and that's pretty much where the comparison ends). Interestingly, the new Dart has more interior space than the 1975 Dart even though it's over a foot and a half shorter.

Source: http://www.dart-mouth.com/specifications-dart.html

In highway driving, a 1975 Dart equipped with a 225 Slant Six and 3-speed 727 TorqueFlite transmission might consume anywhere from 10 to 11 litres per 100 km; it's new namesake will likely come in at roughly half that and the seven speed automatic when it's released should do even better.


Just a quick one, a lot of the comparisons are the sub-compacts have traditional multiple point fuel injection, and their bigger brothers have been fitted with Direct fuel injection. This by itself is good for about 20% improvement in fuel economy.

I am sorry to say I just do not understand the prejudice of small cars in America. I find a small car is so much more fun to drive, though you have to work at it and like to drive (I never use cruse control either)

I remember driving a Fiat Bambino 600cc twin around London in the early 80's, 3rd gear before you got across the intersection, but for London streets it was fit for purpose and I was never reaching for a higher gear, as London traffic doesn't move that fast.

By the way I an 6ft 4in and my mate who owned the car was 6ft 5in, we fit in no problems, but don't think of back seat passengers.

Yaris...we love it. Wonderful and efficient car. Although this morning I just managed to miss an elk by 2 feet? Managed to stop in time and we would have been crushed when it came in through the windshield. They always do.

Do not discount the following factors:
1) The size of Americans themselves, which makes larger cars more comfortable for them. I swear, cars and have gotten bigger and seats have gotten flatter to accomodate the gluttons.

2) The design of American cities and transportation infrastructure...spread out, roads and highways in straight lines with gentle curves if any. This is culturally consistent with the frontier narrative of imposing civilization on the wild rather than working with nature. A design suitable for larger cars, grand tourers.

3) The American idea of "doing and having it all." Let's have really large trucks and trailers, let's maintain the roads, let's go fast, let's be safe. Oh and we'll try to be efficient too. All in one go. And if that doesn't work, we'll bomb some country in the Middle East.

In the American worldview, small cars are for wimpy urbanites, sissy Europeans, or the masses of the third world.

I am sorry to say I just do not understand the prejudice of small cars in America.

It's tough to walk or bike or take public transportation to much of anything in most of America. Your kids can't walk or bike to school, so they have to ride in the car if they don't take the bus. Try riding with a family of four in an econobox. You can't walk to the supermarket, and if you could, you couldn't really walk back with arms full of groceries. So they have to go into the trunk. Ever try to cram a week of groceries into the trunk of an econobox? It doesn't work too well.

So, most people buy the biggest car they can afford that will meet their "big car" needs. If you have two kids, a car, and a supermarket you can't walk to, a tiny car is a waste of money, since it can't meet your needs.


I guess my Mother was Superwoman using her 1965 POS Rambler to keep the three of us in groceries and go to her job and everything else.

Same with me and my family of four (including me) with my 1998 Mazda 323 (1.6L four, pre 'zoom-zoom' and without A/C) during a 10-year stretch. Got groceries, took the family camping in Yellowstone, all that...it was not a big car.

Then there is my wife's mother, who didn't own a car (she was divorced like my Mother), and used the Altoona, Pennsylvania AMTRAN city bus to go to work and bring home groceries and everything else for 5 years. Mother of Four. Then got a POS Dodge Dart and drove that as the sole family chariot for ~ another 5 years.

There is an Albertsons (grocery store) a tad less than a mile from my house...if we had to, we could buy one or two grocery carts with small pneumatic tires, which would very likely be provided by the free market if for some reason(s) car ownership and operation became unfeasible for many people. I could take the ABQ bus to and from work on the base (~11.5 miles one way), and my kids could take the bus to UNM (assuming I had a job when TSHTF).

I certainly don't see how the cargo areas, small as it is, on a Ford Fiesta or Prius or Honda fit etc would not be able to support the adequate amount of grocery bags each week...if a family of four is bringing home a 'big order' (a minivan or SUV-full) of groceries //each week//, then that family is eating like Kings during high festival.

My point is: Plenty of people use 'econo-boxes' now who have a spouse and two kids, and plenty more have done so in the not-so-distant past.

Now, if a family has more than two kids, then they have their personal responsibility to make all that work for them, and I wouldn't lend a sympathetic ear to their laments if they could only afford a smaller car.

The assertion that a family of four is put out / heavily inconvenienced by trying to use a small car is false.

I have a Toyota Matrix, based on the Corolla chassis, and I think I could easily fit two adults, three children, and enough groceries to feed them all for a week into it. Some of the kids might have to carry grocery bags in their laps for the drive home, but so what? They're kids and they have to get used to a little inconvenience (at least that was what my parents taught me).

The thing I find, though, is that many of the American SUV's have less interior space than my Matrix. They are very badly designed from a space utilization standpoint. If 4WD is what these SUV drivers think they need, my Matrix has 4WD too, and here in the Canadian Rockies I really need it.

They might not like the 1.7 litre 4-cylinder engine, but I find if I buzz it up to high RPM the double overhead camshafts and variable valve timing give it more than enough power for passing. You don't need a big, gas guzzling V8 to haul groceries home, these little 4-bangers have lots of power nowadays, even without turbocharging.


Sorry for not replying earlier but I have just seen your post.

I don't know how old your kids are, but i have never found it fun for the the whole family to go grocery shopping, therefore mum or dad would have the whole car free for carting the goods, while the other can have some quality time with the kids.
I realize hatchbacks are not popular in the states, but with split lay down rear seats, you would be amazed what you can fit in.
If you do live in such an out of the way place that it is difficult to get to the shops, then I am surprised that you don't have a 2 car family, my two small cars cost less than one full size.

I do realize how difficult it is to get around in the states without a car. Once when in Houston, the hotel bus dropped me at Walmart, to do some shopping. To walk to Walgreens which was in the same shopping complex, involved walking through a near swamp and sharing the road way with drivers that had never seen anybody walking before. It was certainly a challenge.
Another time in Phoenix, I offered to walk to the local convenience store, well less than 1/2 mile for a newspaper, I had to argue for ten minutes on why I didn't want to take a car. I didn't really want a paper, I wanted a walk and some fresh air, but that was not understandable.

So, most people buy the biggest car they can afford that will meet their "big car" needs

Now here is where we need a discussion on needs and wants. So many people these days are very confused between these two simple words. I live inthe city, but I also have a 400ac block of land in the bush, with a tin shed, 10m x 15m, solar electricity, tank water, long drop toilet, etc. You very quickly learn the difference, light, heat and water are needs. TVs, internet are wants, we don't have either of the last two.

From what I have seen in the states, many people try every argument they can to justify what they want to drive, not what they need to drive.

The big gains that are left are in newer drivetrain technologies (hybrids), weight, and in aerodynamics, which is still far, far from the level it could be at. Overall the article is correct, that the difference between compacts and subcompacts has all but dissappeared. Before weight was a significant player, as subcompacts would be very light with very small engines. The current Ford Fiesta is about 1,050 kg, while the Geo Metro was about ~750 kg. It is harder to keep weight down on modern vehicles and maintain crash standards without raising the price.

If cars all looked like the aerocivic, then we could probably increase mpg by quite a bit, and of course if they were all hybrids that would do a lot too. But as it is, the gap between the subcompact and compact segment is very narrow. Probably part of this is also testing error; the tests used are not perfect and never will be, so real mileage may be better in the subcompacts than is shown by the tests. Still, you can't just get an efficient car by making a tiny one anymore.

Great site for reading real-world fuel economy - fuelly.com. I use it to track my Focus. Millions of logged miles on there.

Of course, if you are really interested in good highway mileage you might consider the VW Passat which is an intermediate (and very nearly a large) automobile, and gets 43 mpg on the highway if you are coordinated enough to use a manual transmission. And diesel, of course.

Only eleven diesel cars are sold in the U.S. -- nine VW/Audi and two Mercedes Benz. Each one has a gasoline powered equivalent, and the EPA estimates of fuel consumption indicate that the gasoline version uses about 50% more fuel than the diesel version. But the user averages quoted by the EPA tend to be much better for diesel cars, while they are often lower for gasoline cars.

So perhaps those who have forced the introduction of marginally better exhaust emission since 2007 (most significantly, a change in the allowed nitrogen oxides from 0.3 to 0.07 g/mi) might contemplate whether the decrease in this type of pollution is really worth driving out almost all diesel light vehicles. In Europe, where the limit is currently about 0.3, about 50% of light vehicles are diesel powered. If 50% of light vehicles in the U.S. were diesel powered, the U.S. oil consumption would be perhaps 10%-25% lower. And I don't think anyone could argue that (for example) Paris has worse air pollution than Los Angeles.

Of course, if a large fraction of US cars were diesel, there would be a shortage of diesel worldwide. As it is, the US has exported diesel to Europe and imported gasoline in return, taking advantage of the US market's historical near total reliance on gasoline. If market demand in the US does shift toward diesel, we might see production of synthetic diesel. Or, we might see more gasoline engines with direct injection and turbocharging to boost efficiency, such as the FORD EcoBoost engines. I think FORD is scheduled to begin selling Focus and Fiesta with EcoBoost engines in the US beginning with the 2013 model year. So far, FORD has sold only the larger vehicles with EcoBoost engines in the US, which are way over powered for good gas mileage. FORD is still trying to sell horsepower, including the Fusion 4x4 with a 237HP EcoBoost engine, not fuel economy, though that will likely change as gasoline prices climb...

E. Swanson

A new gasification process to upgrade tar sands bitumen directly into low sulfur diesel (some byproducts end up as gasoline and LPG) would help the world-wide diesel imbalance.

As I understand it, this process maximizes diesel production from tar sands. And given that bitumen in carbon rich and hydrogen poor - and diesel has more carbon and less hydrogen than gasoline - some as upgrade makes sense.


Best Hopes,


I'm typing this from Chennai, in India.

Land of the Mahindra 3 wheeler utility truck. (Much larger than the Piaggio 3 wheel taxis they use).

Somehow they manage fine without the horsepower it takes to bring their vehicles to 60MPH.

I have run out of sympathy for American car companies that continue to sell on vanity instead of producing vehicles that just address the practical aspects of how they are used.

I would not characterize this problem as being specific to American car companies. All car companies that produce vehicles for the American market share this trait because it is what the majority of car buyers want. American car companies are quite capable of producing more practical vehicles for other countries if that is what their car buyers desire. That is why for example, a European Ford Focus is not identical to a North American Ford Focus. Personally, I'd rather be able to purchase the European version of the Ford Focus but Ford has concluded, probably correctly, that people like me are in the minority in North America.

The car companies sell what the people buy. They will always upsell to a higher profit model, but the large number of new car buyers want more more more, so that is what gets sold.

Most of the conservative folks who value economy buy used cars, so they are not who the manufacturers build for, as they are not the customer. Except for recent times, and the few spikes in gas prices, it has been hard for the car companies to sell economy cars.

The other thing that kills the economy is all the required additions to meet the government regulations for crash safety and others. They all add weight. Another large addition of weight is the comfort items demanded by the customers. Late 70's and early 80's cars and small trucks with the poor engine technology they had, had many that exeeded 30 MPG. They did it by being light weight, and you gave up comfort for it.

You can't get a small truck anymore, they all grew. and even with the much better engines, mileage has dropped due to the greater weight it has to lug around.

I am afraid that until this state of mind changes, there is little hope of reducing our gas consumption. It will probably take a severe oil price shock lasting for a long time to change this mindset.

The car companies sell what the people buy.

No they don't, they sell what they can make the most profit on. The US automobile makers won't sell the type of small cars and trucks you find in Europe or Asia because they can't make a profit on them. European and Asian makers can make a profit on small vehicles, but through aggressive lobbying the US car makers have managed to configure the laws in the US to make really small cars and trucks impossible to sell there.

There is a loophole that allows people to bring in really small cars and trucks from Europe and Asia that are more than 13 years old, but as for new vehicles, forget it. And in most states you can't register these small vehicles for highway use, although they can easily reach highway speeds.

Actually, you can do much better than 43...and in an automatic at that. Down and back from South Central PA to Daytona Beach, FL I averaged 50 mpg, while driving at the posted speed limit (generally 75). Driving from St. Augustine Beach to Daytona, going 50 to 55 with two stop lights I averaged 68 mpg. It has very good acceleration, and more room than my 2001 Passat. A great car!

For those interested in actual real-world fuel consumption figures, there is a wonderful website called fully.com in which users keep updated stats of car fuel consumption. The EPA numbers do not tell the full story with respect to fuel consumption.

Compare the Chevrolet Cruze: http://www.fuelly.com/car/chevrolet/cruze/2012
the Chevrolet Sonic: http://www.fuelly.com/car/chevrolet/cruze/2012

Even though both cars have the same engine choices, there does seem to be a noticeable difference in the distributions.

The article makes the point that aerodynamics is important in cars designed for energy efficiency, especially for highway driving where aerodynamic forces are a larger factor in fuel consumption.

In my opinion in a urban environment, with stop/go traffic and slow speeds: aerodynamics are a smaller factor to parking, fuel efficiency via any of start/stop, EV, or hybrid as part of a tiny car's design to incr urban MPG.

A commuter car traveling the highway has different factors than an in-town errand car. A hybrid is best for the latter, with regen and shut-off being important. Neither helps much on the highway. Higher gearing, base engine efficiency, and especially drag area are key for the highway.

A lot of people compare cd - coeff of drag, when cda - drag area, is actually the more valid comparison point.

For a highway car, there are sports cars that do surprisingly well. Of course a truck does poorly for both city and highway, yet is popular for both. Go figure.

Of course a truck does poorly for both city and highway, yet is popular for both. Go figure.

Cheap liquid fuels made it possible for Americans to become used to using, on a daily basis, vehicles engineered for two- or three-sigma days: those few days each year when they have to drive on unplowed snowy roads, or haul a single large heavy object, or take five kids to football practice, or do the 500-mile single-day drive to Grandma's house. This attitude will take a long time to change.

So much depends on where you live and what you need to do. The extra fuel cost may not be that bad compared to paying two insurance bills, two property tax bills, and buying tires for two vehicles every five years instead of one. Depending on how much you drive, the fuel may be a reasonable expense. It would be nice if a large rental vehicle could just show up when you need it, but it doesn't work that way around here.

Well you can't get away from the basics. Efficiency is zero while stopped, and very poor in stop and go traffic. It rises once you get up to speed, and maxes out while constant. Then tails off at higher speeds. No matter what car you drive.

If you want to be efficient, you want to maximize the time you are on the go, between 20 and 60 mph. Avoid rush hour traffic, avoid long highway trips. Easier said than done.

Bloomberg: Orders for Durable Goods in U.S. Increased 2.2% in February

Demand for transportation equipment climbed 3.9 percent, led by a 6 percent advance in civilian aircraft orders. Boeing Co., the largest U.S. aircraft maker, said it received 237 orders last month, up from 150 in January.

Up, Up, and away!
Looking at the world as a TODer is both scary and humorous at the same time.


Not quite as great when the overall increase was 2.2% based on expectations of 3.0%

Check ZH for different perspective on this headline:


Ordering new, more fuel efficient a/c to replace old fuel guzzlers makes good sense.

A major uptick in US fuel efficiency/seat in the USA in the last few years.

China faces crude oil output challenge

Chinese oil output peaked at about 4.3m b/d in early 2011 and fell back to almost 3.9m b/d by late last year. Although output flows have recovered somewhat, production remains about 200,000 b/d lower than a year ago, the biggest annual drop in more than 15 years, according to industry estimates.

Oilfields such as Daqing or Shengli – the country’s second-largest field – will continue to produce less and less each year after 40-50 years of exploitation.

EIA data show that US net oil imports increased from 0.32 mbpd in 1949 to 3.17 mbpd in 1970, an 11%/year rate of increase. Of course US production peaked in 1970.

From 1970 to 1977, US net oil imports more than doubled, increasing from 3.17 mbpd in 1970 to 8.57 mbpd in 1977, a 14%/year rate of increase. In 1978, US net imports began to fall, because of rising Alaskan production and later due to declining consumption.

In any case, the comparison to China's current situation is obvious.

Here are the 2005 and 2010 data for China (BP):

P - C = Net Exports (Imports), mbpd

2005: 3.6 - 6.9 = -3.7

2010: 4.1 - 9.1 = -5.0
(+6.0%/year, 2005 to 2010)

If 2015 production falls back to the 2010 level, and if consumption were to increase at the 2005 to 2010 rate, the 2015 numbers would look like this:

2015 (Est): 3.6 -12.0 = -8.4
(+10.3%/year, 2010 to 2015)

China has peaked, or it looks like it has from the press releases as well as its chart.

China Crude + Condensate production according to JODI, in thousands of barrels per day.


Ron P.

Ron - great information.

Have you published the global crude plus condensate updates for January yet?

Naw, I am waiting until the January EIA data is published next month. The JODI data is out but their data is incomplete due to the fact that Syria, Sudan and Yemen do not report to JODI and those three countries are the ones who are in a nosedive due to political problems. Anyway with the JODI January data I do have non-OPEC is down 468 thousand bp/d in January. World production, with that data, was down 218 kb/d because they have OPEC up by 250 kb/d.

It is interesting that from January 2011 to January 2012 non-OPEC was down 918 thousand barrels per day. When I get the EIA data for Sudan, Syria and Yemen for January I expect the January to January data to be down well over one million barrels per day.

Ron P.

If China is successful at confiscating Vietnams offshore oil fields in the south China sea this chart may show a slight uptick by 2015 or a little later. But the US may side with Vietnam in this dispute and China's decline in production may continue.

Chinese firm surpasses Exxon in oil production

Exxon Mobil is no longer the world's biggest publicly traded producer of oil. For the first time, that distinction belongs to a 13-year-old Chinese company called PetroChina. The Beijing company was created by the Chinese government to secure more oil for that nation's booming economy.

PetroChina announced Thursday that it pumped 2.4 million barrels a day last year, surpassing Exxon by 100,000. The company has grown rapidly over the last decade by squeezing more from China's aging oil fields and outspending Western companies to acquire more petroleum reserves in places like Canada, Iraq and Qatar. It's motivated by a need to lock up as much oil as possible

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending March 23, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged just under 14.5 million barrels per day during the week ending March 23, 88 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 84.5 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased slightly last week, averaging about 8.8 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging nearly 4.3 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 9.3 million barrels per day last week, up by 1.0 million barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.7 million barrels per day, 44 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 564 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 165 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 7.1 million barrels from the previous week. At 353.4 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 3.5 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.7 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.0 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 6.3 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged about 18.2 million barrels per day, down by 5.3 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged 8.4 million barrels per day, down by 6.1 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.5 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 8.6 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.3 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Saudi imports into US double over prior week, while Northeast US still strains to meet gasoline demand

Oil imports into the Gulf Coast region accelerated by about 570,000 bpd last week, accounting for a significant portion of the 1 million bpd increase in US oil imports last week. Shipping was curtailed in the Gulf Coast region by heavy fog and unusually stormy weather for March in the prior reporting week, and this week is in part a rebound due to better weather.

Saudi imports about doubled to 1,916,000 bpd from 912,000 bpd the prior week.


Ignoring weekly fluctuations, it has become clear that Saudi Arabia intends to increase imports into the US this Spring – even if this means they will ship less eastbound to China. According to shipping sources, Saudi own oil shipper ‘Vela” hired two additional large tankers (VLCCs) today to continue increased shipping up to about of the US summer ‘driving season’ (which starts about the Memorial Day holiday at the end of May).

US oil imports may average this Spring as much as 50% higher, or about 500,000 bpd higher, than about the 1 million bpd level that prevailed around the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012.

However don’t expect China just to stand back and watch its oil imports slide. US imports from Angola fell to zero last week (none) as China stepped up efforts to grab what it could elsewhere. Also imports from Nigeria are in extremely steep decline.

Meanwhile despite gasoline consumption reports from both the EIA and MasterCard’s Spending Plus showing that gasoline demand is down roughly 5.5% to 7% from year ago levels, refiners still struggle to keep up with demand.

Aggravating the problem, European shipments of gasoline have fallen significantly due to refinery closures and operational problems there - down more than 300,000 bpd from the year ago week. Federal and state authorities are making an active effort to investigate the NE refinery situation. So far, the only action taken is a discussion by Pennsylvania and EPA officials to allow certain grades of ‘winter blend’ gasoline to be used in warmer weather. Southwest PA has stringent environmental rules in place that usually require only certain blends of gasoline to be used in that area.

The oil price that launched a wall of ships

In a matter of days, Saudi Arabia has hired the largest number of super tankers in years. When the tankers load their cargo in Ras Tanura, the world’s largest oil terminal, in the next couple of weeks and start a 40-day voyage toward the U.S. Gulf coast, they will deliver a wall of oil with a single aim: to bring prices down.

“This is the first time in several years for [Saudi Arabia] to hit the market with such volume – and in such a short time frame,” says Omar Nokta, a shipping expert at specialist investment bank Dalham Rose & Co.

Last week, Vela, the shipping arm of Saudi Aramco, hired over a few days 11 so-called very large crude oil carriers, each capable of shipping two million barrels, to deliver to U.S.-based refiners. “In 2011, Vela fixed one VLCC to the U.S. every other month,” Mr. Nokta said.

The hiring spree was the most public move by the kingdom in a series of efforts aimed at bringing down oil prices from $125 (U.S.) a barrel toward $100. “They want to bring prices down. That is it,” a former Western oil official said.

"The rally has brought back the memories of the 2008 surge in oil prices, when Riyadh was unable to lower prices even as it increased production. It watched from the sidelines as Brent crude soared from $100 at the beginning of that year to a peak of nearly $150 a barrel by July."

"Saudi Arabia and its partners at the Gulf Co-operation Council – which include Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman want to avoid a repetition of the runaway rally of three years ago. “Something must be done to damp market sentiment,” (said)a Gulf official familiar with the current oil talks."

...makes it sound like a rally based on sentiment, like speculation having an effect on prices. This appearance is at odds with the description of a futures market of balanced parity existing outside the actual trade price and operating as a gentlemanly zero-sum betting game. That description itself is of just one pathway in just the American system and seems to assume old-school rules existing before the securities modernization act, etc.

"In a matter of days, Saudi Arabia has hired the largest number of super tankers in years. When the tankers load their cargo in Ras Tanura, the world’s largest oil terminal, in the next couple of weeks and start a 40-day voyage toward the U.S. Gulf coast, they will deliver a wall of oil with a single aim: to bring prices down."

"U.S. President Barack Obama is battling accusations by Republican rivals who have been using rising gasoline prices to hammer him on his energy policies."

Now, THAT'S a SuperPAC! Complete with foreign intervention in our domestic politics.

"Play it again, Sam."
An Energy Independent Future

This video is now becoming hard to find... just like "Citizen Kang"... Kang, that is:
...a bit past the middle of the show.

What i don't really get about this is how it's supposed to lower prices for more than a short time. In fact if you are getting out as much oil as possible probably at greater effort and expense, then it's probably going to have the opposite effect as soon as the glut is used up.

Are we really supposed to believe that a steady climb is worse than having it jump all over the place because of short term oil manipulation?

Presumably the Saudi oil will supply the expansion of the Port Arthur Refinery in Texas operated by Motiva Enterprises which is jointly owned by Shell and Saudi Refining.

Current capacity is 275,000 bbl/d, but Motiva have announced an expansion that will more than double capacity to 600,000 bbl/d (95,000 m3/d), with the project expected to be complete in 2012. This will make the refinery the largest refinery in the USA.

Saudi Arabia To Be Motiva Texas Refinery’s Sole Supplier – Source., Royal Dutch Shell plc., John Donovan, Jun 10, 2011.

Meanwhile, the propaganda in the media claims the additional shipments from Saudi Arabia are intended to decrease the price of crude oil.

Refineries in the Northeast U.S. close while a refinery in Texas subject to damage from huricanes expands by a similar amount. Reduction of resilience....

In general, it is one of the main goals of Saudi Arabia to "add value" to their product by establishing refinery partnerships around the world - especially to process lower grade Saudi heavy oil. However I don't specifically know the grade of the recent extra shipments by Saudi company 'Vela' to the Gulf Coast, that will start to show up there in the next few weeks or so.

Saudi Arabia Review
Broadening its horizons

SAUDI Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, is widening its global footprint planning to build refineries in China and Indonesia as part of a $200-billion spending programme to double refining capacity and exploring for oil and natural gas during the next decade.


There's the possibility of a fuel tanker drivers strike in the UK in the next 10 days or so according to a report by the BBC.

Our glorious leaders are making a bad situation worse by suggesting people "top-up" and store petrol (gas) in their garages.

The leader of the Fire Brigade Union has urged the government to withdraw the advice to store petrol.

Meanwhile panic buying has started with long queues reported at some petrol stations.

Simon Lane, from Leicester, said his local garage in Groby ran out of diesel and unleaded petrol after "panic buying" involving "huge queues".

Jim Wardle, from Chesterfield, said he saw a man fill up his Range Rover then buy the last six petrol cans and fill them while complaining about people voting to strike.

"It was pandemonium at the Clay Cross petrol station. No-one was really saying much but everyone knew why it was busier than normal," he said.

You couldn't make it up ...

Yes, it'll be interesting when a similar situation, for whatever reason, occurs in the 'States.
Entitled, pissed off and armed to the teeth.

I was in the UK for one of their fuel tanker drivers strikes, and it occurred to me that a union blockade wouldn't really work in, e.g. Texas or any of the other Right-to-Work states.

It's just not safe to try to blockade an independent owner-operator when he has payments to make on his rig, and has two rifles and a shotgun behind the seat, plus a 44 magnum in the glove compartment. If you get in his way, he'll just shoot you and keep on trucking. If you survive and complain to the police, they'll just charge you with obstructing traffic and illegally dripping blood on the highway.

It's not really that bad, but sometimes it seems like it is.

I do not remember the last fuel tanker strike, you are probably confused by the year 2000 refinery blockade by truck drivers and farmers. The blockade was ad-hock and illegal, but the refinery owners 'advised' the fuel tanker drivers not to cross the lines on 'safety grounds'. I am personally convinced the refinery owners - ie. big oil - was orchestrating the whole thing, to send a shot across the bows of Blair to toe the line and cut fuel taes, which he did.

Yes, that was quite likely it. I wasn't keeping up with the details of the blockade. My only concern was getting enough fuel for the rental car.

Last time it was the tanker drivers (themselves unionised and friendly to the aims) who wouldn't cross the picket lines. Without that it wouldn't have happened, which is why they have the army on standby this time.

Why did minister start petrol panic?

Petrol stations run dry after Francis Maude urges drivers to fill up any spare jerry cans.

Sales of petrol up 45 per cent yesterday on a normal Tuesday.

Government warning on fuel shortages sparks panic buying at petrol stations

Measures in place to guard against shortage of fuel in Hampshire

... Ian Luckett, director of Fareham-based coach firm Lucketts Travel, said his business would be hit hard if the planned strike takes place.

Fuel is like the blood that flows through our veins,’ he said. ‘Without it we don’t exist. And it won’t take long for the roads to become empty if this goes ahead; you’re talking a matter of days rather than weeks. It will be quite dire.’

Well, people of the UK, you've got a millenia old culture, livable and dense cities and quite decent rail.

But you got suckered by Americanism and the North Sea bonanza and get rich quick and "Top Gear."

Reap the rewards.

Well, talking about livable cities - I briefly noted the busier than usual petrol station this morning as I walked past it on the 300m journey to the railway station. I had a pleasant journey to work, reading the paper, then walked to the office (200m). I walked to the shops to buy lunch (150m return) and tonight I shall walk to the pub and the restaurant (800m round trip). I may make a detour to my allotment (500m), in which case I may break out the bike. Yesterday I went to the bank, the opticians and the food shop (all within 400m). I am tempted to leave the car where it is, until after Easter - they may have settled their industrial dispute by then!

I basically guarantee that ministers suggesting people 'top up' wasn't a mistake, but part of a plan.

In terms of storage, post 'tanker drivers', there are too major storage locations - at the filling stations, and in people's tanks. By suggesting fill up, and creating a run, they can ensure that both locations are filled to the brim before a strike can start. Then they have more slack in setting up the alternate systems, rationing, etc. once the strike is underway.

It wasn't a mistake.

I just hope people have stocked up on toilet rolls and bread for when the others realise that with no fuel there are no deliveries to the shops that rely on JIT stock-keeping. ;)


Way ahead of you. In fact when i pointed out it was sensible to at least have a small amount of fuel in your garage in case of an emergency (ok but not a jerry can full, thats probably a bit excessive) they jokingly asked if I was hoarding food too.

I smiled with them and tried to look innocent.

There exist people who would associate buying a 5 lb bag of potatoes with "stocking up", and that's just not something you do if you can afford not to.

It's so lower class.

"there are two major storage locations - at the filling stations, and in people's tanks."

True, Gary, and both are safe.
But encouraging people to top up without providing a proper context was rather irresponsible.

Filling stations' tanks usually hold 4-5 days of supply under normal conditions, but panic buying can drain them in 24 hours, even less. So the minister should have said, "Fine, top up now in anticipation, but please don't do this during the job action or you will compound the problem. Also, please don't store petrol in your home, over 10 litres is illegal, etc."

As for rationing, the UK is ahead of North Americans in planning for Liquid Fuel Emergencies (LFEs). They have about 700 Designated Filling Stations (DSFs) which will serve blue-light vehicles only (we have no such plan here).
Also, part of the UK LFE plan is secret, so they may have a rationing/allocation/prioritization scheme... I do not know (though I've done my best to find out). Here in North America, our old plans were unworkable but the issue (of how to plan for and administer a LFE) has not been examined recently.
Australia did had thorough study in 2004, and NZ has done some initial work.

But step 1 is to prevent panic buying, so that local supplies can be conserved. We have no effective mechanism to stop it, as far as I am aware.
Same with other essentials (food, toilet paper)... people with cars and spare cash will stock up, leaving the shelves bare for the less fortunate.

Thing is, in connection with fuel you have relatively little control over how the feedback effect snowballs the initial info. About all you control is when you start that initial pebble rolling.

As such, if you kick off the panic buying enough in advance, then the stations have time to restock before the actual action starts. eg:

  • No announcement before strike = run on the forecourts immediately = no fuel and no resupply till the Army get sorted.
  • 2-3 days prior = basically the same effect
  • 4-5 days prior = run on fuel coincides with resupply, which then stops when strike kicks in.
  • 7-10 days prior = rush can happen, and the resupply, before the strike

If you say "don't store any more than 10 litres at home" - then that's exactly what people will start doing because you've put the idea in their heads, and played up the scale of the problem. Psychology is a bitch.

As far as UK planning for such events, from what I recall a nuanced rationing and allocation plan existed nearly a decade ago, and even in the bits they will make public of "NEP-F" its clear that 15 litres would be a rationing level. Note the planning for most 'emergencies' in the UK is highly hierarchical (gold, silver, bronze) and structured, although it claims to be devolved. As such its pretty unwieldy and prone to slow reaction to fast moving events. If the plan is good and sufficient, fine. If not, then all hell would break lose. That's probably why they keep bits secret - the idea of security through obscurity.

None of the planning I've seen is robust to long term/permanent supply restriction, and tends to favour the government entities as 'priority' too much over commercial concerns - whilst outsourcing key functions.

It's worth noting that we often complain that ministers aren't telling the truth about peak oil. Well, considering these people panicked over something that:

a) hasn't actually been confirmed to even happen and
b) also has a 7 day notice before a strike

I can fully understand why the government covers up everything up it can. I would too if I had to deal with these morons.

Regarding the natural gas leak in the Total well- there were comments that the leak was hard to stop due to enourmous ocean pressure. Is this why deep sea oil fields peak so quickly (within two years)? Does the ocean press down on the rock and squeeze everything out at a high rate? Will all deep sea fields peak quickly? this would certainly affect flow rates. I would greatly appreciate it if someone who knows about this subject could answer my questions and explain how the extraction from deep sea fields is different from other types of fields. Thanks.

The ocean pressure is not all that great. The platform sits on the bottom in only 295 feet of water. The reservoir is quite deep however, 18,045 feet down with temperatures at 190°C and 1100 bar pressure.

But yes deep sea fields declinequickly. All fields peak quickly if they are not constrained by the pipeline as Prudhoe bay was. But I follow several wells in the Gulf of Mexico. The deep water fields seem to have a decline rate of over 20 percent while the shallow water wells seem to decline at about half that rate or less.

But it is the total depth that seems to matter. The deeper the reservoir the greater the pressure and the quicker the oil is pushed out, or at least that's my theory.

But understand this is a gas reservoir. At that depth and at that temperature, over the millions of years all the oil is usually cracked into gas.

Ron P.

Darwinian- thanks, its not your fault but I feel really stupid right now. I forgot that rock has a little weight to it also. This must mean that as oil or gas is sucked out the rock ceiling collapses maintaining pressure on the formation. Extraction is a little bit self reinforcing.

The Elgin field was geo-pressured, initially with a pressure gradient of 0.89 psi/ft depth. Normal pressure (hydrostatic gradient) is about 0.45 psi/ft. In other words, gas in the Elgin field was helping support the overburden - thus the term 'geo-pressured'.

Pressure in the Elgin field has declined to less than hydrostatic gradient, so the collapse of the pore space has subsided. The 'pore volume' is still slightly compressible - on the order of x e-6 vol/vol/psi.

Fukushima mayor demands apology from Kobe prof. over claims he fled city

FUKUSHIMA -- The mayor of this prefectural capital is demanding an apology from a Kobe University professor for false comments the professor allegedly made about the civic leader during a lecture.

Fukushima Mayor Takanori Seto sent a letter on March 26 demanding radiation metrology professor Tomoya Yamauchi apologize for claiming during a lecture that Seto had fled his city -- the capital of Fukushima Prefecture, host to the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant -- and was commuting to work by official car from the city of Yamagata.

Yamauchi admitted to the Mainichi on March 27 that he had made the comments, and said he would "consider a response once the letter has arrived."

According to the Fukushima Municipal Government, Yamauchi made the statement at a Feb. 18 lecture in Osaka, held to oppose accepting debris from the areas worst-hit by the March 2011 disasters.

"Fukushima city needs to be evacuated," Yamauchi said at the lecture. "The city administration isn't doing much of anything, but there is one man there doing the right thing: the mayor. He's living in Yamagata and goes to work in Fukushima every morning by official car."

Seto in fact continues to live in the city of Fukushima.

The mayor seems to be demanding an apology for the claim he was staying outside the city - not the claim that it should be evacuated.

“Don’t play in the park for longer than 1 hour a day”

Typical sign now seen in Fukushima City Parks



For everyone to use this park.

Because of the radiation, please be aware of these points.

Don’t play in the park for longer than 1 hour a day.
After coming home, wash your hands and face, and make sure to gargle.
Don’t put soil or sand into your mouth.

Fukushima city parks and green division

Children in Fukushima Prefecture carry dosimeters (designed so they cannot be read by parents but have to be sent for government processing), wear face masks outside and have limited outdoor play time.

What are the survey results for the city of Fukushima?

Are all these precautions based on evidence that they are immediately necessary, or are they like the TSA - there to let people know that something is being done?

Radiation levels in the city are about 30 to 300 times pre-disaster levels (typically about 1 microsievert per hour air readings with common ground hotspots (especially gutters/drainage channels etc) over 10 microsieverts per hour). Some readings as high as 100 microsieverts per hour have been recorded from a "black dust" found in many areas throughout the Prefecture. In some areas where they have replaced the surface earth (government buildings, schools, near official radiation sensors etc) the air dose is a bit lower but the cleared areas build back up again unless the process is repeated.

The city is well above the limit the Russians set for evacuation and, according to NRC discussions, would have been evacuated under existing US guidelines.

The city horse racing track remains closed as it is deemed too dangerous for expensive race-horses. Children's races have however taken place. They ran right past the closed horse-track.

That's what it was months ago.

Regardless of whether people are following internationally accepted guidelines, what is it *now*?

Is there a change here, or are you just posting the same stuff again (which is what it looks like).

The levels have not appreciably dropped in the city over the last few months. The readings I posted have all been recorded within the last few weeks. Another Japanese Professor Yukio Hayakawa, visited the city earlier this month.

Professor Yukio Hayakawa Takes a Walk in Fukushima City, 3/16/2012

armed with 4 different radiation survey meters. One of the reasons he went to Fukushima was apparently to test the survey meters and compare the readings. The entire walk took 7 hours yesterday, says Hayakawa in his tweet, nothing compared to mountain climbing. (He's a volcanologist.)

4.164 microsieverts/hour on the "black dust" - roadside sediment of soil and organic materials. (It is not just in Minami Soma City, where the highest radioactive cesium density in the "black dust" so far is 3.43 million becquerels/kg.)

Over 10 microsieverts/hour (all his survey meters went overscale) at the rain gutter.

2.3 microsieverts/hour on the lawn in front of the City Hall, 1.5 microsievert/hour 1 meter off the lawn.

For detailed locations and measurements, see his blog post (in Japanese).

Anyone who goes to the city with a Geiger counter gets the same sort of readings. Local mayors are complaining that they can't get answers from TEPCO/government - especially about the "black dust"

Recently fresh deposition around the plant has increased.

Radioactive Fallout in Futaba-machi, Fukushima in January 2012: 19,120 MBq/Square Kilometer

The Ministry of Education and Science released the data on radioactive fallout by prefecture in January 2012, on March 23.

For Fukushima Prefecture, it is measured in Futaba-machi, where Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is located. The measurement for the month of January, 2012 was:

Cs-134: 8,020 Mbq (megabecquerels)/km2
Cs-137: 11,100 MBq/km2
Total cesium: 19,120 MBq/km2

The measurement in Fukushima in Futaba-machi started in September 2011. From September to November, the numbers were in 4 digits. The fallout amount jumped in December, as you see in the table below (created from the data at MEXT website):

And here's 130 microsieverts per hour in Minamisoma City

Local official detects 130 microSv/hr from black substance on roadside — Japan TV starting to cover mystery? (VIDEOS)

Minamisoma City Councilor Koichi Oyama detected 130μSv/h from black substance on the surface of a road

Uploaded By: mak551000
Upload Date: March 18, 2012

See Oyama’s post in Japanese: http://mak55.exblog.jp/15592119/

It's a good thing that TEPCO and the Japanese government are inept at covering things up, in that case.

Well you can't cover up these sort of levels of contamination - I don't think they are really even trying to cover that up especially any more. They just aren't giving many answers. The huge increase in new deposition in December and January is data from the Japanese government website (2 month delayed though).

2 month delays are darned good for your typical bureaucracy.

Here's hoping that they are actually moving in the correct direction.

These levels aren't exactly huge. They are air-line crew to heavy smoker levels.


Perhaps some is no worse than flying high up in an airplane made entirely out of bananas while having a few chest X-rays... except it's edible. Edible and breathable and perhaps an Alpha emitter which hardly registers on these little Geiger survey meters. A radiating dust that sticks and invades. Notice that gutters are especially hot: the dusts are washed through them, collect at every little eddy and weir, and dump out at the end.

Tochigi Prefecture, 70km or more away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Mud collected from roof gutters at the same 70km distance measured over 1000 counts per minute, but I can't find that video. This is close.

Here are some others:

And... listen to the meter in Undertow's 4th link:
It's not clicking, it's screaming. That is way past airline flight levels of exposure.

What a mess, eh? You are lucky to be where you are. We all are.

In related news on the Fukushima situation:

"Tuesday's examination, with an industrial endoscope, detected radiation levels up to 10 times the fatal dose inside the chamber.

Plant officials previously said more than half of the melted fuel had breached the core and dropped to the floor of the primary containment vessel, some of it splashing against the wall or the floor.

The probe also found that the containment vessel – a beaker-shaped container enclosing the core – had cooling water up to only 60cms (24ins) from the bottom, far below the 10 metres estimated when the government declared the plant stable in December."

For a less calm and much more foul mouthed reaction to this same news:

This is troubling news.

While it doesn't seem that any further breach is happening, it does further complicate an already difficult situation.

So if the water at the bottom of the containment is only 60cm deep and is metres below the bottom of the RPV, where do you think the core is in relation to the 60cm of water? And that 60cm depth is with them pumping in tonnes of water per day.

They stopped lowering the probe when it reached about 70 Sieverts per hour otherwise it would have been much higher (and they'd have risked destroying the probe).

Mostly in the water, I'd say:

Plant officials previously said more than half of the melted fuel had breached the core and dropped to the floor of the primary containment vessel, some of it splashing against the wall or the floor.

Just glad I don't have my hand caught in that particular can of worms.

Justices poised to strike down entire healthcare law

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they shared the view of Scalia and Kennedy that the law should stand or fall in total. Along with Justice Clarence Thomas, they would have a majority to strike down the entire statute as unconstitutional.

An Obama administration lawyer, urging caution, said it would be "extraordinary" for the court to throw out the entire law. About 2.5 million young people under age 26 are on their parents' insurance now because of the new law. If it were struck down entirely, "2.5 million of them would be thrown off the insurance rolls," said Edwin Kneedler.

FYI: The law does not include the severability clause. Without mandate, however, extra insurance burden would fall on those who have insurance.

Well after Bush vs Gore and Citizens United, that would complete the hat-trick!

I do wonder if the "Occupy" movement has been occupying the wrong place...

So they gave bush jr. the 2000 election/presidency nullifying the democratic process in that election, gave corporations people status although people die of old age but corporations can exist in perpetuity and now they seem close to deciding to toss out the only healthcare rights garnered for 'The People' in x number of decades along purely partisan lines. There's no question the supreme court is an arm of the R party, just like faux news.

Oh, hey now... the prez is going to sign the JOBS bill. Jump-start Our Business Start-ups... you know, Jobs! It's a further deregulation of Wall Street. It allows for "Cloud-sourcing", where anybody with a need for quick cash can appeal directly to small individual investors, like Grandma Milly, through adverts on the telly! The good Dr. Brooks did a docu-drama about it:


Grandma Millie:

With the contemplated release from the petroleum reserves, I think that the SPR needs to be renamed to the PPR, or Political Petroleum Reserves, since that is all they seem to be used for now.

If it was truly strategic, it would be saved for times of disaster, serious interuption of supply, such as a closure of the Strait of Hormuz, or some other unforseen problem with world or US supplies.

To save for a rainy day, then spend it just because of a day less sunny than the day before is a collosal waste, but why should I expect more from our leaders.

When there is a true shortage, and there will be, just a matter of when, people will look back at how stupid it was to use up the reserves in a pathetic attempt to manipulate the market prices.

Does seem a little hard to justify a US release of crude oil when the US is (net) exporting refined products, and it's not like there is a problem with US crude oil inventories. But as you noted, high gasoline prices prior to a general election seems to constitute an emergency situation for politicians.

The people demand low gas prices. The leaders follow. Sad, but true. Feckless America. But wait. Newt can fix it all. Our politics is ruining the world. Just drain the SPR and get it over with.

Better to drain it asap than to let the military have it when the rest of us have none.

Exclusive: West Wants Saudi Not to Neutralize Oil Release

Oil consuming nations may seek reassurance from Saudi Arabia that it will not cut oil production and neutralize the impact on oil prices if consumer countries release emergency reserves, diplomats and industry sources said.

"If they're going to release reserves they need an assurance from the Saudis that they won't offset it by cutting supply," said one industry source familiar with thinking in Washington.

Last year after the International Energy Agency tapped reserves at the end of June to fill the gap left by Libya's civil war, Saudi output at first remained high, and then fell.

Oil Reserves Release `Almost Inevitable,' Sen Says

(Bloomberg) -- Amrita Sen, a commodities analyst at Barclays Capital, talks about the outlook for oil prices and reserves. She speaks with Manus Cranny on Bloomberg Television's "Last Word."

Building Lightweight Trains

The less trains weigh, the more economical they are to run. A new material capable of withstanding even extreme stresses has now been developed. It is suitable for a variety of applications, not least diesel engine housings on trains - and it makes these components over 35 percent lighter than their steel and aluminum counterparts

Rearden metal for Taggart Transcontinental?

Good one

Polyurethane based... made from what?

Locomotives NEED to be heavy.

The world's most powerful electric locomotive in production comes in two versions. They add many tonnes of steel or lead in the heavier version.

Think of a locomotive pulling a train up-hill. To transfer power to the rails (steel rolling on steel has a low co-efficient of friction) needs weight to create enough friction to transmit the necessary traction power.

OTOH, low weight cars are good.


PS: Reading between the lines, this MAY have been a self-propelled passenger rail car (DMU). The weight is enough to propel itself, so lighter is better for DMUs.


From the linked article:

This housing is located beneath the passenger compartment, i.e. between the car and the tracks.

So yes, they are talking about DMU's.

It's a Diesel Multiple Unit, with a diesel engine laid flat under the floor of the car rather than a diesel locomotive pulling a train of cars. Apparently it's intended for lines with low passenger volumes where they can't justify the cost of locomotive-pulled trains.

I don't think weight is as serious a consideration in trains as aircraft. Weight doesn't change the fuel economy of a train very much, and the expense of exotic materials can easily consume any savings from having a lighter vehicle.

Alan have you had the opportunity to discuss the latest incarnation of the high speed LA to Vegas plan?


"locomotive pulling a train....needs weight to create enough friction to transmit the necessary traction power."

Just a little correction to this statement.
The coefficient of friction is relatively constant for heavy vehicle and light vehicle. The weight is necessary to act as a multiplier in the tractive effort (force) equation. Force = CF x weight. The CF or coefficient of friction tends to be around 20% for steel on steel (not sliding) where weight does cause some local strain that increases the CF slightly. Once wheel slides on the rail CF drops, so modern locomotives have slide control that keeps wheels on verge of slipping while starting a train.

Solar Water Heaters Use 1/3 Energy, Progress Energy Study Finds

Progress Energy customers saved an average of $235 a year by switching to solar thermal water heater, representing an average annual savings of 63 percent on the water heater portion of their power bill.

Those are the results Raleigh, N.C.-based Progress reported this week to the N.C. Utilities Commission to wrap up a pilot project using 150 customers to test the efficiency of solar thermal water heaters. As part of the year-long pilot, Progress contributed $1,000 toward each customer's cost of buying a solar thermal water heater.

How much can be saved by switching instead to on-demand water heaters, low-flow showerheads, wastewater heat recovery device, and a high-efficiency (European style) clotheswasher? Circumstances vary, but in my case I've figured that thermal solar water heating would not pay for itself, in part due to efficiency items as above, and in part due to cloudy cold snowy winters. In warm climates, where the solar device can be a lot simpler, the math may be different.

This system, designed to be relatively inexpensive for DIY'ers, and to work in freezing climates, could be something to consider...

This is getting to me:) I walked past a laundromat earlier and spotted a PVC pipe connecting the outlets of the driers to a vent. Instathought went through my head - run the feed for the boiler through that pipe to pre-heat the water.


Progress reported that buying and installing the solar water heaters averaged $7,271 per household, ranging from $4,000 to $12,375 per home.

I hate to be the wet blanket, but if the average installed cost is $7,271.00 and the average annual savings are $235.00, then we're looking at a simple payback of some 31 years, not taking into consideration the time value of money or any maintenance or repairs that may be incurred during this time frame. Surely there are better options.


Yes there are. See my comment just above for deep freezing climates. And I used to live in Progress Energy's territory - NC. We installed a ProgressivTube batch water heater which cost just $2,000. Much simpler, no pumps or controllers to worry about, and it provided us with 90% of our hot water, which is better than some of these much more complicated and expensive systems. We have the PT on our home here in the VA Blue Ridge, where the temp has dropped to zero F, and no freeze issues with the system. In fact, I've helped a couple of neighbors here install it as well. They love theirs, too.

Glad to hear this has worked out well for you; it seems to be a more practical and cost-efficient alternative, however I think vtpeaknik is right. We're a two person household and our domestic hot water usage runs between 1,300 and 1,400 kWh a year; assuming a thermal solar system could cut that in half (and that's a stretch given our local climate), our savings would amount to less than $100.00 a year. Our shower heads are low-flow and our front loader and dishwasher are both high efficiency models (Bosch), so for a couple hundred dollars more than a standard model our DHW costs average about $15.00 a month, and that's with the tank set at 75°C for Legionella control and washing all of our clothes in hot water.


Flat panel water heaters with storage tanks are running around 1,000 US down here. Not sure how much a tube type is, haven't looked as there is little point in them with our climate. How on earth can they run the costs up so high?


It has to do with having to cope with freezing weather. Typically e two loops with a heat exchanger. The outer loop contains a lot of anti-freeze, the inner loop is the actual water.

Martin Holladay brings things to a boil over at Green Building Advisor!

Solar Thermal is Dead
It’s now cheaper to use a photovoltaic system to heat domestic hot water

In the northern half of the U.S. — and even much of the South — installing a residential solar hot water system doesn’t make any sense. It’s time to rethink traditional advice about installing a solar hot water system, because it’s now cheaper to heat water with a photovoltaic (PV) array than solar thermal collectors.

In short, unless you’re building a laundromat or college dorm, solar thermal is dead.

Comments are worth reading as they are usually thoughtful building energy efficiency types commenting, not many wing nuts.

The murder weapon, air-source heat pumps.

It's certainly not dead. It has a particular economic disadvantage to these other options, just like Renewables in general have when up against fossil fuels, (in the very short term)... but it also has the great advantage of simple and far more accessible technology behind it. I don't generally have much confidence in gauging their value with such an emphasis on just immediate economics. Some of the other disadvantages he mentions are valid as well, but many could also be classed as 'annoyances'.. which is often another hot-button in this convenience-intent culture.

It sounds like the combo of Heat Pumps and PV is a very workable option today.. but I'm not going to narrow my choices at this point. It's a time to keep them broad and complementary.

It reminds me a little of the discussion following that USB charger the other day. It was sniffed at for the simple comparison between it's PV wattage and its price. (Not much consideration of its charging and storage abilities..) I firmly believe that the value of such tools are far more in their potential to help in situations where there are much more expensive or dire issues at stake, and this little bit of 'adaptation or lubrication' can help enable many other pieces to be able to move or connect. This makes their various 'resiliencies' much more important and valuable. Portable, Fixable with Local Materials, Durable, Adaptible..

The overemphasis on being 'Economical' is very close to the JIT mentality, and threatens to thin everything down to just above their breaking strength. Sometimes, it's worth OverBuilding in the right areas, even if the neighbors chuckle at you for doing so.

The trouble with the pv to inverter to heatpump water heater option, in my mind, is that the hpwh and the inverter are both technologies that aren't likely to last ten years without repairs, getting repairs done may be difficult or untimely. Sure, some inverters have lasted 30 years without repairs, but I'd be willing to bet they weren't put together with lead-free solder. I'd have to know a lot more about the compressors in the heatpumt water heaters before I got excited about them. Now, if you could get a simple system based on pv wired directly to a heating element, that might be worth considering.

The overemphasis on being 'Economical' is very close to the JIT mentality, and threatens to thin everything down to just above their breaking strength.

I know that you're talking about physical design. But this parallels exactly the concern in the behavioral sciences about being too narrow-minded about human nature. Narrow our motives too far and humans lose adaptability.

Mary Midgley commented about this years ago. She contrasted the reductionist view of motivation in “economic man” (i.e., “utility,” that all-purpose measure of satisfaction that, in practice, is immeasurable) with that of those who actually live in, construct, and adapt to place: “The attempt to reduce plurality of motivation to abstract unity [‘utiles’ or money] shrinks the essential self to a wizened old nut, a bare intellectual center of choice, unattached to particular people and things and equally capable - if its one abstract need is met - of living anywhere.

It is an extension of her idea that the consumer and the investor in today’s economy have no connection to place; they just buy and sell.

A plurality of motives help humans to remain Portable, ... Durable, Adaptable... Just like the tools they'll need to have available.

Soon More Heat Stress in Cities?

For the first time, scientists have conducted a global study of the effects persistent heatwaves can have on cities. The results reveal that the frequency of summer heat stress could increase more sharply in cities than in the surrounding rural areas.

Abstract: Contrasting urban and rural heat stress responses to climate change

I have been trying to figure this one out for a while.

So, the US income distribution has a curve where a large percentage of people exist in the low income range, and the curve tapers down as income increases. The average income being something like $36000 per year.

Note that if a person drives 15000 miles a year, and makes the average income, this could cost 10% of their income.

Now, as the price of fuel rises, it removes some people from the competition for that marginal gallon of gasoline. What happens when we need to work our way up the income ladder? It looks, to me, like the price would need to go a lot higher to force each new group of drivers off the road.

P.S. I know I didn't explain that very well, but I don't have pictures. Just imagine that you are looking at both income distribution curve and price of gas curve, as oil depletes over time.

I see what you are saying. I would say the folks under $20,000 do not own a car. At $60,000 you have half the drivers below (my estimate). So I can see pushing out half the drivers but you are right the remaining half have "lots" of money relative to what they need to spend for gas. They will still be driving at $15/gallon. But even they will down size from 8 miles per gallon to 21 miles per gallon cars.

I expect that we'll see lower income drivers reducing their driving to the bare minimum before letting themselves be forced off the road completely by high prices.

From what I've seen, people will hang onto their cars even over stable housing given a choice. You can sleep in your car, you can't drive an apartment.

From what I've seen, people will hang onto their cars even over stable housing given a choice. You can sleep in your car, you can't drive an apartment.

The best way for a person to avoid having to make this choice is to plan ahead and move to someplace with good public transportation, or maybe even find a new job closer to public transportation, before their car becomes unusable. This way, a person may be able to choose when they stop driving, instead of being caught unprepared. And the sooner they do this, the sooner they can stop spending a big chunk of their income on keeping an old car running.

Are you suggesting that the average American look to the future and make rational choices? Really?

Poor people don't have the luxury of planning ahead that far.

Most of the time they are lucky if they make it to the next paycheck without incident.

They live where they can afford to, and work wherever they can keep the jobs.

We now have lots of newly poor people, including many recent college grads. I'm assuming that some of them are capable of planning ahead.

True, but we have even more poor people already to welcome them.

Don't assume that people have more control over their lives than they really do.

Sounds like saying "let them eat cake!". There simply aren't that many places in America with good public transportation. Many low-playing jobs are located in high-rent locations too. For many poor Americans, no car = no job, its that simple. Thats kind of of ironic that what should be a luxury (a car) has become a necessity for most of the population.

For cold areas I guess. Otherwise why can't people drive a scooter/honda cub to work where weather permits it?

In American hospitals, motorcyclists are referred to as "organ doners".

LOL. That will change soon enough as people find that being an organ donor is far more affordable. :-)

In American hospitals, motorcyclists are referred to as "organ doners".

Yeah, my wife used to work in the ER in Canada, and that's what they called them here, too. When spring time came and the snow melted, the transplant teams used to go on high alert, waiting for all the motorcyclists to come in on life support with all their organs intact except their brains.

They were ideal donors - young, healthy, strong, and in perfect shape except for no brain activity. They would just declare them dead, pull the plug, and then get those organs out and put them in someone else as fast as possible.

There simply aren't that many places in America with good public transportation.

And those Americans without adequate public transportation will have a choice between lobbying their communities to build good public transportation, or abandoning their homes and moving somewhere that does have good transportation. The Post-Peak-Oil era is not going to be a fun time for a lot of Americans, particularly those who are not proactive about influencing public policy.

I think there are plenty of people who make this choice even now, and it's been that way for a very long time.

In cities, you can get away with living car-free relatively easily. Even in smaller cities that don't have the public transportation systems of a New York or Boston, there will be a basic bus system. There will also be mixed neighborhoods, with businesses and housing, and you can find a job in walking or biking distance of where you live. For many of us, the idea of being constrained to a job within walking distance is a shocking idea. But for a lot of Americans, it's life as usual. Indeed, for minimum wage jobs, one of the questions you will usually be asked is if you have transportation.

In big cities and small towns you can walk to work. In the big city, you can live in the inner city area within easy walking distance of the downtown core. In a small town you just live close to where you work. The real problem is the vast, sprawling suburbs where nobody can live anywhere near a place of employment, and the road system is totally pedestrian-hostile.

Walking to work is great. You get a nice brisk walk in the morning which leaves you energized and ready to put in a hard day's work, and you get a nice leisurely stroll in the afternoon in which you can walk along, admiring the scenery, and on the way pick up some bread, a bit of meat, and some salad greens for dinner.

I wish I'd figured that out earlier in my career. Riding the wind-powered electric trains to work was okay, but I didn't get as much exercise as I needed, and then I needed to make special trips to the supermarket to buy food.

I think it's a pretty good assumption that fuel consumption, as a percentage of income, tends to decline as income increases. I've put it this way: What price would force someone with an income of $36,000 to curtail their fuel consumption and what price would force Bill Gates to curtail his fuel consumption?

I agree it will probably take a higher price to incrementally reduce demand among higher income groups in the US. This is one reason that I think that the annual oil price numbers have shown a progression of higher annual highs and higher annual lows.

Globally of course, in developing countries, at least on an overall basis, we are tending to see rising consumption.

For Bill Gates traveling in a Learjet 45, fuel consumption is 198 gallons / hour with a cruising speed of 465 knots (535 miles/hour) making his fuel economy 2.70 gallons/mile. "Jet-A prices in the continental U.S. are now averaging $5.64 / gallon" (Speculators Driving Oil, and thus Jet-A, Prices Higher (March 22, 2012)). He is paying 23 times more for fuel than a driver of a Prius getting 42 miles / gallon and paying $3.85 / gallon of gasoline for equivalent distances. However, Gates is probably traveling a greater distance than the Prius driver magnifying his pain at the pump even further. He might want to telecommute a bit more to save a few million dollars.

I see what you're getting at, along with others who've commented. But shouldn't we be concerned about civil unrest and economic disruption long before gas prices are high enough to cause demand destruction among the very rich? If none of the workers can afford to drive to their jobs, who will do those jobs? Doesn't matter if Bill Gates and Mitt Romney can afford to drive to Chili's and WalMart if they're both closed. It isn't hard for me to picture fuel riots breaking out as people's economic circumstances are squeezed ever harder. As Orlov says, at some point the whole structure fails. Right?

Sure I am concerned about civil unrest. But, that doesn't stop us from trying to plot a timeline for the underlying causes. I don't really thing that ELM will reach the end of it's curve ether. I mean, can you really see China consuming 100% of all exported oil? Somehow, I see a very complicated function here. One in which China takes more available oil of the market, then the price spikes, then the lower income drivers drop out of the gasoline market all together, then they walk to my house with a pitchfork...

I think you it explained very well.

The lower you are on the income scale,
the higher the percentage of income which goes to gasoline.

Price hikes in gasoline prices will disproportionally
affect lower income households forcing them to adapt
long before higher income brackets will have to react.

A rising tide lifts all boats, they say.
But we have seen the weakness of that analogy
when applied to the economy.
Not all "boats" have been raised equally.

Likewise a falling tide will lower all boats.
But not at the same rate.

Wealth remains a potent resource when facing scarcity.

Some of the smaller boats have shorter anchor chains!

Exactly, the rising tide swamps them and they sink to the bottom.

and there are a lot more smaller boats than bigger ones.

Arctic Sea Ice Hits Maximum Extent for 2012

... Of particular concern is that the ice is declining in volume as well as extent. This winter, ice was only about 10 to 30 centimeters (4 to 12 inches) thick at most, according to Walt Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “So it will all melt away very quickly," he says -- and as it melts away more completely, so it becomes harder for it to reform, creating what NSIDC Director Mark Serreze has called an "overall downward spiral."

I've been following this for years, and that thickness data is just astounding. We are headed for ice-free Arctic Ocean summers soon - as in any year now.

In the late 1970's on southern Ellesmere Island we used to construct an ice airstrip out in front of the town, for the use of heavy-haul aircraft that could not land on our 3,000 foot on-land gravel strip. The ice strip was often one mile and more long.

The airlines would send in one of their own to measure and vet the strip, and one fellow told me that they could land a fully-loaded cargo-config Boeing 737 on 5 feet of sea-ice, or 6 feet of fresh water ice. Same for a Hercules cargo aircraft.

I am not sure what one could land on 12 inches of sea ice. An ultralight, perhaps, or a small Cessna.

Peter Wadhams Sc.D., Professor of Ocean Physics at the University of Cambridge in the UK., forecasts complete loss of Arctic ice in the Summer of 2015 based on the exponential decline in volume.


Check out this graph. The atest weeks, the ice AREA has grown like madly,just at the end of the growth season. Just when one expected the growth to slow down, it picks up. Why this? It is not suddenly colder? It is wind: the ice is spread out over a larger area due to wind patterns. This means thin ice over large area, rather than the oposit we expected.

When the mest sets in harder, later this spring, this ice will collaps and melt away faster than any other we've seen before. This is thin ice.

Area is important because of the Albedo effect but yes thin ice means that record lows will be broken again in Summer.

"When the mest sets in harder" in the latest paragraph is a typo. mest = melt.

That chart isn't area, it's extent. The difference is that the extent is calculated as a boundary around the sea-ice area. Lately, there's been a quick expansion of sea-ice in the Bering Sea and this ice is likely to be very thin and thus will break up and melt quickly. At the moment, there's very little sunlight at those high latitudes, since the North Pole has just passed out of continual Winter night and there's only a brief period for the sun to be above the horizon.

As you note, one should wait a bit before assuming this jump represents a long term expansion of the sea-ice.

There's an interesting story in the NYT about sea-ice, linking the recent extreme warm weather to sea-ice decline:

Weather Runs Hot and Cold, So Scientists Look to the Ice

E. Swanson

Scientists Pin Down Historic Sea Level Rise

The collapse of an ice sheet in Antarctica up to 14,650 years ago might have caused sea levels to rise between 14 and 18 metres (46-60 feet), a study showed on Wednesday, data which could help make more accurate climate change predictions.

... "Our results ... reveal that the increase in sea level in Tahiti was between 12 and 22 metres, with a most probable value between 14 and 18 metres, establishing a significant meltwater contribution from the southern hemisphere," said the authors of the study published in the journal Nature.

This implies the rate of sea level rise was more than 40 millimetres a year [1.6 in/yr], they said.

Another source of the Atlantis myth? Or the deluge myths?

That is the most frightening graph I have seen yet. I thought we had until 2017 at the earliest...

edit - oops - replied to the wrong post - I was referring to the sea ice data.

Miner Xstrata Wins Australia Climate Test Case

Swiss mining giant Xstrata has won a test case against what is set to be Australia's largest open-cut coal mine, with a court ruling that the economic benefits outweighed its climate change impacts.

The Queensland Land Court ruled late Tuesday that Xstrata's proposed Aus$6 billion (US$6.3 billion) Wandoan mine should go ahead, rejecting an unprecedented climate change case seen as a test of Australia's environmental and mining laws.

Global demand for coal would not be dampened were the mine not to go ahead and the fuel would just be sourced from somewhere else and burned regardless, keeping emissions at the same level, court president Carmel MacDonald said. [Tragedy of the Commons]

Ali Naimi: There is no rational reason for high oil prices

The bottom line is that Saudi Arabia would like to see a lower price. It would like to see a fair and reasonable price that will not hurt the global economic recovery, especially in emerging and developing countries, that will generate a good return for producing nations, and that will attract greater investment in the oil industry.

It is clear that geopolitical tensions in the region, and concerns over supply, are helping to keep prices high. Yet fundamentally the market remains balanced. It is the perceived potential shortage of oil keeping prices high – not the reality on the ground. There is no lack of supply. There is no demand which cannot be met. Total commercial stocks for OECD nations are within target, and there is at least 57 days forward cover, enough to handle almost any eventuality.

I estimate that 2011 Saudi net oil exports (BP data base, total petroleum liquids) will be between 1.0 and 1.6 mbpd below their 2005 net export rate of 9.1 mbpd, or between 7.5 mbpd and 8.1 mbpd in 2011. The following chart shows a midpoint estimate of 7.8 mbpd for 2011 (Saudi Net Oil Exports in dark blue).

Note that Saudi Arabia showed a very sharp increase in net exports from 2002 to 2005, as global crude oil prices doubled from $25 in 2002 to $55 in 2005. You can see what happened, starting in 2006, as global crude oil prices doubled again, from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011:


Saudi Oil Minister in April, 2004:

Saudi Oil Is Secure and Plentiful, Say Officials

... “Saudi Arabia now has 1.2 trillion barrels of estimated reserve. This estimate is very conservative. Our analysis gives us reason to be very optimistic. We are continuing to discover new resources, and we are using new technologies to extract even more oil from existing reserves,” [Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi] said.

Naimi said Saudi Arabia is committed to sustaining the average price of $25 per barrel set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. He said prices should never increase to more than $28 or drop under $22. “This is a fair price to consumers and producers. But, really, Saudi Arabia and OPEC has limited control on world markets,” said Al-Naimi. “Prices are driven by other factors: Instability in key oil producing countries; industry struggles to produce specialized gasoline; and the resulting strains on refineries to meet local demand.”

... “Saudi Arabia’s vast oil reserves are certainly there,” Naimi added. “None of these reserves requires advanced recovery techniques. We have more than sufficient reserves to increase output. If required, we can increase output from 10.5 million barrels a day to 12-15 million barrels a day. And we can sustain this increased output for 50 years or more. There will be no shortage of oil for the next 50 years. Perhaps much longer.”

If oil is secure and plentiful, why bother to accelerate drilling? The article below only tells part of the story about KSA's ambitious drilling plans in the next few years.

Saudi Arabia targets record oil drilling
Wed, Mar 28 2012. 6:00 PM IST

With oil exports by Iran, OPEC’s second largest producer under threat, Saudi Arabia is expected to have a record 140 oil and gas rigs by the end of the year, industry sources said

“Aramco is following an ambitious programme to add rigs to accelerate field development in oil and gas,” said an industry source in Saudi Arabia.


Obviously, the Saudis have a personally overweening view of themselves. Ergo, the Saudi's claim of having 260 billion barrels of oil reserves. The problem is they have put themselves in a trap by setting expectations so high. Needless to say, without American support, the Saudi regime has major problems.

People should expect the rosy rhetoric to continue until the sh*t hits the turbofan.

If oil is secure and plentiful, why bother to accelerate drilling?

To offset the decline and replace reserves so many here on TOD are so hysterical about ?

Sadad: Saudi Arabia has a very credible and professional record in terms of declaring capacity and meeting its production targets. When the Kingdom announced a target of 12.5 million barrels of capacity, they actually committed funds to develop that capacity and we’ve seen them now commissioning those: 250,000 additional barrels in Shaybah; 1.2 million barrels in Khurais; 500,000 in Khursaniyah; 900,000 coming on stream in a couple of years in Manifa. So these are real projects and real capacities. I don’t think there is an issue that Saudi Arabia can deliver the oil it says it can deliver. The question is, what about the rest of the world? Is the rest of the world able to make up the difference? If we’re looking at 85 to 90 million barrels a day, and Saudi Arabia delivers 12.5 million, who’s going to deliver the rest and how much effort is going into that? And with decline rates of 7% to 8%, that’s four or five million barrels a year of net new capacity that has to come from new projects. So that’s where the challenge is. I don’t think the problem is Saudi Arabia. I think the problem is the rest of the world.


I don't think Saudi Arabia has ever claimed they could produce forever with their hands tied behind their backs - i.e. without additional drilling.

Not only do you not believe the Saudi's, but you don't believe that you don't bellieve them ?

To offset the decline and replace reserves so many here on TOD are so hysterical about ?

Well, the fundamental problem is that we haven't been replacing reserves since the 1960's. At some point depletion is going to triumph over drilling out existing fields, and the situation is going to become very difficult.

The real concern is that Saudi Arabia will undergo the kind of steep decline in production that we saw in Mexico, and just recently in the British North Sea - decline rates of 20-25% per year.

Supposedly, the steep declines in Mexico and the UK came as a complete surprise to the respective governments, or so they claimed. I don't know why, because it should have been easily predictable. Apparently for them it wasn't. I don't expect Saudi Arabia to be any better at predicting terminal declines in their oil fields than Mexico or the UK.

From the FT article up the thread:

We want to correct the myth that there is, or could be, a shortage. It is an irrational fear, a fear without basis.

This is true. Rising oil prices are keeping demand in balance with declining net oil exports.

I posted the following on the FT website:

Indonesia once was as Saudi Arabia is now. Before too long, will Saudi Arabia be as Indonesia is now?

I estimate that 2011 Saudi net oil exports will be between 1.0 and 1.6 mbpd below their 2005 annual net export rate of 9.1 mbpd (total petroleum liquids, BP).

Using the lower estimate of 2011 net exports, 7.5 mbpd, and projecting their rate of increase in their ratio of domestic petroleum consumption (C) to domestic petroleum production (P) suggested that Saudi Arabia would approach zero net oil exports in about 16 years, around 2027. Using the higher estimate of 2011 net exports, 8.1 mbpd, Saudi Arabia would approach zero net oil exports in about 19 years, around 2030 (in both cases extrapolating the 2005 to estimated 2011 rate of increase in the ratio (C/P) of Saudi consumption to production of total petroleum liquids). At the 2005 to 2010 rate of change in the C/P ratio, Saudi Arabia would have approached zero net oil exports by the end of 2024. So, the slope of the projected Saudi net export decline has changed slightly.

Note that the 100% C/P point marks the demarcation line between net exporter status (below 100%) and net importer status (above 100%).

A rough rule of thumb* suggests that the Saudis would have shipped half of their post-2005 Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) by the end of 2012, based on the 2010 estimate, and they will have shipped half of their post-2005 CNE by the end of 2014, based on the most optimistic 2011 estimate.

Consider another founding member of OPEC. It would appear that Indonesia's final production peak was in 1991, at 1.67 mbpd (Total Petroleum Liquids, BP). Note that their Consumption to Production Ratio (C/P) increased from 42% in 1991 to 52% in 1994. If we extrapolate this rate of increase, they would hit the 100% mark in 2003.

The actual data for Indonesia show a C/P ratio of 94% in 2002 and 105% in 2003.

Saudi Arabia has shown a two year C/P plateau of about 28%, versus 18% in 2005. So, the next two or three years will be interesting. Does their C/P ratio stay about the same, decline or increase? Of course, a simple model, and our case histories (UK, Indonesia, Egypt) show that an initial increase in their respective C/P ratios forecasted their respective arrivals at zero net oil exports. But there are of course counterexamples, frequently related to political unrest, e.g., Colombia.

However, the larger the group of exporters showing an overall increasing C/P ratio, the more likely it is that the increasing C/P trend line is forecasting all of the unpleasant things that "Net Export Math" implies, especially an accelerating rate of decline in net oil exports. So, it could be argued that while the Saudi increase in their C/P ratio from 18% in 2005 to about 28% in 2011 is very worrisome, what is of far greater concern is what our study showed--that the top 33 net oil exporters’ overall C/P ratio increased from 27% in 2005 to 31% in 2010.

For more info, you can do a Google Search for: Peak Oil Versus Peak Exports.

*Half of post-peak CNE tend to be shipped about one third of the way into a net export decline. In other words, relatively high initial post-peak net export volumes are disguising a very high post-peak depletion rate, the depletion rate being the rate at which post-2005 CNE are being shipped. Based on the most optimistic 2011 estimate for Saudi net exports, I estimate that the 2005 to 2011 post-2005 CNE depletion rate for Saudi Arabia is about 8%/year.

Saudi Arabia now has 1.2 trillion barrels of estimated reserve

That is quite obviously a misstatement or misquote and that is easy to check - so why repeat it ? Reserves and resources are often mistakenly used interchangebly by the media, including TOD.

Because that is exactly what they said: Saudi Oil Is Secure and Plentiful, Say Officials Tim Kennedy, Arab News

WASHINGTON, 29 April 2004 — Officials from Saudi Arabia’s oil industry and the international petroleum organizations shocked a gathering of foreign policy experts in Washington yesterday with an announcement that the Kingdom’s previous estimate of 261 billion barrels of recoverable petroleum has now more than tripled, to 1.2 trillion barrels.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s key oil and finance ministers assured the audience — which included US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan — that the Kingdom has the capability to quickly double its oil output and sustain such a production surge for as long as 50 years.

Bold mine.

Saudi officials have continually stated that their true reserves are far greater than the 2.64 billion barrels that they officially state. Here in a sidebar to this article: Oil Innovations Pump New Life Into Old Wells Nansen G. Saleri, head of Aramco reservoir management suggest that ultimate reserves are more than 900 billion barrels. That was stated in 2007. I guess they have reassessed their reserves down from the 1.2 trillion they stated in 2004. He probably just forgot and stated the first figure that came to his mind. ;-)

Ron P.

Al-Naimi and Saleri were clearly talking about resources. Confused reporters frequently interchange the terms.

Have you checked the figures on Saudi Aramco's website:

Facts and Figures 2010

Pricey Exploration Means Dear Oil Is Here To Stay

... When Saudi King Abdullah promised $130 billion in extra public spending in 2011 to head off unrest following the Arab Spring it was clear that the world’s motorists and frequent fliers would pick up the tab. Estimates by Barclays Capital suggested that Abdullah’s largesse would raise the break-even price of oil needed to balance the kingdom’s budget by about a third to $91 a barrel for 2011. While the minimum price is lower for 2012, it is still far higher than before the Arab Spring.

The supermajors also need higher crude prices. The cost of finding and developing oil supplies has tripled over the past decade, to about $17 per barrel, according to Morningstar. While this might not seem much with oil at $125 a barrel, the average figure obscures the high cost of extracting so-called “unconventional” oil supplies.

Export Ban on U.S. Oil Pushed by Democrats as Prices Soar

Congressional Democrats are pushing to ban exports of American oil in an attempt to limit energy cost increases.

Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said today he plans to introduce a bill this week in the Republican-led House banning export of any oil that is produced from or that is transported across U.S. public lands

... stupid is as stupid does [F. Gump]

People are angry and confused, and looking to us for leadership. We've got to pander even harder!

Export Ban on U.S. Oil Pushed by Democrats as Prices Soar

Does anyone know how much actual crude oil is exported from the US?

I suspect there is a small amount exported across the Canadian border when logistics make it obvious to ship to a Canadian refinery.

Varies. According to EIA, between 9-16 million barrel/yr of crude [2006-2010]. In other word, 1/2 to 1 day of consumption (0.14-0.27% of yearly consumption)

The bill also blocks export of oil crossing public land. Would this apply to Canadian oil pumped down to Texas/Louisiana for export to China?

I don't think the politicians are very clear on what is going on with oil exports and imports.

According to US Energy Administration data, last week the US exported a minuscule 38,000 barrels per day of crude oil, all of it to Canada.

Most likely some northern US oil fields were closer to Canadian refineries than to US refineries, and that's why the oil went to Canada. The producers probably just trucked it a short distance across the border and put it into the Canadian pipeline system. Under NAFTA this is tariff-free.

It's entirely possible that some or most of the crude oil exported to Canada was immediately reimported back to the US. I do know that some companies in North Dakota truck oil into Canada for delivery to US refineries via the Canadian export pipelines. I don't know whether the EIA subtracts this off their import/export statistics or not.

At the same time, the US imported 2,273,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Canada. Imports of crude oil from Canada were 60 times as great as exports of crude oil to Canada.

The export volume pales in comparison to the millions of barrels per day of oil that is currently being imported from Canada and flooding the Midwest with cheap oil.

Congressional Democrats are pushing to ban exports of American oil in an attempt to limit energy cost increases.

They've probably read some of those articles claiming US oil exports are exceeding oil imports, (when in fact it is exported refined oil product exceeding refined oil imported product), and falsely concluded that since we are so close to energy independence (don't all laugh at once) then let's keep the darn stuff here! This is the problem with MSM trying to placate the masses with falsified information to help them 'feel' better about the high price of oil/fuel, is it garners ignorance that speeds efforts in the wrong direction. Refiners would not export a refined oil product if there was more money to be made by selling it here. What would be the purpose? By reducing US oil product exports all it will do is reduce GDP.

How many people in the US are even aware of Peak Oil, without actually having to believe in it? Hard to imagine anything more than 1% of the population -- 3 million people -- and that's very likely generous.

How many people in the developed world? Again, being generous, it can't be over 1% of a population of about 1 billion people.


Natually, I expect Edward will applaud other countries as they follow along and cut off their oil exports to the US, right? Must be an election year....

Except that oil isn't "their" oil. Its America's oil. All of it.
Jokes, but that's the impression you get from the media sometimes.

Export Ban on U.S. Oil Pushed by Democrats as Prices Soar

OK, so Obama announces WTO case against China over rare earths while at the same time pushing for a U.S. Oil export ban?
"The United States accuses China of hoarding the valuable minerals for its own use." "“This is American oil and it should benefit American consumers"

Don't we all love the consistency in U.S. politics?

French Village Pince to Hand Out Chickens to Cut Waste

A French village has proposed giving two chickens to each household in order to cut down on organic waste.

Officials in the village of Pince in north-western France say the chickens should each consume 150kg (330lb) of rubbish per year

DOD Over A Barrel: Crude Impact on Operations and Maintenance

Apparently, last February’s attack on Sec Navy Mabus for seeking an alternative to fossil fuels was not the work of a rogue numb skull. It appears to be a trend among House Republicans.

... Senator McCain, a man I respect enormously, despite Game Change, has entered the fix. This week he took a swipe at Mabus, likening the efforts to another Solyndra. When someone of Mr. McCain’s military acumen starts down the road, it can clearly be identified as a Republican Talking Point. McCain wants to kill the program. Does he have an alternative? Not in evidence. Is it drill, baby, drill? This is like saying that heroin is too expensive; we need more dealers.

Refineries shutting down all over.
o Marcus Hook, Pa, (Sunoco) 178k bpd last year
o Trainer, Pa (ConocoPhillips)185k bpd last year
o Philadelphia, Pa (Sunoco), 335k bbpd predicted to shut July '12 (this is *the* refinery, going back to the 19th century)
o Aruba ( Valero), 285k bpd, end of March '12

Reasons given include i) 2-3% drop in US gasoline consumption even though driving is up, ii) high cost of imported (Brent) oil. Even so, I don't follow how these reasons alone are sufficient to prevent them from making money at $4/gal. I would like to see production information from competitors, guessing that someone has upped production elsewhere at improved dollar efficiency.

I'm sorry, but I really don't see why so many refineries are shutting down.
Surely they buy their raw material at $X and pass it on at $X cost + ?
The only reason I can see, as you say, is more efficient refiners pushing down the profit margin.
But, in such an established industrial process, are there still places where cost cutting can be achieved?
Or is there another reason?



The reason they are shutting down is because they have to buy their oil at North Sea or OPEC prices, and they are competing with refineries who can buy their oil at Texas or Canadian prices, which are much cheaper. However, they have to sell gasoline and diesel fuel at almost the same price because it's a competitive market.

Recent prices: $US/BBL
North Sea Brent Blend $125.95
OPEC Basket Price $123.50
West Texas Intermediate $107.33
Western Canadian Select $82.58

The difference in prices goes straight to the refinery's bottom line. The ones paying Brent prices aren't making any money at all, while the ones running WCS are making a killing.

I have to keep posting this table over and over again for people who haven't seen what is going on in world oil markets.

Ah. I was aware of the spread in crude prices but had assumed, wrongly, that where the east coast refineries were isolated from Texas/ND/Canadian crude they were also isolated from gasoline refined from Texas/ND/Canadian crude. Not so. This spread can't last though. At some point, a pipeline gets built, or gulf coast tankers get loaded w/ destination Philly, or the lower demand for Brent lowers the Brent price, or the price goes up for WTI.

More to it than that, here are recent prices (at the wellhead which deducts for transportation) for bakken light sweet:

Nov 2011: $89.66/bbl
Dec 2011: $91.08/bbl
Jan 2012:: $89.16/bbl
Feb 2012: $86.72/bbl

I think Exxon, Billings has a preference for their own ............stuff.

Same goes for Tesoro's (TSO on NYSE) Mandan, ND refinery.
I think Tesoro has limited profits from its west coast refineries getting oil from Alaska and California, so overall TSO is not making a killing.

Heavy Canadian Oil Weakens After Exxon Montana Refinery Fire


Montana spill pipeline may have carried oil sands crude

An Exxon Mobil pipeline that ruptured, leaking oil into Yellowstone River, may have sometimes carried a heavier and more toxic form of crude than initially thought, federal regulators said on Thursday.


I hope the canadians don't get offended that I insulted a goo grade(bitumen).

Toxic, schmoxic, crude oil is more or less all black and sticky and will make you sick if you eat it.

If it is in Montana, divided from Alberta by only an imaginary dotted line, then there is a fairly high probability that it includes at least some oil sands bitumen. However, what you typically see in the pipelines is a mix of oils blended to whatever the refineries want.

Montana produces its own heavy, sour brands of crude, if you want to get really picky about it.

Calling diluted bitumen 'crude oil' is an insult to Montana's heavy sour crude oil.

Western Canada Select is a standard blend for export that has an API gravity of 20.3° and a sulfur content of 3.43%. How does that compare to Montana heavy sour crude?

Crude bitumen is just crude oil that is too viscous to flow under normal conditions. You can make it less viscous and able to flow by diluting it with lighter oil, or by heating it. That's what they do.

OK, thanks, I see.

I'm wonderding, what do the refineries on the Gulf Coast buy? And can the east coast refiners get the same stuff? Louisiana light sweet is close in price to Brent, maybe a couple of dollars less.

My understanding was that price difference between WTI and Brent was due in part to the shipping bottleneck between Oklahoma and the gulf coast. But that would mean that coast refiners don't get such cheap feedstock either, meaning they would face the same constraints as the ones that are closing.


The Gulf Coast refineries are designed to process heavy, sour Mexican and Venezuelan oil, since they are close to Mexico and Venezuela. That being the case, they can also process the Arabian Heavy that is coming on the market as the Saudis try to pretend they can keep the world supplied with oil. this stuff is cheaper than sweet, light oil, but not as cheap as Canadian heavy, sour oil, or even as cheap as North Dakota sweet light oil.

The Northeast refineries were not designed to process heavy, sour oil, and don't have pipeline access to the new North Dakota sweet light oil production, so they are stuck with North Sea, North African, West African, and Arab light oil - all of which is in short supply and expensive.

If only we could get that diluted bitumen to where the refineries are gas would be so much cheaper in the U.S.

Bloomberg: Keystone Oil Pipeline Seen Raising Gas Prices in Midwest: Energy

Keystone XL might lower the average cost of gasoline across the U.S. by up to 4 cents a gallon, Ray Perryman, a consultant hired by TransCanada to assess the economic impact of the project, said in an e-mail.

The net impact of Keystone XL on gasoline prices would be minimal, said Perryman, whose research has been cited by TransCanada to back up claims on potential job growth and market impacts from the pipeline.

The refineries in the gulf of Mexico can get heavy oil from anywhere, Venezuela in particular. And yes some WCS is getting down there. The refineries making a killing are the ones in the mid-west that can access oil relatively easily from the Bakken and "diluted bitumen" (WCS) from the tar sands.

Once that diluted bitumen (WCS) gets to the gulf it's no longer cheap mid-west refinery inputs, it's now the worlds. Don't expect the tar sands oil companies to offer the U.S. any discounts.

TransCanada Corp. Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project backers including Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum say will create cheaper U.S. gasoline, instead risks raising prices as much as 20 cents a gallon in the Midwest, Great Plains and Rocky Mountains.

The EIA has an analysis of the North East Refinery shut downs here.

RMG is partially right when he says this...

The reason they are shutting down is because they have to buy their oil at North Sea or OPEC prices, and they are competing with refineries who can buy their oil at Texas or Canadian prices, which are much cheaper.

The issue isn't entirely price; not all refineries can process Venezuelan or Tar Sands really heavy oils. There is less light sweet crude available, more and more what is left is heavy oil. So they have to pay more for their inputs.

The refinery owners are likely asking themselves does it make economic sense to upgrade their East coast refinery to be able to process the remaining heavy oils or shut it down. For various reasons they must be thinking that it makes more sense to shut down an unprofitable refinery than to upgrade it to process the really heavy oils. Peak oil may be part of their calculation, as well as the fact that people are going to use less gas when it gets expensive.

I didn't complicate my reply by adding that the Northeast refineries are not designed to process the cheaper heavy sour crudes that are available from places other than Canada, although Canada is the main supplier of them to the US.

The Northeast refineries are basically stuck processing expensive oil from the North Sea, West Africa, and other OPEC producers of light oil, which means that they are becoming the first victims of the Peak Oil era. Ultimately, they are the victims of declining supply of oil and declining demand for high-priced fuel. I think the owners were able to see the dark at the end of the Peak Oil tunnel, so they didn't waste money upgrading their refineries. They just ran them until they became uneconomic, and then shut them down.

Unlike the Northeast refineries, the Midwest and Gulf Coast refineries have been upgraded at considerably expense to process heavy, sour crude. The Midwest refiners are doing particularly well because Canadian (and North Dakota) oil is so cheap, but the Gulf Coast refiners are surviving by shopping the world for cheap heavy oil. They would like access to Canadian oil, though, because their other main heavy oil suppliers (Mexico and Venezuela) are suffering from declining production. Canadian production is slowly but steadily increasing.

EDIT: Scratch those imports from the North Sea. I just checked the EIA database, and last year PADD 1 imports were down to only 3,000 barrels per day from the UK and 35,000 bpd from Norway. The North Sea really has gone down the drain recently.

Yes, now it's all up to West Africa and... Canada actually. Canada sent them 226,000 bpd of light oil from its offshore fields - not a huge amount but better than a slap in the belly with a wet cod fish. I'm sure it cost a fortune, much more than Western Canadian oil.

Those Canadian East Coast offshore fields are going to go into decline in the fairly near future. Trust me on that. That could be another reason the East Coast refiners are shutting down - they do pay attention to what is happening to their oil suppliers, you know.

Good explanation on why refineries are closing RMG. News to me but makes sense - thanks. That also helps explain why pump prices are getting so high due to lack of supply.

So you build a pipe and even out the markets. When finished, many refs are already gone. Then what?

Well, then supply and demand will be back in balance and the price of oil will be uniform across the market. In the Post-Peak-Oil era, that price will probably be very high.

Surely they buy their raw material at $X and pass it on at $X cost + ?

This is every manufacturers dream - but when you have many competitors and they all are trying to maximize market share they all don't cooperate by just passing the cost + $.

Each competitor does try to price as high as possible but in real life it does not work because the guy down the street cuts the cost to steal share. The result - the least efficient or those with the highest crude costs end up shutting down. There is more to come.

Yes, my incorrect assumption was that all refiners were able to take advantage of price differences on raw material. I had assumed that the price difference was due to different qualities of crude rather than geographic availability. And that complexities in refinability offset lower initial costs. If that makes sense!

Elsewhere ...

FBI Taught Agents They Could ‘Bend or Suspend the Law’

The FBI taught its agents that they could sometimes “bend or suspend the law” in their hunt for terrorists and criminals. Other FBI instructional material, discovered during a months-long review of FBI counterterrorism training, warned agents against shaking hands with “Asians” and said Arabs were prone to “Jekyll & Hyde temper tantrums

“This is not an effective way to protect the United States,” Sen. Richard Durbin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the FBI, tells Danger Room about the inappropriate FBI counterterrorism training. ...adding that the FBI provided him no context as to what circumstances might justify acting outside the law. “It creates a license for activity that could on its face be illegal, and certainly inconsistent with our values.”

An Estimated $8 Billion in Cash Was Smuggled Out of Afghanistan Last Year

... “It’s hard to estimate exactly how much is going out of Afghanistan, but I can tell you in 2011, 4.5 billion was (flown) out of Afghanistan,” said Khan Afzal Hadawal, deputy governor of the bank of Afghanistan.

That is just what is moving out of the Kabul airport. It is estimated $8 billion in cash was lugged out of the country last year by car, private jets and border crossings. That is almost double the entire country’s budget for 2011.


Altaeros Airborne Wind Turbine prototype during testing in Limestone, Maine

... Altaeros Energies has announced the first testings of its Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) prototype that resembles a sort of blimp windmill. The test took place at the Loring Commerce Center in Limestone, Maine, USA where the AWT floated 350 feet (107 meters) into the sky and successfully produced power, before coming back to earth in a controlled landing. The turbine was deployed into the air from a towable docking trailer, while demonstrating that it can produce over twice the power at high altitudes than generated at conventional tower height. There are hopes to energy costs can be reduced by up to 65 percent by harnessing stronger winds that occur at and above an altitude of 1,000 feet (305 meters).


I would almost wager that the flying rigs could one day overtake the Tower Markets, considering their mobility, materials savings and the ease of retracting them for upgrades and maintenance, (EDIT: And STORMS..), instead of relying on heavy cranes and the high wages of climbing teams..

This one is Helium Dependent.. but where there's wind, there's lift.. and I wonder what potential there would be for sacrificing some of the output into simple heating coils to heat air for a portion of the lift, while Airfoils handle some more, and Helium or H2 the remainder..

That it is being tested up in Limestone, I was going to see if the Bangor paper covered it.. but those upstate wind reports are disheartening, since there is a cabal of dedicated Anti-wind posters who Dive-bomb any article related to Alt Energy as if it was Terrorism.

I have always thought that a mixture of He and H2 could be used in blimps and derigables. If the concentration of H2 is low the chance of ignition or combustion is much reduced. Using a mix of He and H2 would lower cost and increase lift, as H2 is half the weight of He.

Is this site the previous Loring Air Force Base?

I have to assume so.

You still hear a lot of people down here talking about the big PHISH show they had up there. http://www.stage2pro.com/html/phishloring.htm

Probably easy to guess how these MIT folks tracked down the place, and what's on their IPODs..

Jim Bob's mojo ris'en:

McMoRan Exploration Co. Announces Flare at Davy Jones No. 1 – Flow Rates Not Yet Determinable

As previously reported, McMoRan saw positive pressure response from the Wilcox “D” sand which was perforated on March 24, 2012. On March 26, 2012, McMoRan attempted to perforate the Wilcox “C” sand. As the perforating gun was being removed from the hole, the well began to flow.When the gun was brought to the surface, it was determined that the gun did not fire in the Wilcox “C” sand from what appears to be a simple disconnection of the detonator cord. McMoRan plans to use a new perforating gun to complete the testing of the Wilcox “C” sand.


Clear as mud! Can you explain what this means?

I am going by the press release, but what apparently happened is Mcmoran perforated the lower 'D' zone and saw a pressure increase, at the wellhead, but did not attempt to produce the 'D' zone at that time.

Then more recently in attempting to perforate the 'C' zone, the perforating guns did not detonate - because of a poor electical connection. This is apparently being done on a wireline and detonation is supposed to occur electrically.

When the perforating gun was removed from the hole - the most recent run - the perforating gun probably 'swabbed' the casing such that a flow of gas came from the 'D' zone.

Jim Bob Moffet is the CEO of Mcmoran and this is a closely watched new shallow water ultra deep play in the Gulf.

Perforating a well can be a dangerous process because the perforating guns can mis-fire.

Thanks. Less muddy!   : )

Bud/aws – What I heard from a hand on the McMoRan well before I left for Africa: he didn’t say anything about the D Sand being perf’d and not flowing. He did tell me the perf for the C Sand was tubing conveyed. TCP has the perf gun attached to the end of the production tubing. The tubing I then run into the hole one joint (30’)…an extra slow process because it was chrome tubing that required specialized torqe. Once the tubing is set into the packer on bottom it’s usually set off by pressure by pumping from the surface. The perf gun then falls to bottom. We can put a sound detector on the tubing and usually hear the gun fire. Apparently they didn’t hear the gun go off and had to pull the tubing all the way back out.

If the story I got was correct they have swabbed it in while pulling the tubing out too fast. Sorta like sticking your finger in a soda bottle and popping it out…causes a little suction action. Typically when shooting TCP you have a completion fluid weight that cause the well to be under balanced: the reservoir pressure is slightly higher than the pressure of the column of completion fluid. That way the heavier completion fluid won’t get pushed into the reservoir when shot. That might cause some damage to the reservoir so we try to avoid. If this is what happened it would make it easier to swab the well. Then it can get tricky if your part way out of the well with the tubing. And dangerous as Bud says. Now you have a live well that wants to flow from the D Sand. They need to kill the well before they can go forward. Technically they could be in a “well control situation”. A WCS is what often happens right before a well blows out…like Macondo. I doubt that will happen to Jim Bob.

But this is probably one of the most complex completions jobs ever attempted. They took over a year planning it. The oil patch has been watching closely. Even after they get it back under control and finish the perf job they could lose the hole for a variety of reason. They could but the well on for $10 million a month and then lose the completion after a few months. Mother Earth can be a real b*tch at this depth, temp and pressure. I was told the original well cost around $150 million. Just a rough guess but the completion might cost another $10-20 million.

But I’m not worried about Jim Bob. If he followed the same MO as he did 30 years ago when I worked for one of his joint venture partners he doesn’t have a penny of his money in it…at least the original hole. The man knows how to promote a well.

In Heading Out post a year or so back he said "shaped charges" were used to perforate the casing to make more places for oil to flow up the production pipe. True or not? What is this perforating gun?

Have a search on YouTube, there are some interesting videos.


Partially true. A perforating gun is used to make places(and more places) for oil to flow into the casing. Production pipe(tubing) will be installed later and (probably) gas will flow up the production pipe(tubing).

A perforating 'gun' is a 'gun' loaded with 'shaped charges'. The 'gun' can be tubing conveyed or lowered into the well on a wireline. In the early days, perforating 'guns' used actual rifle bullets. The name stuck. Shaped charges are more effective, cut a cleaner hole, can penetrate deeper into the rock, and don't leave behind a lead slug.

I doubt anyone is still using bullets, although they were still available in the '70's.

Shaped charges are not the only means of perforating, and perforating is not the only use for shaped charges in well work.


Wouldn't they isolate the deeper 'D' reservoir zone using a packer or similar, while they perforated the shallower 'C' zone?

One would think so, too many unknowns. On face value, it sounds a little rinky-dink for a well that took a full year of planning.

I don't know if it took a full year to plan, I suspect it took a full year to design and build the equipment needed to test this ultra-deep test.

I hope this hasn't been posted, if so I apologize for the duplicate.

What we knew in '82

This latest video from Peter Sinclair features an interview with Dr Mike MacCracken who was a senior researcher at Lawrence Livermore Labs in 1982. We're also treated to video snips of Admiral Titley of the US Navy, Dr Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M, Dr James Hansen, Dr Julienne Stroeve, and Dr Jason Box of the Byrd Polar Center Ohio State University.

In short it is a video that is worth watching and sharing with your associates who may be honestly "skeptical" about AGW. I can't say how a "denier" would view it, but it should help counter the argument that "in the late 70s, we were supposedly going to have a new ice age" (a minority opinion then, but hyped in print).

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OmpiuuBy-4s#! (via YouTube)

all credit to Peter Sinclair's Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Hey, global warming was well known enough to make it in to a popular movie in 1973 (skip ahead to 0:32):


I can't recall whether there was an explicit connection to climate change, but I remember an ABC Movie of the Week back in the early to mid 70's called Heat Wave! which portrayed a series of unrelenting heat waves that effectively paralysed New York City, ultimately forcing a young couple and their newborn to seek refuge in the countryside. Better than Killdozer, but only marginally so.


This is for people who believe that American stalling on the Keystone XL pipeline will prevent Canadian oil sands production from being exported to China.

PetroChina bids to help build $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline

Chinese investment in Canada’s energy sector could move to a new level if PetroChina wins a bid to build the controversial Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline.

The largest of China’s three state-controlled oil companies has expressed an interest in building the $5.5-billion project across the northern Canadian Rockies and is considering purchasing an equity stake, said Pat Daniel, president and CEO of proponent Enbridge Inc.

“They have made the point to us that they are very qualified in building pipelines, and we will take that into consideration when we are looking for contractors,” Mr. Daniel said in an interview. “It’s an open bid process. They are a very big organization, they build a lot of pipelines, and they would love to be involved from what they have told me.”

I would much rather see the Keystone XL (in the new route that doesn't go through the Sand Hills) or more pipelines to Vancouver than see the Northern Gateway pipeline, which I think is a recipe for disaster in a relatively untouched area (despite the aluminum smelter at Kitimat). An oil spill in the passages leading to Kitimat would not be pretty.

That said, I think the Keystone XL will be built before the Northern Gateway gets very far, as the delay right now is a political game and will give way as soon as people are looking in the other direction. Possibly before the election, if it looks like supporting it will sway some of the swing voters, and gas prices are high enough.

The real question is whether building the Keystone XL pipeline will prevent the building of the Northern Gateway pipeline. If it's all going to get built, then it's a moot point.

Most likely, it is all going to get built. In the Peak Oil Era (I like repeating that phrase over and over), conventional production is declining and non-conventional production is increasing. This is a huge transition for most countries, and I'm not sure all of them will survive the experience.

The three main sources of oil on Earth are 1) the conventional oil deposits of the Middle East, 2) the non-conventional oil sands of Canada, and 3) the non-conventional oil sands of Venezuela. The first source of oil is near or at its production peak, so consuming countries who want to continue using oil but don't want to use non-conventional oil are basically screwed. It's their only alternative.

The Kindle version of my book is available today:


If you click on "Look Inside" you can see the Table of Contents, Acknowledgements, and first few pages. (You don't have to have Kindle in order to do this). TOD readers got a plug in the Acknowledgements, which you can see through the preview.

Will you have this book in the iBooks Store, the Apple equivalent? If so when? In the mean time I will ask around to see how I can import books to the iBooks App.

I have no idea. The publisher deals with all of those things. If most Kindle books end up in the iBooks store, then I would assume so. But I honestly don't know.

Bon Chance!

When TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline was stalled by the Obama administration, its main Canadian competitor, Enbridge, bought ConocoPhillips share of the Seaway Pipeline, which ran in the opposite direction, and is now in the process of reversing it to bring Canadian oil south to the Gulf of Mexico.

They apparently also have some big plans for expanding the capacity of the pipeline. Originally it was 150,000 bpd heading North, after the expansion it will 850,000 bpd heading South.

Enbridge, Enterprise to double Cushing capacity to Gulf

Enbridge Inc and Enterprise Products Partners LP will more than double the capacity of the Seaway Pipeline and expand another line from Illinois, further easing a major oil glut in the United States.

The firms are pumping more than $2 billion into expanding the U.S. pipeline network after securing sufficient customer commitments for shipping a growing surplus of crude in the U.S. Midwest, which has been inundated with fast-rising supplies of Canadian and North Dakota oil, to refiners along the Gulf Coast.

The projects, when completed by mid-2014, should help bring a conclusive end to the glut of landlocked U.S. crude that has caused an unprecedented distortion in oil markets, driving the price of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude to as much as $28 a barrel below European Brent crude.

We Screwed Up
A Letter of Apology to My Granddaughter
By Chip Ward


I think many of you will appreciate this.


I looked, finally, at the "More information about formatting options." If somebody has a minute, would you tell me how to make a link to a web site out of one or a few words, like I see here all the time. I don't see that in the list of tags -- or maybe I just don't know what to call it?

I did take a two-day course in HTML some years back but I never really got into doing it, so I understand the coding concept (also because I was once a pre-Windows WordPerfect user) but am a babe in the woods insofar as actually using the HTML or XHTML "tags."

Another question: I am assuming I understand the blockquote tags; they are on/off tags. What I can't see there is how the "block" gets screened with dots, making it look gray.


At the bottom of the comment window are three bullet points of posting information. Then there's a red line

More information about formatting options.

Click on that for the embedding formula.

Different websites have different formats for displaying blockquotes. The boxed quote with gray shading is the Drum Beat version.

Okay -- the gray shading is automatic in the (Drumbeat) blockquote tag. I get that.

And the one or few word link is called an embedded link. I am "embedding" the link into the selected word or phrase. I just don't see instructions there for how to do that.

Appreciate the help. Thnx, Lizzie

In firefox, select the section of text you want to know about..for eg select the text in the grey box with your mouse, right click and say "View Selection Source". You can learn all tags that way. :-)

If using Firefox try the Xinha Here add on as it eases using HTML.


Use the anchor tag for a hypertext link:

<a href="http://www.google.com"><u>Google</u></a>

to produce this: Google

Tedious peak oil claims from the EU Energy Policy Blog

The survival of civilization as we know it ought not be handled like lazy teens handle homework. Reading "boring stuff" is the least one can do. An "F" grade equals catastrophe.

In other news, Daniel Yergin was just interviewed tonight on (Australia's) ABC-TV Lateline for about 20 minutes. He was pushing his new book ("The Quest"), and I really think his publicists should send out someone else (even a crash-test dummy) to flog the book. He was extremely boring ... but at least he is going bald normally - there was no comb-over happening.

His main points - that shale gas, shale oil, Canadian tar-sands, horizontal drilling, and fracking, all mean that Peak Oil has been shifted back decades & decades. The US is on track for oil independence - and fairly soon.

Most of the interview really revolved around Climate Change - a topic that Our Daniel was equally eloquent upon (not). But his take was that all the alternative energy sources in the world will never replace the energy in a cupful of oil ... on that point I expect he is right.

Gosh he was dull - what do we have to be afraid of??

The entire clip can be viewed here: The complexities of energy delivery with Daniel Yergin

And there is a transcript for those with slow speed net access.

Energy consultant Daniel Yergin says new technologies, new discoveries and increasing efficiencies mean there is no danger of running low on fossil fuels, but alternative energy will continue to grow rapidly.

Ron P.

The US is on track for oil independence - and fairly soon.

Yes, high prices for imported crude oil will continue causing demand destruction until the imports are zero achieving energy independence the hard way.

RWE and E.On halt UK nuclear plans at Wylfa and Oldbury

There has been a setback to the government's plan to attract investment in new nuclear power stations.

That is after RWE Npower and E.On announced they will not develop new nuclear power projects in the UK.

The two were planning to invest in new plants in Anglesey and Oldbury, near Bristol, under a joint venture called Horizon Nuclear Power.

The government says it is disappointed but there remains "considerable interest" in the project.

The firms say that raising finance for power projects has become difficult.

Just in case some of you doomer/prepper folks are getting lonely in your bunkers:

Doomsday dating sites: 'Don't face the future alone'

Darn it. We should have done it when we had that idea six years ago.

Once again, TOD was ahead of the curve ;-) I think the "no skinnies" stipulation is important, as in "must have adequate, easily transportable domestic energy reserve"...

UPDATE 1-UK oil output in 2011 falls to lowest since 1970s

UK oil production fell more than 17 percent to average 1.04 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2011, government figures released on Thursday showed, underlining the difficulty in slowing down a decade-long fall in output.

Output fell 17.4 percent compared with 2010 to average 52 million tonnes (381.2 million barrels), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said in a statement, the lowest level of production since the 1970s.

Hey folks, a drop of 17.4 percent in one year is alarming. According to several surveys, CERA, the IEA and others, the average drop of existing fields was supposed to be, depending on the survey, somewhere between 4 percent and 6.5 percent. And new fields coming on line was supposed to mitigate that decline to an actual increase in production. But a drop of 17.4 percent, even counting new supply, if they had any, is shocking.

Edit: I just checked the EIA's data base to see what they had the UK production doing. They had UK average C+C production in 2010 at 1,233,000 barrels per day and 2011 UK production 1,228,000 barrels per day for a drop of 0.38 percent. The EIA says the UK produced 188,000 barrels per day more than the UK says they actually produced.

JODI has UK C+C production in 2010 at 1,199,000 barrels per day and 2011 C+C production at 1,002,000 barrels per day for a drop of 16.4 percent. That is a lot closer to what the UK says they produced. And I got their average just by averaging the 12 months as if all months had the same number of days. That puts my figures a little off and that would explain the difference. JODI gets their data from a questionnaire sent to each country. So they are reporting what the UK says they produced.

With every report I see I am having less and less confidence in what the EIA says.

Ron P.

Ron - It is indeed an alarming decline. However, it may be that the prevailing economic policies were exacerbating the problem. Put simply, field owners were liable for decommissioning costs of any platform or surface infrastructure. This potential end-of-life cost (and the need to guarantee this cost up front in any purchase of a field), made it very difficult for smaller players to buy into the older, mature assets the majors were trying to sell off.

This month's annual UK government budget has provided tax concessions for decommissioning, which aim to make the purchase of mature fields more affordable for smaller players. The idea is to bring more players into the game and slow the decline. There is an article on it in the Economist this week. Maybe that will bring the decline back to the more usual - but still alarming - single figures.


They had UK average C+C production in 2010 at 1,233,000 barrels per day and 2011 UK production 1,228,000 barrels per day for a drop of 0.38 percent.


EIA (C+C): http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=5&pid=57&aid=1&c...

                          2010    2011
United Kingdom            19.5    14.8      
United Kingdom (Offshore) 1,213.7 1,015.9  -16.3%

Yeah, I caught that error right after I posted. But my post had already been replied to so I could not correct it but I did in my post below which I posted at 9:58, one minute after your post. You were just too quick. ;-) I was writing while you were posting.

Ron P.

Don't worry UK Natural gas production was down 22% in 2011 That was before out recent local difficulty.

There is zero public awareness. All the chattering classes are trying to decide between nuclear and shale gas as our primary energy source going forward.


The EIA C+C plateau looks increasingly like an illusion.

Ron - at the risk of repeating what may be common knowledge to you and many others, the UK government publishes monthly total oil production on this public website. Simply follow the link and then select the 'Monthly Oil Production' tab at the bottom of the page. The latest month available is November 2011.


Edit to my original post on this subject. I somehow made a mistake in transferring the EIA UK production data to my spreadsheet. They had the drop in UK production much closer than my figures indicated. I had their 2010 data correct but somehow I had their 2011 data wrong. The EIA has their 2011 C+C production at 1,030,700 barrels per day or a drop of 16.7 percent.

My apologies to the folks on this list and to the EIA. ;-)

Ron P.

Study tracks how conservatives lost their faith in science

"Over the last several decades, there's been an effort among those who define themselves as conservatives to clearly identify what it means to be a conservative," he said. "For whatever reason, this appears to involve opposing science and universities, and what is perceived as the 'liberal culture.' So, self-identified conservatives seem to lump these groups together and rally around the notion that what makes 'us' conservatives is that we don't agree with 'them.'"

Meanwhile, the perception of science's role in society has shifted as well.

"In the past, the scientific community was viewed as concerned primarily with macro structural matters such as winning the space race," Gauchat said. "Today, conservatives perceive the scientific community as more focused on regulatory matters such as stopping industry from producing too much carbon dioxide."

Gauchat's findings run counter to at least one liberal stereotype about conservatives: that right-wingers are distrustful of scientists because they have less education. The figures do support a link between more education and more trust in science, but they also show that more highly educated conservatives are, if anything, more distrustful.

Some of the most "educated" folks I know are also the most prone to bias. Perhaps these folks should question their own use of science-derived pharmaceuticals or the plethora of other things they rely on.

Some education systems teach people how to think; others teach folks what to think. My friend's kid has a masters (MBA) from Bob Jones; one of the most biased, argumentative, and pious humans I've ever met. Graduated with honors.

It's not a matter of trusting or not trusting, it's just that people perceive what they want to fit their needs. They want their big suv's and energy guzzling lifestyle so they find a reason, any reason to support that position. If you try to shift the argument, they will in turn shift their rationale. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. People are no different. Can't force a square peg through a round hole. What I'm saying is they know their position makes no sense, but they insist on it anyway because they perceive it helps them get and keep what they want.

Science under fire from 'merchants of doubt': US historian

Scientists are facing an uphill battle to warn the public about pressing issues due to dissenters in their ranks who intentionally sow uncertainty, says a US historian.

... The tactic has been so successful that climate denialism is now firmly anchored in the higher reaches of US politics, said Oreskes.

"Major Republican (Party) leaders say in public that they believe it's a hoax. This is a very shocking state of affairs, and particularly from a party that once upon a time was considered to be more scientific and more environmental than the Democrats."

According to Oreskes, scientists who push climate uncertainty are not necessarily hired guns, although "some of them get money, either directly through the fossil-fuel industry or indirectly through intermediaries."

"But I don't actually think money is the primary motivation. I think it's political, ideological, it's (the desire for) attention and sometimes it's narcissistic too."

For mainstream scientists, many of these full-time dissenters are time-wasters or intellectually valueless, she said.

"These people don't do work, they don't collect data. Instead, they just criticise other people's work. And then, when they make those criticisms, they don't take them to the scientific community for scrutiny. They publish it in The Wall Street Journal, which is not a scientific journal."


The April/May issue of Mother Earth News has an excellent, multi-page article on real life use of woodgas vehicle conversions on a farm. Right now he has four trucks running on wood. He started in 2004 so it's not a flash in the pan. Here are the links from the article: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Wood-Gas http://www.driveonwood.com http://www.tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/WoodGas The drive on site is the farmer's.


PS the last two links look run on in the preview but they link separately.

Farmer in Australia looking for lost cat, finds abandoned oil well, sounds the UFO alarm.


Reading just for fun. True story.

Ran into this old video...speech by Late Matt Simmons about running out of finished gas stocks if everyone 'topped' their tanks.


What's the story with Gasoline stocks now? Has it improved? With Refineries closing down, will the problem worsen.

A Policy of Mass Destruction

A new analysis showing how the radical policies advocated by western economists helped to bankrupt Russia and other former Soviet countries after the Cold War has been released by researchers.

Devised principally by western economists, mass privatisation was a radical policy to privatise rapidly large parts of the economies of countries such as Russia during the early 1990s. the policy was pushed heavily by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Its aim was to guarantee a swift transition to capitalism, before Soviet sympathisers could seize back the reins of power.

Instead of the predicted economic boom, what followed in many ex-Communist countries was a severe recession, on a par with the Great Depression of the United States and Europe in the 1930s. The reasons for economic collapse and skyrocketing poverty in Eastern Europe, however, have never been fully understood.

... The report also carries a warning for the modern age: “Rapid and extensive privatisation is being promoted by some economists to resolve the current debt crises in the West and to help achieve reform in Middle Eastern and North African economies,” said King. “This paper shows that the most radical privatisation programme in history failed the countries it was meant to help. The lessons of unintended consequences in Russia suggest we should proceed with great caution when implementing untested economic reforms.” ... “Counting on a future burst of productivity from a restructured, private economy to compensate for declining revenues is a risky proposition.”

- Mass Privatization, State Capacity, and Economic Growth in Post-Communist Countries Patrick Hamm, Lawrence P. King, and David Stuckler

All I can say is "duh". Although the claim that this was "unintentional" is suspect, after "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" and looking at how these guys roll when they don't get told to stuff it (deposing the PM of Greece for their own pet banker). Many countries have faced financial crises, but an interesting feature is how many have done better by defying the IMF and such. Argentina famously had a big row with the IMF over loans and loan demands.

I used to think that if the world bank and IMF didn't exist, who would help these places? Now I think that if the world bank and IMF didn't exist, they would help themselves much more effectively. The bankers simply can't be trusted, they are always out for the pound of flesh, and this always seems to mean making more people poor while some guys in suits walk away with fat checks. Privatization in Russia was basically the looting of the economy, but it sure created a lot of billionaires alongside those now even poorer people!

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

Israel: Possible Military Strike Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities

Several published reports indicate that top Israeli decision makers now are seriously considering whether to order a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and if so, when. Today, Israeli officials generally view the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran as an unacceptable threat to Israeli security—with some viewing it as an existential threat.

This report analyzes key factors that may influence current Israeli political decisions relating to a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. These include, but are not limited to, the views of and relationships among Israeli leaders; the views of the Israeli public; U.S., regional, and international stances and responses as perceived and anticipated by Israel; Israeli estimates of the potential effectiveness and risks of a possible strike; and responses Israeli leaders anticipate from Iran and Iranian-allied actors—including Hezbollah and Hamas—regionally and internationally.

... Perhaps anticipating that a military strike might not permanently set back Iran’s nuclear program, some Israeli officials reportedly acknowledge that Israel may feel compelled to mount periodic follow-up attacks that, in the words of one U.S. analyst, could seek to “demoralize the industry’s workforce, disrupt its operations, and greatly increase the costs of the program.

- Operational Aspects of an Israeli Strike: Access, Aircraft, Weapons

- Possible Iranian Responses to a Strike: Military Responses, Attacks on Israeli Territory, Attempted Closure of the Strait of Hormuz, Attacks on U.S. Allies in the Persian Gulf, Attacks on U.S. Installations and Interests in the Region or Elsewhere Abroad, Possible Attacks on the U.S. Homeland

- Map of Major Iranian Facilities in Regional Context, Underground Nuclear Facilities and Penetrating Munitions, Potential Ranges of Iranian Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles, Possible Ranges of Rockets and Missiles from Iranian-Allied Groups

also Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Richard Clarke on Who Was Behind the Stuxnet Attack

... Clarke .. wants to warn us, urgently, that we are being failed again, being left defenseless against a cyberattack that could bring down our nation’s entire electronic infrastructure, including the power grid, banking and telecommunications, and even our military command system.

Are we as a nation living in denial about the danger we’re in?” I asked Clarke as we sat across a conference table in his office suite.

“I think we’re living in the world of non-response. Where you know that there’s a problem, but you don’t do anything about it. If that’s denial, then that’s denial.”

Who made and launched Stuxnet in the first place? ... Richard Clarke tells me he knows the answer.

Norway establishes ‘Arctic Battalion’

A year after Russia informed that it will establish military units specially trained for operations in the Arctic, Norway announces plans to reequip one of its units to an ‘Arctic Battalion’.

US is getting close to sub $2 natural gas. WSJ has an article today that even mentioned free natural gas and we could run out of storage capacity sooner with the new numbers.

Natural gas price drops to a 10-year low

There's enough gas in storage to supply all the country's needs for more than a month, and analysts say storage facilities across the U.S. will be pushed close to capacity in coming months.

"We'll be testing the top," energy analyst Steve Smith said.

International scientific community issues first “State of the Planet Declaration”

Scientists today issued the first “State of the Planet” declaration* at a major gathering of experts on global environmental and social issues in advance of the major UN Summit Rio+20 in June.

The declaration opens: “Research now demonstrates that the continued functioning of the Earth system as it has supported the well‐being of human civilization in recent centuries is at risk.” It states that consensus is growing that we have driven the planet into a new epoch, the Anthropocene, where many planetary‐scale processes are dominated by human activities.

This new force risks pushing parts of the Earth system – the sum of our planet’s interacting physical, chemical, and biological processes including life and society – past so‐called tipping points.

Tipping points include the disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic, permafrost in Arctic regions releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and the drying out of the Amazon rainforest. If these tipping points are crossed they can increase the likelihood of going beyond other thresholds generating unacceptable and often irreversible environmental change on global and regional scales with serious consequences for human and all forms of life on the planet.

“Time is the natural resource in shortest supply. We need to change course in some fundamental way this decade,”

State of the Planet Declaration

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