Drumbeat: April 18, 2012

The cost of new oil supply

As the cheap oil from old mature fields is depleted, and we replace it with expensive new oil from unconventional sources, it forces the overall price of oil up. This is because oil prices are set at the margin, as are the prices of most commodities. The most expensive new barrel essentially sets the price for the lot.

Research by veteran petroleum economist Chris Skrebowski, along with analysts Steven Kopits and Robert Hirsch, details the new costs: $40 - $80 a barrel for a new barrel of production capacity in some OPEC countries; $70 - $90 a barrel for the Canadian tar sands and heavy oil from Venezuela’s Orinoco belt; and $70 - $80 a barrel for deepwater oil. Various sources suggest that a price of at least $80 is needed to sustain U.S. tight oil production.

Those are just the production costs, however. In order to pacify its population during the Arab Spring and pay for significant new infrastructure projects, Saudi Arabia has made enormous financial commitments in the past several years. The kingdom really needs $90 - $100 a barrel now to balance its budget. Other major exporters like Venezuela and Russia have similar budget-driven incentives to keep prices high.

Cheer up: the world has plenty of oil

It's widely believed nowadays that global oil production is running up against its limits. "The days of easy oil are over", we are told and we should brace ourselves for an age of relative oil scarcity. The reality, however, is very different. As more and more people within the oil industry have come to realize in recent years, the world has plenty of oil that can be produced at competitive prices for a long, long time to come. This means the world does not face inevitable "energy poverty" and there is no reason to be afraid of unavoidable "energy wars".

The Real Reason to Worry about Oil

The global economy will have trouble with oil prices above $125 per barrel, Hansen said. At the other end, the cost of production establishes a floor for oil prices. That cost ranges from around $80-$90 per barrel for Saudi Arabia to $100 for Russia. Those are the prices necessary to guarantee domestic stability, since both countries use oil revenue for political purposes; the variable cost of production is much lower.

“That’s not a big window,” Hansen said, “and it’s getting tighter, because the floor is going up as the cost of exploration, extraction and production of oil goes up.” When prices go outside of that zone, “someone suffers,” he said.

Oil hovers above $104 after US crude supply jump

LONDON (AP) — Oil prices hovered above $104 a barrel Wednesday after a report showed U.S. crude supplies jumped more than expected for a fourth week, suggesting demand remains weak.

...The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose 3.4 million barrels last week while analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted an increase of 400,000 barrels.

Inventories of gasoline fell 2.6 million barrels last week while distillates tumbled 2.4 million barrels, the API said.

Argentina Seizes 51% of Oil Producer YPF to Stem Imports

Argentina’s seizure of YPF SA threatens to take the country further away from its goal of energy self-sufficiency as investors weigh the increased risk of expropriation in South America’s second-biggest economy.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner named Planning Minister Julio De Vido to head the oil company with immediate effect and is sending a bill to Congress to take a 51 percent stake after oil imports doubled. Argentina, which wants to produce enough crude to match consumption, risks becoming “unviable” as a country because of the surge in imports, Fernandez said yesterday.

Argentina Rejects Repsol’s $10.5 Billion Claim for YPF

Argentina rejected Repsol YPF SA’s demand for $10.5 billion in compensation after President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner seized its YPF SA unit, saying it hasn’t invested enough in the South American country.

Argentina slammed by Spain, EU for oil takeover

MADRID (AP) — Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez is attempting to quell increasing unrest at home and boost her popularity with an "unlawful" bid to nationalize YPF, the Argentine oil unit of Spanish energy firm Repsol, the company's president claimed Tuesday as the company's shares plunged almost 7 percent.

As Spain's government prepared retaliatory measures against Argentina, the European Commission added to the two nations' rapidly rising economic and diplomatic tensions by indefinitely postponing a meeting with Argentine officials over a bilateral trade and economic treaty between the European Union and Argentina.

Spain complains of lack US support in oil row with Argentina

Madrid (dpa) - The Spanish government on Wednesday complained about US restraint in a row pitting Madrid against Argentina over Buenos Aires‘ nationalization of oil company YPF.

The United States has refrained from taking sides on Argentina‘s decision to take over YPF, which is controlled by the Spanish oil giant Repsol, saying simply that it is studying the case.

Hurricane Season to Provide Little Gas Support

A below-average Atlantic storm season in 2012 probably will provide little support for energy prices as natural gas trades at 10-year lows.

Only four hurricanes are expected this year, according to researchers at Colorado State University who pioneered long- range Atlantic forecasting. In total, the storm season that runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 will produce 10 named systems, compared with 19 last year, they said in a report April 4.

Why haven't natural gas rates fallen in Huntsville?

The natural gas prices people often see quoted in the media are spot market quotes for gas sales on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Right now the spot price is low for at least two reasons, said Yell.

Nationally, the demand for natural gas has been lower than normal because of a mild winter. Many utilities did not use all the gas they had under contract, he said, and Huntsville Utilities still has gas in storage. In addition, supplies have expanded greatly because of the advent of fracking, which allows extraction of natural gas from previously untapped rock formations.

Shale gas fracking gets green light in Britain

LONDON (Reuters) - A UK government report on Tuesday backed the exploration of shale gas, which has transformed the U.S. energy market, nearly one year after temporarily banning the drilling method because it had triggered two small earthquakes in Britain.

An expert report commissioned by the government said it was safe to resume fracking, in which pressurised water and chemicals are pumped underground to open shale rocks and release trapped gas, but with tighter rules on seismic monitoring and drilling surveys.

Exclusive: UK has vast shale gas reserves, geologists say

(Reuters) - Britain may have enough offshore shale gas to catapult it into the top ranks of global producers, energy experts now believe, and while production costs are still very high, new U.S. technology should eventually make reserves commercially viable.

UK offshore reserves of shale gas could exceed one thousand trillion cubic feet (tcf), compared to current rates of UK gas consumption of 3.5 tcf a year, or five times the latest estimate of onshore shale gas of 200 trillion cubic feet.

Halliburton First-Quarter Profit Rises as Fracking Demand Grows

Halliburton Co., the world’s largest provider of hydraulic fracturing services, said first- quarter profit increased as rising crude prices drove producers to expand drilling in North America.

Energy company seeks water from eastern Ohio reservoir for fracking

The Muskingum Conservancy Watershed District is expected to vote Friday on allowing an energy company to tap into a lake in eastern Ohio for fracking water.

Oklahoma-based Gulfport Energy Corp. wants to take up to 11 million gallons of water from Clendening Reservoir in Harrison County to hydraulically fracture, or frack, a natural gas well it is developing.

Scotland ‘faces bill of £30bn’ after North Sea oil runs out

TAXPAYERS in an independent Scotland would have to pay the £30 billion cost of decommissioning North Sea rigs, the country’s leading oil economist warned earlier today.

Panel Faults Congress for Inaction on Drilling

WASHINGTON — Members of the presidential panel that investigated the 2010 BP oil rig explosion and spill sharply criticized Congress on Tuesday for refusing to act on any of its recommendations and gave the Obama administration and the oil industry mixed marks.

Human-made earthquakes reported in central U.S

(Reuters) - The number of earthquakes in the central United States rose "spectacularly" near where oil and gas drillers disposed of wastewater underground, a process that may have caused geologic faults to slip, U.S. government geologists report.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC looks at possible $4B investments onshore in Nigeria as production rises

LAGOS, Nigeria - Royal Dutch Shell PLC is considering $4 billion worth of onshore projects in Nigeria to help capture natural gas currently burning at oil wells that contribute to global warming and can sicken those living nearby, the company's CEO said Wednesday.

CEO Peter Voser also said Shell's oil production rose to about 800,000 barrels a day in 2011, up after years of militant activity in the country's Niger Delta cut into output.

Crocodile-Fighting Darwin Hits Gas-Fueled Economic Fast Lane

Near the site where the first bomb landed on Australia in World War II, Il Lido restaurant serves watermelon cubes with aged balsamic vinegar at A$3 ($3.12) each to diners overlooking a swimming lagoon and artificial wave pool.

This is the new face of Darwin, a transformation from the capital of Australia’s hardest-drinking region, where a crocodile is caught almost every day, into a boomtown enriched by gas and bolstered by its location between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, where Asia and Australia meet. The heart of the change is a $34 billion liquefied natural gas project by Inpex Corp. and Total SA that will help fuel Japan for four decades.

Oil-rich Kazakhstan top global target for retailers

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil-rich Kazakhstan was the top target for international retailers looking to expand in 2011, as brands sought to take advantage of the central Asian state's fast-growing middle class and improving infrastructure, research found.

A report by property consultancy CBRE Group said 18 global retailers entered Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, last year, the highest number among the 73 countries it surveyed.

The press talk is getting oilier … the world stays the same oiliness

As a self-proclaimed energy dork, it’s somewhat exciting to see so much discussion of oil and gasoline (and petrol!) in the news recently. The discussions range from indicating that The Limits to Growth is still basically correct to how technology is trumping all limits to enable the United States to soon be the world’s number one oil producer and start exporting oil within 10 or 20 years. Non-energy adept or interested persons can be confused easily, and unfortunately this is many. Of course, energy ‘experts’ don’t agree.

BP Will Rocket Higher On New Uist Well, Technip Contract

Consider the amount of ink that has been spilled on the subject of the "Peak Oil" Crisis, the idea that oil production is heading into a period of terminal decline as the earth is finally stripped of its last remaining fossil fuels. A very brief search for "peak oil" in books on Amazon.com brought up 2,834 results!

Some prophets of doom suggest this oil shortage is already underway, with oil production having "peaked" in 2002. In addition, the alleged Western greed for fossil fuels has been blamed for dozens of wars (or the lack of) from Afghanistan to Sudan. I will leave it to the reader to investigate these claims and make up their own minds.

Looking For Returns In The Alternative Energy Space

One thing that's guaranteed to improve renewable energy's economics is an oil crisis, preferably one which sends prices soaring to well above $150 a barrel for a long period of time.

But wait, if you are betting on peak oil, why not just buy traditional energy companies that would do well in a significant oil price appreciation? You don't have to bet on smaller firms or rely on tax breaks. With traditional energy firms, one may do well even without an oil crisis. Better yet, why not just go long on oil futures. This way you have no business risk at all - the peak oil effect would go straight into income.

Russia claims outside forces threaten Syria's cease-fire

ISTANBUL – Russian claims that a United Nations cease-fire is being undermined by outside forces was met with derision by Syrian activists Tuesday as the military of Bashar Assad expanded attacks on rebel-held neighborhoods.

Clouds of smoke rose over the cities of Homs and Idlib as bombs flattened homes despite Assad's acceptance of a cease-fire brokered last week by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan.

Meanwhile, Inside Iran: Khamenei Consolidates His Power

Said Mortazavi made a name for himself as the strong arm of Iran's judiciary, first as a prosecutor at the Islamic Revolutionary Court and later as the prosecutor general of Tehran. His hard-line approach earned him nicknames like the Torturer of Tehran and the Butcher of the Press. Now it looks like Mortazavi may be getting a taste of his own revolutionary justice: last week, the Tehran judiciary announced that Mortazavi would be summoned to court for a hearing on his role in torture and human-rights abuses at the Kahrizak prison after the controversial 2009 presidential election.

Iran says nuclear dispute can be solved 'quickly'

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran is ready to resolve all of its nuclear disputes "quickly and easily" in a second round of talks with world powers planned for next month in Baghdad, the country's foreign minister said Monday.

Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by the semiofficial ISNA news agency as saying that Iran might be more flexible if it could be guaranteed an external supply of enriched uranium — an apparent endorsement of a U.S. compromise proposal.

Western Sanctions on Iran's Precious Oil May Cost India Dearly

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's oil is too precious to be ignored or replaced by any other supplier and any western sanctions on Iranian crude could cost India dearly, an analyst said.

Afghan officials say extremists poisoned schoolgirls' water

At least 140 Afghan schoolgirls and female teachers have been hospitalized after drinking water that local officials say was poisoned by extremists opposed to women's education, CNN reports.

Obama and Romney on energy, environmental issues

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A look at where President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stand on energy and environmental issues.

Tool and die makers desperately casting for workers

These skilled manufacturers are vital. They produce tools, dies and molds that other makers use to shape products — from car fenders and dashboards to shampoo bottles and cellphones.

Yet tool and die makers shrank far more dramatically than other manufacturers in the downturn, and now they're struggling to find skilled workers. As a result, they may not have a large enough workforce to support the return of significantly more manufacturing to the U.S., a trend known as reshoring, according to a Congressional Research Service report last month.

Boeing updates 737 for a new era

The new version, the 737 Max, which is scheduled to make its debut in 2017, is designed with new engines to burn less fuel than its three predecessors, to help airlines pare costs and leave less of a carbon footprint on the global environment.

Analyst: Calif. high-speed rail plan still vague

Sacramento, Calif. (AP) -- The state Legislative Analyst's Office said Tuesday that the latest plan to build a $68.4 billion high-speed rail system linking Northern and Southern California still relies on highly speculative financing, and it urged the state Legislature to reject funding until more details are ironed out.

Wider context to rail decision

Energy and transport are inextricably linked. At present, New Zealanders are burning through $21 million in imported oil every day — and during the 2010-2011 year, this increased 22 percent to $7.7 billion for that year.

With among the highest motor-vehicle ownership rates in the world, the most uneconomic fuel/km travelled, the highest vehicle/km travelled rate and the lowest access to alternative modes, New Zealand is extremely vulnerable to our dependence on imported fossil fuels.

It doesn't always pay to buy fuel-efficient cars

The recent run-up in fuel prices has put the spotlight on hybrids, battery cars and other high-mileage vehicles. But while it may sound great to get 40, even 50 miles a gallon, are you spending an arm and a leg to save far less than you might expect on your annual gasoline bill?

New energy-efficient light bulb goes on sale Sunday

NEW YORK – How much would you pay for an amazing, state-of-the-art light bulb? Shoppers will be asking themselves that very question at Home Depot and other outlets starting Sunday — Earth Day — when the bulb that won a $10 million government contest goes on sale.

The bulb is the most energy-efficient yet, lasts about 20 years and is supposed to give off a pleasing, natural-looking light. But what separates it from the pack most is the price tag: $60.

Online Cloud Services Rely on Coal or Nuclear Power, Report Says

The infrastructure that supports the Internet, online commerce and nearly all corporate data services is engaged in a vast migration eastward in search of energy prices cheaper than anything available in Silicon Valley, where the digital revolution began, according to a report released Tuesday by the environmental group Greenpeace.

Internet companies often cloak themselves in an image of environmental awareness. But some companies that essentially live on the Internet are moving facilities to North Carolina, Virginia, northeastern Illinois and other regions whose main sources of energy are coal and nuclear power, the report said. The report singles out Apple as one of the leaders of the charge to coal-fired energy.

First Solar Latest Casualty in Renewable Energy Shakeout

First Solar Inc.’s decision to fire 30 percent of its staff and reduce production shows that even the biggest solar panel makers aren’t immune from the shakeout that’s bankrupted at least eight companies on two continents in the past year.

Farmers must spend more on herbicides as effectiveness fades

A much-used herbicide, which for years has helped farmers throughout the United States increase profits, is losing its effectiveness and forcing producers to spend more and use more chemicals to control the weeds that threaten yields.

Drought Draining Reserves of Oils Amid Record Demand

Demand for edible oils is climbing to a record as drought damages crops across South America, leaving buyers with the smallest stockpiles in three decades.

The use of soy, palm, rapeseed and six other oils will rise 3.9 percent this year, reducing the ratio of reserves to demand to the lowest since 1977, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Palm, the most-consumed oil, will advance 8.5 percent to 3,800 ringgit ($1,240) a metric ton in Kuala Lumpur by Dec. 31, the highest since February 2011, according to the median of 11 analyst and trader estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.

Iran starts $1-bn project to bring water to desert

Iran on Monday officially launched a $1-billion first phase of an ambitious project to pump water from the Caspian Sea to a city in its vast and expanding central desert, state media reported.

The initial phase will see a desalination plant and pipes built over the next two years to supply water to the desert city of Semnan, population 200,000, according to officials.

"The desert is growing... therefore we need to control its growth," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the northern city of Sari, near the Caspian shore.

ESF Professor Advises U.K. Leaders on Energy Issues

ESF Professor Charles Hall spent a week in the United Kingdom in late March, giving presentations on and discussing energy and economic issues with British business, education and governmental leaders, including members of Parliament.

Hall, a systems ecologist with an interest in energy, biophysical economics and the links between energy and society, said he was invited to the United Kingdom to share his knowledge of the connection between global economic problems and the end of cheap energy.

Bill Clinton Is Headliner at Sustainability Enclave

The conference, from Tuesday through Thursday at the New York Hilton in Midtown Manhattan, is expected to attract some 400 participants to panel discussions on energy-related topics like the management and performance of buildings. The conference will also feature tours and receptions to call attention to New York’s green advances, from the retrofitting of the Empire State Building to construction of the High Line, a public park on the site of a former freight railway line.

“Political Economy of Oil” Topic of Shasha Seminar

The Shasha Seminar includes sessions on Peak Oil and Beyond, the Oil Business: Profit and Social Responsibility; Oil and the Glory; War, Instability and the Search for Energy Security; and Environmental Sustainability and the Future of Petrocarbons.

The Wesleyan community is invited to the 10th annual Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns on April 19-20. This year, experts will explore the topic, “The Political Economy of Oil.”

Low water flows cause U.S. avian cholera outbreak

PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - More than 10,000 migrating birds have died from an avian cholera outbreak blamed on reduced water flows through vast marshlands of southern Oregon and northern California known as Western Everglades, federal wildlife officials said.

In Poll, Many Link Weather Extremes to Climate Change

Scientists may hesitate to link some of the weather extremes of recent years to global warming — but the public, it seems, is already there.

A poll due for release on Wednesday shows that a large majority of Americans believe that this year’s unusually warm winter, last year’s blistering summer and some other weather disasters were probably made worse by global warming. And by a 2-to-1 margin, the public says the weather has been getting worse, rather than better, in recent years.

Qatar Airways chief criticizes EU emissions law

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The head of fast-growing Gulf carrier Qatar Airways on Monday criticized a new European policy charging airlines for their carbon pollution as a tax aimed at shoring up the continent's finances.

Speaking at an aerospace conference in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker predicted the emissions policy would be "the most important thing" facing the industry — and Mideast carriers in particular — in the coming years.

Why business leaders should lobby politicians to lead on sustainability

There is a simple and rather naïve question that keeps going round in my head. Given that companies now have a clear sense of the catastrophic consequences if they fail to act on climate change, resource depletion and ecosystem degradation, why is it that they are doing so little to confront them.

After all, one of the great strengths of companies is supposed to be their ability to act rationally on the basis of facts and figures, scientific reasoning, and likely future scenarios.

US greenhouse gases back up after decline

US emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change rose in 2010, ending a brief downward turn as the world's largest economy gradually recovers from recession, official data showed Monday.

The data showed that the United States -- the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China -- would need to move aggressively if it seeks to reach President Barack Obama's targets for tackling climate change.

MPs warn UK pollution outsourcing

Carbon emissions from goods imported and consumed in the UK are rising faster than the domestic fall in greenhouse gases, MPs say.

'Outsourcing' of pollution overseas will tarnish the UK's record on carbon emissions, experts warned.

The UK's carbon dioxide emissions fell by 19% between 1990 and 2008, but its carbon footprint, based on what the UK consumes, grew by 20%.


Note: sometimes you feel like you are in a movie that you have seen. At least this was how it felt to me when, after six years of reading the Oil Drum, I found myself involuntarily involved in the fossil fuels business. This is my recount of the last month’s events.

Unexpected Good News
Recently my wife received notice that her father had signed a contract with the fracker. As both she and I were listed as beneficiaries we had to meet with the fracker and a notary to prove our identity and sign the contract. Since my father in law was flirting with death there was a sense of urgency by the fracker to get these signatures. My wife wanted me to read the contract and explain to her. At first I didn’t feel that this was necessary. “This is free money, he is being paid per acre and gets more on top of that- we will never live on the land that they are fracking, what was the risk?” However, as this contract could go on at least 10 years or more and as her father in law was very sick it was certain that we would come into possession of the contract- so it seemed prudent to try to understand it.

So What’s in a Fracking Contract? Glad You Asked!
At first I wanted to simplify this by naming the parties “fracker” and “fracked” but decided against this as it looked obscene after three lines. Hereafter the fracker shall be known as the “Lessee” and the homeowner shall be known as the “Lessor”. This is the simplified version highlights- I left out many standard boilerplate items about liens, etc. The initial lease amounts to about 5K per acre for 5 years and the same payment if renewed therafter. My father in law owns many acres. My comments and questions are in parentheses.

Lessee has the right to:
1. drill for five years or for as long as or oil or gas is produced by any means (forever?)
2. sublease the drilling to another company
3. conduct geophysical testing anywhere on property
4. lays pipes anywhere
5. control right of way to power, phone lines, etc. (how much?)
6. full, free and “quiet” possession of property (don’t annoy the fracker with noise)
7. pool smaller properties together for drilling purposes
8. suspend payments due to “Force Majeure” which can include anything not under the control of Leseee (over 20 items are listed including inability to find materials, accidents, repairs, etc.)

9. Lessee will pay Lessor 19% of all “marketable” oil and gas less taxes

10. Both parties must agree to “reasonable” well locations- but Lessee has the full right to develop
11. Lessee must restore well surfaces afterwards, as far as “practical” and only if this doesn’t interfere with production (which can go on forever?)

Lessee will:
12. keep premises clean
13. pay 20K for each well pad and 3K for each disturbed acre on top of up front money already paid
14. maintain roads (how?)
15. not drill within 500 feet of occupied dwellings unless both parties agree
16. notify Lessor of “marketable” timber removal and pay a reasonable rate determined by a third party appraisal paid for by Lessee (conflict of interest?)
17. bury pipes at least 32 inches under ground (how would we know?)
18. make roads no more than 25 ft wide
19. sample water quality (note: he has well water) before and after drilling, or upon request within 48 hours, at certified independent lab (who decides “independence”?). Should it be determined drilling has hurt water quality, Lessor shall provide potable water until the water sources has been repaired (?) or replaced with similar quality water
20. Lessee hold Lessor harmless for any lawsuits for any operations, including environmental damage, death etc. related to operations and will defend Lessor against any lawsuits.

Signing the Deal
I and my wife met with the fracker rep at a bank. He seemed out of place in his jeans and plaid shirt but very much in control. I took advantage of some free time to ask a few questions. I asked him if too many companies had gotten into this game and might go into bankruptcy due to crashing gas prices. “No, we were smart, we didn’t pay too much for leases and we’re looking for “wet gas”- we think will find it on your property”. “You mean oil?” I asked. He nodded: “What you heard about was one stupid company way overpaying for leases- we’re not making that mistake. No other company I know is making that mistake- we’ll be around”.

He was nervous, or irritated, though. The banker was a stickler who refused to notarize another couple waiting there due to minor name differences. Undeterred, the fracker rep took them outside, slapping a rolled paper in his palm “I know three notaries in this city- follow me- we’ll get it done”. Somehow, I didn’t doubt him.

A Disturbing Event
After posting a book review on the TOD last week I had to rush to finish taxes and go on vacation. My family was headed to the land where all this drilling would take place. Along the way I noticed a large, but clearly domesticated, dog in the grassy median of the highway ripping the flesh off of a road kill deer.

The site unnerved me for two reasons. First, I felt as though I had been deceived. Here was man’s best friend revealed, they were simply predators after all- and somewhat sinister. Second, as soon as the dog was filled up it would try to get out from the center of a highway filled on both sides with hundreds of speeding cars. It would soon become the same as the carcass it was just recently chewing on. Here was a stupid predator about to meet the fate of its meal. After the trip, I later realized that this scene was an omen of what I was about to experience

The Valley
The area where all this fracking will occur is around Wheeling, West Virginia and along the Ohio River. Known simply as “the valley” to many locals, it was an area of great beauty but also of hard times. This is a land where high school football is religion. The Pro-football hall of fame is nearby in Canton Ohio, and the East Ohio-West Penn area seemed obliged to fill it with more than its fair share of stars. Joe Montana and Dan Marino come from the area to name but a few.

There is a way of thinking here that focuses more on the local as opposed to national or world events. This is not necessarily bad- just different. Driving around Moundsville WV, I found hundreds of local candidate signs related to the upcoming primary but not one sign for a national candidate. It is as though only the valley exists, it is not part of the nation or even the world. The longer I stayed the more I too fell under this spell. It was if the mountains blocked off not just my vision but my interests also and nothing else really existed.

Yet the world has impacted the valley. Many jobs have gone overseas. The great factories that lay at the river’s edge sit idle and rusting. Many people, like my wife, left the valley for city jobs- leaving an aging population behind living on transfer payments. There is financial hardship everywhere. Every other commercial in my hotel room seemed to be offering services on how to repair a bad credit or get money now.

Friends into foes
But now fracking came to the valley. Signs for job opportunities abound. Many were excited for the first time in a while. Yet it did not create happiness everywhere. Some hit the jackpot and have received large sums for their properties while others got very little or nothing at all. Those with large acreages in the hills generally did well while those on small valley lots did worse in the geo-lottery that fracking brought.

I spent much time talking with people at hotels, stores, and restaurants. I wanted to know how things were changing. They told me the stories that circulate the bars and beauty shops: stories of shopping and excitement, but also stories of once close family members who are suing each other, stories of children who forged their parents wills in nursing homes, stories of neighbors who no longer talk to each other. Many were happy and dreaming. But many others lived in anger that they did not share the good times. For the truly unlucky their property values are going down. Who wants to buy a place with bad water, noise and no royalties? The community seemed split- one man’s treasure was another man’s curse.

The Fracking Hurricane
When fracking comes in to an area it comes in like a hurricane with each tree knocking down the tree next to it. As my wife’s friends explained, there was really never any choice. If you didn’t sign the fracking contract and your neighbors did, then they would get the money while you put up with the bad water, smell, noise and traffic- it was the ultimate divide and conquer. Resistance was futile. About an hour up the Ohio River, in the city of Youngstown, organized crime members would certainly have recognized that what people were receiving was essentially “an offer they couldn’t refuse”. Everybody on my father in law’s hill signed. Why hold out? No wonder the fracker in the bank seemed so confident- he had just bought a county.

Paradise Lost
Toward the end of my three day visit, I looked out from to top of my father in law’s hill at the scenic sweep before me. Song birds were singing in the air, there was a light mist in the valleys below- and you could hear echoes of water in the wind as it magically shifted. It was really “almost heaven” as the song goes. So many of the people I talked to stated that the reason they lived here and refused to move to cities was because they loved the countryside and the peace that it brings. My wife and I spent years trying to persuade her father to move next to us: “We can help you get around; you will be next to your grandchildren”. He always refused “I love it out here, I can’t leave- the city is too noisy and scary”. Many people I talked to loved the quiet and solitude.

And yet this was the biggest surprise of all to me. They sold it all as fast as they could. The peace: gone. The quiet: gone. The beauty: gone. Paradise was about to become a construction site. I looked at the beautiful canopy of green. Soon trucks and drilling rigs will be coming. The land will be scarred, the water may be soured, and the air will be filled with industrial noise. What value was there really to “the country”? Heaven, it turned out, had a price after all.

The depletion rate of happiness
What will people get in the long run? I knew of the decline rates of the wells being drilled- in two years some wells could be 90% spent. Would the community come back together by that much? Would family members not talking to each other reconcile by that much? Would envious former friends hang out together again? I doubted it. This is a land of deep friendships but bitter splits. Just about everyone here can tell of relatives and friends they knew who never spoke again for the rest of their lives. Would the land be someday filled with absentee landlords like my wife and I, owning only to collect the royalties? How will the money help the people long term? My wife laughed: “the casino and nursing homes will get everything in the end”.

My mind flashed back to the dog on the freeway. Now I understood why the image stayed with me the whole trip. The hurricane of fracking money had revealed the snarling animal side of many people I thought to be domesticated. True loyalties became known- wealth was put before family, friends, community and even “country living” itself. I wondered: Who are we really? Does any of us really know our neighbor? It seemed that the saying “money changes everything” really was true.

And what of this community after fracking? Would it make it off the highway safely? Would it buy renewable energy devices or invest heavily in conservation with the money? Would the money keep coming or would it be hit with oncoming low royalties and bad water? Would people look back at the influx of money into the area as a wild and foolish highway feast that lured a community into a dangerous place? Did the dog make it off the freeway safely? I will never know.

Caught in the Storm
I found myself conflicted in that bank at the signing desk. I am a big supporter of renewable energy. I drive less than 5000 miles per year. I try to educate people about Peak Oil, global warming, etc. I’m an activist who has collected signatures, gone to rallies, lobbied officeholders at the statehouse. The irony that I now might benefit, in the short term, from the destruction of the environment was not lost on me and it put me in a difficult situation. I felt a little ill.

I wanted to make a heroic Jimmy Stewart type speech: “you may own Belmont County Mr. Potter but you can’t buy me!” Yet, I heard the sound of my sons in the lobby- the sons who will need college money. My wife very much wanted to sign. If I didn’t sign, others would and everything will still happen anyway. The guys from Youngstown would have smiled. I hesitantly reached for the pen, and the hurricane broke another tree.

C8 - If you haven't I might advise you of some counter offers. But as you appeared to have leased there are still some steps you might take to protect your interest. If interested you can contact me at wjd2211 at aoldotcom and I'll toss a few ideas at you. I've been in the oil patch for 36 years...I know how to make an operator squirm some. LOL.

C8 - as Rockman says, you should look for counter-offers when someone offers you a deal like this, because there are frequently other companies shopping around the area looking for land to lease. And you should have a lawyer check the fine print to make sure you haven't signed away something you didn't want to - e.g. your first born son.

Oil and gas leases are serious documents and can make you a lot of money. OTOH, they can tie the land up and limit what you can do for 50 years or more, so you have to be careful and understand what your are signing. Don't let the landman's blue jeans and checkered shirt confuse you - he probably knows more oil and gas law than most lawyers - it's just that they don't like to look smarter than the landowners they deal with.

It's not really a lease, it's an interest in land called a Profit a Prendre, which is to say it gives them the right to take something away from the land (oil and gas) and sell it for their own profit. Judges don't care what they call it, they decide what it is based on legal rules, so lease is close enough.

Anyhow, basically there is a "bonus" payment up front, which is a sweetener to get you to sign, a "delay rental payment" until they drill a well (I take it that they have 5 years), and then a royalty on the well production of 19%, which doesn't sound too bad but it depends on what is there. Anyhow, if they hit something, you get 19% of the revenues until the well runs out, and then they abandon it and give the well sites and roads back to you in "almost as good as original" shape apparently. I would have gone for "as good as or better than original" condition, but that's just my preference. I like lots of nice grass and green trees on my abandoned well sites.

It could involve a lot of money, depending on what is under the property, and if it's really good it could run for decades, which is why I would have suggested talking to a lawyer would have been nice.

I wouldn't worry about the hydraulic fracturing because that's probably the most minor of your considerations.


One thing which I wonder about with all the fear and misinformation flying about with fracking is that people seem to be mainly concerned about the wrong things. If you want a wild analogy imagine the surprise on the face of big tobacco if all the people started running around saying that nicotine stained fingers were the cause of cancer from cigarettes.

It seems people aren't asking the right questions such as the number of wells, well pads, integrity of well bores, access roads, produced water, sources of water, disposal of fluids and how the number of wells drilled multiplies the complexity and chances things will go wrong. Instead people start worrying about big bad oil companies polluting what would effectively be classified as a toxic site had it been on the surface. As they say, it's hard to pollute a toxic waste dump.

It is a huge source of misinformation since the mainstream media got hold of it. In fact, the oil industry has been hydraulic fracturing oil wells to stimulate the oil production for over 50 years - and long before that time they used to lower nitroglycerine down the well on a rope and set it off to achieve the same effect.

The biggest problem with wells is usually failure of the surface casing, or bad cement jobs, both of which can allow produced fluids to contaminate the shallow drinking water formations. Frac'ing normally is done a mile or so underground and seldom has any effect on the surface.

And, what people REALLY should worry about is what comes out of the tailpipes of their cars. The oil industry seldom contaminates anything near the average urban dweller until they put the products in their cars. Before that point, there aren't very many people exposed to petroleum products. After the results come out the tailpipe, EVERYONE is affected.

People assume refineries process oil to remove the toxic chemicals from it. That's not true. What happens is that they put toxic chemicals INTO the fuel, and then sell it to the public. Oil straight out of the well is usually not as toxic to human beings as the fuel sold at the pumps.

How often does one do fracking without a surface casing involved?

Pretty much never. I can't imagine drilling a well without a surface casing. Somebody else can jump in and say, "Oh, we used to do that all the time", but I've never experienced it.

OK, well you've pointed out a couple of times now that the fracking isn't risky but the well casings are prone to failure. However, I think this is a moot point because the fracking, however safe it may be, is always associated with well casings that are not. Therefore there is still risk of fluids leaking out. Perhaps I've missed the point.

Yeah, you have missed the point. Hydraulic fracturing is a huge red herring dragged in front of the fox hounds by the minions of the mainstream media. Surface casing failures and bad cement jobs are the problem, and they are a problem whether you do any fracturing or not.

So surface casing failures and bad cement jobs when associated with hydraulic fracturing do not allow fracking fluids to be released?

Now, I'm only an environmental engineer, but I think the point our hard-rockin' friend Rocky is making is that surface casing failures are a problem whether fracking is involved or not, and the fracking doesn't cause the problem, it's the surface casing failure. Basically the pressures involved at depth are very high, whether you're drilling into a high-pressure resevoir, like the Macando well, or you're driving high pressure into a rock formation to fracture rock and stimulate fluid flow, like is happening in Pennsylvania now. Either way, the goal is to get deep oil or gas fluids to flow upwards in the end, and if the surface casing is no good, those nasties can get into the near-surface drinking water resource. So, don't focus on the fracking as a technology (even if that's the only drilling technology you see in Pennsylvania now), focus on regulation of the drillers and the taxation and the produced fluids disposal (and the fresh water consumption).

And don't forget those waste-water contractors with midnight runs wherein the tanker comes back empty but never actually stopped at any destination.

Twilight - Yes...you missed my point. Do you live in a risk free world? I doubt it. Do you drive? If so very time you hit the road theres a risk you'll kill a young child. Happens every day to someone's kid. Unfortunately not a rare event. But casing faiure is a rather rare event. But I would bet you don't propose banning driving. Most folks wouldn't because they depend on driving. So the risk is acceptable. But most folks don't benefit directly from frac'ng so it's easy to oppose it.

As I said: no oil/NG activity is risk free. Neither are nuke plants or bath tubs. It's easy to want to avoid any activity that's of benefit to other but not yourself. From many comments I've read most folks seem to only oppose industrial activities that don't benefit there lifestyle while not opposing riskier activities they depend upon. IMHO that's not honest risk analysis...that's personal gain analysis. A condition we all suffer from to some degree IMHO

Perhaps it's easy to condone activities that specifically benefit oneself. Sorry, but the attempt to equate opposition to an environmentally dangerous process to being unable to accept any risk at all is intellectually lame. Did you really think that would fly here? So because I must drive (due to the lack of other transportation infrastructure) than I must be silent on, say, blowing off the tops of mountains to get at coal? Or a process that pumps dangerous fluids into the ground through wells that sometimes fail and leak, and then returns them to the surface to be handled by humans in a flawed regulatory and enforcement environment? You may have noticed I don't care for nukes either, but I will go for bathing. Yeah, life is dangerous and everyone dies in the end, but that doesn't justify doing other stupid and dangerous things so some can make a buck and the rest can keep using fossil fuels for just a little bit longer.

Twilight - Sorry...you just lost beaucoup points for inserting a strawman argument: we're talking about frac'ng...not blowing mountain tops off.

Driving autos causes much great enviromental damage and human suffering that frac'ng ever could. And by your own admission you participate in this travesty because it benefits you. IOW it has finacial value to you...no different than a landowner who leases his oil/NG rights. Frac'ng doesn't benefit you. You accept one and not the other based upon personal gain and not risk. Which puts you in with the vast majority of the rest of us.

LOL - I've read enough of your posts to know you could understand my purpose in comparing fracking to other environmentally damaging ways of obtaining energy. My existence benefits me even though it causes environmental damage. Fracking benefits you so you're looking for whatever other worse things you can come up with to make it seem OK. I think that's called rationalization. Thanks for clearing that up.

The thing is that techniques such as hydraulic fracturing have been demonized by the mainstream media, who are at the same time ignoring much bigger environmental disasters just because they aren't as novel to their viewers.

Hydraulic fracturing is not new in the oil industry. According to the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board, over the last 60 years (yes Virginia, 60 years) about 170,000 wells have been frac'ed in Alberta with no known cases of well water contamination at all. There has never had a case where it caused a problem as a direct result of fracturing.

I'm sure that Rockman's home stomping ground of Texas has a similar track record. In the case of New York or Pennsylvania, it might be new and different, but in Alberta and Texas it was an old technique when we started in the business (I'm retired and he's getting close), and we've never had the theoretical problems that the MSM keeps harping on.

OTOH, I've seen a few truly spectacular multibillion-dollar environmental disasters that never quite made the headlines in the New York Times because they didn't happen in New York and the MSM didn't really figure out what was going on. These involved copper mining in Montana and uranium refining in Utah, if you're curious.

Just one point to make, damage from failed well casings or blown up rigs is catastrophic and long term. The Gulf Oil spill has probably poisoned millions of fishes, birds and destroyed ecosystems, similarly a bad frack job will pollute both groundwater and surface water.

If you think rationally that damage is far greater than automobiles running over a few people, of course automobiles cause pollution as well but the threat posed by a single automobile is far lesser. In an ideal world I'd like to see both cars and fracking banned.

In an ideal world I'd like to see both cars and fracking banned.

Now, were talking!

BTW, for the record, our so called non negotiable lifestyles are destroying our life support systems in too many ways to count.

Forget climate change for a moment, the vast amounts of CO2 we release daily into the atmosphere also ends up dissolving in the ocean. When I started diving back in the 1970's the PH of the world's oceans averaged about 8.1 today it is closing in on 8.0 (sorry I don't have a link handy). If that doesn't seem like a big deal, I suggest that you all go out and spend a few thousand dollars on a living coral reef aquarium (yeah, I want your pocketbooks to really understand this lesson!) so don't be cheap here!

Your beautiful reef aquarium should probably start with a PH of around 8.3. Now if you start neglecting the very delicate chemical balance in your tank you will very quickly discover the consequences, hint, it ain't pretty or cheap!

My suggestion is for all our economists, bankers, business leaders and politicians to be graded on how well they maintain their own living reef tanks, there should be one in every office! If they do a poor job they should immediately be relieved of their duties! Oh, of course if the ocean ecosystems start doing poorly on their watch, they should be tried for crimes against humanity!

Gentlemen, start your tanks!



A bad frac job will not contaminate either groundwater or surface water because it typically happens a mile underground and never connects to shallow or surface water formations. All it will do is screw up the well and cost the company money.

Blowouts are a quite different proposition because they can kill large numbers of people and oil can end up all over the ocean, as in the case of BP's GOM accident. They can be seriously bad.

However, I should mention that there are about 200 natural oil seeps in the GOM that are doing the same thing as BP's blowout, just on a smaller scale. There is a natural seep off the coast of California that is killing hundreds of seabirds at the moment. There is nothing they can do about it and nobody is legally liable because it's natural. These natural seeps are the main reason Californians and Texans find clumps of oil lying on their beaches.

Mother nature can be a real b*tch sometimes.

However, I should mention that there are about 200 natural oil seeps in the GOM that are doing the same thing as BP's blowout, just on a smaller scale. There is a natural seep off the coast of California that is killing hundreds of seabirds at the moment. There is nothing they can do about it and nobody is legally liable because it's natural. These natural seeps are the main reason Californians and Texans find clumps of oil lying on their beaches.

I don't know why you feel compelled to bring natural 'processes' every time someone mentions about man made disasters. It does not absolve anyone of anything. Is it a psychological act of covering up guilt? I don't know what it is. Yes mother nature is a bitch sometimes, 65 million years ago one asteroid slammed into the GOM, wiped out many creatures, we were not responsible for it. Mother Nature was also responsible for the Permian Extinction.
Extending this logic, is it ok to throw a burning cigarette into a pristine woodland during summer because 'nature' burns forests anyways. That too knowing fully well that a community lives on the edges of the forest and survives on it. I think it's criminal and irresponsible. As far as nature goes, we should have a hands off approach as much as possible and take the greatest care not to disturb the biosphere. You could of course take this 'hands off' approach argument to absurd levels in order to kill it but that doesn't make it incorrect.

Also the term Mother Nature is a misleading term since Nature doesn't have any consciousness or direction. But we do, and it's not nature's survival at stake, it's ours. And as far as those natural seeps go, I think you are missing the crucial point. If they are indeed going on for hundreds of thousands of years, the flora and fauna and the ecosystem have probably evolved along with it into a form of stasis.
A blowout in GOM disturbs that stasis, which is what we should be worried about. About the bad frac jobs, maybe you are right, but has it been studied scientifically thoroughly yet. Is it guaranteed not to pollute water reservoirs?

is it ok to throw a burning cigarette into a pristine woodland during summer because 'nature' burns forests anyways.

I guess it depends on whether you want to blame yourself for everything, or you can realize that every so often the natural environment causes its own major disasters, regardless of what people want to happen.

The example you give is particularly illustrative. A few years ago I was whitewater canoeing on the Kootenay River. At one point I stepped off into the trees to pee, looked at the landscape, and said to myself, "Omigawd! This is like standing ankle-deep in gasoline! If anything causes a spark, the whole frigging forest is going to go up like a bomb!" I have a bit of experience with fires so I knew what I was looking at.

As it happens, nobody tossed a cigarette into the woods, but a few lightning strikes did set it off, and the Kootenay Forest did go up like a bomb. Sometimes Mother Nature is just a real b*tch and there's nothing you can do about it except call in the water bombers. We had to take an 8-hour detour on the way back because by the time we got off the river, the fire was down to the Kootenay Highway and the highway was closed except to fire vehicles.

For more details, see:

Kootenay National Park of Canada: A Fiery Summer

The summer of 2003 was a fiery one in western Canada. During a single day in July, lightning started five different fires in Kootenay and Banff National Parks. Three of these fires (Haffner, Taylor Upper and Taylor Lower) were quickly extinguished by “initial attack” helicopter and ground crews. Two others, Tokumm and Verendrye, demanded attention for over a month and eventually merged into one fire. The Tokumm-Verendrye fire burned 12.6% of Kootenay National Park.

Your example doesn't make any sense. Here's my own take, a few years back I was hiking in a national park and I stopped a fellow camper from lighting his stove which probably would have burned down the whole forest, as it happens two years down the road the forest indeed caught fire and large sections were burnt.
So in retrospect my efforts were worthless ?? Also why would I blame myself or any other human for lightning strikes, weren't we talking about oil and gas rigs??

Well, as it happens, I was talking about natural oil seeps, which like natural forest fires are something that human beings really cannot control.

The Athabasca oil sands are really an oil seep about the size of Florida. The oil is slowly seeping out of the ground into the rivers. You can't stop it, and mining it doesn't really make it much worse than it always was.

"I guess it depends on whether you want to blame yourself for everything.."

Well no, Rocky, I think what you said above belies the problem. It REALLY depends on whether we're willing to take responsibility for ANYTHING. Not Everything. We have a LOT of matches, and could do far more damage to the forests, in large part because we'd be doing it IN ADDITION to what nature already considers 'Normal'.. if we were as blase' and defensive about our right to toss sparks as we are to rip holes in the ground and shrug when it makes a godawful mess.

Human beings have actually made the forest fire situation worse by controlling forest fires. Under natural conditions, the forest ignites every so often, and part of it burns down.

What human beings have done is prevented those natural forest fires, and as a result, when fires get out of control they have too much fuel to burn and the results are disastrous. The whole forest burns down rather than just part of it.

Nowadays, the parks people start controlled burns to burn off the excess fuel and prevent massive forest fires developing. They have realized that preventing forest fires completely is fruitless and fires are part of the natural cycle, so they have to start their own forest fires to minimize the damage.

Sometimes tossing a burning match into the woods is a GOOD thing.

Sometimes tossing a burning match into the woods is a GOOD thing.

Come on Rocky, while I totally accept that controlled burns in a forest can be a good thing, you are coming across as being rather flippant here. Even you must realize that so I have to assume it is deliberate on your part.

Flippant, shmippant. No I'm serious. Controlled burns CAN be a good thing. However, when they burned down the power line to Banff and had two of the biggest helicopters in the world water bombing the results of their "controlled burn" all summer at $5000/hour each, Parks Canada started calling them "prescribed burns".

I know whereof I speak because I'm right in the middle of it. Hopefully they won't burn down my house this summer.

It's worse than flippant. It's Flipping the whole example around to make it look like 'starting forest fires with a match' somehow isn't a real problem that people cause AS WELL. It's a distraction argument.

We're not talking about unintended consequences, we're talking about taking responsibility for having made things worse.. so poor forestry practises are as much a part of what we must accept responsibility for as is starting the fires directly.

Excuses, excuses.

We ARE talking about unintended consequences. One of the unintended consequences of 100 years of fire suppression is that there is 100 years of forest fire fuel lying around on the forest floor. You don't have to deal with the consequences of that, but I do because I live in the forest.

However, last fall the town hired workers to go through the forest behind my house, gather up all the deadfall, and set fire to it. It make for a smokey two weeks here on the mountainside, but I have an electrostatic filter on the furnace, so I just switched it to "FAN" and let the filter take the smoke out of the air. My neighbors suffered considerably more, though.

There are similar unintended consequences of oil spills that most people don't know about. One of them is that the chemicals they use to disperse oil spills are more toxic than the oil itself. There is a very good argument to be made that the best way to deal with an oil spill (other than not to have one in the first place) is to stand back and do nothing.

Another way is what they used to do in the old days - light an oil-soaked rag on fire and throw it into the oil spill. This looks very bad on TV because of the big, black cloud of oil smoke billowing into the sky, but it did get rid of the oil, and as the environmental consultants we hired often said, nature is very good at dealing with the consequences of a fire, much more so than dispersants and other chemicals.

The environmental consultants would show up at one of our old well sites to clean it up so we could get an official reclamation certificate from the government Environment Department, and the first thing they would bring out of their truck would be a great big Tiger Torch with a 20 pound propane bottle. They also used the torch for weed control because as they explained, the chemicals the farmers were using were much more toxic than the oil we had spilled on the ground, and if an oil company used the same chemicals it would get in trouble with the environmental inspectors.

As Rockman often explains here, the environment officials in oil country know exactly what the problems in an old oil field are going to be, and if you don't fix the problems, you and the company president might go to jail.

Rocky, I have enormous respect for you and your expertise!

However despite the fact that just about everything that you say in this comment is absolutely true it still completely misses the point that commenter's such as Ghung, jokuhl, myself and a host of others are trying to get across.

I think we are looking at the world from a completely different paradigm and therefore also a completely different set of assumptions.

In part this may be due to the medium of communication we are using here. Perhaps in a face to face (No TOD mods around) conversation over a few cold ones we could better understand each other. We'd probably still disagree... >;^)

I don't know why you feel compelled to bring natural 'processes' every time someone mentions about man made disasters. It does not absolve anyone of anything. Is it a psychological act of covering up guilt?

Maybe it's due to MADOG? Mutually assured distribution of guilt (to someone else). If everyone was honest about their own guilt and responsibility then there wouldn't need to be so much hand waving and gnashing of teeth over such things as Arctic drilling and Canadian oil sands. The truth is that there are too many people needing too many resources to sustain the complexity of their existence and basic entropy dictates that to maintain this complexity the entropy of the natural world must increase. Whilst the oil sands region may be a ecological disaster the size of Florida, Florida is also an ecological disaster the size of Florida. So if you're living in Florida for example and talking about an ecological disaster, to not be a hypocrite you'd have to bring your own into the conversation.

Whilst extracting the oil is of course very bad and one ought to be forthcoming about ones own guilt in terms of causing ecological problems, it doesn't help if those people trying to interfere from other countries are not themselves forthcoming about their own guilt, 'Do as I say and not as I do'. All attempts to stave off ecological problems which haven't been universal have failed and/or have had other consequences. We can protect the Brazilian rainforest but it comes at the expense of Paraguay. Starving the beast in terms of energy imports into places like Greece has also caused unprecedented deforestation of accessible trees. It's all just a game of 'whack a mole' with no end. You can whack the moles as much as possible to save the rainforests or certain cute species in one place but another mole pops up someplace else and it only shifts the problem. The only way to 'win' is to turn the game off. The only problem is that you probably can't survive the game being turned off, RMG and I have a far better chance.

The only way to 'win' is to turn the game off. The only problem is that you probably can't survive the game being turned off, RMG and I have a far better chance.

Oh man don't take it personally, did I tickle a bone somewhere with my comments? As it stands I am not a nanny for my country and it's citizens so don't blame me for what damage others do, I will only take responsibility for my own problems. We were arguing a POV here that's all. And don't get all snarky about survival, the best thing about it is that it's unpredictable.

I didn't take it personally, personally the limitations of all text communications can be a drag! I'll marry you so you can live in my country!!! ^_~

Whilst the oil sands region may be a ecological disaster the size of Florida, Florida is also an ecological disaster the size of Florida.

That is actually a good way of looking at it. There are 19 million people living in Florida, and they have drastically changed the natural environment to the point where it is no longer good alligator habitat. In the oil sands region of Alberta, there are only about 100,000 people. Certainly the mines do make big holes in the ground, but the wildlife just moves a few miles away and continues on with the "eat or be eaten" routine as usual.

In Florida, an alligator on the golf course doesn't have nearly as good survival prospects as a grizzly bear in the oil sands. Somebody is probably going to shoot the gator, whereas the grizzly bear has a pretty good chance of eating the hunter that is stalking him. (A warning for those people who have never hunted grizzly bears - they circle around and come up on you from behind).

The only problem is that you probably can't survive the game being turned off, RMG and I have a far better chance.

Yeah, if things really get bad, I can eat one of the local grizzly bears. Or more likely the squirrel who lives in my attic. The trouble with bears is that, "Some days you eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you." I don't know if you've ever heard that old saying, but it is quite popular locally.

Bear tastes much like pork, but is much fatter, so it is not really healthy food. And don't ever eat the liver because it contains enough vitamin A to kill a human being. I much prefer bison. I had an Angry Bison Burger for dinner yesterday as a matter of fact (bison with jalapeno peppers). If civilization crashed to a halt, I probably would have had to do without the jalapeno peppers.

A blowout in GOM disturbs that stasis, which is what we should be worried about.

The point of the natural, continually occurring seeps is that, yes, since nature has a degree of adaption to oil in the biosphere that disturbances from large but rare events like the GOM blowout will be corrected over time. In the case of the warm waters in the Gulf the correction has been remarkably rapid. So, yes, measures should be taken to prevent spills so that they do not also become as continual as nature's. Similarly a zero tolerance position for oil spills is illogical from an environmental standpoint is illogical, and the basis must lie elsewhere.

I read anarticleabout a survey they made regarding bio damage after the spill. They concluded that the oil made no long term damage att all, but the oil despersant chemical they pumped out to remove the oil (from eye sight) made a hughe deal of damage.

That's correct. The chemicals they use to clean up oil spills are often more toxic and do more damage to the environment than the oil itself. They just make it look better for the television camera crews.

As I said: no oil/NG activity is risk free. Neither are nuke plants

Oil however is broken down by microbes. One can add microbes if one wishes. And if groundwater is no good, it can be treated or other water sources can be substituted. Far simpler remediation VS radiation.

The only "cure" for Radiation is time and wait for the material to become stable. (we'll ignore time travel and neutron/proton bombardment) It is hard to substitute land as they ain't making any more of it.

No one benefits from things like the BP 'we filled out the regulators paperwork in pencil and they wrote over it in pen' or this gem from today:


NARRATOR: Kimura used to operate the reactors and maintained the fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. He confessed that TEPCO has deceived the government, which regulates the nuclear power plants, in a number of ways. KIMURA: As a part of operational management of the nuclear power plant, we used to rewrite the daily operative reports. We used to access the computer to falsify the data when things weren’t going our way.

Twilight – Never. In fact you don’t even drill a well without surface casing. In Texas when you apply for a drilling permit the State Water Board determines how deep to set your surface casing. The objective is to protect the fresh water aquifers. Depth varies from a few hundred feet to as much as 2,000’. There are strict requirements as to how this casing is cemented. Depending on where you drilling a second casing string might be required at 3,000’ – 5,000’. Then when the well is drilled to total depth the production casing is run and cemented. And then they’ll go down to the zone, perforate it and then pump the frac. As long as the different cement jobs are done properly and the proper casing is run and tested there's rarely a problem. But nothing is risk free: neither frac’ng a well or a kid riding a school bus.

It seems the story of the real danger is finally getting out there: the proper disposal of those nasty produced fluids. I still can’t get over the fact that PA still allows some produced fluids dumped into its streams. I’ve spent $millions over the last 36 years properly disposing of those nasties properly. And unlike companies producing in PA who have never paid a penny in production taxes companies we have paid tens of $billions in production taxes to Texas and La.

I’ll never understand how those hard-nosed pro environment Yankee politicians let the companies get away with that while our Texas politicians, who have always been in the oil patch’s pocket (in some peoples opinion) have collected all those taxes and don’t hesitate to bust our butts if we break the rules.

Perhaps because in TX and LA those relationships were formed in a different time. Corruption is not new, but the level of it varies over time, as does the level at which the interests of common folk are represented. At this time, not unlike the Guilded Age at the dawn of the 1900's, wealth and power are everything and politicians serve the moneyed interests exclusively. No doubt our good Governor Corbett knows which on side his bread is buttered, as do the rest in Harrisburg. Further, this industry and it's techniques have arrived fully formed and well funded and connected from your areas, and kind of dropped in on people who know nothing about it - nor do most have the means to combat it. Especially when their neighbors take the money and run. The modern breakdown of the sense of community can't help either.

Twilight - I grew up in New Orleans. Our La. corrupt politicians can whip your corrupt politicians with both hands tied behind their backs. LOL. I know it sounds harsh but if your voters tolerate your politicians giving $billions to the oil patch then they deserve what they don't get. It's not complicated: the state issues an order that all future oil/NG production will be leveed a severance of X%. The oil patch has no say in the matter: they either pay or they don't drill. And they want to drill really bad.

Again I think all you MSM in the state need do is tell the public how much money they would be collecting if they charged the same severance tax that oil patch friendly Texas charges. I bet the situation would change. You yourself can go to Texas Rail Road Commission web site and document the numbers in less than 10 minutes. Same for La. We're not talking theory...the magnitude of the monies involved is black and white.

The same tax situation applies in Alberta, except that Alberta collects more from the oil industry than Texas and Louisiana combined by owning the mineral rights on the oil fields. Not on 100% of the land, but about 85% which is good enough for most practical purposes. Any settler who got to Alberta before it had a government gets to keep the mineral royalties, and of course the Indians do so on their reservations. Everybody else is out of luck.

There was considerably less corruption in Alberta politics than in Louisiana because during the 25 years that the Reverend Ernest C. Manning was Provincial Premier, during his Back to the Bible Hour on the radio every Sunday he pointed out that all the corrupt politicians were going to go to Hell, and implied that if he caught them he was going to send them there personally.

An AMAZING Story !

Most New Orleans politicians are now honest - post-Katrina.

Arnie Fielkow took time off from $1+ million/year jobs after Katrina to run for City Council ($40k/yr) and devise the strongest Inspector General law in the nation.

Plus we asked and kept a very aggressive US attorney from GWB to Obama.

The IG's budget, by City Charter, is a fixed % of the General Budget. the IG can return a surplus (every year so far) but his budget cannot be cut.

And the IG is hired and fired by a panel of the six local college & university Presidents. Hard to control or corrupt Tulane, Loyola, Xavier, etc.

The first New Orleans IG was the retired IG from Massachusetts, who co-wrote a book on being an Inspector General.

Our new US Representative and the Sheriff are still corrupt, but they are the only ones with that label.

OTOH, Republican Jefferson Parish is growing more corrupt, although they passed a weak IG bill a year ago.

Best Hopes for Honest Politicians as we enter the post-Peak Oil world !


The side effects can be interesting. For example, New Orleans is now the #6 bicycling city. And a new streetcar line is under construction.

How much did honest politicians help make that happen ?

It took a hurricane to clean up NOLA. What'll it take to clean up DC?

Odds are a level of energy input into the area none of us can understand because of the volume involved.

The main problem to me is the sheer number of wells which are required to be drilled, statistically this increases the chances of failure whether it is 0.1% or 1% or 10%. The other major problem to me is the margins on each well are not as good which gives incentives for companies to want to try to cut corners and make it up by drilling more which means that there aren't as many experienced operators to go around who can make the right calls on the spot to prevent problems.

Two solid points, although given the small size of the resource associated with each well, the worst-case threat would be orders of magnitude smaller than some famous blowout like Ixtoc. Of course, if a failure happens on your property, it hits you 100%, and could ruin you financially, which points to the idea that these drillers should be paying into some kind of insurance fund.

Rockman and all: I am actually only a benficiary. The father in law signed the lease. He is near death and desperately wants to spend some money. I am not sure he will be interested in a protracted legal fight- but I will ask him. I really have no say so. As far as publishing this piece mainstream- maybe. The problem is that I have some other very delicate connections to the fossil fuels business at some high levels. It may not be good for me if my identity was public. Maybe there are annonymous ways to do this or ways to create an annonymous blog (but how would anyone know it exists?). Any suggestions would be helpful. I write to get demons out of me mainly- so can think again.

I have heard of anonymous bloggers being outed.

My suggestion is to have the management disable the c8 account so that you are not tempted to post again as that account if being outed worries you.

Rockman, I would like to get a copy of your suggestions for prelease and post lease. Hopefully I will need them in the next year. I will send you an email if you don't mind. Thanks.

This should be published in a mainstream mag or elsewhere. Well done and describes the dilemma facing people throughout the country

One question, though. Do you own the mineral rights? If not, that makes your decision less of a moral dilemma.

This should be published in a mainstream mag or elsewhere.

The entire subject might be a good TOD article!

"What to know if approached to use your property for FF extraction." or something like it.

Good question. I'll look into that.

This is a fascinating first-person account of the shale gas leasing process. Very much appreciate the time you took to put it together. I find your expression of ambivalence spot-on.

Having little context of well-by-well economics, I am a little surprised at the 19% royalty. Nearly one-fifth share of revenues? At today's natural gas prices it would seem difficult for the producer to clear a profit. Perhaps on the liquids, as you confirmed in your discussions, is where they intend to make their entire return.

But this is clearly tough energy to get, with a definite footprint, and a number of poorly understood side effects (earthquakes? contaminated wells? wastewater disposal?) that the industry has tried to downplay, probably to its overall detriment.

Great writeup, C. Living in a similar paradise, I've seen how change can put neighbors at odds; first was real estate development, lately it's been folks leasing acreage for solar PV farms, spoiling neighbors' views. I can only imagine what a natural gas boom would wreck on our small county. My advice: Let it go, take the money, and do something useful and lasting with it.

When a friend inherited money from the sale of family property to developers (against her wishes) she found another bigger piece of land, a bit more remote, bought it and put it in a conservation trust. The developers have since gone bankrupt, leaving a mess of the old family place.

C8/Ghung - Might be a tad late for C8 but for others.: "Learning Too Late of the Perils in Gas Well Leases".


Great commentary, C8. Thanks for doing it. And I concur with tstreet - find a place to get this published.

And you raise a question for me that perhaps Rockman can answer. What are the laws/regs/protocols/(practices?) pertaining to horizontal drilling and property lines? Thx in advance.

cliffy - I can't comment on states other than Texas and La. But for the most part all the regs and laws are for the benefit/protection of the mineral owners. One example: a company can only drill and produce so close to a mineral owners lease without having a lease from that owner. The details are more complicated, of course. OTOH if your neighbor gives a lease to a company and they follow the regs you can't stop them from drilling. No different than if your neighbor wants to build a house on his property you don't like. As long as he follows the local codes he can do as he wishes.

find a place to get this published.

It is already published - it is here. People who use other 'social sites' who find it valuable should link to it.

In OK they are drilling the entire length of a section, one mile. A few years ago the applications were to within 100 feet of the section line but I believe I saw one recently that was to end one foot from the line. In some cases the pad is in an adjacent section. I guess so they can make the bend (or kick out, whatever it is called) and be in the formation for the entire mile.

It's interesting the choices people face when it comes to "money". In my area it's dope growing, not gas. To grow to not to grow. Way back it was mom and pop stuff; a dozen plants or so. Then as more people saw the money that could be made, the more people started growing.

As more people grew, the more the price went down as the supply went up. As the price dropped, the more plants they grew which further dropped the price. In addition, commercial growers came to the area growing thousands of plants. Given the money involved, they brought in armed guards to protect the crops. This, of course, lead to murders and theft. My wife and I experienced this when a double murder occurred at a rental house we had and we found the bodies in the driveway after a deal gone bad.

Dope growing changed the character of the area just as fracking/gas will.

My own philosophy is: Righteousness pays with happy days. We have never grown. Frankly, I'd like to see all drugs legalized - if you want to kill yourself with meth, crack or smack is fine with me.


Todd- is it safe to assume this pot growing was illegal? or are there legal fields? Do you know anything of the rumor that drug cartels donated money to defeat pot legalization referendums?

No pot growing in the US is legal according to the Feds regardless of state laws. California passed the medical marijuana initative(sp) years ago but the Feds don't care. In my county, Mendocino, the deal for medical pot was to go to the sheriff and pay $25 for a zip-tie to put on each plant(s). People could only plant 25 plants per parcel. Some people formed co-operatives and grew together. It worked really well.

Now the Feds are all cranked up to eradicate all this California legal/Fed illegal dope. The reality is that major growers don't give a crap; they're going to grow any way. Plus, there is more indoor growing now days.

I don't know about the cartels but I do believe that the majority of people here would like to see it totally legalized...and taxed. Realistically, in my small rural county, the economy would be totally in the dumps without pot.


I think the cartels would prefer it to be illegal.


Narcotics was legal in Europe 100 years ago. The talk about Coca Cola originaly containing cocaine is not a myth. They removed the ingredience in 1902. We do not need to speculate what will happen if we leglize. We cn just go to the "history" department at your local library.

Benefits of legalisation:

No criminal netoworks. This benefit is realy realy big. No doubt about that.

Higer quality of drugs. With cocaine beeing produced by medical factories, the quality and purity is high, and guaranteed.

Drawbacks of legalisation
Usage go up. Realy realy much. The use was banned for a reason. And a good one.

Historical contexts
We were right in the middle of a raging war, with millions of soldiers beeing slaughtered in trenches across Europe. Soldiers used cocaine a lot. The combination of soldiers at war and narcotics is never a good one. We don't have worldwars going on right now. (But we may get one, who knows)

In our days, we have the internet. If we make narcotics legal, you will find sites popping up like mushrooms from the ground, selling drugs at prices far below the normal prices. Quality and purity will be lower as well, but people will buy from there anyway, to save that extra penny. And they will consider them self to be "smart".

No criminal netoworks.

Wrong, they will not give up their lifestyles. Some will turn to other crimes eg kidnapping, extortion etc. Others will penetrate the legal market and abuse that (as per your last paragraph). Perhaps the one that could be freed would be grow-your own mary but some of the others are far too dangerous to have around. If you see the damage that some of these substances do then you would realise that there is no way they can be permitted.


The criminal networks involved in alcohol during prohibition mostly turned to legitimate business doing exactly the same thing. It was what they knew.

Mind you, the drug war has been going on a lot longer and there are people involved who are professional criminals, but the distributors and producers will try to turn their business legitimate as quietly as possible. That cuts down mightily on the number of people you need to catch.

Unfortunately not the narcos. Shall we just say that I get to hear some interesting stories.


Even the narcos. There are the ones who are bad because they are bad, and the ones who are bad because it is the only way to stay in business.

The latter group will try to adjust things to make it seem as if they were never involved in the bad times (despite the obvious questions about where their skills came from).

The former group will find a more profitable outlet for their skills. Maybe they'll go into politics...

I will have to disagree with you on this but I cannot put any more into a public forum. If we ever meet over a cold beer I will give you some background and maybe take you around and show you a few things.


You may have a point. If so I am glad that I have no first-hand experience that confirms it.

As I wrote, they did dissalow it for a good reason.

Yes, but it worries me that people talk about taking off all restraint. One problem is that if drugs such as MJ and cocaine are legalised then the cartels will focus on the highly damaging meth and PCP types that need to have a lid kept on them. Unfortunately there is no easy answer.


From what I remember it was the old problem that we have now with sugar. Businesses trying to outdo each other continuously up'd the amount of cocaine until it just got ridiculous.

I will take good regulation of drugs and education over any other solution. Nothing is ever going to be perfect but that always seems to work best...

How will the money help the people long term? My wife laughed: “the casino and nursing homes will get everything in the end”.

What a shame. We weren't always like that, as a nation.

We weren't always like that, as a nation.

I'd *like* to believe that, but I really don't think that's true at all. All you have to do is look back on the roaring 20's, Teapot Dome & Credit Mobilier scandals, Robber Baron-dominated Gilded Age, Railroad land grabs, various exterminations of native Americans, slavery, sundry financial "Panics", etc., etc. Let's not be to quick to idealize our past.

America has always tended to attract more than its fair share of crooks, liars, scam artists and Ponzi schemers. They don't call this the "Land of Opportunity" (to fleece one's neighbors) for nothing!

Donald Long, who posts here occasionally as Longtimber, sent me this link yesterday:
The Changing Energy Outlook The End of the Cheap Oil Experience. Presented to IEEE Pensacola Section April 17th, 2012 (PDF file)

He gave a presentation last night in Pensacola. I am now in North Alabama and missed it unfortunately. But from the looks of the slides it looks very good. It is quite long, 89 slides, I don't know how he covered it all but I am sure he did a great job. And I am sure he would like some comments on the slides, if anyone has the time to look at them. I did and was very impressed.

Ron P.

It is bit long and needs refinement for flow, To make it effective standalone tool, I'm going to make the 1st few slides an Executive Summary, then details and will post here. Being technical types, most "got it", one person had a handle on the situation from gut feel. Many wanted projections and timelines, my response was that if it's too hot of a potato for the experts at the EIA, I'm not sticking my neck out.

Re: In Poll, Many Link Weather Extremes to Climate Change

The interesting thing about this poll data is that the scientific community has tried to downplay extremes as a possible proof of climate change. Back in 1980, I was soundly berated by the director of NCAR for suggesting that the extremes at that time were the result of AGW. More recently, the extreme events have become one of the focal issues of the "debate", perhaps because people experience weather during their lives, not climate statistics. How times change!!!

E. Swanson

Which means the climate experience of most people will need to change for the worse for them to accept AGW, so public opinion can help move things forward politically to change energy sources to level off and eventually reduce carbon levels. The question then becomes: Even if a world economy could somehow afford to make the switch, how bad do weather events have to get to persuade people of AGW? And if that level of discomfort is above a runaway global warming tipping point, then the sales pitch to make the sale was too late. This is what I think will happen. Eventually the weather will get so out of hand people will finally get it no matter how strong their 'beliefs' were before, but it will be too late. Humans are just too rooted in the first brain layer, the reptilian in their responses. Climate change 'data' unfortunately rests with trying to persuade the 3rd layer, the neocortex, which apparently remains greatly untapped by most.

No matter how bad weather events and heat waves are, we people need to have a coherent explanation rattling around in their brains to connect the dots. Perhaps something like this:


Unfortunately, for such messages to get into people heads, there has to be something like saturation on the airwaves. But our corporate controlled media have been decreasing its coverage of GW:


The satellite map for methane over the Northern Hemisphere is in for March. Sunlight destroys methane (oxidizes it to CO2, actually), so methane levels regularly drop significantly in the Arctic this time of year. But it looks as though there is an increase above last month over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf and adjoining land mass:






Or something foreboding imminent doom?

Because the normal emission of methane from the ESAS is comparable to the emission from all other areas of the ocean, emission of greater than 1870 ppbv does not tell me if it is unusual for March. This map needs to be compared to ones for March 2010 and March 2011.

AIRS CH4 at 400 mb on 2010 March

AIRS CH4 at 400 mb on 2011 March

The methane emission in March 2012 in the ESAS is greater than the previous 2 years in March, but the location of the greatest emission moves around from year to year.

Thanks for linking to this site. I have been looking for something like this.

Thanks for the perspective. As with everything else, it is hard to discern the signal from the noise. But I didn't expect any kind of month-on-month increase this time of year. Like you say, things can shift around, and I suppose wind patterns could end up concentrating whatever methane is up there. And I will have to look at all the earlier years to see what is the range of behaviors.

But I was expecting (and hoping) to see the steady destruction of methane in the Arctic as the sun started to hit that part of the world.

Missing that, I have to wonder if:

It is just some fluke

It is an indication that the OH radicals necessary for the breakdown of CH4 have been used up already

It is an indication that methane emissions from ESAS are now starting to overwhelm processes that usually destroy most of it.

I have a rather creepy feeling that we may be in for a very i n t e r e s t i n g year.

I have a rather creepy feeling that we may be in for a very i n t e r e s t i n g year.

I think I had the same feeling. We have the possibility for an El Nino of around 40% on top rising to a solar maximima. If we just had the warmest La Nino, what would her brother be like?

It looks like an El Nino state might occur in the last quarter this year.

If this happens it means that -with the approx. 6 months temperature lag- and the (near) solar maximum 2013 is very likely to become the hottest year on record while 2012 is becoming 'only' yet another top10 year.

It looks like an El Nino state might occur in the last quarter this year.

From your link, I would say beginning in Q3 rather than Q4 according to most of the models (4 go for WARM in Q3 and 2 go for NEUTRAL). The NOAA CFS ensemble mean shows temp anomaly of only about 0.3C at end of year (having peaked about 0.5C at end September). UK Met. latest ensemble has 0.5C reached in June.

Being that the halflife of atmospheric methane is 10-12 years, the oxidation of it is pretty slow, under 1% per month. I think that well under the noise.

I'm not an atmospheric chemist by a long stretch, but I think those long-term averages hide the fact that most of the destruction occurs in these early months of the year. Almost no methane oxidizes during the long dark cold months in the Arctic, iirc.

So, yes, we should be seeing decreases rather than increases in methane at this point, even under conditions of moderately rising methane levels. But I could be (and I hope I am) wrong.

The ESAS emitted methane in March 2008 similar to 2012, but none of the other maps for March during the other 8 years look similar.

AIRS CH4 at 400 mb on 2008 March

Those maps show a greater amount of methane in the atmosphere during the winter of 2011-2012 than during the winters of 2007-2008 and 2010-2011. I have not looked at the other years yet.

400 mb corresponds to an altitude of about 7,200 m. Apparently methane in the troposphere absorbs infrared radiation causing the stratosphere to cool. A colder stratosphere increases the formation of chlorine compounds that destroy ozone. Long lived CFC’s, Methane – Nitrous Oxide uptake and the destruction of the northern hemisphere Ozone Layer, January 24, 2012.

“At low latitudes, methane in the stratosphere breaks down into hydrogen oxides, which attack ozone. Nitrous oxide can decompose to form ozone-eating nitrogen oxides.” – D. Shindell, 2002

Strong atmospheric chemistry feedback to climate warming from Arctic methane emissions, Ivar S. A. Isaksen, Michael Gauss, Gunnar Myhre, Katey M. Walter Anthony, and Carolyn Ruppel; Global Biogeochemical Cycles, v. 25, GB2002, doi:10.1029/2010GB003845, 2011; states methane increase the formation of ozone on page 4:

CH4 oxidation leads to enhanced formation of ozone
in the troposphere and lower stratosphere through a
sequence of reactions involving NOx compounds.

Isaksen et al.'s model shows a loss of ozone in the upper stratosphere above an altitude of about 40 km.

You know, mitigation isn't nearly as expensive as some would like us to think. For starters, it saves on adaptation.

There isn't some sort of tipping point that leads to extinction of all life. And humans are pretty resourceful survivors. Whenever we stop burning, the stoppage will make the future climate a little less hot than not stopping. You are probably correct that we will bake in a great deal of damage before getting it. But stopping late is still better than not stopping.

Does anyone know of a map that shows temperatures together with population density? That might give a clue to how resourceful we are adapting to high temperatures (and I don't mean the few rich US folks with airco, I mean the other poor 90%).

I also wonder how well we as a society would fare coping with massive human reallocations due to sealevel rise and temperature increase and it's effects (e.g. droughts). Bangladesh comes to mind for instance, the Indians will be pretty pleased to welcome them in. No? How about sub-Saharan Africa? Massive reallocations will likely cause great tensions judging by the stresses to present day society caused by relatively few immigrant workers and previous mass migrations.

Add on that stresses from freak weather, lost crops and skyrocketing foodprices and other comodities (peak oil?). Hmm, I love this scenario :D

Oh yes, humanity survives probably. Societies and civilization? Well, that's different ball game.

Whether it would lead to extinction of all life is open to debate. But there are tipping points that initiate positive feedback loops that lead to a hotter & more chaotic climate no matter what we do after those points. Such PFL's include methane release, albedo decline, desertification, others I can't think of right now...

Sure. But regardless cutting emissions (even after such an event) still mitigates the result.

Yes, the main point is that we don't know for sure where the tipping point are or how deep the holes are that they will tip us into.

So it is most prudent to do everything we can to avoid being so 'tipped.'

But we instead are charging forward, emitting more CO2 per year than ever before.

We are a drunken and reckless lot, veering ever more wildly out of all control.

Why exactly do so very few people actually give a flying f?

The whole point of a tipping point is that you DON'T have control over the result, it advances on it's own. When you're past it, mitigation will be very hard. My second problem with that statement is that when you're past a tipping point and you cut emissions you already are and remain past the tipping point. The emissions will largely stay in the system for at least a thousand years.

As climate blogger Bart Verheggen says it:
"James Hansen has put the concept of ‘tipping points’ on the agenda. It is not a strictly defined term, but at a tipping point, a relatively small change has a relatively large consequence, and the climate could end up in a different equilibrium state than before. (Compare it with the concept of meta-stability, with the classical example of a ball on a hill, which needs only a minor push to end up in the valley – the new equilibrium state.)"

So just cutting emissions when you realize you're past important tipping points is way too late. You can't get the ball back up the hill.

I've often wondered when it'll be ok to attribute other-than-ordinary weather patterns and other signs to climate change. Those of us who live on the land have been seeing, seemingly, permanent changes for a couple of decades now; species of animals and birds, once rare visitors, now permanent residents; plants that couldn't survive our winters now thriving; growing season changes most years; weather extemes becoming normal. I agree that the weather/climate debate should be data driven, but for some of us, it's becoming pretty obvious.

We should be cautious though - there is a big step between acceptance of the link between extreme and/or changing weather and climate change/AGw, and accepting the need to make serious changes in the way we live.

You can say that again.

I know many people who are perfectly willing to admit that there are such links, but are also perfectly unwilling to stop or reduce the amount that they fly or eat meat (the two activities that have been shown to generate the most GHGs for most people's lifestyles), much less reduce driving, insulate their house or keep it cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer, turn off lights and TVs when not being used...

They only respond to price. Why not? All the rest is too complicated to think about.

That's why I like Lester Brown- jack up the price of energy to match its true cost over time, for the future as well as for us. Take that income and give it back immediately to every person equally, so the low users get a gain in income, and the profligate ones take a big hit.

This automatically moves us toward truly lower cost energy/lifestyles.

I talked recently with a smart economist:
"Sure, we all know that price should reflect true cost. But it's mighty hard to get a solid number on that one, and you get tons of counter-argument from special interests. Way easier to just forget it, and keep using the superficial price we already do use".

"well, us engineers always make the best guess we can for some uncertain stress, or whatever, since we know it's there and it's best to be safe even if uncertain."

"Right, but you people don't have your lives made miserable by endless argument from skilled people paid to do it."

"I've often wondered when it'll be ok to attribute other-than-ordinary weather patterns and other signs to climate change"

Well, the septics will put that time as far away as possible and then some.

Others, more knowledgeable, like Dr. Jeff Masters from Wunderground are asking the question though:



Two excellent videos from Peter Sinclair (of climatecrocks fame).

With the change in the jet stream which caused extreme heat beginning in March, the day of awareness may be here now. No doubt a minority comprised of fossil fuel funded deniers will continue to argue otherwise.

But then what do we do given that we have wasted at least two decades?

I have the feeling that making everyone (that matters) "get" climate change is like a dog chasing a bus. What do the dog do, once it catch the bus?
So now everyone understand CC is real. Then what do we do about it?

I stongly suspect that there isn't a major political player in the US that hasn't understood both AGW and Peak Oil for at least the past 20 years.

Listen to informed voices who have thought of ways to wean us off coal, gas and oil and how to make communities (not only those in the US) more resilient.

There are so many good ideas out there waiting to be acted upon.

The problem is dealing with the political enemies of any of those solutions. They won't go way just because climate chaos is undeniable.

I'm afraid that some other people might be interpreting the weather in other less productive ways. Greg Stier at the Christian Post seems to feel that it's part of God's plan to maximize his glory somehow.

Deduction #1: God is in control of everything, including the weather.

It has been said that there is not a renegade molecule in the universe. Every breeze, rain drop and ray o’ sunshine is under sovereign command. God is not freaking out watching Jim Cantore’s latest prediction on television. He is the one who creates (allows?) the stories for Cantore to report.

Deduction #2: God uses all things for his maximum glory.

As the old Jesuit saying goes, “Ad majorem dei gloriam” (“For the greater glory of God.”) The King of kings uses everything to bring maximum glory to himself. He uses the good, the bad and the ugly (I have hope!) He is working a plan beyond our comprehension to cause people to look up to him and raise both hands in praise.

Deduction #3: God wants to use this to bring people into his family.

As the second half of the old Jesuit saying goes, “Inque hominem salutem” (“…and salvation of humanity.”) God is working a plan to relentlessly expand his kingdom by adding people to his family. If he wants to shake the snow globe (or heat globe, or hurricane globe) a bit to bring people into his kingdom then that is the perogative of providence.

So why not use the opportunity of all of this crazy weather as a way to introduce people to Jesus Christ and to bring him maximum glory? If you don’t know how to share your faith you can check these podcasts out that will equip you to do just that.

Ultimately The Weather Channel is just weather chatter. At best, experts can talk about the “what’s” and “what if’s” concerning the weather but only God knows the “why’s” behind the skies. So take advantage of all of the meterological mayhem and use it as an opportunity to introduce others to the One and only who can rescue them from the really bad heat wave that is coming.

It's annoying that people are so attached to "why".

God's plan is probably to sit back on his porch with a nice microbrew and see what we do.

Washington DC subways nearing saturation

Already, the "Orange Crush" between Courthouse & Rosslyn stations (Orange Line - Virginia) is limiting ridership. One solution is WMATA is ordering 428 new subway cars with more standing room and fewer seats.

Another is moving to 8 car trains (50% 8 car trains, 50% 6 car trains soon). But the stations were built to only handle 8 car trains#

The first half of the new Silver Line to Tyson's Corner is under construction. Planning reduced the cost of the second half by $1 billion (and reduced it's utility) and still the State of Virginia can not find $300 million to contribute. So the second half. to Dulles Airport, may be delayed.

The Silver Line will add additional passengers from Courthouse to Rosslyn and beyond to DC.

The capacity per track is remarkable. WMATA can run 26 trains/hour/direction. 8 cars/train. Each car is 75' long x 10' wide. The older cars can carry 175 people each. The new series will carry 184 & 192 (cabs only on every other car) with seating against the sides.

Top speed is 75 mph.

By comparison, limited access highways carry little more than 1,000 vehicles/hour/lane.

A study on WMATA capacity (pdf)
OOPs - an old study. I will search for newer.

I used information from this one from 2008 - although they assume greatest growth in the exurbs.

Paris is doubling the size of their Metro - with an expected 2 million more daily riders from 2013 to 2025 plus new surface trams.

The Washington area could significantly expand their capacity - and should post-Peak Oil. Many more surface lines plus more capacity in Metro.

I have been working with Ed Tennyson on some plans that I may run by readers on Drumbeat in a few days. Innovative (single track Metro express lines, with passing at double track stations ?)

Best Hopes for efficient Oil Free Transportation,


# Ed Tennyson, who was involved in planning for WMATA once asked "Why not build longer platforms for the future ?". He was told that if demand ever got so high that 8 car trains could not handle the loads, then "We will just build more subway lines".

Just visited Washington DC last week and it was very impressive the progress they have made with Green Transit. Besides the Northern VA Silver Line, suburban MD is building a Purple Line as they connect across Metro Lines. They already have bike-sharing where you easily rent a bike
from stands all over the city for a very reasonable price. We were visiting colleges and all the colleges, besides their LEEDS certified buildings were running shuttles and actively utilizing existing Green Transit.
Unfortunately in New Jersey due to political cowardice not to raise the nations 2nd lowest gas tax which has not been raised since 1987 while Green transit fares have been repeatedly raise and services cut:


we are at a standstill or moving backward on Green Transit.
Although New Jersey transit ridership continues to climb as auto mileage declined 5% trains and buses have been cut and no major expansions such as the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, Newark Light Rail or Riverline have occurred. Gov. Christie has gone to Koch Bros sponsored conferences and stolen legislation straight from the Koch Bros- funded ALEC.

Washington DC, like several other major US cities, has a "good thing" with WMATA Metro.

However, capacity is not growing with demand. And the shortfall will be greater as post-Peak Oil begins to really bite !

A better alternative (see Paris) is a major expansion of both Metro and surface rail (Purple Line is GREAT - but not nearly enough) to move an even larger number of people without oil - while creating much larger areas of Transit Orientated Development (also known as "Low Oil Use Areas").

I have seen WMATA plans

And I thought the western half of the Blue Line was heavily flawed.

Best Hopes,


It's easy to fund projects like that when you're whole economy runs on forced tribute from a vast country and empire.

Just some food for thought.

Cities all over the world are funding transit expansions without an economy that "runs on forced tribute from a vast country and empire".
Just diverting some small percentage of the funds that are wasted on automobile frivolous consumption and status display can easily fund transit.

How many millions of SUVs are there in the US? (over 100 million http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/01/08/suicide-sex-and-suvs.html)
How many people really need an SUV?? (approximately none)

So if the wasted funds that are devoted to building and fueling SUVs that are currently driven around mostly empty due to successful marketing (someday you might want to drive down on 4WD drive trail in your SUV, but today you will definitely sit in a traffic jam on a freeway in your SUV) were re-directed to building transit systems we would have more than enough funds to build transit without "tribute from empire".

Some of the developing country transit systems currently under way, without any "tribute from empire".

Algiers – Algiers tramway[1]
Oran (under construction)
Constantine (under construction)
Sidi Bel Abbes - Construction launch by the end of 2011 [2]
Planning stages:[3] Mostaganem, Ouargla, Sétif, Annaba, Béchar, Tebessa, Skikda, Djelfa, Tlemcen, Blida and Béjaia.

[edit] Egypt
Cairo – trams, connects suburb Heliopolis which has tram, another suburb Heluan also has tram, but not connected with Cairo. See Trams in Greater Cairo
Alexandria – see Trams in Alexandria
[edit] Ethiopia
Addis Ababa - Two light rail lines are planned.[4]
[edit] Morocco
Rabat – opened to public on 23 May Rabat-Salé tramway 2011[5]
Casablanca - under construction scheduled to open in 2012 Casablanca tramway [1]
Marakesh - inter urbain[clarification needed] open in 2013[citation needed]
Agadir - Project[clarification needed][citation needed]
[edit] Nigeria
Abuja – Phase 1 to be completed 2007 [6]
Lagos – Lagos Light Rail is being developed [7] by Lemna International [2][8]
Lagos – Eko Tramway is being developed with the Eko Atlantic City project [9]
Port Harcourt – Light rail plans are being developed [10]
[edit] South Africa
Kimberley – heritage tram
[edit] Tunisia
Tunis - modern tram Métro léger de Tunis – métro léger..

I think if Nigeria and Morocco can afford rail transit, the US can easily afford it too (despite the current right-wing orthodoxy, that claims the richest country in the world is "broke", just because we refuse to tax the people that have all the money)>

"In order to pacify its population during the Arab Spring and pay for significant new infrastructure projects, Saudi Arabia has made enormous financial commitments in the past several years. The kingdom really needs $90 - $100 a barrel now to balance its budget. Other major exporters like Venezuela and Russia have similar budget-driven incentives to keep prices high."


What a load of rubbish! Firstly what SA or any other oil producers need is to maximize revenues- which in turn is function of VOLUME and PRICE. Secondly, what they would like or need is irrelevant- it is what they have the power to get which is important. Unless they are the marginal oil producer for all prices above $80 what they want is irrelevant to what would like or need. The thrust of the article - marginal oil is coming from unconventional sources - suggests that KSA is not the marginal producer.

Secondly, what they would like or need is irrelevant- it is what they have the power to get which is important.

The implication in "The kingdom really needs $90 - $100 a barrel now to balance its budget" is that with oil BELOW $90 a barrel, they won't be able to balance their budget.

What the Saudis need to keep their population happy is highly relevant.

The article does not suggest the Saudis alone can influence the price of oil. "Other major exporters like Venezuela and Russia have similar budget-driven incentives to keep prices high" suggests that all three may be inclined to keep prices high; it does not say how or if they might do this. It posits that they are gambling that the price of oil will stay high, and that if it drops below $90, they are in trouble.

Expert says all Pa. oil, gas waste needs treatment

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A former top environmental official says Pennsylvania's successful efforts to keep Marcellus Shale wastewater away from drinking water supplies should be extended to all other oil and gas drillers.
An AP analysis of state data found that in the second half of 2011 about 1.86 million barrels - or about 78 million gallons - of drilling wastewater from conventional oil and gas wells were still being sent to treatment plants that discharge into rivers.


Best hopes for effective oil/gas regulation in Pennsylvania. Some of us live here!

PT in PA

Just remember - they ain't DEAD. With death being the metric trotted out by the defenders of Man's fission plan.


Tomoyuki Yamazaki, a Japanese doctor and a United Church member in Wakayama Prefecture in western Japan who provides medical counselling at the information center every month, said in an email to ENInews that an increasing number of children he has seen “have nosebleeds that don’t stop, diarrhea, dark circles under their eyes, and incurable stomatitis [an inflammation of the mucous linings in the mouth]. A growing number of children [at the centre] have pains in their chests.”

And note the 'promptly fired' here:

But today's money shot so far?

But there is also another important lesson to be learned, and it applies to all operating nuclear facilities around the world: If you have to assume something, then you are not prepared.


The Japanese Government did not admit to the meltdown until three months later, nor did they admit to the damage to the containment vessels until a half year later. Our government tried to hide this important information for some reason, though judging from the amount of fission material released and from the size of the hydrogen explosion, the meltdown of the entire core was undeniable for anyone who has studied reactor engineering.

Note how being a cheapskate in ordering something too big saved #5 and #6

Its airfins were too big to fit into the basement and was luckily placed outside, and as such, this engine started to generate electricity. With a pump brought in from outside, it started to cool not only Reactor No. 6, but had enough power to cool Reactor No. 5. Of the 13 emergency generators associated with the six plants, this was the only one of the three air-cooled backups, and hence not dependent on water as the heat sink. This air-cooled diesel engine was the only one not entirely submerged in water, but in fact at one point the water level did reach up to half its height.

Yes, there's more to being alive than not being dead.
It's funny, in the macabre sense, how risk analysis can be skewed to seem "not so bad" when the person doing the risk calculation doesn't have their, or loved ones, a$$e$ on the line.

There's a lot of asumptions going on here.

One of them is that I'm a heartless SOB who doesn't care if people get hurt, that is actually the opposite of the true case. I'm very insistent that people who want to claim harm from nuclear power show actual harm because fossil fuel power does cause harm.

The other is that the people mentioned above were actually hurt by radiation, which is possible, but I don't trust Eric's ability to filter good information from bad so I'm not about to take his word for it.

Yeah, we went through this 'show-me-the-proof' scenario with coal plant emissions and asthma, cigarettes and lung cancer, sunlight exposure and skin cancer, lead and...well.

The nuclear Navy I served in took radioactive contamination seriously enough 30 years ago to convince me, and still does: http://www.med.navy.mil/directives/Pub/5055%20(Feb%202011).pdf

A google search of "long term effects of ionizing radiation" returned 2,590,000 results, yet you are persistantly demanding to be shown actual data that nuclear is less safe than coal? I've made my choices. No trip to the crossroads for me.

"In rural folklore, the intersection of two roads was often regarded as an evil place, the site of black magic."

I have no doubt that nuclear power uses hazardous materials, and that when these materials get into the environment you want as little to do with them as possible.

Where I'm having trouble is the leap from "we've got dangerous stuff" to "this is worse than any alternative, we must not do it".

Burning to death is a terrible way to die, yet fire also protects people from diseases that are also terrible ways to die.

Nuclear power is dangerous, but non-nuclear power is *also* dangerous, in more ways and to greater extent for the benefit it provides (as far as I know).

Unless we are all going to just walk away from current civilization as a bad job, we are going to be using massive amounts of power generated somehow. The full array of the evidence I have seen indicates to me that nuclear power will cause the least harm for the most effect of all the available alternatives.

There was certainly a lot of industry FUD spreading about the items you list above, but there were sound scientific studies showing the actual harm in real life despite that. That was how the people who knew there was trouble with coal plant emissions, smoking, excess sunlight exposure, and lead in paint and gasoline got through the heads of stubborn people like me.

Anti-nuclear advocates are still citing Yablokov.

I was submarine nuclear myself. I had the training and know how seriously the risks are taken, but they still take the risks despite that.

that nuclear power will cause the least harm for the most effect of all the available alternatives.

I disagree. I think that conservation & efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal and hydro have less harm.

However, I also believe that the above, combined, even if pursued vigorously, can provide all the power we need/want at a price even close to what we might be willing to pay.

I now accept that there is about a 0.25% to 0.5% chance that the county where a new "safer" nuke plant is, and the surrounding counties, may end up as "no go" areas.

The risk from Climate Chaos is greater.

And after all the "no regrets" options are pushed hard - we are left with nukes or FF (likely coal).

I would chose nukes as the "clean up", 2nd phase to get rid of most remaining FF.

And south central Georgia, where the locals seem willing, is low value, and low population enough, to risk.

In Japan, maybe the north coast of Hokkaido.

PS: I can see a 30 year plan where North America goes 90% carbon free generation with half the per capita electrical consumption. And the same total cost for electricity (twice the rate/kWh).

Highly variable pricing - 4 to 40 to 60 cents/kWh (FF kick in at 40 or 60 cents/kWh).

Massive pumped storage, HV DC transmission, more Canadian hydro imports plus LOTS of wind & solar (see Germany).

All good, but not quite enough.

Enter new nukes to replace old nukes and some extra capacity (400 million Americans by then). And shut down the last coal fired plants.

Best Hopes for Renewables & Conservation *HARD* first !


PS: Perhaps new nukes inside mountain caverns or deep underground ?

The premise that nuclear displaces fossil fuel use is false, and simply serves to confuse the issue. I see no logic to the idea that nuclear power reduces the use of vastly less expensive fossil fuels. All of the fossil fuels that are accessible will be burned anyway, so nuclear power at best delays the time when people must reduce energy usage, and probably not even that. And having delayed it until the cheaper fuels are gone, we will be unable to afford to clean up the waste and will still done all the damage with fossil fuels.

This has been covered so many times it raises my alarm bells when the old displacement trope is brought out over and over again.

Even if true#, delaying burning carbon for a century or two is *VERY* beneficial.

It reduces the Peak Climate Chaos, and slows the rate of change.

Desirable for both humans & eco-systems.

Best Hopes for slower & less Climate Chaos,


# Which I disagree with - I think low grade & hard to get coal can be left in place *IF* we move towards non-carbon generation soon.

Nuclear does seem to displace fossil fuel use up to the point where the obvious pollution from fossil fuel use drops off the average person's radar.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pea_soup_fog is something that doesn't seem to be on the radar even of people who have suffered through it. Of course we learned, and nobody burns dirty coal in high enough concentrations to cause pollution like that anymore.

Oh, wait, China does, so I guess we didn't learn, but they are turning to nuclear to displace enough of their coal use that they aren't killing their own people off with the smog (at least not at too quick a pace).

There are definite risks to nuclear power, the radionucleides released from Fukushima probably will kill a few people, but while people are obsessing over that Old King Coal will keep right on killing, in much greater numbers and on a day to day basis that can't be avoided because it's inherent in normal operation of the system.

Yes, Old King Coal will keep right on killing as it is now and as it has throughout our experiment with nuclear power. This will continue until the economically obtainable coal is used up, regardless of nuclear. Believing we'll leave it in place is but whistling past the graveyard.

Further, the radioactive waste that we have never moved, have no plans to move, no where to move it to and no way to fund moving, will kill for thousands of years and render regions uninhabitable because it's inherent in characteristic of the material.

We will have both.

If, for example, we are 85% to 90% non-carbon generation in 30 years - and per capita consumption is half what it is today - and birth rates continue to fall, then Yes - I do expect some coal to be left in the ground.

The UK has PLENTY of coal left in the ground (2/3rds of reserves estimated 1860s - 1950s). Yet they have only five active coal pits, and all five are over 50 years old. Coal mining is about to die there.

Best Hopes for Conservation & Renewables,


Too much conjecture for me. 85% to 90% non-carbon generation in 30 years? Sounds wonderful but I think you're dreaming. Consumption may well be half, but only because we did very little and much of the world population is priced out of the energy market (a la Greece). Then who funds this new energy infrastructure?

Of course there will be some coal left in the ground, as with everything not all of what exists will be economical to extract. Are you sure that the UK's coal will NEVER be mined? How about when our empire collapses and on their own they can no longer pay for Russian gas? Place bets no desperate men will be sent down into those mines again?

Best hopes are not plans.

The way I'm reading your argument is that since fossil fuels will be used up anyway, it would be better to use them up more quickly, then stretching the pain for longer.

With the first part I tend to agree with - in the absence of economical alternatives fossil fuels *will* be used up, until the cost of getting the marginal barrel/ton of coal/etc. rises enough and stays there for a long enough period of time to motivate us to really look for alternatives. Looking at the vast reserves of coal, shale gas, shale oil etc. I have little hope to see that in my lifetime.

But I don't understand your reasoning for the second part. Let's say we use up the economicaly recoveralbe FFs for the next 50 years instead of say 100 years. How is that going to impact the system in the grand schema of things? I can only guess that the shock to the economy, the climate, the ecosystem etc. is going to be much greater in the first scenario. Keeping with the 100years timeframe increases our chances for some breakthrough to come up from the technological lottery that would make FFs antique - be it better batteries, economical fusion, etc. Just because they seem to be without alternative now it doesn't mean it will be forever like that.

So why are you saying that? I can only speculate that you are hoping for a fast crash and I really have to ask, how and whom will that help?

I just returned from town where we have one grocery store, recently expanded to a moderate sized 'super store'. The ice cream isle is 80 feet long and 66 feet of the other side (I counted the floor tiles). 6H x 1.5D x 146L = 1341 cubic feet of ice cream. The rest of the isle is frozen pies. So I'm supposed to condone the need for more nukes and coal plants to keep ice cream and pies frozen? I think you can see the source of my reluctance, especially when I've managed to drastically reduce our personal energy use while increasing our quality of life, paid for in part by not eating junk like ice cream (ROCK's Blue Bell not an issue here).

I think our collective priorities need a major adjustment. We're willing to risk the future health of folks we'll never meet so we can have our frozen HFCS? Insanity....

And I'd bet all the ice cream is in open freezers. Just putting them in glass walled cabinets would be a huge help. Heck sometimes they add radiant heaters so the customers won't get cold. I think its all about getting the impulse buyer, if they have to open the cabinet, perhaps they will decide not to make the impulse purchase. So the supermarket consultants try to optimize profits -just like the rest of the country runs.....

And I'd bet all the ice cream is in open freezers. Just putting them in glass walled cabinets would be a huge help.

Interesting, I wonder if that is really true? I'm going to venture a wild guess that it might not be. If by open freezer you mean the kind that are about waist high and you can reach down into them. I think the much colder denser air tends to stay in the freezer due to simple physics. Btw most of these freezers already have sliding glass tops which should also help in keeping the cold air down there while reducing the interaction with warm ambient air. As for the vertical glass walled cabinets they have huge doors which most customers have yet to figure out, can actually be seen through and therefore they tend to stand there with the doors wide open while they stare at all choices unable to make up their minds as to what they might want to purchase... rinse and repeat for each customer and you might have a lot more wasted energy with these cabinets. Not to mention that when the doors are held open they tend to fog up >:(

BTW watching customers hold the doors to these cabinets open is something that always raises my blood pressure. Once in a while I ask some of these people if they have trouble seeing through the glass doors, I usually get a blank stare as a response!

But I'm 100% with Ghung on this one as far as the choices we make. Perhaps these people need to learn how to make ice cream the old fashioned way... or just do without!

Yeah, Fred, these are nice, new uprights with the doors that fog up. The floor cabinets are about two isles over with the french fries, chicken nuggets and whatever frozen pizzas are on sale this week; wide open. Funny how we create new addictions to support our other addictions which support...... which came first, the nuke plants or the frozen pizzas? Too cheap to meater ;-)

Interesting, I wonder if that is really true? I'm going to venture a wild guess that it might not be. If by open freezer you mean the kind that are about waist high and you can reach down into them. I think the much colder denser air tends to stay in the freezer due to simple physics.

Several years ago I did some work on reducing the electrical loads of beverage coolers and freezers, while I was working for Green Mountain Power over in Vermont. In most cases, the energy use of older equipment can easily be reduced by at least 50%

It is true that the colder air will pool inside these coffin type freezers, but the air temperature is not the biggest part of the freezer load. Condensation of moisture in the air can be a much bigger energy load, especially if the store is not air conditioned, and relative humidity in the air is high.

I'm sure these freezers are much higher efficiency than the old ones they replaced, but still being used to keep various concoctions of sugar and fat cold; tons of it. A society that justifies producing thousands of tons of nuclear waste and billions of tons of CO2 so that it can have 157 varieties of ice cream and cake primes my doomer pump. This confectionary section has nearly doubled since the recession started. As long as we have our comfort food, things will be ok, it seems.

You probably know that those freezers and their offerings wouldn't be there if everyone didn't buy them, they're cash cows.

My market peave is the comparing the chip isle, 45 linear feet stacked floor to six feet tall in a small grocery chain store, with the dried fruit area. Three feet long, from 3 to 6 feet height, holding all the store's dried fruit. Prunes, raisins, apricots, and the flavor of the week from Dole and OceanSpray.

Tiny packets, overpriced... of course.

conservation & efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal and hydro have less harm. However, I also believe that the above, combined, even if pursued vigorously, can provide all the power we need/want at a price even close to what we might be willing to pay.

Why don't you think that wind, solar etc can provide all we need at a reasonable price?

Is it the seasonal backup problem?

The problem with current nuclear fission power is that uranium itself is a nonrenewable resource - if all our energy production were converted to uranium powered nuclear fission it would only last 30 years. So why invest in a solution which cannot be sustained into the 22nd Century while poisoning the planet for centuries??

Also nuclear power takes huge investments and even more to reduce the huge risks which in turn means using fossil fuels and other scarce resources.
Unless positive EROEI nuclear fusion becomes feasible nukes are no answer.

I think you need to keep in mind that some of the most vocal anti-nuclear people on this forum would prefer a future where there is less energy consumption per capita and less dependency on complex technology. Complex, highly centralized nuclear power plants certainly don't mesh with that vision of the future!

Personally, I enjoy backcountry traveling where you don't have electricity, running water or flush toilets so I'm sure I could find happiness with a simpler lifestyle. I doubt the average person feels this way so the more likely scenario is that everything possible will be done to keep the power flowing. Given the intermittent nature of renewable sources, if we don't do nuclear it will result in more use of fossil fuels, especially lower grade coal.

At the present time we should be able to build and operate nuclear plants safely. The relative risk is low. Here in Ontario, nuclear is by far our largest source of electrical power and I consider the chances of a serious accident with one of our reactors to be extremely low. Nuclear could be the key to maintaining some semblance of the life we currently have -- we will lose our ability to travel by air and most automobiles will disappear too as oil supplies dwindle, but we could have electrically powered rail for transportation. However, we cannot predict the future and given resource shortages that are appearing and the debt problem some sort of collapse could happen. We therefore cannot rule out the possibility that society drops down to a level where nuclear power plants could no longer be safely maintained and operated.

It is amazing that a topic can attract such heated discussion when society, at least in North America, has already made its choice. Natural gas is clearly the preferred source for baseload generation. Licenses have been issued for construction of a couple of nuclear reactors but that is insignificant in comparison to the large number of reactors approaching end of life (even with 20 year extensions). Unless there is a rather dramatic change in direction, we are looking at an almost complete phase out of nuclear power in Canada and the US. If we were going to increase the percentage of nuclear generated power and replace the fleet of aging reactors we'd need to be building a lot of reactors right now.

The issue gets quickly heated because these fuel pools can get so quickly heated. It's not a bug, it's a feature of this topic.

Nuclear depends COMPLETELY on a flush, stable Oil-fed economy and electric grid. Your Canadian reactors, like ours in the States have the possible luxury of a few more years of grace before the instability of either climate, or economic and international tensions and fuel shortages start to challenge the Amazingly Level playing field we've been able to provide for them in this period of unusual control we've managed in North America and Europe. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to suggest that the ability to offshore most of our recent fighting has been an offshoot of this bounty of Oil-power we've been lucky enough to, ahem, aquire and hang onto.

Nuclear can not, IMO, help to Maintain such a stability, it merely exists in correlation to such conditions. The causality is the other way around.. and the material and economic burden of maintaining such equipment will ultimately drain precious resources that could be used much more sparingly in other directions.

The causality is the other way around.. and the material and economic burden of maintaining such equipment will ultimately drain precious resources that could be used much more sparingly in other directions.

Now why is that so damn hard to grasp?!

Actually I think I already know the answer and it's why I'm staying away from the comments thread in Gail's most recent posting on the two Energy Books. The old Solar and Wind, can't compete with fossil fuels argument because it is too expensive and unreliable is`just as tiring...


"...the material and economic burden of maintaining such equipment will ultimately drain precious resources that could be used much more sparingly in other directions."

As jstewart points out, above:

"Licenses have been issued for construction of a couple of nuclear reactors but that is insignificant in comparison to the large number of reactors approaching end of life (even with 20 year extensions). "

The money has already been spent. I wonder how many of these extensions were influenced by the decom-costs alternative, and that they still have no viable long-term waste disposal alternatives. This industry has painted itself into a corner, financially, environmentally, and politically; another socialized debacle. Grossly underfunded liabilities...

..or as Rockman tells us the terminology for Peak Oil in the Oil Patch is called 'The Reserve Replacement Problem' instead.

.. hope I got that one right.

And Rust never sleeps.

"However, we cannot predict the future..."

On that most of us can agree. Get back to me when you guys (or anyone else) has solved this problem:


In response to the Hare Report, the governments of Canada and Ontario jointly established in 1978 the Canadian Nuclear Fuel Waste Management Program (CNFWMP). Under the program the federal government, through its crown corporation Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL), had responsibility for managing the program and developing the technology for long-term disposal of used nuclear fuel, while the province of Ontario, through its electrical utility Ontario Hydro (now known as Ontario Power Generation, or OPG), had responsibility for advancing the technologies of interim storage and transportation. Other partners included federal departments within Energy, Mines and Resources Canada (now Natural Resources Canada) and Environment Canada, as well as several Canadian universities and consultant companies. The governments of Canada and Ontario subsequently (1981) directed the CNFWMP to focus on a generic design that did not require a specific siting decision....

...A specific site has not been sought at this stage, as mandated by the joint decision of the federal and Ontario governments in 1981 to develop only generic technology for initial review. However, key site characteristics (distance from post-glacial faulting, low mineral value, low ground-water movement, size and uniform nature of plutonic rock, etc.) have been defined in preparation for the siting stage of the program.


34 years of talk, hand waving and can kicking, aye?

About 85,000 used nuclear fuel bundles are generated in Canada each year. As of June 30, 2008, the number of used nuclear fuel bundles stored at Canadian nuclear facilities was: 2,046,220

Just trying to keep things in perspective...

Nuclear Waste Management Organization

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was established in 2002 in accordance with the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act to assume responsibility for long-term management of Canada's used nuclear fuel. The selected approach for the long-term management of used fuel is Adaptive Phased Management.

See also: Implementing Adaptive Phased Management 2012 to 2016

Adaptive Phased Management involves the development of a large infrastructure project that will include a deep geological repository and a centre of expertise for technical, environmental and community studies.

Adaptive Phased Management, Canada’s long-term plan for used nuclear fuel, is a management system and a technical method. The management system is based on phased and adaptive decision-making supported by public engagement and continuous learning. The end point of the technical method is a repository deep underground in a suitable rock formation. The NWMO's primary motivation is safety – to protect people and the environment from highly radioactive used nuclear fuel.

I'm not going to critique it for you, you can read it for yourself.

Yeah, I've read it, Rocky. As they say, it looks great on paper :-/

The author of the story in the Japan Times mentions the work of Prof Rasmussen of MIT. That effort resulted in a report, WASH-1400 (1975), which attempted to use the latest statistical techniques from the electronics and aerospace industries to estimate the probability of failure of nuclear power plants. There were many obvious problems with this effort, such as the fact that nuclear power plants were each designed individually, not built in large numbers for which statistical quality data could be compiled. The large pumps and valves were unique to the industry and thus could only be modeled from generic equipment available in larger quantities. Problems with the human side of the control systems weren't considered and only became apparent after the TMI accident. The lack of sufficient safety instrumentation also was not considered. As mentioned in the Wiki link above, the report was heavily criticized by the American Physical Society and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

People make mistakes and your usual nuclear power plant operator isn't going to have PhD level understanding of the inner workings of the plant. The fact that management had even less understanding of the technology only compounded the problems seen in accidents. Then, there's the political side of the situation...

E. Swanson

Then, there is also the economics side of the situation. Better safety costs money. Earlier repairs costs money. More frequent shutdowns for inspection costs money. Nuclear history has shown us often enough what happens when managers primarily keep an eye on the money.

This is one of the most important reasons why I think humans aren't capable of safely harnessing the power of the atom.

It's certainly the obvious reason why free market capitalism isn't capable of safely harnessing the power of the atom. And a lot of other things.

The fact that management had even less understanding of the technology only compounded the problems seen in accidents. Then, there's the political side of the situation...

Richard Feynman's report on the Challenger Disaster should be required reading for all management personnel involved in the nuclear power industry and they should be constantly checked for comprehension!


Thanks for providing the Japantimes item--it was very powerful and ought to be read by every human on the planet. Clearly, most governments and media combined to cover-up the severity and primary cause of the disaster, which provides its own sobering lesson--they cannot be trusted whatsoever and must always be assumed to be lying. The same lesson was also provided by the Macando blowout, and too many other incidents as well, which bring their own very troublesome questions related to trust and legitimacy.

Three Gorges Dam Danger: 100,000 Living Near China Hydroelectric Facility May Be Forced To Move

"SHANGHAI -- Another 100,000 people may have to move away from China's Three Gorges Dam due to the risk of disastrous landslides and bank collapses around the reservoir of the world's biggest hydroelectric facility, state media said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Land Resources says the number of landslides and other disasters has increased 70 percent since the water level in the $23 billion showcase project rose to its maximum level in 2010."

One can't help wondering where people are going to be relocated. The world is getting pretty full - we're running out of places to go. Perhaps the cities will just get more people packed in.

How many millions needed to be relocated to put this thing in place in the first place?

For a real scare, look at how many people live down stream from this thing along the river (last I heard, something like 200 million), and think about what would happen if there was a major dam failure, from a major earthquake, for example. And note that major dams like this have been associated with increased earthquakes in the area.

How many millions needed to be relocated to put this thing in place in the first place?

IIRC, on the order of 1.5 million people. Most displaced by the reservoir behind the dam, rather than the dam itself, of course.

When the dam was beeing in its planning state, I saw a TV documentary. They interviewed one of the involved planners, and he said they had to relocate the equivalent of Albania.

Albania is not the largest nation in Europe, but relocating them all would be a big issue. Lots easier if you are a dictatorship, though.

One can't help wondering where people are going to be relocated. The world is getting pretty full - we're running out of places to go.

Indeed. And let's not forget that the world must make room for as many as may be displaced by these landslides about every ten hours, or something like that...

This is one way to deal with the problem ... LOL


Mexican border police seized almost 300.000 rounds of ammunition this week near Ciudad Juarez.

Just say'n...

I wonder who they will be selling that on too.


Isn't China supposed to be littered with "ghost cities" caused by the property boom!
Probably more than enough space for them all to move, developers/speculators might be in for a shock when their investment properties are "borrowed" by the government though.

China has no more "ghost cities" in proportion to its population than the US has "ghost suburbs". The only difference is that China has four times as much population as the US, which makes it appear to be a bigger problem.

In reality, the Chinese economy is growing much faster than that of the US so the "ghost cities" will probably fill up with people eventually. It's not really clear that the same thing will happen to the abandoned fringe suburbs of the US.

Isn't China supposed to be littered with "ghost cities" caused by the property boom!

The 'rising waters at the ocean will happen soon and quickly' crowd claim they are the cities the coastal ppl will move into.

Either way - they are an asset class that is not being used.

Regarding the link, above: Iran starts $1-bn project to bring water to desert, this is an interesting study since the Caspian has no outlet and its salinity is lower than normal seawater:

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea.[2][3] The sea has a surface area of 371,000 km2 (143,200 sq mi) (not including Garabogazköl Aylagy) and a volume of 78,200 km3 (18,800 cu mi).[4] It is in an endorheic basin (it has no outflows) and is bounded to the northwest by Russia, to the west by Azerbaijan, to the south by Iran, to the southeast by Turkmenistan, and to the northeast by Kazakhstan.

The ancient inhabitants of its littoral perceived the Caspian Sea as an ocean, probably because of its saltiness and seeming boundlessness. It has a salinity of approximately 1.2%, about a third the salinity of most seawater....

...The Caspian has characteristics common to both seas and lakes. It is often listed as the world's largest lake, although it is not a freshwater lake. The Caspian became landlocked about 5.5 million years ago due to plate tectonics.[9] The Volga River (about 80% of the inflow) and the Ural River discharge into the Caspian Sea, but it has no natural outflow other than by evaporation. Thus the Caspian ecosystem is a closed basin, with its own sea level history that is independent of the eustatic level of the world's oceans.

Exploitation of oil and gas resources, combined with polluted inflows from numerous rivers, are taking a toll on the Caspian, and natural evaporation is it's primary 'outflow', assisted by desalination plants, it seems. I expect the effects will be minimal and local,, at first.

More on Iran’s installed desalination profile.

Here are links to the latest raw GW data from HadCRUT:


And here is a handy compilation of said data in graphic form.


What strikes me again is that we have had just ~.8 C of warming so far, and we are already seeing extremes like the killer heatwave in Europe '03 that killed tens of thousands, the Russian heatwave of '10 that closed down their wheat exports and arguably helped ignite the Arab Spring, and the mad March we just had (not to mention any number of other extremes arguably connectable to GW).

Mainstream scientists are now discussing the possibility that we will get 3 C degrees by mid century (in 38 years) and 6 by the end of the century. They may be wrong on overstating things, but they also could be wrong in understating it (more likely, imho, given the general caution of scientists in making such claims). So there is a good likelihood that we will get a couple more degrees just in the next couple decades.

Actually, all it may take to get that level of heating much faster is for coal plants to clean up their aerosol emissions, which most are now doing. The 'aerosol parasol' may be shielding us from up to 2 degrees heating that would otherwise be with us already. Once they stop being spewed into the atmosphere, it only takes a few weeks or months for aerosols to fall or be washed out of the atmosphere.

I love the juxtaposition of these AGW posts and the weekly articles on various other new ways we can extract even more hjydrocarbon out of the ground eg Manifa article.

It's like the English and the Germans getting out of their trenches at Christmas to play football!!

Surely the irony of it is not missed on all?



Beyond absurd-bizarro...

The insanity is right here.

Right on this blog, in this room, in every square nanometer of our existence.

When TOD was discussing changes, I suggested changing the slogan to "Discussions about Energy and/or Future". Apparently it didn't carry the day.

"Leaving it in the ground" is a more than legitimate plan for fossil carbon/hydrocarbons. LIITG, pass it on. LIITFG also acceptable.

TOD really started out as an energy website with a focus on resource limitations. The focus on AGW and the apocalypse are relatively new.

TOD really started out as an energy website with a focus on resource limitations. The focus on AGW and the apocalypse are relatively new.

...but unfortunately, inevitable topics.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending April 13, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged just under 14.5 million barrels per day during the week ending April 13, 99 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 84.6 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased slightly last week, averaging 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.4 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.7 million barrels per day last week, up by 196 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 9.1 million barrels per day, 395 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 427 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 119 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 369.0 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 3.7 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 2.9 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.9 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 2.2 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged about 18.6 million barrels per day, down by 2.7 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged 8.7 million barrels per day, down by 2.8 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged just under 3.8 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 0.5 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.7 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Increased Saudi imports push up oil inventories, yet refiners fail to keep up with gasoline demand

In a trend that accelerated about six weeks ago, an increased level of Saudi imports continued to pump up overall US inventories. Almost all of the recent gain in oil stocks has been along the Gulf of Mexico coast region, and for good reason. Now the largest US refinery, Motiva, has just started up a new portion of its facility, although the older part of the refinery will not see major maintenance operations complete until almost Autumn. Motiva is jointly owned by Saudi Aramco and Royal Dutch Shell. Saudi oil imports into the US have averaged 1.694 million bpd in recent weeks, up from about 1 million bpd level that prevailed around the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. That is the highest level of Saudi imports since 2008. It is believed the extra shipments provided Saudi owned oil transport company 'Vela' this last month or so were specifically provided for the start up at Motiva.

Meanwhile back in Saudi Arabia, their largest refinery at Ras Tanura has been undergoing maintenance since very late in February, with portions restarting last week. A complete restart of the facility is expected by the end of April. Meanwhile the shutdown of the 550,000 bpd operation at Ras Tanura allowed the Saudis to temporarily ship extra oil to the US and some other locations. The shutdown could have allowed in sum an extra 20 million barrels or more of oil to have been exported. However the Saudis had to greatly increase gasoline and other imports to make up for refinery losses.

According to the EIA, gasoline demand increased some last week, although that increase runs counter to the decrease in retail gasoline sales reported by MasterCard SpendingPlus. It's not clear which report more accurately portrays the gasoline market - usually both reports are in general agreement.

Regardless, the recent fall in gasoline inventories may be partially intentional and partly unintentional. Refiners and distributors are still reducing supplies of gasoline environmentally blended for winter use. There remains ample supplies of winter blends available. However there were two major Gulf Coast refiners that experienced significant unexpected downtime, reducing overall US refinery utilization. Midwest refiners continued to operate at almost maximum capacity, yet total gasoline supplies fell in that region.

Although refiners and distributors will not experience any significant gasoline supply problems up until the start of the summer driving season, about June 1, the supply outlook after that remains fuzzy. With Summer just around the corner, many Northeast states must soon sell a blend of gasoline with a lower vapor pressure (RVP) for which supplies may be limited. [Summer-blend gasoline has a lower Reid vapor pressure, meaning it creates less vapor than winter-blend gasoline and is less likely to contribute to smog formation in higher temperatures.] It is a more complicated refining process to produce gasoline with lower RVP. Also, one important Northeast refinery may close soon unless a buyer for it is found.

Meanwhile the giant Motiva plant will still be undergoing some maintenance this summer, and in general, gasoline imports from Europe and those from the Caribbean (not formally counted as imports by the EIA) are in decline. A supply shortage, especially in the Northeast US - more particularly in parts of Pennsylvania - remains a distinct possibility if the EIA is right about gasoline demand.

... one important Northeast refinery may close soon unless a buyer for it is found.

Is this the refinery that Delta Airlines was reported to be interested in buying ?


The Delta Airlines plan has received the necessary financing from Wall Street, and a final agreement may be announced soon. Another Philadelphia plant that was scheduled to close July 1 may yet be rescued, have multiple interested bidders. More details at this link:


In this week's 'Oil Movements' report, OPEC exports are reported to have dropped slightly, although still above the level that prevailed most of the last year. While oil exports out of Saudi Arabia temporarily surged from about mid March to about the end April (as the Ras Tanura was closed for maintenance) thereafter starting in May exports from the Kingdom may fall back to a more normal range - or maybe less. The start of the summer air conditioning and water processing season in KSA increases demand for oil products by up to about 1 million bpd. There are no indications yet that KSA has plans to increase internal oil output to match the increase in internal summer demands, so that export levels are maintained.

OPEC exports have also increased in recent weeks due to the opening of a major sea terminal by Iraq, which facilitates the loading of more oil tankers than before.


How obscure the official statistics are, and how enlightening your comments are, Charles. Thank you!

Re: New energy-efficient light bulb goes on sale Sunday

I was speaking with my Philips rep yesterday and he tells me that his sample L-Prize lamp should arrive sometime today and that he'll pass it on to me (no doubt so I'll stop pestering him). If so, I'll report on my findings.

It's disappointing to hear that this lamp won't be sold in Canada -- the general feeling is that in the absence of utility rebates it's simply a too costly proposition for we Cannuckleheads. Thankfully, I can make other arrangements to obtain more that won't necessitate driving all the way to Bangor.

As it happens, a new e-mail just popped up on my screen with the following link: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/video/light-brand-bulbs-16157639

BTW, supplies of the 12-watt EnduraLED A19 have been extremely tight for sometime now, with back orders stretching into the many tens of thousands. In fact, pretty much every LED product we use is in short supply, although I've nicknamed our Philips rep "The Puppet Master" as he's rather good at pulling strings.


I was listening to a podcast of Car Talk on NPR, a call-in show where the hosts offer humorous ways to cope with car problems. One woman called in asking for suggestions for a large SUV. The hosts wanted to know why she wanted such a large and expensive vehicle. The caller admitted that she really needed the towing abilities of an SUV only a few times a year. This led me to think about what seems to be a common problem.

Since most people can afford only one or two vehicles, they buy them suitable for the maximum-load case (number of passengers, cargo or towing capacity). The typical usage for most vehicles, however, are single-occupancy trips with no cargo which could be handled by a much smaller and more fuel efficient vehicle.

Here is a free idea for car share companies like ZipCar: Offer a service to existing (mostly suburban) car owners that would allow them to buy cars for the normal use case and easily obtain larger vehicles for the few times a year when they are really needed. You would drive up to the car-share lot in your car and drive off with the larger vehicle. Could this be a simple way to persuade people to give up big gas guzzlers?

Our town car share had a Prius; when the lease expired it was replaced with the biggest capacity pick-up they could find. The people without cars only used it a few times a year. But everyone with a car (only) wants to use the truck!

I think it went against everyone's 'morals' but in the big picture it makes a lot more sense.


The truck, might actually work out better. If even say two of the clients discover they can own an efficient car, and occasionally rent the truck, then you have cut overall fuel consumption. How many private PUs and SUVs are only used capacity wise a couple of times a year?

"How many private PUs and SUVs are only used capacity wise a couple of times a year?"

My personal mileage is Truck, 2,000. Compact car, 12,000, Motorcycle 4,000.

Truck estimate is probably high, as the odometer broke years ago. Motorcycle mileage will be higher and car mileage will be lower if global warming ever arrives in the Pacific Northwest.

I do not need the truck often, but on occasion it is needed. I have considered getting something big enough to pull a trailer, but that ends up being an SUV or largish car, and that leaves me no better off than the truck, unless I get rid of the car too, and then I end up burning more total gas. So for now, it's a small car and a beater truck.

It should be tried. I don't know if it would work or not. One big difficulty with things like a tow vehicle is that a lot of people under-estimate their needs, and if a crash happens, they are likely to sue the first person they can find with deep pockets. I also wonder how much of the inventory would sit all week and be used only on weekends. I can really see such a service for things like minivans and pickups, suburbanites would really benefit, especially if the vehicle costs that continue even if you never drive it could be enumerated. For example, our pickup probably hasn't went 10,000 miles in the last five years, but it still needed new tires and new batteries. We paid well over $1500 on insurance and at least a few hundred for property taxes, just for the privelege of having it available. We need it mainly to haul things to our place, and to tow our camper when we feel like going somewhere and paying the price for the diesel. Not quite so much going since about 2006.

Where I live alot of the folks drive these monster pickups with huge wheels and mean looking grilles.

It makes them feel like they're not peons. It's actually kind of sad! It's not symbolic of might and power, it's symbolic of decline.

Americans have always loved cars, but I distinctly remember the days when people didn't have to buy huge cars to feel better about themselves. Believe me I remember.

I think Home Depot wisely picked up on this idea since they all seem to have big trucks available at the Home Depots that you can use to bring your big material haul home with.

A few years back I asked U-haul if I could rent a small truck for the purpose of towing a (not very heavy) trailer. They said only their larger trucks are approved for towing. Shooting themselves in the foot, uh?

Actually besides fun convertibles ZipCar does offer Vans. I am not sure if they are equipped for towing or not.


Human-made earthquakes reported in central U.S

Great graph here.

Another hockey stick!

I'm sure the honorary Senator James Inhofe is already preparing a list of people to prosecute.

And that list will certainly not contain any mining company...

Look at the USGS earthquake map just north of San Francisco. There is always a cluster of earthquakes near The Geysers, where the geothermal plant is injecting cold water and extracting hot water.

If you going to complain about one set of human-caused earthquakes, you should also complain about the other set.

Oh, we have. It's just that it's kind of old news now.

While the fracking thing is current:

Humans Behind Strongest Oklahoma Quake Ever Recorded, Research Suggests

SAN DIEGO — On the night of Nov. 5, 2011, as midnight approached, a magnitude-5.6 earthquake rocked central Oklahoma, the state's most powerful quake ever recorded. The shaking injured two people, destroyed 14 homes, and bent a local stretch of highway.

Has the honorary Senator Joe Barton already been seen apologizing to the mining industry for this libelous reporting?

Rivers flowing into the sea offer vast potential as electricity source

A new genre of electric power-generating stations could supply electricity for more than a half billion people by tapping just one-tenth of the global potential of a little-known energy source that exists where rivers flow into the ocean, a new analysis has concluded. A report on the process — which requires no fuel, is sustainable and releases no carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) — appears in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology.

I can't look at the article right now, but in ecological circles, there is a lot of effort going on to STOP impeding the links between Rivers and the Seas.. As I worked briefly with the Penobscot River Restoration, there seems to be a growing recognition that the healthy flow of the hydrologic system is essential for numerous faces of the biota around any coastal plain, and far inland and out to sea as well.

The arteries you clog may be your own!

A. We must have large amount of energy to continue with anything close to our current lifestyle, and indeed with anything like out present population.

B. There is no way to divert and harness the flow of that much energy without enormous environmental impacts, especially if it supports our present population.

The attempts to reconcile these things are the cause of so many bad ideas.

It's certainly between a rock and a hard place.. but it's exactly the kind of complication that makes perfect sense, too.

I think we could harness pretty significant amounts of Sunlight without causing the kinds of interruptions in flows that we are already seeing from Big Wind and Big Hydro.. but still, I think the CENTRAL question is how we've been raised to approach the world now as an 'All you can eat Buffet', and many get very frightened and testy when anyone suggests that there are limits, and that we can learn to moderate our appetites.. moderate our solutions. It's not an Euclidean 'All-or-nothing' world..

I'm sure we all know people who CAN control their cravings, who can regulate their intake, their reactions and their lifestyle.. it's worth paying attention to them and learning some of those tricks.

... the little-known process, called pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO), exploits the so-called salinity gradient — or difference in saltiness — between freshwater and seawater. In PRO, freshwater flows naturally by osmosis through a special membrane to dilute seawater on the other side. The pressure from the flow spins a turbine generator and produces electricity. The world's first PRO prototype power plant was inaugurated in Norway in 2009. ...

I'd love Tom Murphy, the Do The Math guy, to review their math. He's already debunked tidal power as a major energy source, for example. And it does sound like using this method would mean blocking natural access between the fresh and salt water.

I had seen some math a few years back. Norsk Hydro was pushing it. The pressure diff of salty versus fresh is equivalent to a couple of hundred meters of hydraulic head. They claimed the worldwide potential was about equal to that of hydro. I think hydro is a few percent of world electricty, not a bad BB, but not the end of our problems either.


This issue comes up occasionally and I usually let it pass without comment. Too many misleading statements this time, though.

"As the cheap oil from old mature fields is depleted, and we replace it with expensive new oil from unconventional sources, it forces the overall price of oil up. This is because oil prices are set at the margin, as are the prices of most commodities. The most expensive new barrel essentially sets the price for the lot."

This is completely misleading. Real life examples are better than theory, as ole dead Matt use to say. Last year I drilled an oil/ NG well in La. It was a deep and rather difficult well...costs ran over about 30%. By the time it was completed and producing (about 2 months ago) I was around $10 million in the hole. I'm getting Light La. Sweet for the condensate (around $120/bbl) and less than $3/mcf for the NG. Guess what? I would be getting those prices whether my well costs $1 million, $10 million or $100 million. My oil/NG buyers have no idea what I spent on my well. Nor do they care. They pay me based on the current market conditions. A year ago when we committed to drill this well NG was selling for 60% higher than we're getting now. Again, my NG buyer doesn't care what price I ran my economics on. Many wells are drilled/produced and never recover their cost. Me and the all the other operators would love to force buyers to pay us for what it cost us to drill. Just doesn't work like that.

They dynamics are just the opposite: high prices allow us to drill more expensive/risky wells. If the oil prices had dropped to $50/bbl a year ago many of the wells currently being drilled would not be drilling. It doesn't matter whether the hydrocarbons are easy or difficult to find. Doesn't matter whether my well is a commercial success or not. Oil/NG will sell for what the market will allow. If I drill a well tomorrow that cost me $8 million but has only $4 million (at today's prices) I'm going to sell that production at the price the market will allow. If that $8 million well finds $60 million worth of oil/NG I'm going to sell that production at the same price I sell my production from the money losing well. The oil/NG buyers don't set their prices on what it costs me to drill.

"At the other end, the cost of production establishes a floor for oil prices". Here's the other problem: terminology. To me and the rest of the oil patch "production cost" is what I spend to actually produce the oil/NG from a well...not what it cost me to drill and complete that well. We use the term "LOE": Lease Operating Expense. LOE can vary greatly depending on the reservoir. I might spend $2/bbl to produce a well or it might cost me $40/bbl. Again, my crude buyer doesn't care what my LOE might be...he's going to offer me the current market price. And again my $2 per bbl LOE well might ultimately net me just half of what I spent to drill the well. Doesn't matter: I'll still only get the price the buyer offers. And my $40/bbl LOE might make me 5X what it cost me to drill it. Again, the oil buyer isn't going to offer me less for that oil because my profit margin is so much higher. I can have two wells sitting 500' apart. I drilled one 20 years ago and have made 5X times my investment. The other well I drilled last month and will never recover what I spent on it. Both wells are making 100 bopd of the same quality oil. I sell production from both wells for the same price. If the market price is $100/bbl that's what I get. If the market drops to $70/bbl that's what I get.

Also for all, Rockman, is talking about the link up top: "The cost of new oil supply". And as usual he is correct. Supply and demand always sets the price per barrel regardless of what it cost to produce the marginal barrel. However this is a complicated subject and folks like Chris Nelder, who wrote the piece, should know better and explain exactly what sets the oil price. But otherwise it is a very good article and this mistake should not keep people from reading the article.

But Rockman, how do you explain it where the novice, who knows nothing about the oil patch, understands? One might say that the higher the price of oil, the more oil will be produced because drillers are willing to take more chances. A small reservoir that would never return the investment to drill if oil were $30 a barrel will likely be tapped if oil is $100 a barrel. But still there are no guarantees. The overall cost to the driller may be $120 a barrel but he would still sell his oil if the price were only $100 a barrel, recovering as much of his investment as possible.

As you say, oil is definitely not priced at the margin, it is priced according to supply and demand. But a very high price will entice drillers to try to extract oil that cost them a high marginal price.

Ron P.

Ron - I think you laid it out very clear for a novice. If they can't understand what you just described or don't want to believe it I doubt there's any other way to make the point. I spent yesterday driving around a Texas oil field that has produced 32 million bbls of oil since 1946. The entire field is doing 12 bopd now. I've just gotten approval to acquire the field and try to redevelop it with horizontal well bores. There's about 30 million bbls of residual oil. If my idea works we might recover another 5-10%. The wells will cost about $2.5 million each. I sold my owner on the idea because of the current price of oil. If oil were selling for $50/bbl I doubt he would be willing to make the investment. Whether it costs me $20 or $90 per bbl to get it out the ground won't will have nothing to do with what price I eventually sell the oil.

BTW: There's about 4 billion bbls of residual oil in these trend. I have very high hopes. But only if oil stays above $80/bbl or so.

Maybe a analogy that would work for folks is a fictional farming scenario.

If the market rate for potatoes is X, then that is all the farmer can sell them for, regardless what it cost him to grow them and bring them to market.

But, I thought the original example on drilling costs vs market prices was pretty clear all by itself.

flash - Maybe some folks just get emotional when the subject of energy comes up. It's no different than any other commodity. Lots of folks got a harsh lesson several years ago: just becaus eyou paid $X for a house doesn't mean you'll be able to sell it for more than $X (or even get $X for it) years later.

What bothers me most is when folks don't make the connection is that they seem to be searching for some readily available fix for our energy situation.

Rockman, is seems to me that if you have only one buyer, you are a captive to your buyer's offer, which means that you are not actually in the market. How many other buyers can you choose to sell to if you don't accept your buyer's offer? Or, is your production rate so low that you have little choice and have some gentleman's agreement with your buyer to sell for something near the price the big boys get?

E. Swanson

Dog - You pretty much correct. There are usually a limited number of buyers so you cut a deal with the best price you can get. I might get a better price if I sold to a refiner in CA but obviously the transport cost kills that possibility. But I am getting Light La. Sweet for my Texas oil even though I'm over 200 miles away from the refiner in Lake Charles, La. But my buyer has easy access to relatively cheap barge transport so it's worthwhile.

It has always been this way unless you were a major producer that could leverage your volume to get a better deal. Even worse with NG: often there may only be one pipeline close enough to justify the connection. I just completed an oil well in La. that will also have a good NG yield. We would have to connect to another operator's field line to get to the NG buyers pipeline. I'll probably get around $2.60/mcf from the buyer. But the company whose line I could have tied into wants $1/mcf just for giving me the right to flow through a few thousand feet of his line. So he negotiated himself out of some free money: we're going to lay our own line to the buyer. More upfront capex but a better deal in the long run.

There are no gentlemen's agreement: this is all done with stone cold contract law.

Rock. True, but your perception as whether a given well will be easy or hard influences your go/no-go decision. If on average your decisions on cost are correct and other drillers do likewise, then there is an elasticity of future supply based upon a combination of price perception (of the product), and the percieved cost to complete the well.


I didn't find those words misleading. Commodity prices are, indeed, set at the margin. But not marginal cost, but marginal price paid for the incremental barrel of oil. In the short run, market imbalances can occur as the result of incorrect price expectations. The current gas glut illustrates this -- nobody drills a well with the expectation of losing money, but their expectations for prices was wrong and now they are losing money (not on a cash flow basis, necessarily, but on a return on investment basis). The NG situation is particularly interesting since the initial investment drives the majority of the cost of a project. Thus, as you have pointed out many times, a company will continue to produce as long as they can get a positive cash flow regardless of the total projects ROI. Of course in the longer run, the over drilling will be corrected by under drilling, the glut will turn into drought and the cycle will begin.

However, in the world oil market I think the dynamic is a little different largely because oil can be transported internationally preventing localized gluts from affecting the price a producer can get. If we could get U.S. NG to europe as easily as we get oil there, your projects would be both more profitable and more reliable to estimate.

I think the statement "As the cheap oil from old mature fields is depleted, and we replace it with expensive new oil from unconventional sources, it forces the overall price of oil up." is fundamentally correct. Of course, higher prices will impact demand and there will be volatility in oil prices, just as we have witnessed over the past few years. Even so, the trend in price must be upwards if an inexpensive resource is replaced by an expensive one.

King - "The most expensive new barrel essentially sets the price for the lot". That's absolutely wrong my friend. Just my WAG but the most expensive oil coming on to the market today exceeds the current price for oil...and probably by a good bit I can show you wells that cost an operator more than $500/bbl for what the ultimately recovered. They're call them money losing commercial wells. "Commercial" because the cash flow from completing and producing that oil is positive. But if I spent $3 million to drill a well that ultimately produces 24,000 bo then those bbls cost me $500 each. And my buyer could care less: he'll only pay me the market value of that oil...he's not going to pay me $500/bbl. Maybe we're talking past each other due to understanding the terminology differently. Again very simply: I sell my oil at the best price a buyer offers me. His price has nothing to do with what it cost me to produce that oil. I get the same check from him whether it cost me $30/bbl to produce my oil or $200/bbl.

Maybe some folks haven't understood the obvious: the cost of bring every new bbl of oil to the market (including overhead, seismic costs, dry holes and wells that never recover their total investment) is much greater than you can imagine. A company might drill a well/field that cost it $60/bbl to develop. That doesn't mean the company is making a profit. Counting the above additional costs of doing business the company may have spent 20% more than the current price of oil to develop ALL its reserves. Yes: companies go bankrupt during high oil/NG price periods. During the late 70's boom I saw hundreds of operators go bankrupt during a high price period. I've been doing this for 36 years: success in the oil patch has never been based upon the price you sold your production for. It was based upon what it cost you to get it out of the ground. In the late 80's I was selling NG for less than $1.00/mcf. And I made the highest ROR in my career for a client drilling those shallow NG wells. On some my total cost was less than $0.10/mcf. I hit 23 out of 25 successfully. IOW on some of my wells I made the client 10X their investment during the lowest NG prices in the last 40+ years.

Rockman, great reminder. I recall someone's TOD posting (perhaps Rockman's) discussing the barrels earned per foot of well drilled - and how the number of feet/barrel is going way, way up.

There's so many ways to get the point across that oil isn't just spouting from the ground as it once did, and even after trying them all, people *still* won't get it.

Matt - I think westexas has been tracking those numbers.

For 2010 and 2011, the average net increase in US crude oil production per drilling rig (drilling for oil) was about 190 bpd per drilling rig per year.

Wish I could remember who posted that - it was x feet / barrel - included all the dry holes, etc. and the number was going sky-high, fast ...

This might be part of the puzzle: http://www.peakoilnyc.org/Attachments/Bottom_of_the_Barrel___Hubbert___T...

Hubbert's computations were based on extrapolations from the actual rates of production of oil and discovery of new reserves. On the other hand, these rates depending upon economic decisions made by the oil companies, and a more reliable method was needed, one that would be independent of such influences.

Two were available. The first grew out of a suggestion made in 1961 by A.D.Zapp, an employee of the USGS. Zapp had attempted to estimate the total production pool under the United States by drawing on the oil companies’ experience in drilling for oil. There had been about 1.1 billion feet of exploratory drilling conducted by the end of 1960, leading to the discovery of 130 billion barrels of oil, or 118 barrels for each foot drilled. Zapp estimated that a total of 5 million feet of drilling would be needed to explore the United States fully and, assuming that oil discoveries per foot remained at 118 barrels, a total of 590 billion barrels would be found. Commoner cites this estimate with approval.

This might be another piece:

And another:


Yet more:

From another thread:

Also from another thread:

Zapp estimated that a total of 5 million feet of drilling would be needed to explore the United States fully and, assuming that oil discoveries per foot remained at 118 barrels, a total of 590 billion barrels would be found. Commoner cites this estimate with approval.

There were three fundamental flaws with this estimate. The first is that, in any oil producing region, there will be certain formations which are good oil producers, and others which are not. However, in any given area, there will always be a certain depth below which you will not find any significant amount of oil. This throws the estimate off quite badly because it assumes constant oil accumulation to the base of the Cambrian formation, or in some cases deeper. You will almost never find oil below the base of the Cambrian, and often the maximum depth of oil formation is much shallower.

The second problem is that oil can be destroyed by high temperatures. If the oil is buried too deep and rock temperatures rise too high, the oil will be converted to natural gas by thermal cracking, and you will find only natural gas fields rather than oil fields. Geologists typically draw a "hot line" on their maps showing the depth below which there are no oil prospects. There is no point in drilling below this depth if you are looking for oil. In the Gulf of Mexico this depth is very, very deep, due to the cooling effect of the water, but elsewhere as in the Mid-Continent area it can be rather shallow.

The third problem is that oil company geologists, not being completely stupid, have always drilled their best prospects first. The result is that the formations they haven't drilled are usually much poorer prospects than the ones they have already drilled. If you assume the new prospects are going to be as good as the ones already drilled, you will be very sadly disappointed.

You may have seen this in TOD previously.


Somewhere around 1/31/2012 or 4/17/2011.

There's nothing misleading. You and he are describing different things. You are describing the economics of an individual well that may or may not be a good investment. He is describing the market outcome, which is something like the "aggregate actions of buyers and sellers in response to changes in price". He's not saying that every driller literally recoups the cost of a well. That's obviously wrong. He's saying that more expensive wells change the dynamics of what will and won't be drilled in response to price.

Rock, and other well drillers are buying lottery tickets. Not all of them will pay off. They precalculate the odds. But if the price looks too steep -or the odds too long they don't buy.

JP - "He's saying that more expensive wells change the dynamics of what will and won't be drilled in response to price." I think that's what I said. Consider the bust in the east Texas shale gas plays back in '08. When NG was selling for $9+/mcf companies couldn't drill fast enough. And those were expensive wells. And they were drilled like there was no end in sight. And then when NG prices crashed so did the drilling. The fact is that the expense of those wells didn't set the price for NG. That was the discussion: the cost of drilling determines the price of oil/NG. The east Texas shale wells cost just as much to drill when NG dropped 50%. IOW the cost to develop those reserves spiked up relative to what NG was selling for. If I understood the initial statement the cost of this commodity at the margin would determine the price that commodity sold for. Obviously it didn't. Maybe I didn't state my position clearly.

So again: the price oil/NG sells for is not determined by the cost to develop that production. But what production is developed depends on the price of oil/NG. And regardless of what the anticipated economics of an oil/NG prospect maybe that production will sell at whatever the current market price is when its produced. All the folks that buy oil today don't use the aggregate cost of the companies that developed todays production. Supply/demand is pretty much in control of that aspect IMHO.

I was wondering about this also. I can probably save my hair oil (eeew!) refine it into diesel and sell it for $1000/ barrel ;p . So that is now the market price for all oil?! If Ghawar is producing $10 oil and there is no significant demand I would assume the world price would be $10.

OTOH when a new house is built we know how much it cost, say $200,000. So the similar old house next door that cost $50,000 to build 30 years ago is now worth about $200,000.

Somehow these seem similar but are completely different - because we don't burn down houses to use them? Perhaps I need a economist to explain this to me. It probably involves infinite growth on a finite planet.


Tightening of the US gas market

Does anyone have feel for how much the US gas market has tightened recently? Based upon heating degree day response, it appears to be significant (d(Storage) = change in storage in bcf, and is approximate since the EIA doesn't update monthly data in a reasonable time frame):

Month   HDD  d(Storage)
10/11   281    +411
11/11   512    +57
12/11   775    -383
1/12    813    -540
2/12    714    -455
3/12    410    +49

If you do a simple linear regression to the Oct.-Jan. storage response to HDD, it suggests there should have been an injection of more than 300 bcf during March, i.e., the market is roughly 10 bcf/day tighter now than in Oct./Nov. This continues; compare last week to similar HDD weeks in Oct./Nov.:

Week     HDD   d(Storage)
Oct. 22   71    +92
Oct. 29   91    +78
Nov. 5    117   +37
Nov. 12   117   +12
Apr. 7    87     +8

Compare last week with Oct. 29 - similar HDD, but a 70-ish bcf difference in storage injection.

I realize there are all kinds of issues with desire to inject, etc., but I was under the impression that current shut-ins are on the order of about 1 bcf/day, way too small to explain this difference. Keep in mind that we are only on the cusp of the collapse in drilling activity, assuming a 3 or so month lag from rig activity to supply hitting the market. There may be the potential for some serious market balance issues at some point later this year, esp. if this tightness is driven by depletion rather than demand increase...


According to the EIA, production is up 5.4% on this time last year. Imports from Canada and LNG were down.
Stock injection figures for the latest week were affected by an accounting change.


However, reclassifications of natural gas from working gas to base gas from one or more respondents in the Producing Region resulted in lowered working gas stocks by approximately 10 Bcf for this report week. In all three regions, inventories are well above their year-ago and five-year average levels.

Will be interesting to watch this going forward though. Some argue that the EIA is over-estimating US production and consumption.

Interesting correlation with HDD. Will be interesting to see if cooling loads have the same correlation. One change from last year on the west coast is that we don't have the bumper crop of hydropower that we had last year with the heavy rains and big snow pack. I would expect electrical generation to require more natural gas this year.

Study raises questions over entrepreneurship policies

Policymakers who try to boost the economy by creating a more favourable environment for entrepreneurs “can’t have their cake and eat it”, a new study has warned.

Such initiatives may well lead to new businesses but will also bring about more closures, according to major research into tax policy’s effects on entrepreneurship.

The findings come as the UK government continues to stress entrepreneurship’s role in aiding economic recovery in the wake of the global financial crisis.David Cameron has repeatedly signalled his support for 'risk-takers and go-getters' and last year described entrepreneurs as Britain’s 'only strategy' for growth.

Michael Economides Making 'Shambles' of 'Oil Peak Myth'

In his presentation to Montana Energy 2012, Michael Economides told Montanans, "You are already a superpower in oil production. You have already defied the trends and once again showed the can-do attitude of this industry, smashing the myth of the 'peak oil'"...

He said that "peak oil may never happen. Natural gas will contribute a massive share of transportation fuel.

Ron P.

That always seems like a silly thing to say because it essentially destroys the speaker's credibility. Why not just say "Peak oil won't occur within the next 100 years" if you are so optimistically inclined? Denying a production peak to a non-recyclable finite commodity is just silly.

Economides is a strange duck.

He is a well known academic scientist /engineer on oil and gas and has well over a hundred peer reviewed papers on the subject. But he has essentially abandoned his academic work and transitioned to a very lucrative career of advising countries on energy. I have sat next to him at meetings and heard him expound his views and I find them contradictory.

He is actually convinced we are facing a future of very expensive oil but this does not worry him. And he does not attribute it to peak oil. I heard him recently make a bet for $1000 that we would see $250 oil within two years. But to him that will save us because then the oil companies will have the incentive to invest vastly more money into exploration (and pay him more). He has stated that American can afford $8 gasoline easily.

In his world we will keep increasing production because much much higher oil prices will drive the process. he simply does not see high energy prices as a problem. That is what drives his statements about when oil will peak.

Like Yergin he has found that a consistently optimistic consultant gets lots of consulting contracts.

Interesting, in his world higher prices don't depress demand, shift the balance of payments between countries, shift energy production to other alternative sources, reduce the standard of living of the folks that use oil, etc. Since demand and supply always have to balance in the end and it is only a matter of price, I guess there won't ever be a "peak oil". Just higher prices.

How does one go about getting one of these consultant jobs anyway?

That production moves in a stair step pattern as higher prices make formally uneconomical oil available thus inducing a new boom for awhile is not rocket science. I'm sure the Bakkan won't be the last area to reach a price point that induces a rush of investment. Since most of these alternative oil plays are already known, it would be interesting to see how he expects oil development to play out as the price increases. All we seem to get from the energy agencies is generalities about future supply without correlating it to price.

Since demand and supply always have to balance in the end and it is only a matter of price, I guess there won't ever be a "peak oil". Just higher prices.



He said that "peak oil may never happen. Natural gas will contribute a massive share of transportation fuel.

I can only hope TED starts to have updated talks about peak oil. The most recent one I could find was from 2009, and it was thin, as the talk was mostly about photography of infrastructure.

Edward Burtynsky photographs the landscape of oil

In stunning large-format photographs, Edward Burtynsky follows the path of oil through modern society, from wellhead to pipeline to car engine -- and then beyond to the projected peak-oil endgame.

Here's a commentary from MarketWatch regarding the effect of speculators on the oil markets. The author's conclusion is that speculators aren't setting the price for oil...

E. Swanson

Cost of Advanced Lithium-Ion Batteries for EVs Dropped 14% Last Year, 30% Since 2009

Nothing is more important for the long-term success of electric cars than a steady reduction in the cost of advanced batteries.

That is an encouraging headline but when you read the article, it is not great news.

Batteries cost $689 a kilowatt-hour in the first quarter of 2012, compared with $800 a year earlier, the London-based research company said today in a statement.

If those are the real prices, then we are in bad shape. Perhaps those are prices for a full battery pack including the case, wiring, battery monitoring system, and thermal management system? The prices need to be below $500/KWH to be somewhat competitive. $300/KWH is where things get really interesting. Some people think they'll eventually hit $150/KWH but I think that is over-optimism.

The problem with EVs has always been P = V * I * T

Add that significant time hit on every fill up on every car at every gas station. It doesn't work, even before you address the issues with batteries and transferring the transportation energy from oil to the grid.

Don't try to apply an old paradigm to a new system. EVs are generally charged up overnight and you wake up every morning to full battery that can most typical driving routines. Unless people stop sleeping, I think there will be plenty of time to deal with filling up.

Yes, EVs don't deal well with long drive trips. Those can be handled with conventional gas cars and hybrids. EVs can only handle some 90+% of typical daily driving.

Yes, it's the old handwaving based on the assumption that there must be cars. Everyone will charge their EVs at night, because people are such good planners (not to worry, they'll have an ICE car too), and we'll use up that "wasted" extra capacity of the grid so it'll be more efficient. After we make an enormous investment in new control systems (note: not new capacity) that is. Because building up an electric train system is unthinkable, since there must be cars.

In reality:

1. EVs are generally not - not in existence in enough volume to matter when they are charged, or to see the grid infrastructure problems they will create. And how will a nation of debtors pay for them?

2. There is no SMART grid, nor is much of anything really happening to create one. Consultants are getting fat, utilities are installing "Smart Meters" to help reduce the cost (to them) of billing you, and lots of people talk. Meanwhile, the grid is generations older than the people who work on it, with lots of key equipment made by companies that have not existed in decades, and the utilities have very little in the way of skilled engineering staff left. Onto that system we plan on transferring the energy load that used to come from oil. When you run a complex system flat out (i.e. use up the margin) then you set up catastrophic failure.

3. Someone is sure to say we don't have to replace all the vehicles with EV's, or it doesn't have to happen all at once. To which I would say that if it isn't enough to cause a problem it likely isn't enough to matter, and if it doesn't replace the automobile it has not provided a new transportation system.

Last, electric rail has the characteristic of requiring power to flow from fixed generation to fixed loads on a regular schedule, and less power required overall. This is far more achievable and workable, and requires little new technology. And people still have to keep a schedule to use it, just as they will with EV's.

But trains aren't nearly as profitable as cars, and they don't keep people living isolated bubble lives. Hence, "not on the table" in our market-totalitarian society.

Meanwhile, the so-called EV (actually CNNGV, coal-nuke-natural gas being the real fuel source) is to our present situation what beer is to a whiskey-loving alcoholic -- a desperate grasp to avoid the plain truth, old wine in a new bottle, yet another symptom not a cure.

But trains aren't nearly as profitable as cars

It depends. If you are Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, they are much better investments than bankrupt automobile companies.

It's big toys for big boys. Big boys play with full size train systems.

False Dichotomy. There can be both electric cars AND electric trains. Don't create wars where none exist.

Let me point out the cars drive on roads and bridges. Infrastructure that take an enormous amount of money to maintain, and the evidence is that we can no longer afford to do that. I seriously doubt this situation will improve over time as energy costs rise and credit becomes less available. If we are to continue using the automobile as our primary transportation system this will not leave much left over to build up electric rail.

The car itself is only one part of a system and is useless if the rest of the system doesn't work. To change to EVs we're talking about replacing a large part of the vehicle fleet (or it's irrelevant) as well as a proportionate part of the energy distribution system - WHILE we maintain the roads and bridges. You bet your a$$ it's a direct competition. I doubt we can afford either, let alone both.

OK. Good luck trying to run rails to every house. :-)

Bicycles (including eBikes) and walking do that extremely well.

IMO, EVs are a marginal and supplemental part of mitigation post-Peak Oil.

There will be some, but not 1:1 replacements for ICE cars.


Agreed. Why is it so hard to imagine a system we once had, made even more viable with the addition of technology developed since then?

Why is it so hard to imagine that there will still be roads and bridges, and that many people will be using wheels on them?

Yes, there'll be less, and I think there'll be a phenomenal boost in some sorts of E-scooters, E-Motorcycles and Ebikes.. (as well as Walking, HPV Bikes, Trolleys, etc) but there WILL ALSO be Electric Cars, and I expect there are going to be MANY of them, even if today's numbers will make them pale.. but this regular diatribe that EV's won't work, that they won't find a place in all this. It's a strange extreme view to me.

Whatever.. we've been on this one more than enough. I just try to find a few other ways to say my point to see if it gets across.

It's 11pm and all's well. I know where my babies are..

They'll be great for getting to the train. As will be feet.

It's already extreme, our culture, such as against our future.

But yes, I imagine we'll have/do all or most of those things, and that they will 'work', but how well?

How well are some things working out currently? And do they really work, such as when we factor in all considerations, or is this workability more of an illusion-- a gradual draw-down, perhaps, from true quality-of-life in the future.

For an E-Car, for example, travel-infrastructure is not only required, but also those related to mining, manufacturing, shipping, maintenance, support, etc. and the issues-- social, environmental, ethical, etc., surrounding them all.

These kinds of things are important, serious, need far more discussion AFAIC, and are often what are neglected... and in part why we have the messes we're in.

Just because we can doesn't mean we should.

Advertising exists only to purvey what people don’t need... advertisers sell their services on the basis of how well they are able to create needs where there were none before. I have never met an advertising person who sincerely believes that there is a need connected to, say, 99 percent of the commodities which fill the airwaves and the print media. Nor can I recall a single street demonstration demanding one single product in all of American history. If there were such a demonstration for, let’s say, nonreturnable bottles, which were launched through tens of millions of dollars of ads, or chemically processed foods, similarly dependent upon ads, there would surely have been no need to advertise these products. The only need that is expressed by advertising is the need of advertisers to accelerate the process of conversion of raw materials with no intrinsic value into commodities that people will buy.
~ Jerry Mander

Well, as with Twilight's comment directly above, I would expect that EV's will be a great tool for getting to the Train Station and home from it, whether it's YOUR car or THEIRS.. there are lots of uses around Towns and Cities that will be best filled by Midsize Electric Vehicles.

As for Mander.. he's written some notable titles, but I always find him far too extreme in his pronouncements. The 'Demonstrations - EVER in US History' line, while being quicky disprovable, is also an odd bit of logic. The Demonstration for a new product is that people put their money down and buy it.. sometimes for Good reasons, sometimes for Poor reasons..

I'm not here to defend advertising, and I'm the first to agree that capitalist market systems have become addicted to getting us addicted on useless and even harmful products.. but there are also Ads for useful products, for necessities, for new products and programs that are working to show people options that can move them AWAY from useless expenditures and bad habits. (How about ads for Al-Anon or for Bikes?)

There will be roads in ALL our Towns and Cities, and there will be Trade Goods to move and People going to all sorts of types of jobs in and between these places.. even if it's to be a 'collapse', unemployment won't be 100%. Cars, like Ads are way out of balance, but they are also a necessity in all sorts of places.

I can imagine how one's pronouncements about an extreme culture (large-scale, centralized, specialized, relatively undemocratic) might be or seem extreme.

In any case, Mander seems to be referring to advertising in a particular context-- maybe in part in a kind of centralized/distance/etc. context, where the advertiser/producer/etc. doesn't really know you, nor you, them, nor does anyone really care exactly. That, alone, seems to have all kinds of ramifications.

Speaking of which, I find it "tragically" humourous that you would choose Al-Anon as an example, seeing as when you strip out real community/locality/needs/products/services/support, etc., you will probably get much more of that need.

Unless we change the fundamental premises upon which our culture is based and discuss them above and beyond the usual discourse, we get or stay stuck (in a particular and questionable narrative).

And here I also refer to your mention of the job as another example: Doing what exactly and why? Where are they going in their E-Cars and why and what will they be doing there and why, and does it make sense, etc.?

Or like thinking democratically about issues surrounding nuclear power and waste before building the power plants.

Stuff like that.

Where's participatory democracy in all this? Nowhere really, except perhaps when local and small-scale. E-cars don't strike me as local or small-scale or even necessarily empowering. They seem like part of that dubious extreme cultural narrative.

"..to your mention of the job as another example: Doing what exactly and why? Where are they going in their E-Cars and why and what will they be doing there and why, and does it make sense,"

Why do you need me to provide this for you? Do you not have any valid occupations you can bring to mind that will be part of human society where all manner people have to get onto their 'Cart' and get somewhere, maybe bring supplies, tools or other essentials with them?

- Ambulance
- Taxi
- Bakery Deliveries, Dairy, Farm, Butcher
- Plumber, Carpenter, Electrician, Painter
- Police
- Sewing Machine repair
- Garden Supply
- Bookstore
- Moving
- Mail and Package Delivery
- Farm Veterinarian (?SP)

Sure, there are things you can walk and pedal to.. and there are things that can happen at central marketplaces. And there are numerous things that Cannot.. things to be brought to the houses.. specialized services that need and will find a way to have portability.

RE: Al-Anon. You seem to be trying to paint the world you wish we had, not the one we have. The point, and it's completely valid, is that Pro-social groups like Al-anon USE Advertising to deal with perrennial addictive problems that were exacerbated by OTHER advertised products.. Clearly, Mander is taking an extreme position when he says that "Advertising exists only to purvey what people don’t need.." It also exists to sell useful products, even though it may be nice to envision a world where if you need soap, you ONLY just make it yourself or go to the nearby market and buy 'Soap'..

Yes, we have problems in the extreme, and we have extremists and reactionaries abounding. I don't see how that justifies Mander making more unsubtle diatribes in order to remedy it.

Let me add a bit more of Mander's quote:

Whatever people do need they will find without advertising if it is available. This is so obvious and simple that it continues to stagger my mind that the ad industry has succeeded in muddying the point. No single issue gets advertisers screaming louder than this one. They speak about how they are only fulfilling the needs of people by providing an information service about where and how people can achieve satisfaction for their needs. Advertising is only a public service, they insist.
Speaking privately, however, and to corporate clients, advertisers sell their services on the basis of how well they are able to create needs where there were none before.
I have never met an advertising person who sincerely believes that there is a need connected to, say, 99 percent of the commodities which fill the airwaves and the print media.

For all the bikes I've ever owned-- likewise with soap-- I never ever relied on advertising, at least not the kind that Mander seems to be talking about. Nevertheless, I guess I/we still have to pay for the advertising, regardless.

Why do you need me to provide this for you? Do you not have any valid occupations you can bring to mind that will be part of human society where all manner people have to get onto their 'Cart' and get somewhere, maybe bring supplies, tools or other essentials with them?
~ jokuhl

My point is to simply suggest the importance of evaluating what we do from various standpoints, such as from ethics, participatory democratic input, necessity, resilience and/or sustainability etc., such as if much of the stuff we're doing/producing is somehow in the creation of mostly-useless crap and advertising, etc..

All those choices the propagandists of the consumer economy prattle about? They exist, but only if you give up your right to make any of the decisions that matter.

That same logic applies across the board in today’s industrial societies. What products would you like to buy? If it’s not something that a handful of gargantuan corporations want to make and market for you, good luck. Would you like a voice in the political process? Sure, but only if you agree with one of two or three major parties whose positions differ so little you’ll need a micrometer to tell them apart. How about a different lifestyle? Here’s the list of available options, every one of them a slight variation on the common theme of shopping for products and running up debt; if that’s not what you have in mind, sorry, we don’t have anything else in stock.

All this can be seen as simply one material expression of the thaumaturgy we discussed a while back in these posts, the manipulation of basic drives through the endless repetition of emotionally charged symbols that serves to swamp the thinking mind and keep the individual penned in a narrow circle of self-defeating behaviors...

That’s the great strength of the 'magician states' Ioan Culianu talked about in Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, those nations— and if you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly living in one— that maintain control over populations by thaumaturgy rather than by brute force. The thaumaturgy is backed up by very real material benefits for those who cooperate.
~ John Michael Greer

By the way, I refuse to pay for your police.

Of course we have to evaluate the costs and values of the things we do and the things we make.. I think it's pretty clear that anything I've said in support of EVs shows reasons that are not about replicating the 'All you can eat Buffet' world we've had slopped all over us.

I don't subscribe to the reaction that says that since EV's look like all those cars in the traffic jams going into every city every day, they must be just as horrible. There are big similarities, but also significant differences.

To make the transitions we need to make, even into a much leaner and wiser society (knock wood).. there is a LOT of stuff to move around, and a lot of Stuff to be built. Electrically Powered wheels can be just an incredibly durable, clean and simple tool to help us do this.

I look at the Mars Rovers, which travelled Many, Many times farther than they were planned to, in Harsh conditions with no maintenance or repair parts.. Solar Panels and Electric Motors defining the beginning and end of each of those kilometers..

I look at the otherwise offensive little Electric Toy Jeep that my neighbor's kid has left in the driveway for the last three winters, with the battery and the fist-sized motor just sitting there in a snow bank, and the thing starts right up every spring.. and for the size of that motor, it's able to move a couple good-sized kids. Without the value judgement of it, look at the implications of that equipment and what it's equivalent COULD be out there doing in positive directions..

I look at the handfull of Makitas that adorn my workshops, with a bit of decent engineering, these powertrains seem to be about as indestructible as my Crescent Wrench.

I'm sorry EV's look like more commuter junk. They have, at their core, a set of very elemental parts that will be invaluable in a time when replacement parts might become fantastically scarce, while they can concentrate a few days of sun and wind into several horse's worth of real work.

I'm not about continuing 'the Game' .. but I am about continuing.

this regular diatribe that EV's won't work

Some techno-fixes can change the equation. A 100+ deg superconductor makes a RUF system reasonable under 'need new roads and need new electrical grid + now even more Corporate/Government control'. The EEStor defenders are still in their little corner of the Internet saying Weir will save us all/the magic capacitor works. Electricity "too cheap to meter" would also change the analysis.

Odds are - electric bikes are the future for the 99%.

Actually, tracks to every house is very, very doable. So long as the vehicles on those tracks are weight limited.

Take 4x4 lumber. Run metal tracks with an L-shaped cross section on top.

Not as crazy as you might think.

Way back people said that asphalt to every home was science fiction too. Well, guess what happened.

Other epic quotes:
- 64 kb is more then enough (Bill Gates, but he didn't really say that)
- there's only a global market for 5000 pc's (IBM)
- Tsunamis that size will never occur (Japan)
- The reactors are perfectly safe (Japan before and for a long time after).


Your comment reminds me of how much I miss Bob Shaw's presence here, aka totoneilia, with his spiderwebrings, wheelbarrows and bags of NPK...

Are humans smarter than yeast?

If we are to continue using the automobile as our primary transportation system this will not leave much left over to build up electric rail.

And there you are screwed, because you will no longer be able to afford to drive an automobile, and electric rail won't run anywhere near you.

How near me must it run? By the way, being screwed is a reality I accepted long ago, but trying to avoid change and keep doing what we've always done will inevitably make it worse.

As a general rule of thumb, people are willing to walk 5 minutes to a bus stop or 10 minutes to a rail station. Since people normally walk about 3 miles per hour (5 km/h) on level ground, that means they will walk 1/4 mile (400 m) to a bus stop or 1/2 mile (800 m) to a rail stop.

You can take those numbers and use them for urban planning. As it happens, most Canadians live within that range of a bus stop or rail stop. I don't think the same is true in the US.

As an extreme, I have walked to work and home before. Five miles each way. San Gabriel to Old Town Pasadena.

Takes about 1hr40min each way.

Done carrying my work laptop and documents in a courier shoulder bag. Wearing dress slacks and dress shirt.

I am not sure I could do it many days in a row though.

From a purely practical standpoint, the electric car is absurd. If they were produced on a mass basis, they would crash the electric grid -- assuming that the masses could afford to buy them, which assumes a lot. We simply don't have the electric generating capacity to run even one-quarter of the current car fleet on volts, and building the necessary nuclear or coal-fired power plants in five years is also an absurdity. (Don't expect wind, solar, biomass, or anything else to pick up the slack.) If electric cars were produced as just a niche product for the elite (e.g. Goldman Sachs employees), they would soon provoke the resentment of the non-elite left to the mercy of the oil markets.
Anyway, America's motoring dilemma has gone beyond the issue of how we power the cars -- and even beyond the insanity of blindly maintaining our extreme car dependency per se. The continuation of Happy Motoring now hinges on two other big quandaries: 1. the likelihood that there will be far less capital available for car loans, and 2.) the likelihood that there will be far less government money for road maintenance. The problem of Peak Oil -- and the prospect of price-jackings and shortages -- is just the cherry on top.
~ JH Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler is a very talented writer who describes with great skill the mendacity of those in power, and the ugly architecture they create. He really hates exurbs, suburbs and the cars that enable them. As much as I respect him as a writer, I do not believe he has credibility in his predictions. Ask him about his Y2K predictions, about his predictions that the Dow would fall to 4,000.

Right now, many people are moving out of the houses suburbs and into apartments and condominiums that are located much closer to work, which is often located in the cities. For many of the younger generation that I have talking with, buying a car is more a burden than a freedom. However, they still have the credit to buy an EV if they want to. The cost of the battery is still a major barrier, so they feel reluctant to spend the $30,000 to $40,000. If 200 million EVs were plugged in at 4 to 6 p.m., the grid would crash nation wide. However, if those cars were charging over night at 10 p.m. that would not happen. We do not need a smart grid to make this happen. Car makers would need to do something like put a clock to ensure the grid remains functional.

Perhaps EVs will fail in the marketplace. The economy is bad, banks have cut back on making loans, and roads are not being maintained. However, as times goes on, I see increasing numbers of electric cars on the road, mostly the Nissan Leaf model. There are stories on tv about hard hit suburbs becoming abandoned centers of decay, but all the houses on my block are occupied. I believe many people will suffer, many subdivisions could become abandoned, but it is still possible for some suburbs to endure, and electric cars could still play an increasing role.

Well, I am unaware of anyone who presumes they will be correct all the time in their predictions.
At the same time, perhaps Kunstler's 'predictions' are sometimes more couched in a sense of where he feels things would do better to go.

That said, see also my post here:


EVs already are selling in numbers, and seems overwhelmingly likely that those numbers will increase as gas gets more expensive and EV technology improves. Kunstler is a great and funny writer, but he believes in a "World Made By Hand" future that he is committed to, despite any countervailing trends.

I hate the "National Automobile Slum" as much as Kunstler does, but I think EVs will play a part in future transportation systems. The extreme car dependence of the US is already reducing itself as younger generations drive and buy cars at lower rates and move to walk-able neighborhoods, while transit and bike facilities are expanded.

Car sharing is taking off, and at low Vehicle Miles Traveled per year sharing is much cheaper than owning, since depreciation costs more than fuel even for most heavily used cars, let alone a car parked 90+% of the time. For car shares, the higher first cost of EVs won't matter much (spread among many users), but the lower operating costs will matter a lot to individual users. So my guess is that cities will trend towards a future where walking, biking, transit are the first choices for most people, but car-shared EVs will help fill in the gaps, along with "taxis" (including shared vans and jitnies like most of the world uses already). In that context many of the disadvantages of EVs for replacing the vehicles currently used for long single-occupant commutes won't matter so much.

Just because the current extreme car dependence in the US pretty much has to end, does not mean that automobiles (and EVs) will go away, but rather be reduced in numbers and modal share.

We have to keep reminding people that the Y2K crisis was a real one. It took months of last-minute programming repair work to avoid it. We can say "No big deal" only because the fixes worked.

Kunstler has two or three big vital ideas -- peak cheap energy, the unsustainable insanity of urban sprawl -- but on other issues, he seems a Kids-off-my-lawn curmudgeon. I agree with him that much recent urban architecture is ugly, but that's just an opinion -- it's more important to note that many striking new buildings don't function well. I cringe every time he goes to town and decides that current fashions among youth are evidence of moral and social rot -- it's not their sagging jeans, but their sagging employment prospects that matter. Like many of us, he takes being right about some important things to mean he's right about everything. (Humans beings assume they know enough to act: Nature stands back to observe whether that confidence is justified.)

We have to keep reminding people that the Y2K crisis was a real one. It took months of last-minute programming repair work to avoid it. We can say "No big deal" only because the fixes worked.

I thought the Y2K crisis was completely stupid. "We flipped over the calender page and suddenly it was a new millennium! Who saw that coming?!!"

I ran my first Y2K test on a computer in 1970. I set the date on an auditorium-sized supercomputer to December 31, 1999 and the time to 23:59 and waited 1 minute to see what would happen. It said "Good Morning! it is January 1, 2000" and continued on its merry way. A successful test.

About 1975 the first of the 25-year land leases started having expiry dates of 2000 and some of the programs blew up. Management took the hint and issued a directive that all computer programs written from that point forward should be written for Y2K compatibility and any programmer who used 2-digit years would have all his fingers amputated.

25 years later, the arrival of the year 2000 was a complete non-event, and the costs to the multibillion dollar company were in the range of a few thousand dollars for retesting all the programs to make sure they really, really, really were Y2K compatible.

Wikipedia reports that billions were spent preparing for Y2K problems (scroll down to "Costs"):

The total cost of the work done in preparation for Y2K is estimated at over US$300 billion ($405 billion in 2012 US dollars[38]).[39] IDC calculated that the U.S. spent an estimated $134 billion ($181 billion) preparing for Y2K, and another $13 billion ($18 billion) fixing problems in 2000 and 2001. Worldwide, $308 billion ($416 billion) was estimated to have been spent on Y2K remediation.[40] There are two ways to view the events of 2000 from the perspective of its aftermath:

One, that the money was well-spent, pre-empting probable difficulties. Two, that the situation wasn't serious, and minor problems could have been addressed more economically when and if they had arisen. RockyMtnGuy holds with the no-problem view. My previous reading had supported the preparedness action group.

The Y2K problem wasn't a problem for us because we were prepared for it. It shouldn't have been a surprise for anybody because calendars are 100% predictable. The date goes from 1899 to 1900, or 1999 to 2000. It happens once every century. It will happen again at the end of 2099.

Apparently it was a complete surprise for Microsoft. I talked to some of their systems people, and the response to my question, "What happens to your software when the year rolls over to 2000?" was "What?!!" Obviously they didn't plan past the next quarterly report.

We had some arguments with them about the ISO 8601 date format. We pointed out that the ISO 8601 date format was our corporate standard because it was completely foolproof and worked for all dates from minus infinity to plus infinity and had other advantages as well. Their question was, "What is the ISO 8601 date format?"

It is the standard international date format, you f******* m******, was our response.

The whole Y2K extravaganza was so highly avoidable that it still ticks me off, 12 years later.

Hey, memory was expensive back in 1968. And no one expected the soft/hard-ware to be around when the 99s turned round.

I too thought Y2K would be a nonevent, but affect me it did. I write firmware for DoD electronics, and at that time I was using ICE (in-circuit-debugger) software that was unable to parse the embedded date/timestamp placed into the object file by the toolkit/compiler I was using. I had to convince the engineers at now-defunct Nohau of the problem as apparently, I was the only person in the US using their tool for the first few weeks of Y2K. They eventually fixed it after much hassling - but it was in an area I'd least expected the problem to lie.

You can fix a problem for a pretty well defined cost now.

Or we can wait till your systems fail in unexpected and not instantly noticeable ways and then:

a) Fix your system in the middle of this list of problems and complaints at the busiest time of year for a lot of companies.
b) Find and fix all the corrupted data including any corrupted data you passed onto other companies.
c) Pay out associated costs for this plus the costs of lost income and customer dissatisfaction.

Both Excel and Windows 98 needed to be patched. Can you imagine the chaos to small businesses if Microsoft had not bothered to fix those because it "wasn't a big issue"?

I had an interesting Y2K experience with a piece of software I was supporting. The software vendor told us that it would be far too expensive to convert it to be Y2K compliant, and as a result we would have to buy their new but incompatible premium product to replace it.

As it happened, I had been on the design team that built the original product, and I knew that when it left our shop it had been Y2K compliant because everything we wrote from 1975 forward was Y2K compliant.

As an oil company we weren't in the software business so we had sold the software package to a software company. This may have been a mistake because our company was much better at writing software than finding oil. We should have sold the oil properties and gone into software.

I had moved to a different oil company, and then at my new company I leased it back from the software company because it seemed to do exactly the things we wanted it to do. There were competing products but they all seemed to do the same things because apparently all the code had been stolen by their competitors. During the competitive evaluation, I hacked into their competitors software to see what the innards looked like, and they did seem awfully familiar.

At the end of it all, the software company responded to client protests and threats of lawsuits and upgraded the product to be Y2K compliant. They discovered this was unbelievably easy because it was already Y2K complaint.

The clock function in the microwave owen at my univesity computer club room stoped working properly at 1999-12-31 23:59:59

Perhaps you don't recall that disk storage in the 70's, 80's and erly 90's was tremendously expensive, and programmers of large systems were encouraged and trained to optimize programming to conserve space. Two-digit years were in common usage.
I was involved in selling and implementing software into many companies, large and small, that had legacy software with two-digit years in the date. It was so pervasive that recoding, in many cases, was more expensive that buying new.

EDIT: then you have early adopters vs laggards - the ones who take up new technology as it comes out, vs the ones who wait until they really have no other choice.

Corporate beancounters often weigh the cost of doing nothing against the cost of doing something. They often only approve the outlay when the cost of doing nothing becomes more expensive than the cost of doing something. We see that all the time. Sometimes they come very close to the edge, too.

Yes, I was there when disk drives were expensive. We had two floors of disk drives in our corporate disk farm (plus a floor full of CPU's and a floor full of printers). I was there when disks were made out of brass, were three feet in diameter, and could kill people if a bearing ever failed. (I ran a computer with a 3-foot diameter brass disk with a fractured bearing for a week before the replacement disk drive arrived, and let me tell you we were standing on the other side of the room while that mother was screaming away).

Disk storage was never so expensive that you couldn't afford enough to support 4-digit years. That was just an urban myth perpetrated by programmers who were too lazy to worry about what happened when the year hit 2000.

About 1975 the first of the 25-year land leases started having expiry dates of 2000

The DOS accounting system at one of my clients blew up due to 2000 issues long before 2000.

The maker just moved a window. This code now blows up in 2040.

Programmers continue to take shortcuts. I can understand them not worrying about what happens when the year rolls over from 9999 to 10,000, but many of them will still be alive when their programs blow up in 2040.

They will no doubt blame it on the cost of disk storage which is probably a few microcents per megabyte. Maybe we should kill them now rather than waiting for 2040, and get programmers that will plan for the future.

Is this supposed to be Power = Voltage*Current*Time??

The arguments proceed ad nauseam and no one checked the math?

Energy = Voltage*Current*Time, E=V*I*T, Power, P = E/t (that's a little "t" for momentary levels)

Power = Voltage*Current = VI, or Voltage*Current*Cos(phi)

or, S=ExH if you want to use electromagnetic wave properties.

True, the point is the overall system energy has to be taken into account, but what are the bounds of the energy input/output measurements?

Yes, of course I meant E - sorry for the typo. As an EE I use those equations daily, and in fact I was working on a PWM power supply design while I was typing that. My brain must have been on overload.

The point remains the same however - to transfer the energy in electrical form requires time, and not an insignificant amount, which is not needed in a system where one is simply moving a liquid mass with the energy already stored in it.

Quake assessment projects nearly 10,000 dead in Tokyo

A massive quake beneath northern Tokyo Bay would kill about 9,700 people, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Wednesday.

In its latest damage projection report, the metropolitan government said approximately 70 percent of the area covered by Tokyo's 23 wards would suffer a destructive temblor of upper 6 or stronger on the Japanese seismic intensity scale.

This is worse than the previous estimate of six years ago, which envisaged an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 striking the greater Tokyo area, and reflects new findings from the March 11 quake and tsunami. It also takes into account a recent study by the science ministry that a massive inland quake threatening the metropolitan areas will top the 7-level Japanese seismic intensity scale.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, launched his new series of interviews for RT Moscow yesterday. First interview was with Hezbollah leader Sayyid Nasrallah can be seen at http://assange.rt.com/ (he's even got his own sub domain).

RT Reports on reaction at Smear & Loathing: Assange show FSB-filmed Putin propaganda

Glenn Greenwald used the extremely sloppy (as usual) critiques to provide what's become his usual critique of US/West media.

Nasrallah's own TV channel (al-Manar), has broadcast such charming things as a 27 mini-series dramatizing teh Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, featuring one episode in which Jewish characters murder a Christian child to use his blood for Passover ceremonies.

Mighty savory company Assange keeps.

Neither of these men can be smeared. Each of them is himself a smear.

Nasrallah is the man behinde the qoute "I think Israel is a great idea. Gathering all the jews in one place saves us the trouble of hunting them down all over the world."

When do we get to see 'report from iron mountain' as a mini-series?

RE: Cheer up: The world has plenty of oil

Funny, I couldn't help but notice that the author seems to put the big lie to the entire screed with this single observation:

The combination of new technologies and scarcity rents has led to several disappointments and the phenomenon of receding horizons, as technologies that were marginally economic at $20 per barrel oil prices remain marginal at $80. This is not unique to unconventional oil, but has bedevilled nuclear power and some renewables.

Yes, if the oil price were to fall, the pace of unconventional developments would no doubt slacken off, but the break-even price would fall back – as it did after the 2008 economic crisis, when Shell saw new oil sands projects as economic at $50 per barrel.

Hmm, OK. Perhaps the title of the article should be amended to read:

Cheer up: the world has plenty of oil, er, I mean really expensive unconventional hydrocarbons..., at least, that is, until receding horizons push the marginal price to a point that collapses the global economy. But don't worry, none of that has anything to do with the resource being depleted at an exponential rate.

I also love the part where the author debunks resource wars by crowing about the multinationals swooping in on the "new" Iraq.

Um..., oh nevermind.


The key OPEC news since 2008 was Iraq's award of massive field development contracts to international oil companies, which would bring production capacity to a nominal 13.5 million bpd around 2017. This target will not be reached, for a variety of logistical, economic, political and security-related reasons. But even an increase to 6.5 Mbpd would meet more than half the world’s incremental demand over that period.

And that will not happen either. Iraq has already lowered their expectations to 5 to 6 mb/d.
Iraq New Plateau Oil Production Plan Lower, Longer - Deputy PM

Iraq has revised its medium-term oil field redevelopment plan, meaning that production will be slightly lower than the previous 12 million barrel a day target,...

Iraq expects to be producing between 5 million and 6 million barrels a day of oil by 2015, around double its current level, Shahristani told reporters at the Iraq Refinery conference in London. He declined to give the revised plateau production target, but said the reduction from 12 million barrels a day will only be minor.

The truth is slowly beginning to dawn on the Iraqis. They will never produce 12 mb/d. Soon they will realize that they will never produce 6 mb/d. I believe they will plateau out at about 3.5 to 4 mb/d but I would not put money on them ever producing that much.

Iraq crude only production in kb/d from OPEC Oil Market Report. The last data point is March 2012. From OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report.


Iraq Yearly Production of C+C from the EIA. The last data point is 2011.


Ron P.

Darwinian- I am curious as to why you believe Iraq oil will dissapoint. Were the original reserve estimates incorrect? Do you believe they will never get the amount of investment they need due to security reasons? Will the government fall? If the reserve reports I read were correct they would seem to have a bright future. What is the reason you believe this will not happen?

Special Report: Chesapeake CEO took $1.1 billion in shrouded personal loans

(Reuters) - Aubrey K. McClendon is one of the most successful energy entrepreneurs of recent decades. But he hasn't always proved popular with shareholders of the company he co-founded, Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States.

McClendon, 52, helped cause Chesapeake shares to plummet amid the financial crisis when he sold hundreds of millions of dollars in stock to raise cash for himself. Later, to settle a lawsuit by shareholders, he agreed to buy back a $12 million map collection that he'd sold to Chesapeake.

His approach to running his company also is renowned: Among other employee perks, on-site Botox treatments are available at its headquarters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Now, a series of previously undisclosed loans to McClendon could once again put Chesapeake's CEO and shareholders at odds.

McClendon has borrowed as much as $1.1 billion in the last three years by pledging his stake in the company's oil and natural gas wells as collateral, documents reviewed by Reuters show.

The loans were made through three companies controlled by McClendon that list Chesapeake's headquarters as their address. The money is being used to help finance what could be a lucrative perk of his job - the opportunity to buy into the very same well stakes that he is using as collateral for the borrowings.

The size and nature of the loans raise concerns about whether McClendon's personal financial deals could compromise his fiduciary duty to Chesapeake investors, according to more than a dozen academics, analysts and attorneys who reviewed the loan agreements for Reuters.

Anyone have any comment on this? I'm not sure how to interpret it. He sure seems like a gambler.

The CHK shares dropped by up to 10% initially but has come back to only a 5% drop as of right now.

He is a gambler, even buying his own shares on margin and previously suffered through a tremendous margin call a few years back.

I have some experience with SEC regulations. This type of loan should have been clearly disclosed in company financial statements, so right there is a violation that the company will have to pay for - probably with some type of fine and some kind of consent order or agreement to avoid similar transactions in the future. However it is not necessarily some type of major event for the company unless he is forced to step down. That may even be a good thing if the company has expanded too fast.

Charles, apparently nothing was hidden. It was part of a program in effect since 1993, approved again by shareholders in 2005 and scheduled to expire in 2015. See Company response:

Yes, Charles, I think that is exactly what happened to (fines and such) this con man a couple of years ago. He made an appearance on Cramer's show at that time and promised it would not happen again. I think he has to be removed.

Gog, Reuters published an article about a scandal that did not exist, but when people detest an individual, the buy into it.

Joe, we will have to disagree until the investigations are complete and maybe even then we will still disagree. I only follow this company because I believe they are the ideal company to determine the true value of the shale gas energy supply. At least, I believed that, now, I wonder if this company isn't too Enron-like to get an honest picture.

MSM/PBS Alert.....Episode 2 of "America Revealed", 10 PM EDT (in Atlanta market), is on transportation. Episode 1, "Food Machine", was quite good; leads inquiring viewers to a sort of TOD perspective.

edit: time is 10PM EDT


"Commander" Chuck Street has had a bird's-eye view of the increasing volume on U.S. highways.

Long a helicopter-borne staple of Los Angeles radio until financial cutbacks ended his latest run in February, Street regularly informed listeners how traffic was -- or wasn't -- flowing. While still on the job, he took host Yul Kwon (winner of CBS' "Survivor: Cook Islands") up in the air for a transportation-oriented episode of the new PBS miniseries "America Revealed" that airs Wednesday, April 18 (check local listings)...

...Subtitled "Nation on the Move," the "America Revealed" hour also considers the responses by air and rail systems to the ever-rising demand in getting people where they're going.

In his daily time aloft, Street often didn't have to worry about traveling someplace by the modes most people use. He recalls that in 2010, "I had jury duty. I remember fighting my way over to the courthouse, and I thought, 'This is what people have to deal with.' "

So what happens in the future in terms of transportation congestion, especially in a metropolis at or near the size of LA? "If I knew the answer to that question, I would be a millionaire," Street reflects. "I think it just has to get so bad that people are forced to change their behaviors.

Dudes -

I know I am taking serious way-off-topic-liberties here - Leanan please do indulge me...

The top flight of American Football is the NFL? Youngsters from all over the States dream of running out for an NFL team, right? But if I understand it right, the NFL is a cartel? No club is relegated from, and none is promoted to it?

What about baseball? Do clubs come and go - up and down the leagues? Could a small baseball club from the back of beyond reach for the stars and progress through the lower divisions to become crowned Champions?

I hope so.

All though I must admit, I don't get American sports. What is sport without true competition?

A Business.

and 'Failure is not an option'.

Take the emphasis on professional sports. It sounds harmless but it really isn't. Professional sports are a way of building up jingoist fanatacism... This idea of cheering for your home team... that's a way of building into people irrational submissiveness to power [i.e., the nation state?]... and I think it's one of the reasons it gets such a huge play... The indoctrination that's done by tv and so on, is not trying to pile up evidence and give arguments and so on, it's to inculcate attitudes... There are a lot of measures of how effective this is...
~ Noam Chomsky

Go Fukushima Nukes!

They have anti-trust exemptions. While you can start your own baseball or football team or league, you can't get the NFL or MLB teams to play against you. It would just never happen (though if you have any talented players, they will be poached).

If you have any more questions about this, please e-mail me privately, because as you note, it's not really on-topic for this site.

Re: Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Why yes... That's why I joined The Oil Drum. Now, my life is fulfilling, complete.

Only now you're depressed though.

I'll bet those tool and die apprenticeships require more maths than your average liberal arts degree.

But demand for these apprenticeships is always high. If there is a shortage of qualified workers, its because not enough apprenticeships were provided. These apprenticeships require collaboration between industry and government, and I'll bet industry was too concerned with cutting costs and government with funding liberal arts degrees.

Good news for Gail the Actuary suffering without Green Transit in Atlanta.
MARTA is planning a major expansion!


In an Atlanta Desperate for More Transit Options, New Rail Plans for Eastern Suburbs

... The Transportation Investment Act (TIA) would raise the sales tax across regional counties by 1% over the course of 10 years. ARC’s announced list of priority investments would bring new rail and bus links throughout the region thanks to more than $8.5 billion expected to be raised (about half of which will go to roads projects). MARTA, the operator of urban bus services and the city’s metro rail line, would be the single greatest beneficiary of the funds thanks to line extensions and renovations of the existing network.

Will Atlanta, for years the poster child of wanton suburban sprawl in a major city, finally enter the age of Green Transit overcoming its years of racist opposition?

If so this would be very good news for the prospects to save oil and greenhouse emissions in one of the US' worst offenders.

Since they've run out of space to add lanes to their interstates they have to do something. They're even opening the emergency lanes to traffic:

Bonus lane coming for Ga. 400 morning commuters

ATLANTA — The morning commute could get a little easier for morning commuters on Georgia Highway 400.

In less than a month, drivers will be allowed to drive on the shoulder of Ga. 400 southbound, between Holcomb Bridge Road and the North Springs MARTA Station. If all goes well, the state could expand it to the northbound side for afternoon commuters.

These shoulders weren't built for heavy traffic, and I expect that breakdowns and accidents will make things even worse since they'll have nowhere to pull off. I worked on a design project to expand the MARTA rail systems in all of these corridors. That was in the '80s. Better late than never, huh?

They've converted the HOV lanes to toll lanes on some interstates; it's been a bit of a flop so far. It's funny watching them scramble for solutions, decades late and $billions short. Sound familiar?

Converting the HOV lanes to LRT tracks would be a much more effective use of space. A light rail track has at least 10 times the passenger capacity of a freeway lane with 1.2 passengers per car. (20,000 passengers per hour vs. 2000 passengers per hour.)

The trouble with HOV lanes is that you can only double or at best triple the capacity of a lane. Put the people on a train and you can get 10 or 20 times the capacity.

The cost of an LRT track is about the same as a freeway lane if you don't get carried away building tunnels or skyways (and the main reason cities do that is to avoid annoying or killing the car drivers).

Atlanta's problem is sprawl in every direction; no geographic barriers to speak of. The rail and interstate systems are like spokes in a huge wheel, and getting from a station to one's destination can be problematic. Add to that the serpentine surface streets and poor pedestrian infrastructure, it's clear why the area is so inclined to be auto oriented. Very little of the city was ever laid out in a grid due to hilly geography (and virtually no planning). Many of the major surface roads began as meandering wagon roads, unlike, say, Tucson or Calgary, which were originally laid out in a NSEW grid. Easy to get lost in Atlanta.

Calgary actually made a conscious decision not to build downtown freeways.

I was there when the decision was made and the public approved it. Having made that decision, the next one was, "Well, what else can we do?" and the answer was, "Build a light rail transit system instead!"

After that, the decisions were very easy - if you suffer downtown traffic congestion, just buy more trains. It works well in the post-peak-oil era.

Many of the major surface roads began as meandering wagon roads, unlike, say, Tucson or Calgary, which were originally laid out in a NSEW grid.

I feel an uncontrollable urge to mention this. Most of Calgary's main roads are called "Trails" - e.g. Macleod Trail, Edmonton Trail, Banff Trail. The reason is that they were originally wagon trails to Fort MacLeod, Fort Edmonton, and Banff. Most of them (except for the aforementioned ones) are named after Indians as well. The biggest freeway is "Deerfoot Trail", named after an Indian whose real name was "Dried Rotting Meat", although he changed it when he became a professional long-distance runner. There is still no "Blood Trail", either, named after the Blood Indian Tribe, although based on historical precedents there should be. People are so sensitive nowadays.

I once made a bid for a piece of property near Edmonton Trail (unfortunately, they wanted way too much for it). The interesting thing about it was that the owners had never done any landscaping on the back half of the property, and it still had the original wagon ruts from the original Edmonton Trail. Not only that, but it had a few broken wagon wheels and some buffalo skulls as well.

The primary reason for the grid layouts of these cities is they were originally British forts. The streets were laid out to facilitate efficient movements of troops and cannon. Same for New Westminster in BC.

Other cities that seem to meander were built upon natural terrain transportation routes, some established by game trails, then aboriginal, followed by horse, horse and wagon, etc. The first automobiles were designed to fit within wagon wheel ruts.

Just about every city built along a river has a "River Road".

I should add that whenever I had to travel through Atlanta, I tried my best to time it for non rush hour. If I could get away with I-95 through the center of town I would take it, but taking the circle freeways added a lot of time. Then the sigh of relief when I got to the north or south part of Atlanta.

The British actually copied the grid layout from the Romans, and imposed it on their colonial cities because it worked much better than the medieval layouts of London and other old British cities. However the Romans got it from the Greeks, who got it from people even older than them. The oldest cities with a grid layout date to about 2600 BC.

By far the biggest grid system in the world is in New York, and there it was arbitrarily imposed on the city in the early 1800s. The planners just drew a straightforward X-Y grid across the entire city, and when houses turned out to be in the way, they knocked them down. The old maps show farm houses in the middle of what are now major streets.

The French did something similar with Paris, but they weren't dedicated to a grid system, and concentrated on building grand boulevards instead.

Atlanta BEGAN and come into existence as a Rail Hub!
Note the first lines of the Wikipedia article on Atlanta:

The history of Atlanta dates back to 1836, when Georgia decided to build a railroad to the U.S. Midwest and a location was chosen to be the line's terminus. The stake marking the founding of "Terminus" was driven into the ground in 1837 (called the Zero Mile Post). In 1839 homes and a store were built there and the settlement grew. Between 1845 and 1854 rail lines arrived from four different directions, and the rapidly growing town quickly become the rail hub for the entire Southern United States....

Atlanta is STILL a major Rail hub but of course the Rails were designed as spokes of a wheel from a central downtown transhipment,
switching, distribution point, not to service sprawling suburbs.
But to serve those what is needed is the same thing we need in Northern New Jersey - convert beltway highway lanes to Rail which connects the spokes of the wheel. Where the intersections occur Transit Oriented Development will spontaneously occur helping eventually to promote denser development and less sprawl.
But the connections must be built first for that to work.

I287 could serve that function for Northern New Jersey and connect
9 major commuter Rail lines as well as provide Green Transit to the
I-287 corridor where many Corporations foolishly moved their offices.

Youth increasingly turning to Green Transit rather than Auto Addiction:


The report’s key findings are encouraging for transportation and sustainable development advocates:

From 2001 to 2009, the annual number of vehicle-miles traveled by young people (ages 16 to 34) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles – a drop of 23%.
In 2009, 16 to 34-year-olds took 24% more bike trips than they did in 2001.
In 2009, 16 to 34-year-olds walked to destinations 16% more frequently than in 2001
Between 2001 and 2009, the annual number of miles traveled by 16 to 34 year olds on public transit such as trains and buses increased by 40 percent.

There is hope for the future if the young lead the way!

US bases in Japan set for another summer of energy shortages

U.S. military officials in Japan said this week the Japanese government and utility companies have yet to advise them about the potential for energy shortages during peak hours in summer, when many homes and businesses switch on air conditioners. However, officials at Yokota Air Base, who expect their power prices to increase by 18 percent due to the reactor shutdowns, said the Tokyo Electric Power Company could make a request for the U.S. military to reduce its electricity consumption in Japan again this summer.

Last year, bases instituted energy-savings programs from mid-June until October in a successful effort to avert blackouts by cutting peak power consumption by 15 percent or more.

The need to limit electricity use on bases this summer will depend on temperatures and the availability of non-nuclear fuels such as coal, oil and gas for Japanese power plants, the Yokota officials said.

Udall: Energy Security Is Smart Military And Economic Policy, Saves Lives

Today, Mark Udall led 17 of his Senate colleagues in commending Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus's commitment to developing and employing renewable energy technologies, which is key to maintaining America's strategic advantage in the world. Udall strongly agrees with senior defense leaders that saving energy saves American lives, and he is proud to support smart military investments that help to protect our troops, cut our country's dependence on foreign oil, and create new jobs at home as these technologies make their way to civilian markets.

... Udall has been a vocal advocate for shoring up both our country's energy and national security. Last year, Udall introduced the Department of Defense Energy Security Act of 2011 with Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to help the military save money and lives by reducing its reliance on foreign fossil fuel, and he fought to include key provisions of it in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act.

versus McCain: Military now tasked with ‘alternative energy research’ [VIDEO]

During a event to celebrate the release of Citizen’s Against Government Waste’s annual Congressional Pig Book on Wednesday, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain criticized earmarks for”alternative energy research” in defense appropriations bills, which he said cost taxpayers $120 million.

“We’re talking about cutting the Army by 100,000 people, the Marines by 80,000 people, and yet we’re now have our armed services in the business of advanced alternative energy research?” said McCain.

According to the DOD Comptroller, the Department of Defense's annual fuel bill increases by $130 million for every dollar increase in the cost per barrel of oil

McCain is either (a)brain-dead or (b)enjoys watching his fellow soldiers die needlessly in servitude of corporations and a society addicted to oil. Maybe he expects those 180,000 men and women to do their part as 'cannon fodder' while he and his wife enjoy their $140 million, 14% tax rate, and free medical insurance.

Perspective on 2012 Defense Appropriation bill:

$530 billion in non-emergency funding Defense Appropriations
$119 billion in emergency spending for Defense GWOT.
$ 57 billion in Homeland Security funding
$ 75 billion in Nuclear Weapons funding

$781.0 billion Total
$  0.1 billion in alternate energy research

Federal Spending On Clean Tech Dives, Report Says

A report (Beyond Boom and Bust: Putting Clean Tech On a Path To Subsidy Independence) released Wednesday by scholars at the Brookings Institution and the Oakland, Calif.-based Breakthrough Institute warns that federal spending on clean technologies is drying up, with little sign of additional help coming from Congress.

As a result, more clean-tech companies are likely to go bankrupt or be consolidated, the study warns.

meanwhile Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Estimates of the value of U.S. federal subsidies to the domestic oil and gas industry alone (not coal) range from “only” $4 billion a year, to an amazing $41 billion annually. One recent comprehensive study of U.S. energy subsidies (see graph below) identified $72.5 billion in federal subsidies for fossil fuels between 2002-2008, or just over $10 billion annually.

and Renewable Energy R&D Funding History: A Comparison with Funding for Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, and Energy Efficiency R&D CRS report (pdf)

Citizens Against Government Waste [CAGW]

The conservative Capital Research Center (CRC) notes in its Searchlight database (which records corporate and general foundation contributions) that CAGW has "received funding from:

Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Merrill Lynch & Company Foundation
Exxon Corporation (now ExxonMobil)
Ingersoll-Rand Company
Johnson & Johnson
F.M. Kirby Foundation
Philip Morris
RJR Nabisco (now part of the Altria Group)
Sears Roebuck & Company

... guess ExxonMobil has a 'short leash' on 'John Boy'

UK-bound Trinidad LNG diverted to Chile

The Methane Nile Eagle liquefied natural gas tanker, which had been due to deliver Trinidad LNG to the UK's Dragon terminal in early April, is on course to deliver it to Chile on April 24, according to ship tracking and local port authority data.

According to ship tracking data on Reuters the vessel left Trinidad for the UK in March but did a u-turn after crossing most of the North Atlantic and headed south to the southern tip of South America.

NATGAS = $1.91 mmbtu

At this rate, if the shale gas (tight gas) industry can keep increasing production for the next 6-12 months, we will be able to give NATGAS away for free.

UK spot price is £0.61 /therm, or about $10 mmbtu. We are drawing down storage because of the Elgin platform being offline and the weather turning cold again. Yet we are being outbid for LNG imports? Who is paying more than us?

UK Nat Gas is cheap compared to most of Europe. Current price of Russian Gas to Western Europe is $12.50 per mmbtu.

Japan currently pays about $15 / mmbtu for LNG imports. UK domestic prices are lower than most of Europe as well. The Bacton Interconnector pipeline is running in export from the UK direction.

UK demand is currently still below seasonal average and storage is more than half full.

Weather Underground Launches New Climate Change Center in Honor of Earth Day

Weather Underground, the world's first online weather service, announced today that it has added a new Climate Change Center to its popular site, wunderground.com. The primary goal of the new center is to present users with hard facts about how climate is changing in their local neighborhoods and empower people to form their own opinions on the climate change debate. The center is now live at www.wunderground.com/climate

The 'Skeptical Science' section debunks common myths about climate change.

Mexican volcano hurls hot rock half-mile into sky

Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano has hurled super-heated rock fragments half a mile (a kilometer) into the air and officials warn more and bigger outbursts are likely.

The volcano southeast of Mexico City has sent giant plumes of ash and water vapor into the air, which may trigger fallouts of gritty, abrasive volcanic ash that can ruin car engines and block drains.

Mexico City metropolitan area population is 21.2 million people

One of the most populous cities in the world, built in a swamp at the base of an active volcano. What could possibly go wrong?

Prepare the virgin sacrifices!

They'll have trouble finding one around here.


"What could possibly go wrong?"

Or how about those people in Kilowaia, Hawaii, who built their homes right next to an active volcano, and then wonder why they have lava in the living room.

George Carlin, The Planet Is Fine

The volcano is called Kilauea, but there is no town of that name. A couple towns HAVE gone under due to the Kilauea volcano, but that's just one danger... Mauna Loa is actually still an active volcano, and in 1984 a flow got fairly close to the edges of Hilo. That's not to mention the earthquakes and vog that go along with active volcanoes.

But this is hardly unique. Japan, Italy, the Pacific Northwest... There are plenty of "disasters waiting to happen" just from volcanoes. If Mount Rainier had a big erution, it would be messy. If you get away from that, there are other dangers, like the hurricanes in Florida. Ain't no safe place.

Still doesn't mean you should build right next to an extremely active volcano, and Kilauea is nothing if not extremely active.

There is a town called Kilauea, but it was the Royal Gardens subdivision in Kalapana that got wiped out by lava.

The one to keep an eye on is Hualalai. It hasn't erupted in 200 years, so people think of it as extinct. It's not. It's dormant, and about due to re-awake. Unlike Kilauea, there has been massive development in the path of likely eruptions.

Why do people do this? Mostly, because real estate is tight, and they don't plan to be there forever. My parents' first house was on the slopes of Hualalai. They knew the danger, but couldn't afford anything else. And they figured they'd be gone before it erupted. And they were right. They lived there 20 years, then moved, with nary a peep from the volcano.

Isn't most of the land on the big island relatively recent lava flows? There is probably no place completely safe from the possibility. We just have to plan to have some nonzero potential of destruction and go on. Thats what insurance is (supposed) to be about, allowing activities to go on in the face of low levels of risk.

There are many cities in the world within reach of active and potentially active volcanoes. Too much land would have to be abandoned if we kept out of such areas. Evacuate, Naples, evacuate Rabaul, evacuate the entire country of Iceland, and much of Japan, New Zealand ...Mexico City... Just one of many earth related hazards we have to live with.

Correction, if I may.

If Mount Rainier had a big eruption
When Mount Rainier has a big eruption


ps spelling fixed gratis but is not the point ;)

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS]

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC): A Fact Sheet (pdf)

The multiemployer program had a surplus from 1982 to 2002, but the PBGC reported that it had a deficit of $473 million at the end of FY2008, $869 million at the end of FY2009, $1.4 billion at the end of FY2010, and $2.8 billion at the end of FY2011.

Defined contribution plans, such as §401(k) plans, are not insured.

Pension plan underfunding has increased in recent years. An analysis by Milliman found that the average funding by the 100 largest corporate defined benefit DB plans has been less than 100% since July 2008 and was 72.4% as of December 31, 2011.

meanwhile Corporations Hoard Cash Overseas In Anticipation Of Congress Giving Them A Huge Tax Break

A POLITICO review of annual reports and Securities and Exchange Commission filings shows that a dozen of the most vocal corporate critics of U.S. tax policy finished 2011 with more than $455 billion in cash, investments and other earnings held by foreign subsidiaries — up from $381 billion the year earlier.

and Where Is All That Corporate Cash, Anyway?

AMERICAN COMPANIES HAVE HUGE cash stashes overseas for several reasons. Some generate the money abroad and keep it there to fund local capital expenditures and acquisitions. Others establish foreign subsidiaries in low-tax locales. Above all, many companies have been reluctant to incur a repatriation tax that could climb as high as 35% when corporate cash is returned to the U.S.

... Microsoft has $6.4 billion of cash and investments in the U.S. and $51.0 billion in other countries. Cisco Systems is holding $3.8 billion in the U.S. and $40.6 billion elsewhere. At Oracle, the breakdown is similar, if not as extreme: $8.5 billion held in the U.S., and $23 billion invested internationally.

Eye C none have posted the latest Buzz.

Monsanto, the massive biotechnology company being blamed for contributing to the dwindling bee population, has bought up one of the leading bee collapse research organizations. Recently banned from Poland with one of the primary reasons being that the company’s genetically modified corn may be devastating the dying bee population, it is evident that Monsanto is under serious fire for their role in the downfall of the vital insects. It is therefore quite apparent why Monsanto bought one of the largest bee research firms on the planet.

Expect to see headline "Monsanto to lay-off bee researchers: stocks rise, Wall Street approves"

Secrecy Orders for Economically Significant Patents

The Subcommittee has raised the concern of a potential risk of loss of competitive advantage ...

... this Notice seeks to obtain feedback on whether the the United States Government should institute a new regulatory scheme, modeled from that applied to national security concerns. This new procedure would institute a secrecy order that forbids applicants from disclosing subject matter deemed to be detrimental to national economic security for such period as the national interest requires.

What are the risks that an economic secrecy order regime would influence other nations to implement similar laws? Would the global implementation of an economic secrecy order regime benefit or hinder the progress of innovation in the United States?

See Seraph's comment below. However, the date appears correct as April 19, so I will submit my comments to the USPTO. Luckily, this is just a congressional committee, and it is a heads up as to how vigilant we need to be to get our word to the right people when we see something that we think is going wrong. Thanks for the timely post.

A couple of drumbeats ago I posed a link to The Authortarians as a reply to a comment about religion.

CHICAGO, April 18 (UPI) -- Belief in God is declining gradually worldwide, with faith highest among older people, a report released by the University of Chicago Wednesday found.

I'm not even sure what is the correct frame for this one? Vanity? PR pandering?

, he took a picture at a beauty contest – with support from the minister for agriculture, a contest was held to find the prettiest student who ate only food from the Fukushima region

Someone will make a satire of this - one of 'em will be lighthearted (with outakes of the naked protests) and one will be pictures of people with radiation burns.

Sounds like something from 'The Onion'

Exclusive: France would not support oil release under Hollande

PARIS (Reuters) - France would withdraw support from a U.S.-British plan to release strategic oil stocks if Socialist front-runner Francois Hollande beats President Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential election run-off on May 6, the energy adviser to Hollande said on Thursday

Iraq excludes Exxon from May energy auction

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Oil Ministry said Thursday that the U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. is not allowed to bid in the May energy auction because of its oil deals with the northern self-ruled Kurdish region in Iraq.

... Thursday's decision is not a big blow to Exxon. "The much more appetizing Iraqi Kurdistan (regional government) contracts and terms might feel like a better choice by Exxon at this stage," Ciszuk added.

Nearly 70 percent of the blocs on offer hold natural gas and the rest a combination of oil and gas. They are expected to add about 29 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to the current 126.7 trillion cubic feet in reserves, and about 10 billion barrels of oil to the current proven 143.1 billion barrels of proven reserves.

2 years later, fish sick near BP oil spill site

BARATARIA BAY, La. (AP) — Two years after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, touching off the worst offshore spill in U.S. history, research into the disaster's environmental effects is turning up ailing fish that bear hallmarks of diseases tied to petroleum and other pollutants.

— A recent batch of test results revealed the presence of oil in the bile extracted from fish caught in August 2011, a year after BP's broken well was capped and nearly 15 months after it first blew out on April 20, 2010, leading to the rig explosion that killed 11 men.

"Bile tells you what a fish's last meal was," ... Bile in red snapper, yellow-edge grouper and a few other species contained on average 125 parts per million of naphthalene, a compound found in crude oil, Murawski said. Scientists expect to find almost none of the toxin in fish captured in the open ocean.

"Those levels are indicative of polluted urban estuaries," he said.

also Sick, deformed fish spotted after BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill

and Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists

"We've fished here all our lives and have never seen anything like this,"

... According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP's oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: "Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets." We are finding shrimp with tumors on their heads, and are seeing this everyday."

"We also seeing eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye-sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills, and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills."

and Gulf fisheries in decline after oil disaster

But, but... I thought it was a really BIG ocean!

Though what I really wonder about is how the deep coral ecosystems are faring?

My understanding is Coral needs sunlight. Thus they can't be all that 'deep'. Coral also does not benefit from increased CO2 in the water or rising ocean temps.

So I'd say "poorly" is how coral is faring.

Hey Eric,

My understanding is Coral needs sunlight.

Not all corals and there are definitely deep sea coral ecosystems.

ScienceDaily (Mar. 26, 2012) — Compelling evidence of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on deep-sea corals will be published online in the Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week beginning March 26. The diverse team of researchers, led by Penn State Professor of Biology Charles Fisher, used a wide range of underwater vehicles, including the research submarine Alvin, to investigate the corals. They also used comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography to determine precisely the source of the petroleum hydrocarbons they found.

BTW there is consensus among marine biologists that excessively warm seas, ocean acidification and pollution are adversely affecting shallow water corals. I have witnessed a lot of reef die off up close an personal in my 35 plus years of diving on tropical coral reefs. I have no way to say the degradation I have witnessed is directly related to AGW and acidification, it might have been more related to agricultural run off and silting due to dredging but there is no doubt that the reefs are doing poorly...

In the process we are killing some of the oldest organisms on the planet ...

Extreme longevity in proteinaceous deep-sea corals

Newly applied radiocarbon age dates from the deep water proteinaceous corals Gerardia sp. and Leiopathes sp. show that radial growth rates are as low as 4 to 35 μm year−1 and that individual colony longevities are on the order of thousands of years. The longest-lived Gerardia sp. and Leiopathes sp. specimens were 2,742 years and 4,265 years, respectively.

and 2,000 Year-old Deep-sea Black Corals call Gulf of Mexico Home

and 2,000 Year-old Deep-sea Black Corals call Gulf of Mexico Home

And a mere 200 years of our industrial civilization will probably cause their extinction...

We're just finishing the job of getting the ones we haven't already wiped out with bottom trawling. Can't leave any behind!

Geothermal Heating System Draws on Limitless Fuel: Sewage

Among the many renewable energy sources - wind, solar, hydroelectric, biofuels - there is one to which we all contribute that has not yet managed to attract the romantic advocates who have embraced other forms of green energy.

We're speaking about the gray river of warmth flowing right beneath our feet: sewage. ... During the winter, sewage is about 60 degrees, and in summer it can exceed 75 degrees. That's plenty of energy that can be extracted through a conventional heat pump.

Retrofit large commercial buildings to create significant HVAC energy cost reductions. Up to 60% Reduction in HVAC Costs

Just be careful how much energy you extract from that Poo. You wouldn't want to freeze up those pipes, now.

Georgia Tech Researchers Address Bus Bunching

As any city dweller knows, buses are rarely on time. It’s typical to wait a while, only to have several buses show up one after another, a phenomenon known as bus bunching.

... The first step toward reliable bus service, Bartholdi says, is to abandon the fixed schedule and have drivers go with the flow of traffic.

Under the “self-equalizing” plan, each bus is equipped with a GPS and cellphone. The GPS constantly reports the bus’s position to a central server. When the server recognizes the bus has reached a stop, it sends a message via cellphone telling the driver how long to wait and when to proceed.

That departure time is calculated through the “self-equalizing” equation, which changes the headway of each newly arrived bus to an average of its former headway and the headway of the trailing bus. For example, if its former headway was larger, its new headway becomes smaller. Using the equation, gaps between buses will equalize even if a bus is added or removed, or if the bus route changes.

Solar-grade silicon at low cost

... the [old] manufacturing methods commonly used to make crude silicon produce some 10 tons of CO2 for every ton of silicon produced, and the refinement stage (the Siemens process) produces a further 45 tons of CO2 as well as toxic gases.

... “Crucially, this (new) process requires minimal energy consumption, generates O2 rather than CO2 as a by-product, and is easily up-scalable because it involves fewer production stages,”

Based on the results of an independent economic survey, he believes that the process will drive down the cost of manufacturing solar-grade silicon from around the current $40–200/kg to a maximum of $8/kg, making solar power a more affordable option to generate power

Heating to 900 C is going to use more energy than he thinks when he's at an industrial scale. Plus the electrical power needed to run the reduction process, four electrons per silicon atom instead of three for an aluminum atom, which is already called solid electricity.

Current industry leaders are producing silicon at less than $20/kg. Anyone who can't will be gone in 5 years or less. The Siemens reactors will probably be gone soon after, or restricted to specialty products, like Float Zone rods.

The rest of the industry isn't standing still either.

Yes. The drop in polysilicon prices has been really amazing. Its dropped severalfold. Yet people keep building new foundaries. Thats the real tech storey behind the steep drop in panel prices -the most important ingredient has gotten cheap. Also amazingly the US is a prime producer and exporter of polysilicon. Chinese factories are going out of business. At least there is one part of the PV product pipeline we are competitive with.

I haven't been aware of that one. Stories on Poly Si mfg would be great to hear about.

I would like to hear it. I hear about prices, and factories shutting down, and predictions that prices will continue down and production volumes to go up. But, I don't know anything about the actual production.

Oil Dispute May Yield Africa’s Newest War

Weeks of fighting over a major disputed oil field along an ill-defined border between Sudan and the world’s newest nation, the breakaway Republic of South Sudan, has escalated to the brink of war. Welcome to Africa’s newest conflict, something the Obama administration worked hard to prevent.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir — an indicted war criminal dating to his role in the Darfur genocide — told troops in the border state of South Kordofan on Thursday that they won’t stop with just taking back the disputed oil field, but “in a final lesson of force” his troops “shall go all the way to Juba,” South Sudan’s capital, according to the Wall Street Journal. On Tuesday, Sudan’s parliament declared that South Sudan’s government “must be fought until it is defeated.”

Hey WesTexas, your email has a wrong date in the subject line.

Thanks. Three people missed the error in the subject line, but fortunately the text is correct.

Info on the next two ASPO-USA webinars at www.aspousa.org

I'm doing--what else?--net exports on 4 (four!)/26, and Art is reviewing shale oil plays on 5/17. For a hundred bucks, you get access to all webinars during your annual membership period.

Skills That Pay the Bills: Top 10 Maker Schools

With a whole new ecosystem of schools, proto-universities, and DIY collectives springing up to teach maker skills to the masses, now couldn't be a better time to bone up on an old interest or acquire a new one. Sign up for a class at one of these 10 outposts of learning and you may be moving up that quit-your-day-job date.

Cool, thanks for the link!

I had a great time on my second visit to ALT Space last night.
Finally got my wireless video rig in working order, with lots of help from some new friends. Now looking forward to mounting it on a kite for some fun with aerial video.

These makerspaces, or hackerspaces, seem to be taking off which is great news for the "great re-skilling" that the transition folks have been talking about. I can report first hand that it's a brilliant way to learn hands on skills and meet interesting people, I highly recommend it.


Loss of key resin supply may hurt U.S. vehicle production

"It is now clear that a significant portion of the global production capacity of PA-12 (polyamide 12, nylon 12) has been compromised," said AIAG in a statement.

... The plastic is used to make fuel tanks, coatings and connectors for fuel and brake systems, and seat fabrics. It's also used in coatings in off-shore oil pipelines, medical devices, solar panels and some sporting goods.

"This could be very significant. They're certainly looking very hard at substitutes. But if there were easy substitutes, they would have been thought of already,"

Nylon 11 (PA11) and Nylon 12 (PA12) for high pressure pipe.

During the past 15 years nylon 11 (or PA11) has been extensively tested as a piping material for natural gas at pressures up to 200 psig. During the past 6 years several manufacturers of PA12 evaluated that material for the same application.

For natural gas distribution pipe both materials have earned a hydrostatic design basis of 3150 psi at room temperature and 1600 psi at 80° C. Although similar, they are different enough that they should never be mixed together for processing.

and New Deep Sea [Pipe] Liner Technology

Swagelining will combine its established polymer liner technology with Evonik’s custom-tailored VESTAMID® polyamide 12 to produce a solution which can be used instead of the costly corrosion resistant alloy pipes currently used for many offshore oil production flowlines.

Evonik is was the worldwide leading producer of polyamide 12 for flexible pipes for subsea oil production.

US military has contingency for civilian safe havens if Syria violence escalates

US defence secretary Leon Panetta disclosed Thursday the Pentagon has plans in place for establishing humanitarian corridors in Syria, an idea publicly aired by French president Nicholas Sarkozy earlier in the day in Paris.

Team Identifies Water Vulnerability in Border Region

The Arizona-Sonora region has been called the front line of ongoing climate change, with global climate models projecting severe precipitation decreases and temperature increases coupled with vulnerability from urbanization, industrialization and agricultural intensification.

The researchers were supported by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, known as NOAA, and produced detailed case studies of the water-climate vulnerability and adaptation situation for four communities: Tucson, Ariz.; the twinned border cities of Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora; Hermosillo, Sonora.; and Puerto Peñasco, Sonora.

This is a critical area. The unclassified version of the National Intelligence Council Report: Global Water Security 'left out' the U.S./Mexico border issue regarding water scarcity.

However, the National Intelligence Council Workshop Report: Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America: The Impact of Climate Change to 2030 and National Intelligence Council Summary: Mexico, The Caribbean, and Central America: The Impact of Climate Change to 2030: Geopolitical Implications both suggest that the idea of 'uninhabitable' regions along the Mexico/SouthWest U.S. border are no longer unthinkable. Timeline for this falls within a 10-20 year window.

Water Resources. The majority of the population in most of the countries reviewed lives in coastal areas, which are highly vulnerable to severe climate changes. As populations continue to grow in the same areas, increasing water extraction and rising sea levels are expected to have severe impacts on the quantity and quality of water available. Many of these countries’ aquifers are open to ocean waters and are already experiencing increased salinity. Rising sea levels will accelerate the deterioration of aquifers and available water resources.

Agriculture. The agricultural sector climate related research for most of the countries in this review is limited. Where research is available, productivity losses are projected for optimist, moderate, and pessimist scenarios for some key food crops with estimates that vary from 10 percent to more than 50 percent by the year 2030.

pg 24... The US-Mexican Border. Increases in the frequency and scale of natural disasters caused from climate change could have a threat multiplier effect on immigration to the United States. US immigration is principally rooted in issues of economic deprivation and disparity. If certain areas of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean become uninhabitable—either due to rising sea levels and temperatures, or because traditional agricultural and water resources cannot be sustained—then pressure on the US-Mexican border will increase. The potential for new climate-related epidemics may also affect the prerogatives for border security. The US-Mexican border may emerge as a future flashpoint, not as an area directly affected by climate change, but rather as a force to contend with the intensified migratory patterns that result.

Mexico’s drought destroys crops, endangers life, and opens corn market to U.S. farmers

India Declares Itself Major Missile Power

India Thursday said it successfully test-fired a new missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as Beijing - announcing itself as a major "missile power."

Great. Just what we need. :-<

In my humble opinion: Let any sovereign that can, have both nuclear weapons and long range delivery capabilities.

Perhaps the global political theatre will be more civil. That in turn could drop FF prices, if high risk is a factored in reason for the current prices.

After all, there are only 3 possible outcomes:
1. Things will get worse
2. Things will stay the same
3. Things will get better

...One in three odds perhaps aren't that bad ;)

Doomsday clock

The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face, maintained since 1947 by the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. The closer the clock is to midnight, the closer the world is estimated to be to global disaster and the destablilisation of civilisation due to Peak Oil. The most recent officially-announced setting — five minutes to midnight (11:55pm) — was made on 10 January 2012.[1] Reflecting international events dangerous to humankind, the clock's hands have been adjusted twenty times since its inception in 1947,[2] when the clock was initially set to seven minutes to midnight (11:53pm).

To top it all, I saw "On the beach" last night and read this Effects of a Global Thermonuclear War

According to this piece, and I must say it's well researched. A thermonuclear war would not annihilate mankind or even current technology. It would push things back by a hundred years though.

India and Pakistan don't go to war in that document (the situation just remains "tense") even though everyone else is throwing nukes about. How realistic is that? Israel is destroyed but apparently the author has never heard of the Samson Option. The only nuclear plants which leak are the ones which have had a direct hit even though the host country is effectively destroyed and most of its population dead.

It would push things back by a hundred years though.

And with that levelf tech, we would lose capacity tomaintain the world population. People would starve and die, there would me streams of imigration, wars. The world would begin to spiral downwards,till it found a new level of stability. Even lower that that right aftr the war.

As Undertow touches on, many systems would not be maintained (including the cooling systems at nuke plants). How much of our energy use and other systems exist only to maintain other systems, to "hold what you've got", in Navy parlance. Many folks don't account for the overhead required to just stay in place. Take out this ability, or divert resources to more immediate needs (triage), much of what has been built will go into decline. Just the process of reorganizing will require most, if not all of humanity's resources for an unknown time. Think of how many resources have been devoted just to limiting and repairing the damage from the 2008 financial debacle. In a resource constrained world, with our ability to respond massively compromized, 100 years is naively optimistic.

All the King's horses and all the King's men will be fighting wars just to try and hang on to what's left.

Inequality and Investment Bubbles

That the rich really are different is a common opinion. It turns out that the rich even have their own physics.

... a plot of the cumulative percentage of the population versus income shows that the actual income distribution (the data coming from the IRS) for the poorer 97% of reported returns follows a type of curve---the Boltzmann-Gibbs curve---that applies to the energy distribution of molecules in a gas. By contrast, the upper 3 percent or so of incomes, starting at a tax-return level of about $140,000, lie along a Pareto curve.

"A mathematical analysis of the empirical data clearly demonstrates the two-class structure of a society," Yakovenko says. The lower-97% curve is an example of exponential behavior, while the upper-3% curve is an example of a power-law behavior. The power-law curve is conspicuously different from the exponential curve in having a long tail.

Then, Yakovenko plots the percentage of total income lying in that tail on through the years. He finds that the periods of greatest inequality are also periods of bursting investment bubbles. Most recently the inequality peaks lined up very closely with the housing bubble of 2008, the dot.com bubble of 2000, and the savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s.

Rumors flying of US Air, American Airlines merger

... Driving these marriages are the industry's own problems. Since the airline sector was deregulated in 1978, there have been hopes that carriers could make money by wringing redundancies out of the system and by better managing their businesses. When that didn't work, companies turned to mergers to improve their bottom lines.

The results have been mixed, even as consolidation has reduced the number of competitors. Unfortunately, the improved financial performance of the surviving airlines has come at the expense of consumers. Airlines have reduced capacity, shut down unprofitable routes, and increased prices and fees.

AMR Unions Said Prepared to Back US Airways Takeover Bid

American Airlines’ three largest unions have agreed to support a possible takeover offer from US Airways Group Inc. rather than remain independent, three people familiar with the matter said.

Prospect of fuel tanker driver strike looms after peace deal rejected

The prospect of a strike by fuel tanker drivers which could cripple petrol supplies has re-emerged after union officials overwhelmingly rejected a proposed deal aimed at averting industrial action.

Motorists were urged not to panic buy fuel as Unite said it wanted a negotiated settlement and stressed that it had not yet decided whether to name dates for action.

... This morning (Thursday) queues had been reported at the Esso garage in Newmarket in Louth as news from the union began to filter through the national news


AA president Edmund King said: "Our message to drivers is to continue with their normal buying pattern for fuel.

"There is no shortage of fuel and we don't want to re-create another self-inflicted shortage."


Iranian Oil-Tanker Fleet Status by Satellite Signals

Following is a table of the status of Iran’s oil-tanker fleet according to the most recent signals from the vessels captured by IHS Inc.

Japan's fuel imports push trade deficit to record

Disaster-battered Japan reported its biggest annual trade deficit ever Thursday, a contrast from decades of surpluses, as a nuclear crisis boosted expensive oil and gas imports.

The Finance Ministry's preliminary trade data showed a 4.41 trillion yen ($54 billion Cdn) trade deficit for the fiscal year that ended March 31.

A possible 'stairstep' in a slow collapse?

As with Aging bodies, one of the ways collapse probably plays out most visibly is likely to be the Inability to rebuild to previous levels after a setback. Even so, I would expect to see a good deal of New Growth in Japan.. and like Germany, I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the cultural Strengths of the Japanese result in some impressive rebounding, not irrespective of some of the other cultural bits that apparently fed into the disaster's strength.

I am interested to see how the reconstruction of the 'merely' Tsunami and Quake Hit areas compares to those that are dealing with high radiation levels in their debris and topsoils.

It's one thing to have piles of Roofing Tin and Construction Blocks, etc.. that you can pile up, reuse, sometimes knock back into shape, use as fill, or toss into the smelters.. as opposed to HOT waste, not unlike the Lead-painted woods from my old buildings, that have to be treated like MEDICAL HAZMATS, which you can't ('shouldn't') even 'just throw away'. It takes a lot more energy and effort to properly deal with 'dirty' trash.