Drumbeat: May 2, 2012

Falling natural gas prices hit states' pocketbooks

Energy-producing states are bracing for lower tax revenue from the plummeting price of natural gas, which is just above half of what some states forecast when they put together budgets for 2013 and beyond.

Production of natural gas is up nationally largely because of the spread of hydraulic fracturing, a drilling practice that allows tapping of deposits formerly out of reach. A warm winter cut demand, driving the price below $2 per thousand cubic feet in April.

Operators see access challenges

While ample evidence exists to effectively debunk the peak oil theories, locating and extracting reserves that are more than capable of meeting future demand remains a primary challenge going forward, a diverse panel of national and international companies said Tuesday morning.

“Between 2010 and 2035, we see energy demand increasing by 51%, and 82% of that demand will be met by oil and gas,” said Farouk Hussain Al Zanki, CEO of Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC). “The primary challenges we face in the future are availability, reliability and affordability of energy supplies. These are critical for the good of all societies”.

“Too Much Magic” With James Howard Kunstler | The DisinfoCast with Matt Staggs: Episode 07

Social critic and peak oil provocateur James Howard Kunstler is on The DisinfoCast to discuss his upcoming book Too Much Magic: Technology, Wishful Thinking and the Fate of the Nation. Kunstler believes that the end of cheap, readily available oil is very near, and with it the collapse of the industrial society as we know it. According to Kunstler, alternative energy sources and other technological solutions are just wishful thinking, and the future that awaits us may very well resemble our past.

Chesapeake stock drops 12% on missed earnings

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Chesapeake Energy's stock price plunged after the opening bell on Wednesday, as investors reacted to dissappointing earnings released Tuesday after the close.

Trafigura Following Raffles Into Heart of Asian Trade

Staff at Trafigura Group, the third- largest independent oil trader, are getting a real-time snapshot of demand in the top crude and metals-consuming region as they look from their new office onto lines of ships off Singapore.

The Amsterdam-based company moved 30 people in the past year to Singapore to trade metals and bulk commodities. Jonathan Pegler, the oil director for the Asia-Pacific region, came from Geneva in February and is already adding staff to the offices on the 28th and 29th floors of a downtown skyscraper that can seat 250. The group had nine people in the state in 2000.

Asian Coal Slips to Lowest Since 2010 as China Imports Ease

Newcastle thermal coal prices fell below $100 a metric ton to the lowest level since October 2010 as demand from China weakened and supply to Asia from countries including South Africa and the U.S. increased.

Venezuela JV progressing

The Petromacareo heavy oil joint venture in Venezuela’s Orinoco belt expects to pump first oil from its Junin 2 project later this year, said a top executive in state-run Petrovietnam, a partner in the venture.

Pipeline ’Chess Master’ Cuts Third Deal Since 2011 for Su

Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) Chief Executive Officer Kelcy Warren flew to Philadelphia near the end of February to discuss a pipeline project with his counterpart at Sunoco Inc. (SUN) Before the talks were over, he’d decided to buy the whole company for $5.3 billion.

Warren’s agreement to purchase Sunoco is the third time he’s swept up a rival pipeline operator in the past 13 months, paying a total $12.6 billion in cash and shares. Each deal has been calculated to expand Dallas-based Energy Transfer’s footprint and business mix, transforming it from a regional natural-gas pipeline operator to a national shipper of gas, crude and refined fuels.

Drowned former oil boss was wanted in Libya

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya had sought to question Muammar Gaddafi's former oil chief in a graft inquiry before his body was found in the Danube river in Austria this week, Prosecutor General Abdelaziz Al-Hasadi said on Wednesday.

NRC sets relicensing hearing for Ohio reactor

(Reuters) - With four groups seeking to deny renewal of FirstEnergy Corp's license to operate the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor in Ohio due to cracks in its shield building, the U.S. nuclear regulator said on Wed nesday it has set a hearing on the matter for May 18.

Arab countries reiterate call for forcing Israel to join NPT

VIENNA (KUNA) -- The Arab countries on Wednesday renewed the call for subjecting all nuclear facilities in the Middle East, notably the Israeli ones, to safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Peak Oil Crisis: Implications

Last week we talked about the possibility that researchers have found a second and potentially useful and inexpensive way of converting hydrogen into helium accompanied by a release of significant quantities of energy.

Many, of course, believe such a discovery is too good to be true, for it implies that in the long run the world might be able to abandon other more expensive ways to obtain energy including oil, coal, and natural gas. Moreover, the new "green energy" renewable technologies – solar, wind, waves, tides, and biofuels – might no longer be competitive because the fuel for the hydrogen reaction would be only water. This of course sounds impossible, until one remembers that during the last 150 years electricity, internal combustion, airplanes, nuclear fission and DNA have all emerged from scientific discoveries. In this light, a more subtle way to coax hydrogen atoms to fuse into helium does not seem completely impossible.

U.S., Japan Complete Field Trial Of Methane Hydrate Production Technologies

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today the completion of a successful, unprecedented test of technology in the North Slope of Alaska that was able to safely extract a steady flow of natural gas from methane hydrates – a vast, entirely untapped resource that holds enormous potential for U.S. economic and energy security. Building upon this initial, small-scale test, the Department is launching a new research effort to conduct a long-term production test in the Arctic as well as research to test additional technologies that could be used to locate, characterize and safely extract methane hydrates on a larger scale in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Whole Food Blues: Why Organic Agriculture May Not Be So Sustainable

When it comes to energy, everyone loves efficiency. Cutting energy waste is one of those goals that both sides of the political divide can agree on, even if they sometimes diverge on how best to get there. Energy efficiency allows us to get more out of our given resources, which is good for the economy and (mostly) good for the environment as well. In an increasingly hot and crowded world, the only sustainable way to live is to get more out of less. Every environmentalist would agree.

But change the conversation to food, and suddenly efficiency doesn’t look so good. Conventional industrial agriculture has become incredibly efficient on a simple land to food basis.

Joel Salatin: Life Lessons from a Farmer

“For people like me who think we are really attached to nature, we’d better figure out how to build a nest, live in it and regenerate it or we’re not going to be doing right by our own stewardship mandates,” Joel said. “What led me to write Folks, This Ain’t Normal was this profound disconnect and even almost seeming ambivalence toward a really basic response to an intuitive understanding that we’re heading for a precarious precipice. It’s so difficult that nobody wants to even think about it; so we’ll simply bury our heads in the celebrity Hollywood bellybutton-piercing culture and somehow it will all work out.”

A Grim Portrait of Palm Oil Emissions

Indonesia ranks right behind the United States and China in the lineup of the world’s top 10 greenhouse gas emitters. It’s not because of smokestacks or freeways, but massive deforestation starting in the 1990s — driven In large part by the expansion of plantations for palm oil, an edible vegetable oil used in cookies, crackers, soap and European diesel fuel.

Fukushima Prefecture to restore destroyed coastal forests

FUKUSHIMA--With the help of generous prefectures, Fukushima Prefecture is starting a nine-year plan to restore disaster-prevention coastal forests along a 145-kilometer stretch of the 185-km tsunami-inundated coastline.

The prefecture will plant 4.6 million seedlings in an area covering about 460 hectares, or about 700,000 seedlings annually for seven years, starting in fiscal 2014, according to a report on the plan.

Global warming: New research emphasizes the role of economic growth

ANN ARBOR, Mich.-It's a message no one wants to hear: To slow down global warming, we'll either have to put the brakes on economic growth or transform the way the world's economies work.

That's the implication of an innovative University of Michigan study examining the evolution of atmospheric CO2, the most likely cause of global climate change.

One in seven thinks end of world is coming: poll

NEW YORK (Reuters) - - Nearly 15 percent of people worldwide believe the world will end during their lifetime and 10 percent think the Mayan calendar could signify it will happen in 2012, according to a new poll.

Fresno woman allegedly robbed bank then went to pay PG&E bill

A woman who allegedly robbed a bank Tuesday was arrested minutes later at PG&E headquarters in downtown Fresno, where she told officers she had gone to pay her utility bill.

View From Inside Chesapeake's Board of Directors

In light of all this, I thought people would be interested in this view from within Chesapeake's board, from a book that is probably little-read, called Peak Oil Personalities, in a chapter by Charles T. Maxwell, an oil industry analyst and investor who has been on Chesapeake's board since 2002 -- before the shale boom really took off.

In 2002, I was invited to join the board of Chesapeake Energy Corporation... I came to the job full of traditional conventions about analytically correct balance sheet ratios, and so on. But in the first several years I was confronted by a riveting problem.

The problem, as Maxwell explains, was that fracking had opened up new areas to production, and it was all sufficiently new that it was hard to know what to expect -- so his "traditional conventions" didn't fly. But also, McClendon didn't want to stick with traditional ways of financing the operation, as Maxwell explains.

Chesapeake: McClendon out as chairman

Chesapeake Energy Corp will find an independent, non-executive chairman to replace current Chairman Aubrey McClendon, who will retain his position as chief executive of the natural gas producer, the company said on Tuesday.

McClendon, who is Chesapeake's founder, also agreed to an early end to a controversial program that grants him minority stakes in Chesapeake's wells, a perk that had sparked investor anger and inquiries from federal regulatory and tax agencies.

Oil Drops From Five-Week High as U.S. Stockpiles Advance

Oil slid from the highest level in five weeks as increasing crude stockpiles in the U.S. and declining industrial output in Europe fanned concern that global demand may weaken.

Futures in New York dropped as much as 0.5 percent. U.S. crude inventories rose 2.04 million barrels last week, the fifth gain in six weeks, the American Petroleum Institute said yesterday. Euro-area manufacturing shrank for a ninth month in April, while France, Italy and Greece will hold elections this weekend. Prices advanced 1.2 percent yesterday after an index of U.S. manufacturing increased at the fastest pace in 10 months.

Jeff Rubin: What happens when oil becomes unaffordable?

When the first OPEC oil shock hit in the 1970s, President Nixon responded by lowering the national speed limit to 55 miles per hour in a bid to conserve energy. But speed limits aren’t the only thing that can change when oil prices go up. Right now, we’re seeing that rising crude prices can influence much more than just how fast you can drive your car. High oil prices change the speed at which your economy can grow.

Just as people require food, economies require energy. The relationship is straightforward: economic growth is a function of energy consumption. With national economies around the world once again forced to pay more than $100 (U.S.) for every barrel of oil consumed, a critical question must be asked -- what happens when the world’s most important source of energy becomes unaffordable?

The ‘Fixer’ at Southwest Airlines

Amid climbing jet-fuel costs, Southwest Airlines, the country’s largest domestic passenger carrier, reported a loss in its first quarter. But as it moves into what could be another choppy period, it’s looking to a seasoned “fixer” to smooth out the price swings: Chris Monroe.

Monroe, a boyish 45-year-old assistant treasurer, is the point man on Southwest’s fuel-hedging strategy. In that role, he works with Southwest’s chief executive and chief financial officer, among others, to figure out how the carrier can use options and other derivatives to lock in cheaper fuel prices when crude oil is on the rise — or, conversely, to avoid spending too much on hedges when prices begin to fall.

US LNG exports will not cause big price spike-report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas will not dramatically raise natural gas prices or hurt the U.S. industrial sector, a new study said, bolstering the case for supporters of sending U.S. gas abroad.

The Brookings Institution's study said selling some of the U.S. shale gas bounty to foreign consumers would have a "modest" upward impact on domestic prices.

Nine killed in Cairo clashes outside Defense Ministry

CAIRO (AP) – Clashes erupted on Wednesday between assailants and mostly Islamist protesters gathered outside the Defense Ministry in the Egyptian capital, leaving nine people dead and nearly 50 wounded, security officials said.

Iran says optimistic about nuclear talks

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran is optimistic about progress in talks with world powers over its nuclear programme but it will never give up its right to the peaceful use of atomic energy, a senior Iranian official said on Wednesday.

Tehran reopened negotiations with six world powers over its uranium enrichment programme last month and they have agreed to meet again in Baghdad on May 23.

India insurance companies to give $50 million cover for Iran oil buy - Executive

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian state-run insurers have agreed to give limited cover to local ships for carrying Iranian oil, helping the energy-hungry country import reduced volumes from sanctions-hit Tehran from July, a Shipping Corp of India director said on Tuesday.

Pakistani anger lingers a year after raid killed bin Laden

LAHORE, Pakistan – A year after Osama bin Laden's death, there is still anger among Pakistanis over the secret raid carried out by Navy SEALs on a compound near here. And some don't believe he's dead.

Bolivia Seizes Unit of Spanish Power Company Red Electrica

Bolivia is nationalizing the local assets of Spain’s Red Electrica Corp. (REE), giving the government control of the Andean nation’s power grid two weeks after neighboring Argentina seized its biggest oil company.

Private Empire

In Private Empire – a book that, no doubt, will be described as exhaustive in reviews – Coll all but avoids dry holes in his wildcatting expedition to drill down into the story of a company that operates in many respects as its own nation. To cite but one of many examples, consider Raymond’s speech in 1997 in Beijing to the World Petroleum Congress.

At a time when the Clinton administration was working on the environmental agreement that became known as the Kyoto Protocol, Raymond not only argued against the notion of global warming, he openly flouted American foreign-policy, too.

Reporting of fracking and drilling violations weak

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (CNNMoney) -- For Pennsylvanians with natural gas wells on their land, chances are they won't know if a safety violation occurs on their property.

That's because the state agency charged with regulating the wells -- the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) -- does not have to notify landowners if a violation is discovered. Even if landowners inquire about safety violations, DEP records are often too technical for the average person and incomplete.

Drillers May Frack First, Disclose Later Under Draft Plan

Natural-gas companies drilling on U.S. land would be permitted to wait until after hydraulic fracturing is completed to disclose what chemicals they used, under a draft rule being considered by the Interior Department.

Freedom From Gazprom Tempts Ukraine as Exxon Hunts Shale

For the first time in more than two centuries, Ukraine sees its way to independence from Moscow.

That path tracks through a patch of sealed Soviet-era natural gas wells that are ready to be tapped once again and fields of shale rocks that the U.S. Geological Survey estimates will hold enough gas to fire the eastern European nation for 100 years or more. Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Exxon Mobil Corp., and Chevron Corp. -- three of the world’s four largest oil companies -- bid last week for Ukrainian exploration rights.

Power storage needs government nudge

LONDON (Reuters) - Electricity storage, a Holy Grail of the power industry, is years from being widely deployed because of market and regulatory barriers, said an executive of S&C Electric, whose projects include enabling homes to use solar power at night.

Ontario electricity rates going up

Get ready for a heftier hydro bill. Ontario residents will start paying more for electricity starting Tuesday.

A typical household using 800 kilowatt hours a month will see the 'electricity' line on their hydro bill increase by nearly $6, while consumers using smart meters — or time-of-use pricing — will see an increase of about $4.

Combination of Errors Led to Power Loss in San Diego

WASHINGTON — Millions of people in Southern California, Arizona and northern Mexico were plunged into darkness last September because of errors and system problems paralleling those that caused the great Eastern blackout of August 2003, federal investigators reported on Tuesday.

Thieves Make Off With 10-Ton Bridge

(Newser) – How to steal a 10-ton bridge? Easy: Just pretend you've been hired to demolish it. That's what a gang of metal thieves allegedly did in the Czech Republic recently, showing employees at a depot forged paperwork and telling them the bridge over unused railroad tracks needed to come down. "The thieves said they had been hired to demolish the bridge, and remove the unwanted railway track to make way for a new cycle route," says a railroad spokesperson.

Water Part V: When Oil and Water Mix

When someone, like me for example, starts talking about peak oil, a typical dismissive response is “what are you worried about, we have plenty of oil left”. It’s true that when we hit the peak, we will still have around half of our oil reserve left. The key point about the peak is not that we are on the verge of running out. The point is that the supply will no longer grow.

Fresh water supplies are also about to peak. Today we use all of the rain water provided by Mother Nature by tapping into lakes and streams, and we supplement this by extracting water from subsurface aquifers. Many of these aquifers are rapidly approaching exhaustion and this part of the water supply cannot be replaced. When the aquifers are exhausted, rain water will become the limiting resource for food production.

Land Grabbing to Reshape Asia

Cambodia has opened up its potential for natural resource development up greatly, handing out more than 2,800,000 hectares in concessions to foreign investors for mineral, precious metals, agriculture since 2008. When logging and forestry concessions have been added, concessions total nearly 38% of the country's area.

'Garbage chicken' a grim staple for Manila's poor

In Tagalog "pagpag" means the dust you shake off your clothing or carpet, but in Fabon's poverty- stricken world, it means chicken pulled from the trash.

Pagpag is the product of a hidden food system for the urban poor that exists on the leftovers of the city's middle class.

David Suzuki: The fundamental failure of environmentalism

Environmentalism has failed. Over the past 50 years, environmentalists have succeeded in raising awareness, changing logging practices, stopping mega-dams and offshore drilling, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But we were so focused on battling opponents and seeking public support that we failed to realize these battles reflect fundamentally different ways of seeing our place in the world. And it is our deep underlying worldview that determines the way we treat our surroundings.

Warren Buffett warned of BNSF coal train blockade by B.C. activists

A group of B.C. climate-change activists says it plans to stop BNSF Railway Company trains loaded with U.S. coal from passing through White Rock for one day.

Critics say Discovery Channel’s ‘Frozen Planet’ sidesteps climate change issue

The Discovery Channel’s popular “Frozen Planet” series states that global warming is harming arctic habitats. But it doesn’t mention what the majority of the world’s scientists believe: Accelerated warming is caused by carbon pollution from humans.

On Tuesday, a group devoted to spreading the news on climate change complained about the network’s decision to omit that information. Calling it “dangerous self-censorship” that only satisfies climate deniers, Forecast the Facts delivered an online petition with what it said were 10,000 signatures to the network’s Silver Spring headquarters. The petition criticized Discovery’s “decision not to explain the science, and human causes, of global warming.” A security official accepted the petition, said Brad Johnson, campaign manager for Forecast the Facts.

Analysis - Permit glut points to new EU carbon policy tool

LONDON (Reuters) - Any one-off European Union intervention to clear the massive glut of permits now clogging its emissions trading scheme is likely to lead to a ‘central bank' or other policy tool to manage future imbalances in the world's biggest carbon market.

If it does act, the European Commission, the bloc's executive, is cautious about entrenching such a mechanism in the scheme, the bloc's chief weapon to fight climate change.

Insurance meddling a disaster - report

Governments have been warned that meddling in the insurance business could stop households and businesses making the tough decisions required to adapt to dangerous climate change.

Climate Change and the Body Politic

History is short on examples of a society's taking action on behalf of beneficiaries who are two or more generations into the future if it involves sacrifice, a scientist suggests.

Washington DC Metro needs to expand

Projections for 2040, which do not include the effects of post-Peak Oil, show that demand will exceed capacity by 22% by then. New cars are being ordered with fewer seats and more standing room.

Today, passengers are lost because they want to avoid the "Orange Crush" on the Orange Line between Courthouse and Rossyln. Opening the first half of the Silver Line will only make matters worse. By 2030, several sections of DC Metro are expected to be over capacity. And this is with significant surface rail additions.

And, unlike Paris (200 km of new Metro to be built 2013-2025, 2 million new riders expected), it takes a long time to get anything done here.

Staff has plans for a new Blue Line, with a second Rosslyn Station, new tunnels under the Potomac and a new East-West Line across downtown DC.


I was criticizing this plan to a former WMATA chair and she asked - "What would you recommend ?"

My plan has two major elements. One is a mainly surface (4.7 miles, less than 2 miles in tunnel) one track Metro line (with two track stations for passing) from a rebuilt East Falls Church station (3 track) to Washington Circle that should be able to do 8 trains/hour at Peak plus splitting the Red Line "U" into two overlapping "J"s. Basically continue down Connecticut Avenue to the Purple Line for one, and continue down Wisconsin Avenue to M Street > Washington Circle > DuPont Circle > Mt. Vernon Square > Union Station for the other.

Any suggestions for free/low cost software to draw lines on maps ?

Any help appreciated.

And copies of plans upon request.

Best Hopes,


Washington DC Metro saves over 200,000 b/day - directly and indirectly (via Transit Orientated Development). It could do much more.

Not only does it take a long time, but it takes lots of squabbling. The 2nd phase of the silver line is in jeopardy for a couple of reasons:


For drawing lines on maps, I oftentimes just use Google Earth, and build up a kmz file with all of my extra stuff.

Free drawing programs

Libra Office or Open Office Draw

For the purpose Alan has, I'd suggest Generic Mapping Tools combined with Openstreetmap.

There is a bit of a learning curve, but excellent results are possible.

TOD article in today's WSJ:

Suburban Swap: Trading a Backyard for a Train Station

Tom and Pat Kelly spent 22 years living what many people consider the American dream: They owned a four-bedroom home with a pool and a big yard in Turnersville, N.J. They traded that in to live near a train station. With two of their three children living on their own, the couple no longer wanted to spend time raking leaves, shoveling snow and doing other maintenance their large home required. So they moved to LumberYard, a mixed-use condominium development near their son's and daughter's homes and within walking distance of the local train station.

Now, instead of spending two or more hours commuting daily in his red Volkswagen Beetle, Mr. Kelly, 56, hops on the Patco high-speed train line and gets to his Philadelphia law-firm job across the Delaware River in about a half-hour. "It's just a much more enjoyable life," he says.

LumberYard is a transit-oriented development, or TOD, one of a growing number of mixed-use developments that combine town houses or condominiums with retail shops, hotels and other businesses—all perched near a train station.

We need MUCH more "T" to "OD" around.

Per polls, about 30% of Americans want to live in TOD, but <2% do. There is simply not enough "T" to go around.

This is the low hanging fruit is reducing both oil consumption and carbon emissions.

See France for how quickly Urban rail can be built - while taking a month off each year, long lunches, striking occasionally, etc.

Best Hopes for Better Investments !


"Per polls..."

Does anybody have anything that would tell us whether the respondents mean what they say, or are just giving a pollster what they think is a politically correct or even joke answer? Also, since well-served areas tend to be extremely expensive to live in, is there any data on willingness and ability to pay? Is this just another case like a 7yo wishing for a pony?

"See France..."

Give up the zealously guarded plenary veto power that even the most petty property owner or renter enjoys against any nearby public project whatever? The professional obstructionists we call "environmentalists" would be up in arms. And surrender said power to enable pointy-headed Énarques to build whatever they want? Sacré bleu!.

If Something is desired by 30% of the population, but there is only enough for <2% of the population, would not that Something sell at a premium ?

The observed market premium for TOD housing supports that there is market demand for much more.

Since it is in the public interest for more "low oil use islands", with more walking, less public infrastructure, lower overall energy use, etc., we should built more "T" to meet this unmeet market demand.

And there are a variety of surveys, with different questions, etc. Looking at them all, ROUGHLY 30% of Americans want to live in TOD.

Best Hopes for more TOD,


Does anybody have anything that would tell us whether the respondents mean what they say, or are just giving a pollster what they think is a politically correct or even joke answer?

I live this question here in Toronto, where we are in the midst of an ongoing transit brou-ha-ha. Major Transit development has been stalled for 25 years: current initiatives have, until recently, been stalled by a car-centric mayor. My point here is that though we have good transit, it is under stress, and the backbone of the system, the Yonge and Bloor subway lines, are almost maxed out for ridership.

Yet the city and the transit load are still growing.

The number of new citizens (100,00 a year) have to have someplace to live. (Keep in mind that this means that jobs are being created here, or that incomes are high enough to support dependents.) We are in the midst of a condo boom, with the most units under construction in North America, pretty much all of them with transit availability. In Toronto, condos can only be built where transit is available; without transit availability, they are unsaleable.

Also, since well-served areas tend to be extremely expensive to live in, is there any data on willingness and ability to pay? Is this just another case like a 7yo wishing for a pony?

The value of my house has doubled in the past nine years: part of this is a market crash in1989 that bottomed in the mid '90's; the other part is because I am a half hour bike ride from downtown, a ten minute walk from the subway and 50 feet from a streetcar stop.

If more houses were available close to the city centre, or less employment were available there, my house would not be so valuable. I could not afford to buy my house at it's current value; my living here is a result of lucky timing. If I had bought even 3 years later, I would be in a condo.

And if I were in a condo, I would probably be a ten-minute walk from work/school/etc.

Lots of people want to live my life, where I live. And they're willing to pay for it.

The idea that only expensive places have transit is wrong-headed. Transit raises the value of properties. Assuming there's someplace of value at the other end of the ride.

The idea that only expensive places have transit is wrong-headed. Transit raises the value of properties.

That seems like a contradiction. If transit raises the value of properties, then by definition such places become expensive, and indeed only "lucky timing", or perhaps being a single what-we-used-to-call-yuppie, may enable a person to afford to live there.

In the USA, of course, we have yet another issue, which is that the sort of places that are well-served by transit - crowded places almost by definition - tend to have lousy or even dangerous schools that people really don't want their kids to risk. So the cost of private school gets piled onto all the rest. By the time all the costs are racked up, one can pay for a lot of driving (even if gasoline doubled again) in a safer and less ruinously expensive locale, and still have money left over, which is just exactly what many people have been doing.

Then there's the absurd cost of dining out at trendy downtown restaurants, attending events or concerts at trendy downtown venues, shopping at trendy downtown stores, snd so on. That might seem less affordable once a family is incurring such costs instead of just one person - or it might even seem a bit less sensible once a person actually grows up.

So now I'm wondering whether this phenomenon - especially in the USA - will be self-limited, at least for now, to being mainly a fashion statement for bored, thrill-seeking, young, highly-affluent singles. Indeed, could Canada and Australia be less immune to bursting real-estate bubbles than they flatter themselves to be?

In the USA, of course, we have yet another issue, which is that the sort of places that are well-served by transit - crowded places almost by definition - tend to have lousy or even dangerous schools that people really don't want their kids to risk.

In Philly, the regional trains run from Center City's skyscrapers to the tony burbs, some of the richest neighborhoods in human history. These high schools have working radio stations, television studios, recital halls with modern sound equipment, and swimming pools. AP classes and private tutors abound. Parents pay cash for exclusive private colleges sitting on lush garden campuses. I don't know where you live, but it sure as hell isn't around here.

Ah, yes, I should have been more legalistic, and specified "local" transit, which was blindingly obviously the actual subject. But since we're changing the subject, let's do consider the Main Line, and other spots vaguely like it around Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. For places like that, the operative term becomes regional trains, not the local streetcars and transit lines we were discussing.

People typically use regional trains to get to and from work from often far-flung suburbs (which is why they're called regional trains), if they just so happen to work downtown or along the train line. Such trains are typically utterly useless for the great majority of trips, such as going to the grocery store, taking the kids to the soccer venue, or visiting Aunt Susie. So for everything but going to work, people in places like that have their cars - which is perfectly aligned with the way so many local governments all across Pennsylvania all but ban pedestrians.

No, the Main Line has got next to nothing to do with an affluent young single living in a cramped apartment and without a car in a crowded part of Vancouver, Toronto, or even Chicago, and who must wait for a local streetcar, bus, or train, every time he or she makes a move beyond walking distance. And at least in the USA, the schools in those far-flung towns or suburbs will be, as you correctly point out, far better than most schools in the city proper or even, oftentimes, in the close-in suburbs. Which is why most of those young singles will move out if and when they grow up.

In the post-peak-oil era the far-flung suburbs are going to collapse because nobody will be able to afford to commute to work from them. The affluent swingles will use their surplus dollars to allow them to live in their elegant and not-terribly-cramped inner city apartments and walk to work and the local very-trendy coffee houses and stores.

If and when they decide to reproduce, these affluent yuppies will send their kids to very upscale and quite likely local schools where on graduation they will get the International Baccalaureate that will guarantee them access to any English language university on the planet.

Poor families will continue to be screwed but that has always been their fate. The only difference will bet that they will be only able to afford to live in the far-flung suburbs.

Welcome to the post-peak-oil era.

Transit planners who run these systems like NJ (actually New YORK) Transit only
see the train lines as "commuter lines" to go INTO and OUT OF New York City but this
view is false. In fact there are already many local riders who are going to jobs or other activities from one Main Street town to another. There is no reason these lines could not be run more frequently with a Local/Express model with some faster Express trains making only a few stops for those going further distances including New York, and local trains making all local stops for local service. A good case study is my own Morris/Essex Train line which for years provided service only to Hoboken and from there
you took the PATH or Ferry to New York. In 1996 they finally added Midtown Direct service right to Penn Station in New York while maintaining all the existing local/express trains to Hoboken. In a matter of a few years train ridership tripled.
First off this proved way beyond their ridership projections but they totally misunderstood what caused this major increase which they attributed only to what they
also refer to as a "one-seat ride" to New York. Actually a major reason for the increase
was both more frequency of service and options to get to New York but also a number of people like myself who NEVER commuted to New York. There are huge numbers of jobs in the New Jersey suburbs which could easily be made accessible with more frequent train service, shuttles, bikepaths and restoring service on some of 996 miles of Rail already existing in New Jersey.

That seems like a contradiction. If transit raises the value of properties, then by definition such places become expensive, and indeed only "lucky timing", or perhaps being a single what-we-used-to-call-yuppie, may enable a person to afford to live there.

By your logic, you shouldn't have transit anywhere, because the lack of amenities will keep things affordable.

It's expensive to move in now. My mortgage and taxes are quite manageable. Most of the people in my neighborhood could not afford to buy in at the current prices (I know lots of people who bought in at $130 to $150,000 15 years ago, and are in properties now valued at over $500,000.)

If all of us moved out at the same time, prices would probably drop (because that would mean all the jobs were gone.) The prices to move in are high because we don't want to move.

It takes decades, and twisted luck, to be priced out of your neighborhood.

I remember watching Tom Snyder one night years ago; he had been visiting New York City, and had discovered that the brownstone he had lived in in the '70's was now worth $2 million, and that he could no longer afford the neighborhood.

Rising home values are a sign of civic success.

There is no such thing as being priced out of your neighborhood. You can always stay there and water your flowers and wave at your neighbors while they drive by in their Rolls Royces and Mercedes sedans. You only have to leave if you want to cash out and do something with the millions of dollars your run-down little shack is now worth, rather than just continue to live there until you die.

I remember a little old lady in the rapidly-moving-upscale neighborhood I used to live in who did exactly that, just continued to water her flowers and wave at the neighbors as they drove up in their expensive luxury cars. However, she probably felt right at home being in the upscale end of an expensive neighborhood because she was descended from the Russian royal family.

Here's a picture of the nice little park the city dedicated to her after she passed away: Princess Obolensky Park

The little park was named after Princess Tania Obolensky, who, at 11 years old, fled Russia with her family during the revolution in 1917. She and her husband, Austrian count Leo Von Kunigl, emigrated to Canada in 1931. When her husband moved to South America, she opted to stay in Alberta during the depression and World War II.

There is no such thing as being priced out of your neighborhood.

Sure there is.

You can always stay there and water your flowers and wave at your neighbors while they drive by in their Rolls Royces and Mercedes sedans.

Not if you can't pay the property taxes as real estate prices rise. This is a very common problem among older people, at least here in the US. They bought their homes when they were young and the area was cheap, and when it gentrifies, they're on fixed incomes and can't afford the suddenly much higher taxes.

Well, there was the factor that the provincial government paid much of the city property taxes for senior citizens, and property taxes were not based so much on property value as house size. So, Princess Obolensky could continue to water her flowers in relatively cheap peace while her Yuppie neighbors built their McMansions on the rest of the street.

It made for a rather eclectic neighborhood. There would be a 6000 sq. ft. McMansion on one lot while next door a little old lady would have a 600 sq. ft. older but well maintained little cottage on three lots. You knew the little old lady had passed away or moved to an assisted-living home when three "For Sale" signs went up on her property, and her little gingerbread house was replaced by three McMansions.

Your mileage in the US may vary somewhat from our kilometrage in Canada.

When they made polls in school to figure out our drug and alcohol habits, "everyone", including Yours Truly, were full time alcoholists and heroinists. I don't see any usefull value at all with at least those polls.

30% isn't enough to change policy. See cannabis legalization. >70% of Americans think it should be allowed as a medicine, and ~50% (the polls are just above and below this) support full legalization. It's still schedule 1 on a federal level - no accepted medical use - not even getting into the legalization issue.

When 70% or more of Americans want transit, then transit will be a priority. Unfortunately, gas will probably be $10 a gallon at that point and the economy will be in the gutter.

Hey Alan,

If I can be of assistance send me an email.

As`far as suggestions for free/low cost software to draw lines on maps.

Well, as all things in life you get what you pay for and probably you'll find yourself facing a bit of a learning curve regardless. What kinds of files are you going to be editing? Do you need vector based or pixel based?

I'd recommend what I use but it is neither inexpensive and there is a steep learning curve to boot. However it will get the job done.



Can I suggest you need to learn how to create KML/KMZ files, so those lines can show up over Google Maps/Google Earth.

Google Earth is quite capable of creating 'paths' and saving them. Those files are then easily transmitted, or embedded together with the map rendering, for any users.

Marginal oil production costs are heading towards $100/barrel

Bold theirs:

Bernstein’s energy analysts have looked at the upstream costs for the 50 biggest listed oil producers and found that — surprise, surprise — “the era of cheap oil is over”:

The marginal cost of the 50 largest oil and gas producers globally increased to US$92/bbl in 2011, an increase of 11% y-o-y and in-line with historical average CAGR growth. Assuming another double digit increase this year, marginal costs for the 50 largest oil and gas producers could reach close to US$100/bbl...

While OPEC plays a key role in influencing price through production quotas, in the long run we believe that it is the marginal cost of non-OPEC production which sets the oil price.

There is a lot more very revealing stuff in this article, far more than I can put in blockquotes. This is what peak oil is all about folks.

Ron P.

There is a fair amount of discussion in the comments section about the oil traders driving oil prices up.

Here is what I don't understand about the "Let's blame the speculators" argument. Let's stipulate that the rascally traders were responsible for post-2005 annual Brent prices all exceeding the 2005 annual price level of $55, with five of the past six years showing year over year increases in annual oil prices. Here is what the EIA shows for annual Brent prices:

2005: $55
2006: $65
2007: $72
2008: $97
2009: $62
2010: $80
2011: $111

The EIA shows virtually flat global crude oil production for 2005 to 2011, versus the rapid increase in production that we saw from 2002 to 2005, as annual Brent prices doubled from $25 in 2002 to $55 in 2005.

Our data base shows that Global Net Exports (GNE) fell from 46 mbpd in 2005 to 43 mbpd in 2010.

Available Net Exports (ANE), GNE less Chindia's net imports, fell from 40 mbpd in 2005 to 35 mbpd in 2010.

In contrast to the foregoing, both GNE and ANE showed very large increases from 2002 to 2005, in response to a doubling in annual Brent prices.

Global producers have enormous incentives to maximize production. Why have we seen no material increase in annual crude oil production for six straight years and why have we seen material declines in global net oil exports?

The answer to the net export question is that in many of these countries their consumers have been protected from the increase in the price of oil and so the large increase in oil prices hasn't resulted in a decline in demand.

I like you had felt that the argument for blaming speculators was specious. However, on reflection I think there maybe more to the argument if one includes investors amongst speculators. I think the classic speculator - in for a quick trade i.e a buyer today and seller in days or weeks (net demand zero) - has little impact on oil prices. However, the long term investor( zero interest rates make this a bigger class than historically was the case) does reflect a net increase in demand and by definition will increase prices. Producers have an interesting challenge when responding to this "demand" which by its nature doesn't consume the oil but merely stores it for potential sale in the future. If they increase production to meet this demand they run the very real risk that they could be caught with increased production capacity at the same time that these long term investors cease to be long term investors e.g. if interest rates go up and the opportunity cost of holding oil, copper etc goes up. So all things being equal you probably don't ramp up production. Also for oil producers it is net revenues that count and not net volumes. They are probably better off in revenue terms not forcing out the long term investors.

All things being equal I believe that the investor class has resulted in commodity prices being higher than they would be absent their investment. Does this make them evil - I think not. IMO this is one of the consequences of the foolishness of Federal Reserve policy.

The answer to the net export question is that in many of these countries their consumers have been protected from the increase in the price of oil and so the large increase in oil prices hasn't resulted in a decline in demand.

That's a factor, but consider Denmark. They heavily tax fuel consumption, and they succeeded in lowering their total petroleum liquids consumption at the rate of 1.4%/year from 2005 to 2010, but because their production declined at 8.3%/year, the resulting 2005 to 2010 net export decline rate was 19.5%/year.

And this was a successful case history of an exporter cutting their consumption.

Given an ongoing production decline rate in an oil exporting country, unless they cut their consumption at the same rate as the rate of decline in production, or at a faster rate, the resulting net export decline rate will exceed the production decline rate and the net export decline rate will accelerate with time. This is not an opinion or theory; it is a mathematical fact.

The ELM and IUKE (Indonesia, UK & Egypt) case histories follows. Given "Net Export Math," in my opinion it's not if, but when, virtually all net oil exporting countries show the same kind of pattern.


However, the long term investor( zero interest rates make this a bigger class than historically was the case) does reflect a net increase in demand and by definition will increase prices.

Nope, purchasing a futures contract only affects the market at the moment of purchase and again at the moment of sale. Holding it long term changes nothing. In fact the long term trader affects the futures market less than the short term trader. This is because the far out, in time, contracts have little effect on the near term contracts. It is the other way around. The short term contracts follow the spot market today, or try to. They are the dog that wags the long term tail.

However, the long term investor( zero interest rates make this a bigger class than historically was the case) does reflect a net increase in demand and by definition will increase prices.

No it does not. Sorry Crazyv but you do not understand futures at all. A futures contract does not increase demand by a single barrel. A million futures contracts do not increase demand by a single barrel. These people are trading paper, not oil.

Oil producers are not concerned with how many futures traders are holding contracts. It concerns them not at all. All they care about is the price of oil. And the futures market is only a benchmark. Supply and demand drives the price of oil, not the futures market. Futures traders are always trying to guess where the spot market is going. If they guess right they make money. If they guess wrong they lose money. Anyway...

The fallacy of blaming oil ‘speculators’

Ron P.

Ron- I don't want to get into a pissing match with you about futures - suffice to say that I have and extensive back ground in trading futures. And although at times I have found your comments on the futures markets completely off base I have had the courtesy not to suggest that you don't know anything about the futures market.

Ron- No where in my comment did I talk about futures. I guess in your world the only way a speculator/investor can participate is via futures contracts. That suggest to me a very limited understanding of markets on your part.

CrazyV, If you were not talking about the futures market then do us the courtesy of telling us exactly what kind of speculator/investor you were talking about. The type of speculators everyone is raging about is speculators in the futures market. If you think some other type of speculators are the ones we should be concerned with then please inform the world about these unknown speculators.

However in 1986 I took the Security and Exchange Commission's three hour Series 3 Exam which entitled me act as a broker of commodity futures. That was about two months after I had passed the six hour Series 7 Exam. Though I remained a stock and commodities broker for only six months, I have traded them for upwards of 30 years. I know the futures market CrazyV. And I also know the equities markets as well.

Again, futures traders do not trade oil, they trade contracts that allows them to buy or sell contracts of one thousand barrels of oil at the contract price on the expiration of the contract. However speculators never make or take delivery of any oil. Hedgers sometimes do however but they hold only a very tiny minority of all futures traded. And only a tiny fraction of futures contracts are ever exercised.

Again, when the President, or a few senators, or simple bloggers like Raymond J. Learsy rage about speculators causing the price of oil to be so high, they are talking about speculators in the futures market. If you know of some other type of speculators then it would behoove you to inform us of exactly what you are talking about.

Note: Hedgers and Hedge Funds are two entirely different things. Hedgers sometimes actually take or make delivery of the commodity they are trading because they actually produce or consume that product. Hedge Funds never do. Hedge Funds are called hedge funds because they hedge one commodity against another therefore reducing or "hedging" their risk.

Ron P.

crazyv, First off I agree with your statement on our foolish Federal reserve policies, but it seems to me that blaming speculators or investors for high oil prices discounts or explains that high prices is not due to peak oil and that is going to be a hard sell here.

Now as someone who works in ultra deepwater oil exploration I can tell you that easy, cheap oil is on the way out if not pretty much gone. Oil companies don't spend one million dollars a day(total burn rate) on deepwater drilling projects just for the fun of it. If you go to rigzone's website you can search how many deepwater rigs are being built worldwide and I can tell you the companies that are investing in these projects are speculating that future oil producers won't be able to keep up without these rigs. I think they're right.

IMHO speculators that speculate that oil prices should be higher in the future are correct depending on the direction of our economy and the actions of central banks all over the world. Peak oil and inflation are two reasons to speculate that prices will go higher rather than lower.

Supply and demand doesn't tell the whole story either. Expanding on your series:

q307	75.47
q407	90.75
q108	97.94
q208	123.95
q308	118.05
q408	58.35
q109	42.91
q209	59.44
q309	68.20
q409	76.06


Bob, nothing tells the whole story unless you write a book. But as far as the price of oil goes then supply and demand is the whole story. But I am not sure that is what you are talking about. Anyway...

In 2008, almost thru the summer months, the economy was booming. Every oil producing country was producing flat out. Demand drove the price through the roof. Then the recession hid and demand dropped like a rock... and so did the price of oil. Lower demand and a much lower price caused many countries, primarily OPEC countries, to cut production. Then in 2009 some economies began to recover. That coupled with lower oil production caused the price to start to rise.

Now every country is again producing flat out. But due to lower imports by all OECD countries, the price of oil is very high again, even though the recession still hangs around, though not as sever as it was in late 2008. The state of the economy is the factor that many people forget.

The reason the price of oil is so high today? It is supply and demand, pure and simple.

Ron P.

In 2008, almost thru the summer months, the economy was booming.

False. US GDP grew about 1% in Q2 2008 and shrank in Q3 2008.


I was talking about the world price of oil and therefore about the world economy. At any rate the demand for oil in the first half of 2008 was high and that was what was driving prices.

Ron P.

So GDP was still officially growing in the quarter ended June 2008. That's a summer month in the northern hemisphere so I fail to see why Darwinian's "almost through the summer months" is wrong.

According to the EIA, OECD oil consumption bottomed out in May 2009 at about 3.5 million bpd below May 2008. By this time OPEC production cutbacks were starting to lift the price again.

re: Jeff Rubin's new book on unaffordable oil and DB article

Really liked his "smaller world", and curious if anyone has read this new offering?

Personal comment: this slow decline could get really bumpy if the EU continues to drop. Implication of Rubin's thesis is economic growth slowing in direct relationship to high energy prices. Also, he includes China and India in the mix. So plausible impossible to think otherwise.

Have a great day.....Paulo

Rubin is correct, I don't know about China but India cannot pay $150 for oil, certainly not with a weakening currency which is a function of high oil prices since 80% of our oil is imported. It's a vicious circle, already our prime minister is trying to prepare the ground for a price hike to save the oil marketing companies from a certain bankruptcy.

Everybody knows I love analogies (mostly because they help me talk to non- "peak oil illuminati", A.K.A. TODers)

In the past, we have talked about how the down side of the peak/plateau will look like stair steps going down. Step one = 2008, step two = 2012?, etc...

I like the analogy that Jeff Rubin made here:

A glance at the latest GDP numbers is already telling us the answer. Economic growth has downshifted into a much lower gear nearly everywhere you look.

This, IMHO, is a great new way to explain the stepping down of the economy as we deal with oil peaking. Imagine that when you drop down to a smaller gear, you can rev the engine just the same as before, but the outcome is decidedly slower. You also have the fact that the power band is smaller in the lower gear, think of the economy's ability to handle price spikes on the high side, and the oil producers ability to handle price lows.

I watched the last two hours of "Money, Power and Wall Street" last night, A PBS Frontline special (the title is self-explanatory). My take from last night is that nothing has changed, Obama and Geithner caved in to the banks and kicked the can, and that the bilking of the global financial system continues (and will do so right up to the BIG crash). The arrogance of these top level bankers is remarkable, as is the candor of most of the current and ex-wall streeters interviewed. Great background on derivatives (truly money being conjured out of society's pockets (and nowhere, really). Recommended viewing.

One take: The top US banks now control assets equal to 56% of US GNP.


"The arrogance of these top level bankers is remarkable ..."


That explains some of it, but the study showing that many of them are psychopaths, even more are sociopaths, will also help folks to "understand" their behavior.

Pakistani anger lingers a year after raid killed bin Laden

The U.S. public and Pakistanis will probably be angry all the more, as the news of staying in Afghanistan until 2024 sinks in.

Does the public know about Afghanistan oil, broccoli, and poppy resources ... in the sense of a reason for staying there?

Yeah, and Obama's 'super-secret' trip wasn't such a secret, it seems:

Taliban Attack In Afghan Capital Kills At Least 7

A suicide car bomber and Taliban militants disguised in burqas attacked a compound housing hundreds of foreigners in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, killing seven people, officials and witnesses said. The Taliban said the attack was a response to President Barack Obama's surprise visit just hours earlier.

At least 17 people were also wounded in the assault, most of them Afghan children on their way to school, the Interior Ministry said.

The second major assault in Kabul in less than three weeks, the attack highlights the Taliban's continued ability to strike in the heavily guarded capital even when the city is on its tightest security for a combination of events the Obama visit and Wednesday's anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan.

I've scanned many of the MSM reports on the trip. Virtually no mention of this attack, except on NPR.

Just WTF, exactly, are we doing there?

I've scanned many of the MSM reports on the trip. Virtually no mention of this attack, except on NPR.

It was all over the news this morning, on every channel. They said it was a coincidence that the attack happened right after the visit. And since these attacks happen quite often one would have no reason to doubt that. However the Taliban could possibly had an attack "on ready" just in case of such an event as the presidents visit. Or it could have been timed to coincide with the one year anniversary of Bin Laden's death. It is extremely unlikely that the Taliban knew of the trip in advance. But people will always believe what they desire to believe.

Ron P.

Huh... The MSM now reporting:

Taliban Responds to Obama's Visit
Bloomberg- May 2, 2012 9:41 AM ET

..News of President Obama's visit was leaked hours before the White House's embargo with news organizations citing unnamed Afghan officials as the source.

NBC was reporting this morning that a few hours would not be nearly enough time to plan and carry out such an attack. Perhaps it was. At any rate: Suicide bombers kill 7 after Obama leaves Afghan capital

The insurgency also claimed their spring offensive, which began two weeks ago with attacks in Kabul, would be renewed on Thursday, despite a security clamp-down in the capital.

A spring offensive?

Ron P.

I had an opportunity a few years ago to talk with a civilian prof from one of the US war colleges, who specialized in cultural considerations. Parts of his summary of Afghanistan went roughly like this: "For 2,000 years, outside of the cities, the national sport has been ambushing invading armies. The invaders always think they've got things under control during the winter, but that's because conducting an ambush is less fun in the cold. The invaders discover that their perception was wrong when spring brings the beginning of a new ambush season."

U.S. Army Afghanistan Smart Book, Third Edition

Everything you ever wanted to know [or not] about Afghanistan.

also (U//FOUO) Marine Corps Intelligence Activity Report: Cultural Islam in Afghanistan

Afghans are a traditionally superstitious culture who place heavy emphasis on signs, dreams, and symbols as logical decision factors in daily life. Further, several existing Afghan Islamic practices have their origin in pre-Islamic beliefs. These practices are based primarily in Central Asian belief systems that include lasting cult traditions, ziarats and shrine-worship, spirits (jinnd), witches, witchcraft, shamanism, and malangs.

Most of these practices conflict with the strict interpretation of the Qur’an found in movements that influence the insurgency such as Wahhabism, Deobandism, and the teachings of Abdullah Azzam.

... Taliban propaganda suggested that Mullah Omar received dreams of Muhammad instructing him to unite Afghanistan under Shari’a. This helped the movement to gain legitimacy among the Afghan nationals. Not only does this example display a manipulative use of Afghan Islamic belief, but also of Afghan mystical traditions that place heavy emphasis on the importance of dreams.

and (U//FOUO) Afghanistan Human Terrain Team AF-24 Quarterly Report Summer 2011

Drought is taking its toll on farmers in the western areas of RC north. The first sign appeared in early spring. Realizing that the grazing land was going to be insufficient to support their flocks, farmers began slaughtering more of their sheep than usual. This, in turn, produced a temporary glut of lamb and a drop in what the farmer could expect from each animal.

Faced with insufficient grazing land, some farmers are opting to move their animals to higher ground and to fields that can still provide a bit of nourishment for their hungry animals. If current conditions worsen, flare-ups over common grazing lands may occur; local farmers may be unwilling to share valuable terrain with those they view as intruders.

All the farmers we have spoken with have noted the dramatic downturn in the yield of all crops, especially the all-important wheat harvest. Drought has severely diminished this year’s wheat harvest in the west of RC-North and escalated the price for flour for the average consumer.

... Nature will succeed where foreign armies have failed

"Afghans are a traditionally superstitious culture who place heavy emphasis on signs, dreams, and symbols as logical decision factors in daily life. "

...not so different from the neocons who demonize them.

I recall one amazingly salient fact which was in a back page news story after the
US left Vietnam - according to this story after the US-backed puppet regime fell to the
VietCong 33% of the South Vietnamese government was revealed to be VietCong. Now this may be an overestimate given people's desire to side with the victor and avoid recrimination. But there was also much evidence that South Vietnamese generals sold arms to the Viet Cong insurgents to make money from all sides. Recall that General Ky, Thieu's Vice President, was found later running a drug and arms smuggling ring in his expatriate US. So it would be no surprise if there are many disgruntled Afghans ensconced throughtout the Afghan government and armed forces.

Just WTF, exactly, are we doing there?

Pretty much just the kneejerk reaction to 9-11. Any politician has to be seen not letting that place become a haven for terrorists again (even though we can't seem to prevent it). We can't make a rational cost/benefit analysis, since the political cost to any political player who can be charged with falling asleep on the job (and letting an attack happen) is enormous (and the money/blood the politician spends to protect his ass isn't his).

I thought it was the next (maybe last ?) frontier in the global struggle of "just what are our resources doing buried under their territory ?"... And it was our turn to have a go at it... But we needed a convenient happening (9-11) to get a foot in the door.

I know of engineers etc. doing quite a bit of work on "infrastructure" over there on some lucrative contracts... Nobody questions the end game as long as the cash continues to roll in.


"just what are our resources doing buried under their territory?"


I found a book written in 1944 much to that point:

The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells.

(Myth Addiction Is ...). So it seems that illusion is a primary product of the "text generating business."

Yeah - I haven't particularly put in much time analyzing this but based on a number of comments / articles at TOD over the years and the fact that the American empire is somehow involved I figured it was generally accepted that:

1. Iraq was only very loosely related to the terror wars - and more about Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL)

2. Afghanistan was about other resources (mining in those geologically rich mountains ?) and securing pathways to move resources from elsewhere.

The opening acts of our participation in the 21st Century Resource Wars...

I'm sure the accurate truth is much more complicated than that but I'm almost CERTAIN that we did not do what we did just so tribes-people can vote and to build new schools...


Here are some links with actual maps of Afghanistan oil etc., which the government moved off its website way back when, but which The Wayback Machine had archived. Caught 'em.

Obviously, war (on terror, on Muslims, on drugs) is the main industry still operating in the US. (Too bad the Soviet Union abdicated the role of chief enemy; Godless Communism made a great foil for Christian capitalism; people pissed off at US interfering in their societies, not so much.) As destructive as these wars are to the social order, they employ a lot of people. Close them down and there'd be a lot more people out of work, and heavily armed.

That would imply there is economic logic behind the madness. I think there is a simple psychological explanation. Since the 9-11 trama, we are simply obsessed with the possibility of Islamic terror.

First it was about securing a pipeline route that the country's rulers could not be persuaded to allow. Then when the pipeline failed for other reasons it just became what empires do, about strategic positioning, etc.

There was a good look in the NYT at one of the lingering problems in the debate about climate change.

Clouds’ Effect on Climate Change Is Last Bastion for Dissenters

The article discusses a hypothesis by Dr. Richard Lindzen of MIT regarding the effects of clouds. He claimed that clouds act as a net negative feedback and thus would attenuate the impact of Global Warming from man's emissions of greenhouse gases. Lindzen's hypothesis fails, IMHO, because such a negative feedback would also have prevented the cooling at the end of the last Interglacial, the Eemian, which started a full glacial period. Similarly, the negative feedback would have prevented the warming which we know ended the Last Glacial Maximum, which happened about 20,000 years ago. Lindzen has provided no analysis of the impact of his Adaptive Iris hypothesis on either transition, that I know of.

The article includes several links which provide more information for those interested.

E. Swanson

Bad Headline Mars Good NY Times Story Debunking Lindzen’s ‘Discredited’ Cloud Theory. Can You Do Better? Joe Romm

The last article on DrumBeat today is a blog commentary by the reporter which wrote the NYT article.

Climate Change and the Body Politic

That our media apparently intends to ignore the problem is just another symptom of the effectiveness of the campaign by the denialist camp. There was a near perfect example seen in an editorial from yesterdays WaPo promoting the Keystone XL pipeline, which failed to mention any climate impact due to the expected production of Canadian tar sands...

E. Swanson

"That our media apparently intends to ignore the problem is just another symptom of the effectiveness of the campaign by the denialist camp."

A friend's kid worked for the (now defunct) Rocky Mountain News. The consensus was that too much environmental doom-and-gloom turned readers off, while repeated stories about the latest murder-suicide will increase circulation. As long as this is the case, the MSM will continue to focus on publishing what sells. While publishing denialist blather seems to be an epidemic (undoubtably encouraged by TPTB), such stories also give the readers an 'out'. MSHBs (main stream human beings) like to feel there's a happy ending. It's all about what they want, not what they need to hear or read. Wouldn't want to stress folks out about things they (feel they) can't change. It goes to who and what we are, collectively.

The RMN, at one point, was fairly committed to printing what they felt people needed to know. Seems it didn't work out too well...

Black Dog,

In addition to the concerted, and well funded, effort by the denialist camp there may be a part of human psychology that allows people to not concern them self about the long-term consequences of what is being done. I've been thinking about this issue for quite some time and then remembered Maslow's Hierarcy of Needs, which he wrote in 1954. This has most often been graphically present as a pyramid, with a human's Physiological and Safety needs occupying the bottom two rungs of the pyramid. When you realize that 95% or more of the world's population is stuggling to provide for these needs alone, on a daily basis, it is easier to comprehend why they are not concerned about the sustainability of the earth 200 years hence. The top rung of the pyramid is Self Actualization, which includes definitions such as morality, lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts. What percentage of the world's population can claim those attributes?? Not many in my opinion!!

Not that we should stop our efforts to educate and inform those who are willing to listen and learn.

There was a near perfect example seen in an editorial from yesterdays WaPo promoting the Keystone XL pipeline, which failed to mention any climate impact due to the expected production of Canadian tar sands...

It probably also failed to mention that CO2 emissions from American coal-burning power plants are about 50 times as high as CO2 emissions from Canadian oil sands plants, or that emissions from Chinese coal burning power plants considerably exceed those from American ones.

I'm just putting it all in context - it's important to know where the CO2 is coming from, and the US and China account for nearly half of it.

I disagree. The problem is that the fuel produced from the oily tar sands is going to be burned in rather inefficient internal combustion engines, thereby dumping the CO2 into the atmosphere. Coal burning also dumps CO2 into the air, but the source, as you point out, is the power plant, which is not the same situation as that of the plants which process the goo from the bit pits. If that electricity is used for electric transport, the emissions in the vehicles would be zero. Similarly, using electricity to power a heat pump requires fewer BTU equivalents at the consumer end than burning a fossil fuel in a furnace. One really need to think of the total system, not just the individual elements within. Unless, of course, you don't really want to face the issue...

E. Swanson

I'm not talking about what could theoretically happen if you had a ground source heat pump in your house, powered by photocells or wind generators, which almost nobody does. It's a hypothetical solution which has not been implemented to any detectable degree.

I'm talking about the reality of power plants burning coal, which is 100% carbon, and turning it into 100% CO2. Coal is available in vast quantities in the US and China, among other places, which is why it is being burned so enthusiastically.

In terms of the total system, the big problem is the total volume. Almost half of that CO2 is produced by two countries, China and the US, and most of their emissions are produced by burning coal to power their huge industrial economies.

Even in Canada, coal burning power plants are the main source of CO2 emissions, despite the fact Canada's electricity production is 60% hydroelectric and 15% nuclear. The total volume of CO2 produced by oil sands is insignificant in the global context.

Just as an aside, the new oil sands plants are generating electricity and dumping it into the Western Canadian grid, just because it's more efficient that way (co-generation). Their emissions in doing so are less than the coal-burning power plants which they are replacing.

if you had a ground source heat pump in your house, powered by photocells or wind generators, which almost nobody does. It's a hypothetical solution which has not been implemented to any detectable degree.

Ground source heat pump powered by photocells will not work well because their is less sun then the heat is needed. Unless of course if you live at high altitude close the equator. It is also quite uneconomic since the equipment is rather expensive.

Just as an aside, the new oil sands plants are generating electricity and dumping it into the Western Canadian grid, just because it's more efficient that way (co-generation).

Generate electricty and use the left over heat is very efficient. The main problem is need for heat but if there is you might be happy need only cheap parts. Anybody, do they use the left over heat?

Yes, they do use the left-over heat. That is the whole point behind the oil sands co-generation plants.

They generate high-temperature steam and run it through the steam turbines to generate electricity which they use themselves or sell into the grid. Then they use the left-over low-temperature steam that comes off the back end of the turbines to separate the oil from the sand. Extracting the oil from the oil sands is basically a simple hot-water process, so it works very well and the overall process is very efficient.

Sad to say, there's no "left-over low-temperature heat" from a steam turbine. The higher the outlet temperature, the less energy (i.e., electricity) can be generated from the turbine. That's because for generation of electricity with the best efficiency, the steam cycle requires condensing the steam outlet and as that temperature is increased, the condensing pressure is also increased. If there isn't a condenser included in the system and the outlet steam is above atmospheric, the efficiency is reduced further. If the steam plant is operated in a once thru mode, the water must be processed to remove minerals before it's sent to the boiler, which is also an energy consuming operation. On the other side of the system, if the steam temperature isn't very high, there's little useful energy available to heat the oily tar sands...

E. Swanson

Did you miss the part where I said that "Extracting the oil from the oil sands is basically a simple hot-water process"? What do you think you get out of the back end of a very efficient steam turbine? It's hot water, which they then put into the oil sands separators.

They don't operate in once-through mode, they recycle the water, which does require a bit of energy. However the electricity an oil sands cogen plant generates is more or less "free" energy.

I think you're trying to argue the impossibility of something being done that is already being done on a commercial scale. These oil sands plants are a major part of the provincial electricity grid.

Rocky and Eric, I really don't know what you guys are arguing about. But I do know a bit about boilers and steam turbines. Yes the water is always recycled after it leaves the condenser. The condenser converts the steam to water. There is actually a vacuum, well a very low pressure area, above the condenser. The condenser increases the efficiency of the turbine. And the water in the boiler is treated water, treated to maintain PH neutral. This is a process too expensive to use any "once thru" process. The steam, now water, exiting the turbine, is pumped right back into the boiler.

I don't know anything about the oil sands business but I would guess they are using "condenser discharge water" to wash the oil from the sands. The condenser discharge water is quite hot and would be, I think, ideal for the purpose. And the condenser is usually a "once thru" process. However cooling towers are often, but not always, used just to cool the water before dumping it back into the river or sea. The power plant that I worked at for two years in Saudi Arabia did not use any type of cooling tower. They just dumped the hot water right back into the Persian Gulf.

Ron P.

Ideally, the water which exits a condenser in a steam power plant should be as close to ambient as possible. If the tar sands extraction process requires higher temperatures or steam, that results in lower cycle efficiency in the electric power plant. Some of the processing techniques which have been used for tar sands require steam, not just hot water. The heat of vaporization for water requires considerable extra energy above that of simply increasing the temperature of liquid water. All that energy is no longer available for conversion to electricity. Using the term "left over heat" implies otherwise, from my point of view as a mechanical engineer...

E. Swanson

Ideally, the water which exits a condenser in a steam power plant should be as close to ambient as possible.

Errr... the water entering the condenser is ambient. If it also exits at ambient then nothing is happening. The condenser is a heat exchanger, the boiler water is cooled while the condenser water is heated. And the hotter the water is the more efficient the condenser is. Consequently the water that exits the condenser should ideally be quite hot.

Ron P.

Not so Ron. The idea is to cool the steam leaving the turbines as much as possible, thus reducing the pressure of the fluid at that point in the cycle. Water boils to steam at 100C, at SL pressure, but lower absolute pressures are achieved by good system design. That means the outlet from the condenser must be as close to ambient as possible, which is achieved by sizing the condenser to minimize the temperature gain between the inlet and outlet sides and is one reason that power plants are often located near large bodies of water (as you noted). If the turbine outlet pressure is below ambient, there's no way to make steam at an absolute pressure high enough to release into the open environment. BTW, as the "boiler water" passes thru a turbine, it expands and cools...

E. Swanson

Okay Eric, I see the problem. You are talking about ambient pressure of the boiler water/steam and I am talking about ambient temperature of the condenser water. Really Eric, that should been obvious from the context of my posts. The whole debate was about temperature, not pressure.

Actually the pressure just above the condenser is actually well below ambient as I stated. As the steam condenses to water a vacuum is pulled, increasing the efficiency of the whole turbine system.

But the cooling water from the river or sea is actually at ambient temperature when it enters the condenser. If the condenser, (heat exchanger), serves any purpose at all then the temperature of the cooling water exiting the condenser must be much warmer than the cooling water entering the condenser. Obviously!

If the turbine outlet pressure is below ambient, there's no way to make steam at an absolute pressure high enough to release into the open environment.

No, no, no, no! The steam is never released into the open environment. (Except in the case of an emergency shutdown of the plant. Then and only then is the steam dumped into the open air in order to drop the pressure in the system.) That is the whole purpose of the condenser, to condense the steam back into water. Then the feed pump pumps the water back into the boiler. The temperature of the water, at this point, is just a few degrees below the boiling point.

I think we are talking past each other Eric. I am talking about temperature and you are and you are talking about pressure. But the whole debate was about the temperature of the water used to was the oil out of sands. How on earth did you get off track talking about pressure?

BTW, as the "boiler water" passes thru a turbine, it expands and cools...

No, boiler water never passes thru a turbine. If it does it destroys the turbine after only a few minutes. Only steam passes thru the turbine. Only when the steam hits the condenser does it become water. That's why they call it a condenser, it condenses the steam back into water.

The turbine blades get larger at every stage. The turbine is made up of rotating blades sandwiched between stator blades and they both get larger with each stage. And the temperature drops as it passes over every stage. But it is still steam as it exits the last stage of the turbine. And the pressure is actually negative, compared to ambient, as it exits the last stage because the steam converting back to water in the condenser creates a vacuum. I made that point earlier.

I know boilers and turbines Eric, I worked around them for two years. I worked with dozens of power plant professions during that time. In the break room they talked shop. And talking shop was boilers and turbines and how the system worked. I learned a lot during those two years.

I don't know what the temperature of the cooling water is when it exits the condenser. That was never discussed. But I know it is at least 10 degrees C above what it was when it entered the condenser. That would not likely be high enough to wash oil from sand but it would take a lot less energy to heat it at that point.

Ron P.

Yes Ron, I know most of that from my thermo and steam power courses as an undergrad. I still have a copy of the steam tables and a great book by Babcock and Wilcox on steam power. But, did you read the Wiki about tar sands? How about the description of steam assisted gravity drainage technique? Where does the steam come from? Certainly not from the condenser of a steam powered electric plant normal operation. Using the power plant to provide high temperature steam (or hot water near boiling) reduces the thermal efficiency of the power plant with respect to electric production. There's no free energy from "waste heat" in this instance...

E. Swanson

Well even if the discharge water from the condenser is only 10 degrees C above ambient, that is what all steam plants discharge as waste heat from the condenser. So if the water to wash the oil from the sand must be heated, that is 10 degrees C that they save.

That is, without question, a 10 degrees C savings. And it reduces the efficiency of the power plant not one iota because they would just have dumped that 10 degree C hotter back into the river anyway.

I have no idea if this is what they actually do or not, but if they did have a power plant whose condenser discharge they could use, that would be a considerable savings. But of course the water would have to be heated a lot more before it would be of any use in washing the oil from the sands.

Don't know about Wiki. I did not read anything from there.

Ron P.

There you go again, comparing apples to oranges. The fact is, mining and processing oily tar sands produced more CO2 then drilling for oil as it has traditionally been done. Then, most of that oil is burned for transport, which has been the historical use for oil. If you want to compare oily tar sands with coal, you need to include the CO2 emissions from the cars which will use the fuel and compare that with the emissions of cars powered by coal produced electricity. That coal burning produces lots of CO2 is rather obvious, but the fact is, using oily tar sands adds more CO2 to the atmosphere than previous methods of acquiring oil. Again, it appears that you are trying to ignore the issue entirely, IMHO...

E. Swanson

Black Dog, what exactly is your point? The difference in CO2 emissions between the two isn't big enough to make a difference either way. Unless the coal fired power plant is run in a co-generation mode so that overall efficiency is say 60% - 70%, your only getting about 25% energy to wheel efficiency either way. As tar sands require energy to produce, coal also requires energy to mine and transport. Since the world seems to be running out of conventional oil what other source of transport fuel should the US be using if Canadian oil isn't going to be used?

The fact is producing oil is not being done the way you think it is done any more. Go look at the Kern River field in California - they have been injecting steam into it for half a century and originally developed many of the techniques which, in a more sophisticated form, are being used in the Canadian oil sands.

Even Saudi Arabia is starting to test steam injection in its oil fields. What does that tell you about the state of world oil production? Welcome to Peak Oil.

Not that long ago, a third of Ontario's electricity had been generated through the burning of coal; today, that's down to 2.7 per cent and by 2014 it will be gone altogether. Likewise, 85 per cent of Nova Scotia's electricity had been coal or petcoke fired and that's since fallen to 57 per cent and the contribution of these two fuels will continue to contract over time, e.g., NSP recently announced that two of their largest coal-fired units will be seasonally idled for most of the year; at the moment, just 17 per cent of our electricity is supplied by renewables, but that jumps to 25 per cent by 2015 and 40 per cent in 2020. NB Power closed their coal-fired plant at Grand Lake and so that leaves just Belledune; coal and petcoke represents between 15 and 20 per cent of their fuel mix, but that should shrink too once their Pt. Lepreau NGS comes back on-line. Wind capacity in Atlantic Canada is growing rapidly (now 800 MW) and, if all goes to plan, Newfoundland and Labrador's Muskrat Falls hydro-electric development will add another 824 MW of renewable energy to our generation mix come 2016/2017.

So fair to say the eastern half of Canada is working hard to clean-up their electricity supply.


Reminds me of the Joni Mitchell song "Both Sides" ("clouds got in the way"). The comments on this thread are well informed. Propaganda about these matters is an F-5 tornado wreaking destruction to the reality. Glad to have found a safe haven for the facts here on the Oil Drum.


Thanks Leanan, that top story was interesting. I am beginning to picture the CEO as more of a gambler than a con artist. He definitely went all in!

Special Report: Inside Chesapeake, CEO ran $200 million hedge fund

Behind the scenes, a Reuters investigation has found, McClendon also ran a lucrative business on the side: a $200 million hedge fund that traded in the same commodities Chesapeake produces.

[I changed my username, I didn't like the goghgoner moniker and I made comments under it that were stupid. I hope I have gained some wisdom. Lol! Maybe I should change my real name.]

I have a post up on Our Finite World that some may find interesting. It is called

Can we expect the economy to keep growing?

It explains why we can't expect it to keep growing for very much longer.


That was a very well written and readable summary of where we stand and what we are facing.

There is something I've been wondering about for some time now. It is evident that world oil production has reached that famous undulating plateau. However, to maintain that plateau, we are producing products that have less energy density and also require a great deal more energy to produce. When you couple that with the continued growth of population, the net energy per capita available, from petroleum products must be already declining. Do you have any way of summarizing what that might look like in a graphic format?

Actually, growth in coal production has been keeping world per-capita energy consumption up. This is a graph from my post World Energy Consumption Since 1820 in Charts. This chart is not on a net energy basis, but I doubt net has changed that much relative to gross in a 10 year basis.

I also made a year-by-year chart of gross energy per capita in the same post. The data from this chart is based on BP Statistical data, for all kinds of energy, including modern biofuels, wind and solar. It would not include traditional fuels from around the world (dung, twigs, peat, etc.).

You can see that per-capita consumption has been relatively flat since the late 70s. On a net energy basis, until about 2002, consumption was actually falling. The big rise in energy consumption recently is in Asia (making the stuff we import, plus raising the standard of living of the people living there). I think the declining net energy consumption of the OECD countries is a big reason that the countries have had so much difficulty with economic growth. Ramping up debt, especially since the 1980s, has been a way of hiding the energy shortfall and making growth look better.

Gail, thanks for reposting these charts are providing a cogent explanation.

It is kind of silly to discuss "growth" when GDP/total credit market debt has been in recession for most of the past few decades. GDP will probably continue to rise as long as debt rises faster.


That is a good, common sense read indeed.

In fact, one definition of cancer is growth for growth's sake. Cancer kills.

Context is the better way to match ideas with comments.

It has been proven that cross-pollinating and not marrying near kin makes less narrow minds because of genetic diversity.

Posting entire posts in comments is distracting.

That is why they created "< a href = '' > < / a >" in HTML, the language of the Innertubes. It can help to stamp out narrow bloggedness.

You pick your click. Fear not.

Still, a relevant quote so we have some idea of your take without clicking the link is polite.

You are asking us to spend time with your thoughts, if you give us the impression that your thoughts are selfish it is less likely that we'll want to.

I didn't know we were in church.

Oil executives need to start going to church it may turn out.

If you are only polite in church, then your opinions probably aren't worth the bits they're stored with.

Not that I'm never abrasive myself, but I'm not asking for anybody to give me clicks for the privilege of bearing my abuse.

Would you just take the hint? All people are asking is the simple courtesy that you make your main point here in this conversation instead of repeatedly dropping unexplained links.

It's basic civility, not insisting that people jump through hoops just to figure out what you're on about.

We're all busy here, and time is scarce enough.

It would be appreciated.

I do appreciate your not posting entire essays in the comments. Comments are just that: comments. If you have a lot to say, it should be posted at your own blog and linked to, as you have done.

However, those who requested a brief summary are correct as well. This goes for those posting links to mainstream news stories, too. Post a brief excerpt, or a few words of explanation of what they'll find if they click.

If anybody has it handy, please repost the link(s) to a conference being held in PA over the Memorial Day holiday that has to do with peak oil, etc.

Are any of you regular posters planning to attend this conference?



I would love to go but, alas, I can't justify the energy and financial overhead, and the conference is during one of my busiest times of year. I'll be there in spirit though ;-)

http://www.ageoflimits.org is the shorter weblink for it. I'm not a regular poster at the Oil Drum, but I'm planning on coming.

A meetup group has been set up for those who want to discuss planning for the conference, and continue such conversations on an ongoing basis post-conference. I encourage anyone who is interested to join the meetup: http://www.meetup.com/The-Age-of-Limits/

The plan is to have a conference that is participatory as possible, to minimize the amount of presentations to a passive audience, and to really explore and discuss questions that lack easy answers (As Wes Jackson reminded us during his Q & A session at the ASPO conference, we need to do more asking of questions that no one has the answer for, because that's where real learning takes place).

The conference, compared to other conferences, is very affordable, I think only $85 for the whole weekend. Optional meal plan for an additional price.

John Michael Greer, Tom Whipple, Gail Tverberg, Dmitry Orlov, and Carolyn Baker are the confirmed presenters at this point.

I happened to visit Four Quarters in PA for the first time this past weekend, and it is a beautiful place to have a conference. Very different than a sterile hotel setting than some other conferences are at.

I encourage you to share information about the conference to other individuals, groups, networks who might be interested (meetup groups, listserves, websites, etc.) We are a little behind in our publicity work...

Carolyn Baker is speaking at my UU church this Saturday, in Portland Maine, in case any New Englanders want to catch her.

http://carolynbaker.net/ai1ec_event/portland-me-navigating-the-coming-ch... ( $10 ).. more details at the link.

Mario Giampietro, who was one of the people in charge of an energy conference I spoke at in Spain, asked me to announce in upcoming workshop, which he calls a "Summer School".

Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM): an innovative approach to energy analysis

September 17 - 21, 2012

Barcelona, Spain

The purpose of the Summer School is to provide an introduction to the theory, the methodological approach and practical applications of MuSIASEM in order to generate robust energy scenarios and assess the quality of alternative energy sources. The course language is English.

The five-day Summer Course follows an interactive, dynamic format. Morning lectures are alternated with afternoon working groups.

The course is aimed at advanced students, researchers, and experienced practitioners. The cost is 400 €€€euros until June 1 or 500 euros after June 1.

This is a link to the brochure.

Mr. Maxwell may be an honest guy but his comment below explains at least one reason he was put on the board IMHO: ignorance of the oil biz. And yes, I've had more than one set of management tell me they intentionally put tech illiterate folks on their board. Makes blowing smoke up their butts easier.

"The problem, as Maxwell explains, was that fracking had opened up new areas to production, and it was all sufficiently new that it was hard to know what to expect -- so his "traditional conventions" didn't fly. But also, McClendon didn't want to stick with traditional ways of financing the operation, as Maxwell explains."

First, these are not "new areas". The east Texas shale play and the Gulf Coast shale plays (like the Eagle Ford) have been drilled (both vertically and horizontally) and frac'd for over 40 years. The first commercially developed NG play in the US was the New Albany Shale in the northeast. I drilled and frac'd my first EF well over 25 years ago. I did my first megafrac on a Cretaceous carbonate shale over 34 years ago. The oil patch has known about the hydrocarbons in these formations for more than 60 years. What changed were some improvements (at great expense) in the technology but, more important IMHO, the economics greatly improved with higher oil/NG prices.

But Mr. Maxwell probably had an even more critical blind spot: the production characteristics of fractured formations. It was not "hard to know what to expect" from these wells. The characteristic high initial flow rate/rapid depletion was well understood for at least the last 50 years. The geologists/engineers at Chesapeake knew exactly what to expect. How CHK management spun their story is a different matter.

The east Texas shale gas boom was created and then decimated by the same factor: NG pricing. The oily shale plays will continue to be played as long as oil prices stay high IMHO. Although recently I'm wondering if capital constraints of the big players, like CHK, will put a kink in the plays before lower oil prices might. I'm not sure if CHK is typical of most of the players in these trends but they seem to have been digging themselves into an unsustainable effort. Only time will tell but I wouldn't be shocked to see CHK absorbed by the likes of ExxonMobil in the next 18 months.

It was not "hard to know what to expect" from these wells.

It is my understanding that it is the combination that is new, not fracturing by itself, i.e.: i) fracturing + ii) horizontal drilling + iii) new fracturing fluid mixes?

Falstaff - Nothing new about the combination. Many years ago the biggest drilling boom at the time in the US was the Austin Chalk in Texas. The AC in most of the trend is essentially fractured carbonate shale. Starting in the mid 80’s thousands of AC wells were drilled horizontally and frac'd with fluids not significantly different than the one being used today. But the frac fluid salesmen will pitch a different story. LOL.

About the only significant difference is the number of fracs in individual well bores. Twenty+ frac stages are becoming more common. But not because companies enjoy the increased costs: some frac jobs are costing more than the cost to drill the wells. But to have any chance to make the plays work is to drill long distances in order to cut as many natural fractures as possible and then do multistage fracs the induces even more fractures. Multistage frac tech has been around for a while but was too expensive to use until the current price run up.

BTW the Austin Chalk sits immediately above the Eagle Ford Shale and many believe both have been charged by the same source. There are also other formations (Georgetown, Buda, etc) that have similar fracture production potential. These other formations are within hundreds of feet of the AC and EFS.

If oil was still selling for less than $30/bbl as it was not much more then 10 years ago you and 99.9% of our fellow citizens wouldn't now the name Eagle Ford Shale.


I've heard stories that the average frac job took 1M gallons of water. Is that an accurate average, or was I being lied to?

Old Grunt - I assume "M" means million. A bit of disconnect between the oil patch and civilians. For us M = 1,000 and MM = 1 million. But to your question: a million gallons is on the low side for many of the multistage fracs. They can use several million gallons of water. Sometime ago I heard of a compnay marketing a water recovery system for frac fluids. I'll try to reach them and see how that's working out. I know it wasn't cheap but getting rid of frac fluid in Texas isn't cheap either: have to pay to haul it and then inject it into deep salt water formations.


Thanks for the information. My biggest concern about fracking is that we have areas of the country, particularly in West Texas, that have severe water shortages. How do we satisfy the needs of cities, agriculture and the oil patch?

jarhead - No problem there: if the oil patch can outbid the other water users they can go suck on a rock. LOL. Yeah..kinda cold hearted but the nature of free enterprise. Someone owns that water and is going to sell it to someone else. So do they sell to a big ag company to water their fields or to an operator needing frac water? Typically the answer will be who ever offers a higher price.


Water required for drilling varies on play considered.

Check out the pdf of the following 2010 report from Argonne National Laboratory: Water Management Technologies Used By Marcellus Shale Gas Producers.

Pg 13 of pdf: The average total volume of fluid used per well is 2.7 million gallons, with 2.2 million gallons coming from freshwater sources and 0.5 million gallons coming from recycled flowback water.

That narrative is at odds with the history, mainly in that there was no substantial production of natural gas from shale prior to ten years ago. If the story you indicated were the case, then the first attempt at fraccing the Barnett shale would have started bringing up substantial amounts of natural gas. We know that in fact George Mitchell punched holes into the Barnett for more than a decade before discovering that light sand frac worked in the late 90's.

"It took George Mitchell 18 years to make it work," notes Larry Brogdon, partner and chief geologist for Four Sevens Oil Company. "He is the father of the Barnett Shale. He was tenacious. He started in 1981 and it really didn't take off until 1999. And even then, it took a long time to develop it."

Later, Devon out of Oklahoma noticed the increased gas output where production should be declining and bought out Mitchell for ~$3B in 2001. Devon was quite good at horizontal, and adding that expertise enabled the boom, in Tx increasing shale gas production ~2.2 TCF/yr by 2008, and 0.5TCF/year in PA shortly there after.

Also note that all the shale natural gas production takes places with historically low prices.

Falstaff - You should be cautious reading the hype put out by the current crop of companies that have "discovered" new technology that should grow their stock valuation. Below is a quick cross section of the real history. Took about a 10 minute web search. The truth is out there for everyone to find if they just spend a few minutes.

From a 1989 report...23 years ago: "Production of the average Austin Chalk well is usually characterized by an early rapid decline and a later slow decline. The average initial effective decline rate is about 90% per year, and lasts about six months to one year. For the later, less dramatic decline, the average is about 35% per year. The Austin Chalk was initially drilled vertically, but new techniques used in horizontal drilling have opened up new venues to profit from. By using multiple fracture stages, oil volumes have increased substantially. The Austin Chalk lies directly above the Eagle Ford." Sounds rather familiar to what you're hearing about the other "new" shales, eh?

Note: this press release is 15 years old. "04/07/1997 Cretaceous Austin chalk horizontal drilling and production activity is heating up in Southeast Texas, yielding record U.S. onshore horizontal flow rates, according to operators. In the deep Giddings field area of Washington County, Union Pacific Resources Group Inc. (UPR), Fort Worth, and Chesapeake Energy Corp., Oklahoma City, have drilled and completed perhaps the largest flowing horizontal gas wells ever drilled onshore in the U.S., the companies said. UPR disclosed in mid-March its 1 Eberle set an onshore U.S. horizontal well record, flowing in excess of 84 MMcfd."

From http://www.mosburgoil-gas.com/html/hyne_chalk_11_97_2b.html "The oil boom of the 1980's saw the proliferation of horizontal drain holes that have a much higher probability of hitting the vertical fractures. Roughly 50% of the horizontal drain wells in the world have been drilled in the Austin Chalk."

Just to make sure everyone caught that little historical fact from over 20 years ago: "50% of the horizontal drain wells in the world have been drilled in the Austin Chalk". Not just in the US but IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. Think about that for a moment: half the horizontal wells in the world were drilled in the Austin Chalk. How many here remember reading about the AC in the MSM then compared to stories about the Eagle Ford and Marcellus today?

Here's another fellow trying to put the true history of the shale plays out there for everyone to appreciate.

From: http://www.investopedia.com/stock-analysis/2011/Energy-Misconceptions-TO...

"I have read many articles where horizontal drilling is called a new technology. While it is certainly true that the technology and equipment associated with horizontal drilling is being constantly updated, this type of drilling has been around for decades. The first large-scale commercial successes in drilling horizontally occurred in Europe and the United States in the early 1980's.
Another play where horizontal drilling was used successfully was in the Austin Chalk formation in Texas, where 85% of the world's horizontal wells were drilled in 1990." Again: 85% of the worlds horizontal wells drilled in 1990 were in the Austin Chalk...not the Barnett, Eagle Ford or Marcellus.

"Hydraulic fracturing is also perceived as a new technology by many observers but as with horizontal drilling, this technology has also been around for generations. One of the first recorded uses of hydraulic fracturing was in Kansas in the Hugoton field in 1947, where it was applied to a natural gas well. Two years later (that's 1949) the technique was licensed to Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), which used the procedure on two wells in Oklahoma and Texas. During the first year, this technique was used on more than 300 wells."

"The Bottom Line: Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are seen by many as new technologies that are untested, yet these techniques have been used for many years and are responsible for the adequate supplies of oil and natural gas. The public debate over domestic drilling is contentious enough as it is and does not benefit from the perpetuation of misinformation."

Some may wonder why the current shale players aren't highlighting this long history of fractured reservoir development. A number of good reasons IMHO. First, they get to sell themselves as the new "smart companies" that have just discovered the goose that lays golden eggs. So everyone should rush out and buy their stock before the prices soar. Second, there's a good reason you don't see much hype about the Austin Chalk play: the boom is over. Some AC wells still being drilled but nothing close to the scale at one time. Every play, no matter how magnificent it may be during its boom, eventuallt matures and dies a slow death. It's that finite thing again. No matter how good the current shale plays are there will come a day when they become insignificant regardless of the price of oil/NG. And once those plays have been exploited for the most part what are those public oils going to do to keep their stock prices up? Maybe they don't bring this issue up because they don't have an answer to that question.

Rock -

Yes horizontal drilling has been around for 80-90 years. Yes the basic concept of fracturing has been around many decades and used everywhere. Both are beside the point, which is they have not been used successfully (i.e. economically) in shale formations prior to ten years ago.

The natural gas boom in the US has come from large production of *gas* in shale formations (again tight *shale*, not porous limestone like the A. Chalk). We don't have to depend on what anyone says for the 'truth'. We can simply look at gas production figures. There was no large production of gas (I mean a good fraction of a TCF/year) from shale formations, anywhere, prior to George Mitchell and Devon, circa 2001.

Now the US is awash in natural gas, and with a price $2/MMBTU of course drilling is going to slow down for awhile, I expect until somebody gets some more LNG export terminals up and running. Gas electric generation has already hit an all time high.

Banks, Housing, now nat gas.... K A B O O M, It's not the pups fault the banksters can't figure it out. Remove Rear View Mirror, *Think uncharted waters* Got SOLAR? now? soon? wait for $8 Nat gas? What's the ULTIMATE NATGAS stock to put in pocket tomorrow in these waters to flip in 12-24 months, not to be greedy, but 20 more kW of PV would keep the pups warm without the mess of firewood.


I agree with what you say about the reality of fracing and the oil business - but you are coming down pretty hard on Charles Maxwell's knowledge of the oil business. The comment about Maxwell not knowing what to expect did not not come from Maxwell, but from the author of the piece.

Charles Maxwell has been an oil and gas energy analyst for many years and has a great reputation in explaining what has been going on. I have heard two presentations from him at ASPO meetings and I came away impressed with his understanding of what is going on. He is one of the few top level energy investment advisers consistently warning about peak oil - which he sees as a 2015-2020 thing.

I read the article above as mostly the opinions of the writer, not Maxwell. And it appears that Maxwell was one of the board members trying to rein in a wildcat CEO. Although since I was not in those meetings I am just trying to read between the lines.

TE - Thanks for the correction. I owe Mr. Maxwell an apology. I took the except as his position. As experienced as you described him I suspect he had some contentions discussion with CHK management. I’ve met board members who understood nothing about oil/NG exploration or the financial side of the biz. They were nothing more than rubber stamps in $1,000 suits.

The east Texas shale gas boom was created and then decimated by the same factor: NG pricing.

Yet Tx gas production has not been decimated. It is still a couple TCF per year above where it was ten years ago, after declining for decades, and today the NG price is ~$2-3/MMBTU.

The rich are working harder

The wealthy are seeing their incomes soar, but they're also working a lot harder for the money.

Not only has the income gap between the rich and the poor grown since the 1980s, but the leisure divide has widened too, a new study from three National Bureau of Economic Research associates has found.

Highly educated men, who generally have higher incomes, had only 33.2 hours of leisure time a week by 2007, down 1.2 hours from 1985. Men with little education had 39.1 hours a week of free time, up 2.5 hours from 1985.

Leisure time is underrated these days, as the highly motivated scurry around the planet, consuming energy and resources. I've never understood it much, this drive to consume and produce. It often seems more like a search and destroy mission. Even my retired neighbor is constantly mowing, slashing and burning (I can hear his mower as I type), as if his self-worth is determined by how many blades of grass can be maintained to his perfect standard of three inches. I finally got him to stop weed eating the bull rushes around our pond after he commented that the nesting mallards had 'disappeared'. He got a bit upset, not about the ducks, but that my pond was off his list of targets. I fully expect to find him dead behind the wheel of his mower some day. Mow, Forest, Mow!

Highly educated men, who generally have higher incomes, had only 33.2 hours of leisure time a week by 2007, down 1.2 hours from 1985. Men with little education had 39.1 hours a week of free time, up 2.5 hours from 1985.

Highly educated men are also more likely to be highly productive, and more likely to be exempt employees.

When an employer is trying to improve the bottom line in a sagging economy, he will be very comfortable with the concept of cutting the hours worked by hourly workers, and forcing the productive employees on a fixed salary to work longer hours. In a booming economy the short term result of this kind of policy is getting your best employees hired by the competition. But in most industries today the competition is not hiring.

Highly educated men are also more likely to be highly productive

If you've ever had the opportunity to facilitate a workshop in a room filled with retired admirals and generals, industry VPs, consultants, lobbyists and PhDs you would not get the impression that highly educated and highly productive were even remotely synonymous.

Additionally, you may have slighted the many women who are highy educated and/or highly productive.

Highly educated men, who generally have higher incomes, had only 33.2 hours of leisure time a week by 2007, down 1.2 hours from 1985. Men with little education had 39.1 hours a week of free time, up 2.5 hours from 1985.

Have to wonder how much of the difference is in the structure of compensation. Highly-educated highly-paid men tend to be on an annual salary and classified as "exempt", or treated as if they were exempt whether they really qualify or not. In several places I worked, research staff were declared to be the equivalent of a district manager in the line organization, making them exempt even though the researchers had nothing to do with management. There has always been a tendency by employers to squeeze such workers to put in more hours than they are nominally being paid for. From the other end, sending an hourly worker home an hour early saves an hour's wages; sending the salaried person home an hour early saves nothing.


From Sam Pizzigati's Greed and Good:

HARD WORK PAYS. Just ask any business card-carrying member of America’s
corporate elite, someone like New York bank CEO John K. Castle. In the
1990s, Castle built up a personal fortune worth $100 million. He deserved
every dollar. Hard work, he told one journalist at decade’s end, made him

“None of this happens without working 60 hours a week,” Castle noted
proudly. “But I work 60 hours a week because I want to, not because I’ve got
a time clock.”

Castle may want to rethink his aversion to time clocks. He seems to have
trouble keeping track of how many hours he actually works. That became
apparent, in 1999, after a Wall Street Journal reporter followed the New York
executive around for a day in the middle of a winter work week. That day
opened, in Florida, with Castle showing off his $11 million Palm Beach estate.
Later, the Journal watched Castle wile away the afternoon hours jumping hurdles
“astride one of his show horses at his nearby 10-acre farm.” The day ended
on the water, with Castle nibbling cheese and crackers aboard his yacht. This
busy day, the Journal reported, was by no means out of character for Castle.
During the winter months, he spent a few days on and around his Florida
estate every week.

Resource glutton extrordinaire... "He deserved every dollar." Did he really? Funny word, "deserve"; fits nicely with "entitled".

1250–1300; Middle English deserven < Anglo-French, Old French deservir, Latin dēservīre to devote oneself to the service of, equivalent to dē- de- + servīre to serve.

Often confused with self-serving...

Disparity by design

All the way at the bottom
Of these barrels we cried out
So ashamed of our tears that
We blame only ourselves
And that's when they win
They keep us convinced
To lift up our chins
These playing fields are level
We all have a chance
With that they dismiss
The fast lanes they rode
In which access depends
On who you know
Or where you came from
Whose daughter are you?
Whose fortunate son?
We're told to stick out our thumbs
They feast from the linens
While we settle for crumbs

Rest of the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjJ9v__NyR0

Thanks for the link to current culture. Since terrestrial radio is dead and I'm old and lame enough to keep reflexively reaching for it (like in my old car), I have little ear to what's going on. I remember when A.M. had ten stations all playing songs released that month. Now, the new music is mostly in other languages while the English programming is all spoken hate.

Liked this

The article is not talking about the neighbor's compulsion to mow the grass, but the production of the local surgeon, lawyer, banker, engineer as entrepreneur (perhaps building your PV panels). When that appendix or gall stone has to come out, I'll try to restrain myself from telling the surgeon that he's spending his time on foolish compulsions to "produce".

Report warns of rapid decline in US Earth observation capabilities

A new National Research Council report says that budget shortfalls, cost-estimate growth, launch failures, and changes in mission design and scope have left U.S. earth observation systems in a more precarious position than they were five years ago. The report cautions that the nation's earth observing system is beginning a rapid decline in capability, as long-running missions end and key new missions are delayed, lost, or cancelled.

... we may enter the 'Climate Chaos Era' as blind as the 19th century

See no evil...

But then why spend precious resources to look for data that further supports the "Hoax" being perpetrated by 97% of the world's climatologists.

The most important thing is that we still have cable TV and especially the Disney channel, the other stuff is nonessenntial.

Increased fructose consumption may deplete cellular energy in patients with obesity and diabetes

Obese people who consume increased amounts of fructose, a type of sugar that is found in particular in soft drinks and fruit juices, are at risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NFALD) and its more severe forms, fatty inflammation and scarring.

Chronic fructose consumption in a diet puts people at risk for depleting their store of critically important molecules called ATP, which provide liver cells (and other body cells) energy for important cellular processes, including metabolism.

"The stores of liver ATP are decreased in obese and/or diabetic individuals who chronically consume increased amounts of fructose-containing beverages, ...

From Forbes: Peak Oil is Here: Now What?

At least peak oil is here if I’ve understood what the peak oil argument is properly. And my problem with the peak oil argument is that it isn’t really very clear in itself as to what it means. From what I understand at some point we get to the end of cheap oil, we’ve only expensive oil left and then, well, and then apparently something terrible happens. But I’ve never been able to get from anyone a clear description of what it is that’s terrible that then happens.

The author of the article, one mister Tim Worstall who writes about business and technology, then quotes from the above article I posted this morning: "Marginal oil production costs are heading towards $100/barrel". Then after a few comments about the end of "cheap" oil Mr. Worstall points out that everything looks just fine to him. Then he asks why nothing seems to be happening right now?

On the other hand the global economy looks just fine. Growth continues, poor countries continue to get richer, we’re still in the middle of the greatest reduction in poverty in the history of our species.

So what is it that is supposed to happen when we run out of cheap oil and why is it that whatever it is isn’t happening now?

Ron P.

"On the other hand the global economy looks just fine."

Jeez,,, these people just boggle the mind. Perhaps Mr. Tim needs to get out more, or maybe his editor put him up to it.

"On the other hand the global economy looks just fine."

To channel a bit of George Carlin: "The global economy is just fine... The people are f@cked!

"Sure, the countries of Europe and North America are looking a little tired in their economic growth. But then they are still trying to escape from the effects of a near meltdown of the financial system. Something that is known to cause recessions and reduce growth."

Wow, someone on Forbes who actually acknowledges that the whole financial system was near crashing. Of course, the danger is totally over now. xD

It's interesting considering alternate scenarios regarding the dot-com bubble. This financial crisis could be said to be the effects of staving off the effects of the dot-com bubble, which could have evolved into a recession with different policies. Of course, the dot-com bubble could be said to be caused by the crisis of the early 1970's, a crisis which was never satisfactorily resolved. Bubble upon bubble upon bubble...

The author apparently belongs to a country club or yacht club where all of the members will have no problem buying gas for their Hummers, even when it costs $10/gallon.

I did miss seing how much richer the people of Egypt have gotten recently. My Bad!!

"Then after a few comments about the end of "cheap" oil Mr. Worstall points out that everything looks just fine to him."

He is starting to come around, though. For the longest his articles have declared that there is no peak oil. Now he is saying "OK, maybe there is, but it's not a problem." Next step is to admit there is a problem. Baby steps.

So what is it that is supposed to happen when we run out of cheap oil and why is it that whatever it is isn’t happening now?

One of the characteristics of net export declines is that an initially relatively low net export decline rate obscures a very high post-peak depletion rate. Our data base shows that Global Net Exports of oil (GNE*) only fell by about 6.5% from 2005 to 2010, but if we extrapolate the 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in the Consumption to Production ratio for the Top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, it suggests that as of the end of 2010, post-2005 Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) from the top 33 net oil exporters are already about 22% depleted:

Note that for ANE (Available Net Exports, or GNE less Chindia's net imports), we equated the rate of increase in the ratio of Chindia's net imports to GNE as being equivalent to the C/P ratio.

*Top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, total petroleum liquids, BP + Minor EIA data

What would the last column look like if you include data from 2011?

I've given up trying to explain peak oil to to the unconcerned. They don't want facts or charts, but they do perk up when I tell them" Don't worry, we're using it up as fast as we can".

We don't have the BP data yet, but you could extrapolate the 2005 to 2010 depletion rates.

For Saudi Arabia, I'm using an estimate of about 7.8 mbpd for what BP will show for 2011 annual net oil exports. As noted in the table, this puts the post-2005 CNE estimate at about 36 GB for Saudi Arabia, and given post-2005 cumulative exports of about 17 Gb through 2011, remaining post-2005 CNE would be about 19 Gb, putting them at about 47% depleted at the end of 2011.

Incidentally, note that we project that the post-2005 cumulative supply of GNE available to importers other than China & India is falling twice as fast as the GNE depletion rate.

You will soon have to remove India from your ANE calculations. The Indian Rupee is falling, exports are down, and another hike in fuel price is in the cards. The Indian oil companies are nearly bankrupt. They lose money on every liter of petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG cylinder they sell. They are not even cash flow positive, let alone in a position to pay their debt. India was recently put on a negative watch by S&P and so the oil companies will have to pay higher interest rates to borrow money when they can least afford it.

I second that. You can make rename Chindia to China. India's finances are teetering on the brink.

If we only use China, the post-2005 cumulative supply of GNE available to importers other than China would increase to 200 Gb (from 168 Gb), with ANE approaching zero around 2033. Given that we are just doing ballpark estimates, it's not much of a difference, and of course we are not counting increased demand from other developing countries.

Or, I'm presuming, increased import demand from all the former exporters who peak during the interim... However one looks at it, not a pretty picture. Thx for your relentlessness, WT.

What happens?

Global cannibalism. There is less to consume, what is on the menu is each other:

Greece, Syria, Egypt, Libya, next is Spain then France. UK then China and Japan. How cheap will US gas prices be when France is removed from the ranks of 'modern' nations.

Conservation by other means: Egypt is running out of currency reserves. To obtain food Egypt will have to starve its citizens of fuel to export for hard currency. It has nothing else to export but jihadis.

What Worstall doesn't understand about petroleum constraints is fuel that cannot be pumped from the ground is pumped from vulnerable petroleum users instead. Europe is low-hanging fruit: finance can bankrupt Europe by simply refusing to lend to it. There is nothing Europe can do as it is not a federal entity and lend to itself as the US and Japan/China can. Euro-consumption is 15 mbpd: if consumption is force-rationed on the Continent to 5 mbpd the demand balance is exportable. The outcome is the same as adding a new Saudi Arabia ... 10 mbpd without any messy drilling necessary.

France is at least preparing for a much lower oil use future.

Some steps finished (no oil, minimal natural gas to generate electricity), others well along (TGV across the nation, building trams in almost every city of 100,000 & larger, making bicycling safer & easier) and some soon to start - doubling Paris Metro from 2013-2025 with 2 million more daily passengers.

Best Hopes for Preparing,


More on Delta's risky oil refinery bet:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Delta's decision to buy an oil refinery earlier this week is certainly bold, possibly unique and perhaps an inspiration to anyone who wished they could stick it to Big Oil and make their own gas.

But, for Delta, it's definitely risky.

...Delta will put in another $100 million to upgrade the refinery to squeeze out as much jet fuel as possible. Delta plans on turning 32% of each barrel of oil into jet fuel when it's done the upgrade later this year. That compares to 14% previously at the plant. Jet fuel is generally one of the more valuable refined products.

The other parts of the oil barrel will be turned into gasoline and other refined products, which Delta will swap with Phillips 66 and BP for jet fuel. BP (BP) will also provide the crude oil at an undisclosed price for a three-year period.

...looks good on paper.

The weekly EIA figures (http://ir.eia.gov/wpsr/wpsrsummary.pdf) continue to obscure a moderate, but ongoing decline in US gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel supplies (see also my post last night: Slackening gasoline demand hides pervasive gasoline inventory decline ). While the US is safe from any supply disruptions until the start of the summer driving and vacation season (around Memorial Day, at the end of May), it is by no means clear that supplies of various oil products will be available as needed throughout the summer months. It is also not clear what, if any, effect any potential re-opening of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would have on product supplies. The SPR is located in the vicinity of the Texas-Louisiana border near a concentration of large oil refineries. However getting any additional finished products from that region to the Northeast, for example, may be difficult. The main US oil product pipeline, the Colonial Pipeline, spanning from Louisiana to the Northeast with numerous branches, is operating at or near maximum capacity. In mid-summer an important expansion from the South up to Virginia will be complete and increase capacity.

The possibility of jet fuel supply disruptions may have also been a non-financial motivating factor in Delta Air Lines decision to acquire its own refinery. The latest EIA weekly report indicates that Northeast US jet fuel supplies are at low levels (http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=WKJSTP11&f=W), and control of Delta over its own refinery will allow it to optimize the output of the refinery so that more jet fuel is produced per barrel of oil refined there than before.

How (and why) Delta got into the refinery business

So what changes is Delta making to the refinery to optimize for jet fuel? In particular, will it come at the expense of gasoline production, or at the expense of diesel and heating oil? I suspect the latter, due to more "cracking"? This may have some impact on the availability and price of some fuel types in the Northeast.

Will Boston travelers get a discount at the gas station, if they show a boarding pass?

To simplify, my understanding is that in terms of % output per barrel of oil processed, there will be about 10% more jet fuel and about 10% less gasoline. The output of diesel per barrel will diminish by an almost inconsequential amount.

Still since the refinery Delta is buying is presently closed, once operating it should help the gasoline supply situation in the Northeast - and in particular - Pennsylvania, which seems to have the most problems obtaining a summer blend of gasoline which meets EPA standards. Delta probably won't be of any help this summer (2012).

"...looks good on paper"

Don't think so. Refinery margins are rock bottom, even for cos. like Tesoro (TSO). They get a fair amount of cheap Bakken and Tar sands oil that have discount of about $10/bbl compared to Brent. Yet they still failed to make much profit in 2011 and in fact lost money in at least one quarter.

So, if margins are low, how will Delta save much if anything on making its own jet fuel by owning this refinery, especially since it has a subsidiary owning it (called Monroe Energy LLC). This could be a drain on capital if the refinery should need further upgrade.

I see this being a millstone around Delta's neck as they try to maintain profits during economic malaise. The only refineries that have a hope of making a profit will be ones that are not squeezed by higher OPEC and North Sea oil prices, meaning those at the end of pipes bringing discounted oil from Alberta and North Dakota/Saskatchewan. Also, Delta will be obligated to having its planes refueled at NYC and Philly hubs. Should traffic patterns change, what will they do with the excess jet fuel that might not be needed for Delta aircraft? Maybe have to sell it at a discount to other carriers?

Delta should be considering buying turboprop planes that get around 25% better fuel economy than fan jets like the 737. Schedules would be a little slower with the turboprop planes, but the payback would be immediate and guarenteed.

Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally on the Future of Driving

If you are trying to get a bead on what kind of car to buy next, you’d figure asking Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, would be a safe bet. Should you go hybrid, plug-in-hybrid, clean diesel, high efficiency gas, or all-electric? Mulally doesn’t have an answer for you.

Ford is making bets on all those propulsion systems, because what drivers need and want, versus how global energy markets are going to shake out is far from clear even for a massive auto manufacturer. “We don’t know what is going to be the preferred long-term solution,” Mulally says. “The point of view we have is that we are all going to be paying more for energy worldwide.

How people make choices will depend a great deal on how quickly energy prices rise, and whether battery technologies in particular become economic in comparison. “Right now a battery costs $15,000 for a 100-mile range,” Mulally says. “Now, as energy goes up, you can start to make a case for the economics of all-electric. But the most important thing is finding a way to manufacture electric batteries in a cost-efficient way.”

Re: Combination of Errors Led to Power Loss in San Diego

Haven't had time to do more than skim the final report (PDF), but it seems to have all the hallmarks of a classic distributed system failure.

  • Local control entities did not advise their neighbors of day-ahead status that could affect those neighbors' responses to partial failures, or the self-protection settings for equipment. If I'm planning for ways that my neighbors' network can fail so that I can protect my network, I need to have a good picture of how my neighbors' network will respond to adverse events.
  • Local control entities received woefully inadequate real-time information about what was happening in neighboring areas. In some cases the measuring equipment was inadequate (eg, sensors that simply reported "out of range"), and in other cases information wasn't propagated.
  • In at least some cases, faults could propagate faster than mitigation could be taken. If it takes ten minutes to bring backup generating capacity online, but transformers trip out after four minutes of emergency conditions, Bad Things are almost guaranteed to happen.
  • Incomplete modeling of the network(s) seemed to be a common practice.

We know a lot about managing large networks in a distributed fashion. The system here is not inherently too complex to manage. But it does appear that the people in charge were not taking full advantage of what we do know about best practices.

I often comment on the difference in the scale of problems facing Eastern and Western electric grids. From that perspective, this blackout affected about five million people; the 2003 Northeastern blackout affected 50 million.

All Hail the Robotic Farmers and Pilots of the Future

for pilots ... “Here the computer was taking off better than I could, landing itself better than I could and doing the mission better than I ever could,” Cummings said Tuesday during the Wired Disruptive by Design business conference. “It was really humiliating. That was what used to make me better than everyone else.”

for farmers ... “It’s not nearly as sexy as aircraft carriers, but we have a real problem in this country. We just don’t have the manpower to do the farming that we need,” Cummings said.

Tractors of today are crammed with state-of-the-art entertainment systems. “Why is that?” Cummings asked the audience. “It’s because it’s really boring. Let’s turn this over to the robot so that person can do something else.”

Cummings showed a proprietary video supplied by John Deere of two driverless tractors spraying pesticides on a grove. Other experimental farms have robotic soil tillers and pilot-less helicopters dusting crops.

The combinations of future trajectories for several trends just blow me away.

When you look at Chinese total autos on the road, something like 70 million now, and trying to catch the USA in ten years (USA is somewhere around 254 million).

Then you look at oil production peaking/plateauing now. I just don't see how slow moving changes, like selling some hybrid cars can come anywhere close to the solution. I hope this oil fracking thing has serious legs, so we can support BAU unto 2020. By the way, my oldest child graduates high school in 2020. Then what?

"...Chinese total autos on the road, something like 70 million now, and trying to catch the USA in ten years...)

I recently read that estimated automobile ownership in China is 110 million (can't remember source). Just in the last 3 years they have produced about 45 million cars and light trucks, so I think your 70 million figure is from three years ago. Probably less than ten years to equal US in cars/light trucks on the road.

Greenpeace activist flies into French nuclear plant

"A Greenpeace activist arrived with a motorised paraglider around 7:40 am (0540 GMT). He flew over the plant, threw a smoke bomb and landed inside, where he was detained," police near the Bugey plant in southeastern France told AFP

... outcome may have been different in AMERIKA ...

FLIGHT ADVISORY, National Special Security Event, NATO Summit, Chicago, Illinois

... Any of the following additional actions may also be taken against a pilot who does not comply with the requirements or any special instructions or procedures announced in this NOTAM:

... C) The United States Government may use deadly force against the airborne aircraft, if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat.

... D. The following operations are not authorized within this TFR:
... 4. Glider operations
... 7. Ultralight, hang gliding

Apples and Oranges, Seraph.

I don't think we've necessarily hardened all of our Reactor sites to withstand a direct hit from an Ultralight..

Map: US bases encircle Iran

Dozens of US and allied forces' military installations dot the region, from Oman, UAE and Kuwait to Turkey and Israel.

Harvard, MIT announce online learning project

Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have joined forces to offer free online courses to anyone with an Internet connection.


They are very careful to make no statement about breath or duration. They say they are doing it to learn how to better serve there on campus students. Hey Bill Gates how about endowing a free online university?

Mining for Heat

Mining tunnels fill with heat naturally emitted from the surrounding rock. A group of researchers from McGill University in Canada has taken a systematic look at how such heat might be put to use once mines are closed. They calculate that each kilometer of a typical deep underground mine could produce 150 kW of heat, enough to warm 5 to 10 Canadian households during off-peak times.

... researchers analyze the heat flow through mine tunnels flooded with water. In such situations, hot water from within the mine can be pumped to the surface, the heat extracted, and the cool water returned to the ground. For the system to be sustainable, heat must not be removed more quickly than it can be replenished by the surrounding rock.

Or go to the deepest point in the mine, drill a Km or two down, and circulate water there. Closer to the heat source == more heat.

In the drilling of the 57 km long Gotthard Base Tunnel (300 trains/day design capacity, at up to 240 kph), a few ventilation tunnels were built.


Plans were (not sure if actualized) to use the excess heat from one of these shafts for a greenhouse.

I wondered about radon exposure, but otherwise it seemed a good idea.

Best Hopes for Renewable Heating,


This project has been initiated by the city of Yellowknife.

Yellowknife has 8256 heating degree-days (HDDs) with an average
yearly temperature of -4.6°C.
Now that the mine is not air conditioned, the temperature is expected to rise by natural temperature gradient (i.e. above 40 °C at 4500 level and possibly above 50°C at the deepest levels of the mine).

For those unfamiliar, the city gets regular -40 weather, 8 or 9 months of what you would call winter, and has a mile-deep hole.

more info


Study shows experiments underestimate plant responses to climate change

Experiments may dramatically underestimate how plants will respond to climate change in the future. That's the conclusion of an analysis of 50 plant studies on four continents, published this week in an advance online issue of the journal Nature, which found that shifts in the timing of flowering and leafing in plants due to global warming appear to be much greater than estimated by warming experiments.

Wolkovich and her colleagues found that experiments underpredicted plant phenological responses to temperature by at least fourfold compared to long-term records. Long-term historical records consistently showed that leafing and flowering will advance, on average, 5 to 6 days per degree Celsius—a finding that was strikingly consistent across species and datasets.

re: "Water Part V: When Oil and Water Mix"

"As a quick review, it is important to understand that oil is a storage medium for solar energy. Ancient algae and bacteria captured solar energy via photosynthesis and stored this energy in the chemical bonds of the molecules which made up their bodies. They then fell to the bottom of the body of water in which they lived, were buried deeply as a result of the movement of tectonic plates, and converted into liquid petroleum over time in the high-pressure, high-temperature environment underground. When we burn petroleum products like gasoline and diesel, we release the original solar energy previously captured by the algae and bacteria."

Why do people state that oil comes from solar energy ?

Oil is formed from heat energy and kinetic energy, temperature and pressure, which takes simple plant carbohydrates, originally made from CO2 and water using solar energy, and transforms them into hydrocarbons over a long period of time.

If solar energy made oil, we could leave dead plants on the roof of the house and just collect the oil that drips off...

Perhaps the idea that oil is solar energy leads to the confusion that solar energy as we know it today could be a direct replacement for fossil fuels.

I think it's the other way around - when you understand that oil and solar are the same energy source, then the idea that you can substitute real time energy flows for those accumulated over long times becomes less convincing.

This is over a year old but timeless, and worth spreading. For those of you who have not yet discovered the worlds coolest physics professor, here he talks about crude oil.


This reminds me of another physics professor, Dr. Albert A. Barlett, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Physics, U. of Colorado (Boulder), explaining the exponential function in this youtube video with more than 4 million views, dubbed the most important video you'll ever see:


Meh... Can't beat the Biebs baby. Judging by the numbers, "the most important video you'll ever see" would have to be Justin Bieber singing "Baby". According to this web page, Justin Bieber has chalked up just over 1.3 billion views with just three videos out of the top ten most watched videos of all time! The only video in the top ten, not featuring a pop star is this important 56 second clip titled "Charlie bit my finger - again":


another top ten video worthy of note is this deep, meaningful introspection into the effects of too much party rockin' from last summer:


Actually the last video defines what it means to expend energy in the meaningless pursuit of nothing! Interesting, the directors idea of how a street would look after the the "apocalypse" (no moving cars).

We are well and truly screwed if (since) this is what many millions of people are (seem to be) preoccupied with.

Alan from the islands

up top Bolivia Seizes Unit of Spanish Power Company Red Electrica

This is like a textbook repetition of what happened during previous depressions. Resource base shrinks, people think rich people are guilty, urge governments to seize all private enterprises, depression worsens.

Rich - non contributing people do have some responsibly. A Steve Jobs and a post 2008 banker are in a very different class.

T. Boone Pickens: Biggest Deterrent To U.S. Energy Plan Is Koch Industries

Pickens' biggest concern right now centers on what he sees as the Obama administration's lack of an energy policy. He says special interests are blocking real energy reform, and he singles out Koch Industries, the chemical and fertilizer conglomerate run by brothers Charles and David Koch, as the main culprit.

"The biggest deterrent to an energy plan in America is Koch Industries," he says. "They do not want an energy plan for America because they have the cheapest natural gas price they've ever had, and they're in the fertilizer business and they're in the chemical business. So their margins are huge. And they do not want you to have an energy plan, because if you had a plan, then natural gas prices would come up."

Whoa there! What's going on here? Who has more money/influence/power? T Boone or the Koch brothers? This could turn out to be really interesting, if anybody notices.

Warning: Video as well as text in page.

Alan from the islands

Get enough tycoons to team up on the Kochs, and we might make progress.

Pickens. Gates. Buffet. Who else?

Unfortunately, they've spotted the Kochs a twenty-year head start in terms of establishing think tanks, lobbyist organizations, publications, etc. People moving back-and-forth between elected office, staff, lobbyist, media, and so forth. Movement conservatism has done an incredible job of building up their infrastructure.

It's easy to underestimate the media portion. The simple fact is that enough people will tune in, day after day, to listen to the movement conservative people on TV and radio, to make it attractive to advertisers and keep conservatives on the air. I'm not criticizing that, just making an observation. Calm, reasoned discussion of the issues doesn't attract the dedicated audience that is needed.

John Hoffmeister (former Shell CEO) tells Sean Hannity that the U.S. can be energy independent by 2020!

As much as listening to Right Wing talk radio bothers my digestive system, when I'm running errands I occasionally listen to what the hate-mongers are spinning. Within the past hour I heard two brief segments of an interview that Hannity was having with Mr. Hoffmeister. Hoffmeister claimed that we can be energy independent by 2020, with the exception of "some" imports from Canada and Mexico. He also claimed that we had enough domestic energy to supply the county's needs for the rest of this century, by which time we will have replaced the internal combustion engine. From my perspective the only honest thing he said was that Saudi Arabia was probably pumping full-out.

Actually, save for the part about

with the exception of "some" imports from Canada and Mexico

he was being totally truthfull and honest. I doubt the US will be getting any from Mexico unless the US is willing to pay a ridiculous amount of money for it or take it by force. The US will be energy independent by 2020, just not in the way most people think it will.

Alan from the islands

And we all know the only way to become "energy independent" is to die, upon which one becomes an energy source for other living organisms. So, by 2020, the US Empire will be dead, according to former Shell CEO John Hoffmeister. Most of the planet's people hope he's correct.

According to Zfacts.com, today the National debt passed through the $15.7 trillion level. That level is 103% of the GDP ratio.,according to USDebtClock.org. They also demonstrate that corporate taxes raise 5% of what the Federal Government spends each year. Without raising taxes and closing loopholes, the US dollar will eventually fall. Imported oil will then probably rise. Zfacts shows that 3/4th's of the Natioal Debt was created under Republican Administrations. The center piece is , of course, the Bush tax cut for the rich that has cost the Treasury $3.7 trillion over 10 years. Republicans refuse to admit to their contribution to the debt problem and compound the damage by following Grover Norquist's stupid pledge for no tax raise, or loophole closing would have a high likely hood of causing oil to rise and the dollar to fall.

Chesapeake’s McClendon ‘Deeply Sorry,’ Promises Debt Plan

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon told investors he’s “deeply sorry” that his personal finances have come under scrutiny as shares fell the most in more than three years.

“I’m deeply sorry for all of the distractions of the past two weeks,” McClendon, co-founder of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake, said on a conference call today. McClendon said the company may have to sell more assets than planned to cover a gap between cash flow and revenue if natural-gas prices remain depressed. These sales won’t interfere with debt-reduction targets or plans to boost oil production, he said.

See: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-02/chesapeake-board-shakeup-shifts...

Deeply sorry for shareholders or for himself?


This guy has a long history of using Chesapeake as his own personal piggy bank.
I predict that before long he will join the likes of Bernie Ebbers and Jeff Skilling in jail.

I was thinking the same thing. It would be a shame if the company, its employees, shareholders, creditors, suppliers and everyone else were to suffer in the process.


Sorry that he got caught.


Okay folks, enough of this nonsense about peak oil. We have 2,303 billion barrels of "undiscovered resources". No, not quite 2,304 billion barrels but at least 2,303 billion barrels of stuff we haven't found yet and have no idea where it is. But we know just exactly how much we haven't found because we know we haven't found it yet. Is that clear?

Iran or No Iran, There Will be Oil

Ron P.


Do you ever feel like Don Quixote? After all, a swordsman on horseback waging a war against windmills may be trying to slay the future of energy!!LOL

How can they be so certain? :  )

The New Energy Math
According to the World Energy Council, global proven reserves of natural gas liquids and crude oil stood at 1.2 trillion barrels in 2010, around four decades’ worth at current usage rates. New technology, new discoveries and high oil prices are reviving previously abandoned prospects. With oil shale contributing a further 4.8 trillion barrels of oil-in-place – around a century and half of supply at current usage – and oil sands around six trillion barrels more of oil-in-place, hardly anyone is in the business of “peak oil” scare-mongering anymore.

This is of course what appears to increasingly be the mainstream point of view. It would appear that the greater the evidence we have for an undulating plateau in global crude oil production and the greater the evidence we have for a continued decline in Global Net Exports of oil (GNE), with the developing countries consuming an increasing share of a declining volume of GNE, the more outlandish the claims from the Cornucopian Crowd become.

In fact, it seems to be an arms race of sorts among the Cornucopians--to see who can produce the most optimistic scenario for liquids production.

CQ, Houston, Hello? what channel do we select? Calling all "CBUs" .. Carbon Based Units .. Hello again? Confirm O2 Levels.

400 billion barrels of technically recoverable crude oil in the US?? This compares with 264 billions of "proved" reverses in Saudi Arabia. Where the heck is this stuff?

Thanks for the link Ron.


Michael Economides has really gone over to the dark side - and he is a petroleum engineer.

I hope someone is saving all of these ludicrous reserve estimates to play back 10 years from now.

Shale-to-liquids is a ridiculously last ditch project, and so far nobody is doing it commercially. Who wants to bet that we'll "develop" that "resource", and that it can even support BAU? The "technically recoverable" is probably the same thing - stuff that is likely an energy sink rather than resource.

GTL is already in the works, though. It'll be fun to see us burn through that real resource at lightning speed to keep up the liquid fuel game.

Shale oil used to refer to solid shale is a marketing term, and any time I see it used I know that that person can't be taken seriously.

GTL is already in the works, though. It'll be fun to see us burn through that real resource at lightning speed to keep up the liquid fuel game.

At lightening speed is right, as the flow rate must be sustained to maintain BAU. Should be a hoot watching technology stretch the limits in an all out effort to keep this game going, all the while watching to see how high an oil price the world economy can still keep the wheels of commerce going.

I don't care what the EROEI is, extract oil from that garbage faster!

I have no doubt we will try - I wonder how long it will hold on? Beyond the resource/energy limitations there are serious social & economic issues are work, along with climate change effects lurking in the wings.

When the price of natural gas rises, GTL will probably fail. There is always over-optimism on the rising edge of a bubble.

If there is so much firkin available oil about then why is the price so firkin high? Pure fantasy land.



That's the beauty (if you can call it that) in this dialogue. The media paint a picture that the amount of oil available is much higher than is warranted. That gives the impression there are ample supplies of oil and production can be ramped whenever necessary. This makes the public believe there are no problems with the underlying fundamentals of oil. Supply can meet demand for decades to come.

This leads the public to the natural conclusion that high oil prices are not the result of tight supply/peak oil but because of other external factors such as speculators, greedy oil companies or tight fisted Arabs. In essence this lie of ample supply supports the other lie that high oil prices are the result of external factors (enemies) that must be eliminated as it poses a threat to the American way of life.

So oil myths notwithstanding, it seems the 22 billion barrels of proven reserves is the 'REAL' reality... Anyone have any thoughts on how long it might take to recover the 400 billion barrels of 'TECHNICALLY' recoverable crude?

Thanks Ron. That graphic is actually extremely important. It is a persistent failure of the peak oil community to address that resource pyramid, which in turn opens up a very convenient line of attack from the cornucopians along the lines of "peak oilers are wrong because they think that URR is a static number"

The estimated 2 trillion bbl of URR is only a fraction of the total resource, probably about 30% globally, meaning there is 6 trillion bbl in the Earth's crust total resource. Will significantly more than 2 trillion bbl ever be recovered? No, probably not, because the costs are simply too high, and the return too low.

As you say, the 2,303 billion of "undiscovered" is pure fantasy, but the rest of that pyramid actually comports well with reality. What is NOT made clear is that everything under "proved" reserves will be exponentially more costly to extract, in addition to being much, MUCH lower quality.

Keeping in mind that costs are measured as economic, as well as in terms of environmental costs and energy return, not just dollars alone. However, that will probably not stop us from making last ditch efforts to scrape at least some of those "technically recoverable" resources from the ground, no matter what the cost.


As you say, the 2,303 billion of "undiscovered" is pure fantasy, but the rest of that pyramid actually comports well with reality.

Other parts of this pyramid are also fantasy, such as 400 billion of recoverable crude oil. The way that the US has been pinpricked with wells, is it reasonable to believe that there's 18 times more technically recoverable oil than proved reserves? A more reasonable ratio is 1:1.

Pretty good 'FRESH AIR' tonight with Teri Gross, interviewing Steven Coll about Exxon Mobil and their historic relationship with/against Climate Issues, Government Influence, etc..


There's a link to the podcast on this site, and a separate NPR review of his book 'Private Empire'..


He appeared on Rachel Maddow last night with some succinct and disturbing observations, e.g. "sovereign corporations."

I mentioned the other week that we were replacing 1,000-watt metal halide pole lights (1,100-watts with ballast) at a car dealership with Philips 330-watt AllStarts and new pulse-start control gear (370 system watts). My big concern at that time was that the lot would look a bit dingy compared to the one next door that also utilizes 1,000-watters. Well, having given the new lamps some time to stabilize, I swung by earlier this evening to do a quick comparison and I'm pleased to report that even with a two-thirds reduction in power draw there's really no discernible difference in light levels. The improvement in light quality, however, is unmistakable (90+ CRI versus 65) and, as an added bonus, lamp life more than doubles -- from 10,000 hours to 24,000 -- effectively extending lamp replacement cycles from two years to five.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_1339.jpg

[The poles with the streamers in the far background belong to the neighbouring dealership and are 1,000-watts -- the ones in the foreground are 330.]

BTW, the amount of electricity saved by retrofitting just one of these fixtures can heat our home for an entire year !

I'd like to do the same thing at another of their dealerships that has one hundred heads. If they're agreeable, this would cut this portion of their lighting load by 320,000 kWh a year or some $40,000.00 at current rates; the simple payback would be less than six months (materials, labour, lift, permit, lamp recycling, etc.) and that's without any incentive from Efficiency Nova Scotia.

I've always been rather conservative when replacing "X" with "Y" for fear the results could fall short of the mark, but now I'm kicking myself for not having been a bit more aggressive and leaving kWh on the table. If you can provide noticeably better light, there's less of a need to match lumens on a one for one basis.


Lovins calls those saved power units "negawatts". Keep up the great work!!!

E. Swanson

Paul, that looks great!

I heard yesterday that there are 500,000 lumenaires with T-12 tubes still out there in the Western US alone. A great business opportunity for someone, eh?

Thanks, H. I've read that as well, so there's still plenty of work to be done.

I'm also replacing T8s with T8s whenever I can get the numbers to work and provided that we can get away with fewer lumens. For example, at the site below, we replaced several hundred 4-lamp 32-watt T8 prismatic and mini-cube troffers with 2-lamp 28-watt T8 Lithonia 12-cell volumetric parabolics driven by NEMA Premium low-output ballasts. Fixture wattage dropped from 118-watts to 43, and gross lumens likewise fell from 10,384 to 4,042, albeit the gap narrowed somewhat after you adjust for the relative efficacy of the two fixtures.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_0736.jpg

Initially, I was a bit apprehensive about this, but there have been no complaints thus far; it's all "oohs" and "aahs" because the replacements have a nice up-scale look (moving from 3500K or 4100K to 5000K helps too).

I'm replacing 2-lamp 1x4 T8 troffers with single lamp/low-output prismatic or volumetric parabolics for the same reason (49-watts down to 22). Again, zero complaints.


You certainly don't need a walkway lit up to need sunglasses and reduced lighting around computer monitors can be very beneficial in seeing what is on the screen. If the lighting is too strong people tend to turn up the brightness on monitors and shorten their life. As long as there is sufficient crisp light to be able to read documents well the reducing the light may well be welcomed.


Quite true. Now visualize this same hallway twice as bright as you see it here. And if you can believe it, the hallways in the older part of this facility were illuminated by 6-lamp T12 troffers, at 270-watts each !

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/6LT12.jpg

There, we cut the lighting load by 85 per cent and the feedback was once again universally positive. That's when I realized I had far more latitude than I ever imagined possible. If you provide an attractive, architectural-grade fixture you can cut light levels and do just fine, but if you replace a cheap, contractor-special prismatic troffer with another of the same kind, you're more likely to run into problems. People recognize and appreciate a quality product, and that makes that initial transition as you start swapping them out one by one that much smoother.


Need sunglasses there! Just how much light gets lost in those prismatic troffers with poor reflective background and dusty/scratched/faded prisms? A huge amount I would guess.


I'm guessing roughly half, whereas their replacements would lose about 15 per cent -- no cover lens, optimum reflector design and lamp placement, high gloss enamel paints, no absorption of light by adjoining lamps and no dirt depreciation.


Some details on the Delta refinery purchase......




I really dont get how money is made on the trade with non jet fuel product for jet fuel from BP? How does that benefit BP? Something smells kind of fishy there IMHO.

They are probably avoiding a lot of taxes with such a trade. And Delta just burns up the jet fuel in their plans as opposed to selling it where it becomes taxable.

What is the 'other'? Is it valuable? How did they get it to drop from 15% to 7%?

AP - Hopefully someone with more knowledge of refinery marketing but from what I've read this refinery wasn't making any profit so I question the $2.2 billion in "net refinery profit". OTOH that doesn't mean Delta wasn't paying some markup to the wholeseller of it's fuel. That may be where the economics makes sense. So maybe that net refinery profit is really the profits of whoever is selling Delta fuel. So the key question is whether the cost to buy and revamp the refinery plus the operational expenses are offset by the savngs of not buying fuel on the open market.

That would be my question, "Where does net refinery profit enter into the picture if the refinery is losing money?" Oil companies don't normally sell profitable refineries at a discount.

Another question is, "What does Delta not know about this business?" Oil companies usually have a very good idea about what is going on in the oil industry, airlines less so. Oil companies are not averse to sticking another company with some unexpected costs should the opportunity arise.

The big question is feedstock availability and costs. This refinery is going to have to rely on OPEC and rapidly declining North Sea oil production, and the costs are going to be much higher than domestic oil (TX, ND, Canadian). Has Delta factored that into their calculations?

My understanding is that Northeast refiners are trying to solve the logistical problem of getting cheaper oil from the Bakken and Canada. So far there is no easy way to do this, at least this year. Some refiners have experimented with some complex arrangements such as shipping the oil first by rail, then by barge (most NE refiners have barge access). I am not aware if this process has been scaled up in any substantial way yet. They are also working on connecting a network of various different pipelines to create a west-east pipeline route.
It's possible that some thoughts of combining pipeline systems could be behind the Sunoco takeover by a pipeline.

While I tend to agree that Delta may not make any more profit on refining than an oil company can, it does allow Delta more certainty of supply - which may come in handy should there be any oil import disruptions.

From the WSJ last evening (behind a pay wall):

Gas Drilling Slows, Heating Up Prices

Exxon Mobil Corp., Encana Corp. and ConocoPhillips, among the country's largest natural gas producers, said in recent days they reduced production in the first quarter and pledged to reduce drilling further in coming months. And government data earlier this week showed output in February had the biggest percentage drop in a year.
At the same time, many energy users have accelerated efforts to switch from other sources of power—such as coal or crude oil—to natural gas. Monday's government data also showed the amount of natural gas used to generate electricity soared 34.6% in February to its highest ever for that month, and a much faster pace than January's 20%.

"We've already seen some dramatic changes," said Nick Akins, chief executive of American Electric Power Co., a Columbus, Ohio-based firm which provides electricity to customers in 11 states. He said the firm burned 62% more natural gas in the first quarter of this year than it did in the same period last year, and used 78% of the capacity at its natural-fired plants in the first quarter, up from 38%.

Cheap NG has helped economic "recovery" by offsetting the high price for oil in recent months. Looks like that advantage will end soon...

E. Swanson

And government data earlier this week showed output in February had the biggest percentage drop in a year.

The author appears to forget that February is always down on January because it has fewer days. February 2012 (29 days) was up 13% on February 2011 (28 days) according to the EIA. From the latest weekly data, production in the week ending 25th April is up 4.1% on the same week last year.

Edit: To be fair though, there are signs that production is levelling off and might be starting a decline but that will need more monthly data to confirm.

Metropolitan Police 'stockpiling' rubber bullets

Police began "stockpiling" rubber bullets - responsible for fatalities in Northern Ireland - after the London riots, a BBC investigation suggests.

The month before last August's riots, the Metropolitan Police held just 700 baton rounds.

But by December 2011, the number had jumped more than 14 times to more than 10,024, a Freedom of Information request shows.

The Met is expected to comment later on Thursday.

Baton rounds have never been used to quell disorder on the mainland of the UK.

But an ex-Metropolitan Police Commander told the BBC the huge rise suggested a change of policy on the weapons and an increased willingness to use them.

And the BBC has tracked down several victims of the rounds in Northern Ireland - all of whom responded with horror to the idea of them being used in England.

Rubber bullets are never intended to be used as a non-lethal weapon. They are used by the israelis to kill terrorists who operate in populated areas. The amunition is a round lead bullet with a thin rubber coating. This increases air drag, and will slow down the bullet very fast. At 50 meter, the speed is slow enough to equal a hard fist blow, and no more. But as close distances it kills. Wich is the idea. Now, if you miss the terrorist, you don't want to kill the mother in front of her kids 50 meters away. The israelis are using this ammo so they can kill terrorists while at the same time reduce civilian casualities.

Using this ammo as a non-lethal is totaly crazy and irresponsible.

Police used excessive force with rubber bullets, court rules

A federal appeals court has found that Waukesha police used excessive force when they shot a suspected drunken driver four times with rubber bullets in 2005.

One of the shots caused a six-inch gash in the driver's ankle that required 30 stitches.

Officer James Hoffman fired a warning shot at the open door from the department's new SL6 baton launcher, a gun that fires a rubber projectile the size of a small juice can with the force of .44 magnum revolver. It left a baseball size dent in the door.

He later moved to the side and fired at Phillips' legs from about 40 feet away. She screamed out and grabbed her leg but did not leave the car or crawl back in and close the door. Hoffman fired three more shots that hit Phillips. After the fourth strike, she slumped out onto her knees, then stood up and moved away from the car.

The court found that the force was unreasonable under the circumstances, which included the fact that Phillips was very drunk, did not actively resist and was not in position to drive the car when she was shot in the legs.

"The officers had her vehicle surrounded with seven squad cars, and behind the vehicle there was a steep drop-off. There was nowhere for Phillips to go," the court wrote.

Paulwell urges government agencies to cut energy costs

"The total GOJ bill for electricity has moved from about J$560 million in January 2009 to the current figure of nearly J$1.2 billion at February 2012. That's an increase of more than half a billion dollars or some 108 per cent. This increase is annualised at J$7.2 billion. This ... spells crisis," he said.

He implored heads of agencies, ministries and other public-sector institutions to examine the findings of the audit report and to determine their next step. He noted the Government had access to the electricity bills of every government agency and would be monitoring usage. He challenged ministers and permanent secretaries, especially, to develop and implement an energy-efficiency road map and to set targets for their energy consumption.

"Each year, central government will issue an energy allocation, and just as there is pressure to stay within the Budget, we will apply pressure to have all of the ministries stay within the energy allocation."

This minister is someone I sent my little "Peak Oil" DVD to back in 2008 and based on a speech he made at a political party meeting shortly after he received the disc, he at least had a look at some of the material. Now if only he would share the information with the ministers in charge of Finance and Transport & Works. I plan on preparing another, more up to date version of my information packet and send it through a contact I have in the youth arm of the party but, I feel the information would be better received if it came from one of their peers. I do wish the Minister of Transport & Works would stop this talk of grandiose schemes to build new toll roads and expand and improve airports.

Alan from the islands

From the EV advocate position, the Plug-In Prius (PiP) is a big disappointment for now. It is an over-priced under-batteried PHEV that is basically not more than the Prius PHEV conversion done by hobbyists 8 years ago. ~10 miles of electric range is sad.

At the current price, the base model is only $2500 cheaper than the Chevy Volt (after taking into account the tax-credit), so why would anyone buy the Prius instead of the Volt which has a 40 miles electric range and can go full freeway speeds on electric only?

So the PiP is selling mainly on the Toyota Prius brand-name. It is also the cheapest gas car that can get you a coveted carpool lane sticker. I'd like to see them change the rules on that to require a certain minimum of all-electric range since some people are going to buy the PiP and never even bother plugging it in. :-(

If they knock $5K off the price or significantly increase the battery size, it would be nice. But as is, you are better off buying a Volt or a vanilla Prius.

What's the list price for the Prius Plug-in?

I found a used Volt listed for sale for $34K.

The Prius plug in is not sold here in Minnesota since like most batteries it does not give out as much energy in cold weather. The Prius C which is getting good reviews starts at $20 grand and is rated 46/53 city/highway. Many compact cars now get high 20's city and high 30's highway and well equipped are under 20 thousand. It depends on which is more important to you, fuel milage or cost/benefit. I sold Toyotas for 30 years and learned that there are as many reasons, priorities of features as there are buyers. Many decide what the like often on emotion or non practical reasons then find facts that justify the choice.

I'm pretty sure the Plug-In Prius will be sold in Minnesota . . . it is just being phased in giving preference to the big EV markets first.

I think the PiP may be popular in California for people that really want a gas car that can use the carpool lane.

Base price of the PiP is around $32,500 and you get a tax-credit for $2500 so a net price of around $30K
Base price of the Volt is around $40K and you get a tax-credit for $7500 so a net price of around $32.5K

For $2500 more, you are much better off with the Volt that will be able to handle most daily commuting with electricity alone.

Note, the above lists the base price . . . both the Volt and PiP can be larded up with options that increase the prices up more.

At $34K for the used Volt, it had better be well-equipped because you can buy a new base model for $32.5K (after the tax-credit).

The only consideration left, is the angst of which vehicle will be more reliable to run (repairs and such) over say, 10yrs of ownership.

I feel Toyota has an advantage for reliability, per "Consumer Reports" and such, over GM.

Perhaps in 5yrs the reliability of the two car models will become clear.

Prius - Mature 15 year (?) Platform. GM Volt - How many millions lines of franken code? How many Unique $500 computers? 3rd party parts availability? How many Volts on the Road in 5 years? MicroSoft killed the FORD Escape Hybrid, Rent one, It's beyond belief how annoying it is.

I agree about reliability. The Plug-in Prius, especially in Eco mode, can probably do about 15 miles on electricity only. It might be useful to have a vehicle that can be powered, at least for short distances, on something other than petroleum.

Some of us VERY rarely make trips more than 7.5 miles one way, A couple times/year in my case.

Best Hopes for Transit Orientated Development,


Why don't you just use a bicycle instead, then?

I often use an electric car made in 1923, with quite low kWH/passenger km.


and walking.

I burn about 4 gallons of diesel/month - often for trips not suitable for bicycling.

Best Hopes for Oil Free Transportation,


Well if you want reliability then pick up the vanilla Prius. The PiP just isn't worth the extra money. If you want electric, the Volt is a better value. And there is also the Leaf & Mitsubishi-i if you want pure electric.

The CNET review of the plugin Prius stated the range is 13 to 14 miles in the battery-only mode at about 5m 20s into the video.

Having 2 batteries for battery-only mode that can be charged and a third battery that operates in parallel with the generator, seems wasteful of battery capacity. Toyota should have designed it with one battery that can be charged and operated in the various modes. It would probably extend the range to about 20 miles in battery-only mode.

UPDATE 4-OPEC says pumping hard to bring oil price down

* OPEC pumps 2.3 million bpd above its target-Badri

* Says $100 a barrel is comfortable price

* IEA says Iran exports down 200,000-300,000 bpd from 2011

* Qatar warns of $150 oil if investment too low (Updates prices, paragraph 3)

While OPEC may be 'pumping hard', there is accumulating evidence that the OPEC export bubble of mid-March to mid-April is just about over.

Seaborne oil exports from OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will fall by 360,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to May 19, UK consultancy Oil Movements said in its latest weekly estimate.


As I frequently mentioned earlier in the year, there was a discrepancy between Saudi Arabia's oil output, exports and domestic use. I estimated they were building up stocks by about 330,000 bpd. Weeks after my posts, Goldman Sachs somehow suddenly came to almost exactly the same conclusion!:

Saudi Arabia Builds Up Crude Inventories: Goldman

Anyway, the extra inventory facilitated extra shipments by the Saudi owned shipping company Vela to the newly expanded Motiva refinery - now the nation's largest. Vela has now returned to its normal shipping operations, Saudi exports are heading East again, and overall OPEC output may have - at least temporarily - peaked.

Looks like it will be an "interesting" Summer in Tokyo this year.

Anxious Japan prepares for life without nuclear power
Japan has 54 nuclear reactors, but as of Saturday, not one of them will be in operation – how will the country cope?


how will the country cope?

I'm willing to bet that they'll simply fire up their nuclear reactors at some point.

The government is trying to do exactly that, but the people are really, really sick of the damn things, and nobody wants one operating in their back yard. One of the wonders of democracy is that the people can change things. And the wonder of local government as well - the opposition is from the local people, the ones pushing to fire them up are the national government.

I expect local/national conflict to increase quite a bit in most democracies from here on out. Greece will fight back against the Eurocrats if the polls are any indication, states in the US may legalize cannabis in November, and localities in Japan won't allow the nukes to come online.

Frankly, the energy isn't really needed that badly. What, maybe they'll have to turn off some signs and vending machines, maybe use less A/C? No biggie. BAU is overrated.

How will they cope?

Probably the same way all the other people without electricity cope, along with how their nation coped before electricity.

Watch carefully, there will be lessons to be learnt. One way or the other.

How many current Japanese homes and buildings are built assuming that electric power will be abundant and aren't suitable to traditional energy saving measures?

I can't speak to the situation in Japan directly, but on a recent trip down south I noticed that the traditional southern air-cooled architecture has largely been replaced by northern style sealed boxes with heavy AC units next to them. If those newer homes lose electricity they'll become solar ovens pretty darn quickly.

I suspect the Japanese are used to energy conservation. It's sort of a way of life there, and IME, they find the American attitude very strange. In rural areas, they turn off their cars at red lights, so as not to waste fuel. They've had regular energy shortages over the past few years (due to technical difficulties with nuclear power plants, among other things), and when called on to conserve, they do. I've posted articles about it over the years. Government workers who work in unheated offices where they can see their breath, trying to type while wearing gloves. Going without AC in the summer, even when it's sweltering. And no complaining, as you'd find here.

The only point on which the Japanese were not cooperative was when the government called for wearing short-sleeve shirts instead of suits and ties to work. Many of them couldn't bring themselves to do it. They felt it was rude to dress so casually in a work situation.

Still, No simple renewable energy Feed In Tariff in the Land of the Rising SUN!! God help them, Argue, flounder, with no ENRON Legacy. This is What HELL looks like? who will own the PV? There is HOPE. JAPAN gives a damn about children, puppies & the FABRIC OF LIFE, DNA. Meanwhile Obama's biggest Legacy could be turning North America in to freakland by killing underground storage of Biosphere nuking spent fuel rods, Learning how to sweat w/o AC is one thing, but GOT GEIGER? / IMO, Spent fuel issue needs the spotlight.. carbon based lifeforms with or without a brain deserve a reasonable action plan. Concerned. / rant off

Heartbreaking news for Canada’s water lovers

I remember the first time I sat around a kitchen table in a rural community giving environmental law advice. I was speaking with a farmer who was beset by pollution running across his fields and destroying his fish and hunting camp along the Rideau Canal.

The family had asked my law firm what we could do about the landfill leachate from a major Ontario city dump that was destroying habitat. No one from the City, the waste company or government had offered to help them. Now everyone in the room — his wife and mother at the wood stove, his sons and daughters and grandkids around the table — was keenly awaiting what I had to say.

I asked: Are there any fish in the fields, ditches or nearshore? The family told me the bay was once the best fishing area around and that fish still spawned in the fields and ditches every spring.

I asked: Can I get access to the water draining from the dump to sample as it runs onto your land? The family told me the exact locations where the water bubbled up on the dump walls and ran year-round onto their property.

I answered: I can help.

We documented the fish in the ditches and the bay. We sampled the leachate (it was toxic). We contacted government authorities and the company, alerting them that we had evidence the dump was in contravention of the Fisheries Act. Immediately, they took action to stop the pollution. To this day, that area on the river is protected from landfill toxins.

My story is not unique. It has been played out across Canada thousands of times. When evidence of a Fisheries Act contravention was compiled, the harmful acts were almost always stopped.

Even when government or industry did not act, the Fisheries Act allowed citizens to enforce the law independently. In fact, the Fisheries Act says that, if convicted, a polluter pays half of the fine to the individual who brought the charges. This is meant to “encourage the public to participate in the protection of community resources.”

"Protecting community resources" got in the way of the tar sands, and the "dil-bit" pipelines.

Fisheries, properly managed, are sustainable, the tar sands aren't. Pretty short term thinking.

This has nothing to do with the oil sands, it is 4000 kilometres away.

Notwithstanding whatever the Canadian federal government does with the Fisheries Act, the Ontario provincial government has constitutional authority over its water resources, and if it wants to fine a polluter or send him to jail, it can do that. If it doesn't, one has to make the assumption that it really doesn't want to.

The rivers that run through the Alberta oil sands are much less polluted than the ones in Ontario that the article is talking about. The Alberta provincial government makes sure of that.

Young Italians flock to become shepherds

As Italy’s unemployment rate topped 10pc this week, it emerged that young people are flocking to become shepherds. Traditionally the preserve of older men, the profession has recently attracted 3,000 young Italians, according to agricultural body Coldiretti.

They are choosing a simple life in the great outdoors because their aspirations to become doctors, lawyers or engineers have been thwarted by Italy’s negligible economic growth, which has been compounded by grinding austerity measures.

Westexas,I love this story. This is how economic problems like prolonged recessions, peak oil, inflation should be handled. Adapt and overcome! The sooner that it's obvious that more government is not the answer some people will make the adjustment and survive. This story gives a little glint of optimism to my doomer heart.

Talented people do well wherever you put em to work, even in shepherding.

From the article

In nearly 80pc of cases, young shepherds had introduced more advanced animal husbandry techniques and improved the quality of the meat, wool and cheese they produce, Coldiretti said in a report.

I am very hopeful about the future of farming.

Whole Food Blues: Why Organic Agriculture May Not Be So Sustainable

What a ridiculous and biased article - its primary metric is yield per acre ... almost nothing else. The whole point of organic food production (and more particularly, permaculture), is to produce foods with no chemicals or pesticides or herbicides. So what if the yield is less - the food tastes better and is better for you. And come peak oil, you can continue doing it.

The problems of food production around the whole world are not to do with yields per acre - they are to do with the fragility and complexity (and unsustainability) of Big Ag - including their reliance on industrial-scale water supply, and particularly, fossil fuel based inputs of myriad forms.

The problems of food production around the whole world are not to do with yields per acre...

I would agree that the problem with food production around the world is not only to do with yields per acre. However if yield per acre dropped to what you could produce with organic farming then at least half the world's population would be dead by next year. The green revolution dramatically increased yields per acre and enabled the population to explode... further.

I find it rather funny that a person called Cargill would attack Big Ag, i.e. Cargill. ;-)

Ron P.

Toronto's mayor accused of declaring a war on bikes

Rob Ford cruised to victory as city mayor a year-and-a-half ago pledging to end what he dubbed "the war on the car". He argued that bike lanes were taking away space for cars.

There's more

"And what I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later you're going to get bitten," said Ford speaking in 2010 as a Toronto city council-member.

"And every year we have dozens of people that get hit by cars or trucks. Well, no wonder: roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes. My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day."

What a bunghole!
He should be made to ride a bike with a seatpost but no saddle, for a month, smothered in bacon fat and chased by hungry dogs.

This came up today at svt.se ("The Swedish BBC") at http://svt.se/2.108068/1.2793056/imf-ekonomer_forutspar_fordubblade_olje...
I'll dump the google translate for you here. Bold is mine. Stuff within [brackets] is my translation of stuff google could not translate.

IMF economists are predicting doubled oil prices
Published May 4, 2012 - 10:41
Updated May 4 2012 - 11:15

We are heading towards a world with twice as high oil prices. The prediction is now coming from economists at the International Monetary Fund.

- According to our results, oil prices doubled during the 2010s, said Michael Kumhof, researchers and IMF economist.

Oil prices today, despite a world economy in low gear, parked at historically high levels around $ 100 a barrel? three times as high as during the early 2000's. There has been an increasing number of researchers and analysts to take the predictions of peak oil - peak oil - seriously.

According to peak oil theory is the major oil discovery the time passed. Today's oil fields are drying up, and it can only just barely compensated by the pressure of production, new discoveries and increased production of expensive so-called unconventional oil, such as oil from tar sands.

Oil production will level off
Ten years ago was the peak oil almost a dissident theory. Today, the idea mainstream, although not all use the term peak oil. According to the IEA, the world's oil production has leveled off since 2005. The battle is on as soon as the final peak oil will be reached - it has already occurred, it will, within five years, or is it beyond 2020?

Those who fear that peak oil is reached within the next few years is dominated by oil geologists and natrurresursforskare [researchers of natural resources], those that focus on how much oil there is physical and how to detect and production developed historically. Oil optimists are increasingly dominated by economists, who argue that rising oil prices are pushing forward new technologies that in turn will continue to push up oil production in the world.

New models take into account the impact of the prize and new technology
- Both of these approaches are relevant. Oil is a finite resource. At the same time affects the price of oil production. What we have done is to build an econometric model that takes account of both peak oil and the current economic ideas of pricing mechanisms and technological development, says Kumhof.

According Kumhof replicate their model in recent decades oil prices and production better than both peak oil camp and oil optimists. And the findings, when the model run in 2020, is an eye opener for policy makers and the public: Near doubling of oil prices over the next decade.

- That's what it takes to oil production will flow up 0.9 per cent per year by 2020. And it will probably be required if we are to return to a more normal growth in the world today.

When the oil peak will occur Kumhof dare not speak about - the question is not answered by the model. Kumhof dare not predict the consequences of doubling oil prices. When the financial crisis exploded in 2008, although oil prices bolted above $ 140, partly due to speculation - as part of the boundary world economy can handle.

Will hit the world economy
- We know almost nothing about what oil prices above 200 dollars, for the world economy. We can only speculate. That it has a negative effect is clear. The question is how much. Some say that the effect is gradual. Second there is the "pain barrier" that can have huge consequences. You definitely need more studies, concludes Kumhof.

News are slowly leaking out.

Thanks for that, Jedi Welder. Anything else of interest you can provide from this source in the future would be much appreciated.

I've seen plans to make solar space heaters which are a simple large rectangular box with glass over the top and a dark color inside, the heat is then piped into the house sometimes with the help of an electric fan.

Does anyone have experience with any simple solar space heaters, do they work? What about putting a dark colored solar panel in the bottom, an air gap, then a sheet of glass over it? Could this be used to make a modest amount of both heat and electricity?

jokuhl has built several and posted positive reports (where y'at, Bob?). Combining PV and space heating into one box likely would reduce the efficiency of both; PV is more efficient when cool, and a portion of your solar heat gain will be lost to electrical production. Far cheaper solar heat absorbers such as corrugated metal (roofing) painted black will work better and have more surface area. Using PV to power a fan/blower would help, although solar box heaters work well passively in many installations.

Plans for Thermosyphoning Air Collector

Keep it simple...

The power output of thin film PV increases with temperature while the power output of crystalline PV decreases with temperature.

There have been numerous hot air solar collectors designed over the past decades. the most basic design is called a "window box" heater. They do work, but they are not particularly efficient, which has two impacts. First, to obtain the desired thermal energy (that is, hot air), they must have a larger glazing area than that from a more efficient design, such as a collector to heat water. Second, as is true for all solar heating collectors, their efficiency drops as the temperature difference between the outlet air and the surrounding environment increases. For example, I've built a house with a large south wall hot air collector system and I routinely saw outlet air temperatures running at about 100 F above the ambient temperature. Since I want to heat my house to a temperature of about 70 F in winter, as the outside temperature drops to near zero F, there is less energy available for heating. The system does have one advantage, which is that when it snows, the reflected solar energy which enters the collector improves the energy output considerably...

E. Swanson