Drumbeat: June 1, 2012

Saudi Output Rises to Highest Level in at Least 23 Years

Oil output by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rose in May to the highest level since 2008 as Saudi Arabia pumped crude at the fastest pace in at least 23 years, a Bloomberg survey showed.

OPEC production gained 20,000 barrels to an average 31.595 million barrels a day in May from a revised 31.575 million in April, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. Output increased to the highest level since October 2008. The April total was revised 170,000 barrels a day higher.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest producer, bolstered output by 80,000 barrels to 9.9 million barrels a day this month, the highest level since at least January 1989, based on monthly data compiled by Bloomberg.

Saudi unlikely to cut soon despite oil under $100

LONDON, June 1 (Reuters) - Oil's fall below $100 a barrel is unlikely to trigger a swift supply cut from OPEC power Saudi Arabia, which is pumping at its highest rate in decades, because its budget can comfortably withstand a much lower price.

Others in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, including Iran and Iraq, need a higher price than Saudi Arabia to balance budgets and they may call on Riyadh to throttle back when producers meet on June 14 to set output policy.

Brent Oil Falls Below $100 for First Time Since October

Brent crude tumbled below $100 a barrel for the first time in almost eight months, reaching a level targeted by Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, amid slowing Chinese growth and rising U.S. unemployment.

Brent plunged to its lowest intraday level since February 2011, while in New York prices dropped to their lowest in almost eight months, as American employers in May added the smallest number of workers in a year, and China’s manufacturing grew at the weakest pace since December. Saudi Arabian oil output advanced to the highest level since 1989, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Oil glut seen in survey defying seaway reversal

The U.S. oil boom that’s pushing the nation toward energy independence is proving too strong to be offset by the reversal of the Seaway pipeline. Enbridge Inc. and Enterprise Products Partners LP on May 19 reversed the flow of crude on the link for the first time since 1976, carrying as much as 150,000 barrels a day from the Cushing, Oklahoma, supply hub and delivery point for the New York futures contract, to Gulf Coast refineries.

Location is key to sting of summer gas prices

NEW YORK — In February, few could have guessed that a brief fire at a refinery in Cherry Point, Wash., would have a more dramatic effect on U.S. gasoline prices than the threat of war in the Middle East or a historic boom in domestic oil output.

Yet three months later, with the BP plant barely back in action, West Coast motorists are paying a record premium for their gasoline relative to the rest of the country, even as sinking global oil prices curb costs at the pump.

Where Are Gas Prices Going Up Fastest?

Generally, global prices for crude oil drive gas prices in the United States. But regional variations in supply mean drivers in some metropolitan areas have seen sharper price hikes than others this year. Cities in the West, where many refineries have shut down for repairs, have seen the worst hikes, especially Seattle, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, and Denver. Honolulu, which already had the highest gas prices in the country, saw the biggest hike of all—a 27-cent increase. Meanwhile, prices improved slightly in the Midwest, with Kansas City enjoying the greatest price relief at 13 cents.

Commodity Revenues at Top Banks Decline as Volatility Drops

Revenues generated by the 10 largest banks’ commodity units slumped 33 percent in the first quarter as volatility declined, clients reduced trading and gas supplies climbed, according to Coalition, a London-based research company.

Commodities Head for Worst Loss Since Recession of 2008

Commodities fell, capping the biggest monthly slump since 2008, as Europe’s escalating debt woes dimmed prospects for demand and drove crude oil into a bear market.

Airlines seek to slash fuel costs

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Few industries are hit as hard by high oil prices than the airlines, which can spend close to 40% of their budget on fuel.

With jet fuel prices near record highs, the drive to conserve is stronger than ever.

Troubled Times for World Oil

Major energy monitoring entities, including the US EIA and the OECD group's energy watchdog the IEA are forced to report that for the developed nation OECD group, and increasingly even for energy outlooks in Emerging economy giants China and India, energy demand is stagnant or falling. For the G20 group, including the largest Emerging economies, demand forecasts are presently set at growth for all types of energy being at most 2% in 2012. For oil, taking account of continuing shrinkage, or at best fractional growth of OECD demand and constantly revised-down demand growth in China and India, the year forecast is now well below 1% growth for global demand and can easily go lower.

Jubilee Special: 60 Years Of Oil

Over the last 60 years, technological developments and political crises have repeatedly driven the oil and gas industry to new locations and more extreme drilling techniques.

Yet some things haven't changed. As the Queen celebrates 60 years on the throne, problems in Iran are affecting global oil supplies, just as they were in 1952. Take a look at these headlines:

Rights activists held over oil field strike in Oman

Dubai Three activists were detained from Fahoud oil fields on Thursday for visiting the site to show solidarity with the striking workers from contracting companies, working for two oil companies in the country.

BP Will Pursue Sale of Shares in Russian Venture TNK-BP

BP Plc will pursue a sale of its stake in Russia’s third-largest oil producer, unwinding a nine- year investment that provides about a quarter of the U.K. company’s crude output.

A TNK-BP sale, which analysts said could raise at least $30 billion, would be the biggest by Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley following the U.S. oil spill in 2010 and dismantle BP’s landmark venture, the largest foreign investment in Russia’s oil industry. While the venture paid billions for BP, it also brought conflict with the Kremlin and billionaire partners.

BP's Russian retreat could be best pragmatic outcome … if price is right

BP's grand ambitions have been thwarted and a quick, clean sale at a hefty price looks better than protracted politicking.

China showing it’s serious about drilling in deep

BEIJING ( Caixin Online ) — On May 9, China National Offshore Oil Corp.’s (CNOOC) first deepwater drilling platform began operating in the South China Sea. The world-class vessel will operate at the Liwan 6-1-1 field, about 320 kilometers southeast of Hong Kong, in waters about 1,500 meters deep.

Azerbaijan may establish gas reserves in Europe

EU plans on ensuring its energy security envisage the creation of an integrated gas infrastructure, including construction of inter-connectors with the reverse mode of operation, LNG terminals and underground gas storage facilities(European Parliament's directive No 994/2010).

Underground gas holders are strategic facilities that store natural gas reserves to rapidly cover peak costs in case of unforeseen circumstances, accidents and to increase consumption volumes due to bad weather conditions.

Natural gas export permits, including some affecting projects in Oregon, delayed till late summer

WASHINGTON -- Consideration of licenses to export natural gas from the United States -- including proposed export projects in Oregon -- will have to wait until at least the third quarter, when a study is completed after a delay of several months, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Since Cheniere Energy Inc. received a department permit to ship gas from Louisiana last year, the agency suspended other applications and commissioned a study of the impact of exports on domestic energy consumption, production and prices.

Analysis: Iran commander's trip to disputed islands frays UAE nerves

(Reuters) - A visit by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander to three tiny islands near the Strait of Hormuz oil shipping lane revives a bitter territorial dispute between Gulf antagonists - and trade partners - Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

Abu Dhabi has yet to comment on Thursday's trip by Mohammad Ali Jafari, but like other Gulf Arab capitals it reacted angrily when Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad toured one of the islands in April, and recalled its envoy from Tehran in protest.

Syria set to become failed state: Israeli commander

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Syria is heading for collapse and will become a "warehouse of weapons" for Islamist militants as it descends into chaos, a senior Israeli army commander said.

"Syria is in civil war, which will lead to a failed state, and terrorism will blossom in it," said Major-General Yair Golan, making a rare public appearance at a conference at Bar Ilan University on Wednesday. "Syria has a big arsenal."

To solve energy crunch, focus on real solutions

The agency responsible for making sure we have enough power, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), says that Texas will be able to meet its energy needs this summer without resorting to rolling blackouts. We hope the council is right, but a closer look at the facts shows that Texas should not be so sanguine. ERCOT's projection assumes slow economic growth as well as markedly cooler summer weather and none of the power plant outages we saw last year. This is in spite of forecasts predicting a warmer-than-average summer and continuing signs of accelerating economic growth.

Great Barrier Grief

SOME locals in the port town of Gladstone recall swimming and catching mud crabs off Curtis Island in the city’s harbour. The harbour is now undergoing the biggest dredging operation ever approved in Australia. From 2014, huge ships are due to load liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Curtis Island for export, mainly to Asia. Mud crabs, fish and other seafood have erupted in lesions, red spots and other signs of sickness.

Chevron Fires Ogilvy as Lobbyist Over Ecuadorean Dispute

Chevron Corp. fired Ogilvy Government Relations as its U.S. lobbyist after a person affiliated with the firm spoke to a group advocating for residents of the Ecuadorean rainforest in a multibillion legal fight with the oil company, a person familiar with the matter said.

Pool of world oil exports dwindling

The fact that world crude oil production has been stagnant since 2005 is now commonly acknowledged. But for all the world’s net oil-importing countries – including South Africa – the crucial oil supply variable is total world oil exports, rather than total world oil production – that is, oil importers must compete for the surplus oil sold by oil-producing nations that is left over after the latter’s domestic consumption.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, one of the leading providers of global oil data, world oil exports reached a peak in 2005 at 43.4-million barrels per day (mbpd) and have declined every year since then by an average of 1.8% year. World crude oil exports totalled 40.2 mbpd on average in 2009, according to the latest available data. This represented 48% of total world oil production of 82.4 mbpd.

Jeff Rubin: To have and have not

The Canadian landscape has always been fractured by regional divisions but the fault lines that will divide the country in the future will be very different from those that have done so in the past. The new divisions are not between east and west or between those who speak English and those who speak French. Those historic differences are overshadowed by a far more formidable force that today unites Ontario and Quebec in common cause as it does Alberta and Newfoundland.

The new fault line in the country is oil, or more precisely between those who have oil and those who do not.

Oil sands sparked 'uniquely Canadian strain' of Dutch Disease: report

A new report by the Pembina Institute argues that Alberta's oil sands boom has given other parts of the country a dramatic case of the Dutch Disease or what it calls "oil sands fever."

Over the last decade the rapid growth of bitumen production from 800,000 barrels to nearly two million barrels has changed the nature of Canada's currency and economy by giving the country a "uniquely Canadian strain of the Dutch Disease," says the report.

Postcard From Canada

While I can see the merits of Rubin's call/future vision -it was for this very same reason that I stood up and issued my anti-market consensus warnings in 2008- I believe these limitations imposed by crude oil on the world will prove temporarily in years to come. If you happen to be amongst those who agree with the Rubin vision which leads to oil price predictions of US$250/bbl and more, I think you'll be surprised (just like in 2008) how quickly oil can be priced at lower levels. In fact we have all been experiencing a mini-version of it in 2012.

I predict in five years from now Rubin's growth constraints will look misplaced and out-of-time, not only because Canada will develop the tar sands, but also because of the natural gas revolution that is currently taking place around the world. China will become much more energy efficient than anyone thinks is possible today.

A lasting solution to high oil prices

The only way we are going to get the price of oil down to where it is not an immense tax on the American people is to offer an alternative to oil, namely natural gas.

Ad campaign uses dead presidents to make nat gas pitch

The ghosts of dead presidents will be coming soon to Houston movie theaters.

The appearance of former presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan before summer blockbusters comes courtesy of a new campaign by the American Clean Skies Foundation, a natural gas advocacy group.

'Golden age of gas' threatens renewable energy, IEA warns

A "golden age of gas" spurred by a tripling of shale gas from fracking and other sources of unconventional gas by 2035 will stop renewable energy in its tracks if governments don't take action, the International Energy Agency has warned.

Gas is now relatively abundant in some regions, thanks to the massive expansion of hydraulic fracturing – fracking – for shale gas, and in some areas the price of the fuel has fallen. The result is a threat to renewable energy, which is by comparison more expensive, in part because the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels are still not taken into account in the price of energy.

Fatih Birol, chief economist for the IEA, said the threat to renewables was plain: "Renewable energy may be the victim of cheap gas prices if governments do not stick to their renewable support schemes."

Don't worry — we'll never run out of oil

Remember the term "peak oil"? Whatever happened to it?

The notion that world oil production had reached its summit and would soon begin a decline — bringing with it shortages, economic collapse, resource wars, and general ruination — was in great vogue not so long ago.

Oil rationing within a decade?

What happens when a handful of the world's largest oil fields- accounting for two-thirds of the world's oil-run dry? What are the implications of such a prospect for food production, economic growth and ultimately, global security? In his new book, Peeking at Peak Oil (Springer, 2012) physicist Kjell Aleklett explores the science and consequences behind the sobering reality that the world's oil production is entering terminal decline with no satisfactory alternatives.

David MacKay: A reality check on renewables

How much land mass would renewables need to power a nation like the UK? An entire country's worth. In this pragmatic talk from TEDxWarwick, David MacKay tours the basic mathematics that show worrying limitations on our sustainable energy options and explains why we should pursue them anyway.

As an information theorist and computer scientist, David MacKay uses hard math to assess our renewable energy options.

Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Save the World

In the menagerie of Craig Venter’s imagination, tiny bugs will save the world. They will be custom bugs, designer bugs — bugs that only Venter can create. He will mix them up in his private laboratory from bits and pieces of DNA, and then he will release them into the air and the water, into smokestacks and oil spills, hospitals and factories and your house.

China May Resume Nuclear Plant Approvals as Cabinet Passes Plan

China, planning to build more nuclear reactors than any other country, approved a safety framework that may help end a ban on approving new atomic plants imposed after last year’s Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The State Council, or Cabinet, approved “in principle” the proposed plan on nuclear safety for the five-year period ending 2015 and long-term targets for 2020, the government said on its website yesterday. The report didn’t specify when approvals for new plants would resume or mention capacity goals.

New Nuclear Chief Can Act Fast on Yucca, Fukushima Fixes

Gregory Jaczko’s resignation as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission gives the agency a fresh chance to tackle two crucial issues: nuclear- plant safety and waste disposal.

The U.S. nuclear-power industry is in turmoil, competing as it does with rock-bottom natural-gas prices. Even as most power companies wait to make new investments in nuclear, 104 existing reactors need close attention right away.

'Eco' models aren't worth the money, study shows

Hoping to squeeze every last mile out of a gallon of gas? Automakers have been launching a flood of new “eco” models designed to do just that. But a new report warns that the minimal extra mileage isn’t worth the hefty price tag – which in some cases would require as much as 38 years of driving to recover in terms of lower fuel costs.

The new study by Consumer Reports raises questions about a variety of conventionally powered Eco models, such as Ford Focus SFE, Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Honda Civic HF. But it was also skeptical of the benefits promised by some hybrid models, such as the new Toyota Prius C which, it declares, “is fuel efficient, but not a deal.”

WSDOT extends West Coast Electric Highway

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), along with its electric vehicle (EV) charging station partner AeroVironment, has opened 10 new public charging stations, seven along Interstate 5 and three on US Route 2, which will allow EV drivers to travel ‘emission-free’ from Seattle to the Canadian border.

Short subway line, $4.5 billion price tag

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- New York City is building a new subway line, one of the largest public works projects in American history.

The Second Avenue Subway -- a project more than 40 years in the making -- has a budget of $4.5 billion for the first mile-and-a-half segment. With three stops and a new entrance to an existing station, the cost of construction is more than a billion dollars a stop.

'Green lanes' mean 'go' for more cities' cyclists

To boost transit options, U.S. cities are revving up plans for something that has long been popular in Europe — bike lanes protected from traffic.

Separated by curbs, planters, posts or parked cars, these "green lanes" are taking off in — among other cities — Austin, Chicago, Memphis, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C.

Turn Waste Into Energy, Group Urges New York

New York City should embrace waste-to-energy plants to reduce the $300 million it spends annually disposing of its garbage, a government watchdog group suggested in a report released on Thursday.

Regulator refuses to budge on Scotland

UNITED KINGDOM: The viability of up to 1GW of wind in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is still in doubt after energy regulator Ofgem refused to change the way transmission charges are calculated to benefit wind farms in remote locations.

U.S. Imposes Duties on Chinese Wind Tower Makers

WASHINGTON — Chinese manufacturers of towers for wind turbines received unfair subsidies and must now pay duties of 13.7 to 26 percent, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday in a preliminary decision in a case brought by four American manufacturers of the towers.

Romney Calls Solyndra a Symbol of Failure for Obama

Mitt Romney visited the closed facilities of Solyndra LLC, the solar-panel manufacturer that went bankrupt after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee, and called the company a symbol of failure for President Barack Obama’s administration.

For Obama, some promises kept, some broken

Almost exactly four years ago, Obama was riding high after Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign, and he made a promise.

"I'll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we'll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills," Obama said.

The windfall tax would have skimmed the top off the mega-profits oil companies were earning. Average families would have received $1,000 checks as a result.

Mail box thefts stymie delivery in Chicago neighborhood

The brass fixtures, built into the bricks and stone facades of the homes, are worth at minimum $4 apiece on the scrap-metal market, according to CBS Chicago. The station tallied a total of 26 of them missing from 40 homes in one block.

Victim Henry Moore wonders: "Now where can I get a mailbox to fit in there? How much is it going to cost me to have it put back in?"

"It has to be done, and you can't leave it open like. If it rains, it'll go into the house," he said.

Food for Thought

In 1969 the world watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s promise to put a human on the Moon, ending a decade-long, $24 billion space race ($150 billion in today’s dollars). We need investment on a similar scale to fund research that addresses the biggest challenge facing the United States in the next 30 years: food and energy security.

Today, we face growing and economically empowered nations, energy-intensive global economies, and major shifts in global climate that together constitute the perfect storm for agriculture. Yet plant-science research has been underfunded for decades—and funding is projected to shrink.

As Regulators Meet, Fishing Boats Thumb Their Noses

Talk about timing. As American and European fisheries officials met this week in Brussels to talk about, among other things, the problem of illegal and unregulated fishing, Chinese boats were illegally in the Mediterranean, making a mockery of efforts to manage the bluefin tuna fishing season.

Clouded Forecast

OUR ability to forecast the weather is in big trouble.

Last month, the National Research Council concluded that the nation’s system of Earth-observing satellites is in a state of “precipitous decline” and warned of a “slowing or even reversal of the steady gains in weather forecast accuracy over many years.”

This worrisome development puts all of us in harm’s way and should particularly trouble us as the annual six-month hurricane season begins today.

North Carolina tries to wish away sea-level rise

Some lawmakers will go to great lengths to deny the reality of climate change. But this week, North Carolina lawmakers reached new heights of denial, proposing a new law that would require estimates of sea level rise to be based only on historical data—not on all the evidence that demonstrates that the seas are rising much faster now thanks to global warming.

Fourteen Programs Show CO2 Trade Taking Off: World Bank

New carbon programs in at least 14 emerging nations from China to Costa Rica show emissions trading may take off even as U.S. lawmakers focus on non-market-based regulations for climate protection, a World Bank official said.

Link up top: Pool of world oil exports dwindling

Finally someone other than peak oilers have picked up on this earth shattering news.

The first is the continuing rise in domestic oil consumption in the oil-exporting countries. In most oil producing countries, local fuel prices are heavily subsidized, which encourages high levels of consumption. And the record-high oil prices of recent years have translated into rapid economic growth and incomes in oil exporters, further stimulating domestic petroleum use.

It is not only the heavily subsidized fuel prices that have been stimulating growth in oil exporting countries, thereby causing their exports to drop, but also the massive influx of capital to exporting nations coffers. This has enabled them to create high paying jobs for their citizens and to increase entitlement programs to keep their citizens from becoming restless. Except for Nigeria of course, there they give the citizens squat and they are very restless. THE ENTRAPMENT OF ENTITLEMENT

In Nigeria, there are no entitlement programs, you relied strictly on the grace of God (and He always came through) through other believers.

Ron P.


It is an excellent summary article. He explains ELM well without having to talk about any modeling.

But - you mentioned "someone other than peak oilers" have picked up on this story. Wakeford is the chair of ASPO South Africa - so he is a peak oiler. Fortunately he is a peak oiler who gets published regularly in that part of the world.

TE, thanks, my mistake. So peak oilers are still about the only ones who comprehend the magnitude of the problem. How long before MSM connects the dots?

The problem is there are just too many other things for those talking heads on TV to blame it on. This morning it is the problems in Europe. But what do they blame that on? Not the dwindling oil supply and high oil prices that is for sure.

Of course as the US and European economies collapse, this kills demand even more, driving oil prices down. And as oil prices drop they look for something else to blame for the declining economies. Right now, in the US many are blaming it all on Obama.

This is just so damn frustrating. The world as we know it may completely collapse and only us peak oilers will ever know the true cause. Peak oil will still be denied by almost everyone even when oil production is 25 million barrels a day or less.

Ron P.

The world as we know it may completely collapse and only us peak oilers will ever know the true cause. Peak oil will still be denied by almost everyone even when oil production is 25 million barrels a day or less.

Agreed. Although many on TOD have high hopes that peak oil will be acknowledged as soon as a decline in global production is evident - I have come to the conclusion that it will take 10-15 years of decline before reality sets in. Humans have an almost infinite capability to stick to their cherished narrative.

I do observe that even though the Ministry of Propaganda will stick to their story I am seeing an increasing number of citizens that I interact with starting to understand the notion of limits. Unfortunately after they say that they then often say - "well we will just have to overcome those limits". The dream lives on. It is actually a consensus trance. To borrow from Chris Nelder's article yesterday about thinking - they are stuck in System 1.

The world as we know it may completely collapse and only us peak oilers will ever know the true cause. Peak oil will still be denied by almost everyone even when oil production is 25 million barrels a day or less.

Agreed. Although many on TOD have high hopes that peak oil will be acknowledged as soon as a decline in global production is evident - I have come to the conclusion that it will take 10-15 years of decline before reality sets in. Humans have an almost infinite capability to stick to their cherished narrative.

Maybe not. Peak oil is just the most obvious "proximal" cause. The real buggaboo is already declining net energy per capita. It peaked, if my model is correct, in the 1970s. It is net energy that runs the economy and that is already in decline. If there were a good data-based way to show that it would be an eyeopener. Unfortunately our data are about gross energy supplies (except for the stocks and flows of finished oil products, but that is a small part of the picture). Everyone likes to focus on the numbers that are readily available, I understand. When I was a drunken sailor I looked for my dropped keys under the street lamp where the light was better. And oil production numbers are a rough surrogate measure of energy availability. But until we find a way to take EROI into account we will not actually be looking at the deeper cause of financial woes.

Given that the net decline may already be under way, we might not have to wait 10-15 years for the impact to become obvious.

Out of curiosity, do you have the calculations for your net energy model online? Can you give a link? I'm just interested. I still have difficulty in really understanding this EROI concept.

I see a the failure to understand this concept often. We live near the state line and fuel is often about 10 cents cheaper in the adjacent state. Many folks drive over the line to "save" on fuel, not realizing that it's 20 miles farther than the local gas station (round trip). They save $2.00 on a 20 gallon fillup, while burning more than $2.00 worth of fuel to do it: Negative return, financially, also lost time, energy, etc.

EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) is also simple: If it takes you more calories to catch a rabbit than you get from eating the rabbit, eventually you'll starve. If the rabbit population declines, this will increase your starvation rate (you have to work harder to catch the next rabbit).

While more complex, these realities certainly apply to societies and their energy use. Diminishing returns from financial and energy investments to obtain more energy starves economies, especially economies that evolved under high EROI/EROEI conditions. It's the surplus that enables growth, debt, and waste.

Debt is borrowing against the future expectation that tomorrow you'll catch an extra rabbit (today I'll make my cave bigger...growth), but, as George points out above, since the '70s, we've been ignoring that the rabbit population is declining, and tomorrow's rabbits cost us even more calories, so tomorrow we borrow more 'virtual rabbits' (money, in the form of debt), always expecting that we'll certainly catch more rabbits. Of course, finite resources like oil don't breed like rabbits, as much as we imagine they will. Our now unpayable debt has masked the fact that we'll never catch more rabbits per day as we have in the past. Meantime our family has grown, more mouths to feed... and all of the available substitutes won't replace the calories from the rabbits that we took for granted. Somebody starves.

Ghung - You remind me of a sign I saw at some small festival once. The cookies were $.10 each or two for a quarter. I was tempted to hang around and see how many flopped a quarter down but it was too hot.

X - Ghung offers a good example of EROEI. Unfortunately it's difficult to apply in many commercial efforts. When I drill an oil well I can tell you down to the BTU how much fuel I used. But what about the energy used to make the steel casing I used to complete the well? What about the fuel used to haul it from Ohio to Texas? What about the energy used to build the drill rig I used? Even if I had that number I would have to prorate with all the other wells drilled during its life. And then what about the fuel used to haul the oil to the refinery and the energy used to make motor fuel from that oil?

To make it more complicated what if I estimated it took X BTU's to get Y BTU's out of my new well? That's not the metric I used to justify drilling that well. It was the $dollars in/$dollars out...not the energy. If the X BTU's I used came mostly from NG it would have cost me much less than had the same amount of energy had been generated from oil. In theory I can make money with a negative EROEI if my energy input cost me less then I sell my energy output for. IOW I can burn up a lot of relatively cheap NG BTU's to generate a smaller amount of more valuable oil BTU's. On a more practical level consider two power plants burning the same volume of hydrocarbon BTU's but one is burning $2/mcf NG and the other burning $100/bbl oil. Same EROEI but a vastly different cost per kW.

Now what if my casing were made in Norway using rather cheap hydropower. How do factor that EROEI into the net picture? A further complication: what if the energy source were solar? No non-renewable energy used but what about the energy used to build the solar panels? Obviously it can get rather complicated. But again, to what end? The oil patch never has and never will directly use EROEI to make investment decisions. Then roll in the position that many public companies take: net monetary cost of their reserve additions is often not as important as how those additions affect stock prices. I've told the story before about drilling 4 horizontal wells for a pubco that probably not only had negative EROEI but actually lost net income for the company. But the increased company- wide production rate caused their stock price to rise over 400%. Needless to say EROEI wasn't anywhere to be heard in the board room.


I don't think the issue is whether the oil patch will use EROI as an investment decision tool, but whether economists, educators and politicians will grasp the global importance. All the cost factors you mention still represent real work having been done, regardless of the source of the energy. But if you add up all of the gross BTUs from all the sources that can be USED to produce things and services and factor by the conversion rates to net energy available you get what is available to actually do the work. Dollar prices for net energy have long since been distorted by things like financialization and debt bubbles (and their impact on GDP calculations) to a point that the relation is badly hidden.

Everyone, not just oil patchers, are making investment decisions based on a bogus measure. It isn't money that accomplishes work, it is energy. What we are witnessing is the reality of that catching up with our fantasy world of money.

Granted EROI cannot be used directly as things stand. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to find methods that will make it useful. When push comes to shove re: investment decisions regarding alternative energy sources and consumption projects (e.g. electric rail vs. electric trucks), we had better have a reality-based tool for deciding.

George - Exactly...that's the trap we've built for ourselves. And it's also why I have little hope of the general public ever understanding the true relationship as you describe. I certainly have no hope of the politicians ever putting it out there for them. Not a good path to re-election.

Any effort to improve the EROEI of the system is very important. The point I was making to X was how complicated calculating those values can be. And trying to explain complicated relationships to the public is a losing proposition IMHO. We can discuss it amongst ourselves but unfortunately I see it not going much further.

Thanks for the clarification all. I did understand the basic idea behind it, i.e. needing 2 barrels of oil worth of energy to pump up one. But I didn't get why it would be more important than the actual peak in world oil production. So am I correct that for the moment we don't really know yet if current shale oil production is actually producing net energy? The role of debt / investment bubble in such operations could mask a net energy loss? I don't say this is the case (what do I know), but that's my current understanding of EROI, and what it implies. More resources have to be diverted to the energy producing side of our economy, the real costs of it hidden in temporary credit bubbles, government subsidies etc.

I'm currently putting together a presentation trying to express in clear arguments all those problems. But I think I'll just leave it at oil production, and introduce the EROI concept later on, if I already managed to convince my audience of actual peak oil.

X - It's difficult to back up with details numbers but I'm fairly comfortable the shale plays have a positive EROEI. In general they are even profitable but not the rates of return non-public companies like mine are very interested in at the moment. It's easy to judge individual wells: good well = good EROEI. A dry hole = very negative EROEI. Making a collective call for a company/trend/country is much more difficult. You see a lot of press releases about big successful wells. But not too many about dry holes or money losing wells.

The one thing you might offer re: EROEI is that it's fairly easy to establish that over the last 50 years it has significantly declined to where it is today...wherever that is.

The best numbers I'm getting for fractured shale is between 6:1 and 8:1 EROEI. The overall numbers on nat gas seem to be in the range of 10:1 to 15:1. All seem to be going down.

Better than tar sands and deep water. But not by a whole heck of a lot.

I'm sorry guys. From a climate perspective, I'm really, really uncomfortable with all the new nat gas supplies. I know Rock is a great guy and I'd work like hell for him in any other industry. He seems like he'd be the kind of boss/leader anyone would dream of having. But this stuff is like taking the dragon by the tail. Big. Scary. Hellish.

I really like and respect you guys. I just don't see a good outcome.

I did understand the basic idea behind it, i.e. needing 2 barrels of oil worth of energy to pump up one. But I didn't get why it would be more important than the actual peak in world oil production.

Asumme an EORI of 10:1 and that 70 million barrels per day is produced. 7 million barrels will be used to produce the 70 million barrels so 63 million barrels of useful oil will be left over for other purposes.

If the EORI decrease to 2:1 35 million barrels will be needed to produce the 70 million so only 35 million barrels will be left over for other purposes.

Obviously the world around do not change just because EORI decline so to get 63 million barrels of useful oil left over for other purposes 126 million barrels have to be produced.

To get an idea I guess you could study what happened then less people where needed for farming but run it in the other direction.

Thanks karlnick! It's really as simple as that I see now. I did some more reading on the subject, and according to Murphy and Hall (http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/2/1/25) an EROI of at least 3:1 is needed for the bare necessities of current society. Tainter's 'complexity shedding' becomes more clear to me now, seeing that with a declining EROI less resources become available for maintenance, let alone increasing complexity.

Renewables are seen under a new light also, if a country currently consumes 10GWe (ok, small country), renewables must at least produce these 10GWe + the necessary energy to offset their own energy demand. If one wants BAU that is.

I believe that the 3:1 figure can be lowered by significantly more efficient, and hence less, energy use.

PassiveHaus buildings (with $50 LED bulbs that last 25 years) require, say 5% of the energy of today's McMansions. First attempts maybe 10% or 15% of today's housing.

People move about town on foot, bicycle and electrified rail. Energy consumption 5% of today.

Delivery trucks take about as much as today, but getting to the local warehouse is by electrified double stack rail. Again, a 1:20 energy savings.

Carve significant chunks out of today's energy budget, and 2:1 begins to look feasible.

Best Hopes,


BTW, why should renewables alone be tasked with providing their energy to replace ? Solar PV and wind have excellent EROEI already, so not that big a deal in any case.

The 3:1 figure was actually the EROI needed to deliver one unit of oil to final demand. That's taking into account current energy costs only for getting the fuel to the gas station. They do this by using information about the dollars' energy intensity (J/dollar) in for example highway maintenance.

I don't think the actual use we make of this fuel (LED bulbs, etc.) will change this simple calculation, since it isn't what they're talking about.

Of course, the example used is oil. I understand those numbers might be very different for production and distribution of electricity, which I guess would allow for a higher efficiency. (I'm Just guessing!)

As for renewables, indeed, I am aware of the rather favorable EROI for PV and certainly for wind. I didn't want to speak for or against their viability, it was just an example.

Here relevant quotes from the Hall, Balogh and Murphy paper:

That means that we need to count in our equation not just the “upstream” energy cost of finding and producing the fuels themselves but all of the “downstream” energy required to deliver the service (in this case transportation), i.e. 1) building and maintaining vehicles, 2) making and maintaining the roads used, 3) incorporating the depreciation of vehicles, 4) incorporating the cost of insurance, 5) etc.


Our calculation, then, of adding in the energy costs of getting the oil in the ground to the consumer in a usable from (40 percent) plus the pro-rated energy cost of the infrastructure necessary to use the fuel (24 percent) is 64 percent of the initial oil in the ground (Table 3). Thus the energy necessary to provide the services of 1 unit of crude oil (i.e. at the gas station) is roughly 3 units of crude oil, and probably similar proportions for other types of fuels. This cuts our 10:1 EROImm to about 3:1 for a gallon at final use, since about two thirds of the energy extracted is necessary to do the other things required to get the service from burning that one gallon. It also means that we need a minimum EROI of 3:1 at the well head to deliver one unit from that oil to final demand.

Thanks, Rock, an excellent description of why we, as a society/economy, don't see what's really coming.

EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) is also simple: If it takes you more calories to catch a rabbit than you get from eating the rabbit, eventually you'll starve. If the rabbit population declines, this will increase your starvation rate (you have to work harder to catch the next rabbit).

Well said.

I prefer the simple explanation. It takes $10 worth of electricity to extract enough hydrogen to produce $5 worth of electricity. (Not counting capital costs)


I have several articles published in this site in prior years. Also at my blog Question Everything under the topic of biophysical economics.

But mostly I recommend Charlie Hall and Kent Klitgaard's book Energy and the Wealth of Nations: Understanding Biophysical Economics. This is, in my opinion, the most complete handling of energy issues with respect to the economy and a must read for everyone who is wondering what is going on!

OTOH: Ghung gave a good intuitive answer!

Thanks George, I have read some of your blog posts before. They're quite long, so I didn't read many yet. Very interesting reads nevertheless. I had your site already bookmarked actually.

George - I do agree that the decline is already underway. And I do fear that even before oil exports go into steep decline the economy could go into a complete tailspin for other reasons. But what I am questioning is whether Joe-Six-Pack (J6P) will ever understand what the structural causes were.

You and I are sensitive to "good data-based" ways of explaining things. J6P is not. J6P is ruled by emotion, not logic. And J6P outnumbers us. The search for the guilty will begin - followed by the punishment of the innocent.

"The search for the guilty will begin - followed by the punishment of the innocent."

This is the issue we tend to avoid discussing here, and the one that concerns me most. And it's not only the search for the 'guilty'; it's the requirement for the "pound of flesh", the witch burnings. History is repleat with this phenomenon; create a boogeyman, an enemy, and destroy him it. Sacrifice. Genocide. Dehumanize. Make IT go away! Those who foresaw this evil, this plague, surely created it.

I expect most of us here are on somebody's list...

Ghung - And thus explains why there are more weapons in Texas than the vast majority of countries. Remember the old commercial with the battery balanced on the actor's shoulder and he says:"Go ahead...knock it off if you dare". Or something like that. So yeah someday Texas may be the "bad guy" that's jacking up oil/NG prices or worse not delivering what the country needs regardless of price.

So it may end up:"OK...come and get us...if you dare". LOL. Remember a percentage of Texas oil production comes from state owned lands. If they require that oil to be refined in Texas and the products only sold here they can. And remember the TRRC still sets the oil rate allowable every month. If one day they decide to preserve some Texas oil production for the future they can order every producer in the state to cut the oil production 50% if they choose. If that should ever come to pass for whatever reason I can imagine SCOTUS being called to session immediately regardless of the time of year.

Just one of the reasons I rather not be around when the really bad PO kicks in. The other day mc and I were debating as to how successful the feds could override Texas regs to free up companies to expand drilling in less environmentally ways. I argued it would never be effective. I know it may sound like typical Texas BS but that "Lone Star" in our flag (as well as local flags such as the "Come and take it" flag from the Texican war with Mexico) exists deep in the DNA of the locals. We've got more than enough red necks who get aroused at the thought of "armed resistance" to offset saner minds.

When I lived in Texas in 1976-78, I seem to recall the Governor threatening to send the National Guard out to blow up the pipelines leaving the state (at the time, I believe NG lines). Such actions (or their equivalents in law/regulation) are clearly unconstitutional under current case law: states have almost no power to do anything that affects interstate commerce.

Let me know in advance when you think Texas is likely to kick off their war of independence. I'd like to see the 11 western states from the Rockies to the Pacific cut themselves loose in the long run (over electricity rather than oil, but that's an argument for a different day), and a Texas revolution would be a terrific distraction.

Mike C.

Texas will have a hell of a difficult time unless Rick Perry can convince the Commander's at Ft. Hood, Ft Bliss, Sheppard AFB, Lackland AFB, Randolph AFB, Brooks AFB, Ft Sam Houston etc. to defy the U.S. Constitution that they have sworn to uphold.

Good luck with that. I seem to remember reading here on TOD that, unlike in the good oil days, Texas is a net oil importer.

I thought there were still 5 States in the U.S. that were net exporters and Texas was one. Anyone have a link?

Texas may not be the worst place to ride out peak oil, but I personally don't plan on being here forever. Timing is everything.

I don't see Texas recovering from the horrendous sprawl of its metro areas, and it's cultural predilection for doing everything "big."

Boogeyman and scapegoats are usually not accidental - they're provided to suit someone's agenda. By and large most of us hear are so irrelevant and few in numbers as to be more of a joke than a useful target.

Agree about J6P, but shouldn't someone like Secretary Chu get it???? What about educators? Economists??? See my reference to Charlie Hall and Kent Klitgaard's book in response to Xardas above.

Somewhere on my hard drive (can't find it) I have an old PowerPoint presentation by Secretary Chu in his pre-political days talking about peak oil. He gets it. Before regular (non-biophysical) economists get it they have a great deal of training to unlearn.

Yes I know he knows about peak oil. I'm talking about peak net energy.

George - From what I've read of the good doctor I doubt there's much about the situation he doesn't understand to some degree. The situation reminds me of a question asked by one of my trainers in another life time: "Do you know the difference between a person who doesn't know what to do and someone who does know but doesn't do it?" The answer: "Not a damn thing except one has a reason...but not an excuse". Then he said that he knew that I understood how I should have responding in the preceding situation but I didn't. And thus he said I had no reason for failure. And then he kneed me in the groin to emphasize the point.

Some lessons you never forget...even those from another lifetime. LOL. I've no doubt the doctor has a list of reasons for not contributing more to the PO conversation. Reasons...not excuses IMHO.

Somewhere on my hard drive (can't find it) I have an old PowerPoint presentation by Secretary Chu in his pre-political days talking about peak oil. He gets it.

Take a look at:

then you'll find:

What should Secretary Chu do if we assume he does really "get it"?

Support Solar companies? - Solyndra is pretty much the biggest (faux) "scandal" of the administration.
Support Li-Ion battery makers? - Enerdel went under. A123 is barely hanging on.
Support PHEVs? - The Volt is the endless target of conservatives. Fisker is a Solyndra-lite "scandal"
Support Hydrogen? - That's a massive boondoggle.
Support Fracking - Done. (Despite delusions of others that think otherwise.)
Raise CAFE? - Done.
Support Efficiency - The Stimulus did lot of that.

What do you think Chu should do? I think they've stuck their neck out pretty far on what they have done. And it has greatly endangered them politically. Oil production has increased more during the Obama administration than at any time in the last 30 years yet some people have this myth of them trying to stop all oil production. They downplay the increased production as "Well, that is just done on private land not public land" . . . WELL THAT IS WHERE THE OIL IS! DO YOU WANT THEM TO DRILL DRY HOLES ON PUBLIC LAND?!?!

About the only thing they did to slow the energy companies was the 6 month moratorium on deepwater drilling. And I can't see how that can be viewed as unreasonable in view of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I would do if I were in Chu's shoes. The most logical things to do tend to be political suicide (raise gas taxes). I guess if I were in his shoes, I'd push for the ANWR "Grand Bargain" . . . open up ANWR in exchange for good royalties tied the price of oil and use the money to support alternatives.

Whatever else there might be to do (and I honestly don't think there is anything in the way of keeping BAU going) he could at least tell the truth.

Tell the truth? America can't handle the truth. Besides, it's an election year...

E. Swanson

It would help if Obama quit saying there is a hundred years of NG in the US.

Yeah. You'd think he'd stop beating the oil and gas companies drums for them.

You ask good questions, and I like your Grand Bargain.

One other thing Chu could do is get the electrical grid upgrade started. He needs to get Obama to push congress to make whatever legal changes are needed to short circuit the NIMBY crowd so messes like the Sunrise Powerlink don't drag on for a decade.

A few other legal changes and an executive order or two could unstick construction of PV installations on public land.

Generally you are right. The regular PV industry ran right over Solyndra's niche. The batteries will come along as they will, government programs are simply not fast enough when technology is moving this rapidly.

EVs will come along too. Safety rules are not under Chu's control and neither are state licensing rules. (Two wheels in front and one in back could make a more efficient vehicle, but that also makes it a Trike, subject to licensing more difficult than motorcycle licensing.)

No argument on your other points.

(Two wheels in front and one in back could make a more efficient vehicle, but that also makes it a Trike, subject to licensing more difficult than motorcycle licensing.)

Harder to miss those potholes, though. Worthy of consideration with budget cutbacks proliferating. County roads are already feeling the pinch...

We need a broad based response:

1. Public advertising campaign to expose the dangers of climate change. Climate change kills like smoking kills.
2. We need taxes for oil, nat gas, fracking, and carbon use. Forget cap and trade.
3. We need broad based feed-ins to renewable energy industries.
4. We need broad based support for EVs.

How to get the political will? All the climate scientists need to come out with public statements. Every single one. One a day with press releases to all the major media orgs. Educate, educate, educate. Then start taking the polluters to court. Every single one.

The Arctic is hitting 400 PPM CO2. The time for complacency is long gone. The three year running API advertising campaign and billions of dollars spent on political campaigns is doing its best to put the public to sleep. Time to stand up and fight like the dickens for our children and a livable future.

I guess the answer to how is fight. There's really no easy way. No grand bargain. The republicans aren't going to negotiate a favorable solution. They are too blinded by oil and gas money.

At this point, I just don't think there is the political will. And just having scientists come out isn't going to work. We've had 200+ years of amazing fossil and even more impressive molecular biology evidence of evolution . . . yet like half the population thinks those scientists are just pushing their dirty atheist 'evilution' on them. And evolution is something that happened in the past that we have lots of evidence for . . . climate change means getting people to believe your models predicting the future are correct.

No, I think we are going to need some droughts, famines, and at least a foot rise in sea level before the deniers will take it seriously. Some people just need to be smacked around a bit before they'll take a problem seriously.

We use this term 'political will' so often now, that I think it'd be useful to try to rephrase it and look further into what we're really trying to say.

Considering the pushback and the outright hammering that this administration gets for 'Green Jobs', healtcare or pretty much ANYTHING that Obama says out loud, up to and including killing Bin Laden, I think that it needs to be kept in the realm of 'The art of the impossible', more than the Triumph of the (political) Will (pardon the poor taste..)

Maybe it's not 'forgivable'.. but as Yeager (Sam Sheppard anyhow) said, "Sometimes you just get a pooch that can't be screwed.."

2. We need taxes for oil, nat gas, fracking, and carbon use. Forget cap and trade.

It's possible for all interests to align here. There is a very vocal populist cry about tax credits to oil companies as they're making big profits. I think it's kind of irritating how misrepresented the issue is, but it does represent some leverage.

Why not allow energy companies to keep this tax break on the condition that they spend it on renewable energy? Before you all laugh, this accomplishes several things:
1. Pushes E&P companies in a direction where they can remain relevant in 50 years. They are, after all, energy companies, which will need to evolve in some shape or form anyway. I think profit (in the form of $ and net energy) needs to be re-invested in renewable energy. It's a logical step and ensures the company's long-term survival.
2. Gets everyone thinking that fossil fuels can complement (not compete with) renewables.
3. Diverts natural gas to transportation that might otherwise be used for electricity.
4. Begins to erode the the negative image, which is also necessary for long-term success. The industry is facing a massive shortfall in skilled professionals, in part because of how it's perceived.
5. It might jumpstart a trend, since it's not unprecedented (BP). These are huge organizations with access to lots of capital and resources, and as much as many here dislike them, they're very well run. Oil and gas development has lots of similarities to large solar, wind, grid, geothermal, and tidal projects.

Again, you all may laugh, but I work in the industry and you'd be surprised at how open people (mostly younger folks) are about the general idea of E&P companies evolving into "all of the above" energy companies.

If we could get the industry to agree to transition in such a way that total production of carbon based (burned) diminished at a substantial enough rate to halt and reverse climate change, then I'd be all for it.

Something along the lines of:

All tax credits go to renewables.
Net fossil fuel energy production drops at a manageable rate. Say 3% per year.
Government oversight in place to reduce cheating.
Carbon tax feed in to aid renewable energy development.
Taxes at the consumer level on carbon energy.
Incentives at the consumer level for non carbon energy.

Not generally for nat gas as large source for conventional ground transport. Trucks and aircraft may be a good compromise. I'd push for electric for povs, rail (would be good to have a way to produce at least some of the batteries in the US). I'd also push for massive build solar, wind infrastructure.

The oil companies have the capital to do it and the political clout to back it up. If they could be seen to push real, powerful, meaningful legislation to this end, then I think you might gain some friends. But if it is perceived, in any way, to be disengenuous or token efforts for pr purposes (greenwash), then it will hurt more than help.

Overall, there would have to be some real effort here. Stop funding climate denial agencies like heartland. And do some real work to cut back emissions while maintaining an energy leadership position. But you would need big, large scale investments in alt energy to make it work. Perhaps a pledge to match tax credits on a dollar for dollar basis to fund alt energy would be a positive opening gesture?

Just some ideas. And no. You're not crazy. Fighting each other to the gates of hell would be crazy.

Robert – All interesting ideas. But they bang up against the same problem: public support. All your ideas represent, at least in the short to medium run, increased costs, increased taxes and huge increase in capex expendatures. Fine by me but I can easily afford it. Many Americans either can’t and many more won’t want to. And that brings us back to voting which brings us back to the vast majority of politicians not doing anything to endanger their re-elections.

You’re an honest and thoughtful type so I won’t slam you as hard as I have other “solution finders”. There have been many structural solutions to various problems offered on TOD over the years. What’s been generally lacking has been viable ways to have those solutions enacted. But for good reason: most require a voluntary fundamental shift in human nature. And I’ve yet to see any solution offered for that problem. We’ll be forced to adjust our nature eventually but it will be too late IMHO.

And the other reason I won’t slam you is all those great accolades you tossed on me earlier. A good boss knows how to take care of his brown nosing staff. LOL. Actually I’m in full agreement with you: it will get bad. Maybe you haven’t seen enough of my posts but I’m far from a cornucopian mindset. The only question for me is how long it will take to get very bad. Lots of positive developments in the US energy situation the last few years. But no game changers IMHO. The Titanic is still taking on water the pumps are slowing the sinking. But if this extra time isn’t used constructively it won’t matter”: the dead will still be just as dead when the Carpathian arrives.

See your Inbox eMail.

When the first US troops occupied Hiroshima, the found an operating tram line. As truly desperate and terrible was things were in Japan and Hiroshima then, that tram made things one small bit better.

Best Hopes for Making Things a "bit better" - and more flotsam for the Titanic survivors.


But what I am questioning is whether Joe-Six-Pack (J6P) will ever understand what the structural causes were.

A hundred bottles of beer on the wall, a hundred bottles of beer, take one down and pass it around, there's ninety nine bottles of beer on the wall!

Well, when the beer wells run permanently dry, he will finally understand that the sh!t has really hit the fan, and at that point he won't give a rodent's rear end about the 'structural causes'... but there will be a lot of wailing, gnashing of teeth and breaking of innocent heads!

Can I interest you in a Kevlar helmet?

If we're to look at the real 'buggaboo' let's not stop at energy.

A systems approach acknowledges energy, economy, climate, water, top soil, biodiversity, source and sink issues are symptoms - and carrying capacity overshoot is the cause.

It's certainly useful to study symptoms and understand them - particularly energy, an important driver. But without upstream awareness we risk misplacing our focus and begin 'eating the menu instead of the food'.

It's not a supply shortage as much as it is an unrealistic 'expectation longage' of a species attempting to live and grow far beyond its resource base.

The operative phrase (forgive the slight modification) is, "But until we find a way to take [a systems approach] we will not actually be looking at the deeper cause..."

And even with agreement on the deeper cause, there appears to be too much momentum in the system to avoid slow/fast (choose one) collapse. Perhaps the best we can do is local adaptation and mitigation.

But what do they blame that [Europe problems] on? Not the dwindling oil supply and high oil prices that is for sure.

There still seems to be a growing disconnect between any understanding of the relationship of fractional banking and energy sources. Only when there is a way to grow can interest be paid, and it is that interest that drives the banks, finances, economies in the Western World. Without cheap energy, growth cannot continue.

Since growth potential is limited on a finite planet, eventually it was inevitable that we would see its end. It is our unfortunate predicament that we live at the time this takes place.

This is just so damn frustrating.

That says it all, I'd say, Ron. Have a nice day, my friend. Relax and try to enjoy the show.


I think Leanan was more or less of this opinion three or four years ago...now we're living it.

well, but it's not surprising is it? Hoe many people who lived through the end of other civilizations understood what was happening? Given large societies with smart people, I have to believe there were some who got it, but we usually don't have their perspectives. If we know anything it's just the common narratives, which are usually wrong.

EDIT: And understanding it doesn't mean we can change it. We can however, change ourselves.

Very generally speaking, the growing "doomer" community can be divided into energy doomers, climate doomers, population doomers, and finance doomers.

Of course they are all interwoven, but I personally find myself more and more in agreement with the latter two schools of thought.

I think you left out water doomers and food production doomers. Just trying to be helpful :)

I’ve been lately experimenting with reversing the consumption to production ratios and showing it as production to consumption (P/C), so that the ratio declines in time, with a slope similar to the net export decline slope.

Based on BP’s data base, Indonesia’s P/C ratio was 2.38 in 1991 and at 1.92 in 1994, a decline rate of 7.2%/year. So, in three year intervals, based on the initial three year rate of decline, the predicted versus actual Indonesian P/C data were as follows:

Predicted, Actual P/C ratios for Indonesia (BP):

1997: 1.56, 1.49

2000: 1.26, 1.27

2003: 1.02, 0.95

At a 1.0 P/C ratio, an oil exporting country is no longer a net oil exporter.

For the top 33 net oil exporters, the P/C ratio fell from 3.71 in 2005 to 3.43 in 2008. If we extrapolate this rate of change, they would have been at 3.26 in 2010. The actual 2010 value was slightly lower, at 3.22.

For Saudi Arabia, their P/C ratio fell from 5.55 in 2005 to 4.55 in 2008. If we extrapolate this rate of change, they would have been at 3.99 in 2010. The actual 2010 value was lower, at 3.56. I estimate that the BP data base will show Saudi Arabia’s 2011 P/C ratio at about 3.60, versus a predicted value of 3.73, based on the 2005 to 2008 rate of change.

What is the ratio for Brazil?

Based on total petroleum liquids, less than 1.0 and recently declining.

Good thing the Saudis are getting serious about displacing petroleum in their power generation. Some token gestures at vehicle fuel efficiency would liberate a lot of oil for export too, of course.

Some token gestures at vehicle fuel efficiency would liberate a lot of oil for export too, of course.

The opposite seems to be in the mainstream press.

Even just today, Consumer Reports, whether they meant to or not, are sending the message of BAU

'Eco' models aren't worth the money, study shows

But a new report warns that the minimal extra mileage isn’t worth the hefty price tag – which in some cases would require as much as 38 years of driving to recover in terms of lower fuel costs.

That's wholly US-specific. We're talking about the KSA, albeit I'll admit failure to find any actual data on what their vehicles get for fuel efficiency, but with gasoline selling for $.48/gal it can't be all that hot.

The US shed itself of almost 1 mb/d when CAFE kicked in hard, 30 years ago. I can see the Saudis freeing up a few barrels the same way, even without subjecting their citizenship to the ignominy of having to buy econoboxes.

The power generation issue is more pressing, as the stories published the last few weeks tell at peak they're burning up about 700 kb/d for power.

Have you done any calculations regarding when Norway might become a net oil importer (it might be far enough into the future there won't be any oil left for export though)? I've read Rune Likvern's posts and some other blogs, but it's nice to have non-Norwegians' opinions.

Sam Foucher's most optimistic projection for Norway approaching zero net oil exports is around 2028 (projection based on data through 2006). If we extrapolate the 2002 to 2010 rate of change in the P/C ratio, you get a more optimistic scenario, approaching zero net oil exports around 2041.

Sam Foucher's most optimistic projection for Norway approaching zero net oil exports

I am afraid that a zero net oil exports situation for Norway or any other country may come more from zero net money [euros, dollars, gold dust, etc.] than from zero oil. And that could well be earlier than 2028 - or later than 2041 if things are really wierd, such as where there are only a few Nordic countries left in the world with currencies and importing/exporting economies, etc.


Yeah, I'm sure there'll be plenty of oil left in the North Sea when we stop drilling and producing. It probably will be international events and turmoil that'll do away with our export capability, not URR.

However, the Norwegians are far sighted enough and disciplined enough to change this.

Reduce demand in a variety of ways, substitutes are possible (methanol or ammonia fuel for the fishing fleet - created from their hydro and untapped wind). They are already investing in their electrified rail system and new trams (in a couple of cities at least).

Bicycling and EVs could catch on.

Drop Norwegian oil use by 2/3rds and the date moves.

Best Hopes for Norway,


Norway is already one of the fastest EV adopting countries. They had two (struggling) EV makers (Think and Buddy) yet no conventional car makers. They've been buying EVs at much higher rates than other countries.

Norway bought 1000 Leafs in 6 months. If people in the USA bought Leafs at that rate that would mean 120,000 Leafs sold in the USA in a year!

Would the rate of change of P/C tell us anything?


If you extrapolate the initial three year rate of change in the P/C ratios for IUKE (Indonesia, UK & Egypt), in order to estimate when they hit a 1.0 P/C ratio, and then estimate* their respective post-peak CNE (Cumulative Net Exports), the resulting combined post-peak CNE estimate for IUKE is 4.6 Gb, and the actual combined post-peak CNE number for IUKE was 4.6 Gb.

*Post-peak CNE estimate = (Peak annual net exports X Number of estimated number of years to 1.0 P/C ratio X 0.5) Less Peak annual net exports

Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Save the World

Or destroy it.

These bacteria would therefore get into the root systems of all terrestrial plants and begin to produce alcohol. The engineered bacterium produces far beyond the required amount of alcohol per gram soil than required to kill any terrestrial plant. This would result in the death of all terrestrial plants, because the parent bacterium has been found in the root systems of all plants where anyone has looked for its presence. This could have been the single most devastating impact on human beings since we would likely have lost corn, wheat, barley, vegetable crops, trees, bushes, etc, conceivably all terrestrial plants.

Remember that regulators approved this bacteria for use in the biosphere.

And keep in mind the 70% waste of Carbon Control http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/08/uk-report-just-30-of-carbo...
when one does a search on http://www.google.com/search?q=bilderburg+carbon+tax
Government power to take from the masses to make sure the Goldman Sachs of the world get the masses money.

It is madness, and Venter should know better. But it's another example of control-freak engineered "solutions" to "the world's problems". This is worse than "geo-engineering", which is saying something.

Note the framing - "only he knows how" - I believe the terms 'rent seeking' is used to describe such.

Venter wants to make money and the easiest way is to have the threat of Government action backing up your money grab. Patents do that quite well. One just has to figure out business models that allow you to hide behind the skirt of Government is all.

His money grab is less of a concern than the genetic stability and effects of the engineered critters on the biosphere. If the genetic "thing" is 100% a-ok what happens if it is not "stable" and the mutation becomes nasty? (I'm not sure Humans have the genetic stability part figured out on these GMOed things)

Okay, Ventner is obsessed with reaching the Singularity and becoming a cyborg. We all know that. What he is talking about is nanobiology, and molecular manufacturing (two sides of one coin IMO).

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology tells us that we can control this, and

The potential benefits of molecular manufacturing (MM) are immense, but so are the dangers. In order to avert the dangers, we must thoroughly understand them, and then develop comprehensive plans to prevent them.

Their attitude, "what could possibly go wrong?"

I don't think Grey Goo is a serious danger (though not impossible); I do think that release of engineered bio organisms is a serious danger, however, especially since the biological components are susceptible to the same change inducing factors as any other similar organism. 'Biologic computers' has a nice ring, and adding the word, 'quantum' even better. It invokes 'science' and we all know how great all of our science has turned out. However, consider that quantum behavior is poorly understood at best. Where would be a safe place, do you think, to conduct experiments on these processes? Is there even such thing as a safe place? Given recognition of 'strange action at a distance,' my feeling is that the answer is, 'nowhere,' and 'no.' Until the quantum world is fully understood, this is one area where an intelligent species will take the stance that we not go in that direction. Not now. Maybe not ever.

Of course, no one says that we are an intelligent species... we will likely take the position that, 'some scientists wanted to hold off doing Hydrogen Bomb testing because they felt doing so might cause all of the hydrogen in the world to fuse. We tested, and it didn't. Therefore, we can do it again and nothing bad could happen.'

Again... my viewpoint is we were lucky once. Do we really want to press our luck?


edit: add source


I changed career rather than work for Craig Venter (In his Human DNA sequence days).

However, I discussed peak oil over tea with Prof. David McKay over five years ago. At the time he dismissed the idea as less urgent than the need to decarbonise the UK energy supply. He still measures his research in terms of meeting future energy demand as dictated by a BAU economic model.

The UK energy supply is still a quagmire. We are building wind turbines but the current government is pro-nuclear. They are doing their best to kick-start the nuclear industry but with Europe in meltdown there is no capital for that kind of long term investment.

Oil down 3% to $98 (Brent) Gold up $70 to $1610 in 2 hours - Greek default over the weekend? UK has a double bank holiday Mon/Tues.

Yeah, Ralph, Commodities Head for Worst Loss Since Recession of 2008, above, tells the story, except that gold (currently up 3.33%) and silver (up 2.24%) are rebounding. Clearly a flight to perceived safety. All other commodities, stocks, treasuries dropping "like flies", as Craig puts it so well. This ain't no baby step, it seems.

So is this another world wide recession. The demand destruction is sure as hell coming in loud and clear. It's odd how these misfires seem to happen every spring since the great recession. Something cyclical about it?

Well, if the UK can't afford nuclear, it sure can't afford renewables.
Based on the Finnish reactor costs nuclear comes in at $5,000kw, with about 90% capacity.

Off-shore wind may be about the same cost if you don't look too hard at back up and transmission costs, but off-shore is around 3 times that, from Government and industry figures.

As for solar, at 1/10 the power in December when you really need it compared to June when you don't, at UK latitudes it is a fad, not an energy source.
Don't even look at the cost.

Using MacKay and the Government's energy calculator it is clear that with modest conservation measures and with some use of liquids for air travel etc a very comfortable standard of living with excellent mobility can be had on 1.5kw per capita.

I don't find an investment of around $7,500 per capita over the next 20 years or so unachievable, and then the reactors will last for another 40 years or so:


How building a nuclear fleet around 1.5 times as big as that that France already has over the next 20 or 30 years can be conceived of as impossible baffles me.

Have you included the costs of decommissioning and/or the costs associated with nuclear accidents?

"How building a nuclear fleet around 1.5 times as big as that that France already has over the next 20 or 30 years can be conceived of as impossible baffles me."

How anyone can conceive of the continuity of a society and civilization lasting longer than what is required to maintain, safely operate, manage and sequester the wastes; all of the special requirements inherent in fusion utilization, is, indeed, baffling. We haven't done these things properly even during the peak of human civilization. What, pray tell, convinces you that we'll start now? I suppose that you think humans will suddenly stop killing each other as well. Impossible?

And when the British Fukushima, the English Chernobyl hits, say Somerset, and the wind just happens to be blowing straight towards London, about 150 km to the east, the cost savings will evaporate.

It is unrealistic to assume that such an event is impossible - or so unlikely as to be worth considering.


GM bacteria that are engineered for some industrial purpose generally aren't going to survive in the environment, because whatever they were engineered to do takes energy and is probably not in the best interests of the bug. Therefore, they will be out-competed in the wild by other strains that don't perform the task. An alcohol-producing bug could go everywhere and wipe out all plant life won't exist outside of a Michael Crichton novel--because alcohol is too valuable to simply pump out into the soil.

On the other hand, antibiotic-resistant bacteria ARE a major danger, and are being created by natural selection, simply by overusing antibiotics in animal feed.

Tks for the reality check JM,

What you say is quite true! As they say, extraordinary claims, such as the possible extermination of all plant life on earth, require extraordinary proof and should immediately raise a red flag. Yes, there are inherent risks in GMOs, let alone synthetic organisms built from scratch. However the natural world can be extremely hostile to such organisms. Anyone who has some familiarity with the Theory of Evolution, Genetics, Microbiology, Biochemistry and Bioinformatics and would like to get a better understanding of Venter's work and thinking, including explanations of the dangers, checks and balances, then I'd highly recommend a visit to:


The Edge Master Class 2009
George Church & J. Craig Venter

Disclaimer: I'm not particularly a fan of some of the corporations Dr. Venter associates with but one does have to acknowledge his brilliance!


To explain this kind of collapse, ecologists have long theorized that populations suffering a decline in environmental conditions (such as overfishing) appear stable until they reach a tipping point where the population plummets. Recovery from such collapses is nearly impossible.

From your post From yeast, researchers learn how populations collapse

In this study, the researchers simulated a decline in environmental conditions by removing a certain percentage of each yeast population from its test tube every day, representing the populations’ death rate. In real life, such deteriorating conditions could result from lack of food, overfishing, climate change, acidification of the ocean or anything else detrimental to a population.

The researchers found that as conditions decline, the population becomes less resilient. Whenever it suffers any kind of perturbation, the population is more prone to extinction, requiring more time to recover to a stable population size.

I have been thinking about the comparative economics of diesel vs gasoline for cars. This article (from a European web site) has some useful information: http://www.acea.be/news/news_detail/what_are_the_main_differences_betwee...

The calorific value of diesel fuel is roughly 45.5 MJ/kg (megajoules per kilogram), slightly lower than petrol which is 45.8 MJ/kg. However, diesel fuel is denser than petrol and contains about 15% more energy by volume (roughly 36.9 MJ/litre compared to 33.7 MJ/litre). Accounting for the difference in energy density, the overall efficiency of the diesel engine is still some 20% greater than the petrol engine, despite the diesel engine also being heavier.

Is there any better description of the comparison?

Also, Using the Fuelly web site (which allows owners to keep track of the cost of fuel and fuel economy), I have done the following comparison:

This is my car:

And here is the closest equivalent diesel that I can find:

It appears that in terms of cost per mile, hybrids may beat diesels in the US.

The chemical energy density of diesel is higher, by weight. Also diesel is more dense, so the energy per gallon is even higher. Also, generally diesel engines run at higher compression ratios which makes the engine more thermodynamically efficient.

Also, a lot of effort went into improving diesel engine design in Europe in the last 15 years. My car regularly returns 70 mpg (imperial) in mixed driving, on a recent short trip under ideal conditions the computer reported 102 mpg.

Now petrol engine design is catching up using higher compression ratios by combining turbocharging and supercharging. The best European city cars can equal or better the efficiency of the Prius, but they are much smaller cars. It is more difficult to get the high milage out of these cars because they have more flexible engine than my diesel, and it is too easy to put your foot down and burn rubber :).

Ultimately the best way to improve efficiency is to reduce weight, size and drag. You also need to de-rate the engine to cut the acceleration to tortoise levels to avoid acceleration levels. 0-60 in less than 30 seconds is a non-starter, economically.

However, the industrial world will suffer diesel shortages before petrol shortages, so stick to petrol.

The chemical energy density of diesel is higher, by weight. Also diesel is more dense, so the energy per gallon is even higher. Also, generally diesel engines run at higher compression ratios which makes the engine more thermodynamically efficient.

Another characteristic of diesels which makes them more efficient is that power output is controlled by reducing fuel input rather than by reducing both fuel and air input. The result is that while the thermodynamic efficiency of diesels is a little higher due to higher compression ratios, this is so only at full power operation.

At partial power, the effective compression ratio of a gasoline engine is much lower, so for partial power settings the diesel is MUCH more efficient. The turbo direct injection gasoline engine, now offered in a number of vehicles, should be nearly as efficient as a diesel, but the ones seen in the U.S. so far are not.

For example, the VW Jetta with the 2.0L TDI engine is rated at 30/42 mpg, while the 2.0L gasoline engine (which is a turbo direct injection engine) Jetta is rated at 24/34. Admittedly, the gasoline engine is nearly 50% more powerful, but the diesel has much more torque.

Experience with the gasoline engine (my daughter owns one) says that the EPA economy figures are fairly close to the real world results for this engine, but anecdotal reports plus my own experience with an older VW TDI suggest that diesels often do much better than EPA figures.

Correct. I'm doing about 55mgp highway in the new Passat TDI. Best so far was a 50 mile drive in Florida at 55 where I got 68mpg.

Don't worry — we'll never run out of oil

The peak oil deniers have been busy spending cash to change the dialogue, even though the dialogue changing is not the same as the reality changing.

That is not holding back N.Carolina legislators, who are in the process of crafting a law making it illegal for the ocean to rise more than 8 inches, in terms of official state discourse.

One has to wonder how they are going to deal with the reality that neighbor Virgina acknowledges a 1.5 foot rise in "the Virginia ocean level" already.

That may be giving peak oil deniers inspiration.

Of course the article doesn't really say we will never run out of oil... only that we will stop extracting it when it gets too expensive, which is part and parcel of Peak Oil!

Wierd spin, that.


Well, his last sentence was definitely not part and parcel of Peak Oil.

What will you do then? Go find another source of energy, of course. Just as we will with oil.

Imagine, it is as simple as all that. Now why didn't I think of that?

Ron P.

Yes, and it's just like the reason we have zero unemployment. After you lose your job, you just go find another one! Magic!

Thank you, economics!

North Carolina tries to wish away sea-level rise, above: Interesting that this was published in the Guardian/UK (originally Mother Jones), since I likely won't see it in any of my local NC papers. At one time one of the more moderate/balanced States in the Southeast US, I've watched as our state has drifted towards head-in-the-sand neo-conservatism. "We don't need no inconvenient truths" seems to be the new norm. Indeed, a politically active friend in an adjoining county told me that their commisioners have begun removing any discussion of "anti-growth" issues from their meeting agendas. Limits to growth, mitigation strategies, climate, etc., are taboo.

I've stopped writing to the local papers as more folks have become downright venomous about protecting their delusionary truths. Perhaps they're right; make all of these predicaments non-discussable, even illegal and they'll simply go away. Meantime, our tax dollars are repeatedly diverted to the coast to rebuild roads, bridges and beaches every time another tropical storm comes through. Hopefully our Dem. Governor won't sign this idiocy:

In a strongly worded statement, Ms. Perdue, 65, cited corrosive politics as a reason she was not seeking to keep her office.

“We live in highly partisan times, where some people seem more worried about scoring political points than working together to address the real challenges our state faces,...

Our 'Blue-Dog' Dem. US Congressman has also thrown in the towel, not seeking re-election. So it goes...

Denial is the first reaction to loss. Next will be anger. Eventually acceptance, by which time...


Sure wish TOD wasn't so right all the time. Maybe if I say, "there is no peak oil" and "there is no AGW" over and over, and make the phrases "peak oil" and "global warming" illegal, or maybe if I can pass a law saying that oil is not allowed to peak here in Texas, and that the climate cannot change, everything will be fine? We have to wonder the consequence though. Can we fine Planet Earth for warming in response to increases in CO2??? Imprison it??? What do we do to the seas when they disobey our lawful commands and keep rising??? Do we imprison the oil moguls for allowing oil to peak??? Or the land for failing to produce what isn't there???

::sighs, again, deeply::


Feels a little like we have already sentenced the earth to death, for P.O.

Henry of Huntingdon, the 12th-century chronicler, tells how Cnut [King Canute] set his throne by the sea shore and commanded the tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes. Yet "continuing to rise as usual [the tide] dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person. Then the king leapt backwards, saying: 'Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.'

Perhaps you have heard the saying that the curse of the scientist is to be able to say: "I told you so"...

E. Swanson

ERCOT (electrical grid for most of Texas) has inadequate reserves for an extreme summer

Another "Fry & Dry" summer and rolling blackouts are quite possible.




"We gotta get outa this place
if it's the last thing we ever do."

- http://www.bluesforpeace.com/lyrics/get-out-place.htm

quoted from Texas - 2012


Harbor Freight Tools has 700watt 62cc gasoline powered generators on sale routinely for US$99/each ;)

Is probably enough to run my 500watt 5000btw window A/C in a mayday scenario (Full speed to the PO cliff, Thelma and Louise style!)

In the longer run, if we have longer, I'd truly like to run my fridge, or a window A/C fully on my own PV power during peak load summer days, if I can ever afford to install a kW or two at home....

You can run a frig on quite a bit less than a KW of PV. But running AC on PV is much harder, and a silly waste of resources. There are much better, low energy, ways to keep reasonably cool.

Your window a/c likely draws much more current on start-up and those cheap generators run at full throttle and are noisy. A decent generator will cost 10x that price but my 2000 watt Honda ran the refer, lights and a computer during a 12 hr. power outage.


This explains a lot.


OPEC Oil Output Falls Slightly, Still Above Demand

Crude oil production from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries fell slightly in May for the first time in five months, as another Saudi output increase was offset by supply losses in Iraq, Iran, Libya and Angola, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey.

The drop in Iranian production was expected but the drop in Iraqi and Libyan production was unexpected. Iraq is supposed to be in a gigantic infill drilling program which is supposed to increase their production by several million barrels per day. And Libya is recovering from their civil war. In April they were still about 150 thousand barrels per day below their pre-war level. But apparently in May they were headed in the wrong direction. And Angola is almost 200 kb/d below their peak in 2008 but according to Wikipedia Megaprojects they should be bringing a lot of new oil online.

Iranian exports fell by just 50,000 barrels a day, which JBC said was in line with the natural decline of its oil fields, rather than the impact of international sanctions. Iran's oil production fell by 240,000 barrels a day from March to April as its ability to export was crimped by sanctions.

Wow, a natural decline of 50,000 barrels a month comes to 600,000 barrels a year. I wonder if JBC Energy really knows what they are talking about.

Ron P.

I think the stock market has gotten wind of an impending Greek EU exit. I doubt that lower than expected hiring would send the market this low this fast. Dropping like a stone today:


Dow Down 231 pts. as of 11:39 PST

At least peak oil is over. Did you see the price of WTI?
Sense the main stream media has revised the meaning of peak oil for us, to "when oil demand outstrips supply", the problem has just been fixed, ON THE DEMAND SIDE!

PE: I think it was a combination of not meeting expectation on this month's hiring, adjustment of last quarter by about 50K jobs (wait 'til they adjust this month's!), announcement of 65K impending layoffs by big corps (regulations require announcements or you'd never hear a word about it IMO), and the overall negative EZ news - including among other things a 3.5% drop of the DAX. Taken together, the "fear level" reached 9 of 10 and has since dropped to 'only' 8.


Depleted uranium: could this reduce our dependency on crude oil?

A simple three-step chemical reaction which could herald the introduction of new sustainable feedstocks for the chemical industry has been developed by scientists at The University of Nottingham.

Scientists in the School of Chemistry have developed a recyclable system for converting carbon monoxide (CO) directly into more complicated organic molecules using depleted uranium. Details of the new procedure — which can return the molecule that performs the transformation back to its start point — have been published in the prestigious academic journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The new alchemy: turning Uranium into Carbon? Naah, just a journalist who cannot tell the difference between a catalyst and a feedstock?

Hurricane season is here, and FSU scientists predict an active one

This year's forecast calls for a 70 percent probability of 10 to 16 named storms and five to nine hurricanes. The mean forecast is for 13 named storms, seven hurricanes, and an average accumulated cyclone energy — a measure of the strength and duration of storms — of 122. These numbers are based on 51 individual seasonal forecasts conducted since May 25, 2012, using sea surface temperatures predicted by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Study highlights climate food risk hotspots

The poorest societies may be more able to adapt to the threat climate change poses to food supplies than their slightly richer peers, a new study suggests.

At a broader scale, research highlights areas that are at particular risk of climate-induced crop failures, including south-eastern South America and the north-eastern Mediterranean.

'It turns out that the very poor and the relatively wealthy are less vulnerable than the group in the middle,' ...

'There seems to be a dangerous middle ground where the old ways no longer function, but the new ways aren't up and running yet, and people are at their most vulnerable,' says Fraser. 'Development has damaged traditional agriculture, but they can't yet use capital-based adaptation strategies, from fertilisers and bank loans to higher-yielding breeds of cow.'

Scientists confirm Sierra Nevada 200-year megadroughts

Reno, Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada are no strangers to drought, the most famous being the Medieval megadrought lasting from 800 to 1250 A.D. when annual precipitation was less than 60 percent of normal. The Reno-Tahoe region is now about 65 percent of annual normal precipitation for the year, which doesn't seem like much, but imagine if this were the "norm" each and every year for the next 200 years.

... Using side-scan and multibeam sonar technology developed to map underwater earthquake fault lines such as the West Tahoe fault beneath Fallen Leaf Lake, the team also imaged standing trees up to 130 feet beneath the lake surface as well as submerged ancient shoreline structure and development. The trees matured while the lake level was 130 to 200 feet below its modern elevation and were not deposited by a landslide as was suspected.

Lake Tahoe basin total annual precipitation = 30 inches [65% = 20 in.]

Recently I have been skimming papers regarding open dunes in the High Plains over the last few thousand years ... and as late as the 18th Century.

The Nebraska Sandhills were sand dunes not too long ago [1200s]. Will be again at the rate AGW is occuring.

Late Holocene Eolian Activity in the Mineralogically Mature Nebraska Sand Hills

The age of sand dunes in the Nebraska Sand Hills has been controversial, with some investigators suggesting a full glacial age and others suggesting that they were last active in the late Holocene.

New accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon ages of unaltered bison bones and organic rich sediments suggest that eolian sand deposition occurred at least twice in the past 3000 yr B.P. in three widely separated localities and as many as three times in the past 800 yr at three other localities.

These late Holocene episodes of eolian activity are probably the result of droughts more intense than the 1930s "Dust Bowl" period, based on independent Great Plains climate records from lake sediments and tree rings.

... the potential for reactivation is high, with or without a future greenhouse warming.

It's just business ...

3 Sumatran elephants found poisoned in Indonesia

An environmentalist says three endangered Sumatran elephants have been poisoned and found dead within a palm oil plantation in western Indonesia

Rono Wiranata from the FAKTA nongovernment group said workers at the state-run plantation were believed to have placed the poison on palm fruits. The dead 3- and 5-year-old elephants were found Thursday in two separate locations in East Aceh district.

Wiranata on Friday cited plantation workers in saying more elephants may die from the poison.

Fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants are left in the wild. Environmentalists say they could be extinct within three decades unless they are protected.

In extinction events, the mega-fauna are always the first to go.

Grrrrr...that's so damn sad!

Another shining moment for free market capitalism. Must not be much "demand" for Sumatran elephants.

When there is, I'm sure more will appear - and if not someone will come up with a substitute.

Like the dodo -- what would be a good substitute? Some political figures come to mind...

The invisible hand poisoned them!

On the EV front . . .

Chevy Volt sales climb to 1,680 in May; Nissan Leaf rebounds to 510

Ever since Nissan raised the price of the Leaf by $3K, the sales have tanked. They have a high-yen issue. Hopefully, once they get the Smyrna, TN plant up & running making Leafs, they can cut the price a little and give Leaf sales a shot in the arm.

The Volt is selling better than I expected. I think it is benefiting a lot from the higher-priced Leaf. The Volt is still too expensive for most people, but it is within striking distance. It out sold the Plug-In Prius in May (Pip sold 1,086) which impressed me. (The PiP doesn't deserve good sales, IMHO . . . if you want a plug-in, get the Volt. If you want a hybrid, get a regular Prius.)

No report on Ford Focus Electric sales but it is expected to be very small due to the stiff $40K price tag.

We bought one of those Volts in May; now we have both a Leaf and a Volt. We like both of them. Both get about 4.2 miles/KWH including cold A/C in the Texas heat.

These cars are 7 times as energy-efficient as a gasoline car, making it practical and cost-effictive to power them with solar panels.

We have the panels, and use the grid as our battery: Austin Energy is quite happy to take our solar power at their peak demand times, then give us credit as we recharge the cars at night when Texas has plenty of surplus wind power.

Thanks Techsan for the very positive experience and sharing it. When enough people understand how really easy it is to cut their FF use in daily transport where it is reasonably sunny there will be a massive uptake of EV and roof-top PV.

New compound could become 'cool blue' for energy efficiency in buildings

A new type of durable, environmentally-benign blue pigment discovered at Oregon State University has also been found to have unusual characteristics in reflecting heat – it's a "cool blue" compound that could become important in new approaches to saving energy in buildings.

"This pigment has infrared heat reflectivity of about 40 percent, which is significantly higher than most blue pigments now being used,"

FDA Nixes Name Change for Corn Syrup

The FDA has denied a request from the Corn Refiners Association to use the term "corn sugar" as an alternate name for "high fructose corn syrup," according to a letter issued to the Corn Refiners Association.

The agency did not accept the case put forth by the Corn Refiners Association, which said that "consumers are confused by the name 'high fructose corn syrup' and that the proposed alternate name 'corn sugar' more closely reflects consumer expectations and more accurately describes the basic nature of HFCS [high fructose corn syrup] and its characterizing properties."

As part of their fructose case, the Corn Refiners Association also wanted the FDA to to eliminate "corn sugar" as an alternate name for "dextrose" and to be able replace all references of "corn sugar" with "dextrose."

The FDA said it would not do so.

Last year, a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that consumption of fructose-laced drinks increased cardiovascular risk factors even for young healthy people.

Global cancer cases to rise 75 pct by 2030 as developing countries adopt bad habits from West

Meanwhile, "Big Beverage" is trying to kill Mayor Bloomberg's plan to limit the size of sugary drinks sold to 16ozs.

"Numerous studies have linked sugary drink consumption with long-term weight gain as well as an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. In New York City, thousands of deaths each year and close to $4 billion in direct medical costs are due to obesity."

As usual, the crew at the Daily Show have the funniest take on Bloomberg's proposal.

Drink Different

Mayor Bloomberg's large soda ban would combine the draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect.

Well, then, I suppose if someone wants "an oil drum of soda that makes me pee thirty times" [at 1:25], they'll just have to buy two [at 1:40] of Nanny Bloomberg's 16-ouncers instead of one 32-ouncer. Indeed, maybe they'll start getting twofer discounts. Which is apparently what Nanny Bloomberg himself almost suggested:

“Your argument, I guess, could be that it’s a little less convenient to have to carry two 16-ounce drinks to your seat in the movie theater rather than one 32 ounce,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a sarcastic tone. “I don’t think you can make the case that we’re taking things away.”

Now, seriously, it seems to me that New York City has a full plate of neglected or badly-mishandled basic urban issues including schools, infrastructure, policing, the 80-year 2nd Ave. Subway saga, etc., etc. They hardly need to be futzing around hiring more silly food-and-drink police. Then again, dealing with everyday basics isn't valued by the fusty, snobbish, know-it-all social commentariat that Bloomberg and many other big-time politicians pander to full-time. Plus, Bloomberg has always "embraced the vision" of himself as everyone's nagging, overbearing mommy and daddy. Maybe all those fashionable big-company "brainstorming" techniques really do turn the brain to mush.

Now, for all those TOD'ers who keep calling for ever more asinine, meddlesome, petty, bullying governmental nano-management, are you serious? Do you get why so many voters aren't rushing to join you? Do you get say, why, Scott Walker, with all his many flaws, may yet win in Wisconsin despite all the trouble so many people went through to call the election? Do you get why somewhat similar governors have been elected in a number of states? Naah, probably not.

From Reuters: Greek debt woes mutate into energy crises.


Chesapeake Oil Well Is Biggest Gusher in Company's History

Chesapeake Energy Corp. said it drilled the largest oil gusher in the company's 23-year history at a "significant" discovery in the Anadarko Basin of Texas and Oklahoma.

The Thurman Horn 406H well in the Hogshooter formation produced 5,400 barrels of crude a day during its first eight days of operation ...

The discovery will accelerate the second-largest U.S. natural-gas supplier's shift to more profitable crude production ... Chesapeake is seeking to sell $20.5 billion in assets by the end of 2013 to fill a cash-flow shortfall.

Oil Majors May Consider Buying Chesapeake On The Cheap

... The company faces a cash shortfall in excess of $10 billion in its bid to finance an expansion into oil rich plays and its stock price has fallen by 47% over the past 12 months, lowering its enterprise value to $29 billion, roughly coming up to $9.2 for every barrel of energy equivalent in its proven reserves, which is at a steep discount to the industry median of $15.5 / BOEE. [1] Such a low valuation should attract oil majors, who anticipate a broad recovery in natural gas prices in the long term.

S - The Hogshooter Limestone is somewhat different than the other shale plays. It appears to owe its flow rate to fracture systems but also has some pretty good porosity. Apache actually opened the play up a few years ago. Their wells came on at around 2,000 bopd and after two months were down to 700 bopd. Very good wells but that's still a 65% decline rate in two months...not per year. So the formation appears to have the same severe decline rates as the shale plays. I'll see if I can find more current production info. As good as the initial rates sound it as important to see what they are doing after several years. The rates may be a good bit lower but if they hold for a number of years they would provide some long term stability.

Boeing Cargo-Jet Orders Vanish Amid Air-Shipments Slump: Freight

Boeing Co. (BA) posted its best year on record for jet-freighter orders in 2011, with 79 planes valued at $19.5 billion. A repeat performance looks out of the question.

The world’s largest maker of cargo aircraft hadn’t logged a new freighter deal in 2012 through May 29, a dry spell that matches the worst start to a year for such purchases since 2009. Boeing’s tally in the same period in 2011 was 13 cargo planes whose catalog prices totaled $3.75 billion.

Freighter demand is wilting along with global air shipments as China’s economy cools and Europe’s debt crisis deepens. Those pressures on cargo carriers are erasing any chance for Chicago- based Boeing to approach 2011’s freighter deals, said Ken Herbert, a Wedbush Securities analyst in San Francisco.

“I’m not expecting a very good year,” Herbert said in an interview. “Freight traffic is still bouncing along the bottom and slow to come back.”

International air-cargo shipments fell 2.5 percent worldwide through April, even as industrywide capacity grew 1.8 percent, the International Air Transport Association trade group said yesterday. Europe’s cargo traffic slid 4.6 percent, while the Asia-Pacific region declined 4.4 percent.

ND's sole oil refinery plans outage for expansion project

North Dakota's sole oil refinery at Mandan plans a two-week shutdown this month to bring online an expansion project that will bump the factory's capacity by 10,000 barrels a day, a petroleum marketing official said.

Crude is shipped via pipeline from the Williston Basin in Montana and North Dakota to supply the refinery, which converts it to gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, propane, butane and residual fuel.

The bulk of the refinery's products are shipped through pipelines to eastern North Dakota and Minnesota and sold to customers in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Gasoline typically makes up about 60 percent of the refinery's production. About 80 percent of the diesel and 35 percent of the gasoline produced at the refinery stays in North Dakota, the company has said.

Work also is under way at the Mandan refinery to boost diesel production by 5,000 barrels per day, to 22,000 barrels by the end of 2013. That project, announced in December, is being done in response to growing diesel demand in the region, Tesoro said.

Nissan turns auto/home power-sharing into reality

TOKYO – Nissan launched here what it calls its “Leaf-to-home” power supply system, designed to turn Nissan’s electric vehicle Leaf into a backup electricity supply for residential homes.

The “Leaf-to-home” system, scheduled to go on sale in mid-June at Nissan dealerships in Japan, makes Leaf the first electric vehicle that can be used to curb power drawn from the grid during peak consumption hours in Japan, according to Nissan.

The EV Power Supply System developed by Nichicon is a two-way charger capable of both fully charging Nissan’s EV, Leaf, in just four hours (half the time of an ordinary charger) and also supplying a home’s electricity distribution panel from a Leaf’s high-capacity batteries.

When fully-charged, the lithium-ion batteries in a Leaf store up to 24kWh of electricity. That’s more than enough to power the average Japanese household for two full days, according to the Japanese auto maker.

Anyone here who has ever bought a used Japanese vehicle will know that it is quite typical for them to have very low mileage figures. A study linked to from this post on auotbloggreen.com has supports this:

Another interesting bit of information from the study is how much the citizens of the various nations drive. To probably none of our readers' surprise, the U.S. leads this statistic with 16,155 miles per year per person in the United States. Japan came in last of the eight, with only 6,213 miles driven.

This works out to an average of about 17 miles per day! This would indicate that this would be a fairly practical application for EV batteries in Japan since at the rate it appears that the typical Japanese uses their car, the batteries wouldn't be used to anywhere near their capacity in normal use.

Alan from the islands

Be careful not to take the average too seriously. 17 miles a day, on average, could actually be a single 120 mile trip on Saturday or a 500 mile trip once a month, or any combination. None of which would be a good application for a typical EV. The ability to make that 100 or 200 or 500 mile trip on occasion is the big downfall of EVs.

My wife is starting to think about a new car. She is still driving the 1999 Toyota Avalon we bought when our kids were still home. We have discussed trying to rent cars for longer trips (mostly to visit said children). If that works out we may never buy a new car again because I'm pretty sure that Toyota has another 100,000 mile left in it (Currently at 150,000) and we seem to drive less each year.

North Dakota oil patch schools say they are in crisis

The oil boom in western North Dakota is drawing companies and workers from around the country. Officials have been working to ease a housing crunch, and as more housing becomes available, more oil workers are going to bring their families, Hjelmstad said.

Schools might need as much as $200 million to handle as many as 3,000 new students next year ...

$200,000,000/3000 = $67,000 per student

That, is, if schools insist on the American style of public education: lots of media and lots of propaganda, lots of wasteful "activities" and teachers who are afraid of failing students.

Instead of a paper, a pencil, and a teacher who takes no BS.


Other than the "socialization" excuse - no reason not to had 'em a computer. Said machine can feed '
em lessons and give 'em the test.

China and Japan Begin Direct Currency Trading

Two countries can now trade currencies without using US dollar as intermediary, as Beijing pushes global use of yuan.

The market participants can now exchange Japanese yen for Chinese yuan without having to use the US dollar as an intermediary currency, making foreign trade settlement more convenient and cutting transaction costs.

Chinese state media have reported that the foreign exchange launch will save the country about $3bn in annual costs tied to using the dollar in trade transactions.

Since the 2008 global financial crisis, China has signed currency swap agreements worth more than $238bn with dozens of countries, including the Republic of Korea and Malaysia.

"Dollars? We ain't got no dollars. We don't need no dollars! I don't have to show you any stinkin' dollars!"

I'm confused why using the dollar as an intermediary ever continued as long as it did. Seems a bizarre way of doing business in the first place.

June 1, 1849: Stanley Twins Steam Into History

If the two were alive today, they’d be called green-tech pioneers. But when they built the cars that bore their name, steam was the known quantity, and gasoline was the alternative fuel.

The cars were quick. A Stanley Rocket driven by Fred Marriott achieved 127.7 mph in 1906 to set the land speed record for a steam-powered car.

The Stanleys refined their design over the years, and their cars rivaled the performance of gasoline-powered cars like the Stutz Bearcat and Marmon Wasp. Stanleys outsold every gasoline model until 1917, and the company enjoyed sales that were second only to Columbia Electric — further proving there are no truly new technologies in the auto industry

General Motors built an experimental steam powered car in the 1960's. I remember that because I tried to build a steam engine for use in automobiles in the early 1970's, only to learn later about GM's effort. I didn't get very far, after working about 6 months in a junior college machine shop, all I had to show was a test burner. I later found out that the efficiency of Rankine Cycle (steam) engine was rather poor, so I gave up the idea. Besides, I didn't have enough money to do it right...

E. Swanson

Wired is so full of it. Anybody who proposes that an automobile could ever be "green tech" is simply insane. These machines are the quintessence of overkill, regardless of fuel source.

As for those speed numbers, pray tell: What was the curb weight of that buggy? 750 pounds?


Anybody who proposes that an automobile could ever be "green tech" is simply insane.

Why not? Just go to EVs whose materials are recycled.

Explaining Nigeria's energy crisis

Electricity prices in Nigeria have gone up today. Derision and disbelief sums up the reaction of many people here. For decades, the country has had a chronic shortage of electricity.

The country generates between 4,000-5,000 megawatts of power, for its population of 150 million people.

Compare that to South Africa, which generates 40,000MW of power, for a population of around 50 million people. Or the UK, which generates 83,000MW of power for a population of 62 million people.

The situation is so bad that everyone must own one, or several, diesel-fuelled generators, for which they have to spend large quantities of cash on fuel, to power their homes and keep businesses afloat.

Falling economy, rising anger

Since the 1990's when India's economy opened up from the shackles of state control, it's been in the headlines for doing (almost) everything economically right.

Double-digit growth figures, rising income levels and being a darling with global investors was what the Indian growth story was all about. So, instead of waiting for rich relatives to visit from abroad, many Indians could now afford to buy fridges, microwaves and, yes, even imported chocolate in their own country.

That dream is now collapsing.

Recession that will never yield -> conflict :(

7 billion people who have seen the "promised land" of McMansions and yachtz and carz.

They want it, and they want it now!

That dream is now collapsing

The 'dream' was a heady concoction and the vial is now empty, welcome back to reality.

Oil drilling to begin in St Bess

SAGRES ENERGY, the Canadian oil-exploration company, which has been licensed to explore for oil in Jamaica's waters, is set to start drilling in Walton Basin, off the coast of south St Elizabeth in 2013.

Great! Great! Lets go! Hold on, what's this?

Should the oil exploration meet projection, it would also make Jamaica a significant exporter with reserves at one-third of OPEC-member Ecuador's reserves, based on that oil-grouping statistics.

However, for the drilling to commence, Sagres would require a multi-million-dollar investment. As a consequence, the company is now on the hunt for a joint-venture partner, even as it is fine-tuning data from its research.

Oops, another case of an announcement being made for something that depends on conditions being met, before the conditions are met. Now all we need is someone with the cash who can be convinced that, there's gold in them thar hills.

Alan from the islands

Great Barrier Grief

I said in an earlier Drumbeat that the port of Gladstone in Queensland will prove to be the Death Star for east Australian conventional and unconventional gas. Carbon tax starts this time next month and the Feds were offering easy money to convert 2000 MW of coal fired generation to combined cycle gas. As far as I can see only a fraction of the offer has been taken up for fear of high east coast gas prices.

The newer natgas fields are offshore in Western Australia (eg Gorgon) but in the east it is hoped fracking will revive ageing onshore natgas fields as well as finding coal seam methane. Much of that will be liquefied at Gladstone and exported. That means east Australian gas users will have to pay export equivalent prices. That's for piped gas without the liquefaction process. We're talking at least a doubling of domestic prices. That's why there is no rush to replace old coal plant despite the tax of $23 per tCO2.

As for reef ecology there has been one Chinese coal carrier run aground and anther recently had engine failure. Whether the fish deaths are due to storms or harbour dredging may be hard to pinpoint except the more coal we burn the worse storms will get. I think there will be double resentment due to foreign coal and gas buyers escaping carbon tax and also driving up local prices. Watch this space.

NATO air strike kills six children

Study: CIA drones strikes have killed 168 children

Afghanistan, Iraq Wars Killed 132,000 Civilians, Report Says

...yet, the Syrian 100 are an internationally celebrated atrocity.

Isn't spin wonderful?

It's ALL horrible.. and while I won't excuse the disastrous blindspots of our current version of High Level Bombing Campaigns, there is still a difference between that horrific set of blunderous civilian deaths, and that of racing into homes and cutting kids throats or shooting them in the face intentionally.

You could say the difference doesn't matter to the victims, and there's a point there.. but they are not the same thing.

I would hesitate to even say blunderous. I spotted one video, on YouTube, that showed militants placing children on the steps of the building where they were meeting. There seems to be an amount of using human shields which can lead to unintended, on the part of the air campaign not on the part of the militants, civilian casualties. There have also been incidents where militants have thrown hand-grenades at people they have a grudge against then paraded their bodies as 'evidence' of civilian casualties caused by air strikes. Care needs to be taken in assigning blame.


The equivalence that bothers me is the influence of outsiders in these peoples affairs. The outsiders are there for the oil.