Drumbeat: June 15, 2012

Again a power in OPEC, Iraq could shift landscape

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's rapidly expanding oil production is likely to complicate OPEC's efforts to influence world prices as the country re-emerges as a major player after 20 years on the sidelines due to sanctions and strife.

For now, Iraq is backing Iran's push for OPEC to set lower production limits and keep prices high, but Baghdad's own ambitious plans for expansion could cause an overall production growth that might drive down prices.

Analysts say Iraq's new clout is shifting the power balance in the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and could force it to overhaul its intricate production quota system to accommodate Baghdad's rapid expansion.

Oil Gains a Second Day on Stimulus Speculation, OPEC Call

Oil rose in New York, heading for a second week of gains, on speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve may take more steps to stimulate the economy and on OPEC’s call for members to cut production in excess of targets.

Futures climbed as much as 1.1 percent as a report showed yesterday that the cost of living in the U.S. fell by the most in more than three years. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries needs to reduce output by 1.6 million barrels a day to comply with its targeted ceiling, Secretary- General Abdalla El-Badri said.

OPEC Maintains Oil Quota as Price Decline Brings Compromise

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries kept its production ceiling unchanged, as concern that global growth is shrinking outweighed calls by some members for supply cuts to stem sliding prices.

The 12-member group agreed to leave the limit at 30 million barrels a day, Youcef Yousfi, Algeria’s Minister of Energy and Mines, said today in Vienna at the end of the producer group’s first meeting of the year. Venezuela, Angola and Ecuador were among nations that backed keeping the quota unchanged prior to the decision. Saudi Arabia, whose minister, Ali al-Naimi, had said this week he might favor a production increase, said he was “happy” with today’s outcome.

OPEC: A cartel of one

Twelve nations belong to OPEC but only Saudi Arabia has mattered of late. At the latest meeting in Vienna, the kingdom again batted away Venezuela, Iran and others who wanted to cut output. The deepening divide in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could face a more serious test if prices keep sliding.

OPEC chief sees oil at $110 a barrel as fair

VIENNA — Oil prices could rise about $25 from their present levels to $110 a barrel without threatening the world economy, OPEC Secretary General Abdullah Al-Badry said Friday.

Crude prices have dropped steeply in recent months with the U.S. benchmark selling Friday at just below $85 a barrel. That's about 20 percent less than where they were in February, and Al-Badry said it's far below what consumers can afford.

"$110 is not a threat to the world economic growth," Al-Badry told reporters a day after OPEC oil ministers agreed to keep the cartel's total output ceiling at 30 million barrels a day.

OPEC Decision Puts Onus on Saudi Arabia Should Oil Fall

OPEC’s decision to keep its output quota unchanged yesterday throws the onus on the group’s biggest producer, Saudi Arabia, to cut supply should crude prices extend their drop below $100 a barrel.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would need to reduce output by 1.6 million barrels a day to comply with its targeted ceiling of 30 million barrels a day, Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri said yesterday. Increased production from Saudi Arabia has been blamed for plunging prices by members including Iran, whose own exports are set to drop as a European Union embargo starts July 1. OPEC hasn’t specified which nations should cut supply, Kuwait’s minister said today.

Oil Rout Has China Hoarding Most Since Olympics

China is hoarding crude at the fastest rate since the Beijing Olympics four years ago as the slump in international prices prompts it to import unprecedented volumes even as refining slows.

The world’s second-biggest oil consumer built up a surplus of about 90 million barrels of crude in the first five months of the year, government data show. The excess, the most since the run-up to the 2008 games, is probably being kept at emergency and commercial storage centers, according to the International Energy Agency. London’s Brent oil slid the most in more than three years in May.

Consumer prices fall 0.3% in May

The consumer price index was led lower by a 4.3% drop in the price of energy, coupled with no change in food prices, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Excluding food and energy, whose prices are more volatile than the rest of the economy, the so-called core inflation rate climbed 0.2%, the third straight increase of 0.2%. Economists had expected the overall CPI to drop 0.2%, according to Moody's Analytics.

Stimulus-by-the-gallon: Lower gas prices

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Congress and the Federal Reserve aren't likely to provide any meaningful stimulus to the economy. But your corner gas station might.

The average gas price has come down about 40 cents, or 10%, since the peak near $4 a gallon in early April. With U.S. drivers expected to use about 133 billion gallons of gasoline this year, the 40-cent price break works out to about $53 billion in annual savings if it were to stay in place for a full year.

"Just as an increase in gas prices is essentially is a tax on consumers, a decrease in prices acts as a tax cut," said Brett Ryan, economist with Deutsche Bank.

Airplanes, oil cut Canada April manufacturing sales

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian manufacturing sales showed a surprise decline in April, of 0.8 percent from March levels, but most of this could be explained by fluctuations in the volatile aerospace industry and by temporary oil refinery shutdowns.

Statistics Canada said on Friday that the fall was the third in four months, and came on the heels of a 1.9 percent rise in March. The median forecast in a Reuters survey of analysts was for a 0.3 percent rise; none forecasted a decline of more than 0.6 percent.

High fuel prices inspire another summer of staycations

The nation’s long-running economic doldrums have helped one frugal trend to thrive: the staycation.

About 24 percent of American workers are considering a staycation this year to save money and another 11 percent will definitely take one, according to a quarterly survey conducted by Principal Financial Group.

That’s about the same as last year.

Illinois refinery shutdown, closings account for higher prices at Hoosier pumps

Hoosiers filling up at the pump this week are feeling the squeeze on their wallets and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is working to ensure they aren’t being illegally gouged.

According to AAA on Thursday, Indiana has the 7th highest gas prices in the nation at an average of $3.78 per gallon. The Midwest region is experiencing the same increase, as Michigan has the 6th highest gas prices, Illinois has the 10th highest and Ohio has the 12th.

Storms ahead for oil tanker rentals

Conflicting predictions for the future performance of the oil tanker trade yesterday have underlined the volatility of the market.

DNB Markets, Norway's largest investment bank, delivered an upbeat report, raising its rate predictions for this year by 20 per cent.

IEA chief: Energy efficiency directive is 'a must'

Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, has warned EU countries about the "absurd" strategies they use to subsidise fossil fuels. In an exclusive interview with EurActiv, he urged EU leaders to make the Energy Efficiency Directive, currently in its final negotiation stage, “a must”.

“Not to push the energy efficiency measures is another way of asking for higher emissions, higher energy import bills and higher energy insecurity," Birol said.

Petrobras’s Plan Increases Spending, Cuts Output Target

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled crude producer, cut its long-term output target by 11 percent and said spending will rise to $236.5 billion through 2016 as it increases investment at offshore oil fields.

Petrobras forecasts output of 5.7 million barrels a day by 2020, down from a previous goal of 6.4 million barrels, the Rio de Janeiro-based company said today in a statement. About $141.8 billion of the projected spending will help finance exploration and production as Petrobras ramps up output at offshore fields.

Petrobras Worst Big Oil Bet on Deepwater Disappointments

Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4) is the worst investment among the world’s biggest oil companies this year as Brazil’s state-controlled producer suffers delays and cost overruns developing the largest oil finds in more than a decade.

Italy's Eni to Produce Shale Gas in Ukraine

Italian energy giant Eni has entered a project to produce shale gas in the Lviv region of western Ukraine amid Kiev's attempts to find alternatives to Russian natural gas, the company said on Friday.

Eni has signed an agreement with Ukraine's state-owned Nadra Ukrayny and Cadogan Petroleum, an independent oil and gas producer with onshore gas assets in Ukraine, to buy a 50.01 percent stake in Westgasinvest, which holds rights to nine shale gas license areas in the Lviv Basin, totaling nearly 3,800 square kilometers.

Canada Seeks Alternatives to Transport Oil Reserves

LONDON, Ontario — As the United States continues to play political Ping-Pong with the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadian officials and companies are desperately seeking alternatives to get the country’s nearly 200 billion barrels in oil reserves — almost equal to that of Saudi Arabia — to market from landlocked Alberta.

ConocoPhillips resurrects shipments of LNG from Alaska to Japan

(Reuters) - ConocoPhillips has resumed shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its Alaska plant, an aged facility that was previously targeted for closure, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The company sent a shipment of LNG last month to Japan, spokeswoman Natalie Lowman said.

North Dakota crude elbows Alaska oil out of Washington refinery

They stole our women. They stole our workers, some of them anyway. Will North Dakota oil soon elbow Alaska crude out of nearby refineries, too?

Starting in September, light-and-sweet crude from North Dakota's Bakken deposit will be shipped to Washington state for refining by Tesoro, the Petroleum News reports. There, it will replace at least 30,000 barrels per day of the more-expensive and harder-to-clean Alaska North Slope crude.

China and Abu Dhabi keen on oil exploration partnership

VIENNA // Abu Dhabi and China are moving towards a closer partnership in oil exploration as plans take shape for a drilling campaign in the emirate as soon as next year, officials said.

Firepower bristles in South China Sea as rivalries harden

As part of the strategic pivot unveiled in January, the United States will deploy 60 per cent of its warships in the Asia-Pacific, up from 50 percent now. They will include six aircraft carriers and a majority of the U.S. navy's cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships and submarines.

"Make no mistake, in a steady, deliberate and sustainable way, the United States military is rebalancing and bringing an enhanced capability development to this vital region," Panetta told the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security conference in Singapore attended by civilian and military leaders from Asia-Pacific and Western nations.

Activists call for protests on eve of Egypt's presidential runoff

Cairo (CNN) -- Egypt's interim military rulers plan to announce a 100-person assembly Friday to write a new constitution, a day after a top court declared parliament invalid and triggered renewed chaos over the country's leadership.

Russia says not sent new helicopters to Syria

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Friday it had not made any new deliveries of military helicopters to Syria but had sent repaired aircraft to the violence-torn country "many years ago".

In its most direct response yet to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments that Washington had information attack helicopters were on the way from Russia to Syria, the Foreign Ministry said Moscow's arms cooperation with Damascus was limited to "defensive" technology.

Japan to pass bill to insure Iran oil imports

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's lower house is set to pass a bill on Friday to provide government guarantees on insurance for Iranian crude cargoes, making it the first of Iran's big Asian buyers to find a way to keep the oil flowing in the face of tough new EU sanctions.

A European Union ban on member countries importing Iranian oil takes effect on July 1 and includes a ban on EU insurance firms from covering Iran's exports. That is a headache for Japan, South Korea, China and India, who together buy two thirds of Iran's oil exports and rely on EU companies to insure them.

South Africa eyes new oil sources

South Africa is looking at alternative sources of crude as tough US sanctions slapped on countries importing oil from Iran are days away from taking effect, a senior government official said on Friday.

“We intend to look especially in Africa, mainly Angola and Nigeria, but of course we are going to continue to import from Saudi Arabia,” which produces a crude type close to that of Iran, said Nelisiwe Magubane, the director general for energy.

CNPC interested in Norway's oil sector - paper

(Reuters) - Top Chinese oil and gas producer China National Petroleum Corp is interested in investing in Norway's oil sector, even as political relations between the two countries remain icy, Norwegian daily DN reported on Friday.

Ford Pledges to Cut Energy Used in Automaking 25% by 2016

Ford Motor Co., claiming a one-fifth cut in energy used to make cars since 2006, pledged to reduce consumption in its factories an additional 25 percent by 2016.

The second-largest U.S. automaker used 2,778 kilowatt hours to produce each vehicle in its global factories last year, down 22 percent from 3,576 kwh in 2006, it said in its annual sustainability report today. While Ford is using more energy- efficient tools and production methods, part of the gain is from increased use of factory capacity as sales rebounded, said John Viera, the automaker’s global director of sustainability.

Cuomo Proposal Would Restrict Gas Drilling to a Struggling Area

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration is pursuing a plan to limit the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing to portions of several struggling New York counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and to permit it only in communities that express support for the technology.

Ex-BP Engineer Faces February Trial in Spill Criminal Case

A former BP Plc engineer charged with destroying evidence sought for a U.S probe of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill will face a Feb. 25 trial, a judge said.

Kurt Mix, who worked on internal BP efforts to estimate the amount of oil leaking from the well, was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly deleting text message strings from his mobile phone. Mix has pleaded not guilty.

On the Trail of Oil-Munching Organisms

Two years ago today, BP’s Macondo well was in the midst of its 87-day spree of spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Tar balls and oil slicks were showing up on beaches from Texas to Florida.

A significant amount of the 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled still lies on the ocean floor, lingers in salt marshes or is mixed into beach sand, scientists say. Yet some other oil has been degraded by oil-digesting organisms — and a new paper in the journal PLoS suggests that fungi are among them.

Energy Department Steps in to Help Uranium Enrichment Company

WASHINGTON — The Energy Department announced Wednesday that it was stepping in to shore up an ailing company it created in the 1990s to privatize uranium enrichment, calling the rescue vital to maintaining nuclear weapons and national security.

Troubles at San Onofre Nuclear Plant Awaken Activists

Ongoing troubles at Southern California's San Onofre nuclear power plant have galvanized area residents, city officials and environmental groups—putting an emphatic end to a complacency that was unusual for a densely populated region with a nuclear plant in its midst.

Hot oil: Grease creates a lucrative new crime

Back in the day, when John Spagnolo was in the restaurant business, he remembers having to pay to get rid of used cooking oil.

"Then they began taking it away for free," says Spagnolo, a sales manager with Greenlight Biofuels, a locally-based company founded in 2007 that collects and processes waste oil in Virginia and Maryland to produce biodiesel fuel. "Now we pay restaurants for their used cooking oil."

Indeed, with gas prices so high, the demand for biodiesel has been rising. According to the National Biodiesel Board, one billion gallons of the stuff is now being produced every year. As they say, it's a hot commodity. And as a result, crooks are stealing the stuff. At peak times, it sells on the street for as much a $4 a gallon.

Five Stars for Robert Rapier's "Power Plays"

"Power Plays" is structured as an overview of the complex set of energy sources and applications in use today, including their intimate connection to domestic and geopolitics. (The book includes a sobering, non-partisan analysis of the efforts of eight US presidents to promote energy independence.) It is also based on an explicit point of view about the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to attempt to mitigate human influence on climate change, while being exceptionally realistic about our available options and likely success. Robert has definite ideas on energy policies that would be useful, particularly in guiding our long transition away from oil. I don't agree with all of them, but they're well-reasoned and well-articulated.

Seneca's cliff goes iPad

My post on the "Seneca cliff" has inspired Hannes Rollin to create an App for the iPad that can be used for running the model for different input parameters.

Abandoned homes plague cities: It takes money to level them

Some local governments hardest hit by population losses are struggling with what has been left behind: large numbers of abandoned housing units.

Census figures released Thursday underscore the problem: In places racked by foreclosure, job loss and a weak economy, housing units haven't fallen as fast as population.

Pressured, E.P.A. Proposes Soot Limit

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new national air quality standards that would significantly reduce levels of fine-particle soot.

Seattle seafood processor caught smuggling ozone-wrecking gases

A Seattle seafood firm caught smuggling 85 tons of ozone-depleting refrigerant into the country will likely pay $700,000 in fines and have to retrofit five fishing vessels.

Announcing a settlement Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency attorneys contended American Seafoods Co. vessels were leaking ozone-depleting gases for years while the company failed to act or looked the other way.

Instead, the Seattle-based firm illegally imported 169,000 pounds of refrigerant for use aboard its Alaska fleet.

Challenge to New York’s Carbon Trading Fails

A New York State Supreme Court justice has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to end New York’s participation in the multIstate carbon trading system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI.

Members of Americans for Prosperity, a group founded and largely financed by oil industry interests, filed the suit last year in state Supreme Court in Albany against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and two state agencies, arguing that the program imposed what amounted to an illegal tax on electric ratepayers.

Oil Companies That Caused Climate Change Now Fear Its Financial Impacts

IBM’s Carbon Disclosure Project Report said that “ExxonMobil noted that the company’s ‘operations around the world include remote and offshore areas that present challenges from existing climate extremes and storms. These severe weather events may disrupt supplies or interrupt the operations of ExxonMobil facilities.’” So according to Exxon, climate change could disrupt their business model. It’s easy to see through the rhetoric when giant fossil fuel companies financially react to the risk of disruption and damage from climate change.

Apocalyptic Map Shows San Francisco After 200 Feet of Sea Level Rise

This is pretty funny, or bleak, or both. It's two artists' rendering of what San Francisco will look like after 200 feet of sea level rise, after the massive polar ice caps melt and accelerated warming expands the acidifying oceans. SF hotspots like the Mission and the Haight become little more than aquatic features on a shrinking archipelago.

Arctic Sea Ice Dips Below Ominous Milestone

This week the extent of Arctic sea ice dipped below the extent for 2007, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). As you may remember, the 2007 season holds the record for lowest Arctic sea-ice extent in recorded history.

Viewpoint: The time Britain slid into chaos [BBC]

The social unrest, economic gloom and austerity in Europe today mirrors one of the greatest crises in British history, says the historian Michael Wood.

An article comparing the favorite TOD topic of comparing current scenario and Roman collapse! I am surprised that this fell through the crack and landed on an MSM website.

The British went back to an Iron Age rural farming economy. The population declined from its four million peak to maybe only a million, devastated by the great plagues, famines and climate crises of the 500s...

Of course it was a long time ago, and conditions were very different. Modern mass democracies are much more complex than the Roman world.

This article is very informative. What collapsed? There were only two things that I can think of that could have collapsed, trade and the government. Trade collapsed, they stopped using money and went back to the barter system, if that. And the government collapsed, law and order disappeared altogether. That was enough to cause a 75% decline in the population.

Try to imagine trade and the government collapsing today. There is no farming economy to go back to. Only a tiny fraction of today's population farms compared to a large majority in those times. And millions of hungry people with no law enforcement is something too horrible to even think about.

Today's society is not just complex, it is super complex, everything ties into everything else. Every form of manufacturing, service, trade and even farming is totally dependent upon everything working smoothly. It is like a house of cards, remove one card and the whole structure comes tumbling down.

And some people believe this will take centuries, others decades. No, it will be a few years and no more. We do not live in Ancient Roman Times.

Ron P.

Yes, it is beginning to look as though you are right. For example, Greece has already reached a "collapse" point, where shops are shutting down, people faint for lack of food, there are no more loans made and not enough medicine....

And Spain and Italy are following.

While the central bankers of the world put on a theater performance: "we are standing by to ensure liquidity in case there is a Lehman-style event after the Greek elections". Oh, I see. That makes me feel so much BETTER!!

It is really clear--the writing is on the wall--- that Europe will fail and drag down an already weak Japan and further entangle India and China in systematic failure, and the US will be the last one to go, but small comfort there, really, a matter of months of difference.

And all the elites pretend that they are busily making efforts on our behalf...pure theater, since everyone but the uninformed knows that economic growth is over forever.

It is really clear--the writing is on the wall--- that Europe will fail and drag down an already weak Japan and further entangle India and China in systematic failure, and the US will be the last one to go, but small comfort there, really, a matter of months of difference.

Not to mention that a black swan event at the Fukushima Daiichi site reactor number 4 could really blow some caca into the ventilator...


Reactor No. 4 building and its frame are serious damaged. The spent fuel pool in Unit 4, with a total weight of 1,670 tons, is suspended 100 feet (30 meters) above ground, beside a wall which is bulging outward.

If this pool collapses or drains, the resulting blast of penetrating radiation will shut down the entire area. At the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, the spent fuel pools alone contain an amount of cesium-137 that is 85 times greater than at Chernobyl...

...The Cesium-137 in Reactor 4 would cause all of Japan’s land to become an evacuation zone, the strong radiation would affect East Asia and North America, and the radioactive material fall out would remain there for several hundred years.

Obvious question: Do the folks in Japan have a plan to perhaps build an in-ground pool near the base of Unit #4, with appropriate and prudent containment structures, and back up water and power systems, with the plan to use some large cranes and pick up the fuel assemblies and place them in the new cooling pond structure at ground level?

Folk's notions of risk assessment baffle me.

A response to a statement that society is going to collapse fundamentally due to energy shortages resulting in the vast majority of the population being wiped out is responded to with a post about somebody's idea of supposed risk from nuclear, and specifically Fukushima.

Actual confirmed deaths excluding mining from civil nuclear power are around 50, ever, with the thousands, or in Greenpeace's case, as many hundreds of thousands as they can dream up, based on dodgy notions of Linear No Threshold risk, which has little or no empirical foundation.
We have had five melt-downs so far, and they simply have not resulted in the dire consequences so frequently predicted.
The credibility of alarmists would on any rational basis be severely dented by their appalling track record.

Leaving that aside however, and assuming that we somehow manage to implement nuclear power so poorly that it kills as many as coal, no easy task at perhaps a million a year, that risk is utterly dwarfed by both the assumed risk of collapse killing billions or, alternatively, climate change also killing billions through failure of the monsoon etc.

Since the energy contained in a barrel of oil is around the same as in ~5 cents worth of uranium, and we know perfectly well how to increase the efficiency of burn up to something much nearer this figure than present reactors, and the build cost of nuclear in the first of a kind in Finland were around $5,000 kw, it is nearly as astonishing to imagine that we have some kind of energy crisis, when we actually have a political road block and oil reaching peak production.

Why on earth anyone who feels that we are in danger of societal collapse through lack of cheap energy or climate change should think that nuclear is 'too risky' beggars belief.

Dave we still do not have an energy crisis, we have a liquid fuels crisis. It's kinda pointless to talk about the wads of energy available here on Earth when most of it's unusable for transportation. It will take close to 40-50 years to rebuild everything to run on Electricity/NG and we neither have that much time nor the resources to make this transition smoothly for everyone.

If you extrapolate, you can ask the following questions...can humanity build the Dyson sphere and expand into space ? Can we go Kardashev scale 2 ? The answer is theoretically yes. But right now we are facing an energy trap, we must build the Dyson sphere with fossil fuels and that is tough task.

You are right about Nuclear though, even though the theoretical risk is high, the actual risk is very low. But while nuclear is an alternative you must consider the high capital costs of investing in Nuclear energy when resources are running low, will people pool together their remaining reserves and invest in future or will they use it to maintain BAU for another day, that is the big question. My bet is on the latter, we simply lack the foresight to see threats in advance. We respond much better to immediate stimuli.

Also I don't think everything is a result of PO, it's one of the reasons sure but what we are seeing in Europe is primarily the result of Europeans being unable to afford their lifestyle with most of the jobs having gone to Asia. It's the great equalization of wealth across the world and it ain't pretty. For most of industrial civilization the wealth flowed from Asia and Africa to Europe, this fueled great economic boom, now when the flow has reversed things are looking ugly. There simply ain't enough wealth to go around these days; even people in developing countries are beginning to see through this 'economic growth' nonsense.

$5,000kw based on actual costs in the West is way lower than the various renewable pipe-dreams, and you get power 24/7.
You can run a society on around 1.5kw of electricity for just about everything with the exception of liquid fuels for aeroplanes etc.

There does not seem to be much consideration of half-way houses between total collapse and continuing to run everything exactly as we do now, with umpteen millions of very powerful cars and long-distance commuting.

In fact, times have been tough before, without everything completely collapsing.

The car fleet rotates in around 15 years, and it is trivial now to produce electric run-arounds with maybe 6 kwh on board to get around, not the way people prefer, but far short of a Mad Max scenario.

I doubt we will need to, although there is continuing pressure on poorer people to fund their transport, and some consolidation into more compact living is both desirable and likely.

Recently Alan brought up the cost of evacuating London due to nuclear.
That is extremely unlikely, as outside of the alternative reality of Greenpeace demonstrable extra mortality from radiation is not detectable below 100mSv, and then it has to be a sudden dose, with people living in areas with natural background radiation of 260mSv/year with no detectable excess mortality, even supposing somehow you managed to make the whole of greater London above that level most people do not stay outdoors 24/7 on which the medical effects are based.
Even if you managed that, radiation would have to climb way, way above 100 mSv to even approach the ongoing death toll from particulates consequent on motor traffic, and no one is suggesting evacuating all major cities because of that.

Putting those considerations aside, the cost of evacuating and rehousing the whole of London would be trivial compared to what I believe to be Alan's preferred solution, of switching most transport to rail, and abandoning or rebuilding suburbs, factories etc to suit.
I have no idea how many trillions that would take, but that is where the real cost is, not in building the railways.

As for the 'great equalisation' argument, times will undoubtedly be tougher in the West, exacerbated by foolish renewables fads, but times have been tough before, for instance in the 1880's as well as the 1930's.
Average incomes continued to grow, although much more slowly than people wished.

When did I predict a Mad Max scenario ? You are stretching my argument ad absurdum. And the statement...

You can run a society on around 1.5kw of electricity for just about everything with the exception of liquid fuels for aeroplanes etc.

is so far from the truth that I can't even be bothered with giving a rebuttal. I just have a few questions for you to think over.

1. How many people have electric cars again ?
2. How much does a Prius or a Volt cost ?
3. How many trucks do you see running on NG or Electricity?
4. How much does a 1kWh of Li Ion or Ni-Cad storage cost ? What are the alternative batter technologies ?

The problem is that you are thinking theoretically, reality works differently. As I already mentioned we could go galactic and colonize every planet on the solar system theoretically and that too without FF. But it's not possible at this point of time, they can't even pay retail bank deposit interests in some European countries for the love of god and you are talking about replacing the entire fleet with electric cars.

To summarize...generating electricity is not a problem, storing it and using it is. There are actually tonnes of ways to generate electricity.

I suggest you listen to this interview between Prof Tom Murphy and Chris Martenson here...the Prof mentions the same thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SJBaAJRBwCI

I was not referring to you in relation to the 'Mad Max' statement, but to a line of argument, ie the notion that we are heading for catastrophe, which was the post I was arguing against.

Apologies for not making that clear.

Detailed, costed analysis of running a society on 1.5kw per capita of electric here:

As I stated elsewhere I do not necessarily think that we can have the same standard of convenience in transport as we now have, and rather fewer people may have cars, but a society with adequate energy can continue to grow it's economy, and battery costs are dropping at around 8% pa.
We'd be able to get about OK with no breakthroughs in battery technology, although in fact substantial progress in storage and cost seem likely.
Light transport can be substantially be run on electricity.
That leaves a lot of spare fossil fuel and biomass to run things like trucks, which although difficult to fully electrify can be hybridised much reducing fuel use.

I am not interested in discussions of galactic colonisation, simply in working out whether we can adequately power societies at present levels of comfort or better.

You claim a way lower price for nucelar, which I cannot understand:

The latest cost estimate for the Olkiluoto reactor that I could find is 6.6 billion € (http://archives.lesechos.fr/archives/2011/LesEchos/21037-96-ECH.htm) or 5200 $/kW. Given the history of that project, it would appear likely to rise further.
Wind energy is somewhere around 1200 $/kW (http://cleantechnica.com/2012/04/04/wind-turbine-prices-hit-new-low/), so about 4 times less.
Wikipedia puts typical wind power capacity factors at 20-40%, and quotes a newish US study which has an average of 35% (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power#Capacity_factor). Nuclear power typically has a 90% capacity factor.

Taking all this together, wind power needs 3/4 of the capital cost for each generated kWh. Of course, wind is intermittent, but it doesn't appear to be more expensive to me (correct my numbers if you see something wrong!). It has no problems with radioactive waste, for which the nuclear industry still has no good solution after over 40 years...

Besides cost arguments and safety concerns (perhaps they are overblown, perhaps not - who can tell?), what really doesn't seem to work at all is the fact that Uranium is also finite. With current reserve estimates and current use, we have enough Uranium for about 80 years, satisfying a measly 5% of the world's energy use. Replace all fossil fuels with Uranium, and we would go through the remaining Uranium in just 4 years. Of course, reserve numbers are always quite uncertain, but the current form of nuclear power seems unable to make a meaningful contribution to fighting global warming. Breeders or Thorium reactors are different, but they simply don't exist yet, and noone knows whether they will ever be available.

We'll be lucky to make Kardashev scale 1.


Pipelines... don't leave out the exploding natural gas pipeline comparison.

Surely your advocacy of nuclear power has an answer to peak Uranium?



Your take on this would be appreciated.

There are two separate issues here, which get confounded.

The first is the possibility of supply over the shorter term, using present reactors and on a once through basis as is used in the US.

Shortages are possible here at various points.

The second is the idea that we are going to run out of uranium at an affordable price on a long term basis, which seems to me absurd.

Hubbert knew this perfectly well, which is why he made a big distinction between fossil fuels and nuclear power.

The actual cost of the raw uranium in a power plant is tiny, around $0.003kwh, of a total running cost excluding build but including everything like decommissioning, 'waste' disposal and so on of around 2 cents/kwh at the plant gate.

This means that if we had to we could pay a lot more for uranium, without materially affecting energy prices even using it as inefficiently as we do at present.

Using it on the US once-through system the energy produced equivalent to a barrel of oil costs around $5.

Apart from using very lean ores, for perhaps 3-5 times that cost we could extract uranium from seawater.
No-one bothers at the moment simply because we have large amounts of very cheap uranium available.

Those who argue for shortages on other than a short term basis do so by fan-dancing around the definitions of reserves as against resources.
An increase in the price of uranium would lead to massive increases in the recoverable reserves, unlike a similar rise for oil from a much higher level.

In addition to that thorium can be used, and that is around 4 times as abundant.
Again, the reason we haven't bothered is precisely because uranium is so cheap, but is could be used at substantially the same final price for energy output.

That is before we come to the thing which kills long term shortage scenario's stone dead.
We only use ~1% of the energy contained in the uranium in present reactors in the once through cycle, the rest becoming the 'waste' 'problem.

We know perfectly well how to use much more than that, even by such a simple step as re-processing as just about everyone but the US does.

France stores it's final waste after reprocessing, and for a nation of 60 million people producing 75% of it's electricity from nuclear power the total amount of high level waste per year has a volume about equivalent to a taxi-cab.
And this is the much vaunted waste 'problem' supposed to be insoluble!'

The NRC has made the obstacles to building new reactors which are far more efficient, and far safer, almost insuperable, but there is no question that we could get far closer to using all the energy in uranium, so the cost would approach for the raw material $0.00003kwh.
That is around 5 cents/boe equivalent.

You can't run into resource limits on the basis of costs like those, as you can use very lean resources, and no one, outside of course of Greenpeace and FOE, imagines that you couldn't get uranium from the sea for 100 times present uranium cost, so you would still be laying out the huge sum of $0.003kwh for the raw material.

The final defence in the goulash of anti-nuclear fake argument is when exponential growth is assumes, and so it is 'proven' that nuclear is inadequate to cope.

So what?
Of course you can't have unlimited growth, but there is a hell of a difference between running up against a wall and most of the people alive now dying, and providing the energy needs of ~10 billion people cheaply, so that the now well-established process of population growth halting and going into reverse can establish itself everywhere.

Finally, at the moment solar is being bunged in regardless of cost in places where it is not sunny.
However, most people live where it is sunny, and with their heavy industry needs taken care of by nuclear there is no reason to think that over the next 50 years or before a massive contribution can't be made by solar.
What it can't do is run a high latitude country now or anytime for decades, in fact at the moment it can't actually run anywhere, even the most sunny place.

I hope that clarifies my view.

Thanks for your answer DaveW,

by reading your comment, I understand you see 3 cures to possible nuclear fuel scarcity:

1) Higher Uranium prices would make more reserves available.
Many models have been made, including the IAEA, which show supply issues around 2024, including the most expensive resources for the moment known. But I understand exploration hasn't yet been pushed to its limits and there is also the (although rather vague) idea of harvesting Uranium from the sea.

2) Reprocessing fuel.
I think currently virtually our whole nuclear fleet uses U235. Used fuel from LWR only contains between 0,5 - 1% U235 (http://world-nuclear.org/info/inf69.html). I don't see this as significantly increasing reserve base? Unless you mean we could use the U238, which we have in abundance (also what Hubbert was aiming at). This would require Fast-Breeders. I see at least a decade lag here, before safe implementation is possible. I could be wrong, but I think that currently only prototypes have been built?

3) Thorium.
Same as above, much potential but at least a decade off.

If you are so serious about nuclear NOW, to lessen peak oil pain, I assume you mean construction of the typical LWR? Peak Uranium is a serious issue then. For example, the IAEA peak production prediction would happen much sooner than 2024, and it is doubtful that more exploration will that drastically change the picture. You should know that even now up to 13% of nuclear fuel comes from weapon stocks, to offset lacking production. (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf13.html)

So, is it really that irrational to instead invest hugely in other alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, .. ? At least here we can be sure of an energy return. And it's not about rescuing BAU, which almost everyone here agrees on is very doubtful if possible with alternatives. If demand goes down a lot is possible.

Actual confirmed deaths excluding mining from civil nuclear power are around 50, ever, with the thousands, or in Greenpeace's case, as many hundreds of thousands as they can dream up, based on dodgy notions of Linear No Threshold risk, which has little or no empirical foundation.

Radiation Effects Research Foundation's Latest Studies of the Mortality of Atomic Bomb Survivors: There Was No Threshold

In its 14th report on mortality in the Life Span Study (LSS) cohort of atomic bomb survivors published in March this year in the "Radiation Research" magazine, the official journal of the US Radiation Research Society, the researchers at RERF say there was no "threshold":

Importantly, for solid cancers the additive radiation risk (i.e., excess cancer cases per 104 person-years per Gy) continues to increase throughout life with a linear dose–response relationship.

The estimated lowest dose range with a significant ERR [excess relative risk] for all solid cancer was 0 to 0.20 Gy, and a formal dose-threshold analysis indicated no threshold; i.e., zero dose was the best estimate of the threshold.

Cancer risk related to low-dose ionizing radiation from cardiac imaging in patients after acute myocardial infarction

Mark J. Eisenberg, MD MPH, Jonathan Afilalo, MD MSc, Patrick R. Lawler, MD, Michal Abrahamowicz, PhD, Hugues Richard, MSc, and Louise Pilote, MD MPH PhD

...There was a dose-dependent relation between exposure to radiation from cardiac procedures and subsequent risk of cancer. For every 10 mSv of low-dose ionizing radiation, there was a 3% increase in the risk of age- and sex-adjusted cancer over a mean follow-up period of five years (hazard ratio 1.003 per milliSievert, 95% confidence interval 1.002–1.004).


Exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation from cardiac imaging and therapeutic procedures after acute myocardial infarction is associated with an increased risk of cancer.


...These results call into question whether our current enthusiasm for imaging and therapeutic procedures after acute myocardial infarction should be tempered.

And that's before we get into internal exposure as opposed to external.

Thanks. I had not previously seen either of those studies, hence my statement.

It should be noted however that other studies show minimal effects from low level exposure, and even hormesis.
However I accept that my statement of 'no substantial evidence' is too strong.

Cyril R when I asked him about those studies, said:

'Of course you see a linear relationship with these high dose RATE exposures, regardless of TOTAL dose. The dose rate exceeds that of the body repair mechanisms by several orders of magnitude. Medical imaging and nuclear weapons... both instant flashes of radiation that vastly exceed the body DNA repair mechanisms that are held responsible for hormesis by hormesis advocates, and for quadratic no threshold by quadratic advocates. Both models explain very well why dose rate matters so much, while the linear model omits it on purpose. Interestingly there's an arbitrary fudge factor that LNT uses to compensate for dose rate, which is like admitting that there are significant non-linear effects. That's accepting evidence that the effects are not linear, so it is scientifically and politically rather strange that LNT does accept such a fudge factor. Kind of like Einstein's cosmic constant; purely ideological rather than scientific.

Fukushima doses are not instant, they are chronic, and body repair mechanisms are infinitely more important at these lower dose rates, regardless of total dose. Statistics on bomb survivors and medical imaging patients are not relevant dose rate comparisons.'

I am not qualified to adjudicate in such a debate.
It seems that opinions vary.
I nevertheless accept your point that some studies seem to show LNT, and will in future take care to take account of that in my remarks.

Take a look at this video by Goddard's Journal summarising the Atomic Bomb Survivors study. http://youtu.be/-VAncqK6bl0

As to the doses being high there are approximately 30,000 survivors studied in the category < 5 millisieverts.

Those studies relate to radiation given in very short bursts, the rate of irradiation is very high. The 100mSv lower limit is based on very low rate irradiation. There is quite a difference.


And the Japanese are now carrying out a long term dirty bomb exposure study on themselves with a wide range of effective doses. Those in the initial fallout plume also received high short term doses - the exact magnitude of which is still not really known. The US Navy measured effective thyroid dose rates in the Tokyo area worryingly 100 times higher than the figure published by the Japanese government. We know this thanks to FOIA requests. What short term doses were received by those closer to Daiichi is officially unknown due to "failure" of the monitoring equipment. 300 microsieverts per hour was recorded in an area with people still in situ by one researcher in the first few days after the disaster.

Actual confirmed deaths excluding mining from civil nuclear power are around 50, ever, with the thousands, or in Greenpeace's case, as many hundreds of thousands as they can dream up, based on dodgy notions of Linear No Threshold risk, which has little or no empirical foundation.

Here is the funny thing about nuclear power . . . Greenpeace was against it as it might kill lots of people and harm the environment but business was for it because it was good capitalism.

But it turned out that it doesn't kill a lot of people but it is bad capitalism. The only way nuclear power works with with lots of socialism. France is very socialist and is a big nuclear state. The USA subsidizes nukes with federal loan guarantees and subsidizes risk with the Price-Anderson act. The Japanese government bailed out TEPCO.

Oh, the irony.

Tage Danielsson's speech in 1979 on likelihood is as actual as ever:


It is like a house of cards, remove one card and the whole structure comes tumbling down.

Tv-news already starting to talk about one falling domino stone regarding Europe. Difference with the U.S. of America is that Europe doesn't want to print money like hell.

But wait, there is natural gas to save the world. There will be enough money to convert. Unemployment will not rise, so that the economy can keep on growing.

Correction: Europe Germany doesn't want to print money like hell. They have experienced directly just how bad the results can be once the feel-good moment has passed. Most others haven't.

The lessons from Chancellor Brünig seems to be conveniently forgotten, though.

The cards have already been removed. The structure is now entirely supported by hot air!

Think Star Wars:

Cloud City was an outpost and a tibanna gas mining colony on the planet Bespin.

Nothing new here. These are not the economies you are looking for. Move along.


I guess it really depends on where the future historians decide the collapse begins. It may very well take decades if we are already in what will be defined as part of the collapse. On the other hand if the collpase ends up getting defined by a single event i.e. a specifc war starts, a specific location has a food riot, or a plauge begins. Then yes it may well take only years to months, given the speed at which information now travels. Parts of the big and small picture we cannot see or do not attribute significance to at the moment, may be quite obvious given hindsight from the future.

"Then yes it may well take only years to months, given the speed at which information now travels."

And if they shut down the internet to keep everyone from freaking out then everyone would freak out.

Or one more step down the Stair Step Descent Model.

On the plateau at the peak, oil price shocks appear to have a period of 3 to 4 years (enter the plateau in 2005, 1st shock in 2008 and second shock in 2012). Deep doomers think collapse will occur at each downward step and denialists pretend nothing is happening.

Weak demand and a low price for crude oil just in time for the U.S. election and for an invasion of Iran? Carpe Diem!

There will be no invasion of Iran! No president since Bush would be that stupid. Not even Romney. Well, almost but not quite.

Ron P.

But even just airstrikes could create an unstable situation that would last for decades.

There are several reasons for an Iran war:

- It would cut Iranian fuel demand leaving more (theoretically) for export.

- It would allow the US to implement fuel rationing which it would have trouble doing otherwise ... after months of 'energy independence' noise.

- It would appear to push prices higher, above production costs.

The conventional analysis is incorrect about prices: they are low because of diminished credit availability, fuel is unaffordable. Cutting fuel supply by warfare would not effect affordability. Cutting supply would not add credit, fuel that is unaffordable at the declining price would not be affordable at higher prices.

- Spanking Iran is pleasant for Saudi Arabia.


I actually think there is another dynamic at work as well vis a vis Iran/US and war, possibly including Israel. Some (idiots and immoral fools) would say there is a "need" for a war in the US---without demand coming from the private sector, it is up to the government to buy a lot of stuff. The military can't buy enough unless they have a "good reason" i.e. a war.

Second, everyone can blame someone else for the war, so there is a convenient sort of teflon effect that must be attractive, leaving no one feeling unduly burdened by scruples. The Israelis can say the Iranians are dangerous, the American liberals can blame the Israelis, the right can take Israel's side. Oil is involved, of course, so big business can say "oh, well, the strong just win over the weak, naturally".

Iran is a perfect target, in other words, for the West.

And they need someone to be a scapegoat when the oil shortages start due to weakness in the economy. Iran will be that scapegoat.

If they don't attack Iran it will be because the economy gets so bad so fast that the costs of waging a war are not possible to bear. That could happen I think.

Further comments are sought on what was discussed in the last drumbeat on where the difference between BP Statistical Review production and consumption comes from:

BP doesn't include biofuels in production figures, but they are included in consumption numbers, in addition refinery processing gains are included in consumption (when measured by volume rather than weight), but not in production. If you compare the production to consumption numbers in millions of tonnes, only the biofuel difference is relevant. When you look at the EIA numbers for biofuels and refinery processing gains they add up to 4.4 million barrels per day for 2011 or 1606 million barrels per year.

My post is here (including a stacked graph on exports)

BP Statistical Review 2012: oil production deficit around 4 mb/d

A year ago Rigzone had this artice:

Global Deficit Between Oil Consumption and Production Remains the Norm
Monday, June 13, 2011


Hi Matt,

In my comment that you quoted, I mistakenly referred to biofuels, I should have said "other liquids" and "refinery processing gain", it is these two items which need to be added to the BP production numbers to compare with BP consumption numbers. The rigzone article you referenced seems to be unaware of these differences between the BP production and consumption statistics.

The chart below compares BP production and consumption statistics with data from the EIA for the period from 1975 to 2010.

Note that the EIA production data is shown in two series, crude plus condensate plus NGL (C+C+NGL) and world liquids (production) which adds other liquids (biofuels, coal to liquids, additives to fuel like MTBE, and gas to liquids) and refinery processing gain to C+C+NGL. The EIA series for consumption is also shown, for the EIA liquids production and consumption any differences are due to stock changes.

In the case of BP data, if one reads the footnotes in the spreadsheet, it is clear that refinery processing gain and other liquids (as defined by the EIA) are not included in the production data, but they are included in the consumption data. Stock changes do not account for the difference which is why the analysis in the Rigzone article is flawed.



Here is more natural gas for the already oversupplied North American market. The only solution is to ship it to Asia where prices are much higher. Rockman is not going to terribly happy about this additional supply from northwest Canada, though. Not only is it going to further depress NG prices, but it is additional fuel for the oil sands plants not too far away in northern Alberta. So much for the hypothetical limits on oil sands production caused by shortages of natural gas.

Liard find ‘best reservoir in North America’

One of the energy companies planning a liquefied natural gas terminal at Kitimat announced Thursday “an outstanding” new shale gas discovery, the best in North America, in British Columbia’s remote and largely unexplored Liard Basin.

The find by Apache Corp., one of three partners in the $4.5-billion Kitimat LNG terminal and pipeline proposal, is estimated to contain enough gas in itself to justify doubling the size of the Kitimat terminal. The company is calling it the best and highest quality shale gas reservoir in North America and says its wells are the most prolific in the world, based on the volume of gas three test wells are producing.

Based on the production from those wells, Apache announced it has 48 trillion cubic feet of marketable gas within its Liard Basin properties. By way of comparison, all companies active in the Horn River Basin, one of three other major shale gas basins in B.C., have marketable gas of 78 trillion cubic feet, giving one company alone a natural gas find that is two-thirds the size of the entire Horn Basin.

One well alone produced 21 million cubic feet of gas a day over a 30-day test period.

“This is enormous,” said Gordon Currie, senior oil and gas analyst at Salman Partners. “Those are big, big numbers.”

Based on Apache’s results alone, the Liard should provide B.C. with enough gas to export “for many, many years to come,” Currie said.

Thank god the Liard basin is in the middle of nowhere! To be honest, it would be scary enough from a natural gas producers view point to have the Horn River basin at full capacity. HRB well type curves are already 7-8Bcf, last thing we need is another 300,000 acres of 10+bcf wells. Liquids will be king going forward, wet gas wells ftw.

Rocky - Sounds like that NG will be going to Asia anyway. Won't realy matter to me: I don't see NG rebounding for quite a few years...I'll be pastured by then. LOL.

I wonder how concerned the tar sand players are about the new Motiva refinery in Texas. They apparently have had some start up problems and full capacity is delayed for several months. So while the Seagate reversal may be lossening the bottle neck at Cushing having the potential of 600,000 bbls of Saudi oil competing with that Canadian oil for Gulf Coast markets should cause some concern. Probably still a good idea for y'all to be looking for west coast export avenues. More power to you, buddy.

Yes, that's true, NG prices probably won't rebound until you've been put out to pasture, so it's not a matter of immediate concern to you. It's only a concern for me in that my self-directed pension plan needs to find some way to support me in the manner in which I would like to become accustomed to.

The oil sands players are only concerned about the Motiva refinery in that one of them (Shell) owns 50% of the refinery and has a major oil sands mine. Saudi Aramoco can run their heavy-metal contaminated Arab heavy sour crude into their half of the refinery, and Shell can run their Canadian bitumen into the other half, and everybody will be happy. (Except possibly the environmentalists).

The Asian market is a better target for both NG and bitumen, however.

Yes please send some NG here...I might get around to buying an NG car if that happens.

Well, it Japan doesn't want to restart their nukes they may be buying a lot of that.

Japan is one of the obvious markets for LNG. If they don't restart their nukes, they need to find some other way to generate electricity, and burning oil is a poor choice for that.

'At roughly 11:37 AM Tokyo time, which was 10:37 PM here EDT, news broke in Japan that full governmental approval to restart two reactor plants at the Ohi nuclear station in Fukui Prefecture has been obtained. The Fukui governor, the Prime Minister and all advisorts have approved the restart.

According to Daily Yomiuri, Ohi 3 will restart first in early July, followed by Ohi 4 and then Ohi 2 in late July. All of the plants at this site are pressurized water reactors.'


Fun story. Same page:

I was “Assistant Reactor Physicist.” After we had run it for a couple of months, we scheduled a set of tests to verify its safety and to test the performance of some safety systems.

I was in the control room, which was separated from the reactor building by a gap, some steel and 12 feet of rock and sand shielding.

The plan was for the operator was to SCRAM the reactor, slow down and then cut off the recirc pump, let boiling subside, and then activate the emergency spray cooling system.

Several seconds after the pump was turned on the banging started. The noise level was terrible! The control room shook violently, and we figured that the reactor and its structure did too. The emergency pump was cut off ASAP. The heaviest banging soon stopped but a lower level of noises kept up for a while.

Every couple of years I get a dream... I just hope I never wake up to find myself reading about it in the paper the next morning.

At least he is around to tell the story, unlike his peers at the oil and gas installations, any of whom who survived the earthquake and tsunami were incinerated in a sea of fire, together with unknown numbers of civilians.
Personally I would sooner be alive to be evacuated.

Ahhh! You DID get around to the gas comparison.

It appears that the N Slope producers are taking a second look at building a gas line to Valdez and an LNG plant, with the idea of exporting N Slope gas to Japan. Back when it looked like a gas line to Alberta might actually happen, we were always told that the "All Alaska Gas Line" and LNG option didn't pencil out. Interesting how times have changed.

With all the supply coming on board in Australia, Russia and the gulf, how competitive do you expect shale gas to be in the LNG market? Seems like the market will be well supplied for awhile.

Don't expect to see a lot of shale gas or oil coming on line from Russia for some time.

Are Putin's Shale Hopes Doomed?

It's called the Bazhenov Formation — and at nearly 600 million acres, it's been said this area is 80 times the size of the Bakken Formation.

But this isn't a new discovery.

In fact, we've known the Bazhenov's potential this since 2000!

And we're not completely convinced this formation is "the Bakken of Russia."

Our skepticism has nothing to do with the size of the Bazhenov, or even the flow of production that will come from it...

While it's been said output could reach a million barrels per day by the end of the decade, Putin and his comrades won't see a single drop of shale oil until they learn how to properly extract it.

That said, betting on the Bazhenov could end up costing you dearly.

Ron P.

In Russia, I was thinking of the Sakhalin projects.

Well, at least we don't have worry about freezing or having the lights going out for a while. But driving may continue to go up in price.


Is that amount of natural gas enough to get the oil sands production up to 5 mbd? From my research future production from the oil sands will be about 80 % from in situ production (although only about 50 % is from in situ at present), I am not sure how much natural gas per barrel is needed for in situ production. I also realize that bitumen, coal, or even nuclear could be used for heating the steam, but my understanding is that natural gas is preferred at present. I am asking because sometimes people think, the oil sands will keep us going as conventional oil depletes. I think it will help mitigate the decline (if climate change were ignored) but I wonder how far it can be ramped up.


'It takes about 29 cubic metres (1,030 cubic feet)*of natural gas to produce one barrel of bitumen from in-situ projects such as Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD). Emerging technologies are aimed at reducing this level. Many in-situ producers install cogeneration units to produce steam and generate electricity for more efficient use of the natural gas.

Oil sands mining operations typically use under 15 cubic metres (520 cubic feet)* to extract one barrel of bitumen (excluding upgrading). Processes such as hydro-transport and low energy extraction have reduced energy use in mining and extraction by about 45 per cent per barrel since 1990. Low energy extraction typically operates at 35 to 40°C versus the 80°C processes employed by the industry in the 1980s.

*Source: Canadian Oil Sands Supply Costs and Development Projects. Canadian Energy Research Institute. November 2008'

78 Trillion cu ft will produce ~78bn barrels then.

5mbd is ~1.8bn barrels/yr.
So this field should be able to support 5mbd for 40 odd years.


Thanks for the info. The mining info is interesting, if we assume the mining use of natural gas is negligible due to the advances you mention and assuming the CAPP forecast is accurate (which claims 80% of oil sands output will be in situ in the future), we would have 4 mb/d(out of 5 mb/d) as in situ production so the 43 years would stretch to 53 years. We would be in good shape to 2065 at least (as it will take time to ramp up to 4 mb/d from in situ projects), if we make the further assumption that the natural gas will only be used for oil sands, some of the natural gas might be needed for heating homes and producing electricity.


It takes roughly 1 thousand cubic feet of gas to produce 1 barrel of bitumen, so if production of bitumen was 5 million bpd, then it would require 5 bcf/d of natural gas to produce it.

Alberta natural gas production is currently about 10 bcf/d, so that would be about half of Alberta's natural gas production. Alberta gas production is falling so there would be less than 10 bcf/d available, but the shortage will be met by curtailing exports. The oil sands will continue to be supplied.

Over and above that, there is shale gas nearby in NE BC. For instance, Apache recently found 48 tcf in in the Liard Basin, which would be enough to product 5 million bpd of oil sands for 26 years. However the gas is destined for export since the Alberta market is adequately supplied.

Re: Apocalyptic Map Shows San Francisco After 200 Feet of Sea Level Rise

More impressive (at least to me) is the large inland sea that California acquires as a result of such a rise. This elevation map gives a good idea of its size.

However, note the caveat at the end:

Of course, scientists aren't predicting anything close to 200 foot sea level rise by even the end of the century—their higher-end estimates don't even top out at 200 centimeters. But good dystopian fiction isn't constrained by the most probable outcomes—it exaggerates a known phenomenon to prove a point. In this case, it's considering the sea level rise that might occur if the Greenland ice cap and both the East and West Antarctic ice caps melted.

It's good for panicking people who don't read the fine print, but not much else. The Greenland ice cap and the East and West Antarctic ice caps are not going to melt in as little as a century. Maybe they will melt by the end of the millennium, assuming greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, which seems unlikely because there aren't enough fossil fuels on Earth to burn to make that happen.

A moot point.
Lets look at the last time when we had levels as high as they are currently:

But, as you pointed out, this will not happen by the end of the century.

Yeah, thanks for bringing that one up. That's one of the scariest articles I've read in a while. Sea levels were 75 to 120 feet higher than they are now.

The problem is much more than simply the melting of the glaciers over Greenland and the Antarctic. The West Antarctic ice shelves hold back the glaciers further inland, which would tend to move much faster toward the ocean if the ice shelves weren't there to buttress them. While I have seen no suggestion that either area would become free of glacier cover by the end of the century, we may find that the loss of those glaciers occurs faster than presently contemplated.

Other than that, consider what would happen if the narrow gap called the Golden Gate were to close due to a really REALLY big earthquake (or several). The map doesn't give a sense of the height of the mountains on either side of that gap, the ridges rising above 3,000 feet. The Central Valley would become a fresh water lake...

E. Swanson

The gate is approx. 1.5 miles wide and 250 feet deep. I've been under it fishing and sailing, and when the tide is going strong its quite a sight to watch the water move past the concrete sarcoficous' around the towers. In season, the stripe bass like the strong currents and swim around the concrete, but getting close enough to cast there is dangerous. Not much chance of it filling in via an earthquake, except maybe over millions of years.

Yes, the channel is deep. That's the result of the river water flowing thru the Gate when the sea level was lower by some 125 meters during the Ice Ages. The old river channels are visible in bathymetric maps of the SF Bay. Now that the sea level is higher, repeated earthquakes with horizontal motion could fill most of that depth, eventually damping the flow, then cutting it completely.

Perhaps a more likely candidate for closure would be the Carquinez Strait, which is much shallower and lies along the Hayward Fault complex.

E. Swanson

The West Antarctic ice sheet sits on land which is below sea level, so if it melted the sea level rise would be minimal (if an ice cube melts in a glass of water, it has no effect on the water level.)

If the East Antarctic ice sheet melted, it could be different, but the East Antarctic ice sheet has been getting colder rather than warmer.

A big earthquake, though, could have major effects on land/sea levels in coastal California. Geological evidence suggests that really big earthquakes (magnitude 8+) are not uncommon in that area.

The west Antarctic sheet partially sits on below sea level land. And how far below sea level? If we have 100M of ice sitting on a shelf 1M below sea level, melting it would still raise the sea level 99% as much as if it were on land above sea level. True the first areas to slide off float away and melt are the floating ice shelves, but as they go the land ice streams will accelerate.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet probably contains enough ice above sea level that if it melted, global sea levels would rise about 3.5 metres. But that would happen, if it happened, over a period of centuries, not overnight. That gives people an awful lot of time to move back from the water's edge as sea levels rise.

I think it is questionable whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would melt in its entirety, and if it did, it would be no big deal. People would move away from the water and continue their lives as usual. People are highly adaptable.

The West Antarctic ice may be sitting on land which is below sea level, but the ice rises above sea level. That elevated ice would result in increased sea level were it to melt. Also, other glaciers terminate in ice shelves, which act as dams, slowing the flow of the glacier further inland. If those ice shelves break up, such as happened with the Larsen B ice shelf, the glaciers would be able to flow faster into the ocean.

As for what's happening regarding temperatures over the Antarctic, please understand that there is only one source for this information, the data from satellites as processed by John Christy and Roy Spencer at UAH. This data includes a strong component from the surface in the measured "brightness temperature", which results in spurious results. Furthermore, there is a known cooling trend in the Stratosphere due to ozone loss, which also bleeds into the satellite measurements over the polar regions, due to the lower elevation of the tropopause in Winter. The other source for satellite temperatures, RSI, excludes areas poleward of 70S and other areas of high altitude from their calculations.

I wrote a paper on their work, which was published in the GRL: doi:10.1029/2003GL017938. I found that their results do not follow the yearly temperature cycle as exhibited in the sonde data. I later learned that the raw data from the MSU does show a good correspondence with the sonde data. Sad to say, I have a very low opinion of Christy and Spencer, given their refusal to address the issues I raised 9 years ago.

E. Swanson

Also, the mass of ice is, through gravity, producing a bubble in that region--
When it disappears, the rise will be even greater.

One must realize levels this high of CO2 have never been encountered by any humans, and one would have to go back 15 million years to have similar levels.
We shared a common ancestor with the chimpanzee 6 million years ago.
This will be new for our species.

One must realize levels this high of CO2 have never been encountered by any humans, and one would have to go back 15 million years to have similar levels.
We shared a common ancestor with the chimpanzee 6 million years ago.
This will be new for our species.

That is a powerful image. Have you considered making an internet meme of some sort out of it? Like an infographic to share on facebook?

One factor stands out in sea level rise predictions: they have constantly been based on what was later called underestimates.

The difficulty is the problem of acceleration. It is not a linear type of increase that the sea level rise is based on, it is acceleration.

Those acceleration estimates have been wrong on the low side one after the other for quite a while, and will probably continue to be underestimates.

The factor to watch is that the temperature at the poles is warming at a faster rate than the rest of the planet, by something like a factor of 4, and is accelerating.

RMG - You said "there aren't enough fossil fuels on Earth to burn to make that happen." How you know that? Last time I checked, James Hansen was still freaking out about sea level, and there certainly hasn't been this high a CO2 concentration at any previous time during the lifetime of the human species. You got some special calculator that tells you what the upper safe limit is? As far as I understand it, there could be enough CO2 in the air RIGHT NOW to fully melt both ice caps, although as you point out, it will take more than a century for the process to unfold.

"RMG - You said "there aren't enough fossil fuels on Earth to burn to make that happen." How you know that?"

He doesn't know that. He has a history on this site of minimizing or pooh-poohing any and all environmental concerns, and if that means just making stuff up, so be it. He's also pretty good at historical revisionism.

"...it will take more than a century for the process to unfold."

There are new mechanisms constantly being discovered that accelerate warming beyond prior beliefs. Recently, the centuries-slow warming predicted to occur as creeping forestation invaded the arctic from the margins has been reduced to decades-quick when it was discovered that the little shrubs that were widely dispersed and already in-place transformed into trees under the stimulus of warming... who knew?!

Tundra Shrubs Turn into Trees as Arctic Warms

Tipping Points in the Tundra

I just added up the available fossil fuels and calculated how long they will last. We are probably at or close to the peak of oil consumption and it will probably start to decline in the near future as reserves are exhausted.

Natural gas will probably reach a peak in the next few decades and also start to decline. Coal consumption is somewhat unpredictable, but China, for example, has only 30 years of reserves left.

So, all in all, I would say that 100 years from now, fossil fuel consumption will considerably lower than now, and CO2 levels in the atmosphere will start to go down about mid-century.

Watch the opening scene in Waterworld as North America is flooded.

Waterworld intro narration

Waterworld was nominated for four Razzie awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor, and Worst Director, with Dennis Hopper winning the award as Worst Supporting Actor. The science was equally bad. It was one of those, "What the H*ll were they thinking!?" films.

I have seen Waterworld multiple times. Yes, sea level rose higher than is possible, and Hopper's character was a lousy bad guy, but it is better than Mad Max. It is a good action movie compared to all the others in that genre. Anthropic Global Warming denies deride it.

"China is hoarding crude at the fastest rate since the Beijing Olympics four years ago as the slump in international prices prompts it to import unprecedented volumes even as refining slows."

Still a rather small volume compared to the 700 million bbls the US is currently hoarding. But give China time and they'll probably catch up eventually.

Yeah, that one caught my eye too, because of the sheer smallness of the amount as against the gargantuan Chinese population. However, it's easier to understand the headline writer's POV if you remember that "to hoard" is an irregular verb (as set forth by S. I. Hayakawa), conjugated thus:

1. I/we prepare
2. You store
3. He/she/they hoard


Security Forces Surround Parliament in Egypt, Escalating Tensions

CAIRO — Egypt’s military rulers formally dissolved Parliament Friday, state media reported, and security forces were stationed around the building on orders to bar anyone, including lawmakers, from entering the chambers without official notice.

The authorities set up checkpoints overnight and contingents of riot police were moving around the city to prepare for any disturbances.

“What was beginning to look like a coup in slow motion is no longer moving in slow motion,” ...

... Electing a president without either a constitution or a parliament is like “electing an ‘emperor’ with more power than the deposed dictator. A travesty,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning diplomat and former presidential candidate, said in a comment online.

Nice article for American consumption: The old regime VS the Muslim Brotherhood.

I heard some Egyptian voices discussing the situation today. In the election, the choices were the old regime, three different candidates representing the revolution, and the Muslim Brotherhood. The three different candidates split the revolutionary vote leaving the other two well-funded blocks holding matching majorities of 20-plus percent of the vote each. Now, in the runoff election, the choice is down to "the lesser of two evils": these are not popular figures imbued with the hopes of the people.

This is the beauty of the winner-take-all electoral system.

(not the one I was looking for)

US official: Russia sends troops to Syria as peace hopes fade

Russia is sending armed troops to Syria amid escalating violence there, United States military officials told NBC News Friday, in a move certain to frustrate Western efforts to put pressure on the regime of President Bashir Assad.

Moscow has sent a ship carrying a small contingent of combat forces to guard Russia’s deep-water port and military base at the Syrian city of Tartus, the US officials said

Tartus is one of Russia’s most strategically-important assets, giving it military access to the Mediterranean Sea.

Wheat yields are levelling off, even in some developing countries

Wheat yields have levelled off in many countries around the world, even in regions of greater food insecurity such as India and Bangladesh, say researchers in the US.

Of the 50 regions that Lin and Huybers tested for yield stagnation, 27 show yields that have levelled off when performing the test at the 80% confidence level. Using 2007 numbers, wheat accounts for 19% of the total calories of food produced, and the 47 countries sampled in their analysis account for 75% of total global wheat production.

The 27 regions with confirmed plateaus at the 80% confidence level account for 35% of global wheat production. "We prefer to report values at 80% confidence to reduce the probability of false negatives, but note that 18 regions have levelled off with at least 95% confidence and that they still account for 28% of global wheat production," said Lin.

... Peak Wheat?

Insight: drought and flooding in the upper Amazon

The Amazon basin has been suffering from extreme hydrological events since the 1980s. These have been particularly intense at Tamshiyacu, the most upstream gauging station on the Amazonas River.

Droughts affected the Amazon region in 2005 and 2010 while record flooding was observed in the basin in 2009 and 2012. What's more, at Tamshiyacu there was an abrupt transition from the extreme September 2010 drought (just 8,300 m3/s of discharge) to one of the four highest discharges on record (49,500 m3/s) in April 2011. These extreme events have had dramatic impacts on people living near the watercourse and on surrounding ecosystems. Access to clean water is limited and the incidence of disease is increasing. The transport system is also under pressure and crops have diminished.

Amazon basin sees shift from burning forest to savanna fires

The Amazon basin has seen a shift in biomass burning from relatively more forest fires in the early 2000s to a larger proportion of savanna/agricultural fires in the late 2000s.

"The increase in savanna/agricultural fires in 2007 and 2010 is due in part to drought conditions during these years, but also to increased agricultural and pastoral development on already degraded land rather than newly deforested land, a change which has been shown in other recent studies."

"Fire ignitions are largely anthropogenic but fire spreading is mainly affected by natural factors such as drought," he explained. "Another implication of this study is if droughts worsen over the Amazon with climate change – two of the worst droughts in the last century occurred in 2005 and 2010 – the increase in forest-fire spreading may offset current and future reductions in anthropogenic fire ignitions."

Insight: precipitation frequency regulates summer soil moisture

Future precipitation patterns will typically be characterized by more intense periods of rainfall and longer dry periods. It is therefore important to understand how these patterns will affect ecosystem processes.

Map of Low Impact Communities in Britain

... a map of the location of a broad selection of low impact communities in Britain. These are all actually existing projects which have been completed except for LILAC (Leeds), which is in the process of being built.

For the purpose of this map I have defined low impact communities as constituting those projects which:

1.Seek autonomy and self reliance, and thus seek to generate all that they need
2.Often have mixed goals but tend to include becoming more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable
3.That tend to share values. Thus some are intentional communities, others less so, but most have community agreements by which all occupants agree to abide
4.That the ethos is self-build and do-it-yourself
5.That are structured around living and building collectively and often include sharing communal space
6.Involve a care and consideration for others. This can include deliberately seeking to reconfigure existing relationships, such as practicing gender equality
7.Are low-cost and often build affordability for perpetuity into the long-term design
8.Can requires a change of lifestyle and/or income generation
9.Seel minimal resource use (in construction and life-cycle)
10.Have low visual impact
11.Are built from local, recycled or natural materials
12.Are often small scale

... Overall such communities are concerned with much more than just the architecture, instead it is about the way people live, and live together, which is significantly more important. In terms of how these communities compare to eco-housing per se, the novelty is the way in which they bring all these different aspects together in one place.

also Community Energy

... The report from Co-operatives UK and The Co-operative Group is a comprehensive guide to a new movement of communities who are taking action for greener energy into their own hands by investing money and together installing solar panels, large wind turbines or hydro power. The report shows that: • There are 43 communities who are in the process of or already producing renewable energy; • Together local residents have invested £16m •Green economy co-ops are the fastest growing part of the UK co-op sector, having grown by 24% since 2008. More negatively, the report also highlights barriers facing communities trying to develop projects: shifting government legislation, planning hurdles and bureaucracy making it hard for local schemes to get established: e.g. 250 people have been involved with the £200,000 River Bain Hydro project in North Yorkshire, but had to spend a large proportion of its limited time negotiating with power companies because of a lack of co-ordination. As they explain: ‘Between the power house and the grid, a distance of a hundred yards, we ended up with five different organisations involved in delivery.’

and http://www.uk.coop/resources/Reports%20and%20white%20papers

and Green Building Blog

New Model Suggests Ocean pH Falling More Rapidly

A new computer model developed in Switzerland shows that the pH of the ocean waters off the west coast of the US will fall over the next four decades faster than previously thought. The region studied is on the eastern boundary of an upwelling zone, and is important for commercial fishing and for its diversity in marine life.

The model predicts the saturation rate of aragonite may drop to below 1 (an undersaturated state) for over half the year by 2050. When aragonite is at undersaturated levels shells made of calcium carbonate would begin to dissolve. At present, Gruber estimates undersaturated levels exist in the region around 2-4% of the time. When the saturation rate is below 1.5, as it would be for much of the year by 2050, shell-building animals such as oyster and mussel larvae and sea snails such as the tiny pteropods (sea butterfly) may find it difficult to harvest sufficient calcium carbonate to build their shells.

So what were the shell-builders doing 15 million years ago when CO2 levels were the same as today, or 50 million years ago when they were even higher?

Since the shellfish obviously survived, how did they do it. Strontium carbonate shells?

I've wondered that too. We'll probably see a die off though as the ecosystems get turned upside down. Some shellfish and corals will rise to dominance while others will fade away.

I used to work in public aquariums taking care of live coral exhibits and at night the pH would drop to the mid 7's but by day it would rise way back up to 8.3 or 8.4, so there is duirnal variation with the amount of CO2 being respired and absorbed.

I used to work in public aquariums taking care of live coral exhibits and at night the pH would drop to the mid 7's but by day it would rise way back up to 8.3 or 8.4,

Yes, my understanding is that similar pH diurnal variations are found at sea, so the question here is of what harm is change far less than the diurnal variation?

"change far less than the diurnal variation"

Do you have any data to back that up? Any data at all?

I think you are confused. The issue raised in Seraph's post above by that reference is about the impacts of pH change due to increasing CO2, the amount of change commonly obtained from modeling and prediction. As referenced in that Science article, one modeled impact of all man made CO2 so far is a pH change of 0.1 in the oceans, i.e. far smaller than the diurnal change. What did you imagine it might be?


...model and data-based estimates suggest that the increase in atmospheric CO2 since pre-industrial times has contributed to the severity of the event, by lowering pH by ~0.1

"This has potentially major implications for the rich and diverse ecosystem..."

Yes, my focus was on the ability to build and maintain shell.


"...surface ocean pH has dropped by slightly more than 0.1 units on the logarithmic scale of pH, representing an approximately 29% increase in H+, and it is estimated that it will drop by a further 0.3 to 0.5 pH units (an additional doubling to tripling of today's post-industrial acid concentrations) by 2100 as the oceans absorb more anthropogenic CO2..."

It is on a log scale.

"This rate is 100 times faster than any changes in ocean acidity in the last 20 million years, making it unlikely that marine life can somehow adapt to the changes."

"Current rates of ocean acidification have been compared with the greenhouse event at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (about 55 million years ago) when surface ocean temperatures rose by 5–6 degrees Celsius. No catastrophe was seen in surface ecosystems, yet bottom-dwelling organisms in the deep ocean experienced a major extinction. The current acidification is on a path to reach levels higher than any seen in the last 65 million years,[22] and the rate of increase is about ten times the rate that preceded the Paleocene-Eocene mass extinction. The current and projected acidification has been described as an almost unprecedented geological event."

These are changes in the baseline acidity. The other variations will be offset into more acidic realms.

"Changes in ocean chemistry can have extensive direct and indirect effects on organisms and their habitats. One of the most important repercussions of increasing ocean acidity relates to the production of shells and plates out of calcium carbonate (CaCO3)."

"The saturation state of seawater for a mineral (known as Ω) is a measure of the thermodynamic potential for the mineral to form or to dissolve..."

There is a threshold of ocean acidity at which some components of shell dissolve.

"In seawater, a natural horizontal boundary is formed as a result of temperature, pressure, and depth, and is known as the saturation horizon..."

The ocean is layered or stratified. The ocean acidity also cycles up and down over time, as has been mentioned. When the cycles within a layer exceed the threshold of acidity and cause more dissolution than there is build-up, the shells are damaged beyond repair.

But this is science. Science is easily dismissed before a general audience.

"...of what harm is change far less than the diurnal variation?"

I wanted to ask the same question. But, I doubt we have anyone who can answer it. If it only requires some evolution for shell builders to survive in acidic sea's, then the answer would be those changes were slow enough to allow the organisms to evolve.

Shell mineralogical trends in epifaunal Mesozoic bivalves and their relationship to seawater chemistry and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

"The Late Triassic-Early Jurassic change from aragonite- to calcite-facilitating conditions in the oceans... also affected the shell mineralogy... (some) replaced aragonite by calcite in their shell at the beginning of the Jurassic... changes in the seawater chemistry and in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide... may contribute to mass extinctions."

"...two “aragonite inhibiting” episodes from Cambrian to late Early Carboniferous and from Late Triassic or Early Jurassic to early or mid-Cenozoic alternated with three intervening “aragonite facilitating” episodes (Late Precambrian to at least Early Cambrian, late Early Carboniferous to Late Triassic or Early Jurassic, and early or mid-Cenozoic to the present)."

"New light has been shed on this discussion by the study of the shell mineralogy of bivalves, which are particularly suitable to clarify such questions because their shell may consist of either aragonite or calcite or both."

Control of Aragonite or Calcite Polymorphism by Mollusk Shell Macromolecules

"Many mineralizing organisms selectively form either calcite or aragonite, two polymorphs of calcium carbonate with very similar crystalline structures. ... The results suggest that these macromolecules are responsible for the precipitation of either aragonite or calcite in vivo."

So... some shell builders try both minerals and see which is working well for them. Some builders stick to calcite even when conditions allow aragonite. The conditions have to be right to provide calcite in the sea water.


Well they are an abomination anyway, so good riddance! ;-)

You're just being shellfish.


City by city, here's your guide to the painfully slow economic recovery

The good news: The economy improved in April in every region of the country. Not a single state remains in recession. If someone in your family is out of work, that label may require a bit of clarification: While many have not recovered the jobs lost in the recession, no state is still in a sharp decline. In other words, one can be climbing out of a hole and still be in the hole. And looking more closely at the nation's 384 metro areas, nearly 90 percent have moved out of the recession into at least a modest recovery. The share of metro areas in recession in April was the lowest since the previous July.

The bad news: Only two states have entered a robust economic expansion. Among metro areas, only 6 percent are in expansion. The rest are stuck in a weak recovery, making small advances and not gaining much economic traction.

Interactive Map

The map has some useful data - like U6 (total unemployment figure) - that are 2-3 times higher than the MSM unemployment figures

It is interesting that despite all the noise about N Dakota moving up the rankings to surpass Alaska an oil producer, this shows Alaska as the only other state besides N Dakota with an expanding economy. When I clicked on the map, the information regarding Anchorage's economy (workforce, housing prices, etc) seems to agree with what I see around me.

Locally there has been much hand ringing about anecdotal accounts of oil patch hands moving to N Dakota. However, according to a recent article the Alaska oil patch workforce reportedly expanded 5% last year.

By comparison (from the map) - "The broader U6 measure of underemployment for Connecticut workers has climbed steadily to 15.9% and has not shown signs of falling. ... while local governments continue to cut back payrolls." Weaknesses: High costs of living and doing business, especially energy.

- which matches what I'm seeing.

Not all jobs are equal, and very few jobs these days provide any of the benefits formerly enjoyed by the now extinct American middle class.

There is no recovery. Never was.

Propaganda and numbers fudging will only get worse. You can't have any recovery, much less a stable, prosperous country, if the bankers take half the money and the politicians redistribute the rest.

Still, both you and I know that average Joe will hang on to his huge car, debt based lifestyle and delusions about wealth until the bitter end.

Not all jobs are equal, and very few jobs these days provide any of the benefits formerly enjoyed by the now extinct American middle class.

Yes, not all jobs are created equal. However, the oil patch jobs in Alaska, N Dakota, and elsewhere tend to pay extremely well, and the benefits are generally good as well.

First study of its kind finds rapid declines in worldwide physical activity

A new study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers finds a global decline in activity levels and predicts a continuing rise in inactivity in countries around the world. When viewed in the context of physical activity levels throughout human evolution, the global decline in physical activity in just the past few decades is particularly abrupt.

Historically, Ng said, adults have been most active in their jobs. Now, she says, “whether you live in China, India or the U.S., computers and many forms of automation remove physical exertion at work. Changes in the types of work people do have greatly reduced our overall activity levels over the past half-century.”

The forecasts are bleak. Using a physiological measure called metabolic equivalent of task (MET), which describes the amount of energy spent in accomplishing a task, the study determined that by 2020, the average American adult will expend about 190 MET hours per week. In comparison, a person who slept 24 hours in a day would expend 151 MET hours per week, and an active adult who did vigorous activity for 30 minutes to an hour every day, but otherwise had a desk job, would expend between 240 and 265 MET-hours per week.

Article: Time use and physical activity: a shift away from movement across the globe

... and what will happen when all our busy little energy slaves leave the stage?

Yeah I personally think that inactivity and obesity might be close to peaking. High food prices and the need for physical labor to maintain what's left of our infrastructure will see to that.

Anecdotally I'm seeing alot of what appear to be thin and poor people around. To be sure, they are greatly outnumbered by the gluttons amongst us. But I'm noticing a nontrivial increase in people who seem to have that "lean and hungry" look about them that has been associated with poverty for most of human history.

Where are you?

I'm now in an office 5 days a week and when my exercise subsides in the week my appetite drops to nothing. I am trying to keep to $10 a day for food. What little flab I had on my stomach is disappearing and I again look like a rail, whereas once before I had a 2 inch bigger waist. Genetically I look like I'm starving, I can't help it. I eat healthy so your appetite automatically adjusts, you just don't get hungry. I imagine those people addicted to potato chips, soft drinks and junk food getting by on $10 a day. It would be ugly.

you should have posted a picture of an I-phone under that text

... and what will happen when all our busy little energy slaves leave the stage?

The peak-oil diet and exercise program. A worldwide phenomenom for getting rid of that excess weight and probably a little bit more.

Interesting article for a Friday. PDF Warning.

Disease in Human Evolution: The Re-emergence of Infectious Disease in the Third Epidemiological Transition

"For millions of years, humans and their ancestors suffered from diseases -- both the kind caused by
infectious pathogens (e.g., bacteria, viruses, parasites) and the kind caused by our own bodies as they age and degenerate.

Over this long period, humans constantly created new ways of living and eating, and actual physical or genetic changes evolved to minimize the effects of these diseases. From the point of view of a bacteria or virus, however, any shift in the physical makeup or behavior of its human host represents not only an obstacle but also a challenge to be overcome.

As a result, new diseases emerged with each major change in the human way of life."

Discusses the impacts of increasing technological advances on disease. Not that recent, 1996, but relevant, as we undergo population shifts and environmental change.

A sea of broken promises: Avoiding empty ocean commitments at Rio+20

World leaders have made pitiful progress on their guarantee to protect global oceans from overfishing and other threats. In a paper published today (June 15, 2012) in Science, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and world renowned researchers have reviewed commitments made by governments to protect the world's oceans and shown that there has been little success over the past 20 years.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation at ZSL, says: "Our analysis shows that almost every commitment made by governments to protect the oceans has not been achieved. If these international processes are to be taken seriously, governments must be held accountable and any future commitments must come with clear plans for implementation and a process to evaluate success or failure."

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Technology Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs (pdf)

A wide array of federal incentives supports the development and deployment of alternatives to conventional fuels and engines in transportation. These incentives include tax deductions and credits for vehicle purchases and the installation of refueling systems, federal grants for conversion of older vehicles to newer technologies, mandates for the use of biofuels, and incentives for manufacturers to produce alternative fuel vehicles.

The current array of incentives for alternative fuels and related technologies do not reflect a single, comprehensive strategy, but rather an aggregative approach to a range of discreet public policy issues, including goals of reducing petroleum consumption and import dependence, improving environmental quality, expanding domestic manufacturing, and promoting agriculture and rural development.

As shown in Figure 1, since peaking in 2005, net U.S. oil imports have fallen by one-third, and now represent 45% of domestic consumption, down from 60% seven years ago.1 Factors in this reversal have been the recent recession and the rise in petroleum prices in 2008, both of which reduced domestic demand, as well as a rise in the supply of U.S. oil and oil alternatives due to increased private sector investment and federal incentives, some of which are cited in this report. In addition, the U.S. has become a net exporter of petroleum products (while it remains a net importer of crude oil).

The United States consumed 18.8 million barrels per day (MMbd) of petroleum products during 2011, making us the world's largest petroleum consumer. The United States was third in crude oil production at 5.7 MMbd. But crude oil alone does not constitute all U.S. petroleum supplies. Significant gains occur, because crude oil expands in the refining process, liquid fuel is captured in the processing of natural gas, and we have other sources of liquid fuel, including biofuels. These additional supplies totaled 4.6 MMbd in 2011.

The United States imported 11.4 MMbd of crude oil and refined petroleum products in 2011. We also exported 2.9 MMbd of crude oil and petroleum products, so our net imports (imports minus exports) equaled 8.4 MMbd.


Water pacts re-examined amid Arab Spring

There are moves to rewrite contentious water-sharing agreements that are becoming a major source of friction in the Middle East as water supplies shrink.

... Rivers including the Euphrates, Tigris, Nile and even the Jordan River, which cross national boundaries and are a major source of water supply, could well become flashpoints for rising regional tension.

"Equally, governments' ability to manage their rivers and negotiate with their upstream neighbors could well, as is the case in Iraq, lead to growing unrest at home," the Middle East Economic Digest warned.

Thirteen of the 20 states that make up the Arab League rank among the world's most water-scarce nations.

India's capital in water crisis after supplies cut

NEW DELHI — Large parts of New Delhi were struggling with acute water shortages on Friday after a neighbouring state cut its supplies at the peak of summer, officials said.

The sprawling Indian capital, with a population of 16 million sweltering in 43 degree C (109.4 F) summer heat, relies on four neighbouring states for its water -- Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand.

Haryana, the biggest supplier, cut its flow to the city on Thursday and about three million people have suffered shortages or been completely cut off, according to the Delhi Jal Board, a government agency responsible for water supply.

Nationalised Oil Can Deliver Output Growth

The 21st Century nationalisers may have good reason to believe they can do a better job than the foreign and private sector oil firms they see as careless short-termists

Veteran oil men point to a decades-old example of a well-run state company overseeing steady, efficient, modern production - Saudi Aramco. The one-time joint venture between U.S. companies and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now strictly a state entity.

Fed up with Big Oil's mentality, a Saudi ruling class with a strong sense of ownership oversaw a nationalisation of Aramco that was completed in 1982.

In the mid-2000s Russia nationalised its biggest private oil firm YUKOS and put its main owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky behind bars.

The move sparked predictions that the world's top oil producer would lose its dominance and Western investors flee. Rosneft, the Kremlin's main oil firm, took over most of YUKOS's assets and grew production by double digits - allowing Russia to hold its ranking and pump more than 10 million bpd.

In a world of finite hydrocarbons and high prices, host governments would be irresponsible to do anything other than drive a hard bargain.

Argentina will be hoping to emulate Saudi Aramco's record

Fracking for oil and gas poses little quake risk: study

The fracking drilling technique used to tap shale oil and gas is unlikely to trigger earthquakes, but underground injection of waste water from drilling offers more risks for seismic activity, a new U.S. study said on Friday.

The National Research Council study, which also examined the risk of earthquakes associated with tapping geothermal energy and carbon capture and storage, found that the total balance of fluid injected or removed underground was the biggest factor in causing earthquakes related to energy development.

While waste water disposal wells pose more seismic risks, the report said cases of these wells causing earthquakes have been rare and typically less than 5.0 in magnitude.

The Senate energy committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on examining the link between earthquakes and energy technology on Tuesday.

I always found the earthquake issue of fracking like the bird issue with wind turbines . . . yes, there is an issue but it is small enough to be ignored. The benefits outweigh the costs.

"...found that the total balance of fluid injected or removed underground was the biggest factor in causing earthquakes related to energy development."

What does this mean?

Presumably that you shouldn't keep stuffing more fluid in indefinitely, but make sure that you extract some of it.

Dallas Texas pummeled by extreme June hail storm

Dallas residents set to work Thursday cleaning up and repairing damage from a sudden hailstorm forecasters called one of the city’s worst in 10 years. Tennis ball-sized hailstones began to shower down with alarming speed around 6 p.m. Wednesday, smashing windows and skylights, tearing apart trees and denting cars — although no injuries were reported –The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday.

North Dakota is hoping to get oil into pipes, out of trucks

With more than 6,000 oil wells pumping out crude oil and natural gas, officials see a pressing need for more local and long-distance pipelines.

North Dakota has surpassed Alaska to become the nation's No. 2 oil-producing state behind Texas. It has more than 6,000 producing wells, pumping out 600,000 barrels per day, a fourfold increase in five years.

But the pipeline capacity hasn't kept up. Three-fourths of the state's crude oil now must be trucked from wellheads, clogging local roads. And natural gas is burned off, or flared, at one of every five wells because of the lack of pipelines.

Drilling on new pipeline tapping Lake Mead for Las Vegas claims a life, shows project perils

.. the perils of tunneling beneath the lake bed were cast in stark terms this week, when a veteran tunnel worker died on the daunting $817 million, five-year project that officials compare with building the dam itself. They cast the so-called "Third Straw" project as the most complex current effort of its kind in the U.S.

The Lake Mead Intake No. 3 project has already had several setbacks. The tunnel flooded in July 2010 when a drilling machine hit a geologic fault. It flooded again in December 2010, forcing contractor Vegas Tunnel Constructors to abandon the tunnel and start a new one in a different direction. The completion date was pushed back several months, to summer 2014.

Ninety percent of Las Vegas water currently comes from Lake Mead, which has shrunk in recent years due to ongoing drought and increasing demand from seven states and more than 25 million people sharing Colorado River water rights under agreements dating to 1922.

In a city that averages just over four inches of rain per year, officials say they have no choice but to press on with the Lake Mead project.

"A human life was lost," said Stephen Coffield, chief of the Nevada OSHA office in Henderson. "We need to know what happened and get it corrected so it doesn't happen again."

But, "the lake is dropping," Coffield added. "The first straw is going to be sucking air."

Combined storage on Mead and Powell got a bit of recovery last year, increasing from 50% to 60%, but stream flows are very low all around the Upper Colorado basin this year. So it's likely to drop again, the questions are how fast? and how will it be distributed?

There are special rules in place to try to keep Mead from falling below 1075' elev. And other rules to try to keep it from hitting 1050' where the first intake is located.

At this time, it seems unlikely to approach the 1075' level in the next year or two. However it came very close in Fall 2010.

However ...

The Water Supply Forecast for Lake Powell (April through July Unregulated Inflow Volume) has been updated for June and the forecasted unregulated inflow volume for the period from April through July for Lake Powell is now 2.01 maf (28% of average). This is the third driest June forecast for Lake Powell since these forecasts began to be issued. Only 1977 and 2002 had lower June forecasts and these years ultimately were the 2 driest water years in the historic record for Lake Powell (1963-2011


[the] machine has, so far, slowly bored through 1,000 feet of solid rock. It has about 13,000 feet to go.

They have only progressed 1000 feet since December 2010.

Looks like the 3rd straw is nowhere near a done deal.

Fluxing Around

Sun Tzu (of The Art of War fame) coined the term "shi," (pronounced "shee") which roughly translates into English as, "the art of understanding matters in flux."

There's two interesting aspects to this term; First, that the Chinese see this as an "art." Second that they see it as something to be studied and understood, long before flux produces change.

Over here in "wide-eyed" land we see only what's smack in front of us at any given moment. We become accustomed to things the way they are. And when flux threatens change we fight like holy hell to keep things the way they've been. We see only the past and have no interest whatsoever in "studying" change, even as things begin "fluxing" like crazy around us.

To say that we are in a state of "flux" right now would be an understatement. Nevertheless, even as flux causes mounting structural, fiscal and social disarray, not just here in the US, but around the globe, all you hear from public officials, here and around the globe, is how important it is to get things "back to normal," or "back on track."

Of course history records nothing that even approximates anything like "normal." All history records is change, constant, unremitting change. Those able to prepare and adapt to change, survive. Those who resist change or fail to adapt, become history.

Yes, things are in flux. Much shi is called for.

The 'shi' is going to hit the fan before we develop the "the art of understanding matters in flux".

Sorry! :  )

Yeah, we're fluxed alright.

Well, when I get my 'flux' capacitor working I'll have nothing to worry about. And that is no bull shi.

Nevertheless, even as flux causes mounting structural, fiscal and social disarray, not just here in the US, but around the globe, all you hear from public officials, here and around the globe, is how important it is to get things "back to normal," or "back on track."

Yes, back on track and to do that the word I keep seeing in print and on TV is a call for GROWTH - they keep whining for growth, because that use to be the magic elixer that fed the debt machine into ever higher loads of dough. Now that transport costs have gone up so much higher, growth only comes from billions or trillions of borrowed money to feed BAU, to kick the can down the crumbling road a little farther.

Hi Earl:

Good call on the TV spin machine. It is more depressing to me and of greater concern that MSNBC, supposedly the "liberal" side of the mainstream media, goes on about growth and "American Exceptionalism" to such lengths.

But the, they are owned by GE, aren't they. Not a question so no inappropriate diacritical mark added.

What we are seeing is the final stage, where the lenders have accumulated so much of the available capital (money) that there is none left for investment in value creation. I don't know where we go from here. For the past several months I have been trying to establish some distance from the evolving predicaments and problems so as to get a real feel for direction. Now that I have done that, my conclusion is that there is not enough distance to make that possible. We are, each of us, so entwined in the problems, part of them both causally and situationally, as to make unbiased observation impossible.

Wish things were different; and recognize we get nowhere by wishing. It's all part of the greater predicament of the age.

I suppose that the old adage about relax and enjoy being raped might be appropos?

Hello Dr. Falken. How about a nice game of kick the can?


What we are seeing is the final stage, where the lenders have accumulated so much of the available capital (money) that there is none left for investment in value creation.

That hit me like a ton of bricks. Super low interest loan rates, tons of dough but unwilling to lend more because of the high risk of default. And so they huddle up on a pile of wad waiting for low risk borrowers.

The final stage before what - surely you aren't implying anything other than BAU. Don't let Kudlow at CNBC hear you. All we need is someone to eliminate wallstreet regs and things will really pick up. Ha!

S - One notable group has developed the philosophy of "Improvise, adapt and overcome" to deal with such flux. Of course, as the writer points out, to improvise one must first accept that BAU is not a valid forward plan. Not possible for many to take that first step. And then to adapt requires implementing the new plan...even more difficult for many. And finally to overcome one must apply that improvised adaptation successfully. So not only must the public change their ways and approach matters in a different manner they must do so correctly.

Sadly, a tad much to expect from many in our country IMHO.

Very inciteful; so society has lockjaw on step uno, while completely unaware that dos more difficult steps also have to be successfully maneuvered through. Why does that make me laugh, but not in a good way?

Earl - I know exactly how you feel. I know I can sound harsh when some folks offer "solutions" to our various problems and don't take into account either the inability or lack of willingness by much of the public to accept that adaptation. No solution, regardless of how correct it might be, will be of any value if it isn't implimented. IMHO the primary goal is to find a way to alter public atitudes than to devise a sound technical solution. I've found that just telling someone that their efforts are foolish and then offering the correct way for them to act is seldom successful.

Worst-case scenario is ugly if Greece leaves the euro

Bankers, governments and investors are starting to prepare for Greece to stop using the euro as its currency, a move that could spread turmoil throughout the global financial system.

The worst-case scenario envisions governments defaulting on their debts, a run on European banks and a worldwide credit crunch reminiscent of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.

Contagion risks run high in Greek vote

... "The big picture item is contagion," said Jay Bryson, chief global economist at Wells Fargo, who was traveling in Europe Friday. "I don't think this euro crisis is over."

Italy Makes Plans to Cut Debt and Revive Growth

... Prime Minister Mario Monti announced Friday that his administration had approved an “organic and robust” package, equal to $101 billion, that would include the sale of state assets, a significant reduction in public spending with the abolition of some state agencies as well as staff cuts.

In regards to Illinois refinery shutdown, closings account for higher prices at Hoosier pumps up top, the article is fairly accurate.

Magellan Midstream Pipeline has reported that in the some parts of the Midwest supplies of certain grades of gasoline have reached low levels about June 7 - and have become progressively worse since. The premium of Midwest gasoline to the futures is the highest level seen in years (see link below), reversing a relatively good situation that existed just two months ago.


Gasoline traders expect regional refineries to return to normal soon, although there is no specific projection of when downed regional refiners will resume normal operations.

End of an Era for BP in Russia

BP's announcement that it intends to sell its 50 per cent stake in TNK-BP, its troubled yet strongly performing joint venture in Russia, seals the end of the biggest anomaly in the Russian oil and gas industry of the past nine years. It also raises important questions about the future shape of the sector as a whole in Russia.

... Amid the excitement about the 2003 TNK-BP deal, one man offered a word of caution: then President Vladimir Putin correctly pointed out that running a 50:50 joint venture would not be easy. His words were prophetic.

... The question now is how easily BP will sell its stake and to whom.

Hydropower Continues Steady Growth

World hydroelectric power generation has risen steadily by an average 3 percent annually over the past four decades. In 2011, at 3,500 billion kilowatt-hours, hydroelectricity accounted for roughly 16 percent of global electricity generation, almost all produced by the world’s 45,000-plus large dams.

Much of the world’s recent growth came from China, where hydropower generation more than tripled from 220 billion kilowatt-hours in 2000 to 720 billion in 2010. In 2011, despite a drop in generation due to drought, hydropower accounted for 15 percent of China’s total electricity generation.

Approximately 62 percent of Canada’s electricity is generated from its 475 hydroelectric plants. The country’s enormous hydropower capacity allows for electricity export; Canada sells some 50 billion kilowatt-hours to the United States every year—enough to power more than 4 million American homes.

In Australia the MSM is starting to point out the hypocrisy of a domestic carbon tax (which starts July 1st) while praising booming coal exports. In this case it is a secondary point to the viability of CCS

Other serious gaffes with the carbon tax include exemptions for some polluting industries, the ongoing prohibition of nuclear, increases in fuel subsidies, the doubled effect of renewables subsidies, reliance on questionable foreign offsets and domestic gas prices having to match the price of export LNG.

Wow, from the 65 comments, 22 are from Seraph. Must be a record high percentage. 'Peak one person comment'.

New Jersey Start-up Company hopeful to commercialize a process to take carbon dioxide and use it in a electro-chemical process to produce methanol.


This seems sort of similar to the 'Green Freedom' concept in a paper published by two guys at Los Alamos in 2007:



This certainly doesn't seem to be a salvation for hopes of maintaining BAU...perhaps it will be a player to provide some rather small (much smaller than present) supply of liquid fuel in the future.

'This certainly doesn't seem to be a salvation for hopes of maintaining BAU...perhaps it will be a player to provide some rather small (much smaller than present) supply of liquid fuel in the future.'

They say:
the CO2 needs to be relatively pure, a requirement that rules out gasoline tailpipes and coal-fired power plants. Instead, said Teamey, the CO2 could come from manufacturing facilities, such as fertilizer manufacturers and cement plants, which according to Teamey emit some 100 million tons of high-purity CO2 each year.

At 6 barrels a ton, and taking US oil consumption at around 7,500 million barrels pa, that is around 1/10th by weight.
Presumably hydrogenating the CO2 increases rather than decreases the weight.

Not everything has to be a complete one-shot answer to be a very handy resource.

It's interesting.

The experimental cell contains a solution of carbon dioxide dissolved in water. Pyridinium, looking like benzene with a nitrogen substituted for one of the carbons (C5 H6 N), is also in solution as a catalyst. Electrons are fed in and the carbons and hydrogens from the fizzy water start to join. Multiple-carbon molecules can be made, like butanol.

A home unit would be handy.

It might make a form of electric or solar-electric car.

Take a look at this progress on cycle life and power density of lithium air batteries:

I don't get too excited about 'battery breakthroughs' which are reported about every couple of weeks, but this seems like real progress to me.

Remaining questions include low and high temperature performance, and fast charge capability as distinct from discharge capability.

Still, around 1,350 watts/kg at the battery level is pretty exciting.

A study done in Iceland looked for carbon monoxide rich CO2 streams. Some from geothermal, but an electric arc furnace for making silicon steel was the best source.

CO uses much less energy to make methanol than CO2.