Drumbeat: June 18, 2012

Greed and ingenuity in US turns drillers into gas-price killers

The US, which once combed the world, and even embarked on wars to secure energy supplies, is now expected to be self-sufficient in gas by 2020. Some think it might even declare independence on oil by 2030.

"It was driven by little guys drilling holes," says Roger Diwan, a partner at PFC Energy consultants. "It shows the power of greed and ingenuity." Gas prices in the US have since collapsed under the weight of the new supply, spawning an explosion of power-hungry industries across the Midwest.

The price trigger for all this innovation may have disappeared, but the leap in technology is here to stay.

Now these drillers are applying the same techniques to oil, unlocking billions of previously inaccessible barrels worth of crude.

Crude Futures Decline in New York on Record Spanish Bond

Oil was little changed near the highest level in a week as concern that Europe’s debt crisis will reduce demand for fuels outweighed optimism spurred by elections in Greece.

Futures fluctuated in New York after the Spanish 10-year bond yield rose to a euro-era record of 7.13 percent. Greece’s New Democracy and Pasok parties won enough seats to form a majority in the 300-member parliament, according to an official projection. The death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, raised the issue of succession for the second time in less than a year.

UK prompt gas rises on Norway import dip

LONDON (Reuters) - British prompt gas prices rose on Monday following a drop in imports from Norway, but demand remained well below seasonal norms due to ongoing maintenance on the main pipeline for exporting gas to continental Europe.

Opec looks at options in oil and gas revolution

Vienna // On the surface, Opec's conference last week at Hofburg Palace seemed an exercise in luxury, with lavish flower arrangements funded by Ecuador and a delicately tuned three-course lunch sponsored by Saudi Aramco.

There was ample reason to celebrate: last year, Opec countries raked in US$1 trillion (Dh3.67tn), their highest ever take from oil.

But listen to the ministers and a less optimistic mood emerges.

Baroque charm masks concern for the Opec

In the long term, Opec crude has to compete with oil and gas North American companies are unlocking from shale formations, and nations from Poland to China are gearing up to do the same.

Major oil companies are stretching other drilling frontiers in the Russian Arctic and fields buried under kilometres of ocean and salt layers off Brazil's coast.

"Technology is pushing back the peak of oil," Ryan Lance, the chief executive of ConocoPhillips told ministers.

Wintershall's Libya oil output at 70,000 b/d; builds pipeline

Germany's Wintershall is currently producing just over 70,000 b/d of oil in Libya, or around 70% of its output level from before the civil war in the North African country, a senior company official said Monday.

Speaking at a conference in London, Wintershall vice president Klaus Langemann said the company's output was being restricted by infrastructure constraints and that production would rise once a new oil export pipeline in Libya was completed.

Iraq Eyeing 9 Million B/D Oil Output by 2020 - PM Advisor

Iraq's untapped southern Halfaya oil field is expected to start pumping oil for the first time this summer, the top energy advisor to Iraq's prime minister said Monday, adding that the government's realistic output target for national production is 9 million barrels a day by the end of 2020.

Kyrgyz Parliament committee cancels decision on Russian-Kyrgyz oil products supplies

Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend / The Parliamentary Committee for International Affairs decided to cancel its decision as of February 27, 2012 to approve ratification of the agreement between Kyrgyzstan and Russia on cooperation in the sphere of oil and oil products supply, CA-NEWS reported.

Deputy Chairman of Committee Nurlan Torobekov (Ar Namys) said that according to the agreement, Russia receives exclusive rights for oil and oil products supply to Kyrgyzstan, as it will be implemented by Russian Gazprom and its subsidiaries.

Russia, Japan to ink memorandum for LNG projects in Vladivostok

Moscow (Platts)- Russia's energy ministry and Japan's ministry of economy, trade and industry next week are to sign a memorandum for possible LNG projects in Vladivostok in Russia's Far East, Viktor Timoshilov, head of Gazprom's Eastern program, said Monday.

Bangladesh must upgrade its gas pipelines -Chevron

DHAKA (Reuters) - Chevron Corp, which produces half the natural gas in Bangladesh, wants to step up operations but the government must upgrade the national pipeline network so it can deliver more, the head of the U.S. company's operations in the country said.

Geoff Strong also said Dhaka also had to improve the fiscal incentives for new exploration if it is to attract the many billions of dollars in investment needed to address its increasingly grave energy shortages and meet growing demand.

CNPC starts operating oilfield in Iraq

BEIJING - China National Petroleum Corp, China's top oil producer, said Monday operations have begun at the first phase of its Halfaya oil field project in Iraq, with an initial annual capacity of 5 million tonnes.

The company said the Halfaya oil field project is its largest overseas investment unit for which it also acts as the operator. It said the completion of the first phase of the project marked a milestone in its cooperative business in the Middle East.

BP begins drilling in Jordan's Risha gas field

AMMAN (Reuters) - BP last week began drilling the first well in its concession in the Risha natural gas field in eastern Jordan, near the border with Iraq, the British oil major said on Monday.

The drilling follows two years of preparation and a "very successful 5,000 square km seismic acquisition programme in 2011", BP said.

EU Says Ban on Insuring Iranian Oil Will Proceed as Planned

Europe’s sanctions on insurance for Iranian oil shipments won’t be lifted or suspended as Asian importers look to governments to cover cargoes.

Insuring ships carrying crude from the Persian Gulf country will be banned when the European Union’s embargo takes effect July 1, Michael Mann, foreign-policy spokesman for the 27-nation bloc, said today in Moscow. The rules apply to 95 percent of the world’s tankers because they’re covered by the 13 members of the London-based International Group of P&I Clubs.

Oil sanctions on Iran loom despite talks

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The latest round of talks over Iran's nuclear program are set to begin Monday in Moscow, but analysts are not expecting a breakthrough that would avoid sanctions in coming weeks.

The sanctions, from the United States and European Union, would apply to any country that buys Iranian oil, and could cut off nearly half of Iran's oil exports, removing a million barrels a day from global oil markets.

Rupee for Iran oil exempt from local taxes: FinMin

New Delhi (PTI) In order to facilitate purchase of crude oil from Iran, the Finance Ministry has issued a notification exempting payments made in Indian rupee for such imports from any local tax.

U.S. and China Headed for Fight Over Iran Oil? Not So Fast.

The fact that China’s crude imports from Iran are now on the rise (Sinopec finally signed a new contract with NIOC in late March) may make it a bit more difficult for the Obama administration to grant China an exemption, especially because it is an election year. That said, I suspect China will get one by the June 28 deadline.

Iranian nukes? No worries

The past several months have witnessed a heated debate over the best way for America and Israel to respond to Iran's nuclear activities. Although the U.S., the European Union and Iran have recently returned to the negotiating table, a palpable sense of crisis still looms.

It should not. In fact, a nuclear-armed Iran would probably be the best possible result of the standoff and the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East.

Suicide bomber kills Yemen's army chief in south

SANAA, Yemen (AP) – Security officials say a suicide bomber has killed the army general leading the fight against al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen.

Egyptian military holds on to power despite presidential vote

Cairo (CNN) -- An Islamist backed by the Muslim Brotherhood declared victory as Egypt's first democratically elected president even as the country's military rulers issued a decree that virtually stripped the position of power.

The move by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces -- the military rulers in control since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak -- came Sunday at the conclusion of a two-day presidential runoff, adding to the political turmoil that raised questions about the stability of the fragile democracy.

Peak oil: has it arrived?

We don't see a peak for the year 2000, nor we see it for 2005. If the peak had been in 2000 or 2005, we should be already seeing a significant production decline. What we see, instead, is a plateau that has been lasting for the past five years or so, interrupting the growth trend that had been the rule from 1983. So, no peak so far, but clearly "something" has been happening with oil production starting with the first decade of the 21st century, considering also the remarkable increase in oil prices of that period. But what's happening, exactly? Where is the peak? Should we expect it soon, or is it delayed for a long time?

Russian oil firms warned of large flaring fines

Russia’s new resources minister has warned the country’s oil companies they are facing fines of hundreds of millions of dollars for polluting the atmosphere with excess amounts of flared gas.

Russia, the world's top energy producer, set a target for oil companies not to flare off more than 5% of the associated petroleum gas (APG) they produce as a byproduct of crude extraction by 2011, in a target later pushed back twice to 2014.

Hint of flexibility in EU safety regulation

LONDON -- The European Commission may consider modifying its stance on regulating offshore safety, according to British association Oil & Gas UK.

Feds flagged Enbridge project for inadequate oil spill response plan: document

OTTAWA — Federal officials flagged safety concerns about Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project nearly two years ago, while warning that the Alberta-based proponent had an "insufficient" oil spill response plan along sensitive areas on its route from Alberta to the British Columbia coast, internal records reveal.

Japan divided over nuclear restart

TOKYO -- Japan ordered a pair of reactors back online over the weekend for the first time since last year's nuclear accident, but the chaos and confusion surrounding the decision highlight how unready the country may be to restart its atomic-energy engine.

Solar Boom Heads to Japan Creating $9.6 Billion Market: Energy

Japan is poised to overtake Germany and Italy to become the world’s second-biggest market for solar power as incentives starting July 1 drive sales for equipment makers from Yingli Green Energy Holdings Co. to Kyocera Corp.

Indian Wind Developments Threatened by Weakening Rupee, CLP Says

India’s weakening rupee threatens to make wind projects unviable because it’s pushing up the cost of imported components, according to CLP Holdings Ltd., the largest developer of wind farms in the South Asian nation.

“If the rupee isn’t reined in, there’ll be a lot of difficulty putting together viable projects,” Mahesh Makhija, director of renewables at CLP’s Indian unit, said in an interview in Mumbai.

Use of outside living areas growing in priority, complexity

Messervy says homeowners want not only an "outside away room" to relax and entertain but also — in a new push toward "homesteading" — a spot to raise vegetables and livestock.

"People are keeping chickens even in Boston and Cambridge (Mass.), where many of our projects are," and others are keeping bees on flat roofs, Messervy says. "The definition of curb appeal has changed."

"Our editors predict an even bigger boom in home food gardens," Better Homes and Gardens says in its overview of 2012 garden trends. Many homeowners have limited space, so it expects more will grow food on rooftops and vertical lattices, or plant small-space fruit trees such as the Urban Columnar Apple series that's less than 2 feet wide.

In Its First Life, an Oil Platform; in Its Next, a Reef?

AUSTIN, Tex. — The dormant oil platform known as High Island 389-A rises out of the Gulf of Mexico about 100 miles southeast of Galveston. Below the surface, corals, sea fans and sponges cover its maze of pipes. Schools of jack and snapper, solitary grouper and barracuda circle in its shadows. Dive boats periodically stop at the enormous structure, where dolphins, sea turtles and sharks are often spotted.

Now, 30 years after it was built and months after it was abandoned, it is set to be demolished under Interior Department rules governing nonproducing ocean structures. And when it goes, the lush ecosystem that has grown around it will also vanish. There are now about 650 such oil and gas industry relics, known as idle iron, that may meet this fate.

Your Guide to a Tour of Decay

He will expound on the archaic waste-disposal operations that once flourished on the creek, conjuring scenes of putrescent horse carcasses floating in on barges from Manhattan and docks piled with manure three stories high. The narrative will extend to Cord Meyer’s bone blackers and Conrad Wissel’s night soil wharf — the gothic names of these forgotten businesses rattled off in a distinct Brooklyn accent.

At some point, he will start in on the horrors of the M. Kalbfleisch Chemical Works, eventually making his way to the sins of Standard Oil.

Energy Etch A Sketch

As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney endorsed an aggressive program to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, pushed to close old coal-fired power plants and embraced wind and solar power. Then came his bids for the Republican presidential nomination, first in 2008 and now in 2012. On climate change as on other issues, he has transformed himself, bit by reactionary bit.

Today he is a proclaimed skeptic on global warming, a champion of oil and other fossil fuels, a critic of federal efforts to develop cleaner energy sources and a sworn enemy of the Environmental Protection Agency.

China says developed nations must lead in Rio

China said Monday wealthy countries should take the lead in tackling climate change, repeating its long-held stance ahead of a global UN summit on poverty and the environment in Rio de Janeiro.

Turkmenistan approves National Climate Change Strategy

President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov has approved the National Strategy on Climate Change, local media outlets reported on Monday.

The document 'aims to strengthen the legal framework of government policy on the protection of the environment, determining main activities to prevent and reduce the impact of climate change, as well as ensuring fulfilment of international legal documents related to climate change in which Turkmenistan is involved'.

Carbon shown to rise as trees replace tundra

In a surprise finding, researchers have shown that as trees start to grow closer to the North Pole, replacing once-barren tundra, they release more greenhouse gases than they absorb.

The study has global implications for measuring the speed of global warming because it had previously been thought that when forests colonise the frozen Arctic, they might act to slow climate change by soaking up extra carbon dioxide from the air.

Et Tu, Virginia? Again with the Sea Level Rise

The problem is, where the Virginia legislators chose language out of fear, the Virginian-Pilot unwittingly piled on. Suggesting that “sea level rise” and “climate change” are perceived as “liberal code words” is perfectly reasonable; unreasonable people do perceive them as such. BIll sponsor Chris Stolle called “sea level rise” “a left-wing term,” after all. But they’re not liberal code words: they’re scientific terms. The Virginian-Pilot should have noted this. More, the Virginian-Pilot called the “recurrent flooding” term the legislators used a “more politically neutral phrase,” which is wrong twice.

Built on sinking ground, Norfolk tries to hold back tide amid sea-level rise

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that Hampton Roads, anchored by Norfolk, is at the greatest risk from sea-level rise for a metro area its size, save for New Orleans.

City officials had sensed as much in recent years, after frequent massive flooding from soaking rains, storm surge and high tides, often affecting its most lucrative property tax base: high-value waterfront homes sitting in flood zones that ring the city.

Norfolk’s mayor said recently that the city might one day retreat from areas that constantly take on water and city officials are considering a plan to buy and condemn about 20 homes in Spartan Village, a flood-prone neighborhood near Norfolk State University. But the city is fighting back with a long-term strategy to protect property and roads that lead to the world’s largest naval base, shipyards and hospitals.

Do National Policies affect Oil Consumption ?

I looked at three western OECD nations, two with significant efforts to invest in Oil Free Transportation - although the emphasis between the two is significantly different - and one with no coherent energy policy and no effort at all to reduce oil consumption from 2001 to 2008.

The results are significant. France - oil consumption down -11.2%, Denmark down -21.2% and the USA down -4.1% from 2001 to 2011 after an almost +6% rise in the middle of the decade.

The US reduction in oil consumption appears to be due to reduced economic activity and higher world oil prices.

Details are on my blog


Overall view of blog (still in development)

Best Hopes for Good National Policies,


Thank you very much, Alan. Both of the links you give provide a lot of interesting, useful, and (in my book at least) cogent information. Thanks for all your work on these issues.


Pricing is king in the US, but it shows that even in a country with an infrastructural bias towards oil consumption and little alternative options (or coherent policies aimed at producing them) there's room for improvement. Oil consumption is a difficult to project beast in the US because it's largely dependent on the individual choices of millions of consumers: Will the credit crisis cut off suburbia for millions of Americans? It's certainly halted further expansion and current social trends seem to be towards greater density after generations of a tendency to sprawl. Infrastructural investment will also change options as Federal (mis)management of the highway system makes it less convenient and costlier to use private automobiles.

On the other hand, if gasoline does indeed get cheaper (to which I say, define "cheap"), then all bets are off. That said, buying habits are also malleable. Maybe children of the 90s want tanks with butt-warmers, but I think people who bought cars in the Noughties are a little more adverse and aware of the potential of gas-price volatility; I sure don't take cheap anything for granted. What happens when conspicuous consumption is not longer in vogue, as seems to be the trend as gardening and urban homesteading becomes hip? How far can gas demand fall, and what will this demand collapse have on further investment in unconventional resources, of which many of its developers are already leveraged to the hilt? (See Chesapeake)

Then there's the $80/barrel mark, which seems to be about constant between shale oil and tar sands (though I often wonder what will happen to tar sands if natural gas prices were to suddenly spike, thereby increasing the cost of the principle energy input into tar sands production). I think if that's the industry benchmark for "cheap", then they should consider seeking other employment: Much of this oil-dependent infrastructure was built during eras when oil went for the inflation-adjusted equivalent of less than half that. Functionally speaking, eighty dollars a barrel is twice the "norm".

For my part, I'm suspicious of oil industry bullishness: we've heard all this before, the promises of nigh-limitless cheap fossil energy from offshore, from untapped wild lands, from conversion of one to another, and so forth. I'll believe it when I see it and, on a per-mile basis, $80 a barrel ain't cheap compared to electric, even counting in the cost of replacement a battery pack every couple hundred thousand miles (which, to be fair, isn't any costlier than getting a transmission rebuild in your land yacht).

So I still plan on buying an electric commuter to compliment my trusty old pickup. But, first, I've got to con the banks into giving me a mortgage for the house to park it at!

In the meantime, I, like so many people I know my age (late 20's/early 30's), plan on getting into the habits of simply driving less.

So maybe we're the atavists here, but what happens when lots and lots of people do the same thing?

What if Peak Oil is driven by demand destruction, productive capability and ultimate resources be damned?

I'll believe it when I see it and, on a per-mile basis, $80 a barrel ain't cheap compared to electric, even counting in the cost of replacement a battery pack every couple hundred thousand miles

I wish this were true but it just isn't. Electric vehicles still have a hefty up-front cost that you can't economically cover with oil at $80/barrel. Battery prices need to come down or oil prices need to go up. The EVs are getting there and are very close, but at $80/barrel the numbers don't yet work for them. You are better off getting a conventional hybrid or a small high MPG conventional gas car.

That said, we need to keep the EV incentives going to keep the battery technology improving and keep EV development moving along. We need to have an alternative ready for when the time comes to switch.

Oh, and there is no reasonably priced battery pack that will last a couple hundred thousand miles. :-(

I am not sure about EV's, but my Prius has 155,000 and the battery shows no signs of dying. If EV's are set up not to discharge too far and not overcharge then I see no reason that EV batteries couldn't last quite a long time. Are there any EV owners out there who can comment on the battery warranty on their EV?


I have owned a Nissan Leaf for one year. The warranty on the Leaf battery pack does not cover "gradual capacity loss", only coverage is if a cell goes bad and they have to replace it. The data on battery life is looking pretty good for those who don't live in a very hot area. There are a dozen reports of loss of a battery capacity bar (15% capacity loss for the first one, about 6% for the other bars) in Phoenix, AZ. Heat is not looking good for the Leaf battery.

On the other hand, I have a 5% (or less) loss (live near the coast in Los Angeles, spend limited time in hot San Fernando Valley. The loss is supposed to be highest at first, then slow over time. Supposedly it is roughly proportional to the square root of time. I have estimated that the Leafs in Phoenix may have a 47% capacity loss by 10 years, but I may only have an 18% loss using the rough rule of thumb. The Leaf does not have an active thermal management system for the battery pack.

Since I only use the Leaf for trips of 50 miles or less, I can use the center of the pack, avoiding both full charges and full discharges, both of which are less than optimal for battery life. I have read that the Volt is doing better, probably due to using the sweet spot only by design, plus there is a thermal management system.

Yeah, I think Nissan may have been a bit over-optimistic by not having any thermal management system at all. That will be fine in many places but perhaps it doesn't work well in really hot places like Arizona. At least with their current battery chemistry. I think GM took a more conservative approach wherein they have an extensive thermal management system and they are quite conservative in how much of the battery capacity they are willing to use in electric only mode (like you are doing).

I worry about the Volt's over-complexity though. A car that has 3 clutches doesn't seem to be a good idea, IMHO. Engineering is a game of difficult trade-offs.

The Leaf & Volt warranty their batteries for 8 years and a 100K miles. That is quite impressive. But as the other poster notes, this does not cover gradual capacity loss.

And I presume the batteries will last past 100K miles with a few cell changes here & there. But 200K miles? I don't think that is likely unless you are willing to put up with severely degraded range.

That said, no one really knows. They do have their aging simulations but we simply don't have real world experience since Li-Ion vehicles only just became available in the past couple years. I certainly hope my pessimism is proven wrong and there are EVs with 200K miles on them eventually. You'll hear from RAV4 owners proudly touting their RAV4s still working . . . but many of them will tell you about batteries that needed to be replaced or much reduced range.

100K miles. 200K miles... I wonder whether all those miles are absolutely necessary in the first place? I'm down to 5000 miles a year in a car I've had for more than a decade - work from home. Suspect I (and my kids) will use the same car for some time to come (another decade? Longer?). That seems a more considerate use of finite energy, IMO.

Cheers, Matt


I agree using the car less is best. Not everyone is in a situation that enables driving 5000 miles per year. If one lives more than 10 miles from their job, that would take 5000 miles per year if there is not public transportation and they don't have neighbors who work in the same vicinity, unless they want to ride a bike, this option does not work for everyone. I do agree however, that those who can afford to move closer to their work, telecommute, take public transportation, or car pool should do so and I would support carbon taxes to create incentives to do so. In the mean time, even 5k per year gets you to 100k in 20 years, with an electric car, I see no reason it could not be running for that long if the battery lasts.


The cycle life varies enormously between different battery chemistries.
The Prius used a NiMH battery, which has extraordinary cycle life, especially considering the small battery in the conventional non-plug in Prius has to work much harder for a given mileage than the big batteries in a Volt or a Leaf.

The manganese spinel chemistry used in the Leaf and Volt has a much lower cycle life than some others, particularly lithium titanate, which Toshiba is using for cars and Altairnano in a lower density version for buses etc.
Not only have they got a great cycle life,but they perform fine down to -30C, great for chilly regions.

Lithium iron phosphate and some variants of NMC and lithium polymer also have much better cycle life than manganese spinel.

The other way to extend battery life is simply to use a bigger battery,, which has to cycle much less for a given mileage, and if you are crafty most of the time you can easily avoid charging it to over 80% or letting it fall below 20% most of the time, which greatly extends cycle life.

Incidentally, the insured value of the battery used in the Renault Kangoo ZE (commercial, no VAT) is £7,500 in the UK
That works out to around $550 kwh for the 22kwh battery.

An 8% drop pa in battery prices might mean EV's with 50kwh packs in around 2020, which even using present chemistry should not only give decent range but a life of around 200,000 miles.

I've been building and riding high performance electric bikes with a variety of lithium batteries since the late 90s and have relied on them as my sole transportation since the last invasion of Iraq.

What typically kills battery packs is not the gradual loss of capacity, but the slowly increasing internal resistance. As IR increases, more and more of the energy in each charge and discharge cycle ends up as heat and it is this heat which accelerates the aging of the battery. Packs with good thermal management will last longer. Poorly designed packs can cook some cells much faster than others leading to early failure.

A huge factor is the peak load place on a battery. I've got some very old lithium ion batteries that are still quite useable and capacity fall off is very modest because I switched to using them for steady low current tasks such as powering lighting and I recharge them slow too.

Things are improving though. New lithium battery formulations start off with much lower IR than cells of the past. Ten years ago a decent cell had a 2C rating and now 20C is common. But these higher quality cells still degrade fairly rapidly when exposed to extremes of heat. Today it was 95F in Chicago. It probably hit 110F in my garage. Sustained exposure to that heat will kill most lithium batteries in a couple seasons. Charging lithium batteries at the temps we hit in winter will kill them quickly too. For my bikes, I bring my packs into my basement after each use in winter and summer to avoid the heat extremes. If I were going to buy a lithium powered electric car I'd first want to build an insulated garage with a heating/cooling system that kept the garage from going to extremes of temperature.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

What you speak about also makes me skeptical about fast-charging for EVs. I think it would be fine to do occasionally when taking a rare long trip. But if you do it on a regular basis, I suspect it will harm your very expensive battery.

Fast charging is fine for batteries with low internal resistance, except when they are cold. I don't fast charge below 45F to be conservative, though most new lithium batteries should be ok with it at somewhat lower temps.

Most manufacturers have specs for their batteries that include charge and discharge rates and temperature ranges for storage, discharge, charging, etc. One thing to be aware of though is that those specs are for cells in good condition, but as batteries degrade using them towards the limits of the specs will hasten their aging.

SEB. Does temperature hurt batteries if they are just sitting idle -or only if the high/low temps are experienced during load cycles?

I'll respond as if you are asking about lithium based rechargeables, though the following is true to a lesser degree regarding nimh and some other chemistries.

In general cooler temperatures put batteries in a less active state. Which is great for storage as cool temps slow their aging. But cold batteries tend not to perform well in either charge or discharge. High currents can be damaging when batteries are very cold.

Higher temps accelerate aging. Heat isn't intrinsically worse for a battery in use, though a high current load will cause additional heating, especially for an older battery. The rate of aging tends to accelerate geometrically with elevated temps. The rate might be very modest at 65F, but double perhaps at 80F and double again at 95F, etc.

Yes, chemical reaction rates double every 10 degrees C.

Written by DanBrown:
What if Peak Oil is driven by demand destruction, productive capability and ultimate resources be damned?

In that case the price of crude oil would be low removing the incentive to reduce consumption or convert. A high price is necessary to beat the economy down resulting in a series of oil price shocks with an apparent period of 3 or 4 years on the plateau. Expect the period to decrease on the falling edge of the production curve. In a market system demand destruction in liquid fuel is a response to a high price caused by limited, difficult to extract, low ERoEI product. The vast majority of humans have not demonstrated the ability to adapt proactively to the situation and are increasingly finding themselves in a difficult economic situation that interferes with adaption.

What if Peak Oil is driven by demand destruction, productive capability and ultimate resources be damned?

What if? I think this is definitely true. I think oil demand will peak because people move to public transit, telecommuting, bicycles, electric cars, and other alternative transport systems because it will just be too damn expensive to fill their cars. I don't think we've hit a peak yet . . . but we are getting there.

Well Speculawyer, you are half right anyway. Demand will peak at a lower price when there is more oil still to be had, but at a higher price. Demand will peak because people cannot afford the oil at the cost of extraction and not because they have switched to something else. The stone age did not end because they ran out of stones but the oil age will end, not because they ran out of oil but because they just could not afford to pay the high cost of extraction anymore.

Ron P.

Well I don't see how there is any difference. People are not going to stop moving. So there is no difference between switching to walking and thus not buying oil or not affording the cost of extraction. Either way, people buy less oil but still move about . . . although less moving around and more slowly.

Well I don't see how there is any difference. People are not going to stop moving.

That was my entire point, there is a tremendous difference because people are going to stop moving. People will stop taking long vacations, people will stop casual driving, and many will stop driving to work because they have no jobs to drive to.

The cheap oil will peak while there is still a lot of expensive oil left in the ground. In 2011, the marginal cost of oil production was $92.26 a barrel. That means that $100 oil will peak late this year. Next year $110 oil will peak. $90 oil peaked last year.

You must understand that oil will peak because people cannot afford to buy it, not because they switch to some other form of travel.

The link above is behind a pay wall but available via google. Or go here for the same figure:
Saudi unlikely to cut soon despite oil under $100

Ron P.

Peak oil removes people's legs? It is worse than I thought! ;-)

I try to stay in shape by walking. I often walk as far as the mail boxes in our rural location, a distance of about 2 1/2 miles round trip. Doing that more than once a day is quite a stretch, given the elevation difference of 300 feet. Over that distance in a car, the engine is just getting warmed up.

I think Darwinian's point is that people will still be able to move, just not as far over any time period, since walking has serious limits, so much so that the way of living we 'Merikans now take for granted can't happen. But, then, there's the bicycle, which allows a much greater daily range along with the possibility of hauling some "cargo" as well...

E. Swanson

I'd like to see people move less for a change, it will preserve some of the pristine Eco-systems that have become accessible only recently because of motorized transport. As a hiker I am absolutely appalled to see what certain amateurs do while hiking.

It reminds me of some stories I heard from the wife of my professor. She grew up in rural Hokkaido back before the war, and made a picture book with stories about her life at that time (as far as I know, unpublished). Peddlers would come visit from the towns on a regular schedule, because nobody had cars and so you couldn't just drive into town and get what you wanted. People got around in horse drawn sleighs during the winter.

Travelling hundreds of miles like it's nothing is very much a privledge of modern times. Heck, travelling TENS of miles like it's nothing is a privledge of modern times. That is not to say people didn't travel before, but it took a lot more time and effort.

In some news articles I caught in the local paper, has this to say.

Young people aren't going driving as often as they used too, that there are more of them staying home to get online. That more young adults aren't leaving to go explore the world, but are staying longer and longer at home with the parents, that even the parents aren't gooing places like they once did.

I know that my dad spends a lot more time thinking about how he spends his gas dollar than almost anything else he spends money on. We make big trips go to as many places as are on the way to X Y or Z. We are all on a limited budget, in the household, but we have stayed put a lot more than not in the last several years, when once sunday drives were kinda normal.

Not everyone can get on a bike and go swisshing down the road. Without our van, my mom would be house bound, we'd have to get a big bike carriage, or a horse and buggy with extra land to feed them, and well, not going to happen.

Witht he weather as hot as it is now, walking is not the best for most people unless you do it at cooler times of the day. Heatwaves and dry temps make for the south a nasty place to have to walk to get places.


Alan, if you adjusted the percentages for population changes, I suspect the US wouldn't look quite so bad.

With the highway bill in conference committee right now, it is really amazing that something so simple as raising the fuel taxes to fully fund the highway program is not even under consideration. In one fell swoop, the Reps would get deficit reduction and the Dems would get price incentives for fuel efficiency and rail freight over trucking.

As noted below @ China, population growth (particularly immigration for the USA) is a function of public policy as well, at least on the edges.

And yes, VERY few people are aware of just how heavily we subsidize oil burning transportation.

Best Hopes for "User Pays",


Am leaving for my morning walk (I'm sure you approve!) so haven't time to go into greater detail but European nations largely benefited from what we might call the Great Middle Distillates Switchover where they traded gasoline for diesel in automotive use; for the continent as a whole, ca. 700 kb/d in gasoline for ca. 1 mb/d in diesel from 1999 to 2006 (the last year I've bothered to put on my spreadsheet). Part of that was increased use in shipping, of course. We can excise the part in ships at least, EIA provide a separate number for use of distillates for bunkers, you take that out and dist+gas shows about a 300 kb/d increase over this time period. Individual nations' experiences varied, of course.

I'd like to see what numbers for various countries show in, for instance, VMT, but have never delved into that, not sure if they monitor things as rigorously as the US. I've always also thought the constant bragging indulged in by Europeans in re: their awesome diesel cars' mileage, in contrast to the paltry mileage gains obtained in the US via hybrid tech, was off the mark, too. Shouldn't we be striving to get away from consuming oil in cars, period? Switching to diesel just moves the goalposts a bit, to use an all-American analogy. Hybrids hold out the promise of tooling around with nothing but electrons.

Copenhagen plans to get % of urban trips by bike up from 38% to 50%. And finish a subway ring in 2018, and a new electrified rail link to northern Germany after that. Add walking & public transit and single occupant vehicles should be <10% of urban trips in Copenhagen soon.

And Copenhagen is not the leading bicycling city in Denmark.

Paris will double their subway from 2013 to 2025 (+200 km, to get to 50% I add small extensions currently under construction). And add several tram lines on the surface.

Overall, France will build 1,500 km of new tram lines in almost every city of 100,000 & larger this decade.

And they increased bicycle share of urban trips from 1% to 6%. Also urban growth boundaries to limit sprawl, etc.

These are structural changes. And when diesel rises in price, those that once drove to work can take the tram or bicycle - that alternative is available, which increases the elasticity of demand in France & Denmark.

Best Hopes for Good Investments,


PS; If you find a source for EU VMT statistics, let me know !

Alan - And by comparison Texas has spent $billions in the last decade to expand highways to the bergs and now wants to increase the speed limit on one highway to 85 mph. The great news about that is most folks driving that road will typically run at least 100 miles...one way. That's actually the "logic" behind the limit increase.

And to think some folks characterize Texans as stubborn. I wonder if seeing drilling rigs and pump jacks gives a lot of folks a false sense of security.

Well, at DKK 1.4 billion per kilometer, or $375 million per mile, at least it's cheaper than the Second Avenue Subway. Maybe NYC could learn something, or maybe the geology is so different that ... not. Either way, it's a typical miniature European ring, serving just a few square miles in any direct manner. And to need it you have to be in the center, the astronomical-rent district, of a city jammed with 16,000 people to the square mile - not as bad as some others in Europe, but still a lot.

So while it may very well be good for Copenhagen, I'm guessing that's not really why you mentioned it. I'm not so sure it would scale very well to the USA, where virtually everyone who wants to live in such crowded, noisy conditions already does (and often already has transit service) - and not that many, percentage-wise, live that way, or want to, or could even afford to.

With respect to the cycling, once again, Copenhagen, and most of Holland, have strong unique advantages: fairly mild, maritime winters; nothing much that most North Americans would even call summer (i.e. if it ever reaches just 90F they're in panic mode); and plenty of incredibly flat territory. Those advantages are not going to scale well. Away from the almost-ideal conditions in that flyspeck of a region, the cycling may not necessarily be useless, but it will often be best suited to disability-free, fit twenty- or thirty-somethings. That might have been fine in the 1890s, when the Chicago railroad barons were complaining about competition from the bicycle (!!!, such was the "quality" of the rail "service" even in its early heyday), when people were mostly either reasonably fit and/or young, or else dead. It might be less OK amidst the less fit, much older population of the 2010s.

So, in the end, alas, I'm still not the least bit perplexed about why, in the USA, stuff like this gets in trouble politically. For the great majority, it's nothing more than taxation for the exclusive benefit of a small (and in the case of the rail, affluent) if loud-mouthed minority - and that's as opposed to, say, taxation for roads, which benefit everyone, even non-drivers.

Which IMO leads to the key yet-to-be-answered question that's forever danced around. Is there any way even to spin this stuff as broadly useful, rather than being just toys for an eccentric fringe - much less actually make it broadly useful?

97% of Americans polled want other people to ride transit more.

- The Onion

Yeah, exactly - as often happens, The Onion gets it dead-on. And indeed, The Onion's notional "97%" aren't likely to tax themselves to pay for nearly-free rides for those "other people". Of course, one might posit a genuine market that could operate with minimal political support, but outside Manhattan that too seems unlikely, even in fanciful theory. So, still no reason to expect significant uptake any time soon...

After the end of the Cold War, Copenhagen had a closed military base on the outskirts of town, with some near-by abandoned heavy industrial/port development.

They enhanced the value of the land by building an elevated section of the Metro (subway sic) through the former military base. Elevated on embankment to lower costs (and planted ivy to cover graffiti).

They used the monies from the sale of land to pay for the first Metro "Y". (Last report I saw was land sales covered 90+% of costs but not all). Rents for people & businesses are reasonable in the TOD built on the former military base. Major shopping center at one station.

Another terminus of the Metro "Y" is at the airport - which is also the train station to Sweden via the new bridge/tunnel.

Residents and businesses along the "Y" Metro will have easy access to the new ring Metro when it opens. This will enhance both lines value and utility. One or two spurs off the ring are planned for Phase III.

Every extra line (Metro, commuter, rail to Sweden & later Germany) adds value and utility to the existing lines - and provides easy access for more people (i.e not just the supposed 'elites').

The new ring Metro will also have better connections to all six of the suburban commuter trains of Copenhagen, a weakness of the first "Y" Metro line.

Copenhagen has some unique soil issues to deal with in building the Metro subway sections (about half the "Y" is in subway, all of the ring is in subway). I followed the design and build to learn lessons on cost effective construction.

The Danes were quite innovative in keeping costs down and utility up.

Ridership on the Metro "Y" is 54.3 million in 2011. Expected to more than double when the ring is added.

The Capital Region has a population of 1,713,624 (1 October 2011) on an area of 2,561 km² with a density of 669.1/km² (1,733/sq mi). It developed along the "fingers" of the six commuter rail lines.

Can Americans work with the speed, efficiency and determination of Danes# ?

Best Hopes that we can,


# Icelanders marveled at how every office was empty at 5:01 PM in Copenhagen.

The Metro is quite intersting there is no driver just a window. If the Metro is built before the city it could done cheap above and with few bends since there are no buildings to care about. The city of Ghotenburg is a perfect example the trams from the suburbs are pretty fast until they reach the old city and have to drive around in the square shaped streets around the buildings. Tunneling at least the shortest lines thru the city would make a tremendous difference.

I have a train station within walking distance and could use the train to the airport in Copenhagen or to a small exhibition in Malmö. They are both built in a similar way with a train station below ground and you just have to get off and use the stairs. Interstingly most of the tracks except the bridge between Sweden and Denmark where built more than one hundred years ago and it use to be faster than using the car.

Can you add anything else ?

And are the Islanders correct about Danish offices being empty at 5:01 PM ?

Best Hopes for Denmark & Sweden,


I'm a Houstonian currently living in Copenhagen (working for an E&P company) and it is rare to see anyone in the office after 4:30 unless we're drilling. To live a "comfortable" middle class lifestyle in Denmark, both "partners" in a couple are basically forced to work to be able to afford the 56% taxes, 25% VAT, etc. This means that all the work schedules revolve around the schools - they need to drop the kids off at school around 8:30 and need to pick them up before 5. There is a 37 hour work week here and everyone has 35 days of vacation/holidays after the first year of work. If I had such a high tax rate, would you work a minute more than you had to? There is definitely a different "work/life" balance than you find in the US.

The public transportation is good/reliable here but the city footprint is very small - using Houston as an example, most of the population would live inside the 610 Loop (with the east side missing as Copenhagen is on the coast)where the main metro and bus lines run and the distant suburbs would extend to BW8. A big factor here are the costs associated with owning an auto - there is a 210% duty on all cars (a cheap 1.8l turbo diesel station wagon with a stick is close to $60K) and gas is in the $8-9/gallon range. While you don't really need a car living here, it makes life much easier hauling home groceries of boxes from Ikea... Big change from having 2 big SUV's and driving 50+ miles a day in Houston.

Biking is easy here especially in the city as most roads have bike lanes and the drivers are conditioned to look for bikes (no right-turn on red). I actually ride an electric bike the 18 km to my office when I don't take the bus - not because I wanted to be green but because it was a fun project to build and to P.O. those guys as I blow by them up the hills! (Copenhagen may be flat but that's not the case north of town...) An ebike might be seen as "green" compared to a car but with the highest electricity prices in Europe (due to taxes), it isn't cheap to recharge the battery...

Right turn on red. One of the most pedestrian-unfriendly measures ever implemented. It tends to mean that no matter the color of the light, drivers are watching only for an opening so they can stomp on the gas and slip into it, heedless of anything that might be in the way. But, at the time, it was marketed as "saving oil, and nothing else mattered.

So it's typical of what happens whenever one "value" - at the time, "conservation" - is held to trump all others in utter disregard of costs or tradeoffs.

Quite a while ago I was with a couple of people visiting a business office in Belgium. The place emptied out promptly at closing time, but we remained, conferring with the owner. Shortly after 6PM, several guys in uniforms, wearing gendarme-style cylindrical billed hats, descended on the place. It looked like something out of a bad black-and-white movie.

I jokingly asked the owner if they were after me for forgetting to stamp my tram ticket on the way over, or something like that. He said, no, they were labor police, there to audit the records and make sure no employees were working after 6PM. After he talked with them briefly, they headed for the file cabinets.

I wonder whether they still do that in Belgium.

Forty years ago I lived in Denmark, in a suburbanized village about 30km north of Copenhagen and commuted to Copenhagen. Most of the time I traveled by train (S-tog), riding my bike about 2km to the station. The train was clean, comfortable, fast, and always on time. And faster than driving. Besides, I could read the newspaper in the train.

However, the monthly ticket I bought was so expensive it would have been cheaper to drive. Admittedly, my car was a Citroen with a 0.6L two-cylinder engine, but I was surprised at the relative costs. This was in spite of the large subsidy for the rail travel and high taxes on fuel (and on anything else automotive).

At the time, my income tax rate was around 50%, and VAT added to the price of just about everything you bought was 20%.

A couple of people have commented on the high taxes in Denmark. But to provide a useful comparison I think it is appropriate to also mention what Danes get free from their government that we have to pay for in the US - I don't know what the situation is in Denmark but in other European countries people get health care, child care, a good education and cheap college education for the taxes. If I didn't have to worry about paying for healthcare, college, private schools and child care - a 50% tax rate doesn't sound so bad.

Here's a way: It's the only arrangement that stands a chance of ever being sustainable, due to the scarcity of oil and the insane mass-per-trip ratio of automobiles.

As for The Onion headline, it's not quite as hilarious as it seems. What are the real attitudes and behaviors in the few spots - DC, NYC, Boston - where real choices exist?

"It's the only arrangement that stands a chance of ever being sustainable..."

Since that's a speculative projection about the future, maybe the arrangement would prove "sustainable", whatever that means, or maybe not. Regardless, I doubt that the vast majority of the population will be able to afford to live in places like "DC, NYC, Boston" any time soon - at least not in the (mostly) fantastically expensive parts where the rails actually run. Even less will they be able to afford new places resembling those old ones, since, being new, they wouldn't be "grandfathered in", but would have to be built to ruinously-costly current "code" for multistory buildings, which, as Kunstler has pointed out, involves, among other things, filling up a ridiculous proportion of the interior space with endlessly redundant stairwells, ramps, elevators, etc. The very scenarios where "mass per trip" trumps every other conceivable consideration are probably the ones where people would have the least hope of ever "sustaining" the enormous expense of moving into or living in a place that sprawls upward instead of outward.

As to the "attitudes and behaviors", the problem is that the "arrangement" is only feasible in tiny areas - and at the expense of Federal taxpayers all across the other 99.9+ percent of the country who get zero, zip, nada in return. So even allowing for the overcrowding in the 0.1- percent, "attitudes and behaviors" in "the few spots" will only count for a minor slice of the overall national vote. Which is just exactly what we see happening - and which is just exactly the impasse that seems to frustrate the advocates no end. If there's a real path from here to there, for the USA as a whole and on a meaningful scale, it is yet to be identified. Indeed, maybe it will turn out someday that the end-results were never identified in advance by top-down planning at all.

Several misconceptions.

One - About 30% of Americans want to live in TOD today - but less than 2% do because there is not enough "T" to "OD" around. Expand that <2% to 15% and the scarcity premium will shrink. Expand that to 25% and may not shrink because the 30% will likely grow to 50%.

Two - We are already subsidizing roads by $78+ billion a year. I get no benefit from that, only higher taxes (see $1.3 billion to go from 4 to 6 lanes over the Mississippi River on Huey Long bridge).

Three - Increased bicycling can significantly enlarge the area affected by urban rail. And streetcar lines give the biggest "bang for the buck" in TOD - and are clearly affordable.

Four - Bicycling is not just a "good weather" event. Plenty going on in New Orleans today. Minneapolis is among the top 5 US bicycle cities. If you can bike in New York City - you cna bike anywhere.

Best Hopes for Solutions,


Two - We are already subsidizing roads by $78+ billion a year. I get no benefit from that, only higher taxes (see $1.3 billion to go from 4 to 6 lanes over the Mississippi River on Huey Long bridge).

You may get no direct benefit . . . but I'm sure many of the foods & goods you buy traveled on those roads.

Capacity increasing projects are often more examples of subsidizing population growth than anything else.

Capacity increasing projects are often more examples of subsidizing population growth sprawl than anything else.


I would prefer that they didn't - but came by rail.

And much ( not all) of what I eat is local. Minimal travel distance.

Just mark-up the price of fuel to AT A MINIMUM cover the direct costs. Something towards the hundreds of thousands injured each year in accidents, air pollution, lost property tax revenue from land taken, etc. should be added as well.

User Pays is a very good principle.

Those that use the roads more - pay more. Those that use them less - directly and indirectly, pay less.

Best Hopes for Simple Equity,


Well, in the USA, a lot of goods already go by rail. But they're mainly going to go the first and last miles by some sort of vehicle on some sort of road, as they have in organized societies for millennia.

The issue isn't whether we need roads at all. It is about how to best spend the marginal transportation dollar, and what marginal transportation benefits society gets from it. The rest is just rhetoric which misdirects thinking towards irrelevant details.

Well, yes, and that may underlie another problem for the future. As someone else has already pointed out, in places where rail subsidies get diluted by high usage, such as Denmark, rail tends to start costing as much per mile as solo car driving. A couple of bucks gets you hardly any distance at all in Copenhagen (or, for that matter, Tokyo.) So if the future turns out to be comparatively poor, there may not be as much use of that marginal dollar, since people may just have to stay home more, as they did way back in the days when intercity rail was more or less for the very affluent (and when, as I said, the Chicago rail barons moaned about competition from bicycles, for heaven's sake.) Heck, even as recently as the early 80s, you could find Midwesterners who had essentially never been more than about 25 miles from home until they went to college (i.e. if they ever were it was for some sort of family or medical emergency.)

That is, the marginal dollar might not get spent at all, not to expand commuter roads, and not to expand rail appreciably either. The Eurozone, for example, seems to be quickly running out of other people's money to spend, despite its lofty, even pious, stated ambitions. Can the USA be far behind?

About 30% of Americans want to live in TOD today...

Possibly, when it costs nothing to answer loaded survey questions. But when it comes to actually doing it and paying all the bills, what then?

See both the significant scarcity premium paid today - and TOD values suffered hardly at all in the recent real estate crash.

It is clear that the market for TOD is deep and broad.


Bicycling is not just a "good weather" event. Plenty going on in New Orleans today.

Of course it could just be the humidity wilting or moldering the brains of Nawlins-ians, or whatever they're called? Maybe safer, to try this way of biking and avoid heatstroke? >:=O

More seriously, though, I don't think I really get the part about bicycling and rail. Typically bicycles can't be allowed on trains or trams at busier times of day, though some places do allow them at slack times. And typically their half-life is very short if one leaves them parked all day outside in a crowded urban area, such as by a stop or station. So how does that work in practice for a large enough number of people to matter, as opposed to working in theory for a very few in select places? (And then, since we're talking high-density urban, for some there will be the issue of e-bike batteries vs. high-security building management, who find it easiest to ban everything they don't understand.) There's hardly any place in NYC where I'd want let a bike out of my sight.

PaulS said:
"More seriously, though, I don't think I really get the part about bicycling and rail. Typically bicycles can't be allowed on trains or trams at busier times of day, though some places do allow them at slack times. And typically their half-life is very short if one leaves them parked all day outside in a crowded urban area, such as by a stop or station. So how does that work in practice for a large enough number of people to matter, as opposed to working in theory for a very few in select places? (And then, since we're talking high-density urban, for some there will be the issue of e-bike batteries vs. high-security building management, who find it easiest to ban everything they don't understand.) There's hardly any place in NYC where I'd want let a bike out of my sight."

I would suggest a folding bicycle. Especially one, like the Brompton, that has 16" wheels, folds small, and folds quickly. I've taken mine on our light rail at peak times, commuted with it, traveled (on the train) with it ... not your daddy's folding bicycle anymore! Google "the path less pedaled", and read about the exploits of a couple that do extended tours on their folding bikes. Good folders (like 'good' anything) are expensive. But a lot cheaper than a car. Oh - my wife and I have carted our bikes into some nice places as well. I don't like leaving them outside.

Bike lockers are also available. Washington DC Metro has some at most stations, I have seen a few in Portland, etc.

Since several bike lockers can fit into the space of one car, and can fit into odd spaces with narrow access (unlike cars), I would like to see many more made available.

Best Hopes,


Bike Calgary: West LRT Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements Project

The City of Calgary, Transportation Planning is commencing the follow-up pedestrian and bicycle improvements project for the areas surrounding the West LRT stations. Documents can be found at http://www.westlrt.ca under the ‘Station Areas’ tab.

The project scope includes improvements to key routes leading into each of the six West LRT stations. The first three station areas which will be investigated are Shaganappi Point Station, Westbrook Station, and 45 Street Station.

None of the stations will have car parking. The planners recognize the need for good access on foot and bike. They also recognize the need to effective bike storage. They are looking at options for both regular lock up racks as well as options for more secure storage (lockers, cages, etc.). These stations could be the pilot for bike-CTrain commuting. There are many residents around the stations within 5 km and the area is relatively flat. If there is convenient and effective bike storage it has the potential to be well used.

I would suggest a folding bicycle. Especially one, like the Brompton, that has 16" wheels, folds small, and folds quickly. I've taken mine on our light rail at peak times, commuted with it, traveled (on the train) with it ... not your daddy's folding bicycle anymore!

Also check out the Bike Friday. Very high quality folding bikes hand crafted in Eugene, Oregon. They fold in seconds. With a bit more work they can be taken down to fit in a suitcase and checked as airline baggage.

Spare me the "top-down planning" homily. The obstacle to transportation reform and urban reconstruction is not planning per se, but the automotive-industrial complex, a.k.a. the capitalist overclass, which refuses to permit the topic to reach the public agenda. Nobody here is saying there's an easy answer. But BAU is a road to doom.

'With respect to the cycling, once again, Copenhagen, and most of Holland, have strong unique advantages: fairly mild, maritime winters; nothing much that most North Americans would even call summer (i.e. if it ever reaches just 90F they're in panic mode); and plenty of incredibly flat territory. Those advantages are not going to scale well. Away from the almost-ideal conditions in that flyspeck of a region, ..."

I think your assumptions about conditions for cycling are somewhat twisted around. Weather conditions in Northern Europe are relatively horrid for cycling most of the time. And as far as terrain goes, just about any location in Europe is preferable for bicycling over flat, boring Holland.

In the US, the cities with the largest percent of travel by bike are cities with relatively horrid weather for cycling, and with the steepest terrain.


How do the roads benefit the non-drivers? Cheaper prices for goods and bus transportation? If one believes in the free market, shouldn't the users pay? Why not raise fuel taxes to a level that will pay for road expansion and maintenence?


Not only cheaper prices, but the non-drivers get the goods at all. And the ambulance service, and the fire service, and the police service. They aren't going to get any of that, to any practical extent, by way of someone packing it in over untrammeled woods and scrubland. Thus, the maintenance of trails or roads seems to have been seen as at least a partially public function for a very, very, very long time, predating fossil fuels by many millennia. (See, for example, the ongoing fuss over "rambling" in Britain on trails existing "from time immemorial", and the obligations of landowners to maintain access, sometimes at no small expense.)

An early US take on this is Article I Section 8 of the Constitution. The article gives Congress the power to "To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises...", and the section, connected to it, allows it to "To establish Post Offices and Post Roads". They probably figured that the turnpike approach wasn't going to do the job to the extent they wanted it done. And just as so many powers got expanded and generalized over the years, so did that one, though I don't think there was ever any serious attempt to exclude the public from the "Post Roads". (Note that the section does not authorize Congress to provide carriages, horses, and drivers for public use, except for the very indirect use implied by having "Post Offices" at all. So Amtrak is a rather broader expansion than just roads, and since no one here objects to it, I don't see how anyone can reasonably object to the narrower one.)

Of course, since we don't have a counterfactual world to play with, it's safe - in some cockamamie sense - to assert that they were wrong. However, proving it one way or the other would be quite impossible.

Deciding what should be public or private, should be based on the constitution? If it is not written there specifically, we should not do it? The constitution suggests post roads, that is all we should have then, mail delivery will suffice. We can't go against that constitution, those founding fathers definitely had it all figured out. Could it be, that the founding fathers thought public transportation was a good idea? Not if they didn't provide specific plans for public transport in every possible future city. One cannot "prove" that something should be provided as a public good. That is a matter of public opinion and up to government representatives to "force" upon those who disagree with the majority opinion by "appropriating" their hard won earnings through the outrage of taxation.


We can't go against that constitution...

And that attitude is why we're getting the police state we're getting - just tear it up whenever it's convenient and follow the whim of the moment no matter where it leads.

That is a matter of public opinion...

Well, actually ... yes - there is also the elastic clause elsewhere, so Amtrak would not be struck down. (Though it remains that roads are actively suggested, not merely permitted.) But you've hit it on the head:

That is a matter of public opinion...

...and apparently overall public opinion differs sharply from the TOD (in both senses) subset. This seems to anger and frustrate you and others no end, but the display of anger and frustration hasn't been changing it and might at times be making it worse.

So, to repeat yet again, I'm still not seeing a reason for the vast majority of voters at the national level to change their opinions of something that serves for only that mere 1.2%. The rest aren't voting it in, regardless of cheap answers given by the few who still bother to respond to surveys. For almost all, it's nothing but a deadweight cost, a hobby-horse for eccentrics. And for the life of me, I don't see any of the armwaving and magick pointing to any path by which that basic problem could possibly change materially enough to alter their opinions and votes, or even get out of the low single digits, at any cost they could conceivably ever afford.

"Could it be, that the founding fathers thought public transportation was a good idea? Not if they didn't provide specific plans for public transport in every possible future city."

Why do you insist on the Federal government be the ones responsible for a local problem? There are states to handle smaller areas, and counties within them. Or there used to be. The commerce clause has been expanded to pretty well neuter the states, and frankly I'm beginning to wonder why we still have them.

Yeah, the commerce clause has basically been extended to let the Federal government write laws about anything it wants. That's just the way it is.

The right likes to raise the "states's rights" red herring now & then. A concept sadly steeped in an ugly racial part of our history. But when it comes to:
-Doctor assisted suicide
-States being allowed to mandate some food labeling
-Medical marijuana
-States being able to close down a nuclear plant (see Vermont Yankee)

Then all of a sudden the right doesn't believe in states rights anymore. So much for 'principles'. The states rights argument really rings hollow in view of all that hypocrisy.

There are some practical aspects to this issue. Sending money from your local community to Washington and then back to your local community isn't necessarily the most efficient way to use taxes. It also means that local communities end up funding projects and programs that aren't necessarily a high priority in the community but are what can be done given the funding available. From the stand point of community responsibility for and participation in local issues it is a community killer as local governments no longer have to develop local support for a program/project but simply put their hand out and wait for free money from the Feds.

The more that the Federal government dictates to local agencies and controls the purse strings, the less incentive people have to get involved in their local affairs.

Or there used to be. The commerce clause has been expanded to pretty well neuter the states,

Well the current SCOTUS may say the commerce clause is not so far gone. We'll soon see.

In reponse to pauls ' pessimism on Green Transit prospects in the USA:

...I'm not so sure it would scale very well to the USA, where virtually everyone who wants to live in such crowded, noisy conditions already does (and often already has transit service) - and not that many, percentage-wise, live that way, or want to, or could even afford to.

Unfortunately pauls you are repeating canards infinitely repeated by the Auto Addiction Lobby:
1)The USA is too "spreadout" to support Green Transit
2)The only way to support non-AutoAddicted Green Transit is with superdense cities
3)Americans will NEVER support much less use Green Transit

Per Canard #1 - in point of fact 79% of Americans ALREADY live in urbanized areas, way more than lived in urbanized areas before Auto Addiction took over and wiped out the trolley systems all over the USA in places like Wisconsin, Vermont, Kansas which were hardly Metropolis sized cities like New York. And indeed a Brookings Study I have noted repeatedly here showed that ALREADY without adding a single Rail or bus route that 70% of working age Americans in 100 US Metro areas live within 3/4ths mile of a Transit stop! The problem is that only 30% of those same Americans could even reach a job during peak transit frequencies in less than 90 minutes because the trains and buses just do not run frequently enough, trains are underutilized as hubs, there is no local/express service and the last mile connections such as shuttles, bikes or safe walkways do not exist. These problems are all soluble with a very minimal investment, again, with NO infrastructure required for new Rails, electrification or anything else. The only capital costs might be more buses and shuttles and paying drivers to run them.
Here is the link to the Brookings study:
I guess I actually answered both points 1&2...

The other point that Americans will not use Green Transit is belied by the 5% increase in 1Q2012 even with the horrible frequencies and connections on existing Green Transit. Here in New Jersey the Hudson-Bergen LightRail connecting Bayonne to Jersey City to Hoboken to Weehawken to Bergen County is rivalling the
Northeast corridor for ridership ONLY connecting New Jersey points and is 4 times
ridership projections. Real Estate in Jersey City is booming due to the Light Rail.
Apparently a LOT of people are moving to Green Transit accessible areas, especially the young. Rocky Anderson, Justice Party Presidential candidate ( http://www.voterocky.org ) and former very progressive Mayor of Salt Lake City, built a Light Rail system there which is very popular. Similarly North Carolina voters voted for a tax increase dedicated to their Light Rail system supported by a conservative Republican Mayor who got endless flack from the Auto Addiction crowd.

The key to successful Green Transit is frequency, connections and reasonable speed and fares. It does not even have to necessarily beat auto speeds if it is closely competitive because it is a lot more relaxing than endless traffic jams. You can read the Oil Drum, nap, converse and not worry a bit about traffic.
(Just so long as you do not sleep past your stop! lol!)

Great post. You should team up with Alan Drake, maybe write for his blog.


Sigh. By the numbers:

Total highway pax-miles, 2010: 4.24 trillion

Total transit pax-miles, 2010: 52.5 billion

Total intercity rail: [too trivial to bother about]

I would hardly be prepared to identify a "5% increase" in a 1.2% mode, i.e. a 0.06% shift, as some sort of vast national trend that a "LOT" of people are clamoring for. Then again, it doesn't matter what I think (and I haven't been clear about what I actually think, and sometimes I'm not even sure what to think.) Regardless of what I think, the stuff literally isn't going anywhere, beyond the very few places and very few miles where it already goes. It's simply not getting the political votes for the large subsidies it needs, and as long as it remains a 1.2% solution that's unlikely to change. Catch 22: and no amount of hand-wringing, wand-waving, or wild extrapolation from trivial shifts, will fix it.

And it remains that the places well-served by transit are very densely populated (read: very expensive or else very dangerous to live in) and comprise only a minor portion of the areas customarily labeled "urban". (Once again, see the horrible car traffic all over Europe.) Nobody's ever going to run frequent bus (or tram) service in the less-populated "urban" areas, because frequent buses will be rather empty - and it already costs as much overall as solo driving to run the darned things even without running more of them empty. Catch 22 again.

And so it will remain regardless of what you or I think of the tram service in, say, highly crowded Amsterdam - actually it was fairly nice and strikingly punctual, unlike trams and buses in the USA, where the drivers can't seem to tell time. OTOH, it only served a tiny area. In less-populated areas even in Holland proper, one was often down to merely a bus every half-hour or so even at active times of the day. Europe no more has a money tree than does the USA; the best predictor by far remains sheer density of the local (and to some extent regional) population.


...Northeast corridor for ridership ONLY connecting New Jersey points and is 4 times ridership projections. Real Estate in Jersey City is booming due to the Light Rail...

ROFLMAO. They're desperate to get out of even more fantastically expensive and/or dangerous Manhattan if there's any possible way. Good God, does anyone seriously believe that New Jersey could or would ever be seen by voters across the country as an advertisement demonstrating why they should tax themselves to fund this stuff that's never going to get even within miles of their own front doors - or be of much use even if it does???

pauls - to repeat!

In 100 Metro US areas 70%, note that 70%, of working age Americans are already
3/4ths mile from a Transit stop! These are existing train, lightrail and bus routes.
That is without building or restoring a single Rail line, road or highway lane.
In New Jersey, more densely populated than China with 8,791,894 people according to the 2010 Census ( http://worldpopulationreview.com/new-jersey-population-2012/ ), more than 50% of the population ALREADY lives within a mile or so of a running Rail Line! Beyond that New Jersey has 996 miles of Rail which COULD be used for
passengers but is not such as the Lackawanna Cutoff which parallels I-80, the Morristown to Roseland Rail which already carries freight and some tourist trains, the Summit to Rahway Rail line.
Yet our Teabag Governor Christie has quadrupled capital spending on expanding roads by stealing the money from the cancelled NYC tunnel to build evermore highway lanes, highway overpasses etc etc while our driving has already declined by 7% and transit ridership continues to increase. In 2008 just when our Green Transit ridership was growing by double digits in the midst of $4 per gallon gas, train services were cut 25%!
This was by the infamous neoliberal Gov Corzine who supposedly supported Transit in order to deal with the Great Contraction budget issue.

Tell me where you live pauls and chances are I can find tracks which already run
several miles from your house. In fact there are 233,000 miles of Rail in the US
which could be restored to passenger and frequent freight service. (A lot of it already does freight - the US is ahead of Europe on that)

No streetcar tracks. Some FRA-type rail; dunno where they'd put a station though, you can't knock anything down nowadays, NIMBY/BANANA. No pax trains, not in 40 years. No one willing to pay to subsidize pax trains. No one willing to pay for extensive track upgrades to make pax trains legal after 40 more years of metastasizing regulations on tracks and trains. No one willing to be blasted by 96-110dB FRA-type train horns umpteen times a day and night if decent service ever came about. Fuhgeddaboudit.

PaulS - Aha! As I suspected even YOU live reasonably close to some of the 233,000 miles
of Rail in the US. As far as "you can't knock anything down these days" - actually Gov Christie along with his Koch Bros funded cohort Teabag Governors, is knocking down acres and acres of pineland as he wastes $7 Billion of my tax dollars to expand highways with
declining traffic. It always amazes me how every Rail project spends literally YEARS in Environmental Impact Studies and yet to widen a highway it does not seem to take a week.
As far as your complaint about train whistles and horns I live just a few blocks from
a heavily traveled commuter Rail Line and all our visitors actually LIKE the train horn.
We have had many famous musicians come play in our Transit Village and they frequently note with pleasure: "Ah they run trains here!". My friend who is an Environmental Engineer actually took a decibel meter to measure the noise of the trains and the biggest noise, actually above EPA standards, was NOT the train whistle, but the very noisy diesel locomotives which have to be used because our whole line is not electrified yet. Another key part of the Green Transition to Rail as noted by
Anthony Perl in "Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil" ( http:/transportrevolutions.info )is grid controlled electric vehicles, i.e. Trains, LightRail, overhead trolleys, which can be directly powered by electricity from solar, wind, or any other energy source without the huge expense of batteries and batteries loss of efficiency. As much as possible these systems should be electrically powered.
A lot of Rail and especially LightRail is already electric which is the proper use of
Green electrical energy NOT 2 ton private electric cars requiring a football field of asphalt for every 5 cars which can move only 10% of Rail in the same land area.
Resist change all you want but it is coming Paul...

Where do you get the idea that "everyone who already lives in such noisy, crowded conditions already does"? Don't you think the fact that manhattan, San Francisco, etc. are so fantastically expensive is a sign that there's a lot of demand to live in such places? Don't you think that the myriad ways that sprawl-style development is mandated by law is artificially increasing the number of people living out in the suburbs?

Don't you think the fact that Manhattan, San Francisco, etc. are so fantastically expensive is a sign that there's a lot of demand to live in such places?

I think for the overwhelming majority, that could only ever be the "I want a pony" kind of demand. The prices reflect the enormous cost of building and of living in such places. (Except in the case of paid-for rundown buildings in dangerous slums, of course.) And yes, a few folks want to live there and can afford it. (Affluent young singles come to mind, but they're thin on the ground these days.) But the vast expense makes scaling to the wider population problematical. Unless of course we would get a whole spanking lot of the right kind of broad economic growth, and even then only if said growth would actually outpace the ever-metastasizing regulations. Not Likely.

Ah, but the nearly a trillion spent on Interstates and "free"ways was clearly affordable - so we could meet the "I want a pony" demand for suburban McMansions.

Well, the supply of McMansions has over-saturated demand.

And it is clearly possible in "other places" to saturate the demand for TOD. Just today I discovered Aarhus Denmark plans.

The cost of new urban freeways is more expensive than new urban light rail - and light rail

All that is needed to build *LOTS* of Urban Rail is diverting HALF or all of the subsidy for roads & highways ("User Pays" - to the very limited extent that I benefit from roads & highways, I will pay directly or indirectly) to building Urban Rail.

It will take a couple of decades, or perhaps more, to saturate the market for urban rail. But it can be done. Affordable human scale neighborhoods, with neighborhood shopping within walking distance of an Urban Rail stop or station are very doable for a large fraction of the AMerican population.

Best Hopes for spending $78 billion/year on something better,


Have you searched out Eurozone VMT data, then? Stuart Staniford never posted about it, forget if he'd tried. He did excellent work with the US numbers. One proxy would be info on size of vehicle fleet, the Transportation Energy Data Book has some basic #s.

Here's a graph of Japan's consumption by stream:

Japan Petroleum Consumption by Stream

Most of the fat trimmed here was in kerosene/distillate/resid, averaging -30.8/-52.63/-24.66 kb/d YOY 2004-2008. Gasoline by contrast contracted -10.05 kb/d, mostly in 2008, which you might chalk up to recession blues. It's only #3 in volume most years too. This illustrates how much of this belt tightening goes on behind the scenes; your average citizen isn't staying up late at night writing
letters emails to his reps demanding subsidized heating through non-petroleum sources, after all. Whether that's a major factor at work here is just my guess, too, given the lack of readily available data. Maybe Japanese shipping was switching over to CNG etc. Any given nation is a study in of itself here.

I've compiled the consumption info for France as well. Starting in 1994 they switched from gasoline to diesel, gaining about 20 kb/d in the end. 1997-2008 they plateaued overall.

"Hybrids hold out the promise of tooling around with nothing but electrons."

Yes, but those electrons came from the off-site combustion of coal, natural gas or the output of a nuke plant. In most places, hybrids and all electric are just "coal cars". They do not solve any environmental problems with CO2 and other pollutants. WRT nuclear plants, those are proving to be extremely dangerous in light of probable societal loss of complexity to outright and rapid collapse. Assuming BAU is a very dangerous game, and its getting shakier every passing day.

Enough with the bogus 'coal cars' mantra.
Coal recently dropped to a low of 36% of electricity generation:

And these days most EVs are sold in places like California where the use of coal is much lower than average. And many EV owners install PV systems. Yes, the EVs are often charged at night (but not always), but those PV systems did displace FF powered peaker plants that would have otherwise had to have been built. And by charging up at night, EVs are often using power that would have otherwise been thrown away. It is not easy to modulate nuclear & coal plants so often they just burn off excess capacity at night because that is easier/cheaper than ramping them down & back up again. So otherwise wasted power gets put to good use.

Coal consumption, worldwide, is still climbing. And China's coal use puts ours to shame.

China To Restrict Coal Demand, Output To 3.9 Billion Tons

The nation produced about 3.8 billion (metric) tons in 2011,

That works out to be 4.19 billion short tons

U.S. Coal Use to Hit 25-Year Low in 2012

In its May short-term outlook, the EIA said it expects U.S. industries to consume 876 million short tons of coal this year, and 890 million tons in 2013.

Doing the math, China consumes 4.78 times the coal as does the USA.

Ron P.

The situation is clearly different in different places. I specifically mentioned California.

15% of the electric power in California came from renewables today. Half of that was from wind. Wind provided more power within California today, all day, than nuclear did. The EVs will run on anything.

If the vested interests loose their war against wind, EVs may well become wind-powered cars.

KKD, or anyone, can you tell Me why their charts only have 23 hours in the day?

The hour marks are the data points and the in-betweens are straight-line integrations.

( ... I hope he buys it... It would be a shame if he found out... "For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky" ... too close... too close... )

Note that this does not include all of California. A significant part of California electrical load (20% +) does not belong to the CAISO. LADWP is the biggest missing piece.

Is there an all-inclusive site?

Not quite.

Nukes run 100% all the time, except in France.

Coal fired power plants typically reduce output considerably - at significant loss in fuel efficiency (sharp fall off at say <60%, plant design specific). So any additional 3 AM load burns less than average coal because the "heat rate" (fuel efficiency) improves with each additional MW.

SWAG is a coal fired plant at 30% capacity would burn 25% to 35% less coal going from 30% to 31% than going from 99% to 100% of capacity.

Texas also needs additional load on windy nights.

Best Hopes for Fuel Efficiency,


We also have to note that an electric car is more efficient in terms of net energy efficiency (mine/well to wheels). A "coal" car likely consumes fewer BTUs/mile (of carbon/mile) than an ICE car. Part of that is because ICE cars are overpowered, and that increases internal losses in the engine/transmission. The real problem with e-cars is that batteries are very expensive. The one good thing that comes from expensive batteries is that any affordable e-car will by necessity be designed to be small and efficient -there's just no energy to waste.

The real problem with e-cars is that batteries are very expensive. The one good thing that comes from expensive batteries is that any affordable e-car will by necessity be designed to be small and efficient -there's just no energy to waste.

Nice way of spinning a negative to a positive. :-) Indeed, the biggest problem with EVs is that to build an affordable car with a decent range, you need to make it as light & aerodynamic as possible since that is a 'free' way of improving range as opposed to slapping in more batteries which is an expensive way of improving range.

Part of the reason why some fancy EVs (Tesla, upcoming BMWs, etc.) are expensive is not just the batteries but the fact that they use expensive materials like lots of aluminum and carbon fiber in attempts to reduce weight.

The Tesla Model S was in town last week and in comparison to its BMW / Mercedes competition it's probably cheaper.

Hybrids hold out the promise of tooling around with nothing but electrons.

Wow, that would be about 10 milligrams of electrons for 1 kWH (at 2eV per electron.) So much lighter than a 20kg lead-acid or 7kg lithium pack, much much more congenial to carry to a field site. And a few dozen grams' worth would power an e-scooter "forever". Where can I get them? Oh, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. I think you forgot the baryons...

Where can I get them?

There are these funny looking things that actually capture free photons and then provide a steady stream of them, they can be used to charge up certain storage devices such as batteries...


You should get yourself a few and maybe play around with them a bit, you might be surprised at how well they actually work!

As for hadrons, etc... perhaps you could get some of the folks over at the LHC to spare a few for your quark drive?

In one fell swoop, the Reps would get deficit reduction and the Dems would get price incentives for fuel efficiency and rail freight over trucking.

Deficit reduction through increased revenue is about as far from the Republican agenda as it could possibly be. But it would be interesting if someone in the political arena were actually so much of a socialist that they dealt with fossil fuel consumption as a true free marketeer (like Hayek or Milton Friedman) might - namely, by proposing the elimination of subsidies for the fossil fuel industry and the pricing in of externalized costs. As it is, neither party is proposing anything nearly so progressive as the doctrinaire free market position.

I guess it depends on how you define socialist. Our current approach is socialist in the sense that it relies on government mandates for fuel efficiency, government subsidies for desired activities, and forced redistribution of tax revenues to subsidize politically favored activities.

It seems like, in theory anyway, that the idea of a user fee that encompassed all costs of fuel consumption is something that both parties could get behind. At the state and local level, user fees have been gaining favor for quite awhile. I like the free market approach of eliminating all subsidies, pricing in the full cost and then letting the market sort it out. Between the military budget for the middle east, transportation at the Federal, State and Local level, air pollution regulatory and compliance costs as well as subsidizing mass transit in urban areas to avoid having to build additional traffic capacity, etc. it would be pretty easy to come up with maybe $500B or about $2.00/gal of costs that are currently socialized in one way or another. The US would end up paying about the same as Europe for fuel, imagine that.

The one thing about a user fee or total cost approach is that it is tempting for politicians or interests groups to use it as a revenue source unrelated to costs or as a means of punishing activity that is deemed to be undesirable. Smoking being a good example of taxes going from a small revenue source on a perceived vice, to a cost recovery tax for increased medical expenses etc. to what has now become, at least in some areas, as nothing more than a punitive revenue source.

Its really hard to determine the value of the externalities. Particularly those involving the future directory of things. If oil will run out ten years from now, that represents some sort of externality which should be reflected in the current price of stuff. But the trth of that statement, and the percieved cost/benefit is uncertain, and subject to different perspectives. All of which imply that you can't but help have major political inputs to the process.

Thanks for stats.
I encourage you to compare the impact of the first OPEC oil crisis on national crude oil consumption, especially power generation in Denmark and France. Denmark went from over 80% on crude oil to over 80% on natural gas over the next decade. France similarly switched from oil to nuclear in the following decade.

The first response to "expensive oil" ($12/barrel in 1973) was to replace oil for electrical generation in almost all OECD nations (still used in Hawaii & Puerto Rico for example).

The second step is phasing out home heating oil. Not 100% but getting there.

But I am focused on oil free transportation - which I see as the third phase of getting off oil.

Best Hopes,


Denmark orders 15 EMUs, more inter-city rail electrification

and 100 second headways on Copenhagen Metro - down from 120 seconds.

Studies for a new larger Ring Metro around Copenhagen, and more.


BTW, EMUs are self propelled electric passenger rail cars that can operate singly or in trains of six and even eight cars.

Best Hopes for Steady Progress,


Denmark solicts bids for 512 track-km of rail electrification.

Most of this is double track, or to be double tracked as it is being electrified, so closer to 260 km line electrification.


and earlier this year


They also approved building a stub off the Ring Metro in Copenhagen as part of the current construction to save money and disruption later. There is a planned two station Metro spur off the Ring to be built "later".

Best Hopes for Transportation powered by Renewables,


PS: Denmark decreased oil consumption by -21.2% from 2001 to 2011. I suspect that they may repeat this percentage drop from 2011 to 2021. Not fast enough to preserve their oil exporter status, but still impressive.

It is hard to keep up with the Danes.

New Tram (Light Rail) Partial Ring around Copenhagen approved

from last July


Planned for opening in 2020, the 28 km line would run from Lundtofte in the north to Ishøj station in the south, with 28 stops and a journey time of 44 minutes. The councils have agreed to contribute DKr2·2bn and the national government DKr1·5bn towards the estimated DKr3·75bn cost. Bus rapid transit was studied before a more expensive but high quality light rail option chosen for development.

'It bodes well for the future that so many municipalities can agree on such a large infrastructure project for the benefit of many people"

Bold my modification.

I am sure that only the "urban elites" 0.1% will ride this.

Best Hopes for Denmark,

2016 - 12 km Tram opens in Aarhus (pop. 252,213, metro 315,193) Denmark's #2 city
2018 - Copenhagen Metro "inner ring" completed
2018 - First semi-High Speed Rail (250 kph), 56 km rail line opens
2020 - Copenhagen Light Rail "outer ring" (partial, ocean prevents 360 degree ring) opens
2020 - 14.5 km Tram opens in Odense, Denmark's #3 city (pop. 168,798, metro 191,610)

This is from planning for future tram lines in Aarhus

It appears that over 90% of the built-up area (in light grey) will be served, with a station within 500 m in most cases. Saturation.

I was in Copenhagen a few weeks back - all my journeys were by public transport (train & metro). Including from airport to hotel and back; with suitcase. So easy - I bought my first ticket by the baggage retrieval conveyor belt, waiting for the case to be off-loaded from the plane. All tickets were bought on my debit card. No need for cash in 4 days. Maps to hand and helpful advice meant that navigation was pretty easy too. I can report that the new city metro lines are well under construction!

When I got back to London Heathrow, a cock-up on the car front meant I got the underground home instead. Just over 5 pounds instead of 40 for the taxi. Granted, it took a bit longer, but hey, it works well, and I got to read the (free) newspaper.

The US reduction in oil consumption appears to be due to reduced economic activity and higher world oil prices.

Appears to be based on what indicators? VMT in the US is up since the financial panic of 2008, suggesting factors are at play like increased efficiency for petroleum based vehicles, an acceleration of the switch from gasoline/diesel to natural gas vehicles, and a switch in petrochemical industry from some petroleum based products to natural gas sources (esp plastics).

Higher gas prices have SLIGHTLY increased US fleet economy. Same for any change in feedstocks. Zero to do with National Policies (or lack there of).

The fact that gas taxes have not increased, while massive increases in subsidies for highways are starving better uses of those taxes is a FAILURE in national & state policies.

That VMT has increased is anotehr example of a FAILURE in National Policy.

Best Hopes for French & Danish National Energy Policies (the USA ain't got one),


The fact is, as the original poster stated, US oil consumption is down, dropping since 2007. 'Policy' discussions invite hand waiving and speculation. But the physical components of this decrease are observable:

i) VMT. Turns out it ~peaked in 2007 and has fallen ~3% since then (I was mistaken). So perhaps the sluggish US economy gets *some* credit, though not all because ...
ii) Over the same period, US oil consumption has fallen 15%, from a peak of 21.8 mbd in 2007 to 18.7 mbd this last month
iii) The fuel economy of the *new* cars sold fleet is up 15% from 2008. That's anything but slight in a US market that moves ~15 million cars annually.
iv) Consumption of natural gas by US vehicles is up almost 400% from 1997 to 2011.
v)The petrochemical industry is making large moves from petroleum to gas, such as this one in ethylene.
vi) The remaining oil based space heating enclaves in the US, i.e. New England, have dramatically cut oil use. Maine cut 45% 2004 to 2009. Apparently the cuts come from a)insulating, b)switching to high efficiency wood stoves or heat pumps, c) switching to gas.

Policy is clear - where it exists. See France and Denmark. It simply did not exist in the USA from 2001 to 2008 (unless one chooses to call the Invasion of Iraq our Energy Policy).

Do you remember GWB's switchgrass as a fuel source in his State of the Union speech ? Was THAT our energy policy ?

A 15% improvement in new US cars *IS* trivial, or close to it. Roughly 17 years to replace fleet - and fleet burns a bit over half our oil. -15%/17 x 0.55 (rough #s) gives a reduction of about 0.5%/year.

The increase in fuel economy is solely due to higher gas prices (a "User Pays" gas tax should add at least 35 cents/gallon to that). BUT we do not do that !

As noted in my table, US oil consumption dropped just -4.1% from 2001 to 2011. Less tha -0.4%/year. US oil consumption climbed almost +6% before declining. Truly a failure in Energy Policy

(And using monthly #s overstates the effect due to seasonal variation). US oil consumption has NOT declined -15% on an annual basis - about -10% is close to the truth. *ALL* due to recession and higher oil prices, about 0.0% due to national policies and investments.

Maine had NO natural gas until the late 1990s. So a massive switch once gas (from Canada) became available is natural.

You did forget two other ways for Mainers to use less oil - shiver and move.

Feedstock changes are driven strictly by technical reality and economics.

Compare our -4.1% 2001 to 2011 to the Danes -21.2% drop in oil consumption. WHICH IS BETTER ?.

I see an effective set of policies and investments being made.

Best Hopes for Good Investments - and not subsidizing waste with $78 billion/year !


Policy is clear - where it exists.

The *impact* of policy is never clear.

Roughly 17 years to replace fleet - and fleet burns a bit over half our oil.

All of the 'fleet' is not driven the same number of miles. Guess which ones are driven the most? New cars.

The increase in fuel economy is solely due to higher gas prices

I believe you are conflating fuel consumption and fuel economy.

(And using monthly #s overstates the effect due to seasonal variation).

Feb 2007 21.8 (all time high US consumption)
Feb 2008 20.6
Feb 2009 19.5
Feb 2010 19.3
Feb 2011 19.4
Feb 2012 18.1
i.e. off -17% Feb over Feb, total over the five years

US oil consumption has NOT declined -15% on an annual basis

Nobody said the figure was annual, nor was the decline you cite in Denmark (21%) annual. You happened to choose 2001 to 2011. Ok, I happen to not so arbitrarily choose a start with the US peak of 2007, and (OMG!) consumption declined 17% in five years since then, half the period you chose.

The purpose of my study - as very clearly stated - was to analysis the impact of national policies (not market forces or recession) on oil consumption.

Five years is too short a time for anything but radical policies to take hold. As I noted earlier, the US reduction in oil use is due to recession and oil prices.

Reduce oil prices with a good economy and Republicans in control and US oil consumption will increase (I assume that they will repeal the CAFE standard recently agreed to and have no energy policy but "Drill Baby Drill").

Reduce oil prices with a good economy, regardless of political party in control# and Danish and French oil consumption will decrease.

# The Paris Metro expansion was a compromise between Socialists and Conservatives on the details. I noted that opposition parties were also asked, and agreed to, "sign on" to some Danish measures.

In contrast to your statement, the impacts of policy are clear.

2001 was shortly after Kyoto for Denmark & France. It was also the start of the anti-policies of the Republicans in power.

Denmark & France both have good energy policies, but quite different ones. The USA had no energy policy (in a positive sense) from 2001 to 2008. All three are western OECD nations.

So I went and looked at the data for the three selected nations. The results are quite striking !

In absolute #s - Americans used 2.15 times as much oil per capita as the French in 2011 (x1.9 or so for the Danes) - but even more remarkable was the impact of national policies. Note: this is AFTER your -17% claimed results.

It is clear from the data that national policies (or lack there of) do have a material impact on a decade long scale. It also gives an idea of the order of magnitude that positive, pro-active policies have.

The question is, as we are close to entering post-Peak Oil, are these positive investments going to be enough ?

Best Hopes for Investing in Oil Free Transportation,


Do you suppose that making assertions again and again, mixed with some adjectives, i.e.,

the US reduction in oil use is due to recession,
Republicans in control and US oil consumption will increase,
the impacts of policy are clear.,
Denmark & France both have good energy policies,
results are quite striking !

somehow morphs those assertions into facts?

Americans used 2.15 times as much oil per capita as the French in 2011 (x1.9 or so for the Danes)

Ok, that's a fact. Why do you supposed that is so? What might happen if one spread the French out over the North American continent? Hint: take a look a Canada's per capita oil consumption.

Those assertions are FACTS !

I can unequivocally state, as a fact, that the US National Energy Policy on getting fuel from switchgrass has been a complete failure. See GWB's State of the Union address.

And the old canard "What might happen if one spread the French out over the North American continent?"

Whether Alaska or Montana are under US sovereignty or not makes no difference what-so-ever when you drive to work, drive to shop, drive your kids to school (I walked to school) or fly to Disneyworld and Las Vegas.

The "spread out" that increases oil consumption is the close to trillion dollars of public monies "invested" in sprawl and the underinvestment in urban rail. And too low gas taxes.

In other words, high US oil consumption is a direct result of our public policies NOT geography. Which was the point of my analysis.

Apply French and Danish policies to the United States for 25 years and I think it is clear that US oil consumption will approach at least Danish levels.

This is significant, since world oil exports are shrinking, and this is a path to minimize the trauma of that.

France was just as spread out in 2001 as they were in 2011. Yet they reduced their oil consumption by -11.2% while the USA only reduced theirs by -4.1%.

The year by year data for France and Denmark show a clear downward trend in oil consumption over the economic cycle and varying oil prices.


PS: Other than recession and higher oil prices - what other proximate cause can you attribute recent declining US oil consumption to ?

PS: Other than recession and higher oil prices - what other proximate cause can you attribute recent declining US oil consumption to ?


US oil imports are down more than a quarter over similar periods. For that cause, in addition to the reasons for decreased consumption, see 1 mbpd ethanol production, another 0.5 mbpd in NGLs, and of course increased domestic production of oil.

Increased domestic oil production does not reduce US oil consumption.

NGL and ethanol are "other liquids" oil.

Substitution is *NOT* reduced demand.


You misread. Again. Ethanol and NGLs refer to *import* reductions.

And my analysis, and my question, had nothing what-so-ever, to do with oil imports.

Denmark, which did reduce oil consumption by -21.2% in 11 years, is an oil exporter.


PS: Other than recession and higher oil prices - what other proximate cause can you attribute recent declining US oil consumption to ?

As April and May 2012 car sales clearly point out - buying more economical cars is tightly linked with the price of gas (apparently the gas price on the day of purchase - I am astounded at the short memories of American consumers.

So "buying more economical cars" is caused by higher oil prices.

You make a valid point that their is increased substitution - but substitution is not reduced consumption. Eating chicken instead of beef does not reduce meat consumption.

What proximate cause has reduced oil (all "other liquids") consumption ?

"What proximate cause has reduced oil (all "other liquids") consumption ?"

Hello Again, iii), iv), v), vi)

iii) IS STRICTLY due to higher gas prices. Since gas taxes do not increase with inflation in the USA, higher oil prices are the only reason gas prices are higher. And the only reason more economical cars are being sold is because of higehr gas prices.

iv) CNG vehicles are a less than trivial part of VMT, fuel consumption. 4x zero is still zero. So not an answer. And if gasoline was $2.09/gallon, CNG use would not have increased significantly.

v) Your link is to a new plant > MORE OIL consumption - NOT less. The feedstocks for ethylene come from LNG (other liquids - oil) and, to a lesser extent oil condensate. Exact same molecules, and the ethene (I believe that is the feedstock) is part of LNG and is counted as oil production & consumption - although it is stripped from "wet" natural gas production.

vi)High oil prices are generally the reason that people switch from heating oil. There was one specific exemption from that rule. In the late 1990s, Maine FINALLY got a natural gas pipeline.

Even at lower oil prices, some Mainers would have switched to NG.

So, except for the very minor impact in vi) (I do not think iv) even counts as "very minor") the *ONLY* reasons Americans use less oil is because of high oil prices and economic recession.

However, Danes and French (like Mainers in the late 1990s) have new investments that give them Oil Free alternatives. And they are using them.

Good Public Policies under both Conservatives & Socialists in France & Denmark. No or bad public policies in the USA until Obama was elected (now decent but weak).


"The feedstocks for ethylene come from LNG (other liquids - oil) and, to a lesser extent oil condensate. Exact same molecules, and the ethene (I believe that is the feedstock) is part of LNG and is counted as oil production & "

No, gas. Read the article. They can use either oil or gas as feedstock, they have been and are switching to gas. This DOW plant is just one example.

BTW, I agree completely that oil prices are driving many of these changes that decrease oil consumption, that is of course how things work in a market economy: resources are efficiently allocated by price signals. But the economic slow down is not much of a cause; there I disagree. The sluggish economy only a small piece, probably about 3% of the 15% drop since 2007 if VMT is indicative.

{sigh} There was NO -15% reduction in US oil consumption. That is just an artifact of statistical noise for a month.

With decent public policies (much higher gas taxes, building urban rail, electrifying railroads) there could have been more than a -15% reduction. But there simply was not.

Just -9.45% from the Peak Oil burning year to 2011 and -4.1% from 2001 to 2011.

The "free market" (defined as $78 billion /year in General Fund, etc. subsidies to burn oil) is NOT efficient - at least as run the USA - triply quadruply so when Republicans are in control.

More tomorrow.


PS; A family issue came up - it may be a few days till I can respond.

Monthly data is also subject to statistical "fluctuation" and is unreliable.

The highest oil consumption year was 2005 - 20,802,200 b/day average. 2011 was 18,835,500 b/day. A -9.45% decline over six years. A much more realistic number than:

consumption declined 17% in five years since then, half the period you chose.


"As noted in my table, US oil consumption dropped just -4.1% from 2001 to 2011. Less tha -0.4%/year. US oil consumption climbed almost +6% before declining. Truly a failure in Energy Policy"

Not so much, population in the US is still increasing. Oil consumption down at all at the same time population is increasing is pretty significant.

Population growth, especially via immigration, but also births & deaths, are also strongly affected by public policy.

The populations of France and Denmark grew too BTW.

Per capita, in 2011, the USA used 2.15 times as much oil as France. That is a direct result of policy failures by the USA and policy success by France - not some "natural difference".

In a world at Peak Oil and rising oil prices I do not find the US results "remarkable" at all - except in a very negative way. Just a policy failure.


The populations of France and Denmark grew too BTW.

France +0.5%/year
Denmark +0.4%/year

All due to immigration in both cases, otherwise both would be losing population, especially Denmark, due to below replacement fertility rates.

Reducing immigration in all three nations would appear to be a good public policy post-Peak Oil.


Poor immigrants are better off left to languish in third world countries?

They will use far less oil there (unless they are from an OPEC nation).

France, Denmark and the United States# are under no obligation to accept large numbers of immigrants.

# The USA is morally obligated to take in Iraqis and Afghans that risked their lives to help US forces and would be in danger as we pull out.


Less oil? Heck they'll use zero oil if they die in the third world, and of course oil use is all that matters. The whole thing needs to be rid of humans and turned over to Gaia anyway.

Americans look through their windshields at the gas prices posted as they drive to the auto dealership. This price determines their choice of car to buy.

In May, 2012, the average fuel economy of new cars bough was -0.1 mpg lower than April, 2012. And April was -0.2 mpg lower than March.

Totally predictable.

Higher gas prices > more economical cars bought.

Lower gas prices > more gas guzzlers bought.

Raise gas taxes for "User Pays" and Americans will buy more economical cars.


But we won't raise gas taxes. We just take more money from education, public health, etc. to pave the roads instead.


"Greed and ingenuity in US turns drillers into gas-price killers"

Once again the cornucopians are in a feeding frenzy. For those unaware the US is the leading producer of NG on the planet. The title flips back and forth between us and Russia. These two countries produce almost half the NG on the planet and have done so for many decades.

There has been no significant change in the import or export volumes for many years. We import about 15% of our consumption but also export about 5% of our production. So why does the US export NG while importing it at the same time? Simple answer: the "US" neither imports nor exports NG. Companies do. And depending on local logistics and pipeline infrastructure it can be more profitable to import and export. IOW it's a local phenomenon and not an indication of NG availability. If a NY utility can buy cheaper NG from a Canadian source than from Texas they will. That decision has nothing to do with availability...it's about $'s. The US could eliminate all NG imports and we would still be well supplied. Which, obviously, cannot be said about oil imports. But that doesn't stop the cornucopians from speculating that this great new "NG independence" we've developed could be done with oil.

The author's prediction of the US becoming NG independent should hold true....since we are already effectively independent with re to this fuel. And have been for decades. But we don't want to ruin the cornucopian joy by pointing that out to them.

Some interesting highlight from the piece:

"Analysts are still trying to absorb the full implications of this drilling revolution. Shale drilling has decimated the price (of NG)". Again I must burst that bubble: NG prices have decimated dry NG shale drilling. Once again: in early 2009 Devon paid a $40 million penalty to release 14 of the 18 rigs they had working in the E. Texas shale plays. Which was caused by the same price collapse that almost destroyed two of the largest US independent oil companies: Chesapeake and Devon. And did destroy a number of smaller companies. NG prices didn't collapse 50% in just six months or so because of a concurrent surge in shale NG production. The collapse of the US economy in that time frame was more than sufficient by itself.

"It was driven by little guys drilling holes,...". No it wasn't. The shale plays, then and now, are dominated by the public companies including some of the largest independent companies: Chesapeake, Devon, EOG, EnCana, SW Energy, Sandhill, Cabot, etc. In fact, virtually all the large PUBLIC oil companies are involved in one or more shale plays.

"The price trigger for all this innovation may have disappeared, but the leap in technology is here to stay". And again, for one more boring qualification: there has been no "leap in technology." Some refinements yes. But nothing substantially different in horizontal drilling that wasn't being done 20+ years ago and in frac'ng that wasn't being done 30+ years ago. I've never used it before but I like the term "price trigger". Every weapon has a trigger. But every weapon is essentially useless until you pull that trigger. All the oil patch technology in the world won't change a thing unless prices reach the point where they can be deployed. The "price trigger" for dry NG drilling has obviously disappeared for the most part. And now the price trigger for the oily shales has weakened some but it is still affective to some degree. But a further slide in oil prices combined with an apparent capex shortage with some of the players may (but not likely IMHO) flip the safety on that trigger and cut the activity in the latest shale plays significantly.

I interpreted "little guys" as "not Exxon, BP, Shell, Total, Chevron, etc."

e - The major oil companies you list produce less than half the US production and account for an even smaller percentage of wells drilled in this country today. Or put another way: when was the last time you saw ExxonMobil or Shell or Chevron announce a big new flow test on an Eagle Ford or Marcellus well? Except for the Deep Water GOM and some 50+ year old fields the majors abandoned US operations decades ago. There are at least 15 companies I consider as serious competitors with my efforts. And none of them are a major oil company. It's very rare that I ever find one drilling in any of the areas I'm working. Hilcorp and McGowan are serious concerns to me...not ExxonMobil or Shell Oil.

Just look at the competition for shale leases: it's the Chesapeaks, Devons, Cabots and a slew of other companies that most on TOD probably wouldn't recognize. The majors you list make most of their efforts international. But even in that theater they aren't the "big guys" anymore. The national oil companies have taken their place to a large degree. To be blunt, with the exception of the offshore and international, the majors don't really even qualify very well as "little guys" these days.

My observation was intended not to address the actual characteristics of the oil industry as much as the perception of it that many (most?) outsiders have, including many (most?) in the media who should know better.

e - I didn't think so. I just took the oportunity to offer a clearer picture of just what the US oil patch looks like these days. As you say it's even worse with the MSM and the false impressions they often give the public. It's complicated enough without having to compete with such misinformation.

China tells US Embassy to stop reporting Beijing pollution>/b>

BEIJING - A senior Chinese official demanded on Tuesday that foreign embassies stop issuing air pollution readings, saying it was against the law and diplomatic conventions, in pointed criticism of a closely watched U.S. Embassy index.

At this link there is an embedded one and one half minute video. It was taken at 1:30 in the afternoon. What at first looks like a heavy fog is actually pollution in the air. I really don't understand how people stay alive under such conditions. This is bound to cause many thousands of deaths per year from respiratory diseases.

Ron P.

This is bound to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths per year from respiratory diseases.

That and cigarette smoking (no warning labels, public health advisories, "stop smoking" programs).

Both compliment the "One Child Policy" and related gender bias in limiting China's population peak (labor force peak in 2015, population a few years after that - exact date still uncertain).

What will be interesting to see is if "Quality of Life" and life expectancy become more important once Population Peak (and Peak farm production and Peak Oil) are past.


Both compliment the "One Child Policy" - actually soon to be "Four Grandparent Policy".

It's relatively easy for a couple and their four parents to bring up one child - it's a whole different task for one child to support their parents and four grandparents in retirement.

If several of the grandparents die in their 60's from lung cancer or respiratory diseases, then the burden will be easier.

As I said, a "complimentary policy".

BTW, under "One Child", if both parents are single children (many are not, Chinese fertility is 1.4 to 1.5 children#/woman from memory), then they can have two children.


# However, significantly more than half of the 1.4 to 1.5 children are boys - which has implications for the next generation.

Alan - As far as a husband and wife taking care of both sets of grandparents: I don't know if the culture has changed much but back in 2000 while in China it was explained to me that a son and his wife were expected to take care of HIS parents as they aged. There was not a similar obligation for the wife's parents. IOW having a son was somewhat comparable to our Social Security system. Supposedly this is one reason for their bias for a male child. Not sure how rigid that protocol was followed in past years let alone today. But I heard about it from numerous sources over there.

A few years back I was in a graduate class that included a variety of foreign students (this was in the US). The prof asked if anyone in the class was the single child of parents who were also single children. Several hands went up, all students from China. In fact, a majority of the Chinese students were in that classification. Might well be an education bias: in many places around the world, education and fertility are inversely correlated, while educational attainment across generations in a family are directly correlated.

Ron - I don't think the numbers or even pictures can really do the situation justice. When I adopted my daughter back in 2000 I spent a week in hotel about a block from the US embassy. On a typical day you couldn't tell if it was cloudy or not...couldn't see that high into the sky. Sometimes you could look directly into the sun without squinting. Oddly enough I don't remember much about the smell. And no...didn't try to jog. That could have been lethal. LOL.

It isn't all that much different than the Ohio Valley or Pittsburg 50 years ago. America once had a brutal air pollution problem, as well.

Yes, indeed. In all the western, industrialized nations there have been significant reductions in air and water pollution over the last 50 or so years. We're just having problems convincing our citizens that carbon dioxide has also become a serious form of pollution.

The scary thing is that people forget (or were too young to know) what it was like back when the USA had significant pollution problems. I think that is partially why some people call for closing down the EPA. When a problem is fixed and doesn't exist anymore, there is always a constituency that arises to call for doing away with the things that fixed the problems. That is what is happening with the EPA, unions, the civil rights act, etc.

Certainly in some cases we can scale back. But things must be done carefully and measured.

I remember visiting Birmingham, Alabama in 1971 when the particulate count was over 500. Some concern over playing Alabama football games under those conditions (TRUE !)

The linked article has one fact wrong - the air was more rust colored than yellow.


Best Hopes for Remembering,


Alan - I remember those warnings. The bad news was that it might have caused brain damage in the Bama players. The good news? No one noticed a change. Geaux Tigers!

On the serious side I haven't thought about it for decades. But I can easily recall blowing nasty black snot out of my nose after working that day as an apprentice boiler maker. Back then we just joked about it. Ahhh...the innocence/ignorance of youth.

Actually as I mentioned to Ron above I don't remember much about nasty pollution odors when I was in China. OTOH my sense of smell has never been that great. Wonder how that came about. And don't ask about any brain damage. My ex had me tested once and they said I was as normal as she should expect anyone from Nawlins to be.

I grew up in the Niagara Peninsula during the 50s and 60s. Less than a block away from my parent's house, there was a large incinerator (I still remember the smoke stack being dynamited when the facility was decommissioned). A block in the other direction, ran the remnants of the Second Welland Canal. It was being used as an open sewer (you did not want to get too close to it). During this time, large numbers of dead fish began to be washed up on the Port Dalhousie beach on Lake Ontario. This did get some action, but not what you would expect - the municipality used a bulldozer to scrape the beach clean. At the time, there was a considerable amount of industry, including pulp and paper mills. Since then, the pollution situation has greatly improved, though the local economy has suffered from the loss of much of the industry.

It is true that many North Americans do not realize the kind of environmental nightmares that are possible when pollution is tolerated or, worse, taken as a sign of a strong economy.

The 70's photos that made us want to save Earth.

"The Holmes Road Incinerator burned all kinds of trash, including, photographer Marc St. Gil claims, automobile batteries and plastic. It was closed by the Houston mayor’s executive order in January 1974, two years after this photo was taken. It is now the site of a prospective brownfield 10-megawatt solar farm (.pdf)."
The images are from the DOCUAMERICA Project which was started by the US EPA to send photographers into the wild to capture images that highlighted environmental issues and problems of the day, 1970's.


I just attended once again the fantastic Clearwater Music Festival started decades ago by Pete Seeger to raise funds and awareness for the sloop Clearwater which sailed to
raise awareness of water and air pollution, especially on the Hudson River. When the Clearwater first began sailing nobody would dare to swim in the Hudson, the fish were toxic, the air in the whole NYC area was full of deathly smog. Yet now there is a County beach where people can swim in the Hudson, fish are safely caught, the major pollution problems are the PCBs dumped years ago by GE, major merchant of death, and
threat posed by the Indian Point Nuclear plant. There is absolutely NO WAY given the current primarily Auto Addicted Transit around Indian Point that people could be evacuated quickly in case of a disaster. Indeed last year just to get into the Clearwater Festival there was a huge traffic jam for hours.
In 1989 Clearwater sponsored a "Soviet-American Sail" which visited my little Transit village from the 19th-21st Century to increase understanding between Soviets and Americans. Little did we know that in that same year the Berlin Wall which was literally set in stone and concrete for decades would fall!
This is why I do not subscribe to the BAU neoliberals who say "This is the best we can do" nor Doomers who say that we cannot adapt to Peak Oil, Climate Change and Limits to Growth. We CAN adapt and still preserve a civilized life without electric can openers, Wars, Auto Addiction, leaf blowers or those insane gas guzzling trucks hauling trailers full of riding lawn mowers to cut almost useless grass.
To take one thing in 2010 the US wasted 800,000 barrels of oil a day on the endless Wars which cost $1 Trillion every YEAR!
( http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/10/28-9 )
( http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/23-2 )

That is a LOT of money and resources wasted on destruction and subsidizing the Merchants of Death!
After that we have the billions and trillions wasted on Auto Addiction in the US.
(see Chris Nelder on that: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/energy-futurist/reframing-the-transporta...
We have the gas pollution spewing lawn mowers and even worst the trucks to haul them around. This is TOTALLY unnecessary. I have used a push mower for years and spend not
a cent on gas mowing my lawn in quiet non-polluting fashion.
The US wastes so much it is unbelievable including prime agricultural land on parking lots, lawns and golf courses.
Clearwater and Pete Seeger have actually shown the way for years with recycling, biodiesel, shuttle buses, solar energy, compostable utensils for food,etc, etc.
We CAN change the World!
We WILL change the World!
It is changing right now as Empires crumble and banksters face oblivion...

When I was a kid, we lived (from 1965-1969) in Altadena, California. It's a suburb of Los Angeles, nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. During the summers, the air was so bad that we couldn't see the mountains that were directly north of us.

My folks moved to Anaheim in the early '70s. Mountains nearby are clearly visible now, but you could only see them for a few hours after a strong rain back then. The smog was so thick on many days you could almost cut it with a knife. I could never visit for long - made me ill almost immediately.

I understand. I was born in Southern Cal (1956). I grew up there, so to speak, went to college ... and moved north when I was in my early 30s. My only regret upon leaving, was to realize that I was leaving the area where I was born and raised, and I would not miss it.

Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III smog alerts. I remember.

Thankfully since the adoption and continued use of the catalytic converter for gasoline engines, hopefully will not return!

In 1963 I worked in a bank in downtown Los Angeles. On really bad days you could see the smog inside the building in the large office bays.

My younger brother coined the term "Smell-A" in the late '60s. Our family still uses the term despite the region's better air quality.

"It isn't all that much different than the Ohio Valley or Pittsburg 50 years ago. America once had a brutal air pollution problem, as well."

Or Long Beach / Terminal Island today on calm mornings before the wind picks up.

This is bound to cause many thousands of deaths per year from respiratory diseases.

It does. But that's acceptable as long as GDP is growing. /sarc

Arctic Ship Cargoes Saving $650,000 on Fuel Set for Record High

Cargoes of dry-bulk commodities hauled through Arctic waters are set to rise to a record this year as shipping companies use the route to almost halve journey times compared with Suez Canal shipments.

Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S plans to transport about six to eight 70,000 metric-ton shipments of iron ore to China from the Russian port of Murmansk starting in July, according to director Christian Bonfils. Using the so-called Northern Sea Route for the journey instead of the canal saves 1,000 tons of fuel, or $650,000, he said today by phone.

The Murmansk-to-China journey takes 23 days using the northern route, compared with 43 for the Suez Canal, according to Bonfils. The planned ore cargoes represent an all-time high for shipments via the passage, he said.

and Death Spiral Watch: Arctic Sea Ice Takes A Nosedive

... The melting season is well underway now and in the last two weeks sea ice has been disappearing so fast that 2012 is leading all other years on practically all sea ice extent and area graphs.

... Sea ice area has never been so low for this date in the satellite record, not even close to it. 2012 has over half a million of square kilometres less ice than record minimum years 2007 and 2011.

On a related note...the NASA GISS data was put up a few days back...May 2012 temperature anomaly is lower only to 1998 and 2010 May and ties with May 2007 data. This year Jan and Feb have been unusually cool(relative to previous years) so the average is still low.

I wonder what effect the soot from these high latitude ships will have on the sea ice. Can't be a good thing!

That's in disagreement with artic ice extent shown here:
and artic ice area here:
... with both showing no 2012 breakout towards a new minimum.

"After a period of rapid ice loss through the first half of June, sea ice extent is now slightly below 2010 levels, the previous record low at this time of year."



Looks like all new lows.

Nothing looks like exactly like this graph from the ThinkProgress link:
It is a magnified view, a view over a short duration, of the Cryosphere Today (CT) area graph above.
This may be the original post:


Arctic sea ice graphs:

Yes something's wrong. CT is showing a full 500K km^2 less ice Arctic extent than the previous lowest June. The others (your NSIDC link, AMSRE) are showing about the same (+/- 50K km^2) as the previous June low.

Methane game upgrade

... The really interesting take-away from the new paper is how it shows that the near-surface geology and freezing state conspire to control the venting of accumulated gas dribbling up from below, and the decompostion of frozen soil carbon. They have so many methane seep observations that they are able to correlate them with (1) currently melting permafrost, which allow fossil soil carbon deposits from the last ice age called Yedoma to decompose (Zimov et al 2006) and (2) melting ice sheets and glaciers “un-crunching” the landscape as they fade away, making cracks that vent methane from deep thermal sources. Glaciers that melted long ago no longer vent methane, showing that the methane is transiently venting from built-up pools of gas.

Arctic methane, and all that frozen soil carbon, could easily play a huge role, not so much in the near-term evolution of Earth’s climate, but in the long tail of the global warming climate event.

Journal Article: http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1641/B580807

Seeping Arctic methane has serious implications for Florida coastline: study

All of the methane escaping into the atmosphere causes more melting ice, oceanographer Jeff Chanton says, which causes sea levels to rise and could affect coastal real estate values -- sooner rather than later.

How soon? Possibly over the next 50 to 100 years, Chanton said.

The four-member team — whose findings were published in the respected journal Nature Geoscience — documented a large number of gas seep sites in the Arctic where permafrost is thawing and glaciers receding (they found 77 previously undocumented seep sites, comprising 150,000 vents to the atmosphere).

Geoscientist claims to have found mystery volcano that caused mighty 13th century blast

For years, geoscientists have known that a volcano erupted sometime in the mid thirteenth century, with nearly unprecedented force. Skies were darkened and the entire planet experienced a temporary cooling. What’s not been known though, is which volcano it was and the exact year that it blew. Scientists have informally agreed that the event likely occurred in the year 1258. Now however geoscientist Franck Lavigne of Panthéon-Sorbonne University, is claiming that he has proof that the volcano actually erupted a year earlier than that, and what’s more, he says, he knows which volcano it was, but won’t say until his paper has been published in an as yet still unnamed journal.

AGU Abstracts: (pg 44-45)The 1258 Mystery Eruption: Environmental Effects, Time of Occurrence and Volcanic Source (large pdf)

Ooh, mysterious!

Don't laugh Jim. This is about as exciting as it gets for vulcanologists. Except for getting zapped with poison gas in some caldera, of course.

So the gas must be invisible even by lava lamp... ?

This is about as exciting as it gets for vulcanologists. Except for getting zapped with poison gas in some caldera, of course.

Or getting blown off your ridge top observation post by a horizontal blast. Of course then you get the honor of having a volcano observatory named after you.

geo - Long ago I read that vulcanologists had the highest mortality rate of all any science and engineering specialist. I figured that was because : a) there were so few of them it skewed the stats, b) working around volcanos is really dangerous, or c) vulcanologists are the dumbest creatures on the planet.

In deference to my fellow geologists I'll not offer my opinion. OTOH I've never met a vulcanologist that wasn't a raving alcoholic/lunatic. Both of them. LOL.


One further comment on Mt St Helens. I grew up in that part of the world, and in my youth did a bit of climbing. In the late 60's & early 70's I climbed St Helens 3 times, by three different routes. I get down to that part of the world now and then, and it still boggles my mind to look at that mountain and realize that nearly all of peak I climbed is.....gone!

A year or so back I finally found time to drive up to the mountain to the Johnston Observatory vistors center, and do some hiking on the ridge where he died. Even more than thirty years later, the devastation is astounding. It is well worth the time if you are ever out that way. You can drive right to ridge, and look directly into the crater. Looking down the barrel of the gun, so to speak.

Your geologist acquaintances might have been negatively impacted by long hours at high altitude. Like this guy or the Japanese climbers who suddenly became the newest Ice Men after falling into a 100 foot deep crevasse on the slopes of Mt. McKinley last week...

E. Swanson

In deference to my fellow geologists I'll not offer my opinion. OTOH I've never met a vulcanologist that wasn't a raving alcoholic/lunatic.

Sounds like petroleum geologists....oh wait a second....I are one!


Rock - Geologists are about the only scientific group or group in general which serves beer at their conventions. Apparently since geology is as much an art as it is science it is justified that the 'scientists' mull over their problems over a beer or three.

Apparently since geology is as much an art as it is science...

If I were a geologist I would be deeply insulted by that remark. Some so called sciences are indeed as much, or more an art as a science, like economics. But geology is definitely not one of them. Geology, along with astronomy, is among the hardest of sciences and cannot be possibly be considered as art instead of science. Of course some beautiful pictures of geology, as is the case with astronomy as well, do make beautiful art.

But geologists don't call themselves "hard rock geologist" for nothing. Geology, in my opinion anyway, is one of the hardest of sciences and cannot even remotely be regarded as an art.

Art is all about opinions, what is good art and what is bad art. Science is about hard facts. Opinions of course play a part... until they are proven right or wrong. Then only facts remain. Art is not about facts. There are no facts in art, only opinion.

Ron P.

My wife is one.

Therefore I invoke my 5th amendment privilege ;)

That sounds like an opinion..

Art is about a lot of things, including intuition, perception and pattern recognition, and often refers to one who has either the long-matured experience or the natural tendency to understand the subtleties of a given pursuit intimately.

Now Economics.. I think that requires some well-wrought opinioneering.

I guess it depends upon what you mean by art. Most of geology cannot be solved by writing down and solving a set of equations. So it requires a bit of educated skillfullnes that can't be reduced to a formula or learned by rote. So maybe it is correct to say there is an "art" to being good at it. I don't think the practitioners would find that demeaning at all.

Hard rock geologist is used for those who deal with crystalline rock (igneous rocks). They might be looking for gold, but are not looking for oil. Soft-rock geologists deal with sedimentary rocks, in which fossil fuels might be located.

In a science where getting hard data is difficult because you cannot 'see' what is going on underground there is certainly a degree of artistry which separates the useful mammals from the people whom merely have degrees. In the absence of complete information you have to use your imagination, hence the artistry. Furthermore not everyone is an American and hence not everyone uses English in quite the same fashion, locally for instance if you said 'fanny pack' I would think of some kind of vaginal storage system instead of 'bum bag' which is what we call them here if I didn't know any better. We use the word artist in New Zealand to also denote skill and talent, it is common for instance to look at something which takes skill and say 'that is a beautiful... (anything).

Ron - I'll have to ride the fence on this one. At least with respect to petroleum geologists. Certainly a lot of other geological analysis leans on hard science methodology. Lots of details that can be taken down to 3 decimal places. Unfortunately in petroleum geology you're lucky sometimes to be accurate to within a magnitude of order. And sometimes a 2 million bbl oil objective ends up being zero bbls.

You're a guy very intimate with data bases with a lot of fairly accurate numbers. For you the answer to the question of 2.000 + 2.000 is 4.000. For me it's somewhere between 3 and 5. And sometimes I'm not even correct about that. So many times a petroleum geologist has to rely on intuition more than concrete data. And the obvious danger there is when optimism/desperation drives that intuition more than experience and logic.

This is even a greater problem with exploration geologists than development/reservoir geologists like me. I've mentioned before how I tease explorationists about running detailed economics on the projects...especially when they calculate ROR to one or two decimal places. IOW they can't guarantee that there will be any oil present but the ROR is 12.82%? Probably 100+ times I've heard those hands say: "Well, but you can't prove the reserves aren't there unless we drill".

But don't get me wrong: explorationists have to be pie in the sky optimists otherwise very few new fields would have ever been discovered. I'll say it again even though I'm sure many still have trouble believing it: oil/NG has never been easy to find. In fact, success rates are much higher now than decades ago. Mostly due to seismic data...especially 3d. Even my development success rate is several times better today than 30 years ago. Remember my tale of my first project at Mobil Oil when I was a baby geo? My first 5 "low risk development" wells off a platform in the GOM were dry holes. That was my first lesson in not believing every exploration map.

The problem isn't finding new fields...the problem is that there are so few left to find. That's the reason the shale plays are so hot now: very little geology input. Companies take a lease, drill a hz well about the same length and on the same azimuth as the wells offsetting their lease. Then frac similar to how all the other operators are doing it. There are variations to this game plan but not very often and not done without risking one's career track. LOL.

As far as being "deeply insulted" don't worry about us petroleum geologists. Collectively we've been told we were wrong/stupid/foolish so many times in our careers our insult nerves have withered long ago. I'm about to began that horizontal EOR project I've mentioned before. The one that over the years countless others said didn't make sense and wouldn't work. Making an obscene profit is the prime goal but part of my motivation is to show those folks I was correct. I said we old pet geologists weren't very sensitive. But I didn't say we weren't vindictive.

Thanks for the reply Rockman. From your post I gather that the fields you do find are getting smaller and smaller, thereby increasing your cost per barrel. What, in your estimation, does it cost the average driller in your area to produce a barrel of oil? The cost to produce the marginal barrel of oil was said to have gone up 11% last year to $92 a barrel. MARGINAL BARREL

Leading oil companies will also start to feel the pain of lower prices and, say some analysts, are likely to start trimming high cost production. According to Bernstein Research, the marginal cost of production was $92 a barrel in 2011.
"The marginal cost of production is the ultimate floor in the oil market. In the North Sea it can be $80 to $100," said Andrew Moorfield, head of EMEA energy at Scotiabank.
"But the real marginal cost of production also includes social costs that some big oil producers need to pay."

It appears to me that the rapidly rising cost of producing a barrel of oil will bring us to peak oil as fast as anything else.

Ron P.

Ron - Smaller for sure. Some 30 years ago I was drilling for 1,000+ ac targets at 12,000'. Now I'm drilling for 100 ac targets at 16,000' with wells that cost at least 50% more. Current success rates for such plays obviously have to be much better than they were long ago. The other problem is that most of those deep targets are predominantly NG with some condensate. And that's why we've pretty much shut down our deep drilling program: low NG prices just don't make the economics work very well.

Cost per bbl? That is such a difficult answer to come up with. If I can gather all the geologic details of a specific new oil discovery I could make a reasonable estimate on the field economics. But what about companywide economics? But what about the $millions the company spent on overhead? What about the $millions they spent on 3d seismic that didn't lead to even drilling a well? What about the bonus money we paid the feds two years ago for 4 GOM lease blocks that we decided not to drill and released after we reprocessed the seismic and killed the potential? Is the company paying 4% or 8% interest on the money it borrowed to drill last year's wells? Does a public company look healthy from the outside? And do they have a $100 million bond payment due in 6 months they won't be able to pay a penny on? Been there...experienced that sickening feeling. LOL.

It may be hard to believe but it's often difficult for a company to clearly gauge their success. They can make a projection of future cash flow but are they price decks realistic? Pessimistic? Are their future flow rate/URR estimates realistic? Remember those numbers are usually calculated by the hands who will be rewarded/ punished based upon those answers.

Since I can't document the average cost per bbl being produced today, I decline to answer that question at this time, senator...I mean Ron.

Question: What is 2 plus 2?

Ordinary person: 4, of course.

Marketer: I can give it to you for 3.7 today.

Philosopher: First you have to ask the question, "What is 2?"

Accountant: 4.000000, before interest, taxes, and depreciation.

Computer engineer: 3.999997, if you use single precision hexadecimal floating point.

Mathematician: If we have a set of two objects, S1, and another set, S2, then we can represent the sum of "2 plus 2" as the union of these two sets.

Oil promoter: At least a million, maybe more.

Environmentalist: A more important question is, "How much global warming will it cause?"

Lawyer: I won't answer that question without having my own lawyer present.

CEO: I refuse to answer because it might tend to incriminate me.

Politician: Despite what my opponent says, I think tax rates are much too high.

Question: What is 2 plus 2?

Petroleum Engineer: (whips out calculator) 4.000000000000000000000

Petroleum Geologist: Somewhere between 3 & 1/2 and 4 & 1/2

Petroleum Geophysicist: What do you want it to be?

2 + 2 = ?

BAU PR Guy: Enough to last the US 100 years.

2 + 2 = Socialist!

US "conservative".

Politician II: at least a trillion. I can borrow or print any amount.

Sadly, the politician's view is often the one that gets the column inches. Having recently worked on a study to re-evaluate some gas fields I was impressed to see how the government politicians carefully sidestepped the clearly worded provisos of the final report ("less gas than we originally estimated but a possibility of some new oil"), and happily explained to the press just how many dollars would shortly be flowing into the national coffers once the oil was being produced...

And we know which version will seared into the memories of those 10s of millions of voters as they wonder why there are still power cuts and queues at the fuel stations.

Hi Rockman,

How about for your company? If you looked at recent projects and included all costs related to those projects and general overhead (which includes dry holes, seismic both used and unused, leases paid but never produced, etc) was divided by barrels produced and then assumed output would be as projected (you think you will get 10 million barrels and you get something close), couldn't you come up with a guess for the cost per barrel of these new projects?
I understand you are unlikely to reveal such information even if you had it.

Does the $90 per barrel sound reasonable if a reasonable rate of return (20%) is included as a cost? The question in my mind is, will many new projects (of significant size) go forward when oil falls below $90 per barrel? I suppose we will know in a few years time.


You really cannot come up with a marginal cost per barrel in the oil industry because it would involve knowing many things about the future (future price of oil, future demand, future supply, future interest rates, future government policies) and our crystal balls are cracked and very foggy.

The best you could do is come up with an historic cost per barrel, and that would be misleading because the future is not going to be the same as the past in the oil business. Things are always changing.

The best way to deal with it is to apply risk factors to everything and run numerous "what-if" scenarios to get a feel for how things might play out. Of course, accountants hate that word, "risk", but in the oil business high risk implies high profits if things play out, so oil men tend to take risks that would scare the wits out of their accountants.

As they used to say, "I'd rather be lucky than smart." That's because a few of them became billionaires by betting on a theory that was completely wrong, but wrong in the positive direction.


Any costs would be estimated of course, usually when one is talking about marginal costs, we are speaking about the present or the past. How does the $90 cost per barrel sound to you? Reasonable? When I see such a number I assume someone means this is the price that the oil is sold for and cost would include a reasonable (20 %) ROI for the producer and that these barrels would be the most expensive (marginal) barrels. Nobody has a clear crystal ball, but oil companies do go forward with new projects and they make the best guesses that they can using the kind of risk analysis you outline, if one looked at the median of such estimates, that would be as close as we could come to future marginal costs. I think Ron was asking about present marginal costs per barrel, which could probably be estimated, but not by me (I don't have much inside info.) I was hoping you or Rockman might have a feel for a ballpark number, whether it was 50, 100 or somewhere in between. Would a sustained fall in oil prices to 70 have much effect on the oil sands development?


In general, for conventional oil (not tar sands or shale oil), $90 feels too high to me. In reality it is going to vary with the project. In many cases, companies might consider the actual number to be highly confidental, for competitive reasons.

Can't say more than that.


Thanks for the insight, I understand that costs vary from project to project. The marginal cost is the cost of the highest cost projects, so it is not the same as average cost. If $90 seems high for conventional oil (according to Rockman this would include polar, deep water, and tight oil), would 80 or 70 sound about right for marginal costs or are you unable to throw out such numbers?


DC - I suppose I left out one of the more critical factors a company has to consider as far as what sort of marginal cost is acceptable: they don't know what that cost will be until they drill and produce the well over a sufficiently long period. Of course there are the pre-drill economic analysis that say the cost per bbl to develop that prospect will be $X/bbl. And then you drill it and find out your cost will actually be 3 times $X/bbl. Or maybe 0.3X $X/bbl. And then you drill and complete a well that would appear to have cost you $Y/bbl and then you produce it and it depletes in 37 days. Did that last year and the finding cost was about 5X the current price of NG. IOW we lost our ass and I'm still not certain how it happened. It made no geologic sense but it did indeed happen.

Companies don't decide they are going to only drill prospects with a max finding cost of $x per bbl because they don't know what the actual finding cost will be. That number is calculated long after the well is drilled and produced. They drill wells that have a certain acceptable probability of success with a reserve potential that falls in a reasonable range.

Some projects, such as tar sands, may be easier to characterize with respect to finding cost. But there are still geologic/engineering variables that cause inaccuracies. But even if the finding cost estimate is accurate it doesn't guarantee profits. When Devon was drilling the E Texas shale plays they had a pretty good handle on their finding cost. Of course when NG prices plunged below that finding cost for most of their wells it pretty much killed the play for them.

That's why I always have a problem relating to the concept of "marginal costs" at least with regards to how companies make drilling decisions. Much like playing blackjack. You wouldn't sit down at the table and play if you knew you were going to lose more than win. That you discover at the end of the night. In oil patch exploration no one is going to drill for oil that they expect will cost $70+ to get out the ground. The expectations are more likely $15 to $25 per bbl. The reality may be $10/bbl or $400/bbl. Or Infinite $'s/bbl if you drill a dry hole and find no oil. Thus in a sense the question of high the price of that magical "marginal bbl" is pretty much a non-starter with me. What high oil/NG do is incourage operators to drill riskier wells then the might during low price periods. The late 70's boom is a prime example of that phenominon. It led to over 4,600 rigs drilling (more than 2x as many as today). When taking into account all the dry holes and non-commercial wells drilled during this period I have no doubt that the industry finding cost easily exceeded the price of oil at the time. The high oil price boom destroyed 100's of US companies.

No one can actually verify this but I suspect that if you added up every $ spent to develop oil/NG reserves over the last 60 years you might find that it has been a money losing effort or, at the least, barely profitable. I once managed a joint venture during the late 70's boom when the operator drilled 18 dry holes in a row. Never produce $1 of oil or NG. How does the concept of marginal costs work into that situation? It just occured to me that's it similar to asking what sort of marginal price increase do you require on that stock you might buy. You're free to expect what you want. But that expectation ain't going to make it so.

And one last reminder for folks: whatever the cost, marginal or otherwise, to develop oil today it has no bearing on the price of oil. It doesn't matter if it will cost me $20 or $85 per bbl to develop my next well. I'll sell that oil for what ever the price of oil is at that time. If it costs me $90/bbl and I sell it for $130 I'll make a profit. If it sells for $80 I'll still sell but lose money in the process. Or look at it this way: the industry might accept a high development cost as it did for the dry shale plays 6 or 7 years ago. By accepting that high cost a lot of NG wells were drilled especially in E Texas. As a result (with help from the recession) that surge in NG supplies drove prices below the development cost. I don't think we're there yet with respect to the oily shales and probably won't break that same barrier. But obviously the cost to develop the oily shales is significant and as oil prices soften it reduces cash flow/credit limits and that will slow drilling. And for some (if not many) that could initiate a slow death spiral.

Marginal cost per barrel is not something oil companies would normally use. They would use return on investment or net present value because not all expenditures produce oil, but they can be economic because they reduce costs or reduce risks. When I was working in oilfield automation, some of our projects had insanely high ROI's (they paid back their costs in a matter of weeks) but produced no oil at all.

The real problem with oil is that geological risk confounds the issue of marginal costs. Because a well may be a gusher or it may be a dry hole, with no difference in expenditures, the marginal costs for individual wells may range from $5/bbl to infinity. It will also vary considerably from company to company and geological area to geological area. There is a lot of guessing and a shortage of hard data.

A company will typically have a list of prospects and it will have estimates of what their ROI is. It will also have a budget, so it will start with the prospects that have the highest ROI and work down the list until it runs out of money in the drilling budget. The cost per barrel of the oil it finds will be highly dependent on what it finds, and the numbers will vary all over the map. Some will be highly uneconomic, but once the money is spent, it's a sunk cost so it will put the wells on production anyway.

For oil sands there is no geological risk (everybody knows where the oil sands are), so the only risk is economic risk and engineering risk. You can derive a marginal cost there, and I think for Suncor and Syncrude it runs around $45/bbl. This makes oil sands highly economic at current prices, which is why companies are putting hundreds of billions of dollars into it.

For conventional oil it is more variable. You might think the marginal cost should be lower than oil sands, but that might not be true for many of the prospects. Companies might run down their list of prospects and run out of reasonable prospects before they run out of money. At that point, the marginal cost per barrel might still be quite low, but the company can't produce nearly enough barrels to supply the demand regardless of price. This is kind of the fundamental peak oil issue.

A classic case I had to deal with was Arctic drilling. We had a drill fleet of 26 ships and we were drilling hundreds of millions worth of wells. We had to submit a form to head office that reported the primary product (oil, gas, sulfur, etc) and the risked volume of reserves that probably could book as a result. This Arctic drilling had no real chance of booking any reserves because the wells were rank wildcats and there were no pipelines to take it out, so we set the primary product to "water", and picked an arbitrary volume, e.q. 1 million barrels of water per well.

The bright lights at head office called up and wanted to know what the oil equivalent of a barrel of water was so they could add it to the global total on the annual report. We had to explain that there was no oil equivalent of a barrel of water, so they should just add zero to the total. They weren't happy.

The drilling was only due to government subsidies - we got $1.25 in subsidies for every $1.00 we spent, so we tried to spend as much money as possible. Eventually the (Canadian) government realized we were spending billions of the taxpayers dollars and not finding any oil, so they cut the subsidies off.

Rocky - "The bright lights at head office called up and wanted to know what the oil equivalent of a barrel of water was so they could add it to the global total on the annual report." That has to be one of the three funniest damn things I've ever heard come from the "suits". Can't wait to repeat it to my cohorts this morning.

I still think the funniest was when a suit asked me to eliminate the dry holes the company drilled (which were very many) from my finding cost analysis. He figured it would greatly improve the numbers, which were $44/bbl at a time when oil was selling for $35/bbl. He wasn't trying to be dishonest. He really thought it made sense to calculate two finding costs: one for successful wells and another for dry holes. Who was I, a mere geologist, to disagree and I did so. He had a PhD in economics from Stanford. The second funniest comment was from the CEO of that same company. After reviewing results he commented that the economics of our successful wells wasn't too bad but when you factored in the dry holes it really hurt the results. Though he had no experience in the oil business the solution seemed obvious to him: we should focus on those types of prospects that worked and avoid the types that led to dry holes. A great solution: don't drill dry holes. Why hadn't I thought of that? LOL.


FWIW, Dr. Tad Patzek (a peak oiler) has an extended quotation, at the end of a recent blog post, from the aforementioned Bernstein Research report: "Era of Cheap Oil Over As Secular Growth in Upstream Cost Inflation Underpins Triple Digit Oil Prices."

Our analysis of the 50 largest publicly traded oil and gas companies (ex-FSU) shows that cost inflation continues to increase sharply within the global upstream oil and gas industry. In 2011, production costs increased by 26% while the unit cost of production increased by 21%, which was higher than longer term trends. In 2011, the marginal cost of production [for] the same companies increased 10.8% to US$92.26/bbl.

Rock - What's the difference between a good geologist and a bad geologist looking at the same information? If it all came down to running the same numbers and getting the same result then there would be no difference. You could even go as far as to create the Rockman 7.3 drilling operating environment where you'd plug your numbers into the computer system along with all the relevant economic information and you get the program coming back with a drill/no drill response. Not everything can yet be distilled down to a mathematical expression you could crunch on a computer to get a result, there is always room for judgement and the talent of the individual and hence there is artistry in the science. So are there any plans yet to replace you with a computer?

S - OK...I'm going to tell you exactly how the process works but don't tell anyone else...OK? We do use computers to decide what to drill. Just input costs, reserve and price expectations and risk factor. One mouse click ...Shazam!...NPV, ROR, etc, all instantly appear.

Wanna know how I decide what risk factor I use? I first decide if the prospect makes sense to me. If it does I input a high probability of success. If I don't like it I put in a low Ps and let the computer kill the deal. And that's how every geologist has evaluated every prospect from the dawn of time...even when we used a pencil and paper before computers were around. And sometimes it doesn't matter if the geologist really likes the prospect or not. I've seen positive recommendations on crappy deals because that geologist was going to get fired if he didn't generate something to drill. He would get fired for drilling a dry hole or not drilling at all so what did he have to lose by taking a high risk chance?

In another post someone said one evaluation theory was to first consider if a project was "pretty". In a sense that's how I evaluate deals now. I couldn't care less what the economic analysis of a wildcat is calculated to be. All exploratory wells offered for drilling have very attractive economics...otherwise they wouldn't be recommended. I look at the logic of the project. IOW does it make sense. And "making sense" doesn't necessarily mean it's a low risk effort. And no: I can't explain what "makes sense" means. That is the art part of the process. And from my experience probably 10% to at most 20% of petroleum geologist are good at that artful analysis. Which explains the high historical failure rate in the oil patch IMHO. Or as we more rudely say behind closed doors: most geologists couldn't find oil on their drive way. Yes...we really say that.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
There is an old saw among physicists and mathematicians that the first validity test of an equation is - "Is it beautiful?"

Robinson Jeffers:
"Or as mathematics, a human invention
that parallels but never touches reality, gives the astronomer
Metaphors through which he may comprehend
The powers and the flow of things: so the human sense
Of beauty is our metaphor of their excellence, their divine nature: -- like
dust in a whirlwind, making
The wild wind visible."

The Double Axe


As a biomedical engineer in academia, I've been to a variety of conferences - photonics, MRI, DoD sponsored Threat Reduction, standard biomedical... I've only been to one conference that didn't serve booze, and that was the DoD event.

Oceans of pollution

A drumbeat of recent scientific studies emphasises an increasingly alarming convergence of crises for Earth's oceans.

The amount of plastic floating in the Pacific Gyre - a massive swirling vortex of rubbish - has increased 100-fold in the past four decades, phytoplankton counts are dropping, over-fishing is causing dramatic decreases in fish populations, decreasing ocean salinity is intensifying weather extremes, and warming oceans are speeding up Antarctic melting.

The Weight of Nations: An Estimation of Adult Human Biomass

The world population is over seven billion and all of these people need feeding. However, the energy requirement of a species depends not only on numbers but on its average mass.

Up to half of all food eaten is burned up in physical activity. Increasing mass means higher energy requirements, because it takes more energy to move a heavy body. Even at rest a bigger body burns more energy.

Using data from the United Nations and World Health Organization, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that the adult human population weights in at 287 million tonnes. 15 millions of which is due to the overweight and 3.5 million due to obesity.

If all countries had the same average BMI as the USA the total human biomass would increase by 58 million tonnes - this is the equivalent of an additional 935 million people of world average body mass.

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

Drought in the United States: Causes and Issues for Congress (pdf)

... The physical conditions causing drought in the United States are increasingly understood to be linked to sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Studies indicate that cooler-than-average SSTs have been connected to the severe western drought in the first decade of the 21st century, severe droughts of the late 19th century, and precolonial North American “megadroughts.” The 2011 severe drought in Texas is thought to be linked to La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean.

What is the future of drought in the United States? The droughts in California, the Southeast, and the Klamath River basin underscore an underlying difficulty of managing federal reservoirs to meet multipurpose water needs. In the future, the United States might face severe and sustained periods of drought not experienced in the 20th century. If so, disputes over federal infrastructure management like those in California, the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River (ACF) basin, and Klamath River basin may increasingly determine short-term actions by Reclamation and the Corps, and result in long-term consequences for congressional oversight and funding.

Although the impacts of drought can be significant nationally as well as regionally, comprehensive national drought policy does not exist,/i>. Severe drought can exacerbate water competition, cause significant economic harm, and affect nearly all areas of the country. Nonetheless, several key factors make comprehensive drought policy at the national level a challenge, including:

- the “creeping” nature of drought;
- split federal and non-federal drought response and management responsibilities;
- a patchwork of federal programs and oversight with little coordination; and
- differences in regional conditions and drought risk in terms of the drought hazard, vulnerability, and potential consequences.

also The Navy Biofuel Initiative Under the Defense Production Act

The Navy proposes to use authority under the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA) to develop a domestic industrial capacity to supply biofuel. In its FY2013 Congressional Budget Request, the Department of Energy (DOE) requested authority to transfer funds to the DPA Fund, offering the justification that it will support the MOU with the technical expertise to move pilot-scale demonstration projects to larger-scale production in support of the Navy’s Green Fleet Goal. Agriculture, Energy, and the Navy expect to fund this initiative at $510 million in aggregate over three years.

In the past, Congress has found it in the interest of national defense preparedness for government to assure that a domestic industrial capacity exists to produce fuel. Congress set aside the (now depleted) Naval Oil Reserves and Oil Shale Reserves to provide for the Navy’s fuel requirements. Congress later promoted alternative fuel from coal through the U.S. Synthetic Liquid Fuels Act of 1944 to aid the execution of World War II, and to conserve and increase national oil resources.

The act authorized the Secretary of the Interior to construct, maintain, and operate plants producing synthetic liquid fuel from coal, oil shale, and agricultural and forestry products. During the Korean War, the DPA authorized the President to have liquid fuels processed and refined for government use or resale, and to make improvements to government- or privately-owned facilities engaged in processing and refining liquid fuels when it would aid the national defense.

In 1980, Congress amended the DPA to authorize the President’s purchase of synthetic fuels for national defense. Most recently, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the Secretary of Energy, in cooperation with the Secretaries of the Interior and Defense, to develop a program to accelerate the commercial development of strategic unconventional fuels, including but not limited to oil shale and tar sands resources within the United States.

Russia reportedly sending 2 warships with marines to Syria

BEIRUT -- Russia is preparing to dispatch a pair of warships carrying a contingent of Black Sea Fleet marines to its logistics base in the Syrian port of Tartus, the Russian Interfax news agency reported Monday, in what appeared to be another sign of the deteriorating security situation in the strife-ridden nation.

The report quoted an unidentified Russian naval source saying the amphibious ships Nikolay Filchenkov and Tsezar Kunikov, accompanied by the rescue tug SB-15, were “preparing for a non-routine departure” for Tartus, Russia’s only Mediterranean base.

Oil service firms brace for drilling slowdown

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of oil services company slid on Monday, as tumbling oil and natural gas prices point to tougher times for well drillers and other companies working with the petroleum industry.

Companies like Ensco PLC, National Oilwell Varco Inc. and Noble Corp. make money by mapping underground reservoirs, drilling wells, fixing equipment and providing a host of other services to oil and gas companies. Demand for those services has declined as prices fall and companies idle operations at some U.S. wells.

Raymond James analyst J. Marshall Adkins expects the number of active U.S. land-based rigs to fall by 500, or roughly 25 percent, from now until the end of 2013. With fewer rigs operating, service companies will have a tougher time finding work and they'll likely cut prices to get business. That means lower profits are likely across the industry.

So I got into an argument with my dad last week, about the significance of rising energy costs and declining net exports to the Euro crisis. Now, my father is an intelligent guy, and quite well informed about energy issues generally. Is there a good source anyone can recommend where I can show him the annual declines in Net Exports, and also in Available Net Exports (as defined by westexas, net exports minus imports from China, India)? I'd like to be able to point him to a link and be able to say, look, here, this is a serious thing that is already happening. Thanks for your help.

My suggestion is the Energy Export Databrowser:


Expect more of this to come over the summer since corn is supply is going to be difficult to source until the harvest is over. With this drought, I don't think next year isn't going to be any better for the ethanol refiners or the rest of us corn eaters.

NEDAK Ethanol temporarily halts production

President and General Manager Jerome Fagerland stated, "The early months of the year usually have fewer miles driven by consumers, which reduces the demand for gasoline and ethanol. Normally, consumer driving increases by the Memorial Day holiday, but it has been less so this year. We are also experiencing a much stronger local basis for current corn deliveries, resulting in relatively higher local corn prices."

US weather scare sends corn futures soaring

Instead of the "very heavy rainfall" forecast, "showers were light and scattered from a stronger-than-expected ridge of high pressure that stabilised the atmosphere and diminished rainfall.

"This is often what happens in an emerging drought."

EPA Gives Final Approval for E15 Sales

"Today, the last significant federal hurdle has been cleared to allow consumers to buy fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol (E15)," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This gets us one step closer to giving the American consumer a real choice at the pump. The public has a right to choose between imported oil and home-grown energy and today’s action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advances that goal."

Archer Daniels Sees Pressure In Ethanol, Grain-Handling

Woertz also noted pressure from "very low supplies until harvest comes."

I'd rather have the choice to purchase ethanol free fuel.

Maybe Mother Nature is going to grant your wish. I don't think it will be what you had in mind, though. 2nd plant reported idled today.

UPDATE 2-Ethanol sector braces for bad patch as Valero idles plant

The gas stations are all E-10 where you are? There is quite a variety here. Exxon and Conoco are no alcohol, the Safeway is E-10.

The Exxon station is most convenient, so it is usually what I use, but I do pick up a tank of E-10 every couple of months to flush out the injectors, since the ethanol is a pretty good solvent.

I am going to have to watch out for E-15, as I don't have anything new enough to burn it safely.

Firebag boosts thermal oilsands to record output

A company known for its mining operations has helped push Alberta’s total output in thermal production from the oil sands to another new record high.

As Peters & Co. reported in a note to investors, total in situ production averaged about 750,000 barrels per day in April, with the Suncor Firebag project averaging about 100,000 bpd, up from 80,000 bpd earlier this year.

“The increases in SAGD production in recent years has been quite rapid, as production averaged about 125,000 bpd in 2007, is currently averaging just below 500,000 bpd and, based on our forecast, will average about 550,000 bpd in 2013 and over 600,000 bpd in 2014,” Peters reported.

I don't know whether to be impressed or horrified by this news.

Just had a meeting today with a reservoir engineer that thinks the current modelling of SAGD has many significant flaws and omits may important physical processes ... but hey his previous work was on steam and water flooding so what would he know ...

I guess in the end, don't touch what currently doesn't appear to be a problem? I'm pretty sure that's the Alberta motto.

SAGD is a relatively new process and still is not totally understood, but it certainly is very effective in producing heavy oil and bitumen. You can expect a lot more production from it in future.

I'm get the feeling that if Chavez were to lose the upcoming election (or died) and some pros went down to Venezuela and did some SAGD on the Orinoco, then we might actually have relatively cheap oil for at least another decade.

SAGD is a good way of turning cheap gas into expensive oil. Its a way of maintaining a supply of oil when gas is cheap, and oil isn't but its never going to give cheap oil. Maybe in a decade when oil is $250 it will pay to get that oil from SAGD in Venezuela.

I think that SAGD could produce oil considerably cheaper than $250/bbl in Venezuela, but it would never be as cheap as oil historically was (or ever will be again). Until Chavez is gone it is something of a moot point, but at some point (possibly soon) Chavez will be gone. And then who knows what will happen?

Rail shipments of oil up 36% this year

You’ve heard lots about the desire to ship oil along railway tracks, but the volume estimates that demonstrate this growing trend have been spotty so far.

A recent report from RBC Dominion Securities, however, offers some more colour, noting that the volume of carloads carrying oil are up 36 per cent to date in 2012 over the year prior. Plus, six of the seven major North American carriers have seen double-digit growth.

Of these carriers, analyst Walter Spracklin noted that Canadian Pacific has seen the biggest growth, with carload volumes up 90 per cent over 2011

CP railed some oil from the Bakken to the Hudson River, and then barged it down to refineries near Philadelphia.

Not sure if that became a regular shipping route or not. But it got Brent pricing for the delivered oil.


The refineries near Philadelphia lack access to the North American pipeline system. They just kind of assumed that imported oil would always be cheaper than North American oil.

I became aware that CP was shipping Bakken oil to the East Coast when a pickup truck hit the broad side of a CP train in Southern Saskatchewan and derailed a dozen or so oil tank cars, creating a bit of a spill. The truck was a write-off but the driver survived.

The driver had probably never seen an oil tank car on that track before, so it probably came as a complete shock to him when some unidentified alien object impeded his forward progress across the rail tracks.

The tracks of the various railroads kind of wander back and forth across the border without much consideration for national boundaries. I suppose this is because the railroads were built when there were far fewer people in the West and they took imaginary dotted lines across the plains less seriously.

Why $775 billion in fossil-fuel subsidies are so hard to scrap

The idea of repeal first came up in 2009, when leaders at the G-20 summit pledged to phase out fossil fuel subsidies over the next decade. Since then, an additional 50 countries have said they’d do likewise. Yet those promises have had virtually no effect. As a new report (pdf) from the Natural Resources Defense Council details, global subsidies have nearly tripled since 2009 — from $300 billion to $775 billion.

This is a disaster. This is like subsidizing heroin for junkies. We need to try to move away from fossil fuels for a number of reasons such as climate change, local pollution, trade deficits, etc. But even if you don't view those as a problem, we need to try to move away from them because they are finite. Subsidizing a finite commodity is a road to disaster. You'll never be able to sustain that. You'll just be a junkie building up more and more tolerance thus making the eventual cold turkey all that much more painful.

BTW, how do these developing nations pay for these subsidies?!?! I understand the producer nations with nationalized oil companies being able to do it (Saudies, Venezuela, etc.), but now does a developing nation that imports oil pay for these subsidies?

In the US the subsidies are mostly tax breaks, like accelerated depreciation and deductions for expenses that other industries would have to depreciate over many years. Obama's plan to end the tax breaks went nowhere in the Republican controlled congress (US House where all tax legislation must start).

Those are the ones you can directly associate with oil companies.

I think one can argue that the 5th fleet is largely a big subsidy to oil companies (and mostly not U.S. oil companies).

Eliminate it and at the very minimum, insurance rates for tankers would rise.

"how do these developing nations pay for these subsidies?"

Same way as developed nations pay for those subsidies and oceans of other ones:

Keep borrowing tons of money. When the debt gets out of hand, renege on it by some combination of defaulting and "printing", dispossessing pensioners and destroying the middle class. Reset the currency, promising future pensioners and everyone else that This Time At Last, It Will Be Different. Rinse and repeat.

They ration it by some means other than price.

Something of possible interest to Alan from the Islands...

Public Sector Energy Project to Cost $1.2 Billion

KINGSTON - Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, said the government is looking to spend some $1.2 billion over the next two years to undertake several energy saving initiatives within public sector entities.

He stated that the money spent "will be recovered in the same time frame because of the tremendous savings that we are going to be able to achieve".

See: http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-111/30939

Odd that some of this money will be used to replace 100,000 compact fluorescent lamps with LEDs. That doesn't strike me as money well spent, but perhaps there are other considerations at play such as longer service life and, with that, reduced maintenance costs (hopefully, the CFLs removed from service will be redeployed elsewhere rather than destroyed).

Last week, I audited a small convenience store and we'll be upgrading their lighting system, cutting this portion of their electrical load by more than half. We'll also be replacing the fluorescent fixtures in their refrigeration case/walk-in cooler with LED strips, for a 90 per cent savings. Whilst there, I noticed that the glass doors were warm to the touch, so I swung by earlier today with my clamp meter and discovered that the anti-sweat heaters in these doors each draw 240-watts !


There are seven heaters in all and they operate at full power, day and night, and so we're looking at 14,717 kWh a year in energy demand which translates to be just over $2,000.00 a year at current rates, not taking into consideration the added burden put on the refrigeration and a/c systems. With the client's permission, I disconnected these heaters and they will remain off permanently (in a humidity controlled environment they're not required, and so all of this electricity was being needlessly wasted). Thus, for a few minutes worth of effort and at no cost to our client, we'll save enough electricity to power over one thousand 13-watt CFLs an average of three hours per day (makes me want to dance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUQX2B67KL4).


Thanks Paul. Saw that in the breaking news section of one of the local dailies and thought that I would link to it here when it came out in the regular news section the next day. It never did AFAICT.

This minister is probably the Jamaican politician who most "gets" the energy situation. He was the recipient of a Peak Oil information packet that I put together back in 2008, with lots of links to documentaries and web sites and there is some evidence that he did look at some of the information.

It is definitely a good example for the government to set by looking for those negawatts and actually doing something rather than just wringing hands and whining about energy costs.

However it is odd that LED lighting is seen as such a big thing. Incandescent lighting is becoming increasingly rare in industrial, commercial and institutional buildings in Jamaica, as it is well established that fluorescent lighting results in very significant savings. What is obviously not well known at this point is that the energy savings achieved by switching from fluorescent to LED lighting are marginal at best.

Alan from the islands

Here's hoping this gentleman can continue to push matters in the right direction.

The swap-out of existing CFLs is puzzling indeed. I don't get it, but perhaps the replacements will be phased-in as these compact fluorescents approach end-of-life or they'll be redeployed elsewhere. It seems that CFLs can't get a break lately (e.g., www.thechronicleherald.ca/hcw/108208-mombourquette-fluorescent-bulbs-the...).

FWIW, all of our screw-in replacements are now LED. It's a more costly proposition, but there are other attributes that are important to us -- much longer service life which minimizes the risk of "snap back"; instant-on/full brightness upon start-up; they perform well at low temperatures (e.g., walk-in coolers/freezers); and they can be used in combination with occupancy sensors and in applications where they would be subject to frequent switching.


Well, the old joke is that every electronic component contains a little puff of smoke inside that keeps it working. When it escapes, the component fails. So it doesn't seem surprising for a CFL, I've had it happen (and to an expensive early Philips bulb I was trying just to see one, no less.) If it's just a little bit of that electrical smell, though, I make a quick try at tracking it down before panicking. Usually there's a thin stream of smoke and a bit of noise. Highly miniature components under high stress and subject to voltage spikes and surges will do that sometimes; one hopes the rest of the bulb (or wall wart, those do it too) lives up to its UL rating and the problem stops there. And although an LED itself runs on low voltage, the down-converter runs on the line voltage, so LED bulbs can't fully cure the problem. Best not to leave them on unattended, perhaps.

We haven't had any catastrophic failures with any of the CFLs that we've installed to date, thankfully (Philips or Osram Sylvania prior to this), but there have been occasional reports of CFLs sold in this country with invalid/falsified UL/CSA certifications (e.g., http://www.esasafe.com/pdf/Safety_Alerts/05-01-AL.pdf).

We've had a few LED lamps die on us but, again, nothing that has failed in spectacular fashion. We've probably installed a couple thousand in the past year and a half (Philips brand) and I'm guessing maybe a half dozen or so have gone dark on us, but with a five-year no-quibble manufacturer's warranty we simply swap them out at no charge.

I like Philips because I find the quality of their products to be exceptionally good, but what I like the most is that they have been tremendously supportive of us and our clients. If I have a problem, they're all over it and if a customer is unhappy for whatever reason, they'll do whatever it takes to make the situation right; in one memorable instance, they even supplied us with replacement lamps at no charge for ones that had been purchased from another manufacturer ! By comparison, our previous supplier was less than helpful and processing a warranty claim was a major PITA. Literally, one says "How many do you need? Oh, and take spares just in case" and the other "Fill out this form and we'll send it off to head office for approval -- give them four to six weeks". Am I biased? Does a bear do his business in the woods?


What is obviously not well known at this point is that the energy savings achieved by switching from fluorescent to LED lighting are marginal at best.

None of the LED bulbs I have purchased and am using in my house have yet failed (front porch light, rear porch light, aquarium lighting, my night stand bedside light, PC workstation task light).

I have certainly had a few CFLs burn out within the same time frame (but to be fair, just a few).

The LEDs I've installed -roughly 20 A19 screw ins, are all doing fine. They did replace CFLs (although a couple were on new features), and use maybe 50-75% of the power of the older CFLs. They do save energy, but against a CFL, the payback time is going to be several years, the few month payback they advertise is against incandescents. But, they are nice lights, and pretty trouble free. I still have some CFLs, in fixtures whose use is too low to justify replacement.

Clearly LEDs are improving rapidly. Less than a year ago, it was a major coup to find 360 lumen A19's at ten bucks, now I can run down to Lowes and buy 450lumen bulbs for the same price. But, so far I've nothing other than A19 40watt equivs, that aren't way too expensive. For instance at Lowes, I can buy 450 lumens for $10, but the 820 lumen bulb is $45! So there are big gaps in terms of decently priced products -go either above or below the 40watt equivalent point, and the price goes up a lot.

My local Home Depot has 800 lumen (roughly 60watt incandescent equiv) Philips LED bulbs (look like the L-prize shape) for about US$20 to US$25 dollars each.

Once a CFL burns out in a lamp in my daughter's room, I will have an excuse to replace it with the bright LED bulb.

Maine Public Radio was kind enough today to Air Richard Heinberg giving an 'End of Growth' talk.


NPR covers a pretty wide swath.. but it's a bit rare to get this far to the end of the spectrum.

(Their Mp3s and CD's are for sale to support the Non-profit News Org.. )

Solar Boom Heads to Japan Creating $9.6 Billion Market
(From articles at top of Drumbeat page)

The article is about a highly incentivized program to quickly replace three nuclear reactors worth of electricity generation.

This comment appears under the article. I can't reference it with a link, so I would like to quote it in its entirety here. I hear within it echos of the anti-renewables pogrom.

"Solar Power is the biggest mistake and nation or jurisdiction can endeavor to take on, in doing so shows governments that are in trouble or going to get in trouble.
I live in Ontario, Canada and we've taken on the our so called green energy act that is top heavy with solar power and wind mills. This so called renewable produces less than 1% of our power and is almost entirely responsible for bankrupting our Province and pushing power cost through the roof.
Our Province and Cities are kicking the elderly out of their homes because they can no longer pay the onerous bills for monthly electricity. This in a country where our neighbor province of Quebec will sell us hydro at 4 cents a killowatt hour.
Solar power is a scam, a fraud, and a sham. Don't buy into this.
Germany is now pulling away from solar power, Spain has downright abandoned solar permanently, the US is getting rid of solar, except in the desert, where it is only of limited use, to name a few.
This form of power is an enviromental joke and if nations and governments around the world cannot see that by now, well, I feel sorry for you.
There is a Global financial crisis, the last thing we need is a prosperity killer like solar or wind power. They only benefit the people who manufacture and run them. Governments that institute this like the Government of Ontario, Canada may be corrupt and mired in corruption. Our Ontario Government would sooner bankrupt 13 million Ontarians with solar power than change tack. Our Ontario government is highly corrupt and corruption is rife in our Province.
Don't let People tell you different, Solar power is like selling air conditioners in the Arctic. Solar power is a total unmitigated fraud."

Claiming the solar power in Ontario "is a scam, a fraud, and a sham", is not exactly irrational.

Look at the renewable FIT price schedule.


Off grid solar near the equator is great. On grid in sunny areas OK. On grid in Ontario, folly. I am strongly pro renewables, but don't think it makes any sense on grid in Canada at this point in time.

Send the panels to India or Indonesia if you want to help people, the climate, and the entire RE movement.

Comparing someone who doesn't want to pay what could be close to ten times higher energy prices to a pogrom is horribly ignorant.


That's exactly why I wanted to post the comment: I don't know enough about the Canadian situation in all of its detail to fairly evaluate it.

UPDATE 4-Ontario cuts green power rates, commits to targets
"The program... became a flashpoint in last year's provincial election... Conservatives campaigned on a promise to slash the program." Ahhh... so the solar program was highly politicized.

The fit.powerauthority link is from a year ago and does not reflect the lower rates spoken of above.

BI-WEEKLY FIT and microFIT REPORT June 11 2012
...Shows 51MW of solar in commercial operation.

Independent Electricity System Operator
...Shows 19,000MW demand for Ontario.

Is 51MW/19,000MW -or- 0.3% really driving up prices? And I imagine that 51MW is the nameplate rating, the claimed capacity of the total number of panels, not the actual power they are generating, especially at night.

Check out the spin in this article:
Ontario electricity rates going up

"But critics say the governing Liberals' expensive foray into wind and solar power is the main culprit behind higher hydro rates. Ontario pays up to 80.2 cents a kilowatt hour for small rooftop solar power and 13.5 cents per kWh for wind power. Ontario Power Generation, the government-owned utility, is paid 5.6 cents a kWh for nuclear power and between two cents and 3.5 cents per kWh for power from its hydro-electric facilities. Residential consumers pay between 6.2 cents and 10.8 cents a kWh."

O.K. ... The residential customers are paying about what the utility is paying for nuclear... but now the text screams the words of Conservative Leader Tim Hudak: "We're on the wrong path. We just can't afford to keep paying 10 times the price of power for wind and solar. It's hitting families hard in the pocketbook and it's chasing jobs out of the province,"

Energy Minister Chris Bentley said the rate increase mainly reflects the cost of upgrading Ontario's electricity system, not what the province pays for green power. "The reality is that very little of the price increase we see is as a result of the renewable energy approach."

Note further that the 80 cent number had been cut to 40 cents before this article was written... not that it would have made a difference... it just shows the level of desperation in the spin. Also, the wind power was previously charged at 13 cents, not the 80 cent number (which appears to be 70 cents in reality) rolled into the line "10 times the price of power for wind and solar". They did that because it's the wind that really scares 'em.

"Off grid solar near the equator is great." ...Seems to be doing fairly well in Germany.

To be fair, "I hear within it echos of the anti-renewables pogrom." is not a comparison made upon the person... it is recognizing bits of a familiar tune... and there is indeed an organized attack being waged on wind and solar. "horribly ignorant" shows how over-wrought the spin has become.

Yeah, perhaps it is a complete coincidence that everywhere that renewables are being legislated for electricity rates are high.
The supposed costs do not include the price for back up and the cost of mandated priority for wind and solar.
Since the real costs are huge above a very small percentage of supply, every conceivable distortion and outright lie is used to disguise that.
Germany has blown 135 billion Euros on solar, and it still only provides ~0.3% of it's total power needs.

Just think, they could provide 100% of their power from solar for only 45 trillion Euros!

This is a thread about Ontario. Back-up is a non-issue today at 50MW VS 19,000MW demand.


Solar provides 3% of the power in Germany. 3% is ten times the number you have provided without reference in your reply.


The solar installations are costing about 2 Euros per watt. There is 25GW installed accounting for 50 billion Euros... about 1/3 the unreferenced number in your reply. FoxNews will not count.

Solar PV provided 18 TWh (billion kilowatt-hours) of electricity in 2011 in Germany.

Solar PV is not your enemy. Wind is. Wind was making about 10% of the power used in California when I last checked today.

The 2 Euros price you reference is to nominal output.
Since the figures I quoted from Bloomberg give the price in Japan at 3 US dollars/watt that is 2.4 Euros/watt, not substantially different to that which you quoted, which incidentally eyeballing the chart looks more like 2.2 Euros/watt.

Your 3% of power in Germany from your own link is 3% of electricity, not the total power I referenced.

Here is one source for my 0.3% of total power:

The reason for the huge drop compared to the percentage of electricity is that the renewables fad has increased costs of electricity so hugely that at $0.30 US it is hardly used at all for things like heating, with lots of CO2 from the Russian natural gas and coal burnt instead.

That is one reason for the poor results of carbon reduction in Germany, which, together with it's renewables fad partner, Denmark, has some of the highest CO2 emissions in Europe per capita.

The reason for talking about Germany in a discussion about Ontario and solar power is that both have a very large peak of demand in the winter, not the summer, and Ontario in particular has very high snow fall in winter, not conducive to solar pv output.


"Germany's sunshine daydream"
Now, there's an unbiased source!

There is no point in responding to a revolving menu of rhetoric. Eventually, reasoned voices will fade away. That is how the well-funded right-wing noise machine works.

Read through r4ndom

“With current policies in place, global temperatures are set to increase 6 degrees Celsius, which has catastrophic implications,” IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said. “If as of 2017 there is not a start of a major wave of new and clean investments, the door to 2 degrees will be closed.”

"Ontario in particular has very high snow fall in winter, not conducive to solar pv output."

I visited family in South-Western Ontario recently, in what is referred to as the 'snow belt'. My uncle pointed out that they didn't get any snow this past winter.

We're blowing past the 'political consensus' threshold of 2 degrees for dangerous climate change and headed for six degrees of warming and you want to quibble about solar and other renewables?


The reason for talking about Germany in a discussion about Ontario and solar power is that both have a very large peak of demand in the winter, not the summer, and Ontario in particular has very high snow fall in winter, not conducive to solar pv output.

Ontario's twenty highest peaks to date have all occurred in June, July or August (source: http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/media/md_peaks.asp).

The highest summer peak is over 2,000 MW above that of the corresponding winter peak, i.e., 27,005 MW on August 1st, 2006 versus 24,979 MW, December 20th, 2004 (source: http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/media/md_demand.asp).

At one time, Ontario Hydro had a relatively large number of electric heat customers, but when the Darlington NGS was added to the rate base, the price of electricity started to escalate rapidly (8.6 per cent in 1991, 11.8 per cent in 1992 and 7.9 per cent in 1993) and people began switching to natural gas in droves. I remember coming across an internal Ontario Ministry of Energy document back in 1993 that estimated some 50,000 residential water heaters would be swapped out for gas units in that year alone.


Your comments are a littel bit "strange":

1) Germany uses ~1300 TWh p.a. for heating of buildings (+hot water). This can easily be reduced to 300 TWh simply by constructing new building with slightly better insulation than mandatory and by modernizing existing buildings. The 300 TWh can be supplied with heatpumps, i.e. we need 80 TWh electricity, 1/2 of this in winter (Dec.-Feb.), when PV delivers almost nothing.

Or, it is stupid to substitute energy if saving energy is more economic. So 1/3 of Germany's energy demand could easily be saved, if we include cars (combustion engine with 2/3 loss) even more.
Next question is, how much of the methane which goes into industry is actually used as chemical, this part would of course remain even if we have more nuclar power.

Therefore, if you want a credible discussion (which I doubt) you should start with a realistic demand, then check how much of this is equally distributed over time and how much is a real demand peak in winter. Therefore, your statement with 0.3% PV is useless and completely ignores some advantages of Germany on the demand side.

2) If you checked serious publications you would find that renewable energy for Germany requires at lot of wind turbines, here Germany is not on track (wind increase is lower than PV increase), the amount of PV is not the problem, we could absorb without any problems 5 GW p.a. for the next two decades.

3) If you understood the change of electricity prices in Germany, you would not claim that the reneable are the driving force, they "only" get the blame.

BTW I am pro nuclear energy but I am really pissed off by cheap anti-renewable propaganda, please work harder.

Ontario is drilling the world's largest diameter TBM tunnel - 14 meters - at Niagara Falls It is for their Sir Adam Beck hydro plant. Close to 2 GW.

The new tunnel will reduce tunnel friction > more power, and allow more water in when available (usually after the spring thaw when excess water is spilled over the falls today). This extra power is not going to be when Ontario needs it most - at night (when the flow over the falls is reduced) and in the spring.

Quite expensive, and it will last for centuries.

However, the capitalized cost for the extra hydro-power is going to be costly - but worth it. Especially when the bonds are paid off.

Best Hopes for Renewables,


PS: I think the wind price is justifiable - likely cheaper and dramatically lower risk than new nuke power, but not the solar power price.

Ontario currently has a slighter higher summer peak than winter peak, but more efficient air conditioners should reverse that. Wind + hydro is great for winter peak, MUCH better than nukes.

The trouble with Ontario is that it has only one Niagara Falls. The people got used to having cheap hydro from Niagara Falls and other convenient hydro sites, but once those were fully developed, it became much tougher because Ontario doesn't have much more hydro potential.

Their "Plan B" was nuclear power, but that really didn't pan out the way they wanted. The reactors were much less reliable than expected and fixing them cost the taxpayers a lot of money.

Now, having maxed out their hydro production and having been scared off by the cost of new nuclear reactors, they are pursuing other alternatives (wind, solar) that will demonstrably produce power at a much, much higher cost than they historically have paid. The government is taking the "ostrich" approach to this problem (stick your head in the sand and hope it goes away).

Now, the provinces east and west of Ontario - Quebec and Manitoba - have huge undeveloped hydroelectric potential which could be transmitted to Ontario. The barriers to this are mostly political. These provinces just don't want to sell their electricity to Ontario cheap, and Ontario just doesn't want to pay the price it will cost to bring the power in. Hence, Ontario's solutions are ones that clearly can't be done at a price people can afford, but look good in the glossy brochures.

Perhaps the point I was making was that the tunnel added additional renewable power - but mainly at less than ideal times (night and the spring) and at fairly high cost per MWh.

*BUT* because this power is "forever", I still think it was a good idea.

I would like to revisit the treaty that sets out how much water, and when, to let over Niagara Falls for the tourists.

"Daytime April 1st to October 31st - 100,000 cubic feet per second (2,800 m3/s) of water flowing over the falls, and during the night and off-tourist season there must be 50,000 cubic feet per second (1,400 m3/s)"

I see where the new tunnel will add 182 MW to Sir Adam Beck by taking water further upstream and less tunnel friction, giving a higher head. The other, older tunnels will also be used as well, but perhaps only during periods of higher flow.

The new tunnel is Can$1.6 billion.

Best Hopes for more Hydropower,


On the plus side, with mandatory TOU rates now in place for all residential customers, a portion of Ontario's daytime load will presumably shift to the off-peak hours, i.e., 19h00 to 07h00, weekdays. Real-time pricing would also encourage large commercial and industrial users to move some of their requirements to the overnight hours and electric vehicles could help out too.


Mandatory TOU metering? Wow. I'd like to see some utility try that in the USA. People would bitch & moan like crazy as if freedom had been killed.

According to the OEB, two-thirds of all residential and small business accounts had been converted as of this past August, and everyone else should be on-board by the end of next month. My general impression is that things went fairly smoothly (I think the biggest problem was access to seasonal cottages in some of the more remote parts of the province).


But how steep is the TOU variation. If peak hours are only modestly more expensive than night, then it's been shown people don't make any effort to shift usage. In many areas -especially with for profit utilities the people thing the company is out to screw them -so they'll fight TOU because they figure its a way for the utility to gouge them. Arguments such as the fact that the PUC's set their level of profit -so the utility can't get ahead by gouging some customers go over like an Osmium ballon (Osmium is the haviest element).
I suspect it might eventually catch on, via voluntary signups. Also industrial customers will run the math, and if it saves them they will spring for it. But residential and commercial I think will be a tough sell. Out here (California) the crazies are having a fit about smart meters. I don't think TOU will go over smoothly.

Lots of places in the US have TOU rates. Though I'd guess most are voluntary rather than mandatory. A friend of mine in northeastern Ohio has had TOU rates for 15 or 20 years at least. She used to turn on the dishwasher before going to bed each night. (Though I think the dishwasher she has now has a timer, which makes it even easier.)

As I recall, Ontario's peak rates are 1.8 times higher than off-peak. However, that's just the energy portion; T&D and all of the other ancillary charges remain the same so the impact is somewhat muted. Personally, I wish the incentive were greater.

Nova Scotia Power puts a little more bite into their TOU rates -- electricity consumed during peak times is priced at 16.435-cents per kWh and at off-peak it's 6.468-cents, whereas the standard domestic rate is 13.336-cents (all amounts all-inclusive). At the moment, NSP's TOU rates are only available to customers who heat with electric thermal storage systems but that could change over time, although, admittedly, that may be wishful thinking on my part.

NSP's large and extra-large commercial and industrial customers have the option to buy power via the utility's Real Time tariff (these customers must have a minimum demand of 2,000 KVA or 1.8 MW).

See: http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/aboutnspi/ratesandregulations/electricityr...

See also: http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/aboutnspi/ratesandregulations/electricityr...


The Bloomberg article is the usual complete trash when solar power is discussed:

'That may spur at least $9.6 billion in new installations with 3.2 gigawatts of capacity, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast. The total is about equal to the output of three atomic reactors.'

Oh not it is not equivalent to 3 reactors, assuming they are 1Gw.

You are going to average around 16% capacity in Japan. so the 9.6 billion will have bought you around half a Gw of capacity, at the fantastically expensive price of around $19 billion/Gw.

Solar pv is not the complete lunacy it is in Germany or Ontario,as I detail in a post below but it is a fantastically expensive way of providing power.

I agree that it's inappropriate to compare PV with nuclear on a 1:1 capacity basis. The better comparison would be with the cost of summer peaking systems, such as gas turbines powered by oil or LNG. At the latitude of Tokyo, a large fraction of the Summer peak A/C load could be satisfied with PV, though in Winter, the output would be lower. For Japan, which imports most of it's fossil fuel energy supply, any effort which reduces those imports may be a benefit, especially if it's "home grown", so to speak...

E. Swanson

And how much will the cleanup cost after Fukushima?
Can it even be cleaned up?
And how many people were displaced? 160,000
Who will pay? Tepco went belly-up. Tepco is on welfare.
And how long is the beautiful and productive land spoiled for? Forever, in human terms.
In human terms...
And where does the waste go? Where does it go Right Now?

19 billion dollars in power is 190 billion kilowatt-hours at 10 cents per KWh. That is 20 years of operating time for a 1GW cost-equivalent (because it supplies the above-claimed 16% of nameplate) solar source. Who cares. Who cares compared to the mistake it replaces.

Nuclear would be the ideal energy source to have had in-place for this exact moment in time. Humans are too stupid and twisted to be trusted with it. There is no future in it at this exact moment in time: there is only so much fuel for proven, shovel-ready designs.

Wind is even better. Storage is advancing everyday.

'And how much will the cleanup cost after Fukushima?
Can it even be cleaned up?'

According to Japanese figures, way less than the cost of switching to renewables even if such a thing were possible, which it is not with any known or prospective technology.

Renewables do not in fact have 'fossil fuel back-up' as anything we can remotely do relies on fossil fuels for 75% of power, even at outrageous costs.
That is why, as I said, Germany has some of the highest CO2 emissions in Europe per capita.
Coal bumps off around 1 million people per year, through air pollution alone.

That is not counting the other goodies it releases, such as arsenic, mercury etc in it's 10,000 times as voluminous waste.

If that waste were assessed on a linear no threshold model, which is assumed (incorrectly) for nuclear, the death toll would rocket.

The only reason the costs of clearing up Fukushima are so large is because they are going for a standard way lower than any which has been shown to cause harm as a background level.

There is no 'renewables solution'.
There is only a 'let's carry on burning fossil fuels, but put in some token eco-bling at huge cost in wildly unsuitable places, destroy the finances and comfort of the poor to pay for it, and carry right on burning massive amounts of fossil fuels.

Please note that if costs can be reduced then off grid in the tropics solar pv is a great resource.

I note that you are not actually conducting a debate, but preaching, as you entirely fail to respond to your clear incomprehension of your won links, but simply switch the grounds of debate.

I will leave you to your prejudices, which since they were based on data which you did not comprehend but when this is pointed out you refuse to rethink are clearly not based on reason, and so you can't be reasoned out of them.

DaveW wrote:

I note that you are not actually conducting a debate, but preaching, as you entirely fail to respond to your clear incomprehension of your won links, but simply switch the grounds of debate.

You also are simply asserting things as fact, which are not proven and which can be refuted. For example, space heating and hot water can be provided by solar thermal systems. Although such systems are usually sized to meet only a large fraction of the expected demand, larger systems or systems which include super insulation can meet all the demand. The problem is usually storage, which is relatively easy to do with thermal, as no chemical processes are required, but which adds to the total cost of the system. Or, if a smaller system with backup is required, other renewable sources, such as wood or wood pellets, may be incorporated in the design. That this can be done has been proven by numerous builders over the past 35 years, yet, your statements choose to ignore these facts.

Your blanket rejection of renewables either shows your ignorance of the technology or your strong bias toward nuclear power, IMHO...

E. Swanson

"That is why, as I said, Germany has some of the highest CO2 emissions in Europe per capita."

It might also be because Germany is Europe's biggest manufacturing economy per-capita.

'And how much will the cleanup cost after Fukushima?
Can it even be cleaned up?'

According to Japanese figures, way less than the cost of switching to renewables...

Shortly after the explosions and meltdowns, the early government estimates for clean-up were 13+ billion dollars.

More recent estimates are different. It forced the evacuation of 300,000 people and will cost as much as $250 billion to clean up, according to the Japan Center for Economic Research.
The figures are in trillions of Yen. One trillion Yen is something in the neighborhood of twelve billion Dollars.

Nuclear may already be more expensive than solar PV.
"Despite the disproportionately lower support historically, some analysts consider solar photovoltaic
(PV) energy to be competitive with nuclear new-build projects under current real-term prices. The late John O. Blackburn of Duke University calculated a “historic crossover” of solar and nuclear costs in 2010 in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Whereas “commercial-scale solar developers are already offering utilities electricity at 14 cents or less per kWh,” Blackburn estimated that a new nuclear plant (none of which is even under construction) would deliver power for 14–18 cents per kWh.
Page 36

Nuclear and wind are comparable:
"Nuclear power has been in commercial operation for more than 50 years, yet it continues to receive large direct and indirect subsidies, in part because electricity prices fail to reflect the full environmental costs, and because of government guarantees for the final storage or disposal of radioactive waste. In the United States, even though nuclear and wind technologies produced a comparable amount of energy during their first 15 years (2.6 billion kWh for nuclear versus 1.9 billion kWh for wind), the subsidy to nuclear outweighed that to wind by a factor of over 40
($39.4 billion versus $900 million)."
Page 35

Today in California, renewables supplied three times the energy that nuclear did. Wind alone out-did nuclear and solar matched it at one point. Renewables supplied 10% of the electrical power generation in California.

There is no 'renewables solution'.


Nuclear might have done better, but one of the operators, Edison, decided to destroy the functionality of two of its reactors, at the great expense of 640 million Dollars, while trying to hide facts from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Reviewing the conversation, the only figure remaining in dispute was the 3% of Germany's electrical power needs being met by solar. The link offered merely reiterated the 0.3% number. The link also proved to be the source of other conceded misinformation.
Your link:
Germany's Sunshine Daydream

The problem with the Japanese program (assuming I can take the article at face value -given the obvious inability of the author to notice the difference between peak and average power), is that it appears they are simply throwing money at (very) inefficient installers. They were quoting an average installation cost about two and a half times as high as the Germans are achieving, and simply making the FIT high enough that even the braindead can see owning a PV farm as a great investment. There needs to be great pressure to get installation costs way down.

I'm not sure how the Germans did it. They did have high FIT rates. But somehow that didn't just let inefficient installers scale up without reducing costs substantially. I would love to some Germans to write an article about how they have beat down PV installation costs (which are much higher elsewhere). This is the real area where substantial progress is needed.

Solar is a surprisingly good resource in Japan.
The reason for that is that the summer peak in demand is quite a bit higher than that in the winter, aside from being a lot further south with better solar resources than Germany, at least where most of the people live.
Here are the figures for peak summer and winter demand (fig 2-2):
The summer peak is around 20Gw higher than that in winter.

Here are the monthly insolation figures for Tokyo:

They range from 2.32 Kwh m2/day in December to 5.0 in May, a two for one variance, whereas Germany has a ten for one variance, and a much, much higher peak in winter than in summer.

This means that at least 20Gw of solar pv out of the peak load of 180 Gw could be installed without adverse effects on the baseload generation, which is the problem in Germany.

Several Japanese companies are producing batteries which will be able to cope for overnight low power, it is annual variance not diurnal which is the big hassle for solar.

Difficulties remain, cost for one, and the fact that land shortages in Japan mean that the arrays would have to go on rooftops, not in the more economical configuration of ground based 2-10Mw arrays, but solar pv can make a real contribution in Japan.

Japan has about a quarter of the world's pumped storage - 25.5 GW. Enough for a quite high renewable penetration.


The data you have provided seems to come from Wiki.
The immediate question then becomes:
An energy flow of 25.5GW for how long?

From the link here:

It appears that:
'In Japan, the total installed capacity of hydropower as of 1995 is 42,100 MW including 22,300 MW of pumped-storage. The number of power stations is about 1800. Total annual generation is 88.7 TWh including 13.3 TWh by pumped-storage.'

Dividing by 8760 we come out to an annual capacity of 1.5Gwe.

Presumably this level of actual output compared to the low rates is because they only have enough water stored to run at 25Gw for around half an hour.

The energy content of water or anything else coming from a height is remarkably low, so enormous quantities are needed to provide power.

The main obstacle to solar is of course it's stonking cost, from the above discussion on the Bloomberg link around $19 bn Gwe, before taking account of storage requirements.

Trying to provide a substantial fraction of power that way is a recipe for uncompetitive businesses, mass unemployment and de-industrialisation, as Germany is intent on.

Solar is far better than in Germany, but that is not really saying a lot.

The Japanese pumped storage should be more than adequate for the diurnal nature of solar, the "6 PM" secondary peak in demand, some cloudy days and the lower demand on weekends.

Japan can schedule some of their quite large NG combined cycle power plants when solar (+ wind) falls short. No new construction required.

This pumped storage was built to absorb surplus nuke power at 3 AM and weekends and generate through the primary peak demand (reducing the need for NG straight cycle turbine generation).

I VERY seriously doubt your "half hour/MW" calculation.

It can just as well absorb excess solar (above demand and baseload that is running on reduced output) at solar noon, excess wind when the winds are strong, and generate during the early morning and early evening secondary peak.

On weekends, turn off some of the combined cycle plants at 11 PM Friday and restart them Monday 5 AM (just like nukes in France) if weather forecasts look good. Use reduced baseload NG and coal over the weekends with more solar and pumped storage.

Best Hopes for Japanese Renewables,


I cannot think of a single pumped storage plant with ONLY a half hour's worth of water stored. Just from a capital POV, if a design has only so much water at such a height, size the plant (smaller is cheaper) to provide, at a minimum, 4 or 5 hours of power. Enough to be useful and get through most of the peak demand.

Most pumped storage plants have multiple turbines and most can run at part load (say 60+%) with good efficiency. Turn one on at 10:49 AM, another at 11:55 AM, a third at 1:38 PM and the last one at 2:41 PM for summer peak. And start turning them off around 4 PM. That would be a fairly normal pumped storage daily generating cycle.

To reduce tunnel friction losses, only three of the turbines would be used for pumping water up - but the base load recharge time is typically longer than peak demand.

For one quarter of the world's pumped storage to have such minimal AVERAGE capacity - that "just cannot be".


Only the UK could use such a pumped storage plant. Turn on when BBC 1 program goes off, power electric tea kettles for 5 minutes, then turn off :-) Repeat after each popular program.

"The Japanese pumped storage should be more than adequate for the diurnal nature of solar"

Average annual Japanese electric load is 122 GWe. Pumped storage capacity per above is 22 GWe.

I was not talking about 100% solar - just enough solar PLUS wind PLUS geothermal to turn off their nukes permanently, plus some additional power.

And I think it is 25.5 GW of pumped storage. And I will have to check your numbers - is that average or peak, and pre-nuclear melt down or post ?


IEA has Japan's generation at 1075 TWh in 2008, i.e. 122.7 GWe
http://www.iea.org/textbase/nppdf/free/2010/key_stats_2010.pdf, page 29

The EIA statistics include "Energy Industry Own Use" 62.2 TWh in 2009, plus T&T losses (significantly less with solar - also hopefully Japan will move to "metal glass" transformers as a way to reduce transforming losses).

Nukes & FF spend a fir amount of energy pumping water around. Solar and wind have no significant "plant losses" (I do not think solar PV inverter losses are included in these calcs).


Still, we are arguing about "second order" numbers.

With combined cycle NG, some coal, much enlarged solar PV, wind & geothermal generation plus p25.5 GW of umped storage, Japan can manage just fine without nukes.


Average annual Japanese electric load is 122 GWe. Pumped storage capacity per above is 22 GWe.

I checked and 2009 generation was 956.5 TWh. Divide by 24 & 365 and I get 109 GW AVERAGE demand. However, solar produces during what is normally peak demand, so the fraction supplied by hydro (about 100 TWh/year), a much expanded wind and geothermal production plus NG combined cycle and 25.5 GW of pumped storage should work well for a non-nuclear Japan at night and on cloudy days.

Japan can afford to install enough solar PV to take the bulk of demand at peak with a surplus for pumped storage.

The Japanese are wasting far less power today - so they can live decently on, say, 800 TWh. This implies an average load of 91 G. Which makes the above even more reasonable.


The southern two islands seem to have quite good solar potential. As for up north;


if the monster link does not work, just google 'hokkaido wind map'.

It's an island in the Roaring Forties. If they can keep the blades on the turbines they will have power.

The Roaring Forties are in the Southern Hemisphere.

Roaring Forties

The Roaring Forties is the name given to strong westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, generally between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees. Air displaced from the Equator towards the South Pole, which travels close to the surface between the latitudes of 30 and 60 degrees south, combines with the earth's rotation to cause west-to-east air currents. Because there is little land below the 40th parallel, greater wind speeds are able to build than in the same region of the Northern Hemisphere.

If the Japanese islands were in the Southern Hemisphere they would indeed experience very high and consistent wind velocities, but in the Northern Hemisphere, not so much.

If you want to build a wind farm on an island in the Roaring Forties, you need to go to Tasmania.

Roaring forties

The Roaring Forties bring wild winds, wet weather and cold temperatures to Tasmania and southern Australia. The bane of sailors since Cook first circumnavigated Antarctica, these mighty winds influence everything from delicate native rainforest rodents to parrots and penguins.

If you've spent time on the west coast of Tasmania you'll know that the prevailing wind is westerly. And how. Stretching from latitudes 40-44 degrees South, Tasmania lies smack bang in the path of the roaring forties - westerly winds that rip around the Earth in latitudes between 40 and 50 degrees.

However, in addition to a couple of wind farms, Tasmania has about 29 hydroelectric power plants, so the wind power is a bit redundant.

Grim job prospects could scar today's college graduates

The grads of 2012 entered college as Wall Street crashed in September 2008, sending their elders flailing for remedies and scapegoats. They were part of the "baby on board" generation, born in '90s affluence and often hyper-protected through adolescence in a security-conscious, post-9/11 world. Now they face an economic reality few saw coming. Some say the growing up will be fast.

"We have prepared the path for the child instead of the child for the path," says Tim Elmore, an author and lecturer who specializes in the development of young adults. "We have paved the way, but now there are unpaved roads out there that are rocky and dirty."

The article suggests that today's young adults will be like those who came of age during the Great Depression.

Now they face an economic reality few saw coming.

The few are peak oilists.

Straight into my first job I saw the 08 disaster first hand, my company slashed 20% of it's workforce and cut salaries by 10% for everyone. Many freshers also got a rude shock when their joining dates were deferred by almost a year. I was saved because I was on a live project, I don't take job security for granted nowadays. Save as much as I can, of course TOD has helped as well.

My father says I am extremely lucky, jobs straight out of college were very rare 30-40 years ago in India.

wi - And sometimes it's better to be lucky then smart. In 1970 when I decided to major in Earth Science the professors explained there really wasn't much of a career future in geology at that time. In fact many of them had been laid off in the oil patch bust in the early 60's and went back to school to get their PhD's because there wasn't anything else to do. I didn't care because I was young, foolish and liked rocks. LOL. But when I got out of grad school in 1975 the situation was in the process of significant change. And lots of folks jumped to geology in the late 70's to take advantage. But then came the next bust. By the time they were graduating in the 80's couldn't even get an interview let alone a job. And when I wasn't consulting a few days a month I was driving a Yellow Cab around Houston. And now things are great. Until the next bust, of course.

......jobs straight out of college were very rare 30-40 years ago in India.

Not for engineering graduates. That is why my generation grew up with only 2 realistic choices for a career: engineering or medicine.

UK cyclists take different paths

The Cycling Cultures study looked at attitudes to cycling in four different English city locations – Bristol, Cambridge, Hull, and Hackney in London – and found striking contrasts. Although these locations have cycle-to-work rates that are at least twice the UK average (2.8 per cent), this was not especially high compared to European standards. For example, ten per cent of all trips are cycled in Germany with even more (25 per cent) in the Netherlands.

Both Hull and Cambridge were chosen because of their traditional cycling cultures. In these cities, cycling is seen as an everyday activity that people choose because it makes sense for their journey; or because in the past they did not have other options. In Cambridge, cycling is considered 'normal', with people of all ages and abilities taking part; while in Hull cycling is associated more with the city's past, when few people could afford cars, than with its present.

In contrast, cycling has become popular in Bristol and Hackney more recently. In Bristol there are bike festivals and parades, while Hackney has seen the greatest rise in cycling rates over the last decade of any London borough. In these locations, cycling has more the character of a subculture with its own fashions and events. One Hackney participant commented, "It's purely a fashionable thing isn't it, it's become trendy to cycle".

… "We saw the most Lycra and helmets in Bristol, and the least in Cambridge", says Dr Aldred, adding "Worrying about what to wear on the bike can act as a barrier to cycling".

Worrying about what to wear on the bike can act as a barrier to cycling.

Oh, for heaven's sake, the things Brits and Europeans do flutter and twitter on about to no end! But really, it's so ridiculously easy to fix. They simply need to become more like the American tourists they make such sport of, and stop worrying so d*mn much about what they're wearing, LOL. Especially since most of them will be riding just a few blocks anyhow. (Actually, my college gym teacher was somewhat emphatic about wearing clothing suited to some sports, so I would likely pay more attention for, say, 15 or 30 km. But not to worry about that: it would get a fair number of Europeans straight into the next country after all, LOL again.)

I generally wear clothes whilst bicycling, but that's just me. I suppose I could worry about them, but I'm not sure why I would.

In the middle of the summer, some - particularly women - wear very little while bicycling in New Orleans.

There are SOME advantages to our weather.


It's as much about attitude as it is about weather. The Solstice Cyclists in the Fremont (Seattle) Solstice parade wear only paint.

Feds say design flaw led to US nuke plant woes

Federal regulators said Monday that a botched computer analysis resulted in design flaws that are largely to blame for unprecedented wear in steam tubes at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, but it isn't clear how the problems can be fixed.

Greg Werner, who headed the federal team, said a Mitsubishi computer analysis vastly misjudged how water and steam would flow in the reactors. Also, changes intended to improve manufacturing were never thoroughly reviewed in the context of the generator design, resulting in weaker support around bundles of tubes that contributed to vibration, he said.

I'm guessing they went with a different system in attempts to increase power output. Boy did that back-fire on them. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Offhand I would say the broached tube supports were chosen over the egg-crate design because it was cheaper.


"By claiming that the steam generator replacements were a like-for-like design and fabrication, Edison avoided the more rigorous license amendment process."

We call that process MOC, for management of change. To do something in a "covered process" with a simple work-order, and avoid the PSI checklist, the Non-PSI checklist, the PHA selection form, the design safety review, the mechanical integrity checklist, the prestart-up safety review (best abbreviation in the bunch, PSSR, fill in the vowels of your choice), the field walk through, and the go-nogo checklist, you have to do a like-for-like change, which is very strictly defined.

And I work at a chemical plant covered by OSHA, not a nuclear power plant. I suspect if they said they were going to do a like-for-like, and then didn't, someone's career termination light is blinking, and quite probably going to go permanently on very soon, if it hasn't done it already. Our program is supposed to be a "streamlined" version of what they do.

The broached design comes from another heat-exchanger that Mitsubishi worked on once... as does the simulation software.

The fact that it was an extensive redesign was hidden from the NRC.

To add the extra 400 tubes, a central support column was removed. This column returned the load from the tube support sheet to the domed end of the outer housing. In effect, the reactor's operator, Edison, decided they could make a 2000 pound-per-square-inch pressure vessel with a flat-sheet end. The vessel is thirteen feet in diameter. That is 12,168,000 pounds of force trying to deform the tube-sheet which is pierced with nearly 19,000 holes accommodating 9000+ tubes... so they could add 4% more heat exchange area... nothing. This isn't the direct cause of the tube failures... it just shows the kind of license Edison took with the original design of the nuclear pressurized water reactor system heat-exchangers.

A big man could stand-up within the "Stay Cylinder" support column that was removed.

Replacing the heat exchangers might take Edison approximately four years and cost in excess of $800,000,000, not including replacement power while the Units remain shut down.

Quote: The fact that it was an extensive redesign was hidden from the NRC.


I heard the most watered-down report imaginable on NPR today. The take-away was 'The whole plant was shut down because of one itsy-bitsy harmless little leak caused by Mitsubishi'.

Palm oil for India 'destroying Indonesian forests'

Surging demand for palm oil in India for cooking and everyday grocery items is driving tropical forest destruction in Indonesia, Greenpeace said Tuesday.

Booming India is the world's hungriest nation for palm oil, consuming almost 7.4 million tonnes last year, or 15 percent of global production, almost all of it imported, US Foreign Agricultural Service data show.

Of that amount, 5.8 million tonnes is imported from Indonesian companies, many of which Greenpeace claims are illegally clearing carbon-rich peatland.

Democratic Unfreedom - Social Technique and the Manufacture of Control

As elite establishment political figure Henry Kissinger remarked in 1970, "Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people."


Nissan and Nichicon team up to use Leaf battery to power home

Recently Nissan announced its “Leaf to Home” technology, which is a device that attaches to a Nissan Leaf electric automobile allowing power to move both to the car’s battery and from it. Now Nichicon Corporation is announcing that it has built a device in partnership with Nissan, called the "EV Power Station" that takes power from the “Leaf to Home” device and makes it available to the home’s power system. In addition, it also serves as a charger for the Leaf, reducing the time it takes to charge the car’s battery from eight hours to just four.

Initially the dual system technology will only be sold to customers in Japan, where electricity prices have begun to climb in the wake of a nationwide shutdown of nuclear power plants following the Fukushima plant disaster last year. Particularly noticeable is the huge difference in electricity costs during different time periods, leading many Japanese electronics companies to develop and sell devices that are capable of taking advantage of lower price times.

The company also points out that due to the same electrical supply issues, residential customers have had to endure more blackouts and brownouts than they have in the past. The new system they say, could be a tremendous help in such situations as they say the Leaf when fully charged, is capable of supplying up to two full days of power to a house using a typical amount of electricity.

8 Awesome Gadgets — For When You’re Living in a Van, Down by the River

For decades, we used our cars’ cigarette lighters to actually light cigarettes. ... But have you looked at what can be plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter lately? The options are amazing -- ... in a pinch, you could use your vehicle’s cigarette lighter to power the amenities of a happy (albeit cramped and slightly downmarket) home.

The idea is very fun.

$4,000 after subsidies

The EV industry has some interesting quirks. The charging cable and connector shown, alone, can cost $5,000. The software tools and ability to make contact with the car's on-board system through that cable costs developers $25,000. This is from a friend in the biz.

Carbon scheme in danger of going up in smoke

... there is no bipartisan support for carbon pricing, resulting in continued policy uncertainty. The opposition parties now reject carbon pricing, and their leader has pledged to repeal the legislation if and when in power. The issue of carbon pricing has been turned into such a political touchstone that substantial change or repeal is a distinct possibility after the next election, which is due by late 2013.

Generator Man

As Iraq's national power grid struggles to provide electricity, a new form of entrepreneur has started to fill the gap.

Nine years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's national grid struggles to provide more than six hours of electricity a day - so a new form of entrepreneur has sprung up, the 'Generator Man'.

For a price, he will fill the gap.

Hadi is a 'Generator Man', who owns two generators but finds that being on call for hundreds of people, all desperate for power, means that his life is no longer his own.

Witness follows him as he wanders the backstreets of Baghdad to talk to some of his customers for whom power - or the lack of it - has become the most important fact in their day-to-day-lives.

Of the many ironies of post-conflict Iraq this is perhaps the starkest: Iraq is swimming in oil, which generates revenues of nearly $2bn a week, but Baghdad's 7,216,040 million people are reliant on private generators. And the private generator is a luxury most people cannot afford. Fuel prices are too high for many and the poorest are literally living in the dark.

This is a rather sad situation as well as being an ironic one - portable gasoline generators are not good from the perspectives of either efficiency or air pollution.

I have long maintained that a component of the US strategy for occupation after a quick military victory over the various countries where we've conducted operations should be to get the electricity on 24/7 as soon as possible. Roll in the electricians, the generators, and the fuel, whatever it takes, but get reliable power up. Now that's something that will win hearts and minds...

I think it was tried. But, between sabotage and copper thieves, it was almost an impossible task. A shared a plane seat with an electrical contractor coming back from Iraq, and got the lowdown. Even that early on the rules of engagement with regard to protecting contractors had become a huge issue with the local population. They would drive as fast as possible, and not slow for anything (like a kid in the street) because maybe it was an ambush. Once you reach that level of hostility between occupier and population its hard to imagine getting anything to work out.

NSA: It Would Violate Your Privacy to Say if We Spied on You

The surveillance experts at the National Security Agency won’t tell two powerful United States Senators how many Americans have had their communications picked up by the agency as part of its sweeping new counterterrorism powers. The reason: it would violate your privacy to say so.

That claim comes in a short letter sent Monday to civil libertarian Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. The two members of the Senate’s intelligence oversight committee asked the NSA a simple question last month: under the broad powers granted in 2008′s expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, how many persons inside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA?

In a letter acquired by Danger Room, McCullough told the senators that the NSA inspector general “and NSA leadership agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons,” McCullough wrote.

They must be really busy spying, too. No time to figure out how many they're spying on...

What’s more, McCullough argued, giving such a figure of how many Americans were spied on was “beyond the capacity” of the NSA’s in-house watchdog — and to rectify it would require “imped[ing]” the very spy missions that concern Wyden and Udall.


"Fear that some drones may be armed has been fueled in part by a county sheriff's office in Texas that used a homeland security grant to buy a $300,000, 50-pound ShadowHawk helicopter drone for its SWAT team. The drone can be equipped with a 40mm grenade launcher and a 12-gauge shotgun...

Earlier this year Congress, under pressure from the Defense Department and the drone manufacturers, ordered the FAA to give drones greater access to civilian airspace by 2015. Besides the military, the mandate applies to drones operated by the private sector and civilian government agencies, including federal, state and local law enforcement....

Even if the FAA were to establish privacy rules, it's primarily a safety agency and wouldn't have the expertise or regulatory structure to enforce them, civil liberties advocates said. But no other government agency is addressing the issue, either, they said."

Other ways:

"why hospitals test infants for marijuana exposure in the first place is not entirely clear. Twelve U.S. states designate prenatal exposure to any illegal drug as child abuse; however, there is no scientific evidence that connects marijuana-smoking by a parent with abuse."


I'm long past child rearing, quit alcohol decades ago, never did see the sense in dope, don't smoke tobacco, but the privacy invasion, and rationale, upset me none the less.

US Hospitals test infants for marijuana exposure?

Does this mean that parents of newborns will have to stop using hemp diapers for them? Will using hemp diapers because of their better absorbency be considered child abuse?

Fitted Hemp Organic One-Size Cloth Diapers

Our Hemp/Organic Cotton Cloth Diapers are easy to use, easy to wash and are a favorite for use with newborns because of their custom, leak-proof fit. With no built in closures you are not limited to snap placement with adjusting this cloth diaper, and there is no velcro to get stuck on clothing when in the wash. These are a fabulous, absorbent diaper...our favorite for nighttime use. Pair with an Aristocrats Wool Diaper Cover for a virtually leak-proof combination on a newborn.

Carbon is key for getting algae to pump out more oil

Overturning two long-held misconceptions about oil production in algae, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory show that ramping up the microbes’ overall metabolism by feeding them more carbon increases oil production as the organisms continue to grow. The findings — published online in the journal Plant and Cell Physiology on May 28, 2012 — may point to new ways to turn photosynthetic green algae into tiny “green factories” for producing raw materials for alternative fuels.

Does anyone know which company does Saudi Arabia's desalination plants?


Alot of talk on germany, here's more
(at least it's a live experiment that should provide hard data)

The Great German Energy Experiment
Germany has decided to pursue ambitious greenhouse-gas reductions—while closing down its nuclear plants. Can a heavily industrialized country power its economy with wind turbines and solar panels?


I think Germany got blind-sided by a plunge in PV panel prices while they had an existing overly-generous FIT program. What was intended as a program to slowly build up the PV industry and add some renewable power to the grid suddenly became a "free government money" boondoggle:

The profits from those turbines are modest next to what he stands to make on solar panels. In 2005 Leurs learned that the government was requiring the local utility to pay high prices for rooftop solar power. He took out loans, and in stages over the next seven years, he covered his piggery, barn, and house with solar panels—never mind that the skies are often gray and his roofs aren't all optimally oriented. From the resulting 690-kilowatt installation he now collects $280,000 a year, and he expects over $2 million in profits after he pays off his loans.

I don't think that is at all the result that they intended. A lesson to be learned here is that governments need to monitor these incentive programs carefully and make adjustments as needed. California's PV program (CSI)was well designed and had subsidies that decreased over time. Probably with a lot of luck, it actually worked really well in that the subsidies trailed down to near nothing now as PV prices dropped.

Of course, the annoying thing is that many conservative pundits then came out with a lot of completely misleading articles saying "Germany turns away from solar! It is a big failure!" when the truth is the opposite . . . the programs were hugely successful in creating a mass market such that PV prices were driven down so low that big subsidies were no longer needed.

Of course, the annoying thing is that many conservative pundits then came out with a lot of completely misleading articles saying "Germany turns away from solar! It is a big failure!"
when the truth is the opposite . . . the programs were hugely successful in creating a mass market such that PV prices were driven down so low that big subsidies were no longer needed.

This is the problem with corporate capture of governance, regulation, and media. It is interesting that corporate goals cannot be reached by dealing in truth.

For all the recent talk here about renewables ruining our electricity grid and being un-integrate-able, take this:

"Smarter Grid Linking Solar Panels May Bypass Utilities"

From: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/06/smarter-gri...

"In the face of transformative change, electric utilities face a lackluster future. They will lose usage and customers to renewable solutions, and they already have. But they might have a significant opportunity in a related area — the management of the information network linking millions of distributed generation points. The smarts of such a network — monitoring, tracking, billing, customer service, customization, reliability, peak administration, and storage optimization — may be the core competence of future utilities. Such an information network might be an independent overlay on today’s grid.

It might lead to an alternate or smarter grid managing millions of customers and their rooftop generation and usage. The convergence of mobile telephony and solar generation, or the ability to track generation on the Internet via connected solar inverters, are evidence of new intelligent network applications. In any case, the utility of the future is more of an information company and less a generation, transmission, and distribution company. "

It's already happening. The IT guys are already running the show, and the newer engineers are more comfortable with information networks than 3 phase power - at least where the utilities still employ engineers. Mostly they contract that stuff out to consultants now.

So rest easy, the future is bright and all our virtual power from our virtual renewables will be distributed over a virtual power system implemented in the cloud. And here you thought Sim City was a game.

Black Day at Motiva: Largest US Refinery may shut its giant new unit for months

In a stunning revelation, the operators of the largest US refinery announced that its new heavy crude distillation unit may be shut for up to a year. The unit was the key part of a $10 billion renovation and expansion that was recently completed at the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas.

Operators of the plant have discovered “extensive” corrosion in the piping and vessels, but the root cause of the corrosion has not yet been determined.

Saudi Arabia, 50% owner of the plant, had shipped huge supplies of heavy Saudi crude earlier in the year so that Motiva's operations could quickly go into high gear. The Saudi owned shipper ‘Vela’ had commissioned an unusual number of tankers in March and April to transport the oil from Saudi Arabia to the US.

Shipping sources stated today that oil exports out of Saudi Arabia to the US may temporarily fall sharply, as it is not clear if the Saudi oil already in inventory near Motiva can be quickly used.

New Motiva Texas CDU might be shut for 12 mos-sources

Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:38am IST

* No final decision on how long crude unit will be idle -sources

* Motiva has said no timeline for CDU's return

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON, June 19 (Reuters) - A new giant crude distillation unit at Motiva Enterprises' 600,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, the nation's largest, may be shut for up to 12 months to repair extensive corrosion, sources familiar with refinery operations said on Tuesday.

Motiva, a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Aramco, has yet to make a final determination of the cause of the corrosion on the 325,000 bpd crude distillation unit (CDU) and the scope of work needed to repair it, the sources said.


Holy mackerel.

Got a problem? Throw money at it, maybe it will go away.

It will be interesting to see if the corrosion is a process, material specification or a supplier problem.

This sounds like the "Wall of Oil" that Saudi Arabia was sending to the U.S.

Saudi Arabia Aims to Deliver "Wall of Oil" to US; Oil Minister Says "High Oil Prices Unjustified" ; Highest March Price in History; Republicans Say Obama Not Doing Enough
Wall of Supertankers Heads For US

March 20, 2012

In a matter of days, Saudi Arabia has hired the largest number of super-tankers in years.
40-day voyage towards the US Gulf coast

Last week, Vela, the shipping arm of Saudi Aramco, hired over a few days 11 so-called very large crude oil carriers, each capable of shipping 2m barrels, to deliver to US-based refiners. “In 2011, Vela fixed one VLCC to the US every other month,”

Weird. What are we gonna do with all that oil? We can't afford it. We'll just refine it and sell it go South America.

This raises an interesting legal question which was recently discussed here. Does the oil belong to the the refiners, or once it is imported into the US, can it be exported again?

I don't think it will be exported even if allowable, because there are not many world refineries that are equipped for this type of heavy, sour crude.

However I do think if the Motiva refinery was running normally that oil products would mostly be shipped not only to Latin America, but also possibly back to Saudi Arabia - although in regards to KSA I have no specific information something like that was actually planned.

Does the oil belong to the the refiners, or once it is imported into the US, can it be exported again?

The oil is owned by Saudi Aramco, which is to say it is owned by the government of Saudi Arabia. I think that if the US tried to block it from being re-exported, there would be diplomatic consequences of an unpleasant nature.

The US really does its best to avoid unpleasant diplomatic disagreements with Saudi Arabia, so most likely it would take the POV that the oil is exempt from restrictions.

However, it is questionable where else the Saudis could send the oil to be processed.

Just downstream from New Orleans are two refineries designed for Venezuelan heavy crude. And they are hurting for feedstock.

Barge it over on the Intercoastal Canal.


Good points, rockymtnguy and alanfrombigeasy, as usual.

My opinion on the related issue of oil coming by pipeline from the Canada and Mexico is that trade pacts and even the US law (I posted the other day) allows the export of that oil.

However I doubt that will happen before Canada ships even more oil to the US, possibly after controversial Keystone XL pipeline is complete.

Charles - I don't think there's any question as to the ability to export that oil out. But I also can't imagine any scenario where it would make economic sense to ship it to Port Arthur, unload it and then reload it onto another tanker to ship it to another country. As far as its products being export: currently it's legal to export products made from US produced oil so unless the law is changed there shouldn't be a restriction exporting Motiva products regardless of the oil source.

Oops. Hope it's not something so simple as not drying the pipes following a hydrotest. Or using carbon steel where stainless was called for. Or cathodic protection failures.

Here is an update, but it doesn't shed more light on how the corrosion occurred in the first place. Any more guesses?

The problems have been costly for the Motiva partners. Based on margins for running international benchmark Brent crude through a Gulf Coast refinery, the plant would have lost about $1.54 million per day, based on Reuters calculations. Losses could be even higher as the Motiva plant was designed to run cheaper, heavier sour crude, including oil from Saudi Arabia.

Heavy, sour crude is more corrosive due to a higher sulfur content and refinery units designed to run those crude grades are supposed to withstand the corrosion for years.


Where is the crude coming from? Could it be Manifa vanadium, and Joules is wrong; it's even worse than it appears?
Manifa Oil: Malodorous, But Really Not That Bad

Rat in a drain ditch
Out on a limb...

Meaning behind the song "he's gone"
With unpublished words...

Implying chicanery. But, wouldn't the chemistry be checked first before running it into the refinery?

The meaning behind many songs


Killings of environmentalists appear on rise; conflict over shrinking resources intensifies

"Targeted assassinations, disappearances followed by confirmed deaths, deaths in custody and during clashes with security forces are being reported. The killers are often soldiers, police or private security guards acting on behalf of businesses or governments. Credible investigations are rare; convictions more so."

This is the problem with corporate capture of politicians, police, and courts. It is interesting that corporate goals cannot be reached by dealing in life.

The photo is a slide-show.