Drumbeat: June 29, 2012

Coal: The Ignored Juggernaut

Given the rather weak near-term and long-term outlook for US coal demand, it’s not surprising that within such a capital-intensive business, a number of smaller coal producers were hit recently with bankruptcy rumors. Indeed, even large cap names like Arch Coal have seen an escalation of concern over debt levels. Accordingly, many have concluded that coal -- in an era of solar, wind, and natural gas -- has finally displaced itself due to its problematic extraction, distant transportation, and overall costs. Is coal finally going away as an energy source?

Not a chance.

Indeed, everything currently unfolding for coal in the United States is precisely what is not unfolding for coal globally. Prices to import natural gas to most countries via LNG remain sky-high, easily protecting coal’s cost advantage. And the demand for coal in the developing world remains gargantuan. Accordingly, just as with oil, lower US demand simply frees up supply to elsewhere in the world.

The global coal juggernaut rolls onward.

(This is the site formerly known as ChrisMartenson.com)

Oil Rises From Nine-Month Low on Supply, Europe Measures

Oil rebounded from the lowest close in almost nine months in New York on speculation that European measures aimed at fighting the region’s debt crisis will spur demand for fuel.

Crude increased as much as 3.2 percent, trimming the biggest quarterly decline since the final three months of 2008. Oil gained after euro-area leaders agreed to relax conditions on emergency loans for Spanish banks and possible help for Italy. Prices may advance after the European Union’s ban on the purchase, transport, financing and insurance of Iranian crude starts on July 1, a Bloomberg survey showed. Norway’s first industrywide energy strike since 2004 is in its sixth day.

Peak oil; prices that is

In another sign that we are seeing a major shift in the fundamentals of the U.S. oil market, yesterday’s Energy Information Administration weekly Petroleum Status report provided more evidence for my prediction that U.S. gasoline prices may have peaked forever or for a very long time. Refiners just rocked an abundance of relatively cheap crude supply and drove refinery runs to 92.6% the highest level since July of 2007. For those of you keeping score that is before that financial crisis really began to break and gas demand in the United States was near record highs. The reason for the surge in runs is because of booming U.S. and Canadian oil production.

The Biggest Fraud in Economics

The Wall Street Journal tells us that the US will not import a single barrel of oil from the Middle East by 2035.

Hey, wait a minute. Wasn't that supposed to be why we're spending trillions on wars in Middle East...to keep vital supplies of black goo headed our way?

Our energy future? 'Too Much Magic & Wishful Thinking'

There is a new book out this summer called, 'Too Much Magic, Wishful Thinking, Technology And The Fate Of The Nation' by James Howard Kunstler. The book deals with American’s core belief technology can solve all our problems and how this is at odds with the future of energy supplies. Kunstler, a believer in Peak Oil and Peak Capital, writes that our industrial society as we know it is about to undergo significant and radical reorganization due to the end of cheap and abundant oil and an upcoming lack of capital needed to maintain our standard of living.

His views are not a popular or a welcomed position in America today. Given how gritty his message is, it’s a good bet Kunstler will not be a New York Times Bestseller #1 non-fiction author anytime soon. But his views about the future appear more and more to being validated by current events.

3 Ways to Profit From Falling Oil Prices

"There's no question that the earth is going to run out of oil within the next 10 years", read the Peak Oil investment pitch that came across my desk. Citing a variety of scientists and academics, it appeared that these guys really did their homework when preparing the presentation. It painted a downright frightening picture of a world without oil and, frankly, was quite compelling. The fund was promoting a strategy of buying oil call options that were expected to make investors wealthy with just a small investment -- that is, if the Peak Oil premise was correct.

The claims seemed outrageous to me, but I decided to take a closer look at the concept before dismissing these guys as kooks.

Look At The Conflicts That Were And Will Be Caused By Oil [Presentation]

Michael T. Klare recently gave a presentation titled "The Geopolitics of Oil: Old and New" at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil conference in Vienna, in which he speaks about how no other substance in the world is as closely aligned with geopolitics as oil is.

Klare describes the geopolitics of oil — the intersection of state policy and the pursuit of oil — over the past 100 years, then looks at current and future conflicts zones.

Peak Oil Is Simply Not A Threat Anymore

In March, Citi published a report titled “North America, the New Middle East?”

The striking thing about the research is that not only is the global demand growth for oil slows amid a struggling economy in the developed world, but also that oil production in the North America has increased, and will be increasing, rather substantially in the coming decade.

Good News In The Global Economy

Global population continues its sprint towards 9 Billion people (currently around 6.8 Billion). Peak Oil is upon us. The technology of chaos- Kalishnikovs, shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, internet viruses- continues to spread ever wider. Meanwhile, developed nations are crushed by a mountain of public and private debt while their income-generating capacity has been damaged by a flood of low-cost competitors and local market overcapacity.

It is easy to be pessimistic about the future, about western companies, about western banks, even human civilization in general.

But the real story is this- while a minority of mankind has been stuck near status quo for forty years, a majority has made significant gains, especially in the past twenty years. The anemic growth rates (some even negative) in the West have been met by double-digit growth rates in China and strong growth rates in the rest of the developing world- even sub-Saharan Africa. Global growth in the midst of financial turmoil remains relatively strong at over 3%.

Raymond J. Learsy: Harvard's Amazing Study Questions Today's High Oil Prices

In 2007, my post "Peak Oil is Snake Oil" was met with much derision from peak oil theorists. Yet this month the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center published an amazing paper titled "Oil: The Next Revolution -- The Unprecedented Upsurge Of Oil Production Capacity And What It Means For The World," by Leonardo Maugeri, under the auspices of 'The Geopolitics of Energy Project." The paper is a must-read for all who have an interest, or a stake, in all matters energy and oil -- and the issues derived therefrom.

Canada April Economic Growth Accelerates to 0.3% on Oil

Canada’s gross domestic product accelerated in April as the country’s oil and gas producers recovered from shutdowns earlier this year and mining companies boosted output.

The world’s 10th largest economy expanded 0.3 percent following a March gain of 0.1 percent, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a 0.2 percent gain, based on the median of 23 estimates. Mining and oil and gas extraction advanced 2.7 percent, after declining in the previous two months following maintenance shutdowns.

Round two for China shale 'in July'

China is reportedly planning to hold its second shale gas auction next month, with 70 contenders already vying to qualify for bidding as private Chinese investors are allowed to bid for the first time.

Zhang Dawei, head of oil and gas strategy at the Ministry of Land and Resources, told Shanghai Securities News that a third of the 70 companies who had applied were private businesses, Xinhua news agency has reported.

Western Colorado Struggles as Energy Jobs Fade

MEEKER, Colo. — The news of a nationwide energy boom is almost too much for people in this town built atop a sea of oil shale and natural gas, where rusting tanks line the highways and ExxonMobil helped to finance the 4-H club’s new community center.

Elsewhere — seemingly everywhere else but here, locals say — an oil and gas stampede is transforming towns from the green hills of western Pennsylvania to the plains of North Dakota and eastern Colorado, bringing a flood of money, jobs and attendant environmental concerns.

But here, in a region rich in natural resources, where oil and gas jobs form the bedrock of the local economy, the boom has dried up. Energy jobs have flowed to Wyoming, Texas and Pennsylvania. Main Street businesses are struggling, and big new schools built to accommodate a surge of students from the last energy rush are now watching their enrollments dwindle.

Green power at risk of shale gas attack

BONN // A boom in cheap gas in the United States is igniting American dreams of energy independence.

At the same time, it is stalling growth in nuclear plants and even forcing Opec to study its long-term strategy.

Now the bounty in shale gas - blasted from the rock using high-pressure jets of water and chemicals - is set to slow the growth of "green" energy.

Asian LNG Exports Drive Canadian Gas Industry Purchases

The prospect of shipping liquefied natural gas to Asia helped convince Petroliam Nasional Bhd to buy Canada’s Progress Energy Resources Corp. The purchase may trigger other partnerships for cash-strapped Canadian producers.

Venezuela's Amuay refinery partially halted-sources

PARAGUANA, Venezuela (Reuters) - Several plants at Venezuela's largest refinery, the 645,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Amuay facility, have been paralyzed by a fault in its cooling system, sources at state oil company PDVSA said on Thursday.

Operations at the plants were halted late on Wednesday when the problem was detected, one source said. Amuay is part of the Paraguana Refining Center, one of the biggest refinery complexes in the world with an overall capacity of 955,000 bpd.

Norway oil unions agree not to escalate strike

STAVANGER, Norway (Reuters) - Norwegian trade unions have decided not to escalate the strike in the country's oil and gas sector and to meet again on Tuesday at 0900 GMT, union leaders told Reuters after a meeting on Friday.

The prolonged disruption to oil output from the world's eighth largest exporter pushed crude prices up on Friday. North Sea Brent crude futures rose $3 to $94.36 a barrel.

Norway trade union says strike cuts 219,000 bpd oil

(Reuters) - The current strike in Norway's oil and gas industry has cut oil production by an estimated 219,000 barrels per day, trade union Industri Energi said on Friday

Iran gas flow to Turkey cut after explosion-min official

(Reuters) - An explosion has cut off gas flow in a natural gas pipeline running from Iran to Turkey within the Turkish section of the line, a Turkish Energy Ministry official said on Thursday.

Iran Braces For Full Force Of EU Oil Embargo

July 1 figures to be a bad day for Iran -- that's when hard-hitting EU sanctions on Iran's oil exports take full effect.

The sanctions targeting the country's economic lifeline are the EU's toughest measures to date concerning Iran's controversial nuclear activities. Economists believe they could slash Iran's oil revenues by half.

Q&A: New sanctions targeting Iranian oil

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. and Europe want to deprive Iran of the oil income it needs to run its government and, most importantly, fund what they believe is an effort to build a nuclear weapon. Their efforts are entering a new phase this week.

The U.S. as of Thursday will penalize banks that do oil deals with Iran, while European nations will embargo imports of Iranian oil starting Sunday.

These measures were announced in December and January, but lawmakers gave countries and the oil markets until this week to adjust.

U.S. sanctions may stop UAE from importing Iranian condensates

DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai's national oil company may have to stop importing condensate from Iran unless Washington grants it an exemption or temporary exception from this week's tightening of U.S. sanctions, diplomatic and industry sources said.

U.S. State Department officials said that financial transactions that facilitate the import of Iranian condensate are liable to a new round of measures effective June 28 that aim to cut Iran's oil revenues and force Tehran to drop its disputed nuclear program.

China, Singapore Exempted From U.S. Iran Oil Sanctions

The U.S. said China and Singapore have “significantly reduced” their purchases of Iranian oil, earning exemptions from U.S. financial sanctions that otherwise would have been imposed yesterday.

China was the biggest importer of Iranian crude last year, and Singapore is Asia’s oil trading and refining hub. The U.S. granted renewable, 180-day exemptions on March 20 to Japan and 10 European Union nations. India, South Korea, Turkey, South Africa, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Taiwan won exemptions June 11.

China responds to exemption from U.S. sanctions

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Friday responded to a U.S. State Department decision to exempt China from sanctions over imports of Iranian oil, stressing the Asian country's opposition to sanctions imposed unilaterally.

"China is always against one country's unilateral sanctions on another country, according to its domestic law. It is even less acceptable for such unilateral sanctions to be imposed on a third country," said Hong Lei, speaking at a regular press conference.

Iran offers ships for oil, with a warning

Tehran has offered to deliver oil to Korea using its own ships if the government ignores pressure to join sanctions on the country and continues to import Iranian oil, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said yesterday.

Korea has been exempted from the U.S.-led sanctions but has said it cannot keep importing the fuel from the Middle Eastern country due to problems with the reinsurance of ships. Most reinsurance policies are issued by European companies, and the EU has put a ban on insuring shipments of Iranian crude.

Turkey slashes Iranian oil imports in May

(Reuters) - Turkey's crude oil imports from Iran dropped by more than 35 percent in May from April as it steps up efforts to ensure the United States waives sanctions on its imports of Iranian oil for the remainder of this year.

Official trade data showed on Friday the country imported 161,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian oil, down from 249,000 bpd in April and 270,000 bpd in March, when the imports were unusually high.

Russian Gazprom plans to build South Stream gas lines in 1+2+1 stages

Moscow (Platts) - Russia's gas giant Gazprom expects to commission the South Stream gas pipeline project at its full capacity of up to 63 Bcm/year by the end of 2017, building the project in three distinct stages under a so-called "1+2+1" scheme, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Friday.

Gazprom falls victim to China-Vietnam territorial dispute

Gazprom’s projects in the resource rich South China Sea have come under question after the Chinese oil Company CNOOC offered foreign companies licenses on the Vietnamese shelf already granted to Russia’s energy giant.

­Since 2007 Gazprom has been developing four blocks in Vietnam as part of a joint venture with PetroVietnam. In April Gazprom also started work on two other blocks in the South China Sea. Gas reserves there amount to 55 billion cubic meters – not a large amount for a company like Gazprom, writes Kommersant daily.

Gazprom warns Turkey over Azeri gas pipeline deal

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Gazprom on Friday sent a warning signal to its second-largest gas consumer Turkey over Ankara's agreement with neighbouring Azerbaijan to built a gas pipeline to Europe, a rival to Moscow-backed planned South Stream trunk.

Gazprom is anxiously watching the latest developments in Azerbaijan, whose gas fields are the most developed new non-Russian sources of natural gas that can be pumped to the European Union through pipelines.

Biggest Coal Takeover No Easy Flip for Tinkler

An electrician-turned-dealmaker is poised to make the biggest bet ever on coal mining in Australia just as prices of the fuel tumble.

Nathan Tinkler has held talks with banks to fund a bid for Sydney-based Whitehaven Coal Ltd., according to people familiar with the matter, after his initial approach was rejected on June 13. The 36-year-old multimillionaire is seeking to acquire the 79 percent he doesn’t yet own of a company already trading at more than 38 times estimated earnings, making Whitehaven the most expensive coal mining company globally with a market value of more than $1 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Car Rentals for the ‘Eco-Curious’

In 2010 Enterprise invested in electric vehicles, buying 350 Nissan Leafs, but it found that its customers were not really interested. Consumers hesitate to rent them for the same reason that they hesitate to purchase: “range anxiety,” or worry about how far the car will go without a charge.

But Mr. Broughton said that Enterprise had the very same challenge when it introduced hybrids into its fleet in 2003. Over time it was able to educate its consumers, he said, and now, when gas is over $4 a gallon, Enterprise cannot keep hybrids on its lots even though they cost more to rent.

Abound Solar to Suspend Operations, Will Seek Bankruptcy

Abound Solar Inc., a U.S. solar manufacturer that was awarded a $400 million U.S. loan guarantee, will suspend operations and file for bankruptcy because its panels were too expensive to compete.

Abound Failure Revives Debate Over Obama Solar Policies

The failure of a second solar manufacturer that received loan guarantees from the U.S. Energy Department adds to pressure on President Barack Obama to justify incentives for the clean-energy industry that’s being undercut by Chinese competition.

With Feed-In Financing, Modest Solar Projects for Long Island

The Long Island Power Authority approved a new program on Thursday to encourage developers to build medium-scale solar projects using a financing mechanism, the feed-in tariff, that has resulted in both booms and busts overseas.

Cities Get So Close to Recycling Ideal, They Can Smell It

Pioneers like Portland, Seattle and San Francisco have become so good at waste diversion that it is becoming harder to get much better. San Francisco reuses a whopping 78 percent of what enters its waste stream, compared with the national average of 34 percent.

As some press toward a goal of “zero waste,” the challenge is asking residents to conquer what officials call “the ick factor” of organic waste, endure fewer garbage pickups, become more sophisticated sorters and live without things like plastic grocery bags and polystyrene containers for their takeout food.

Flavor Is Price of Scarlet Hue of Tomatoes, Study Finds

Plant geneticists say they have discovered an answer to a near-universal question: Why are tomatoes usually so tasteless?

Yes, they are often picked green and shipped long distances. Often they are refrigerated, which destroys their flavor and texture. But now researchers have discovered a genetic reason that diminishes a tomato’s flavor even if the fruit is picked ripe and coddled.

Mercury Sickens Adirondacks Loons

Many see New York State’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park as a place of respite where you go to gulp down the cool air and hear loon calls echoing through the hills. The landscape is unmarred, wild.

Human hands do not have to physically touch a place, though, to disturb it. Mercury that billows into the atmosphere from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants has settled back down thickly in the Adirondacks, causing trouble for common loon, which nest in large numbers in the park, and other wildlife.

EU Carbon Permits Are Fastest-Rising Commodity in June

European Union carbon permits, on track to be the world’s fastest-rising commodity in June, approached their highest in more than three months as the bloc unveiled a $149 billion growth plan for the region’s economy.

Allowances for December jumped as much as 29 cents to 8.28 euros ($10.40) a metric ton and were at 8.08 euros as of 10:10 a.m. on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London. They’ve gained 27 percent this month. United Nations emission credits are ranked second-fastest for the month, rising 20 percent.

Uncertainty hangs over Australia on eve of carbon tax introduction

Centrepiece of the country's clean energy plans, the controversial tax has created uncertainty for business, divided opinion and slashed government approval. Can it succeed?

West's wildfires a preview of changed climate: scientists

(Reuters) - Scorching heat, high winds and bone-dry conditions are fueling catastrophic wildfires in the U.S. West that offer a preview of the kind of disasters that human-caused climate change could bring, a trio of scientists said on Thursday.

"What we're seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like," Princeton University's Michael Oppenheimer said during a telephone press briefing. "It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster ... This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future."

Melting Permafrost Threatens Swiss Villages

Guttannen, home to 310 residents, is a tiny village in the Bernese Alps, the last one that travellers drive through on the way up to Grimsel Pass. It’s spring and the snow is retreating from the steep slopes of the valley. As the pass is still closed, calm reigns in the picturesque village centre. Only cowbells and the rushing of the nearby Aar river break the silence.

For some residents though, living in Guttannen has become rather uneasy and, on the long term, even dangerous. The root cause of the peril lies further uphill, in the northeastern flank of the 3,282 metres high Ritzlihorn. In July 2009, a huge rockfall had occurred and since then, massive debris flows have roared downhill each summer.

Fracking: where's the debate about its climate change risks?

Yes, there are plenty of concerns about the possible localised environmental impacts of fracking, such as earth tremors, aquifer contamination, and surface leaks. As the report concludes, these need constant and tightly-regulated assessment if extraction is to get under way on a commercial scale. But this is a side salad compared to the picnic hamper of unanswered questions that still hang over fracking when it comes to its possible contribution to climate change.

Exxon's CEO: Climate, energy fears overblown

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson says fears about climate change, drilling, and energy dependence are overblown.

In a speech Wednesday, Tillerson acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to adapt. The risks of oil and gas drilling are well understood and can be mitigated, he said. And dependence on other nations for oil is not a concern as long as access to supply is certain, he said.

Tillerson blamed a public that is "illiterate" in science and math, a "lazy" press, and advocacy groups that "manufacture fear" for energy misconceptions in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.

He highlighted that huge discoveries of oil and gas in North America have reversed a 20-year decline in U.S. oil production in recent years. He also trumpeted the global oil industry's ability to deliver fuels during a two-year period of dramatic uncertainty in the Middle East, the world's most important oil and gas-producing region.

ExxonMobil CEO assailed for claims on climate change

Rex Tillerson's acknowledgement that fossil fuel consumption contributes to climate change should have been a PR coup for ExxonMobil when the company's CEO gave a major address this week. Instead, environmentalists blasted Tillerson's assertion that the impact of climate change is not as serious as "lazy" journalists and an “illiterate” public believe.

Tillerson won praise for reversing the company's long-standing denial of a correlation between climate change and the burning of fossil fuels. But environmentalists said Tillerson's remarks won’t sit well with many Americans, especially those affected by extreme weather, climate-related natural disasters and pollution.

March 2012 Citi Bank report

An Australian journalist picked up this story

This was my analysis at the time

No number crunching in Alan Kohler's opinion piece on a premature peak oil death

Desperate Times: Trucking shale oil in North Dakota

Proudly powered by oil shale

Australian ABC TV falls into oil and climate trap of unconventional oil

Hey, wait a minute. Wasn't that supposed to be why we're spending trillions on wars in Middle East...to keep vital supplies of black goo headed our way?

No. Not really. Just to keep it flowing in general (for everyone) becuase it powers an economic system we helped create and is needed for BAU even if we don't burn it. :-P

Also, geography, or in geopolitical terms, we stay in the ME game to keep an area that, if ever united, could challenge us, if you are inclided to believe the folks at places like STRATFOR. ("The Geopolitics of the United States Parts 1 and 2" :-) )

In other words "laissez-faire" (let (them) do) unless you want what they may have or don't like what they may do.

The second explanation actually makes a fair bit of sense; historically, the Middle East has been the seat of various empires, most recently the Ottoman Empire. And there have been attempts to reunite the arab states, such as the short-lived United Arab Republic, and the idea of pan-arabism was part of the ideology of ba'athism as well. Not to mention the goal of many radical islamic groups to create a new caliphate.

The book Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq documents the behind-the-scenes desires of those responsible for the Iraq invasion, and plenty of fellow travelers too; it's described here: Surprise, surprise! Iraq war was about oil | Energy Bulletin Title says it all. Pretty disgusting.

My first reaction to hearing about the US going in to dispose Saddam was "Oh, an oil war. That figures." This was before I was keenly interested in energy issues. It all seemed so baldfaced.

The paper goes on in fulsome detail about the issues cited above and many more pertinent to the subject, including points touching on environmental concerns. Read it and understand how the oil nabobs have brainwashed us all to the adherence of this gross fallacy, holding us to that "still deep-rooted belief that oil is about to become a scarce commodity."

Actually, it has become a scarce commodity. And, it would help if the author would read (or if having read, try to understand the simple statements) what Peak Oil Theory states and does not state.

1. It does not state that we will (ever) run out of oil. It does state that oil will become more expensive, and that the expense will diminish the ability of society to continue to use oil.

2. It does not state that all of the oil in the ground will (ever) be extracted. It does state that at some point the cost will be too high to justify any new wells.

3. It does not state that the "moment" of peak oil is a date. It does state that there will be a period during which the higher cost of oil will enable more drilling, total amount to be determined by total cost and available capaital. It further states that this will create an "undulating plateau" of price and production. We are seeing that today.

4. It does not state that this will mean the end of the world. Merely the beginning of the end of the industrial age.

The oil wars will continue; the question is whether they will escalate to global nuclear war. I seriously doubt that will happen - it would take a religious war to enable the final genie in the bottle. The problem as I see it is that, as the cost of oil increases (in response to the difficulty of extraction of the remaining oil), and industrial society begins to decline, the response will be an increase in what has already become a troubling religiousity amongst various nations, ours foremost. Some idiot is certain to blame the Muslims, Buddhists, Athiests, etc., of some nation imagined to be hoarding "our" oil. At that point, all bets are off and it is every man, woman and child for itself.


Looking at its etymology, the very word Armageddon comes from divine texts.

Portrait of the author:

If the interactions of church and state are to result in political pressures impinging upon the rights of all, for example towards initiating a nuclear apocalypse, then, at a minimum, perhaps the two should be separated.


There is a good article in the June 25th issue of Chemical and Engineering News on sustainability (or lack there of) of minerals including phosphate and metals. They talk about peaks in the various metals and phosphorus as well as presenting plugs for recycling if we wish not to run out of these materials. Over all a fairly balanced approach for a main stream publication. And some nice charts on useage of materials per capita per year and per lifetime, and resources/reserves.

Title: Forging A Better Supply Chain For Minerals

Link: http://cen.acs.org/articles/90/i26/Forging-Better-Supply-Chain-Minerals....

a couple of excerpts:
"Human society is now dependent on mineral fertilizers. Without them, there wouldn’t be enough food for all 7 billion people on the planet. Rahm reckons the Florida phosphate deposits will last perhaps another 45 years before they run out. The availability of phosphate ultimately could determine how much human life Earth can support.

Of equal concern is society’s dependence on metals, for everything from structural steel and power lines to vehicles and portable electronics. Scientists studying metal stocks suggest that, without a more disciplined effort at recycling, some metals could soon become scarce enough to inhibit global economic growth and limit our technological future.

The fates of phosphate and metals are just two of the dilemmas society faces in attempting to create a sustainable future in a resource-constrained world. Manufacturing industries and utility companies are already hard at work developing technologies to improve energy and fuel efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prevent pollution, and conserve water. Those efforts are the low-hanging fruit for sustainability. But the meat and potatoes of global sustainability, for which the chemical enterprise bears much of the burden, is the harder task of managing the consumption of nonrenewable mineral resources."

My problem with the phosporous bottleneck is that the consumption of P in agruculture incraesed at a much higher rate than the yield of agrcultural products, this may point to a significant waste of P, i.e. some other mineral is actually the limiting factor. In some "green" papers the authors claimed that 5 fold higher P consumtion only let to 85% higher yield.

Who knows, one of these days even the MSM might start to connect the dots and acknowledge resource limits and the complete insanity and unsustainability of our current systems. They seem to be getting closer to the real truth, all they need to do now is start thinking like systems analysts and see the big picture and how everything is interconnected.


Moldy matters: How wasted food is destroying the environment
By George Webster, CNN

"The dominant food production system is based on fossil fuel at every level," said Dr Martin Caraher, Professor of Food and Health Policy at London's City University. "It needs oil to make the fertilizer, oil for the farm, oil for the food processing, oil for the packaging and oil to transport it to the shops."

Well, that quote right there is a start... Nah! never mind, 'Peak Oil' is a myth as is peak phosphorus! We can surely find a suitable substitute for anything we need, all you have to do is believe in the power of the invisible hand which as we all know is not subject to any of nature's laws...


Who knows, one of these days even the MSM might start to connect the dots and acknowledge resource limits and the complete insanity and unsustainability of our current systems. They seem to be getting closer to the real truth, all they need to do now is start thinking like systems analysts and see the big picture and how everything is interconnected.

Are you sure about that? I don't think the MSM behaves much differently to any other major business sector when its operating environment suffers rapid change - and the media is experiencing much more rapid change than most other industry sectors.

The media companies are desperately moving towards electronic news, social media and much else - most of the world's newspapers won't have midweek physical copies in 3-5 years, I expect, and so on.

They struggle to remain profitable under these challenges ... and that is all they will think about, or even can think about. They want to survive and maintain profits within the current paradigm for as long as possible - they are never going to say the paradigm itself is cactus - and bring about their own demise even more quickly.

Re: Peak oil; prices that is (uptop)

. . . yesterday’s Energy Information Administration weekly Petroleum Status report provided more evidence for my prediction that U.S. gasoline prices may have peaked forever or for a very long time.

I speculated the other day that perhaps someone would assert that gasoline prices--much like assertions regarding nuclear powered electricity in the 1950's--would soon be "Too cheap to meter," and we would just pay a flat fee. This article seems to be at least moving in that direction.

WTI up 5% on the day so far. Perhaps the oil industry is like politics as in
'Week in politics is....'

Probably a short squeeze contributing to today's price action.

Following are the recent annual high Brent prices preceding year over year annual price declines, showing the progression in higher annual highs and higher annual lows. While it seems a virtual certainty that we will see an annual decline from 2011 to 2012, it also seems almost impossible for the 2012 annual price not to exceed the previous annual year over decline level ($62 in 2009).

EIA data:

1997 to 1998: $19/$13
2000 to 2001: $29/$24
2008 to 2009: $97/$62
2011 to 2012: $111/?

...and it's amazing what a little bank bailout will do:

Euro 'breakthrough' is tenuous

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Euro area leaders agreed early Friday on a number of steps designed to stabilize eurozone credit markets and strengthen the region's banking system.

After a late-night round of talks in Brussels, the leaders agreed to move towards more centralized banking regulations and use bailout funds more liberally to support eurozone governments in the bond market.

WTI now up 8.4% on the day and Brent up 6.2% at $97.44

This might be concerning some...

Saudis forces mass on Jordanian, Iraqi borders. Turkey, Syria reinforce strength

The Syrian crisis was Friday, June 29, on a knife edge between a Western-Arab-Turkish military offensive in the next 48 hours and a big power accord to ward it off.

debkafile’s military sources report heavy Saudi troop movements toward the Jordanian and Iraqi borders Thursday overnight and up until Friday morning, June 29, after King Abdullah put the Saudi military on high alert for joining an anti-Assad offensive in Syria. The Saudi units are poised with tanks, missiles, special forces and anti-air batteries to enter Jordan in two heads:
One will safeguard Jordan's King Abdullah against potential Syrian or Iranian reprisals from Syria or Iraq.

The second will cut north through Jordan to enter southeastern Syriam, where a security zone will be established around the towns of Deraa, Deir al-Zour and Abu Kemal – all centers of the anti-Assad rebellion. The region is also the home terrain of the Shammar tribe, brethren of the Shammars of the Saudi Nejd province.

I have a question for the Oil Drum about the "greenness" of electric cars. A friend of mine recently bought a Chevy Volt. I was able to drive it a little bit, and I actually really liked the car. There is no doubt that it can drastically reduce an individuals demand for gas especially if you use it mainly as a commuter.

My friend was bragging a little bit about how they had gone 2300 miles on 7 gallons of gas, and I asked him how many pounds of coal they had used? Intuitively to me it seems like burning coal in a power plant fifty miles away, sending the power to your home through electric lines, and using that to run your car might actually be less environmentally friendly the driving a Prius or a similar modern efficient gasoline powered car. Even if you are not burning oil you are still using energy and a large percentage of our electric grid is still coal. Am I wrong about this?

I am sure this has been discussed many times on this site, but I usually ignore the debate on electric cars. After actually driving one and then reading the top story on today's Drumbeat I am more interested. Thanks,

The hand-waving answer is that despite the losses associated with transmission and storage, electric motors are more efficient than internal combustion engines on a 'well to wheel' basis. Raising heat/steam in an electric power plant of several hundred MW provides the benefit of scale that a car's ICE can't match.

You could expect roughly 15% less CO2 from the electric side than from the gas side, if all your electricity came from coal. It's more like 40% less CO2 if all the electricity came from natural gas, and better still if nuclear, hydro, or renewables are in the mix.

You may also want to check out this link:


How Clean are Electric Vehicles?

from the Union of Concerned Scientists on just how clean electric vehicles are. They divide the US into 3 groupings -- good, better, best-- in terms of how much CO2 is eventually emitted from EVs based on how dirty the electricity is in each area.

Overall EVs even powered by the dirtiest electricity are better than all but the best hybrids. And if powered by electricity in the best area, the CO2 emissions are far better than even the best hybrids.

We don't fight wars for natural gas or coal. Don't forget the emissions from blowing children into a fine mist as part of the process.

A Look At The Conflicts That Were And Will Be Caused By Oil

Coal energy density is very low and natural gas doesn't travel well.

But even wars over oil are a bit of a folly unless you can reach a political solution with the local people. It is pretty hard to defend hundreds of miles of oil pipelines that can be disabled by a small bomb placed onto any point in the middle of the night.


But electric vehicles can run on those two thermal sources of electricity common to the central generation scheme already in place in so much of the Lord of War, the United States.

It depends on one's goals. If you are looking for the most environmentally friendly route, and depending on your utility's policies, may as well go all in and install PV to offset your car's electrical use. One can also purchase "green power", for a premium, or get rid of the car altogether. Expect coal to be a large percentage of your electrical use, depending on where you live, for a long time, and whatever amount of coal you manage to offset in your energy use will likely be taken up by Chindia, et al.

Cool. Thanks for the answers. I should have thought about electric motors being more efficient that internal combustion engines (lots of moving parts) and the efficiency of scale in a large power plant.

Given that the Volt is by European standards a large, heavy car, I would expect its CO2 emissions per mile will be higher than my small, super frugal diesel car (80+ mpg imperial, on a good day).

Good point, the estimates I gave above would apply to a comparison of two American sedans (or, Volt in battery mode vs. Volt in ICE mode).

If the electricity comes from sufficiently CO2-free sources, however, it wouldn't matter how small or gasoline-efficient your car is, it will still create more CO2.

Not to overplay the comparison. If the idea is to reduce CO2 emissions, moving from gas to electric vehicles would end up being a relatively small wedge.

"Given that the Volt is by European standards a large, heavy car, I would expect its CO2 emissions per mile will be higher than my small, super frugal diesel car (80+ mpg imperial, on a good day)."

And your super frugal diesel will have higher emissions than my Suzuki Swift converted to electric which gets all its energy from solar panels on the roof of my house, and averages 0.216 kWh/mile from the wall socket, about 1/4 the energy/mile it used with its original ICE engine which got about 40 mile/gal gas.

It's also generally easier to regulate source pollution (smokestacks) than non-source pollution (millions of cars)

True. And at least in principle we could sequester the CO2. I know I know, but that means we'd have to pay more.......

I am in no way an expert on this, but one thing that has always bugged me about the comparison of gasoline powered vehicles to electric is the flawed logic in most of the comparisons out there. To me, there are four fundamental factors to take into account:

Pollution from use of fuel
A. Electricity
B. Gasoline

Pollution from production of fuel
C. Electricity
D. Gasoline

Many times, D is ignored, “Pollution from production of Gasoline”, as if it doesn't exist. With A being “none”, people tend to focusing on comparing B to C.

Nissan stated at one point during the promotion of the Leaf that: "It takes 7.5 kWh of electricity to refine one gallon of gasoline. That same 7.5 kWh of electricity can power the Nissan Leaf approximately 30 miles."

They have since removed that statement from their marketing material, and it may be a bit exaggerated, but there certainly is a large amount of electricity and subsequent CO2 emission from getting the oil from the ground to the gas tank.

It is rather important to also consider:

Pollution (and energy use) from manufacturing of vehicle:
E. Electricity (including batteries!)
F. Gasoline

And you may also want to consider the construction and maintenance of roads (same for the cars discussed here, but not the same for trains or bicycles).

Nissan stated at one point during the promotion of the Leaf that: "It takes 7.5 kWh of electricity to refine one gallon of gasoline. That same 7.5 kWh of electricity can power the Nissan Leaf approximately 30 miles."

I've seen this argument several times on EV web sites. I've love to believe it but I'd like hard facts. Does anyone know the true amount of electricity used to refine a gallon of gas? That number seems high . . . if they paid 11 cents/KWH that would be more than 80cents of gasoline's cost is for electricity! That seems too high. Now perhaps they generate electricity cheaply on-site using some hydrocarbon by-product? But if they do that, that should be added to the pollution factor for gasoline.

Any refinery people here that can chime in? Is that number much too high? Is it accurate but misleading since it is cheap self-generated electricity?

Industrial customers do not pay residential retail price for electricity. A refinery probably pays between 2 cents to 5 cents per kWh.

Electricity is used to run pumps for the pipelines.

So the 7.5KWH number is true? If so, that is ~23 miles in a Leaf (using its EPA range number). Instead of burning that gallon, just use the electricity used to refine it to go the same distance.

This also really address the original question of the thread . . . the gas car is ALWAYS more polluting than the electric car if you include the pollution from the refining stage since the pollution from driving the electric car equals the pollution just from the gasoline refining. All of the pollution from actually driving the gas car is added on top of that!

A gallon of gasoline is about 124,000 Btu's.

7.5 Kwh's is 25,590 Btu's

Refinery operations consume about 10% of the energy in a barrel of crude.

They likely get the electricity much cheaper than that. Natural gas is also used. I'd bet that how much natural gas and other nonoil inputs varies from refinery to refinery, and possibly depends upon the blend of oil and product as well. Then how to apportion the inputs among the various products? Someone with a given agenda could pick and choose to overstate their case.

I did a rough calculation using refinery electrical consumption by country (2005) and U.S. average daily output 17.2 million barrels(2005) and came up with 0.24 kWh per gallon of distillate or 7.78 kWh per Barrel of distillate.

The previously quoted number is to high by a factor of ~33 times.

Note: This figure is for refineries only, and doesn't factor in other energy inputs like NG usage, pipeline construction and usage, storage facilities, distribution terminals, ports, etc.

So my math may be wrong, and this is just one tiny data point, but looking at the energy consumed from the pumpjacks referenced on this page (http://everybarrelcounts.blogspot.com/2011/04/eroei-of-texas-pumpjacks.html) , it looks to be roughly 160kWh per barrel of electrical consumption for the motor. I certainly realize this may be completely non-typical of the average consumption of extraction, but whatever that number is, it seems significant.

The average well is producing about 250 gallons of crude - that's only .16 gallons per minute. I have a very hard time believing that they're using the full 50HP to do that.

I'd guess they're 10% loaded, so maybe 16kWh per barrel are required.

I think they are assuming the motors are running at full power 24/7. I think that's not true.

They generally run them at part load, and use pump-off controllers to shut them off when there's no oil in the well bore. The controllers shut the motor off while the well bore slowly fills up with oil, and then start them up and run them until the oil is pumped out, and then they shut off again. At least that's the theory - they are usually on timers, although I used to design software to control them from a central computer.

If you drive past a horsehead pump and it's not moving, it probably doesn't mean the oil well is not producing, it just means it has a pump-off controller. Although, if pieces are missing from the pump jack and/or the motor is gone, and the weeds are waist-high, it probably means the well isn't producing any more.

Yes He does assume 24/7.

But 50 horsepower electric? That is a big motor.

I just don't see a 50HP motor in this picture, maybe 5.

The Volt will be mostly charged at night, when nuclear and wind power are a larger percentage of the power mix.

People focus on wind's intermittency, but it's production is generally slightly higher at night when power is needed much less: that's a bigger problem than intermittency. EV's provide demand for that unneeded power.

EVs and wind power have a nice synergy.

EVs & solar power also have nice synergy.

Yes, when you charge at night, the solar panels don't directly charge up the car. However, the utilities have massive amounts of excess electricity at night and often a shortage of electricity on hot Sunny days (unless you live in Germany). So the local utility is generally quite happy to trade the solar power you generate during the day in exchange for excess power they have at night. And solar is something just about any home owner can do . . . personal wind is not very efficient or easy (unless you have a big farm or ranch).

I have both a Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Volt. I like them. I also have 12 KW of PV solar.

Both cars get over 4 miles/KWH, which is equivalent to 140 mpg and is 7 times as energy-efficient as an averge gasoline car.

In Texas, wind power is best at night, and there is surplus wind eletricity available. Night is also a good time to charge the cars; you can set a timer to charge at a specified time.

For the cost of 2.5 years of gasoline for an average car, you can buy solar panels that will power your electric car for the rest of your life. (The panels are guaranteed for 25 years, and probably last 40 years.)

So, you can get both an electric car and solar panels (or sign up for green power) to power it, and have a low-carbon, sustainable, and affordable car.

Thats a pretty big PV system. Even with two electric vehicles, do you have demand for that much juice? I'm at 80% with my 2.4KW system (but no electric vehicles).

Well, yes. We have an all-electric house, so this covers heating, A/C (it does get warm in Texas), cooking, as well as vehicles. 12 KW of PV covers about half of the roof. On the good side, we now have renewable power for nearly everything, except about 75 gallons of gas a year for summer vacation, our last indulgence.

"My friend was bragging a little bit about how they had gone 2300 miles on 7 gallons of gas, and I asked him how many pounds of coal they had used?"

If you look on your power companies website, you should be able to find the breakdown of the sources of the electricity. See page 2 of the below flyer. Then you can ratio out the coal contribution.


They shut the plant but are trying to secure corn with low-ball bids -- good luck with that.

UPDATE 1-Valero idles Linden, Indiana, ethanol plant on corn prices

Market sources said the Linden plant was still bidding for
corn on Wednesday, though at a lower basis than on Tuesday. Many
ethanol plants have decreased their basis bids in recent days
due to the surging futures and poor profit margins.

Day said the plant may be buying corn, but it was not
producing ethanol.

Link up top: Peak Oil Is Simply Not A Threat Anymore Has all liquids increasing by 17.6 million barrels per day in the next 9 years. That is almost 2 million barrels per day per year. That seems a bit overly optimistic. The EIA has all liquids averaging 87 mb/d in 2001, not 93. That is because this article is talking about production capacity, not actual production.

Anyway, according to the EIA, all liquids have increased by an average of 462 thousand barrels per day per year from 2005 to 2011. They have Crude + Condensate increasing by a mere 69 kb/d per year since 2005. But this article has liquids increasing by over 4 times the rate they have actually increased since 2005. I do believe that is a tad optimistic.

17.6 divided by 9 years comes to 1,955,556 barrels per year increase. That is 4.2 times the actual rate of increase of liquids over the last six years and 28 times the actual rate of increase of C+C. I really don't believe it. And we did not have 6 mb/d of spare capacity in 2011, not even close. I believe that all countries are producing flat out today therefore we have zero mb/d of spare capacity.

 world oil production capacity

Ron P.

And we did not have 6 mb/d of spare capacity in 2011, not even close. I believe that all countries are producing flat out today therefore we have zero mb/d of spare capacity.

That was my observation as well, that the author's estimation/definition of spare capacity doesn't seem to relate to how the market views spare capacity. The study estimates U.S. spare capacity at 2.4 mbpd in 2011, for example. Does he really mean to say that if not for constraints at Cushing the U.S. could have produced that much more? I doubt it.

In other portions of the report, he identifies with the more conventional view that the Middle East controls whatever spare capacity might be available globally. So we're left to wonder what he means when he describes spare capacity.

Other than a few crazy Peak Oilers (who probably should be institutionalized, for the good of society), virtually no has noticed, or seems to care, that the rate of decline in the ratio of Global Net Exports* of oil (GNE) to Chindia’s combined Net Imports (CNI) recently steepened, much like a commercial aircraft** in a steepening dive toward the ground.

Projected post-2005 Cumulative Available Net Exports (CANE) based on 2005 to 2008 rate of decline in the GNE/CNI ratio:

190 Gb, about 42% depleted through 2011

Projected post-2005 Cumulative Available Net Exports (CANE) based on 2005 to 2011 rate of decline in the GNE/CNI ratio:

168 Gb, about 48% depleted through 2011

*Top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, BP + Minor EIA data, total petroleum liquids
ANE = GNE less CNI

**The passengers in the aircraft in the steepening dive toward the ground are generally discussing dinner plans, oblivious to the fact that pieces of the plane are beginning to come off as the aircraft approaches the sound barrier

GNE/CNI Chart: http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i475/westexas/GNEoverCNI.jpg

Right, if we only rely on the EIA data, which only has net crude exports through 2009, they have net crude oil exports, 2005 to 2009, declining by 3,143,000 barrels per day or an average of 786,000 barrels per day per year over the four years. But crude + condensate averaged, over 6 years, a gain of 69,000 barrels per year. By that math, net oil exports is declining at a rate of over 11 times the rate of increase.

So crude oil, available to all nations, not just Western nations, is declining 11 times faster than crude oil production is increasing. But that little fact seems to escape everyone but a few of us Peak Oilers.

Ron P.

Yikes. It's tricky to be up against the propaganda machine right now.

At the right price, say closing in on infinity and ignoring EROEI completely, every last drop of oil and oil-like precursor(s) can be harvested. Just remove the overburden and shovel it all into a grinder and feed the pile into an oil press and - voila! - there be oil.

As Rockman has pointed out, what unlocked these reserves was price, not technology. The assumption of all the recent 'studies' is that oil at $70 per barrel to produce is just the same as oil at $20/bbl, just more expensive. However, this neglects what happens as we siphon off and burn the $10/bbl oil of yesteryear and increasingly replace it with oil that is $50-$70 (or more in the case of tar sands). Think of the average weighted cost for a barrel just moving inexorably from left to right.

As that happens we will find that everything just costs more going forward and that the type of growth in our debt markets, and by extension the smooth functioning of our capital markets, that we're all depending on simply won't be there in the same way.

If there's an over/under line on the 2020 predictions, I'll take the under.

The assumption of all the recent 'studies' is that oil at $70 per barrel to produce is just the same as oil at $20/bbl, just more expensive.

Excellent way to put it. For these guys there is no reason to dwell on the structurally higher price, just recalibrate and move on. That may be the correct way for someone with a producer's perspective to view it commercially, but it is too short-sighted from a policy standpoint.

$70 oil might be the same as $20 oil, if our per capita wealth had grown 3.5x during that same time. The fact that it didn't should give cornucopians pause.

I wonder if a lot of the debt growth is a sign that the growth in productivity is no longer sufficient to overcome the increasing marginal cost of producing resources and infrastructure to support the growth of the economy. If GDP can no longer grow at the rate of productivity growth plus population growth then population growth and increasing marginal costs for resource production and infrastructure growth will lead to decreasing per capita income. In other words, the only way to absorb the additional costs, barring some new technological revolution, will be lower living standards.

Chris - "The assumption of all the recent 'studies' is that oil at $70 per barrel to produce is just the same as oil at $20/bbl, just more expensive." And this is where folks have to pay close attention to exactly how the cornucopians phrase their thoughts. I tend to get caught sometimes misunderstanding exactly what they are saying. In my world "producing oil" is flowing it out of the well head into a tank and selling it. Many operators today can produce their existing oil wells, sell it for $20/bbl and still make a profit. Just not much of one in many fields. But many of them will sell what they can for that price in order to meet cash flow demands.

But many see the word "produce" and envision a company going out and drilling new wells. That's exploration (or at best development drilling) and not "producing" oil. And at $20/bbl there will be very little those efforts undertaken IMHO. This is even more significant in EOR projects. The margin on such projects tends to be much smaller than hitting a successful wildcat. And thus are much more sensitive to price changes. This is also true for many development wells in known but yet not fully drilled fields. Such fields have typically been ignored due to high development costs and/or low quality of the oil/production rate.

So yes: OTOH lower oil prices may not greatly reduce the production from existing wells at least in the case of some companies. The volume of lower priced oil FROM EXISTING WELLS may not be that much less than the volume of higher priced oil. One big question is how would the KSA react to much lower prices: reduce rates to preserve reserves or go the other way and max production to increase revenue? I'm not sure that answer is very clear even inside the KSA. But I am fairly certain that if oil slides down much further the KSA and other exporters will significantly curtail many, if not all, production enhancement projects. And from I've read the Canadian tar sand production may begin to fall if prices slide much further. Exisitng operations might survive for a while but new ones could be put on hold indefinately. Which is one feed back loop the cornucopians always seem to ignore in their projections. As you pointed out: it ain't the technology...it's the profit margin.

And in the US: I won't speculate what oil price would significantly curtail drilling of the oily shales. But given that we may have already seen a sustainability problem with some operators a prolonged damaging lower price may be as far away as some might guess.

Rockman: the discussion centers on $20 oil vs. $70 oil. In reviewing my (mental) notes, it seems to me that the stuff we are digging up (literally) for $70/bbl is somewhat less energy efficient than the gold old Texas Tea of yore. Do you have any figures on BTU per unit between, say, WTL, Brent, Canadian Sand, Brazilian heavy oil, Bakan frac'd oil, and the oil shale product from Wyoming?

It might be nice to know which are apples and which are oranges.


zap - No, I've never seen such a number calculated or even saw a rough and incomplete estimate. We have produced heavy nasty sulfur rich oil since the beginning of the US oil patch but can't offer any quantification. Intuitively one might guess the quality has gone down. OTOH about 10 years ago I knew a small operator that was getting $6/bbl for their nasty stuff when WTI was selling for $18 bbl. But that operator kept on producing and made a good living at it.

I bet he did. Even with just one or two jacks going steadily, that $6 / bbl over time can add up.

I suppose that the big dif in energy cost would be from refinery expense; after that, it is all fungible. Sort of hoped there was an easy way to figure EROEI without that [cost of plant, input materials, etc., labor being pretty much a non-starter in the refining bidness]. Thanks though.


Zap - And even that much better when oil hit $100/bbl…making upwards of $500,000/yr. I always enjoy relating their (husband and wife…she was his roustabout, LOL) story. The epidimy of why the US is the third largest oil producer on the planet even though our average well does less than 10 bopd. It sounds silly but the best description of their operation: cute. LOL. Little electric pump jacks about 36” tall. Some 25 or so wells. They would run about 2 hrs per day. It took the other 22 hours for less than one bbl to drip into the well…not only nasty but very thick and no reservoir pressure at all – just dripped out by gravity drainage. His routine: drive around to each PJ every morning with a little hand held grease gun, slick them up and then back to the house.

Occasionally had to replace a down hole rod pump. Asked him how much that cost. Without looking it up he said $637.57…a tight fisted fellow of German decent that watched his pennies. And then once a month sold a load of oil. Another fellow told me it was fun to watch them witness the oil tanker driver: they would make sure they were credited down to the ounce… a skilled driver knew how to suck a bbl or two past the counter meter.

By now they’ve been operating those wells for over 30 years. And the production will last at least another 50 to 60 years. Not counting their sweat equity (it did take a couple of hours to grease those PJ's) I guessed it cost them less than $1/bbl to produce. Which is one reason I’ve never bought into US production going off a cliff. Our small independents know how to squeeze a nickel so hard they can make that buffalo poop. LOL. But reserve increases from new drilling efforts? Yep… certainly a possible cliff down the road there IMHO.

Work about 14 hours a week and make $500,000/yr when prices are high, sit of the porch and sip coffee while watching his goat herd graze. Was difficult to not be very envious. And his wife/roustabout as a cutie to boot.

Rockman, isn't this what the marginal barrel is all about? Over time, the producers need to make a sufficient profit to be able to invest in new production. I would think, someone in your position would need to have sufficient confidence that, over a given period of time, the price will reflect the broad marginal cost of the market and provide a reasonable chance that a profit will be made by reinvesting in new production.

Noncon - I'm not sure if i still appreciate what "marginal bbl" really means. When making a drilling decision one first assumes they will find X bbls of oil. Typically most wildcat wells yield a very low finding cost...less than $30 or even as low as $10 per bbl. Would someone call that the "marginal cost"? Of course most exploratory wells don't find as much oil a predicted... some none at all. So many use a "risked reserve" analysis: I'm projecting 5 million bbls of oil but the prospect has a 25% chance of success. BTW that 25% Ps is often just pulled out of your butt. If they really like the idea they'll give it a high Ps. If they don't like it and rather not drill it a low Ps will be used. So now I use 0.25 X 5 mmbo or 1.25 mmbo to calculate my finding cost. Of course, for that number to be meaningful I have to accurately predict what I'll be paid for that oil over the life of the field. And that's a whole other risk analysis.

But let's go back to the beginning: the well won't discover 5 mmbo. Or 1.25 million bbls of oil. Or no bbls of oil. That wildcat will find what it will find regardless of what my economics calculated to be. No operator can predetermine what his finding cost or marginal bbl cost will be. That can only be calculated in the rear view mirror many years after the well is drilled. Or immediately if it's a dry hole. The reality I've seen after watching this circus for the last 37 years is that the higher the price of oil goes the higher the final finding cost/marginal bbl. Increasing prices cause the oil patch to drill riskier wells. Thus what we find cost more (often much more) than what it cost us during low price periods. When the 70's boom hit and we had twice as many rigs running as we do now I can promise you the finding cost/marginal costs were huge. I saw many wells drilled that had little chance of success. Then jump to 1986 when oil/NG prices collapse. I did well regardless and drilled a lot of shallow NG wells. My first discovery turned out to be my largest. And I put that production on the market at $0.90/mcf....less than 1/3 of even today's low prices. What a dog, eh? Not quite: it cost me $0.12/mcf to develop those reserves. IOW I made the client almost 8 to one on his investment. And using seismic technology I only drilled 2 dry holes out of 25 wells.

But the take away from that was that I had to find unsophisticated investors to pay for those wells because almost all the oil patch 'experts' knew you couldn't make money with the then current low price for oil/NG. IOW their finding or marginal costs wouldn't work at those prices. OTOH during the 70's boom I worked for one company whose management (which had zero oil field experience) thought that if they spent enough money they would find a lot of oil/NG. After all, it was the boom time. They spent $550 million and found $60 million worth of oil/NG. Wanna offer a guess what their marginal bbl cost was? LOL.

Rockman, maybe a better example of marginal cost would be an enhanced recovery technique or maybe a tar sands project where, based on previous experience in that field, a higher probability estimate can be made of costs and production?

Noncon - I agree. More like a mining operation:you know (more or less) what your recovery/cost will be. There stil that problem of a long range price forecast for that commodity if you must first make a huge capex investment. Such as a $5 billion LNG plant. That's why I suspect such projects have long term source/sales prices locked in before they start. Long distance pipelines used to be based on a pipeline geologist estimating the in gorund reserves to ensure there would be enough throughput to justify the investment.

That wildcat will find what it will find regardless of what my economics calculated to be. No operator can predetermine what his finding cost or marginal bbl cost will be. That can only be calculated in the rear view mirror many years after the well is drilled.

Harry Jamison (a key player in the discovery of Prudhoe) once told a funny story about that.

My home office is a mess right now, and I can't find the original quote. But the story goes that a few years after the discovery the ARCO bean counters were working up the dollars per barrel finding cost for the preceding period. When Harry saw the number it seemed way off. He was told that they had thrown out the Prudhoe Bay discovery because it skewed their statistics!

An exploration geologist is damned if you do and damned it you don't! Discover too little and your finding costs are too high. Discover too much and you wreck the bean counter's numbers.

geo - I recall a similar story. At some rubber chicken lunch the prez(?) of Arco discussed their efforts to replace Prudhoe Bay reserves as they produced such a huge volume. They spent many years and many hundreds of $millions looking for another BECAUSE THEY HAD NO CHOICE: they had to keep showing a increase in proven reserve base to keep Wall Street happy. In essence he said it was foolish: PB wasn't a once in a life time find for an exploration company. It was a once in many life times discovery. In essence it was a curse: they grossly exceeded their goal that year but also guarenteed it would be decades, if ever, before they could show a y-o-y replacement of produced reserves.


Your stories are quite instructive. There is quite a bit of uncertainty in the oil business, this is true of all businesses, but it is more true in the oil biz than say the laundry biz. Despite this uncertainty, decisions need to be made about what investments to make and whether to put any money at risk. I hadn't appreciated the terminology used in the oil industry. To an economist, the cost of production would include all the costs necessary to produce a barrel of oil, which would include development and exploration costs because you can't produce oil if you haven't found it and then developed the field to the point that oil can flow. To an economist, the expected cost per barrel of a marginal barrel would be the the total anticipated costs (including exploration, development, production, overhead, and any other miscellaneous costs) divided by the expected number of barrels produced in some new project. As you mention there are a huge number of unknowns that need to be estimated and actual costs per barrel are only known once all the oil for any given project has been produced and the wells have been capped. Only then will we know how much money has been spent to find and produce the oil, the historic price per barrel, as well as the number of barrels produced so that profitability of the project can be assessed. It is clear that none of this is the way things are conceptualized within the oil industry, I am trying to translate the common economic terminology into your terms so that I understand the reality (which is useful) rather than just the economic theory (which tends to be less than useful, some might even say useless.)

Thanks for sharing your knowledge, it makes the Oils Drum worth visiting.


DC – It is an odd mix on economic models. Somewhat like a model for gambling except in that case you know exactly what you Ps is with roulette. In the oil patch I might weight my Ps for a wildcat as 20% but the reality (unknown at the decision point) it’s either zero or 100%. But that’s not really true: my well might be successful but instead of finding 5 mmbo I find 3 mmbo. In roulette if I win I know exactly what I pocket. Another difference: if I win $100 on my $10 bet it may not net me $90 if I get paid 20% of my chips a year but the casino can change the value of my chips over time. My chips in Year 3 might be worth more, or less, than the day I won them.

A stock market model doesn’t work too well either. I won’t know with any exact certainty what my X shares will eventually sell for (Ps) so similar to the oil patch. But I know if I buy X shares I know I’ll sell X shares when the time comes unlike the oil patch where there is no certainty of how many bbls I sell...if any.

When you add all the factors, especially the psychological aspects, investing in the oil patch doesn’t seem terribly rational. Thank goodness for greed otherwise maybe very few wells would ever have been drilled. LOL. Then again, maybe the casinos have the same dynamic working for them

Greer explained it nicely this week:

The point that has to be grasped in order to understand these broader effects is that the higher price of substitute fuels isn’t arbitrary. Tar sand extractives, for example, cost more to produce than light sweet crude because pressure-washing tar out of tar sands and converting it to a rough equivalent of crude oil takes much more in the way of energy, resources, and labor than it takes to drill for the same amount of conventional oil. Each year, therefore, as more of the liquid fuels supply is made up by tar sand extractives and other substitute fuels, larger fractions of the annual supply of energy, raw materials, and labor have to be devoted to the process of bringing liquid fuels to market, leaving a smaller portion of each of these things to be divided up among all other economic sectors.

Those processes are a good deal more complex than the ones we’ve traced so far, since they involve competition for capital and other resources among different sectors of the economy, a struggle in which political and cultural factors play at least as large a role as economics. Still, one result can be traced in the unexpected decline in petroleum consumption that has taken place in the United States since 2008...

... the costs of growth are popping up in unexpected places; put too much stress on a chain and it’ll break, but the link that breaks isn’t necessarily the one closest to the source of stress. The economies of the world’s industrial nations are utterly dependent on a steady supply of liquid fuels, and so a steady supply of liquid fuels they will have, even if every other sector of the economy has to be dumped into the hopper in order to keep the fuel flowing. As every other sector of the economy is dumped into that hopper, in turn, the demand for liquid fuels goes down, ...

This process is, among other things, one of the main forces behind the disappearance of "bankable projects" discussed in last week’s post. ...

But is this $70/barrel Canadian/North Dakota oil better or worse than the $20/barrel oil from the perspective of a North American citizen?

That $70 goes to pay for tar sands miners, SAGD operators, synthcrude processors, pipeline operators, etc. and they recirculate their wages in the North American market buying homes, food, etc. The $70 sent to some Mid-East state for $20/barrel oil pays for their welfare state, Chromed Bugattis (http://ksaloverksa.info/), an edifice complex, etc.

I realize there is less 'profit' or fat in the Canadian/North Dakota oil but how that money is spent may be better for me as a North American since it builds my domestic economy instead of funding who-knows-what in some far-off foreign land.

If you could buy the mideast oil for $20 and spend the remaining $50 on other local economic activities you'd be much better off than spending the $70 on local oil. Of course, the Saudis won't sell it to you for $20. Such is life.

Anyway, Greer's point is that the high price means something, it's not just a numbers game. Money may go around in circles, but real resources spent on oil extraction do not. More of us chimps spend more of our time collecting oogah-nuts and less time grooming.

I'm with specu here, but I think think the example is extreme. It's more like spending $70 here or $68 there -- sure, YOU save $2, but your neighbor collects welfare while Saudi princes fund religious zealots.

If you drive through oil patch areas, it is easy to see the huge number of jobs, and that's on top of landowner wealth. When I drive through tiny towns and struggling neighborhoods elsewhere, I can't help but think "What do these people do?". When you're in the oil patch, you KNOW, because you see the welding shops, pipe fitters, distributors, reps, and operating company buildings EVERYWHERE, from small rural towns to downtown skyscrapers.

The recent shale bump has added one more item to my peak oil survival list (beyond the self-sufficiency and non-discretionary jobs, etc.): strive to live in an energy-rich areas. I imagine the towns near wind-farms and solar facilities will be much the same. It's good to be in a locale that benefits from selling power to others (whether liquid or electrons), rather than being in an area that has surplus people with not much to do, and lot they need to buy from afar.

This makes me think W. Canada might actually be a good place to live. I suspect any second-tier shale acreage will be a good bit too -- not yet economical, but maybe will be at $130 oil?

Thanks for posting the link. The same process of ever increasing percentages of GDP being directed to energy and away from other activities is also at play in other resource areas such as mining and water resources. In the development area, this same process manifests itself in higher marginal costs to develop incremental capacity.

When productivity is increasing rapidly, these costs can be absorbed but once these incremental costs exceed productivity growth the only place they can come from is a lower standard of living as existing funds are redirected to maintaining the basic goods and services.

Debt has done a good job of masking this process in the developed world but it only works for so long before the reduced living standards are imposed one way or another.

You have a low/hi/reference case in there somewhere, I assume? After all you can come up with all sorts of crazy scenarios using just whatever numbers. The US averaged 519 kb/d YOY growth 1986-1988; if I project that out 10 years I get 21.4 mb/d for 1996, which obviously didn't happen.

There's no denying there's quite a demand juggernaut out there, but just assuming it can't be steered in any way whatsoever isn't very meaningful. KSA in particular I think have more options than you give them credit for.

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't China's oil consumption recently drop? I'm asking this as I wonder whether we can extrapolate that Chindia will keep increasing consumption over the next decade. If their use plateaus, what would the graph look like then? I am quite curious. Anyway, keep up the good work!

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't China's oil consumption recently drop?

You stand corrected. Demand growth in China has slowed but is still rising.

Global oil demand growth seen at slowest since 2008

CHINA SLOWS The latest poll showed half of the lost demand growth for 2012 is in China, which has seen its normally robust economy stumble as its key export markets have seen growth stall or even reverse. Demand there is now seen rising to 10 million bpd this year from 9.6 million in 2011.

Ron P.

And this growth is despite the fact that China has raised fuel prices at least a couple times this year.

Oil actually caused China to run a few monthly trade deficits. (China running trade deficits seems to foreign!)

I don't know what planet this guy happens to be living on. The one with 6 mbpd spare capacity certainly isn't our own. Today all it took was the barest assurance that Europe would print more money for prices to rise 10%. What this shows is almost zero real spare capacity. Prices wouldn't turn on a dime if there was a substantial ability to put mass volumes of lower priced oil on the market.

$70 oil times 110 mbpd is 7.7 billion per day or 2.8 trillion per year. So he threads the GDP needle at less than 5% of overall world. However, the likelihood is that the new oil grows more costly not less. In 9 years, the world consumes another 300 billion barrels. Much of that is the cheap, easy to access stuff.

Is the entire 30 million bpd of new oil coming from fracking? How much comes from tar sands? And if so, how much more nat gas gets soaked up? How much is converted nat gas? How much is biofuels?

The 110 figure shows an engine that has simply been converted to burn a costly mix of non-renewable resources ever faster. And the "peak oil" figure must now include unconventionals, natural gas, and soil (for crops).

One last point: the climate system can't possibly handle such an insult. If the costs stay low enough to sustain it, which is highly doubtful, the added CO2 beats it down with heavy externalities.

This guy's forecast is deadly irresponsible.

Black Market for Body Parts Spreads Among the Poor in Europe

BELGRADE, Serbia — Pavle Mircov and his partner, Daniella, nervously scan their e-mail in-box every 15 minutes, desperate for economic salvation: a buyer willing to pay nearly $40,000 for one of their kidneys.

The couple, the parents of two teenagers, put their organs up for sale on a local online classified site six months ago after Mr. Mircov, 50, lost his job at a meat factory here. He has not been able to find any work, he said, so he has grown desperate. When his father recently died, Mr. Mircov could not afford a tombstone. The telephone service has been cut off. One meal a day of bread and salami is the family’s only extravagance.

“When you need to put food on the table, selling a kidney doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice,” Mr. Mircov said.

“When you need to put food on the table, selling a kidney doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice,” Mr. Mircov said.

These are the kinds of markers I've been watching for. This is how you know when it's become serious. As this level of desperation spreads into areas once though of as first world it will have major effects. But I think this is what is required before you get major social unrest.

I remember watching the documentary "Riding the Rails" about hobos stealing the rails in the Great Depression (the first one), and thinking about what it would be like to kick out a child because you couldn't feed them any more.

But I think this is what is required before you get major social unrest.

I'm not sure it will lead to major social unrest. As the article points out, there was a spike in selling body parts in the Soviet Union when it collapsed, but it subsided.

I also read another article recently, about how Greece leads the world, by a lot, in a certain cosmetic procedure. A very expensive surgery that is supposed to enlarge the male organ. While some people can't afford food, others are spending ridiculous amounts of money on unnecessary cosmetic surgery that will rarely even be seen.

I remember watching the documentary "Riding the Rails" about hobos stealing the rails in the Great Depression (the first one), and thinking about what it would be like to kick out a child because you couldn't feed them any more.

I think that has been the norm for longer than it hasn't. Well before the Great Depression, boys were kicked out of the house for economic reasons. A farm can be split only so many times before it becomes economically unviable, and can only support so many people. It may be worse in the city. That's why there were bands of boys living on the streets in London, a la Oliver Twist. They were kicked out of their homes (sometimes as young as age 3) because their parents could not afford to support them.

There was a link posted here a few years ago, about a skeleton found in a cave in Utah. Turns out, it had probably been there since before WWI. It was of a 14-year-old boy, likely kicked off his farm back east, in Utah to work in the mines. He got sick and died in the cave he was living in, and no one missed him. With the bones was a handmade quilt, made by the ladies in the nearby town. That was apparently something they did for charity: sew quilts out of scraps and give them to the migrant workers who came west to work in the nearby mine.

My father and his two older brothers were sent to work for room and board on other farms during early to mid WW II because my grandfather couldn't feed all nine children. The eldest served in the Army and was killed in France; one of the older brothers misrepresented his age and enlisted in the Merchant Marines. [edit] My father was a young teenager and had no choice but to stay and work.

I read James Kunstler's site occasionally and sometimes he likes to imagine what it will be like in the possible post-decline agrarian society. He seems to think everyone would have lots of kids to help out on the farm. A lot of people seem to think in pre-industrial times everyone had large families to help out on the farm too. But looking at the near zero growth pre-industrial times, this wasn't the case. Every society evolved comprehensive traditions to control their fertility. But often even these weren't enough and they had to resort to measures like female infanticide and kicking boys out of the house to starve. People complain about abortion now, and abortion is grisly no doubt, but the historical alternatives are often even worse.

But looking at the near zero growth pre-industrial times, this wasn't the case.

You are looking in the wrong place. If you look at the growth rate of any species you will get the same near zero growth rate. Humans were no different. They had to have large families in order to have enough survive into adulthood to keep the population from shrinking. The mortality rate was extremely high in pre industrial times. Also the percentage of mothers dying in childbirth was high also.

Ron P.

I think that has been the norm for longer than it hasn't. Well before the Great Depression, boys were kicked out of the house for economic reasons. A farm can be split only so many times before it becomes economically unviable, and can only support so many people. It may be worse in the city. That's why there were bands of boys living on the streets in London, a la Oliver Twist. They were kicked out of their homes (sometimes as young as age 3) because their parents could not afford to support them.

Oh, I agree, which is why I expect it. It's probably an issue in large parts of the world now. My point is that this is a big change in expectations in the western industrial world, and it's that relative change that causes unrest.

I don't know why selling organs died out in Russia - possibly because they are an asset rich nation that finally got out from under the yoke the western empire was putting around them and began to improve their situation. How would Spain, for example, pull that off?

Lastly, increasing disparity between rich and poor is what I would expect as things get tougher. It's existence is probably a precursor of social unrest, although people will tolerate a lot of it if they feel they can survive.

Historically -and a fear still in parts of the world, rather than being kicked out, they get sold into slavery -particularly the females.

"I also read another article recently, about how Greece leads the world, by a lot, in a certain cosmetic procedure. A very expensive surgery that is supposed to enlarge the male organ. While some people can't afford food, others are spending ridiculous amounts of money on unnecessary cosmetic surgery that will rarely even be seen."

The statistics on this would be massively skewed because there is quite a flourishing business in greece of cosmetic surgery (of all kinds) for customers from the ex-soviet bloc and a fair amount of business from the mideast. I don't know how the authors of that article collected their data, but if it was just on number of procedures done per unit time in a given country... the numbers for russia would be inaccurately low and greece absurdly high, because of the number of customers from especially russia.

U.S. cognizant of Iran-Vz arms deals:


U.S. clearly telegraphs, via Aviation Week and Space Technology article this week, its 'final option' intent to attack Iran in 2013 or as late as 2014 after the Pres election and two years (or one year) before the mid-term elections, supposedly Obama has formed a unified coalition and the plans are all ready for the trigger to be pulled; complete with a high-level description of targets, attack platforms, and specific kinds of bombs and missiles:


Interesting juxtaposition of the Iran nuclear quest with the Iran aiding Vz...the intrusion into the Western hemisphere I am sure will trip all the 'Monroe Doctrine' tripwires, along with the threat to Gulf oil supplies adding a modern 'Carter Doctrine' heap of spice to the mix...I wouldn't be surprised if the opportunity is taken to consolidate the U.S. hegemony over the Gulf, and to get a 'twofer' with some kind of toppling of the Vz government down the line...do not think for one second that we don't consider the Orinoco as 'our ace in the hole'.

All this is just my personal speculation, reading the open-press trial balloons being blown...the tea leaves indicate that Iran would be wise to reach an agreement sooner than later...

Meanwhile, I imagine the MIC is smacking its chops, knowing that all this effectively insulates it from sequestration...at least anything more than the merest pinprick of a lessening of the desired budget growth rate. The level of war effort shall be maintained at a certain level...as we wound down Iraq and are winding out of Afghanistan, other parties will commence to keep the booze flowing...

[EDIT] Link fixed to Aviation Week article

The issue over which all the negotiations and consternation is concerned is simply a canard, it is irrelevant and everyone involved knows that. What is driving the conflict is simply the larger issues of empire and consolidation of power. There's no point in paying much attention to any article that plots future events based on details about said canard, although the state of the actual preparations that are being made would be telling - except there is an awful lot of psyops mixed in there so how would one know? All things being equal the simple calculus of such things mean that an attack must eventually come, but things don't remain equal and the world is a complex place right now.

The issue over which all the negotiations and consternation is concerned is simply a canard, it is irrelevant and everyone involved knows that.

That may or may not be true. But, in any case a cause to start the war which at least has a ring of truthiness to it is usually needed. So if they did settle on the N issue (and we are making it difficult for them to do so), we might not be able to construct enough of a fig leaf to go ahead with the plans.

Texas Drought Will Harm Wildlife Habitat For Years

While this article was published in August, 2011, it should not be lost on anyone that the outcomes have spread northwards this year.

In particular, honey bees gather less nectar in drought conditions, have to forage further, and, generally, hives weigh less. Pollination is impacted in two ways - heat affecting fertilization and heat affecting pollinators.

Weather Effects: Honeybees and Food Prices

I'm glad I'm not a mid-western farmer this year:

Hot, hot, hot!

The past few days have produced some startling new temperature records. Many locations in eastern Colorado and Kansas hit high temperatures above 110F. One location reported 118F. Many of these stations have records extending back more than 80 years, some more than 100. This is really scary...

E. Swanson

Chicago hit 100 degrees yesterday, before storm clouds moved in, but we didn't get much more than a few drops of rain.

Today is much relief. Temperatures are down in the 80's. Although huge thunderstorms threatened, we have had a couple of hours of steady, light rain. Probably better, since rainwater from heavy thunderstorms just ends up in the sewers.

From the WaPo:

2:50 p.m.: Mark Richards, weather observer at Reagan National Airport, says the temperature at 2:48 p.m. hit 104, blowing by the old June record of 102 set on June 9 in both 1874 and 2011. We are now experiencing D.C.’s hottest June temperatures in 142 years of record-keeping [emphasis in original]. There is an outside chance today’s high temperature could match D.C.’s hottest in any month: 106 reached on both August 6, 1918 and July 20, 1930.

Dulles Airport has at least reached 100 degrees, crushing its daily record by 5 degrees (95, 1991) and (at least) tying its monthly record of 100 (from June 27, 1964)

I expect to see more records broken in the Southeast today...

E. Swanson

Yes I concur, this weather in the DC area is out of control. 103 in the shade outside my house in the forest right now. This is the third summer in a row here of extreme heat and drought. It seems like everything is dying, oak trees are especially bad looking around here. If this keeps up for another decade I feel the flora will start undergoing huge changes. How anybody cannot be concerned about the climate at this point is beyond me. Peak oil isn't even on my radar compared to how nervous all this drought makes me.

Funny. The only that grows around here, are what they call Cal Oaks. Really sorry looking small trees that are completely dormant all summer long. And these only grow on the more favorable north facing spots.

I show a high of 96.4 today, and humidity at 67%; swealtering... Coming back from GA, the thermometer in the truck was at 112, driving in a fairly shaded area.

Paid $3.08 for 87 octane, BTW, and $3.29 for offroad diesel. May be time to stock up on generator fuel. Looks like we're gonna need the AC some...

Its not just the heat but lack of rain during the last two months in Missouri and central to southern Illinois. St. Louis has had only about 40% of normal rainfall since May 1st, after a wetter than normal spring. Corn that was planted early (some was planted nearly a month earlier than normal due to spring temps averaging above normal by about 10 deg F). Due to crop insurance requirements soybeans were not planted until mid to late may. Most of them in this part of the country are stunted (look to be about 1/4 to 1/2 lower height than normal). Unless we get greater than normal rain in the next two weeks, many fields of soybeans will be a total loss. Corn may fair better but yields will be down a lot unless rain hits soon.

Bottom line is that reduced midwest corn crop will push prices higher, just as gasoline drops. This may cause retailers to forego buying ethanol and switch to straight gas. Many marginal ethanol plants may go broke, as might some grain elevators that are involved in speculation, IMO.

If commodity prices for grains go sky high (as I think they will), perhaps the renewable fuel mandates will be scrapped for corn ethanol and soybean diesel.

There is a law in the U.S. that requires 10% ethanol in gasoline. If a bad corn harvest reduces ethanol production enough to prevent the law from being met, then the price of ethanol will increase. If they do not mix E-10, the blenders get fined.

But I am not sure if a shortage of corn will be the dominate factor because the demand for gasoline in the U.S. has been decreasing and ethanol production does not consume the entire crop. Maybe demand from Brazil will help.

More scenes from forthcoming attractions ...

Midway (airport) closed nearly 4 hours after outage cuts power to runway lights

Apparently due to equipment failure.

'Doesn't the coal article assume that Asian shale gas never becomes a major player? Given development there, and Arctic resources, and the ongoing Japanese research into methane gas hydrates, is it really safe to assume that the same market forces putting coal out of business here won't happen there? NG seems a more attractive fuel, besides its higher possible thermal efficiency in power plants, it can be vehicle fuel, chemical feedstock, and a clean household fuel.

The poor in China and India dont want to use smoked, stanky coal in the home anymore than we do. They just do it cuz its cheap and the infrastructure isn't there yet.

How to Track Colorado’s Waldo Canyon ‘Super Fire’ (and Others)

As an uncontrolled “super fire” near Colorado Springs rages, feeding off parched terrain and forcing tens of thousands from their homes and businesses, high-tech mapping tools are dishing up highly detailed, bird’s eye views of the fire’s scope.

Such tools offer everything from perimeter reports and pictures of the devastation to evacuation areas and shelters for both people and pets in the fire’s path.

Also: a Google Crisis Map of 2012 wildfires

I looks like the many of the houses in the development burned because they were too close to each-other. The landscaping is still intact... so it doesn't look like they were all caught in a heat-pulse. Embers?

I get the impression from looking at photos that the houses were too close together and made with flammable roofs.

Re: Good News In The Global Economy

2. The global economy can make sense. For decades, the virtues of free trade, capitalism, foreign investment, and supply side economics have been touted. The results of these policies, and the victory of capitalism over communism after the dismal results for communist economies last century, shows that these policies can work.

I believe there's a psychological term for this. Ah, yes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandiosity

1. The person exaggerates talents, capacity and achievements in an unrealistic way.
2. The person believes in his/her invulnerability or does not recognise his/her limitations.
3. The person has grandiose fantasies.
4. The person believes that he/she does not need other people.
5. The person overexamines and downgrades other people, projects, statements, or dreams in an unrealistic manner.
6. The person regards himself/herself as unique or special when compared to other people.
7. The person regards himself/herself as generally superior to other people.
8. The person behaves self-centeredly and/or self-referentially.
9. The person behaves in a boastful or pretentious way.

And perhaps a bit of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ressentiment in the sense of "that system doesn't work, therefore ours works".

I believe there's a psychological term for this

Yeah, it's called: 'DENIAL'!

Or The Lake Wobegon effect, where "all the capitalist children are above average".

For the record, I believe that both capitalism and communism are failed paradigms.

Yair . . . A bit O/T but I thought some folks may find this of interest . . . particularly if you envisage broadscale farming to be in deep fertile soils.

How long do you think production can continue on this sort of country once fuel and fertilizer cranks up a bit in price or down in availability?



How an ancestral fungus may have influenced coal formation

An international team of scientists, including researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), has proposed a new factor that may have contributed to the end of the Carboniferous period—named after the large stores of what became coal deposits.

The evidence, presented online in the June 29 edition of the journal Science, suggests that the evolution of fungi capable of breaking down the polymer lignin, which helps keep plant cell walls rigid, may have played a key role in ending the development of coal deposits. With the arrival of the new fungi, dead plant matter could be completely broken down into its basic chemical components. Instead of accumulating as peat, which eventually was transformed into coal, the great bulk of plant biomass decayed and was released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

S - That may also explain why there are few very old geologists around...we tend to not be fungi proof.

Syrian tanks 'amass on border' as Assad threatens opposition

... Syrian government forces have massed 170 tanks north of the city of Aleppo, close to the Turkish border, according to the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Turkey deploys troops, tanks to Syrian border

... Turkish state TV channel TRT gave details of military convoy movements in border areas on its website Thursday, saying trucks loaded with tanks had been moved to a military unit on the border with Syria.

"There were also air-defense systems among the military transfer of military vehicles and tanks," it reported.

The semi-official Anatolia news agency also reported the transfer of armored vehicles to military posts in some districts of Sanliurfa and Hatay, along the border, on Wednesday.

Nuclear spokesman assures Allegan officials Palisades plant is safe

... “There’s no green ooze in barrels. Homer Simpson does not work here,” Mark Savage, spokesman for the facility near South Haven, told the commissioners.

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, was listed as one of the four lowest-rated power plants in the nation in a Nuclear Regulatory Commission annual assessment released in March.

The facility was downgraded as the result of an NRC investigation of an electrical fault in September. The incident resulted in a reactor trip and the loss of half of the control room indicators. Radioactive steam was released into the environment, though the radiation levels were within acceptable levels.

In April, the plant was shut down for maintenance and refueling, and started generating electricity again in May. The plant was again taken off-line June 12 to repair leaks in a water tank.

also Entergy Reactor Less Harmful to Hudson Than Expected

Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point nuclear-power plant near New York City poses less harm to the Hudson River than an earlier study indicated, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

New data provided provided by New Orleans-based Entergy shows that the plume of heated water discharged by Indian Point into the river has a “small” impact and that the number of fish caught in the plant’s water intake system had been over estimated ...

Study reveals moderate doses of alcohol increase social bonding in groups

A new study led by University of Pittsburgh researchers reveals that moderate amounts of alcohol--consumed in a social setting--can enhance positive emotions and social bonding and relieve negative emotions among those drinking.

LOL - ya think?

Sounds like a Friday afternoon Happy Hour ;-)

...and we're wasting good ETOH in our cars? I prefer mine in the form of an ice cold gin/tonic, key lime, tall, sweaty glass ;-/ Beats this heat...

Peak Optimism!

"Comparison of World Oil and Natural Gas Resource Endowment Estimates."


From a 2010 presentation for the AAPG by a Falcon O&G geologist. Curiously enough his chart only seems to be current up to ca. 2003. Hubbert and Campbell are in there, natch. Funny how the volume of reports follows price shocks upwards. Who were those uber-optimists at the tail end of the 70s? "Stryikovich" I can guess as to the nationality of, how about "Seidl"?

Ha, I find this loan reference to the former's name in this book: Oil in the 21st Century: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities - Robert Mabro - Google Books Says he had another study out in 1997 - 11 TB, 6 TB conv/5 TB Unconv. Wouldn't fit on this graph's scale, perhaps... ;) The author of that chapter of that book is Thomas S. Ahlbrandt, who also did the Falcon oil presentation.

KLR - One can never underestimate the effect of herd mentality. I easily recall those very heady days of the late 70's. I recall one stock owner of one of my former companies, Natomas North America, making a public statement during a quarterly meeting: after hearing the company's 1980 projection of $75/bbl by 1986 he said he didn't want to own any piece of a company run by such ignorant management. He had in his hand a report published in the Wall Street Journal predicting that oil will be over $100/bbl by 1986.

Have no idea who else he invested in but good thing he bailed on NNA: they spent $550 million to find $60 million of oil/NG. And then filed bankruptcy and was liquidated 2 years later. BTW most oil fell below $12/bbl by 1986. Makes you wonder if folks who make their investment decision based upon WSJ articles are familiar with such stories.

Hey, he would be pretty close in real dollars with the price at ca. $65 in 1985. Course those are 2012 dollars. I'm just trying to give the guy props of some kind! $100/bbl in the 80s, that would be simply brutal, like $300/bbl today.

I'm always trying to suss how things could work out another way, mostly on the demand side. Looking out for that low hanging fruit to pick. Your man was sure off the ball, along with whoever did that WSJ write-up. I posted above in response to westexas with another absurdity you get blindly extrapolating into the future.

We could save mbs/d a day just carpooling, for one obvious example. Of course we'd first have to admit that production has peaked, and you can think of any number of initiatives more palatable to the American public, many of which involve military force, unfortunately. :( This is what I find most alarming about peak oil; not the steps needed to deal with it in a rational manner, but rather the unrational alternatives that are possible.

Anyway, back to my graph; Euan or Sam did pieces in the past here comparing the multitude of projections of the past, but I don't think they parsed as many as this chart lists. It's interesting that the median looks to be maybe 2.5 TB.

Ah, found the whole table:

From Salvador, Amos, 2005, Energy: A historical perspective and 21st century forecast
Decade Cumulative Billion Barrels
1940 838
1950 1785
1960 2268
1970 2283
1980 2046
1990 2326
2000 2918

Reproduced from Relationship between Giant Field Data and Ultimate Recoverable Oil By M.K. Horn.

The 2000s estimate is USGS/Odell/Edwards, so of course it's skewed through the ceiling. The only thing providing any balance is the 5th of 5 studies...Deffeyes. 50s-90s gives a median of 2141.6. Ruh roh! Peak oil time. Even changing that to 60s-00s only bumps us up to 2368.2.

I'm bookmarking this. Might make for a fun post here. Perhaps Euan or Sam mentioned it. Ordered a copy of the book mentioned in my OP, too. You can read all of his chapter at the Google Books link, excellent stuff on reserves.

Congress passes student loans, highway jobs bill

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Finding rare political accommodation on the cusp of a holiday recess, Congress passed legislation Friday designed to salvage 2.8 million jobs and shield students from a sharp increase in loan interest rates.

The legislation, which also revamps highway and transit programs and shores up the federal flood insurance program, now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama's signatures...

...In the bargaining that led up to an agreement on the package earlier this week, House Republicans gave up their demands that the bill require approval of the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline and block federal regulation of toxic waste generated by coal-fired power plants. Democrats gave ground on environmental protections and biking, pedestrian and safety programs."

But Congress and the White House have refused to discuss raising fuel taxes or an alternative long-term source of money. The federal trust funds that pay for highway and transit programs are forecast to be nearly broke by the time the bill expires.

"When the bill expires we face a high cliff from which the program could fall," said Erich Zimmerman, a policy analyst with Taxpayers for Common Sense.

"The federal trust funds that pay for highway and transit programs are forecast to be nearly broke by the time the bill expires."

Isn't that how it's supposed to work? You save up money in the trust funds, then use them for a big project, or collection of smaller ones. That should be straightforward Keynesianism. Taxes in good times, taking money out of circulation, then being spent in the bad times.

If you think the trust funds won't refill fast enough, then that's a different problem.

AH!!!come on folks some one or more of you go up and flag that second post on the DB as inappropiate, I just did.

Texas GOP’s 2012 Platform Opposes Teaching “Critical Thinking Skills”

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Now we can understand why former President Shrub was the way he was!

Abolish fact checking. Abolish thinking. Abolish any form of cognition we can't control for our own ends.

I doubt the "opposing critical thinking" was a mistake (as mentioned in the article). It is perfectly in line with their past policies and other parts on education.

If you've seen the full thing it's much worse than mentioned here. It also demands that women be second class citizens and that attacking people for being gay should not be a crime. Not to mention the blatant racism, repeal of the Voting Rights Act, minimum wage laws and the Endangered Species Act as well as the abolishment of the Environmental Protection Agency.

It really is out of the middle ages and completely obsessed with religion trumping any other rights or laws... and the "opposing critical thinking" is actually the LEAST WORST thing in it.

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills

But, if you happen to be a blind follower, well, we have a place for you in a voting booth in November. Of course blind allegiance means voting against your own best interests, but in return you'll get a coupon book you can have right front of you on the coffee table. Need to send your kid to school, pick up that coupon book, get the education voucher and rip it out - sure to save some on privatized education. Got an elderly relative? Get that coupon book back out and get yourself a medicare voucher for partial savings on extremely expensive health insurance for the medically highest risk group; those over 65. Thinking of retiring? Grab that coupon book! Come on, with all that money you'll be saving on education and health insurance you're going to need a voucher to place your hard earned money in the stock market, and then just hope you retire when the market is riding high. Thanks to you we now live in a gilded age of unimaginably super wealthy people paying the least ever on taxes!! Now don't open those eyes you dependable blind follower, because we don't even like you but we LOVE your allegiance.

Hey, if they're gonna publish books of 'em, I wonder if the locals could offer kidney discount coupons?

What gets me is just how blatantly open they are about it. No longer any need to conceal what they are doing. The public has become so stupid that there's no need to hide that agenda anymore!

Does anyone know where I can find oil consumption data, especially the US, previous to 1965 when the BP data starts?



Sources & Uses -> Petroleum and Other Liquids

Data -> Consumption/Sales

Product Supplied

but wait, you say, it only goes from 1981.

Well, look closely, under "Finished Motor Gasoline", "Distillate Fuel Oil",
and "Residual Fuel Oil", and you'll see it goes back to 1945, 1945 & 1936 respectively.

Their zoomy new chart browser lets one zoom in.
n.b. make a "box" the full height of the chart, or it chops off the highs and lows.

The Distillate Fuel Oil is interesting, the winter peak becomes less and less over the years - people switching to gas heating?

Oooh - discontinuity starting around 1973/1974 - hmmm, what could that be? ;-)

And check out the decline of Residual Fuel Oil: