Drumbeat: July 4, 2012

Can the U.S. Economy Be Sustained for Another 236 Years?

The original Declaration of Independence, badly faded from poor 19th-century preservation techniques, is on permanent display in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Each passing Fourth of July provides evidence that this document is better preserved than the land whose inhabitants it grants freedom and rights.

As the United States turns 236, relatively few people dwell on the possibility that within another 236 years, North America may cease to be a place capable of sustaining 300 million people in comfort, stability and peace.

That's because the land and water of the United States, and other nations, are increasingly subject to conditions absent in 1776. In fact, they’ve been largely absent from the 12,000-year epoch in which humans blossomed across the globe.

Energy probe casts shadow on JPMorgan

[WASHINGTON] JPMorgan Chase & Co's refusal to turn over e-mails in a federal probe of potential energy market manipulation is the latest challenge for chief executive officer Jamie Dimon as the bank faces multiple investigations.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sued JPMorgan on July 2 to release 25 e-mails in an investigation of possible manipulation of power markets in California and the Midwest by J P Morgan Ventures Energy Corp, according to court filings by the Washington-based agency. FERC opened the probe in August after complaints from California and Midwest grid operators that JPMorgan's bidding practices were abusive, the documents show.

Norway oil talks fail, strike could last weeks: union

(Reuters) - An 11-day strike in Norway's oil sector, which has slowed shipments from the world's eighth-largest exporter, could drag on for weeks, a labour union said on Wednesday after a second round of talks with employers failed to produce a deal over pensions.

Oil prices have risen this week back above $100 per barrel, as the strike has cut Norway's oil production by around 13 percent and as traders said on Monday that exports of at least one tanker had been delayed.

Troubled political situation in Kuwait

KUWAIT: Sources revealed that government is very much angry from the troubled political situation in the state under an explosive regional situation at any time. Sources said that inspite of the dangerous developments between Iran and the west, which reached to the point where the Iranian Parliament announced a suggestion to close Hormuz straights, through which all oil exports for Kuwait and Gulf State pass through. In addition to the military exercise of the Iranian forces which resembled the attack of foreign bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Emirates and Oman. Inspite of all those dangerous developments, the creation of crisis by the MPs is still their main concern, and example the last escalation by the majority MPs.

Oil now a weapon against Iran

Over the past decades, oil producing countries were the ones that determined the rules of the game in oil markets, as exporting countries have been using oil as a tool to apply pressure on consumers, especially during the Arab-Israeli war in 1973 during which time Arabs had halted oil exports leading to prices jumping five times.

Four decades after the 1973 war, the situation has changed and oil consuming countries are now pressurising oil exporting countries after they recently reducing their dependence on oil, especially from the Gulf countries by the developing alternative sources of energy. The countries to do so include the Americas, Brazil and Venezuela and the US.

Russia to Take $60 a Barrel Oil as One Budget Assumption

MOSCOW--The Russian government will consider a sharp fall in the price of oil, to just $60 per barrel, as one of its budget scenarios for 2013, officials said Wednesday, stressing however that this would be only a risk assessment.

"This is...a forecast of a behavioral model in the case of a sharp drop in oil prices, which could be unlikely," Deputy Finance Minister Tatyana Nesterenko said.

Unconventional Oil is NOT a Game Changer

The drilling costs are high, as are the decline rates ("While some have been able to yield as much as 1,000 barrels a day, the rate then falls off to 65 percent the first year, 35 percent the second, and 15 percent the third"), and the EROEI is very low in comparison with conventional oil. As with unconventional gas, which suffers from the same obstacles, the industry is set on an accelerating drilling treadmill in an attempt to grow equity by expanding the reserve base with the cash flow generated.

Continued expansion is necessary to maintain the perception of company value. In other words, the industry is based on ponzi dynamics. So long as prices hold up, we can expect it to continue, but if we look at the broader economic context in conjunction with the lessons derived from unconventional gas, there is every reason to expect that the production boom is temporary, precisely because these circumstances will generate a price collapse.

The Godmother Ran Out Of Luck: Saudi And Global Oil

The new way of looking at risk is at the heart of the transformation. International oil companies traditionally faced a simple choice: They could either invest in oil that was easy to produce but located in politically volatile countries, or operate in harsh, difficult and high cost environments in stable countries where the oil was hard to extract and can only be expensive. To be sure, this was great for Saudi Arabia, Russia and other OPEC and NOPEC states sitting on large amounts of "conventional" oil, imagining they could "fine tune" prices and keep the(ir) party going.

The Big Picture background to this global energy transformation away from oil is easy to explain: comparing 1973 and 2009 using IEA data, the OECD countries depended on oil for 52.6% of their total energy consumption in 1973. By 2009, this was down to 36%. The future trend of the energy mix is 100% sure and certain: oil's share of total energy will go on shrinking - possibly fast. Conversely, gas energy will grow - probably fast.

Poland Looks for German Prices for Gas

Polish Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski has said that Poland should be paying Gazprom the same prices for gas as other countries in the EU, such as Germany.

Mongolia Pushes Russia, China to Re-Route Planned Gas Line

Mongolia is calling upon China and Russia to re-direct a planned natural-gas pipeline across its territory as the world’s fastest growing economy seeks to tap the cleaner-burning fuel.

Dangers of fracking are clear to see

What do these deaths have to do with plans for "fracking" for natural gas in Ireland? Everything.

It was my job to investigate these three explosions, the Deepwater Horizon and California explosions as a reporter for Channel 4's Dispatches, the earliest as a US government investigator.

In all three cases the deaths were preceded by the same reassurances about the safety of drilling and piping that I read now in the debate about fracking in Ireland.

With Keystone in limbo, VFW helps vets get work on Canada's section

U.S. veterans looking for jobs have a new employment opportunity -- in Canada, working on that country’s section of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Though the push to start building the Canada-to-Texas oil route has been delayed in the United States amid political and environmental disputes, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is part of a deal that would send veterans and transitional active-duty soldiers across the border to fill as many as 114,000 skilled-labor jobs. The jobs include work on the crude-oil pipeline as well as work on infrastructure and even skyscrapers.

Fukushima inmates given compensation

FUKUSHIMA (Jiji Press)--More than 80 inmates in Fukushima Prefecture have received 80,000 yen each in resident compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Co. for the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, it was learned Wednesday.

Eligible for the compensation are people who lived in 23 municipalities in the prefecture, including Fukushima city, when the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated the plant on March 11, 2011.

TEPCO workers' salaries may be reduced further

The government is considering cutting the salaries of Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees by an additional 10 percentage points, to offset an expected reduction in the utility's planned rate hike, it has been learned.

TEPCO has applied to the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry to increase electricity charges for general households by an average 10.28 percent.

Hydro-Québec powerline plan not worth ‘marginal' savings - Stornoway Diamonds

HALIFAX, NS (MINEWEB) - Though it could save some money in the long run, Stornoway Diamonds said it would not go with a hydro power option that, according to a Hydro-Québec feasibility study, would cost Stornoway's Renard diamond project in Québec $174 million to build. Stornoway cited the burden of greater capital costs that only lead to "marginal" savings.

Stornoway released results of a feasibility study on the overall Renard project late last year in which it outlined a diesel powered operation that would initially cost $802 million to build.

Brazil Solar Energy at $299 a Megawatt-Hour Competes With Grid

Producing power from rooftop solar panels in Brazil costs less than electricity sold by 10 of the country’s 63 power distributors, according to the national energy agency Empresa de Pesquisa Energetica.

Monbiot says he was wrong on peak oil but the crisis is undeniable

In the run-up to credit crunch of 2007, whistleblowers were warning that an incumbency, the financial-services sector, had its asset assessment fundamentally wrong. The incumbency poured scorn on this, many of them professing that they had invented a new asset class – mortgage-backed securities and related complex derivatives – that represented an entirely new method of generating wealth.

Today, rather more whistleblowers are saying that another incumbency, the oil and gas sector, has its asset assessment fundamentally wrong. The incumbency pours scorn on this, insisting that they have opened up another new asset class – unconventional oil and gas – and that it represents another unforeseen road to riches. Some go so far as to say that North America is en route to being self-sufficient in hydrocarbons.

The first incumbency illusion proved to be a deadly bubble, the legacy of which still threatens to torpedo the global economy five years on. We will find out about the second within a few years. The UK industry taskforce on peak oil and energy security, which I convened, is among many groups forecasting a global descent in oil production by 2015 at the latest, notwithstanding all the incumbency rhetoric.

Monbiot: wrong again – 'Peak Oil' this time

Some people might find themselves feeling sorry for George as his belief system continues to collapse about his ears. But they really shouldn't. I've no doubt that George is agonisingly sincere and principled in everything he does, but his Weltanschauung is the philosophy of the devil. George is the embodiment of the phenomenon I describe in Watermelons – one of those bitter, misanthropic, control-freak kill-joys, green on the outside but red on the inside, the true purpose of whose "environmentalism" is not so much to save the planet as to end Western industrial civilisation.

Oil’s Long Goodbye and a Species’ Quest for Self Control

It’s become fashionable among younger and more radical activists I’ve met to link climate to capitalism and to express disdain for the western system. There’s some overlap between the Occupy movement and the more radical climate campaigners. And who can blame them for rejecting the West, given the current polarization in the United States and European political scene and the lingering recession?

But I’ve read my George Orwell. And I spent the first half of the Thatcher decade in the British military and the second half in the American environmental counterculture. A rare and heady mix, to be sure, but what I eventually emerged with was this reluctant sense that despite all its horrible faults – My Lai and Guantanamo, water-boarding and drone strikes, not to mention the current American political polarization between Occupy and the Tea Party – empirically speaking, the West has the only viable governmental systems on the planet that comes even close to the practical democracy that will be needed to solve the problem.

Evolution, not ecology

One of my major gripes with my friends in ecology is that there is a tendency to look at every problem through the lens of ecological models. Garrett Hardin, who popularized the term “tragedy of the commons” is an exemplar of this. People in ecology often get irritated by the public confusion between it, a positive scientific discipline, and environmentalism, a normative set of beliefs (it doesn’t help when some environmentalist groups have names like “ecology movement”). But the fact is there are deep commonalities in terms of prior assumptions by both ecologists and environmentalists. Despite evolutionary ecology, the reality is that ecologists seem to be characterized by a mindset which posits limits to growth and a finite set of responses to the challenges of scarce resources. That is, the Malthusian paradigm.

Is Peak Oil Really a Thing of the Past?

Say what you like about George Monbiot, but he is not afraid to speak his mind—even when that means breaking ranks with the environmentalist "party line". (Sadly, I'm not sure we greenies have ever been organized to actually have a party line.)

Richard Heinberg: Peak Denial

No doubt peakists will continue to produce thoughtful, well-reasoned, and fact-filled articles elucidating the precariousness of global energy supplies. Nevertheless, the sheer number and media prominence of “No Peak Oil” pieces (in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, and even on NPR) is having an effect. Depletionist sites are seeing declining web traffic. And while far more people now have heard of Peak Oil than was the case just a few years ago, many mistakenly believe that its core assertion has somehow been “debunked.”

Oil retreats, focus on grim economy

LONDON (Reuters) - Crude oil prices fell on Wednesday, after a sharp gain the previous day, as investors returned their focus to the grim global economic backdrop, though expectations of fresh stimulus measures limited losses.

Gasoline’s Drop Toward $3 Provides Obama a Lift

U.S. gasoline prices at the pump, headed to $4 a gallon in April, are dropping toward $3 as the July Fourth holiday approaches, giving consumers relief and a boost to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

Iran says can destroy U.S. bases "minutes after attack"

(Reuters) - Iran has threatened to destroy U.S. military bases across the Middle East and target Israel within minutes of being attacked, Iranian media reported on Wednesday, as Revolutionary Guards extended test-firing of ballistic missiles into a third day.

Israel has hinted it may attack Iran if diplomacy fails to secure a halt to its disputed nuclear energy program. The United States also has mooted military action as a last-resort option but has frequently nudged the Israelis to give time for intensified economic sanctions to work against Iran.

Iran Convenes Discussions Amid Maneuvers in Persian Gulf

Iran, in the middle of a three-day military exercise in the Persian Gulf, convened a meeting with world powers in Istanbul in search of a diplomatic solution to the nation’s nuclear work.

Chinese, French, German, Russian, U.K. and U.S. diplomats, known as the P5+1 group, will meet their Iranian counterparts today to review unresolved issues from their previous discussions. The sides downgraded the talks to a “technical level” after high-level negotiations on June 20 in Moscow failed to yield a compromise.

Iran wants strait-up Hormuz closures to block oil passage

Iran's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee has drafted a bill calling for Iran to try to stop oil tankers from shipping crude through the Strait of Hormuz to countries that support sanctions against it, a committee member said yesterday.

Japan to load first of two Iran oil cargoes as early as July 22: sources

Japanese shipping companies are likely to load Iranian oil on two VLCCs in late July, with the first cargo to be loaded as early as July 22 after the expected signing of new insurance contracts with the government next week, sources close to the matter told Platts Wednesday.

Britain urges Kenya not to import more Iranian oil

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Britain urged Kenya on Wednesday not to increase its imports of Iranian oil at a time the international community is increasing pressure on Iran to take steps to demonstrate its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, the foreign office said.

Kenya cancels Iran oil deal due to sanctions

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya is cancelling an agreement to import 4 million tonnes of Iranian crude oil per year because of international sanctions against Iran, the top official in the energy ministry said on Wednesday.

Turkey eyes further 10 pct cut in Iran oil buys

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey is prepared to cut its Iranian oil imports by no more than an additional 10 percent from next year to persuade the United States to extend sanction exemptions when they expire in December, a high-level Turkish source told Reuters.

Last month Washington granted exemptions to Turkey and six other countries from its financial sanctions on Iran's oil trade in return for significant cuts in their purchases of Iranian oil.

The Oil Sanctions Against Iran

And there is another matter as well. Iran is already storing oil offshore in tankers, but that is clearly only a short-term solution to the problem of what to do with the unsold surplus. It is also cutting back on how much oil it pumps: the latest figures from the Organisation of Petroleum-Exporting Countries say that Iranian production is already down by 720,000 barrels per day.

But after a certain point Tehran can no longer deal with the problem by just cutting production at all its wells; it has to start shutting some of them down completely. Re-starting production later can be tricky, and some wells will be permanently damaged by the shutdown. The longer the sanctions last, the more difficult it will become for the Iranian regime.

Yet there is almost no chance that Iran will back down. You do not have to assume that the regime really wants to build nuclear weapons to explain its defiance. This is a country that has faced a century of exploitation and humiliation at the hands of the West, and even those Iranians who loathe the regime will close ranks in defence of their nation’s right to enrich its own nuclear fuel.

Iran Oil Tankers’ Position Signals Spur Export Speculation

The number of Iranian oil tankers signaling their locations and destinations rose from June, prompting speculation the country facing U.S. and European Union sanctions is selling cargoes that were stored at sea.

Iran Tanker Flagging Threatens Tanzania-U.S. Ties, Lawmaker Says

Tanzania must reverse the decision allowing Iranian oil tankers to register in the country or face a breakdown in its ties with the U.S., a member of Congress wrote in a letter to the East African nation’s president.

NITC, an oil-tanker company owned by Iranian pension funds, renamed at least 10 of its vessels and switched them to a Tanzanian flag, according to the Equasis shipping database maintained by the European Commission. The move will assist Iran in evading U.S. and European sanctions, Representative Howard Berman wrote in a June 29 letter to President Jakaya Kikwete, a copy of which was posted on the congressman’s website.

Nigeria signs $4.5bn oil refining deal

Nigeria has signed a preliminary $4.5bn (£2.9bn) deal with US-based Vulcan Petroleum to build six oil refineries. The deal could boost refining capacity in the country by 180,000 barrels a day, with two of the refineries due for completion this year. Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer but its refineries are only able to refine a fraction of this into fuel.

Blast at Bangkok oil refinery triggers huge blaze

BANGKOK - An explosion at an oil refinery in an industrial area of Bangkok sparked a massive fire early Wednesday, sending a thick column of smoke into the air that could be seen across the Thai capital. There were no reported injuries in the blast and subsequent fire, which prompted the government to close the 120,000 barrels-a-day refinery for at least 30 days.

Oman expects oil prices to erase 2012 budget gap

(Reuters) - Oman expects to erase its 1.2 billion rial ($3.1 billion) budget deficit projected for 2012 as oil prices have been higher than forecast, a finance ministry official said on Wednesday.

"Up to May, we have sold our oil 50 percent above the price we estimated for the 2012 budget, and that has pushed up revenues beyond our expectations," a finance ministry official in the budgeting department told Reuters.

Indonesia Considering Moratorium on Gas Exports

The Indonesian government acknowledged on Wednesday that it was considering a moratorium on the signing of new contracts for natural gas exports, saying the country needed the gas more to support national development.

Evita Legowo, the director general for oil and gas with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, said gas exports did generate income for the state, but using it directly for domestic purposes would have “multiplier effects” that boosted local industries and the national economy.

Ambassador Hamai: Algeria set to increase gas supply to Turkey

The top Algerian diplomat in Ankara has said negotiations for additional gas supplies to Turkey are currently taking place commensurate with the growing economic and political relations between the two countries.

Turkey, which is heavily dependent on Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan to meet the energy demands of its fast-developing economy, has been trying to diversify its suppliers, and Algeria may play a larger role in Turkey’s plans.

Tajikistan increases production of oil products

According to the country's statistics data, the oil products production growth amounted to 11.1 percent during the first five months of the year.

Drilling trucks have caused an estimated $2 billion in damage to Texas roads

CLEBURNE -- The new wave of oil and gas production, which has created thousands of jobs and plowed big money into the Texas economy in recent years, has also taken a huge toll on the state's roads.

The Texas Department of Transportation told industry representatives and elected officials Monday that repairing roads damaged by drilling activity to bring them up to standard would "conservatively" cost $1 billion for farm-to-market roads and another $1 billion for local roads. And that doesn't include the costs of maintaining interstate and state highways.

Enbridge has a best friend in Ottawa

Patrick Daniel started in the oil and gas pipeline business more than 30 years ago. At the time, pumping oil through thousands of kilometres of buried metal pipes was viewed as a relatively innocuous activity, to the extent it was even thought about at all. “It was generally considered to be dull, boring and well below the radar screen,” says Daniel, the chief executive of Calgary’s Enbridge Inc., now the country’s largest transporter of crude oil. “It provided an essential service to society and was something that most everyone took for granted.”

Not anymore. Enbridge now occupies ground zero in the raging debate over Alberta’s vast oil sands.

No easy fix for eastern US storm power outages as heat wave persists

In the aftermath of violent storms that knocked out power to millions from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic, sweltering residents and elected officials are demanding to know why it's taking so long to restring power lines and why they're not more resilient in the first place.

The answer, it turns out, is complicated: Above-ground lines are vulnerable to lashing winds and falling trees, but relocating them underground involves huge costs — as much as $15 million per mile of buried line — and that gets passed onto consumers.

Duke and Progress Energy Become Largest U.S. Utility

Duke Energy said on Tuesday that it had completed its $32 billion merger with Progress Energy, a few hours after South Carolina gave final approval. The move creates the largest electric utility in the United States, with 7.1 million customers in six states in the Southeast and Midwest.

Al-Jazeera: Tests suggest Arafat died of polonium poisoning

Recent tests conducted on Yasser Arafat's personal belongings at the time of his unexpected death in 2004 suggest his body contained abnormal levels of radioactive polonium, the same poisonous substance that killed Russian spy-turned-dissident Alexander Litvinenko, Al-Jazeera TV reports.

Michigan: Record Fine Sought for Spill

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said Monday that it would seek a $3.7 million fine, a record civil penalty, from the pipeline operator Enbridge over a 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River.

Chinese fishermen sue ConocoPhillips over spills

HOUSTON – A group of 30 Chinese fishermen sued ConocoPhillips in U.S. federal court on Monday, claiming their livelihoods have been greatly impacted by two oil spills last year from the company's offshore drilling operations in northeastern China.

Is Fracking Cemeteries Immoral? Plot Owners Have No Say

To frack or not to frack in cemeteries, that's the new question natural gas companies are asking loved ones of the dead. Deep underground, ancient shale formations hold lucrative quantities of natural gas in places like Ohio, Colorado and Mississippi in veterans' final resting places to parks, playgrounds, churches and residential back yards.

The shale boom, though good for the economy, has not only raised environmental concerns, but is now starting to dabble in questions of morality. Many fear that drilling activity would pollute peaceful places of mourning with noisy, smelly and unsightly industrial activity. But defenders argue the drilling would take place so deep that it wouldn't disturb cemeteries, and would actually generate revenue to enhance the roads and grounds that surround them.

Japan utility repairing reactors near Fukushima

TOKYO (AP) — The operator of Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant says it is repairing four reactors at a less-damaged nearby plant despite demands from local residents that it be scrapped.

Belgian cabinet agrees slower phase-out of nuclear power

Belgium's cabinet voted Wednesday to close the 433 MW Doel 1 and 2 nuclear reactors from 2015 but prolong the lifespan of the 962 MW Tihange 1 unit to 2025, a spokeswoman for the energy ministry said.

UK popular support for nuclear power rises - poll

LONDON (Reuters) - The percentage of Britons who support nuclear power as part of the country's energy mix has risen, a YouGov poll showed on Monday, 16 months after Japan's Fukushima disaster fuelled opposition to the atomic fuel.

The Nuclear Industry and Venting, Round 2

The debate over making post-Fukushima Daichi improvements to American reactors is getting down into the details, and one focus is pressure relief vents.

Solar: Life, Liberty And The Pursuit of Energy Independence

No energy source is more American than solar. Technologies to convert sunshine to electricity were pioneered in the U.S. half a century ago at Bell Labs, and quickly became a source of inspiration and imagination. In the last several years, solar energy has awoken from yesterday’s dream to today’s reality.

Odd Alliance Is Forged Over Access to Herring

PORTLAND, Me. — There is no great love between Glenn Robbins, a bright-eyed third-generation fisherman, and the environmental lobby. Mr. Robbins grew up trapping Atlantic herring in cotton nets strung up in craggy coves off the Gulf of Maine. These days, he casts a net off a 104-foot boat, but catch restrictions limit those trips to twice a week, he says.

If he can’t go out for herring, he fishes for lobster, and he serves as a deacon in a Baptist church. Mr. Robbins is a staunch skeptic of global warming.

So it was supremely odd, he said, to find himself working with advocacy organizations like the Pew Environment Group as the New England Fishery Management Council recently imposed new regulations on the herring fishery.

World Bank Sees Warning Sign in Gas Flaring Increase

New data showing a two-billion cubic meter increase in flared gas in 2011 over the previous year is a warning that efforts to reduce flaring need to be sustained and even scaled up, said officials with the World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership (GGFR).

Protect whales from new oil industry threat, warns WWF

Conservationists on Tuesday appealed to countries to urgently address new threats to whales, dolphins and other cetaceans as climate change opens up previously inaccessible areas of the Arctic and industries move in to new areas.

EU’s Arctic Policy: Questions and Answers

The Arctic is rapidly warming up. The period 2005-2010 stands out as the warmest period ever recorded in the region1 and this is projected to continue into the future. The Arctic's rapid change provides a strong rationale for the EU to step up its commitment to environmental protection and combating climate change in the area.

As warming continues, ice-free summers in the Arctic may be evident in the next 30 to 40 years. Already, thawing sea ice and rapid advances in offshore technology have increased human activity in the region, such as shipping, mining and hydrocarbon extraction.

A Climate Scientist Battles Time and Mortality

Dr. Thompson, 64, is one of the most prominent of the generation of scientists who, in the latter decades of the 20th century, essentially discovered the problem of global warming. Now those scientists are beginning to age out of the field. Many of them say they grapple with the question of how hard to keep pushing themselves. Could one more finding or one more expedition help turn the tide of public awareness?

Some have continued working into their 70s and 80s. One of the most vocal about the need for action, Stephen H. Schneider of Stanford University, fought off a rare form of cancer several years ago, only to die of a blood clot in 2010 after speaking in Europe about climate change. He was 65.

Bavarian Glaciers Could Disappear in 30 Years

The Bavarian Alps are known for their stunning vistas and winter sports opportunities. But the view from some summits could change drastically in the coming years. Nearly all of the glaciers in the Bavarian Alps will likely disappear in the next 20 to 30 years due to climate change, the southern German state warned on Monday.

North Carolina lawmakers reject sea level rise predictions

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Lawmakers in North Carolina, which has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline and vast areas of low-lying land, voted on Tuesday to ignore studies predicting a rapid rise in sea level due to climate change and postpone planning for the consequences.

Gosford Council repeals controversial sea level policy

A Council on the New South Wales Central Coast has voted to repeal its controversial sea level rise policy, just months after hundreds of waterfront property owners rallied against it.

Two months ago, crowds of residents from the Coast and Lake Macquarie took to the streets, angry at state legislation and their councils' actions in response to the projected sea level threat over the next 90 years.

Drought Caused Big Drop in Texas Portion of Ogallala

The historic Texas drought caused the Ogallala Aquifer to experience its largest decline in 25 years across a large swath of the Texas Panhandle, new numbers from a water district show.

The 16-county High Plains Underground Water Conservation District reported this week that its monitoring wells showed an average decline last year of 2.56 feet — the third-largest in the district’s 61-year history, and three times the average rate over the past decade. Farmers pumped more water during the drought to compensate for the lack of rainfall, which was about two-thirds less than normal last year in Lubbock and Amarillo.

Blazes are a window into the future

The fires that are burning throughout the country offer a window into what we can expect in the future as the climate heats up. That grim assessment comes from Steve Running, a wildfire expert, ecologist and forestry professor at the University of Montana. Running was among the scores of scientists who, along with Al Gore, won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

I have posted OECD net import charts on Drumbeat before but never OECD imports plus production.

The EIA publishes monthly, both import and production numbers for 30 of the 34 OECD countries. For some reason they do not publish import data for Israel, Chile, Estonia and Slovenia. But they do publish this data for the rest of all OECD nations which are:

Australia    Denmark	Hungary	  Korea, South	Norway	  Sweden
Austria	     Finland	Iceland	  Luxembourg	Poland	  Switzerland
Belgium	     France	Ireland   Mexico	Portugal  Turkey
Canada	     Germany	Italy	  Netherlands	Slovakia  United Kingdom
Czech Rep.   Greece	Japan	  New Zealand	Spain	  United States

So I took the Crude + Condensate production data for these 30 countries, then took the Net Imports for these 30 countries and added the two. The chart below is the 12 month running average of all the imports plus all the crude + condensate production of these 30 countries.

From May of 2005 until October of 2006, OECD imports + production averaged just above 43,700,000 barrels per day. But by February 2012, the last data point on the chart, OECD imports + Production, average for the previous 12 months, was 37,379,000 barrels per day. That is a drop 6,320,000 barrels per day. That is a drop of 14.46% over a six year period. That is a drop of 2.41% per year. The data is kb/d.

OECD Imports Production

Folks, this is peak oil. This is what is causing most of the turmoil in Europe today, though few people realize it. They think it is "something happening to the economy". Well it is, the chart above is what is happening to the economy. Their liquid energy supply is declining by almost 2.5 percent a year. And it will continue to decline.

So you can deny peak oil until the cows come home. But the chart above is cold hard data from the EIA. And it tells the whole story. Peak oil arrived around 2006, or at least as all OECD nations are concerned.

Ron P.

"This is what is causing most of the turmoil in Europe today"

I agree, but there's more to it than that. Economic growth is ultimately required to replenish the wealth of the middle class that is stolen by the upper crust via the workings of our illegitimate usurious, debt-based monetary systems. This is what inflation is -- the continual theft of wealth. This system of enslavement is workable as long as there continues to be a larger pool of resources with which to replenish the wealth of the middle class. As we hit Peak Oil, that pool is now declining, not increasing. Therefore, as the wealth of the middle class continues to be siphoned off by the wealthy overlords (the bond parasites and their bankster puppets), the middle class enters poverty. Now, the system of enslavement is breaking down and the Owners are going in for the kill, pilfering it for all they can before it ultimately self-destructs.

Quick question - Some OECD countries are oil exporters. Some of the oil they export is to other OECD countries. UK Production peaked in 1999 and exports fell to zero a few years later.
Are you sure that you are not double counting this data?

Yes I am sure I am not double counting the data. This is all accounted for in the way the EIA posts the data. Here are the total imports plus total C+C production for Canada, the US and Mexico for January and February of 2012.

Imports		Jan-12	Feb-12
Canada		-2,332	-1,998
Mexico		  -828	  -909
United States	 8,104	 7,484
Canada		 3,189	 3,045
Mexico		 2,562	 2,588
United States	 6,124	 6,139
Total		16,819	16,349

Or the total consumption, or demand if you prefer that term, for each country would be:

		Jan-12	Feb-12
Canada		   857	 1,047
Mexico		 1,734	 1,679
United States	14,228	13,623

I should have used annual data here as the monthly data jumps around too much to give an accurate picture... Sorry. But as you can see it doesn't matter where the oil is exported to, what counts is what each country is left with. Think about it. There is no double counting. Keep in mind this is C+C and not total liquids or what the EIA calls "Total Oil Supply". That is why the numbers are somewhat smaller than those you see published elsewhere.

A side note. The EIA counts as "Total Oil Supply" for oil produced in the USA, refinery process gain on imported oil.

Ron P.

I think the chart will make more sense when the two lines are plotted separately.

What this chart shows is total oil consumption for these OECD countries and the dramatic fall in consumption since 2006. Plotting them separately would not show that at all.

Ron P.

Yes it's indicative but what if I reduce my imports but increase the production, the result is a flat line but net consumption has gone down, how is that captured in this data ?

There is no argument that production and/or imports need to be captured in different charts. They do. But that is not the purpose of this chart. This chart is to show the total consumption of all OECD countries and the dramatic drop in that consumption over the last six years.

If Leonardo Maugeri, Dan Yergin and others would argue that there is no oil supply problem, then they must explain why oil consumption in the developed world is dropping so dramatically.

It is dropping because oil prices have risen and forced demand down. Prices have risen because the supply is constrained. If oil were still $25 a barrel then demand would still be high and the world would not be slipping into a deep recession.

Ron P.

Peak demand, of course. We're leaving oil before it leaves us.

Wasn't that what Yergin argued? Decline will not be because of a scarcity of resources, but because of greater efficiency causing a slackening in demand.

Peak demand, of course.

and the resulting glut of oil and spare capacity is what is keeping prices so low right now...../sarc

The prices are remarkably low.

Gasoline in America in 2005 was $2.15 a gallon. Gold was $400 an ounce.

Gold Prices 2003-2012:
Image: http://goldprice.org/charts/history/gold_10_year_o_usd.png

Gasoline prices adjusted for inflation:

The prices are remarkably low.

No they are not. We do not buy gasoline with gold coins. We buy gasoline in our local currency even though it is a fiat currency. The true price of gasoline, or anything else for that matter, can be measured in the hours of labor required to earn the currency required to buy that gallon or liter of gasoline.

So the true price of gasoline can be best measured in constant dollars per gallon. But that is not a true measure because the inflation rate is fudged by most governments.

So how many hours did the average worker have to work in 2000 to fill your tank with 15 gallons and how many hours does he/she have to work today to do the same? That would be the only true measure of how much the price has increased.

Ron P.

Yeah, until everyone starts using gold coins as currency, either directly or through a gold backed currency, then you can't really price anything in gold and say it's cheaper now.

So how many hours did the average worker have to work in 2000 to fill your tank with 15 gallons and how many hours does he/she have to work today to do the same?

And how many hours would it take to perform the work of those 15 gallons? This has come up before so we all know the answer is lots.

Prices ARE remarkably low, they have changed since 2000, butg the economy needs them even lower than remarkably low to avoid recession.

The true price of gasoline, or anything else for that matter, can be measured in the hours of labor required to earn the currency required to buy that gallon or liter of gasoline.

I would argue the true price of gasoline would be best measured by including all negative externalities, which means accounting for costs of removing waste products from the environment, or by taking the cost of replacement without using non-renewable resources. The price is currently remarkably low.

perhaps I am missing something- The total cost to the consumer is the price paid at the pump (excluding taxes) plus the cost of negative externalities. If you have low negative externalities you pay a higher price at the pump and vice versa. Overtime the cost of negative externalites increases as you use up available pollution sinks- so therefore one should expect the price of oil to decline (all else being equal). Seems to me that fact that it hasn't either in relative or absolute terms in response to higher negative externalities is one more argument for peak oil.

Falling consumption / demand is not neccesarily a sign of falling production.


If we leave oil in an economic boom, full employment and good times for everyone then I will agree that Yergin was exactly right. But if we leave oil in the depths of recession and oil still expensive then we will have left oil because there simply was not enough of it to keep it cheap and the economy booming at the same time.

The gradual impoverishment of most of the world's population will likely keep the price of oil low but just too expensive to furnish the world with enough of it to get the economy booming again.


I suspect Yergin and many of his ilk would deny that we're in the depths of recession.

Yergin and his ilk conveniently ignore the segment of the population that has been affected by reduced discretionary uses of oil, liquid fuels especially. He should visit the empty hulk of a building in my town that was one of the largest offroad vehicle, boat/jetski and motor cycle dealer/distributors in the region, or the Bombardier plant in the next town over that assembled outboard engines and snowmobile transmissions. Hundreds laid off in this non-recession, a few I know who are no longer counted among the unemployed, though not because they found new jobs.

The thousands of vacation/second homes in our part of the State that remain empty are still listed as assets on someones list of securities, though the people that don't live in them no longer pump dollars into the local economy. This has been the quietest 4th holiday I can remember for decades. Must be because it fell midweek :-/

The campgrounds that are half full used to be packed this time of year. Many that are in them are "fulltimers"; the campgrounds have become their permanent residences (at reduced annual rates). Little of this shows up in the economic reports. Foreclosures, business closures, for sale or lease signs, all evidence that our economy is muddling through, at least for the sign makers.

There's no way to remove this much energy from economies without causing real recessionary effects, though governments and economists have very creative ways of masking these results on paper and through the media. After all, most of the official bean counters still have their jobs with benefits, are still fine doing their fuzzy math. I submit that they need to get out more.

Thanks for posting this Darwinian. The chart is very revealing and I agree with your analysis.

Agreed, very good chart. The data is starting to leave a mark.

I have a post up on Our Finite World that uses slightly different groupings, but tells an interesting story of who is consuming what. It is called The Growing Part of the World in Charts. In it, I break world oil consumption, coal consumption, population and GDP figures out into three groups:

1. EU-27, United States and Japan combined.
2. Former Soviet Union
3. Remainder = Growing part of the world.

In this grouping, Canada and Mexico end up in the Remainder, since they are oil exporters. The post may eventually run on TOD.

I agree with WHT and I find your next set of charts over at your blog also provide a useful framing. Some global changes are so large and have been going on so long that they are not always recognized as such (wood for trees and all that). However, the accelerating changes outside of USA, EU & Japan & FSU seem to be the key trends. I noticed on your blog that someone has promptly declared, in contradiction, that the 'surge' in NG and oil production in the USA means that the USA is the exception and is already 'doing something about it'. I doubt most at TOD think this is really true and the data for NG or oil doesn't look to me like an exceptional USA 'counter-trend' so far. http://mazamascience.com/databrowsers.html

But that is not the purpose of this chart. This chart is to show the total consumption of all OECD countries and the dramatic drop in that consumption over the last six years

You are right. Good analysis. I am going to use this chart(with credits of course) in my arguments with my friends.

Take care: A lot of that precipitous drop might just be from America's "Main Street", the little-people's economy, crashing:

Graph: OECD Imports by country

And yet, during these recent years of decline, oil company profits are quite high. "2011 Was Very Good to ExxonMobil... Highest Annual Oil Price Since 1864. In 2011 U.S. consumers faced the highest average annual oil price in nearly 150 years, yet ExxonMobil continued a record-setting pace of profit."

Combined Annual Profit of the Five Largest Oil Companies
Larger Graph:

Graph: Exon Mobil Profits 2001-2011

It does not appear that the cost to produce oil is driving the oil companies into the poor-house.

...An article which I'm not too happy with, overall. This claim is made:

The Energy Information Administration reports that:

These [oil production] costs can range from as little as $2 per barrel in the Middle East to more than $15 per barrel in some fields in the United States, including capital recovery…technological advances in finding and producing oil have made it possible to bring once-expensive deep water Gulf of Mexico oil into production for less than $10 per barrel.

I think these are old numbers.

EIA link that is provided:
does not point to this statement.

But, at any rate, Record Profits! Whoo Hoo!... or is that just because the money is turning into trash.

Overall, the situation isn't as simple as the conclusions that the Import+Production graph alone might invite. The Demand/Supply/Price interact with Economy/Greed/Wars and more. To be robust, these other factors must also weigh upon the claim.

Quantifying and finding relationships involving anything economic might be difficult. The recent revelations about LIBOR show that there has been ongoing and felonious twiddling-about with the very foundations of debt and profit.


Home run! Citizen journalism at its best.

Yes, this is most valuable. Thank you!

Really brilliant observation. I don't think I've seen it done before. Just shocking to see that OECD consumption is at 1996 levels. And what a sharp drop! Of course, since overall production has been flat doesn't this mean that the non-OECD countries saw an increase during this period? I guess the OECD is being outbid.

Canadian oil consumption is now at 1980 levels. However, Canadian oil production has doubled since 1980 so exports have increased 10 times and virtually the whole amount of increase (half of Canadian production) is now being exported the US. Americans are outbidding Canadians for their own oil.

OPEC oil producers would not do this. They usually subsidize domestic oil consumption, and give their own consumers preference over exports. This bodes ill for the OECD countries (exclusive of Canada and Norway).

What would be interesting would be to compare transit miles overall of the US vs EU as transit is the major oil consumer. We know that the US has had about a 7% drop in car miles driven and I believe the EU has had an even greater 12% drop. But the EU has much better Green Transit oil conserving options available than the US via public transit, buses, bicycles and walkable communities. Due to US Auto Addiction I believe this has hurt US mobility a lot more than the EU despite the EU's financial crisis. During interviews with the younger generation when the Occupy Movement was being more actively followed, quite a number of young non-elite college students said they had to drop out of college, even going to their local community college, because their cars broke down and they had no way to get to school for classes.
Over 150 US public transit systems have had cuts since 2008 and yet people are still clamoring for crowded, infrequent, overpriced public transit because they cannot afford either cars or the gas to run them. (5% increase in US public transit ridership in 1Q2012)
I think the EU has maintained or even expanded its public transit except possibly the rightwing UK conservative govt.
Despite all the Corporate Media attention to the EU's financial problems, the US is as bad or worse. It is just disguised because when a state like California, the size of an EU nation, is bankrupt it is somehow not considered a "national" problem. But of course since 2008 ALL the US states are in financial crises except for North Dakota thanks to their own State-owned public bank and of course the shale oil boom.
When we have neoliberals like Gov Cuomo calling to waste $5 Billion on a new highway only
Tappan Zee bridge, Connecticut Gov calling for a busway instead of utilizing existing Rail, and Teabag Gov Christie of New Jersey quadrupling highway expansion you have to wonder about the ability of the US to seriously confront Peak and Climate Change and the role of Auto Addiction in both.

Over 150 US public transit systems have had cuts since 2008 and yet people are still clamoring for crowded, infrequent, overpriced public transit because they cannot afford either cars or the gas to run them. (5% increase in US public transit ridership in 1Q2012)

So true. And yet, why is this so? Why is transit "overpriced"? If our economy is as dependent for its health on the price of oil as it seems to be, and public transit is efficient as claimed, why does public transit always operate at a loss (and usually at a very large loss), even though the fare charged is "overpriced"?

When I was growing up in Sydney, Australia, I can remember the moment when I was about thirteen and learned that the second largest item in the NSW budget was the operating loss of the railways, mostly the Sydney suburban passenger service.

Years later I worked in Denmark, where I used the very nice suburban rail service to get to work, even though it was cheaper to drive. With the rail service heavily subsidized, and everything automotive heavily taxed.

Now I live in Houston, where the rail and bus service rarely seems to go where you want to go, takes at least twice as long to get there as driving, and costs about the same (or more if two or more are traveling together). The Houston Metro [PDF] fare revenues through April for this year were $37.7 million, while operating expenses for the same period were $233.6 million. That is, the passengers paying the "overpriced" fares to travel by bus or light rail were only paying less than one sixth of the actual cost to transport them, and nothing at all for the underlying capital investment.

Many people, particularly Republicans, would point to this as an example of governmental mismanagement and/or corruption.

But while I would hesitate to swear that there is no such thing in Houston Metro, I don't think that is the main problem.

The fundamental problem with any system of mass transit is twofold: firstly, the service must be large enough to meet the peak demand; secondly, the service must be frequent enough for passengers to risk missing a bus or train.

The need to meet peak demand means that most buses, trains and employees are underworked most of the time. And because most peak demand is in only one direction, even during the period of peak demand half of the vehicles are travelling nearly empty.

The need for frequent service during peak periods is easily met (it is needed to carry the numbers) but outside of peak periods there has to be some service, or passengers will not rely on it. If the last bus leaves downtown at 6:00 p.m. and you are occasionally required to work overtime until 6:30, would you ever use the bus? My local Metro bus to downtown (from the stop three blocks from my house) runs about every fifteen minutes from around five until half past seven in the morning, and takes about an hour and a half to get to downtown (20 miles away). Until noon there is then one about every 45 minutes. That is the last for the day: if I wanted to get downtoawn after that, I need some other way to get to the Park & Ride two and a half miles from my house. Coming back from downtown, the first bus leaves about 11:15, then they are about 45 minute intervals to 3:30, increasing to every ten to fifteen minutes until about 9:00 p.m.

If I worked downtown (I don't) I would certainly consider traveling by bus because it is convenient and I could read while traveling, because the service is frequent enough for somewhat flexible working hours. But I know from experience (when I used to work downtown and did often travel by bus) that outside of rush hours the buses are almost or completely empty.

So it is no surprise that transit is almost always wasteful of both money and energy. A fifty-passenger bus uses almost the same amount of fuel full or empty; a light rail train uses almost the same amount of electricity full or empty. It seems inescapable that transit vehicles will always operate nearly empty on more than half of their trips.

So it is no surprise that transit is almost always wasteful of both money and energy. A fifty-passenger bus uses almost the same amount of fuel full or empty; a light rail train uses almost the same amount of electricity full or empty. It seems inescapable that transit vehicles will always operate nearly empty on more than half of their trips.

It is indeed true that urban transit will usually have empty spaces in at least one trip direction, unless in/out commuting are perfectly balanced. But it is not true that "transit is almost always wasteful of money and energy". Even in the US with sprawling development patterns, and low transit utilization, light rail transit uses only 70% of the Btu/passenger mile of car transport (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_efficiency_in_transportation). In places like Europe and India where transit runs packed to the gills with people, transit energy efficiency is an order of magnitude better than car transport.

As far as wasting money, with good urban design and political policies that remove the massive subsidies to auto use that currently exist in the US, transit can be completely self-financing. All over the planet, urban bus systems are operated by private companies with no public subsidies (most cities in Latin America have only for-profit urban buses and collectivos that have to make a profit or go out of business). Although urban rail systems always have more government involvement (or otherwise they would never be able to complete their track network), rail transit can also operate without public subsidy


There are many examples of potential or successful land value capture to fund transit. R. T. Meakin notes that Hong Kong’s rail transit system receives no subsidy, all costs, including interest on bond indebtedness, are paid from land rents derived from development in station areas. W. Rybeck estimated the added land values sequential to the development of Washington D.C.’s Metro, and found a surplus of incremental value. D. Riley, who studied the London tube extension, also found that surplus values were generated.

Strangely, those who make the loudest demands that urban transit systems be self-supporting with no public subsidy never make the same demand for urban automobile infrastructure. In most cities, urban roads and streets are completely funded from property taxes and sales taxes, so that auto users do not directly pay at all for the infrastructure they use (unlike state highways and interstates which are at least partly funded by gas tax). So the Lexus-driving executive driving into downtown Houston is being subsidized by the low-income workers who pay property tax via rent and sales tax at 7-11 and own no car with which they could use auto infrastructure. Likely the executive lives outside Houston, so he contributes no property taxes towards the Houston highways he uses everyday.
Funding for urban automobile infrastructure is about as regressive a tax structure as could be imagined, short of the old days when the peasants paid tribute to their lords.

"W. Rybeck estimated the added land values sequential to the development of Washington D.C.’s Metro, and found a surplus of incremental value. D. Riley, who studied the London tube extension, also found that surplus values were generated."

Which shows us yet another facet of the big political problem. The general taxpayer all over the USA subsidizes the living daylights out of Metro, which is so corruptly and incompetently run that even the escalators famously don't work. The financial reward goes to real-estate speculators who happened owned land nearby before it was built, while making it unaffordable for anyone but the most affluent to live there. IOW the taxpayers' money flows uphill vigorously enough to create rapids.

Now, uphill flow of tax money is hardly unheard of. However, it should surprise no one that it does not influence the politics helpfully. The guy in Podunk has absolutely no reason to vote for a Congresscritter who's out to subsidize real-estate speculators in the richest areas of the country.

Of course streets don't come free. However, if people - even people who don't drive - expect to have timely ambulance, police, and fire service, and expect to receive deliveries of goods and materials, the streets would need to exist even if private cars were outlawed. (As the streets were very much still there during Communist times, in countries that all but outlawed private cars.) Once they exist order to have access at all, and truck, bus, and weather damage is repaired, and snow is cleared so the ambulance can show up (and so the food can show up at every tiny within-walking-distance bodega) even in winter, the marginal cost of allowing people to drive on them is far too small to be worth getting in a huff about.

As far as operating unsubsidized collectivos in the USA goes, fuhgedaboudit for insurance and safety reasons. The authorities already have more than enough troubles with routine crashes of dodgy intercity buses, such as the so-called Chinatown type. They're not likely to rush out and imitate Guatemala, and look for more of the same trouble with local buses, and anyway it would be a cold day in hell before the transit unions would tolerate them doing so.

It remains that most forms of transit, most of the time, seem to cost (including the operating subsidy, never mind the capital, and never mind that the capital, unlike a street, is single-use-only) as much as, or more than, solo driving. (That almost certainly includes Metro.) And no one seems to have any remedy for that under real-world conditions in developed countries. So instead we get wand-waving, laced with denial - plus transit authorities that mostly only pretend to provide service, just enough for the mayor to shoot off his or her gob about at "conferences" and not one bus or tram more.

Most people have forgotten that during the golden age of passenger trains, the railways only provided service they could make money from. My mother grew up in a small town west of Ottawa, Ontario on the main CN line from Montreal to Western Canada. Transcontinental passenger trains such as the Supercontinental passed by on this line but they did not stop. The only passenger service to Ottawa was on the way freight, which would take a good part of the day since its primary job was to drop off and pickup freight cars all along the route.

I remember when I was much younger, CN applied to abandon the passenger service through my little home town in Central Alberta. Browsing through the documents, I noticed one item in the cost study, "Ferry Costs".

My immediate question was "What ferry?" since we obviously didn't have a train ferry out there on the Prairies. Further investigation disclosed that it was the ferry from the mainland to Newfoundland, which they had charged against our local passenger service on a per-mile basis. For people who are weak on geography, Newfoundland is closer to Europe than it is to Alberta.

No doubt when CN abandoned the line in Newfoundland, they include a line for "Gopher Control", just to make it look really bad. Still no gophers in Newfoundland.

Another interesting issue was that you couldn't buy a train ticket at our local station. You had to buy a ticket in the nearest city, if you wanted to go from our local station to the nearest city. People began to think that the railway wasn't really enthusiastic about selling tickets, since we had to go to our destination in order to buy a ticket to go there. It was the classic, "Catch 22".

Anyhow, I think the point is that if you want train service, you have to lobby for it, because it is not going to happen on its own. And, of course, the automobile and oil lobbies have much more money than you do.

However, if people - even people who don't drive - expect to have timely ambulance, police, and fire service, and expect to receive deliveries of goods and materials, the streets would need to exist even if private cars were outlawed. (As the streets were very much still there during Communist times, in countries that all but outlawed private cars.) Once they exist order to have access at all, and truck, bus, and weather damage is repaired, and snow is cleared so the ambulance can show up (and so the food can show up at every tiny within-walking-distance bodega) even in winter, the marginal cost of allowing people to drive on them is far too small to be worth getting in a huff about.

Agreed that a basic street network is an urban public good all residents depend on. But in the example of Houston, 26 lane-wide freeways are not being built for ambulance and delivery service, but to service personal automobile travel. And the cost (many $billions) is not "far too small to be worth getting in a huff about").

In Houston, from the western suburb of Katy to downtown, I-10 is known as the Katy Freeway. This section was recently widened to as much as 26 lanes (12 mainlanes, 8 lanes of access roads, and 6 mid-freeway HOT/HOV lanes, not counting access road turning lanes)[5][3] and is one of the widest freeways in the world.

Aside from the billion dollar costs, a 26 lane freeway essentially destroys any possibility for pedestrian or bicycle transport by moving all destinations so far apart. (going "across the street" becomes a half-mile journey, with death or injury ever more likely)

Texas Department of Transportation statistics said that in an eight county area including Houston, between 2003 and 2008, around 100 pedestrians died and 1,175 were injured in accidents every year. Mark Seegers, a spokesperson for Harris County commissioner Sylvia Garcia, said in 2009 that "The county does not do sidewalks; it’s not what gets cars [the predominate form of transportation in the Houston area] from point A to point B."

The end result is that Houston has a 0% cycling mode share, and a 2% walking mode share, versus Paris with 55% walking and 3% cycling. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_share

Another end result ("the American Dream")...
Any money Houston has saved by not building sidewalks, bike facilities, and transit will certainly be spent many times over in health care costs due to the obesity that results from the consequent inactivity.

Currently, 58% of adults and 39% of children are classified as overweight or obese in the Greater Houston community.

Hard to imagine how Houston survives peak oil.

If Houston had a climate even vaguely similar to Paris, perhaps that comparison would be more apt.

And, obviously, cities like Houston will not survive an energy descent, not with anything like their current populations intact.

The Wikipedia article about fuel efficiency in transportation referenced above does quote the fuel efficiency of a diesel bus in the U.S.: 54 passenger miles per gallon, or possibly half as much with urban stops.

That illustrates the problem with bus transport: while a single passenger Ford F-150 pickup at 15 miles per gallon is clearly less efficient from the fuel point of view, a Ford Escape SUV (the most popular SUV in the U.S. in 2011) travelling about 25 miles per gallon is remarkably competitive, especially if it is carrying more than one person. With four people on board it gets 100 passenger miles per gallon, nearly 100% more efficient than the bus.

So the Lexus-driving executive driving into downtown Houston is being subsidized by the low-income workers who pay property tax via rent and sales tax at 7-11 and own no car with which they could use auto infrastructure. Likely the executive lives outside Houston, so he contributes no property taxes towards the Houston highways he uses everyday.

This comment shows a total lack of understanding of the way roads are funded in Houston and of life in Houston. The Lexus-driving executive (who is fairly rare, actually -- most of those I know drive much the same kind of car as anyone else, just newer) commutes mainly on an interstate highway largely funded from state and federal sources or a tollway, or a state-funded farm road or highway. The toll roads in Houston run at a surplus, paid for dominantly by private vehicles (the toll increases with the number of axles, but does not consider the weight on the axles) while nearly all the wear is caused by heavy trucks, so commuters pay their way on them. Federal and state funds for highway building come out of gas taxes and general revenue, and the commuting executive pays gas taxes and probably belongs to the "filthy rich" class which pays most federal taxes. It may come as a surprise to many in other places, but low income workers in Houston almost always drive. Their vehicle is probably old, likely to be uninsured, and may not pass the next roadworthiness inspection, and the driver may not have a license, but he or she does drive.

the fuel efficiency of a diesel bus in the U.S.: 54 passenger miles per gallon

Ford Escape SUV (the most popular SUV in the U.S. in 2011) travelling about 25 miles per gallon is remarkably competitive, especially if it is carrying more than one person. With four people on board it gets 100 passenger miles per gallon, nearly 100% more efficient than the bus.

You need to do an apples versus apples or oranges versus oranges comparison. The bus is rated under typical conditions with 9 passengers. The car should also be rated under typical conditions, which is about 1.2 passengers per car on US freeways during rush hour. The Ford Escape would get 30 passenger-miles per gallon under normal conditions, versus 54 for the bus.

Alternatively, the bus can carry 55 passengers. If full, it would get 330 passenger-miles per gallon versus 100 for the full Ford.

But, you can also run your buses on electricity like Vancouver or Seattle, and not use any diesel fuel at all. Or, you can use electric rail vehicles. Having ridden them, I much prefer modern electric trains to either buses or cars.

The true costs of Auto Addiction subsidies are never counted. Mark DeLucchi amongst numerous others have done studies of whether autos really pay their way and overwhelmingly they do not. See http://pubs.its.ucdavis.edu/download_pdf.php?id=1139 for details.
Generally gas taxes would need to be at least another $1
Note that this study was before asphalts costs quadrupled with Peak Oil

I once (or twice) was contemplating a transfer from Calgary to Houston. One thing I noticed was that Houston has about the same number of buses as Calgary, but has five times the population. So, obviously, since I would have to drive, the company was going to have to buy me a BMW to make it worthwhile. That didn't fit in their budget so I stayed in Calgary and made the same amount of money. It's amazing how companies don't understand these simple economic calculations.

My brother did the same calculation, but they gave him a Lexus (and 12 free return tickets per year plus expenses for his wife), so off they went.

However, the key issue is that Houston has spent enough money ($30 billion) on its freeway system to send a man to the moon. Once it had spent that money, it had 18-lane freeways all over the place, so naturally it made it relatively easy for people to get everywhere (albeit slowly in rush hour traffic). Calgary put $1 billion into its light rail system and achieved the same results, although people had to take the train because driving was obviously not going to get everyone downtown before quitting time. Calgary has narrow streets, there's only true one freeway, and it doesn't go downtown, so it was mathematically impossible for everyone to commute. I checked the math.

The problem is that if you build a super-deluxe freeway system, and a super-deluxe transit system, your are building redundant transportation capacity. If freeways are available, they will probably take the freeway, and if they aren't, they will probably take rapid transit. However, you can't usually afford to build both, So Houston made one choice, and Calgary made the other.

Certainly there aren't a lot of riders on Calgary LRT at 2 AM on Sunday morning, but on the other hand, the power companies charge almost nothing for electricity at that time of day, so the operating costs are dirt cheap, too. It's like supermarkets that leave their lights on 24/7 - it costs them almost nothing so they do it for security reasons.

Calgary's LRT system runs about 22/7 (they only shut it down for a couple of hours every morning to do track maintenance) and the trains run 4 minutes apart in peak hours, 15 minutes apart late night, and Sundays, so there's not much waiting for trains. The costs are on the order of 30 cents per ride, so they use the extra money from the fares to subsidize the feeder bus system - the LRT itself probably runs at a profit.

As for the one-way commute issue - Calgary transit offered college students a discount to ride, and they were reverse-flow commuters since the colleges were in the suburbs, so they filled up the trains going the other direction. They also attracted a lot of reverse-flow working commuters because you would be amazed at the number of people who live in the inner city and worked in the suburbs.

Of course this is part of the repopulating of the inner city. Some people work in the suburbs but just don't want the trouble of a big yard and a large lawn to cut. They want a deluxe condo close to downtown with insufficient space for the kids to come home if they lose their jobs.

I drive to downtown Vancouver every day (in a Leaf) and where I park there's as many people leaving in the morning as arriving, as the lower floors of the building are commercial and the upper ones a Yaletown condo development. Traffic flow in Vancouver is becoming more and more averaged out.

Yes, Vancouver is unusual in that the high priced condos and apartments have forced the office buildings out of downtown. As a result, people are commuting from their homes in the downtown core to their jobs in the suburbs.

This is more or less the reverse of the usual North American urban layout.

Ed Glaesar in his book "Triumph of the City" points out that what is happening in Vancouver is also happening in NYC. I don't recall the exact number of people who live in NYC and commute to the burbs - but I do remember saying to myself "didn't realize that it is that much. Apparently a lot of the old office buildings in downtown NYC are being converted into apartments-it was more profitable to do that rather than upgrade them to class A office space.

Glaesar also points out that the historical construction of an old city was a manufacturing core surrounded by low income house then middle class and finally the wealthy- as people sought to get away from noise and pollution associated with manufacturing. With the departure of manufacturing from most cities it has allowed for an infilling with the wealthy now moving back into the City core- think SOHO , TRIBECA in NYC.

that might be the historical pattern for the US, where industry arguably came before most of the cities, but in the old world, the social center and geographic center tended to coincide. dirty obnoxious industry was kept to the periphery, and since the industrial age of course was centuries or millennia after the building of the cities, modern industry was likewise kept to the periphery (though since them massive sprawl has rolled right past the old periphery in most cities). The edge of the city would typically be shared with slums alongside the factories.


Two possible suggestions.

a) Overlay the new graph (imports + production) with the price of oil (Brent or the OPEC basket not WTI)


b) Seperate out the 2 components (imports and production) into 2 plots.

I think a) might reveal an interesting correlation, particularly with that second bump up in Jan 2011.
I suggest b) because some will say all you are mapping is the OECD recession and its effect on demand.

Okay here is both OECD imports AND production as 12 mth running average in kb/d.

OECD Imports AND Production

Cannot do Brent price overlay because that would require left and right axis, barrels per day left and price right. Excel allows left axis only and I only have Excel.

The second bump actually started in the summer of 2009 but the 12 month trailing average shows it heading up in early 2010 and reaching a peak in January 2011. The downturn started in February 2011.

And what the original chart shows is primarily the effect of price on demand. And the price is one of the things that did cause the recession. But the recession began in late 2008 and early 2009, a year after production + imports headed down in the original chart up top.

Ron P.


Thank you for posting these graphs. Count me among the many who find them very interesting and worth the time for our examination.

I am not sure, but I think it may be possible for Excel to display graphs with two Y ( or X) axis.


Perhaps this only works on the latest Excel version?

Thanks for the link and advice Heisenberg. However this can be done only with Excel version 2007 or later. I have version 2003. Version 2010 is available fro Amazon for $120.99 or $102.98 if I can prove I am a student. That is a lot to pay in order to do both a left and right axis. So I will just stick with what I have for right now.

Ron P.

I have several versions of excel including 2003 and the "put data on a secondary axis" option is under Formatting - Plot data on Right Axis.
First you have to add the dataseries, then right click it, Format, click the "Plot data on secondary Axis" checkbox.

The secondary axis is so obvious that it is easy to overlook. I had to use the help to find it.

It is really good for showing current production and cumulative production on the same chart:

Anybody know if this works in OpenOffice?


Try using Grace for plotting. It's free, easy to use, and can generate much nicer looking graphs than Excel.


"Excel allows left axis only and I only have Excel."

Are you sure? I just did this the other day with the 2003 version. Go to "chart type" I think or one of those other options. Actually, I think you right click on the scale and then select one of the options. I am not sure if you'd be able to put 3 lines on that chart though, with two on the left scale and one on the right.

Here is the chart showing normalized oil (liquids) consumption (BP data base) from 2002 to 2010 (2002 = 100) for China, India, Top 33 Net Oil Exporters in 2005 and for the US. The 2011 values are:

China: 185
India: 146
Top 33: 129
US: 95

And here is a scenario for 2020 Available Net Exports (ANE), assuming a continuation of the Chindia net import trends, and a continuation of the top 33 consumption trends, plus a small (1%/year) production decline for the (2005) top 33 net oil exporters:

Note that our data base shows that ANE have shown year over year annual declines for six straight years, and note that Chindia's combined rate of increase in their net imports increased to 8.1%/year (2005 to 2011) versus 7.5%/year (2005 to 2010), partly as a result of flat Chinese domestic oil production. When US production peaked in 1970, the rate of increase in US net oil imports increased from 11%/year (1949 to 1970) to 14%/year (1970 to 1977).

As I have been pointing out, the rate of decline in the GNE to CNI ratio* increased from 2008 to 2011, versus 2005 to 2008:


In other words, we are moving faster toward the point in time that the Chindia region's (or China's) net imports would theoretically approach 100% of GNE.

*GNE = Global Net Exports (top 33 net oil exporters in 2005), CNI = Chindia'c combined net oil imports

It's a shame we don't have normalised Oil consumption for 2011 and 2012 since this year seems to be the point of chindia maxing out their ponzi-growth and it's really going to make fun of those "100% of imports" claims.

It's entirely possible that a slowdown in the rate of increase in China's oil consumption will be offset by flat to declining domestic production.

I don't think that the Chindia region will actually be consuming 100% of GNE in 18 years, but on the other hand that is the direction in which we are headed, at a--so far at least--accelerating rate.

Peak oil arrived around 2006, or at least as all OECD nations are concerned.

A picture's worth a thousand words or in this case maybe a million.

Very interesting analysis.

I would only make one small addendum that doesn't change overall conculsion at all, and that is to look at the impact that direct subsititution to biofuels (ethanol) has had over same period on crude/condensate demand in OECD.

Using BP data, historical data workbook provided with their Annual Energy Outlook:
(in thousands of barrels per day)
OECD biofuels production
2005 216 kb/d
2006 302 kb/d
2007 417 kb/d
2008 559 kb/d
2009 659 kb/d
2010 752 kb/d
2011 787 kb/d

So I'd argue that about 0.5 million bbl/day of the decline was due to (or offset by) direct substitution from biofuels, but rest of ~6 million bbl/day decline was real decline on liquid energy supply.

I'v seen a lot of estimates of the EROEI of corn ethanol, and most of them aren't very positive. That would suggest that most of the energy in corn ethanol is essentially recycled from fossil fuel inputs. If that is true, then there is no real point to counting at least corn ethanol, which has to be a good chunk of that biofuel number. Would that be fair?

Given that a very small fraction of the energy input to corn ethanol is liquid fuel, I'd say NO, that isn't fair

Another excellent post, Ron.


It does seem like there's a lot of attacks on peak oil these days. We can probably expect more as the fracking bubble continues to expand.

thx- you connect the dots better than CNN.
A Great eyeopener- and I agree, the result of this chart is recession fodder.. in real terms


"America is a land of plentiful opportunity whose economic growth will soon return, requiring all of our energy sources. To falsely disparage an industry merely for gain at the polls is un-American: it puts politics over people, and pushes our country backwards for political gain. Instead, recognizing solar energy for what it truly is – an energy source to power our lives – and putting it to good use across our nation is patriotic."

By General Wesley Clark (ret.) and Rhone Resch

It's nice the general is sticking up for solar. Even if he says the cart will soon begin rolling, quick, attach the horse.

It's good to see promotion of what is really the only option going forward. But I wish solar wasn't framed as a way to promote further growth, because it isn't. It's about preventing monumental decline. But I guess it has to be sold to the masses somehow.

The only hope for the planet and its attendant resource systems, is rapid decline. Solar, wind, and other renewable low/no carbon approaches are the only way forward, but of course our politics is completely dominated by a fossil fuel industry which wants us to be dependent until the last gasp of civilization and our time here as a species.

I said "only hope", but really, there is no hope. I am 65 and have seen our planet go downhill. The downward slide is accelerating and we are now living in what I once thought was a future that I would not live long enough to witness. I learned about global warming in the early 70s, like Al Gore. Too bad for me because I saw this coming and was warning people before the discussion was even a blip on the national media conversation. It is now too late. Are all the deniers now happy?

That's the thing eh, if the doomers are wrong then everyone lives happily ever after and the deniers get to rub it in their faces. If the deniers are wrong then everyone dies and could care less about revisiting historical predictions to see who was right and who was wrong. Do you think Dick Cheney and Ronald Reagan will be held responsible for their actions, 4 decades down the road? Will they even be remembered for what they did, or will history be rewritten once again? Everyone will be too focused on staying alive to have any interest in analyzing who caused this 50 years previously.

You can't just blame "the fossil fuels industry". That's like blaming all corporations for moving so manufacturing jobs to China. If consumers really cared about manufacturing in China, they would seek out and but made in USA products instead of from China. And if consumers really cared about fossil fuels & climate change, they would go ahead and buy solar panels and electric cars.

But they don't care. At least not enough for them to spend a little bit more. So as the saying goes, when you point your finger at others, you have three more pointing back at you.

So to be successful, we need to get the prices on PVs & EVs down and enough incentive programs so that people want to get them.

Manufacturing in the USA is dead because of the currency manipulations & trade policies keeping it that way. The public has no practical choice about where to buy from at this point, if they ever really did.

The underlying higher standard of living in the USA also has a lot to do with it. Factories have always been uprooted & moved to the cheapest labor locations whenever there was a big disparity to take advantage of. It's the whole reason why the factories were first moved away from the urban centers to the small towns in the USA a few generations ago. These days China is the new rust belt.

Japanese cars, American cars, European cars . . . they're all full of subassemblies & parts from China and the rest of the globe. The ostensible country of origin of a product is often just a formality now.

What are people going to do, spend their days researching out which product has which things in it, for every product we buy? These days even the manufacturers themselves have trouble keeping an accurate picture of where it's all coming from.

Good points.

We have hydro generation where I live, and PV numbers don't crunch for us. One other aspect of PV that is a turn off for potential customers; the 'control centre' to keep it all in synch/balanced/topped up, etc. I am very mechanical and competent with tools, but my life is already/still in busy mode with everything else on the go. I would prefer to scale back on consumption than add on the extra chore. I subscribe to Home Power, and have built a constant head small generator system in a past life, but the monitoring array of home stand alone PV looks like a royal pain. Right now I don't need a 'one more thing' in my life and I am sure this applies to others as well.

As to buy US..or local..I am laying a hardwood floor at my son's home and was very pleased to see the material made in Canada. We always try to buy Canadian to support our own citizens to the point of refusing to go to Home Depot or other US chain stores. It is hard to avoid China made goods, though.

We could not find ethically made computer upgrades this year. It seems all are made in third world exploitation factories. However, we did by from a local computer store and not a chain.

The US could take back its manufacturing, but first someone has to tell the truth. "You are more than consumers, you need to live with less consumption, it is your patriotic duty to buy local, etc." I don't think that paradigm change will happen. Perhaps the destiny is to waddle into the future until the stores close.

Mayor Bloomberg seems to want to get some truth and action out there around obesity and diet. It's a start and could develop if other influentials were so inclined. Who knows?

One other aspect of PV that is a turn off for potential customers; the 'control centre' to keep it all in synch/balanced/topped up, etc. I am very mechanical and competent with tools, but my life is already/still in busy mode with everything else on the go. I would prefer to scale back on consumption than add on the extra chore.

Again, this is why I suggest most people get grid-tied systems. There is no such chore. Just periodically check that it is still working and hose down the panels once a year or so.

The stand-alone systems are cool projects for people into the technology. But for most people, a grid-tied system is something that they can install and forget about.

The stand-alone systems are cool projects for people into the technology. But for most people, a grid-tied system is something that they can install and forget about.

Forget about?!

That is until the grid goes down and you find yourself with 15K worth of perfectly good panels on your roof that you suddenly can't use... I don't know where you live but I live in hurricane country and it's been known to happen. BTW it gets worse because to be up to code where I live the PV installation must be able to withstand 150 mph winds, so you can be pretty sure they will still be there after the storm has passed. However the grid depends on power lines that for some reason are not required to be able to sustain the same wind speeds, go figure.

At the very least get a grid-tied system with battery backup.

We have grid-tied PV and I often forget the system is even there, except when we get our net-metering statement from the power company.

Time I have spent monitoring or maintaining our system = 0.00 hours/year.

Certainly PV does not make sense for every house or every location, and the Pacific Northwest would likely offer very low financial and energy return on investment, but PV is making more economic sense every day as PV prices drop and grid prices increase.

I'm 20 yrs older and learned about global warming etc 20 yrs earlier in smoggy pasadena. so after I went thru the ICBM phase of my life and learned that Ivan was just as good at killing lots of people at long distances, went into the saving the world caper, hoping that Ivan would go the same way (some of him did). Of course we didn't do zip to diminish the mass momentum toward perdition, but in the meanwhile it slowly dawned on me that all I could do or had to do was just live as I would have others live-- and make sure to make a little noise about it so others might eventually start to notice.

So, here's the hope- push the obvious- we can live very happily on LOTS less thruput than we are putting thru at the moment. See! here I am, doing fine 5 days after the great storm on nothing and 4kW-hrs a day when all the other good folks on my ridge road are sweating and dashing around in a state of anxiety trying to get all that stuff I never had and don't want and certainly don't need.

I am betting there will be a sudden spirt toward solar around here after this- that, combined with the cut-the-crap-out of capitalism movement, is hope.

What movement was that? Well, I know at least half a dozen people---. Hey, everything starts small, right?

I fear many many more will buy generators than panels. Actually if you want to be able to have power during a long outage, you'd probably want both, the generator allows you get have power even if the weather hasn't co-operated, and the panels mean you don't need to use it continuously -since fuel procurement could become a problem.

Sure they will buy generators instead of PV, because that's what they have heard about. But they were also totally astounded that I didn't lose my lights and also ran my fridge and freezer and had no generator at all for 5+ days so far. The word is diffusing slowly along the ridge that there has gotta be something to solar after all.

Kinda funny about the generators- one guy let his run low on oil so it refused to run, another one didn't know how to turn it on, and another one ran his in the rain and it had an idiopathic nervous breakdown-- and all of them came around begging for a few minutes of help, which I gladly provided in the form of my excellent appalachian junk jockey assistant, who has a good head for hardware unimpeded by any kind of formal education.

And, big news-- to me, anyhow--- I finally got my stirling generator to put a little juice into my batteries from wood pellets- triggered by just a whiff of propane acting as a sort of pilot light. I have lots of wood.

I could write a magnum opus on the ways I have found not to do a wood fired stirling. Maybe in my next incarnation I will find a way to do it.

I am somewhat baffled by your choice of a free piston Stirling design. IMHO that is adding complexity onto complexity needlessly. Anyhow I'm interested in your trials and tribulations and wish you the best.

And I am totally baffled by this persistent idea that crank stirlings are somehow LESS complex than free pistons! Just lay out all the parts on the table and count 'em. Put all the parts aside that are similar in the two engines, like pistons, etc. Then note that when you have put aside all the similar parts, there are a lot of complex parts left over in the crank engine that the free piston simply does not have- crank, con rod, bearings, lube for all of above, seals to keep lube out of hot parts (fatal!), and so on.

I can and often have, made free pistons, using only ordinary skills and a lathe. I can't do that with a crank.

What fun!

Glad to hear that you got it going.

Next thing that happens with the gasoline generators: The folk put them away with the works still full of gas... and they won't start or run right next time. Might want to give them the heads up.

Fun it is. That should be emphasized more, rather than all this dreary talk about relative costs of this way or that way. I do this as a hobby. Much more fun to me than knocking a little white ball around, or such other silliness- and less expensive.

Now I wonder- and I'm sure all you good people have all the answers-- Why don't people like those on my ridge, confronted with a week of no grid, just use a cheap inverter on their car/tractor battery to power their fridge & freezer rather than throwing all that stuff to the hogs??

And why didn't they throw it to me instead of to the hogs? Does this say something about my social status?

Sure they will buy generators instead of PV, because that's what they have heard about.

A generator is a far lower cost to get into today and run today than the time and cost it takes to set up a PV setup of the same output wattage.

I have found not to do a wood fired stirling.

You, and many others. Kamen is a non-shipper along with Energy Innovations, Omachron's wayne conrad, the Solo solar dish, and I believe SES (Stirling Energy Systems) has went bankrupt.

A low-cost way for people to get into using wood is TLUD style stoves.

Such might get a "appalachian junk jockey assistant" inspired.
http://www.bioenergylists.org/stovesdoc/Belonio/ (the rice husk stove should be able to be saw dust powered)

The 'known to work way' of converting Wood into electrical power - http://gekgasifier.com/

A generator is a far lower cost to get into today and run today than the time and cost it takes to set up a PV setup of the same output wattage.

Far lower. You can get a natural gas 17kW generator for under $4000. A kit to build a barely functional 1.8kW solar system costs $14055 if you want an AC outlet.

Natural gas system: $212 per kilowatt
Solar system: $7808 per kilowatt

If I were tempted to replace or supplement my grid power -- which I'm not -- I'd definitely go for the natural gas. I've lived in my present house for more than thirty years. During that time the longest power loss has been less than three days (during and after hurricane Ike), and the natural gas supply has never been interrupted at all. On the other hand, the phone service (both landline and cell) has been down for over a week (Ike again) and don't get me started on the cable (Comcast)!

The burning question is of course ..

"Why would you propose decisions that assume that the NEXT 30 years should be based on the LAST 30?"

It's all well and good, if only the NG Wells are also Well and Good.. and you have a current supplier and are in the black..

The above comparison is a little silly, too, since a 17 KW Solar Array is really FAR oversized for (what I'm assuming in this conversation) is going to be a residential system. Proper sizing, including reviewing your real needs vs your wants is a key part of this formula, too.

If I were tempted to replace or supplement my grid power -- which I'm not -- I'd definitely go for the natural gas.

That would be a terrible decision. The natural gas thing would sit there and do nothing until the rare few days you have an outage. Then you'd have to fire it up.

Instead, you could pay less than $10K and get a solar system that will eliminate your electric bill for the next 30 years. Here is a 5.7KW system for less than $10K:

The main point of a solar system is to generate power, not to be some back-up system. That is not their main purpose. They can do that but most people really don't need that.

"barely functional"... bias from the start :-/

"You can get a natural gas 17kW generator for under $4000. A kit to build a barely functional 1.8kW solar system costs $14055 if you want an AC outlet.

While Mr. Solar's site isn't responding, I'll point out that your kW comparison is apples and oranges. The solar system quoted likely is 1.8kW solar rating, not the inverter output. Further, the 17kw generator rating is unlikely to be full-load-continous. NONE of the generators I've ever owned are capable of full output of their rated kW for long, and you lose clean power at about 2/3 of their rating. Bottom line: Generator manufactureres lie about real-world output.

A 4kW output (5800 surge) pure sin off grid system, with batteries, easily expandable, for $8548. I've helped folks build comparable systems for less. Further, such a system will offset electrical use for years, quietly and with no fuel inputs or pollution, with high reliability.

I'm not opposed to generators, per se, we have a nice 12kW diesel to supplement our solar off-grid system, and some folks need a generator for essential loads such as medical devices. The natural gas or propane fueled automatic standby systems available are nice and can be programmed to 'exercise' themselves for a few minutes on a weekly basis, and fuel storage isn't a problem. Good ones will provide 500-1000 hours of reliable use with little maintenance beyond oil and filter changes (often ignored), at about 2/3 of rated output. Most are air cooled, limiting their lifespan. A unit like this should be more than sufficient for most home's backup needs. Derate about 10% for natural gas vs. propane. Be sure to keep extra oil on site.

Yair . . . Ghung. I agree with most of what you say but you got me here what is the basis of the statement:--

"Most are air cooled, limiting their lifespan."

I have never found air cooled engines to be inherintly shorter lived than the liquid cooled type--quite the opposite in fact.


I should have qualified that a bit. Most of the standby gennys available in the US over 7500 watts have twin cylinder air-cooled engines that, in my experience, haven't been reliable beyond much over 700 hours of loaded operation. They are name brand engines, but are prone to valve problems, have small oil sumps, etc., and have had numerous problems (broken engine mounts, broken exhaust manifolds, other stuff), all while receiving regular maintenance. That said, a friend has a 30 year old, 5kW Homelite that has been working flawlessly with regular use since he bought it.

Our 3 cyl. Mitsubishi diesel has only needed a couple of relays replaced (fuel pump, glow plug) in eight years of regular use, usually fully loaded [touches wood], and I bought it for $4300, including shipping, with 200 hours on it. My buddy's water cooled gasoline (Ford 4 cyl., 25kw) generator has performed flawlessly for over 20 years, though he had to put in a new radiator last year. It likely has over 10,000 hours on it, as he didn't put in his PV system until a couple of years ago. He used it to charge his batteries. Now that he has PV, he thinks he's died and gone to heaven ;-)

Yair . . .Ghung. No worries mate. Strange isn't it, the different experiences folks have with equipment.

I have always favoured air cooled as it is simpler in my view. I grew up on stations with the pommy (English)1500 RPM air cooled diesels that ran ten or fifteen hours a day for twenty years with routine maintainance.

In later years I bought a reconditioned HR4 Lister that had logged 110,000 hours unattended on weather station in the Coral Sea. . .good filtration, sensible revolutions, medium load. It was stopped for an hour once a year for valve lash and injectors.


And, here I was sleeping the peaceful sleep of the virtuous, when it slowly seeped into my noggin that there was some sort of not-right sound somewhere that I, the local fixitman, had better check out. Fridge not right? Something in a mouse-trap? So I dragged myself into consciousness and got up-

Standing by the window it became immediately obvious that the sound was blessedly not one I had any responsibility for- it was that damn genset down the road, roaring away in my not -near neighbor's front yard, and intermittently audible for the first time with the shifting breeze.

So I went back to bed, soothingly shrouded in the not-any-noise-at-all from my PV and batteries, weak and weary tho they may on this seventh day of no grid and not a lot of sun.

Well then it does my heart good to see that Sun coming up this morning!

You've been gridless for a week in So Central Maine..? I still haven't heard that we had outages. Certainly not ones continuing this long.

Well.. well done, Wimbi, I hope your neighbors are taking note. If you hear any backfencing about how much fuel they ran themselves through (get it, 'Fencing', 'Run yourself through'??) I hope you'll pass it along.

Whenever we talk about PV and the challengers point to the cost/KWH, I sure would like to see what people are getting for EROI and EROEI or equiv KWH rates by running their Gennies. (That is to say, to include the time and gas used for the refill trips.. the real life-cost of the Gennies, Labor for Maintenance/Repair of same.. etc..)

Ird, you only list the capital expense but don't mention that a generator is gonna need fuel for each of those kwhs.

And the fuel is going to need fuel to get there.


A generator is a far lower cost to get into today and run today than the time and cost it takes to set up a PV setup of the same output wattage.

Well that is an interesting point . . . it is probably much cheaper/easier to buy a generator to power your fridge and a couple other things than it would be pay the extra cost of battery-backed solar system compared to a grid-tied system. The battery-backed PV system is the much more elegant solution (and all this discussion about it has made me interested, I downloaded and read the SunnyIsland manual) but generators are simple & cheap. (And you could use it to power up your EV if you run out battery power instead of getting towed. ;-) )

The battery-backed PV system is the much more elegant solution (and all this discussion about it has made me interested, I downloaded and read the SunnyIsland manual)

You should look at batteries - lead acid are junk every few years. There is no magic EESU super-duped-er capacitors. One is left with looking at Iron-Nickel batteries if one wants long life. The daily loss (per memory) is 1% once charged.

Long lifetime of 50 years

I'm trying to get me some of these. Cost a bundle but the lifespan and ability to take abuse make them worth it in my book.

the zappworks people claim they have a better battery due to the ability to disassemble it for cleaning et al.

I looked at Zappworks, but they're a little pricier than I can afford, at the moment. I ordered (this morning)these: http://ironedison.com/

My battery bank is just Costco 6v golf cart batteries, but they don't seem to have degraded in the last 4-5 years of use. Probably largely because they never discharge deeper than 12.6v unless we have a power outage. The rest of the time they're mostly just a buffer for timed power when the sun is shining.


Of course, there's no hope. The ones who think more oil production is on the way either deny or won't touch climate change issues. But it's just our opinions, right?

If world oil production/extraction rises through 2030 and climate change concerns have diminished, I will have egg on my face ;)

Sir, I am young and am quite intrigued by man's current predicament. The haystack after collapse could be quite interesting if knowledge is preserved.

He is also a big wind backer. He son, Wesley Clark Jr., has worked in the wind biz. I wanted Gen. Clark as the nominee in 2004, I think he would have been better than Kerry.

Supposedly he was one of the sharpest military commanders ever. But, he made enemies, and it led to an early ending of his career. I used to get emails from him for his various causes. I don't think he has the stuff needed to be successful in a political environment, but given he right task he should be first rate.

"I don't think he has the stuff needed to be successful in a political environment .."


But what we need to get rid of is the political environment, not him.

He was so honest, he pointed out that a coup had taken place in the U.S.eh?

But what we need to get rid of is the political environment, not him.

For sure! The problem is how. Powerful forces have been at work creating the present political environment. I see at least three major components to the political environment. First and most obviously the political system, and the human players within it. Secondarily we have the media environment. Lastly we have the general attitudes and thinking skills of the general public, and whether they are informed or interested at all. All three of these are working against us. The sheeple, just want to be entertained, and emotionally charged propaganda fits the bill nicely. The media is well placed -and incentivized to provide it. Lastly the political players, and their big money backers have every reason to exploit the media's unsatiable appetite for bread and circuses -and they don't mind taking the money either.

So trying to break that complex! How? Education seems to be ineffective, and the major players in the system are fighting hard against the teaching of critical thinking.

Re : Drought Caused Big Drop in Texas Portion of Ogallala

I was reading this article and ran across the following link :-

Texas Farmers Watered Crops Knowing They Wouldn't Grow

Crop Insurance requires that farmers continue to water, even if the crop is unlikely to grow, in order to qualify for reimbursement.

"The question, essentially, revolves around when the USDA will "release" the crop — declaring it's basically hopeless to produce it. Farmers say such proclamations came too late.

Asked whether the crops could have been released sooner, USDA spokeswoman Kimberly Smith-Brown said in an email: "No, because [the drought] was an event that was so out of the norm that no one could have predicted it." "

Nope, nobody could possibly have predicted it...

Just like Iraq, Katrina, the tornados, and the fires in Colorado. Terminal dumbness from our leaders and bureaucrats.

The most infamous "Nobody could have predicted it", of course, occurred on September 11, 2001. Most infamous speaker of that line was, I think, Condi Rice. But she spoke for them all, except for those who predicted it. It's hard to believe that Kimberly Smith-Brown had either the guts (or the stupidity) to type that particular string of words in an e-mail message: No one could have predicted it.

Thanks to jokuhl for the link to the "Garbage Man" video at YouTube. A "telling" journey, to be sure.


The most infamous "Nobody could have predicted it", of course, occurred on September 11, 2001. Most infamous speaker of that line was, I think, Condi Rice.

How could she have been expected to predict it? It is not like she was National Security Adviser who received a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" . . . . oh wait . . .

Most welcome!

I just watched the rest of it tonight with the wife, and there are a bunch of great vids that show up with it about more of the 'How To' details inside these homes. (Same crew of builders) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhfkdlO95gY

They have a great trick of bringing a big, prefab enclosed energy closet (batts, inverters, hot water pumps.. etc) to the site which ultimately becomes the home's power and hot water center, but is used from the get-go as the power source for the construction.. a bunch of PV propped up somewhere close by to feed the piggy.

The Garbage Warrior vid inspires some useful thought to whether and how much you work WITH the system and govt, or AROUND it.. There's no completely clear answer to this, but as with PO, it's a daily question. Pick your poisons..

Interestingly, he makes the point that most people only react after the disaster occurs, by which time it is pretty much too late.

It must be incredibly frustrating to have to deal with legislative wheels that turn so slowly.

While I think, to a certain degree, one has no choice but to work within the system frameworks we have, and I think the necessary decisions will eventually be made, I'm sure it will all come too late.

Jokuhl, after watching the Garbage Warrior documentary I found this video of work done in Haiti (2010).

Bakken Oil Production With Rig Count, ND 2006-2011


Gail posted a similar chart a while ago. I was curious about what happened when the rigs pulled out in 2008; the count went down 40%, and 8% of production was trimmed as well, the minute the rigs were gone, too; but, as can be seen, production picked up again in 4 months anyway, even as the rig count continued to decline.

All this makes me wonder what things will be like at the even higher production levels that are forecast. An 8% trim of 1.5 mb/d would be 1.2 mb/d = involuntary prorationing. The market speaking for itself.

Looks like the rate of gain per month is increasing, too. I'll add 2012 numbers and calculate a YTD, see where it's trending.

ND brought on 109 kb/d in 2011. Only two other states have ever produced gains in the triple digits in one year, far as I know; haven't found any historic LA production numbers, maybe they or OK brought on a gusher of oil in one year. EIA of course only goes back to 1980. CA seems to have pulled that trick only in 1968 - the year they seem to have reached their absolute peak, if my guess is correct - I had to guess at the numbers before 1974, using a graph in one of the old DOGRR reports! It shows them right at 1100 kb/d in '68 - higher than the 1079 kb/d for 1985.

I would like to see this chart but in percentages for each. And then lagged.

My intuitive/best guess is that there is a relationship between drill count and production that is lagged by the time it takes to drill and then go through all of the fracking stages and then get the infrastructure in place to capture/move the oil once produced (no sense in producing until it can be moved, right?)

If you like you can contact me and I can send you my spreadsheet via email.

What you say is definitely true - they're making greater gains in the Eagle Ford for one thing since the infrastructure is already in place. TX had a very productive 2011 as well. I'm not sure if there were any singular events in Bakken production history that might account for some of the major jumps.

That irresistible trend up keeps catching my eye. What could they have extracted with only 40 rigs? Someone who's taken a look at unconventional NG might have some interesting input here.

KLR – Re: lag time between drilling and initial production. I can’t offer much about the Bakken but the lag in the Eagle Ford can be considerable. Under normal circumstances the well is reaches TD, casing is run and the well is temporarily abandoned. It may take 6 to 12 days to break the rig down and move it to the next location. Once the drill rig is moved the smaller completion is moved in. Unfortunately that completion typically isn’t sitting there waiting. I’ve waited a couple of weeks to a couple of months to get the c rig on location. But the c rig isn’t the critical timing factor…it’s getting the frac trucks there. Get the c rig in place and then having to wait a couple weeks for the frac trucks can cost an operator over $150,000 in standby charges to do nothing. So if the c rig is available but not the frac trucks the c rig moves on to whoever is ready for it.

OK: the c rig is set up and the frac trucks are ready to mobilize. But the drill rig only ran the production casing. Now the c rig has to run the production tubing and packers inside the production csg, pressure test them and then perforate the csg. This can take from several days to as much as 10 days. And that’s if nothing goes wrong. Then the frac trucks do their thing. The multistage fracs many operators are doing now can take 2 to 4 weeks. So now the well is completed and frac’d but we are still a long way from producing. Now there needs to be a testing and sampling period. The specialized testing equipment and personnel may be ready to go in a few days or maybe not available for several weeks. This is another group you really don’t want to pay standby time. Once the well is tested the operators knows the detail design of the production equipment he needs. He may have already order some of the more generic components. The last well I completed in La (where equipment/hands are more readily available) it took 5 weeks to get it all together. Hopefully if you have a NG sales pipeline to lay from you oil well you got most of I done while waiting on your production equipment. If not now add a couple of more weeks before you began producing.

OK: if you haven’t been adding it up the lag from the drill rig moving to the next well (or being stacked because they don’t have another location to drill) to first production can run 2 to 3 months…or a month or two longer. But remember my original qualification: during normal times. And these have not been normal times. I have talked to some operators that have waited up to 6 months just for frac truck availability. This was part of the reason Chesapeake started buying their own frac trucks as well as other service companies including drill rigs. The good news – this helped reduce their lag time. The bad news – they had to borrow a lot of capex as well as sells many $billions in assets (including some of their highly valued shale acreage) to pay for the effort. And now they appear to having some difficulty servicing that debt.

The time lag in the EFS may be improving in the future. In addition to more infrastructure being brought to bear a number of operators are telling the service companies they plan to reduce drilling activity from their original plan. But even if that occurs it will still take several months at a minimum for a drilling slow down to show up on the production rate numbers. Just a WAG but I suspect the lag time in the Bakken is as long as or even worse than for the EFS.

Thanks, ROCK. Great layout of the process. I've read about E&P, that kind of work would drive me crazy. Not exactly immediate gratification!

If I were really curious I could produce weekly charts, monthly is good enough for my purposes. My chart certainly shows rigs pulling out in Nov '08 and production declining in tandem the next month. Maybe they hadn't figured out the sweetest spots at that stage. Presumably some of those rigs were working in the rest of the state, too. Anyway, I turn to people like you are actually in the field a lot of them time, instead of trying to figure out things on the fine scale. Big picture, that I can maybe make sense of. Thanks again, hope you're having a happy 4th!

Bakken oil production is very simple to understand and model. It is essentially all diffusional flow:

KLR and Darwinian have been posting some very interesting charts recently. Keep it up.

One thing that I can comment on is that people always think that data always beats theory. Here was a case where I used theory to show that the data was corrupted. The data for Bakken production supplied by Mason was not even close to the theory and after doing some digging, discovered that Mason had screwed up one part of a chart.

Theory debugs data. We don't see enough of that.

I was just reading comments on a story here about North American prospects, where you had it out with "abundance.concept." Not the most tech savvy guy, doesn't he know you can put a space in your user name here? ;) I've been following his stuff at peakoil.com for years, he never met an IPO he didn't like, from the looks of things. Saves a lot of footwork if you want to know what's on Continental/Chesapeake's drawing boards, at least.

I found some news piece from about 6 years ago with Hamm projecting huge production in the Bakken - maybe as high as 300 kb/d. I think the gains made so far are as big a surprise to the drillers as anyone else. In the greater picture you could still file what's been had in the YTF category.

Going to have to read Gail's new piece to see what the consensus is in re: prices bottoming out, taking drilling with them. Have to slap a price series on my chart, too. Incidentally ND Sweet is ca. $20 lower than WTI. Doesn't do much for gasoline prices in that area, of course; the residents must be positively howling for their own refinery.

He seemed to have an axe to grind with me and Piccolo. Too bad Pic isn't here to defend himself. Apparently, any opinion on potential oil production stated in an OD thread is now a prediction that industry-plugging bloggers will come back to TOD 4 years later to attack. I honestly didn't realize our opinions and discussion here were so important. So I don't know whether to be flattered or terrified.

Fracking and the fracked basins, at this point, seem to be the industry's best hopes for beating near term peak oil. So their supporters will use any success in that area to beat depletion analysts (even thread posters, apparently) about the head.

Been seeing some extraordinary figures from these guys and since there really isn't good data, it's tough to tell what to think. Top-line mentions I've seen from Texas and Bakken are 4 and 3 million barrels per day, respectively. These are really extraordinary numbers. If I'm not mistaken, EFS and Bakken are now at 500k and 600k respectively.

Back when I posted here under another name on TOD, I had raised the issue of Bakken (might have been as far back as 2004). At the time, everyone seemed to think it wasn't possible to raise production much from that area. But the possibility had captured my attention. I can't, for the life of me, find these old posts. But they would have been very helpful in the discussion with abundance. By the time 2008 rolled around, it really did look like oil production was in terminal decline. So I think this colored almost everyone's perception on what was possible in the fracturing basins. The speculative fracking interests really started to go live, at that point, and that's when the few high estimates started rolling in.

Robert - Valid points IMHO. And as I just posted below IMHO it's a waste of time to argue any high or low prediction of Bakken, Eagle Ford or any other shale trend if price forecasting isn't included. I mentioned elsewhere that in 2000 I was drilling wells in WY. My directional drillers had done many Bakken wells including horizontals. They seemed to have a pretty good handle on its potential. Everyone up there knew there was a lot of oil in the Bakken and they knew how to drill and frac hz holes.

But $20 oil in the late 90's wasn't going to make it boom. They often joked about foolish investors who bought the hype from the promoters. IMHO, based on the then current oil price, none of the folks who understood the Bakken so well would have ever predicted the growth in production we've seen because they would not have predicted the price increase in oil that we've seen.

I've made the point several times: the Eagle Ford is not some new recently discovered play. I drilled and frac'd my first EFS well over 25 years ago. We knew the oil was in the Eagle Ford in 1998. We knew how to drill/frac hz wells in 1998. So why now and not then? Maybe $20 oil vs. $100 oil. Which leads to the obvious question: how far would oil prices have to drop for the expansion of Bakken/Eagle Ford/et al production to stop? Whether oil prices ever drop that low is an entirely different question. I won't offer a guess but there obvious is some price minimum for all these plays to go forward. My WAG is that the Bakken can handle lower prices than the EFS.

Yeah, who would have guessed $100+ oil for much of 2011 and 2012? Even in 2008, such a hazard would have been outlandish. And you're right, it's probably somewhat foolish to place markers and will try to avoid it for individual plays in the future.

Points well taken on the age of EFS. And isn't it true that most of these fracked basins have been around for quite some time? Marcellus, I suppose might be the next big one. As for EFS, at least it's closer to the Gulf. Bakken is still a bit of a logistical nightmare. Unless that situation changes, Bakken should see the lowest prices first IMHO.

KLR - I'll harp again on my perpetual sore point: did Hamm's 300 kbopd number include a price platform? If he was using an expected price of $30/bbl many would have completely ignored him. OTOH if he had used $110/bbl I'm sure he would have received a lot of attention. And maybe not in a good way: what idiot in 2006 would predict $110/bbl oil in 2012? Would have locked that madman up.

So question of the day: what will Bakken production be in 2020? And if you don't include the supporting price projection for that estimate everyone here should shun you like bartender at a Baptist birthday party. LOL

This is the one thing, I think, that the ENI paper got right. They picked a price ranging from 70-110 dollars per barrel. I'd think that prices in this range are needed if there's much hope of expanding worldwide production. And that's why volatility is a real killer. Glut or economic recession really hurts. And if you have both gluts in oil and in gas occurring at the same time, my bet is a lot of people go belly up. An absolute worst case would be high prices bringing on both glut and recession.

Thanks Robert. Whether I agree with their projection or not I'll give credit for them offering a price platform to support the production/URR model. I've probably been getting too irritated listening to debates with folks not inputting a price projection. I suspect that an underlying reason for the various opinions is that some folks are mentally assuming some $X/bbl to support their model but aren't tossing that number into the conversation. So the debate may not be as much about rates/URR as about future price expectations.

I don't know. I think you have some who just look at the rocks in a vacuum and not at the market. But supply responds to price just as readily as demand. Someone should do a more comprehensive analysis of what may be possible given a range of prices. Perhaps this is asking too much.

And I don't really agree with the ENI projections. Although I do think that sustained high prices in this range would probably result in a lot more unconventional oil (fracked etc). So long as demand could bear it, that is.

I would suspect that the EIA has the comprehensive price analysis information but it doesn't necessary paint the rosy scenario that they would like to present of US reserves. Better to tell the public that there is 30BB or maybe 40BB or 50BB, with some upgrading of the various oil shales, without getting into the negatives of cost. If left unspoken, the public is lead to believe that this means cheap oil for quite awhile.

I'll fish out some of those old comments/forecasts from Hamm and his ilk. I'm starting to build up a catalog of choice quips like this; for a while a few years back I'd post stuff on DB From the Archives; bits from old papers making bold statements about the imminent arrival of fuels derived from wood pulp and the like - this in 1923. Oops! I'm getting back into it. Haven't the fortitude to piece together an actual article here.

With any luck some of these players still have .ppt etc docs on their sites from the middle of the last decade we can parse. abundance.concept used to post no end of copy from them at peakoil.com. Along with cataloging every discovery in the world. And locking horns with anyone who dared to suggest that the economy wouldn't fully recover. Now, I'm a bit slow on the draw myself, but, you know, all that output to do battle with a bunch of gloomy gusses on an obscure discussion board almost seemed like it was a full-time job for him...

Robert - "And isn't it true that most of these fracked basins have been around for quite some time?" Yes...actually most have been around for millions of years. Sorry...I was behind on my smartass comment quota so I had to take advantage of you. LOL.

A little geologic trivia. Most subsurface formations are named for something in the area where they outcrop on the surface. The Eagle Ford et al are often named for a town in such an area. How long have shale reservoirs been drilled by the oil patch? The oldest commercial NG play in the US is the New Albany Shale (guess where its outcrop got its name). In the very early 1900's NAS NG was fueling street lights in KY. The play heated up about 10 years ago. Not very impressive wells: 1,000 mcf/d was considered huge. But they would produce for decades...some times 50+ years. But very slowly...like $100/day. But they were cheap to drill and cost almost nothing to produce.

Eagle Ford has oil in it???? Almost 40 years ago as a grad student at Texas A&M we had a field trip to the EFS outcrop area. Around the campfire at night we burned chunks of EFS. OK...more smoldered than burned. We could hear the oil sizzle and pop as the rock got hot. About 8 years ago I drilled some NAS wells in western KY. My main concern was determining when we drilled into the NAS from the non-productive shale immediately above it. We were air drilling so the rock cuttings spewed into the air. Turned out to be one of the easiest well site call I have ever had. The NAS was so organic rich that when I drilled into it the rock powder blowing out the hole looked like I had a blazing oil fire going. Which is exactly what a deputy sheriff driving by thought. Came rushing in thinking we had a vehicle on fire.

The oil patch has been keenly aware and and studies these shales since the 1930's. But not initially as unconventional production but as source rocks for our conventional fields. And the oil patch focused on them even more in the 50's and 60's but, again, not as a resource, but a drilling hazard. As deeper trends were discovered below these fractured shales some of those wells had great difficulty drilling thru the shales. Fractures in the shale may flow out hydrocarbons easily but they just as readily suck in drilling mud. You drill with heavier mud pressure than the formation pressure to prevent a blow out. When we hit a fracture the drill mud would surge into the fractures (we call it "lost circulation") and can be a very expensive and dangerous situation. Often an operator would avoid drilling into such a shale in areas where fractures were more likely.

Again the point I'm sure some folks are tired hearing from me: we knew about the hydrocarbons in all these shales for many decades. We also knew exactly how to drill and frac hz wells by the 1990's. The shales plays originally took off when NG prices began to rise and then died even quicker when prices collapsed in '08. IMHO the oily shale plays will continue to expand as long as the price support is there. And will be developed even if profit margins are poor because the pubcos must keep adding to their reserve base even if there isn't much profit to the effort. In their case capex availability may be a more critical factor than oil price.

The data pulled together by Mason on Bakken production indicates that these type of wells have been around for awhile. He plotted data that extended for 30 years, so evidently he considers the statistics adequate.

The fact that the production follows a diffusional flow suggests that they will continue to dribble out oil for years. That's the beauty of physics. Once the flow is characterized, the math of statistical physics pays no attention to anecdotes or opinions, and so can be used to objectively extrapolate the future production.

Web - I think I once read the first commercial Bakken well was completed in 1954. For what little that tidbit is worth.

Oh, bad data is completely worthless. Which is why we need WHT to keep people honest :)

KLR - As they you don't have to be crazy to do E&P...but it does help. LOL. There are other factors besides the mechanical lag time between drilling and production but I think most have much less impact. But I wonder if weather plays a bigger factor in the Bakken than some warmer plays like the Eagle Ford. That might be a good explanation for production drops after just one month of rig count drop. For a very short period I worked in sub-zero weather in WY and you do move very slowly. Monthly would seem to be as low as you want to work in the time domain IMHO.

Had a pretty good 4th even though I spent part of it slopping thru the mud and cow poop on a new drill site we're building. But I had my 12 yo gal with me and we had nice long chats...especially when we had to stay in the car during frog strangling down pours. LOL.

Winters of '09 and '10 you do see a bit of sluggishness in Bakken production, it made the news a bit. Rigs looked to just keep on climbing though. I posed a question about that last week, you'll recall; didn't get my question answered but learned a lot about working in frozen bogs etc. Speaking of frozen ground, was reading about big fields and learned about the world's #2 gas field, whatever it's called, Russian - biogenic. AKA swamp gas. The power of permafrost! Who needs anhydrite? Urengoy, that's the name.

Winters of '09 and '10 you do see a bit of sluggishness in Bakken production, it made the news a bit. Rigs looked to just keep on climbing though.

Many years ago I was talking to a contract shothole driller on a seismic crew in North Dakota, and I asked him how he kept working in really cold weather (we're talking about below -40, not just below freezing) and his answer was quite interesting:

"There's only one person can keep me working when it gets that cold. Not the Party Manager. Not the birddog. But the banker who has the note on my drilling rig."

Perhaps the rig count kept climbing because drilling contractors had borrowed money to buy the rigs and could not afford to stack them.

The latest Gotye single is a song about collapse, either climactic or resource depletion or both. It's a nice listen and it's got some insight in it too, for example: "...But it was like to stop consuming is to stop being human..." In that one line there is a commentary on the biological urge for consumption for reproductive success embedded in there, plus commentary on the failed philosophy that materialism = happiness. It's a significant milestone that this type of thinking is making it into pop culture.

you can listen to it here with a good video too:


Here are the lyrics:

So this is the end of the story
Everything we had, everything we did
Is buried in dust
And this dust is all that's left of us...

One of the very fundamental definitions of economics is that human wants are unlimited but the ability of the world to provide for those wants is finite. Economics is about meeting production with consumption so as to maximize overall utility. To provide for those wants we all have to be turned into producing / consuming machines.

Well, right there from the get-go there are very fundamental problems with western economics because that statement, "human wants are unlimited" is caged with many underlying unstated assumptions about human psychology and is obviously derived from a western perspective, as the eastern Buddhists have clearly shown that human wants are not necessarily unlimited, and that happiness is generally inversely correlated with consumption, above a level of poverty. And of course the whole idea of economic "production" and "consumption" (as if we produce anything -- have they not heard of the laws of conservation of energy and matter?) is so simplistic that it blatantly violates the laws of physics and ecological energetics. So if modern economic theory is so very flawed from the very beginning, it should come as no surprise that everything else derived from this is also phooey.

But there is hope, as the main Wikipedia page for economics has at the bottom of the introductory paragraph, "An increasing number of economists have realised that infinite growth on a finite planet is fundamentally flawed and are calling for a revolution in the global economy to devise a new economic system that is sustainable and serves the needs of people and planet. This area of research is known as Ecological economics." Well it's great that increasing number of economists has finally begun cluing in to what scientists have been saying for decades, even centuries. Way to keep ahead of the curve, economists! Great ideas!

Had to cut the lyrics down. Unless you wrote them, or they are in the public domain, please don't quote entire poems or songs.

Apologies, I guess I assumed they were public domain since they are published in the caption space beneath the youtube video... they can be found there anyways.

Generally, songs and poems are not in the public domain unless they are very old. It's something like 70 years after the author's death in the US, assuming the copyright is not renewed.

The fact that the lyrics are published elsewhere on the net doesn't mean anything. On YouTube, music videos are often posted by those who own the copyright; they can post the lyrics if they want, because they own the rights. Other lyrics sites pay royalties. And some are breaking the law, and if caught, either pay up or shut down and move to a new site/server.

The best song in recent years about the tragedy and ephemerality of development is "Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane.


It seems like most recent Radiohead songs are about overshoot/climate change/peak oil.

Music For A Forgotten Future by Mogwai always puts me in the melancholic, peak oil mood.


For those with a technical bent of mind...this is a design article published in embedded.com

Solar energy conversion with embedded maximum power point tracking (MPPT) – Active power optimizers or micro-inverters

---Ed Friedman, applications engineer, STMicroelectronics Inc.

A major problem facing solar energy system designers is determining the best, most cost effective method to extract power from a solar array and deliver it to the AC grid. Of equal importance is how to solve the problem of shading. A shaded panel can burn out and reduce functionality of an entire string of panels. Methods will be presented to solve this problem.

To my limited knowledge, there are two sorts of array mounted products available, DC optimizers, and micro-inverters. The later is one inverter per panel. The former allows shaded panels to be bypassed.
The issues with micro-inverters are twofold. First is that the cost per watt is considerably higher than string inverters. An array with micro-inverters will outperform an array using string inverters (because in a string the delivered current is determined by the weakest panel -whether it is shaded, or simply a few percent less efficient than its siblings.) In arrays without shading issues the few percent gain, isn't worth the cost -you would be better off buying more panels, than using micro-inverters. For arrays under roughly 2KW, micro-inverters might be cost effective. And for special situations, where variable insolation across the array of panels can't be avoided, microinverters or DC optimizers are likely to be a good solution.

One other issue is that inverters generate and must dissipate a lot of heat. So putting all the microinverters behind panels in direct sunlight makes them run hotter and fail sooner.
Agreed if shading is an issue then microinverters can avoid bringing a whole string's output down, but our installer made installing our inverter panel in a cool shaded spot a priority, and on sunny days the inverter's cooling fan runs constantly even in the shade.

15 million US$ forburrying one mile of electric cable? How can it be so expensive? After the Gudrun hurricane in 2005 welost alot of cable. See these pictures for an idea of what it looked like. I live right in the path of the storm:


People were without power for months. The electic companies decided to dig down long long stretches of cables. If we were looking at this cost, there just is no way we could afford all that. Why is it so expensive to bury cables in the US? Are they talking about the big hig voltage cables or what is it?

They're talking about burying the distribution cables that handle 15KV and up in already developed areas, those with existing streets, sidewalks, landscaping, existing buried utilities (water, gas, sewer, telephone, cable TV). Not real easy to just run a trench and drop the cable in. All existing utilities would have to be located and avoided, traffic re-routed and so on. Even on the secondary drop to the building the service entrance would often have to be replaced to accommodate the cable now coming from an underground trench instead of overhead.

Most of the outages that occurred on the east cost of the US recently were not caused by damage to the 100KV (or higher voltage) transmittion lines which are typically located well above the trees. Most of the damage occurred on the lines that go from home to home which are about 20 to 30 feet above the ground. Most of the damage occurred when trees fell breaking the wires and damaging poles.

In order to burry the lines that go home to home you first must mark the location of all water, sewer, and gas lines that also go home to home and are burryed. Then you have to dig out the trench and install the cables. But now you have to connect the new cables to each home. Each home is different. To make the connection you may have to trench through the sidewalk and drive way. If the electrical panel is on the outside of the house the final connection is easy. If the pannel is inside the house some walls may have to be opened up to run the new lines and if the panel is out of date the panel may need to be replaced. Once all that is done the road, sidewalks need to to be repaired.

Most of the cost is in making the final connection to the home.

Then we are lucky in Sweden: we only have forests everywhere. Also when we bury the cable, we dont need a "cable street" through the forest,freeing up that real estate for more industrial forest and thus timber production.

Plus, each customer and homeowner or business group will complain about the damaged greenery, and demand no interruption and perfect reconstruction. A company will do almost anything not to trench yards, given the PR cost.

City Engineering groups are understaffed too, so permitting takes time. No way to hurry.

Your gut is right, that's far higher than typical. A few years ago, my plug number for 15kV class undergrounding projects in urban overhead areas was $1M/mile including multiple circuits. That's probably doubled, but the low end of $5.8M/mile given in the article and attributed to EPRI has to be talking about something atypical. It doesn't typically cost that much even if we have subtransmission, telecom, and CATV plus multiple distribution circuits.

It is, however, prohibitively expensive. Much cheaper to improve overhead. The reliability benefits are not all that they are cracked up to be and the maintenance costs are higher, not just the initial costs. However, most municipalities in the U.S. have ordinances requiring new line routes to be underground in existing areas. They typically also require developers to underground existing overhead utilities along the street in front of new development. The state of Califorrnia requires any new housing tracts to be underground. They also require a portion of electrical rates to be set aside in a fund allocated to municipalities by the share of the electrical services within that jurisdiction which are overhead, and allow the municipalities to designate existing main streets which they wish the utilities to underground (service conversion costs are at the expense of the service owner). The USFS requires new distribution class utilities and/or upgrades to be underground, but makes exceptions on a case-by-cas basis where the environmental impact of undergrounding is deemed greater than the aesthetic impact of overhead. All of my facilities 'downrange' on various military installations are underground, and buried deep enough to be run over by tanks, and/or shelled.

I can imagine any failures of an underground line -unless it is a point failure located at an access point, are going to be expensive to fix -perhaps even to diagnose and locate.
I presume the slowness in getting the mid Atlantic back up, is simply that there are huge numbers of local distribution wires down. And every one requires a truck-roll/crew. There is a finite number of crews.

Yes, the worst outages to recover from are those where there is widely distributed local damage. Lots of work to restore very small numbers of customers. If each repair only restores 10 customers, and takes a crew-day to repair, restoring 100,000 customers takes 10,000 crew days. If you have 100 crews working around the clock (everybody at a large utility), that's going to take over 30 days (50 days if working 2 shifts a day). This is why we have mutual aid. It'd take about 20,000 lineman to restore that kind of damage in less than a day (but your original 400 guys can't supervise that many outsiders, and you need to do that, since they don't know your system/area). There are only about 108,400 "powerline installers and repairers" in the entire U.S. as of 2010 according to BLS. Thankfully, not all of the people out are out due to such localized problems. All of the last people out will be out due to that type of problem, which is one reason outage restoration gets slower as it progresses. Another issue with weather caused problems is typically the hits keep coming for a few days.

On my system, a typical distribution primary problem (a lockout or 'permanent' fault rather than a temporary fault cleared by relay and reclose) is going to interrupt 1-4000 people. About half of them should be back up in less than five minutes (due to automation), about 90% of them back up in less than an hour due to isolating the problem and reconfiguring the system to feed everybody not in the immediate area(assuming a normal level of outage activity, not a storm). Then, most things can be fixed in less than four hours, unless underground cable, a pole, or a transformer has failed, then it will be more like 10 hours for the last few folks.

When outages occur above a normal threshold, crews are pulled off planned work or called out from home. When several additional thresholds are reached, these trigger folks in other jobs start performing work they don't normally do, like coordinating/prioritizing outage dispatching and logistics, or responding to outage/wire down calls to assess damage instead of rolling a qualified troubleman to the site so he can spend his time isolating already assessed problems (you'd be amazed how many people don't know the difference between telco, CATV, secondary, and primary wire). We start calling contract crews almost immediately. When it gets bad enough, we start calling for mutual aid from places far enough away that they don't have the same problems, or fear being in the same boat soon. For a big utility, mutual aid almost never arrives before the 2nd or 3rd day of outages. We would typically trigger it if we expected a large number of folks to be off more than 24 hours. We used to work crews 32 hours on, 8 hours off, but folks have decided that's too dangerous...

After the big storm, people were out of power for months. I think the last guy got power back in 3 months. This may sound like a 3:rd world country but you have to consider the scale of this event. We lost 10 YEARS worth of logging timber in 4 hours, and Sweden as a timber nation is second only to Canada and possibly Russia, and nations like Indonesia that don't log but mine their forests and then leave permanent clearcuts behind.

The electricity companies just stitched the cabels back together, and left them laying on the ground, or hanging losely from the treetops. They marked them with colourfull plastic strips so people would see them and not walk into them. Then they begun digging them down in the ground. This lasted for years, and throughout this period, those cables were just laying about, for children to play with. No accidents were reported, though.

I live in Austria with its share of natural desasters during summer time like storms and mudslides. The electricity grid is usually not affected as most is underground.

More often the problems in urban districts are caused by construction work during which underground supply lines are damaged. Here everybody knows of course were the problem is located. :-)

In more "natural" cases i.e. ground moves a littel bit and stones cut or damage underground lines the location can IIRC relatively easy be determined by measuring the electrical resistance which gives with known specific resistance of the cable a good estimate of the location.

This makes me curious also. I have a friend in Sacramento which rents power washing equipment. Not for deck cleaning. These are truck mounted because of recoil. He rents them to power and sewer outfits to excavate trenches. They cut faster than you can walk, almost explosive. They can blast horizontally also. Detail work call be done by a hand held rotary nozzle which can chop off a hand at two meters.

I reckon cables must cost a fortune.

Burying all above-ground power lines is very expensive. I live in the Washington, D.C. area, hit by violent storms last Friday -- there has been discussion of doing this over the past 10 years, but the cost of undergrounding the region's power lines, including household service lines, would cost over $5 billion. Here's a link to a recent Washington Post article:


To convert to a full undergrounding, just for the District of Columbia, not the Maryland suburbs, would add $226 to each resident's monthly electric bill over a ten-year period. I doubt that this area could muster the collective will or resources for such a massive undertaking. The money isn't there -- even in Washington, D.C., the new center of money and power in the U.S.A., that is sucking in resources from the periphery. Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh) of the Automatic Earth is probably right -- going forward, the most the system can do is engage in an uphill battle to maintain our existing infrastructure.

Some thoughts on oil prices . . .

Average Brent price for first half of 2011 was about $113. Link to annual Brent prices:

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.

It seems likely that we we will show an year over year decline in 2012, to an average price that is, in all likelihood, well above the previous year over year decline of $62 that we saw in 20009.

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

The average rate of increase for new annual highs was about 13%/year (three data points), and the average rate of increase for new annual lows was about 16%/year (only two data points), suggesting that the average 2012 price might be somewhere in the vicinity of about $100.

Good catch. This plays into what I wrote earlier, that the downturns are shorter and shorter in the oil markets because as many producers(like Russia) are nearing their peak, they need more and more CapEx costs, which pushes up the oil price that they need to break-even substantially.

Therefore the lows are much shorter than they would 'normally' as the producers cut the production artificially. That is usually the job of Saudi Arabia, which takes the cues from various producers and cuts the production. Iran has already called for it and Iraq has made similar noises too.

The question is how well an economy can sustain Brent prices at around $100 dollars in a downturn. We know that we may not be going into a downright recession, but we are growing very slowly and unemployment is more or less going sideways, at best.

Some people claim that as oil prices are on a secular rise, societies and individuals adapt. And that's probably true to some extent. In America, there was a lot of low-hanging fruit and there is still some to pick. So the net decline in OECD is to some extent explainable by simply effectivization. But there's only so much low-hanging fruit you can pick. At some point(are we there now?) you start to cut into the parts of the economy that are not easy to substitute or streamline. And then the economy slows down.

The fact that the lows keep getting higher is a worrying sign in of itself. It once again proves that supply is constrained. Even if there are a lot of (unconventional) reserves out there, if getting them out is so expensive, that in of itself is a problem. And we don't seem to be getting them out fast enough as it is.

The fact that the lows keep getting higher is a worrying sign in of itself. It once again proves that supply is constrained.

Supply is constrained in the manner you lay out, and will begin to accentuate that constraint to a much greater degree from here on out for these reasons:
1) Economy is getting squeezed by high oil prices into recession or lower growth (depending on the OECD country), which is leading to lower amounts that can be afforded for oil, 2) Suppliers required minimum price is rising as costs of govt. and business rise, so there is incentive to restrict supply to get their price, 3) Overall EROEI by way of increasing un-conventional is dropping, reducing bang for buck even at higher prices, 4) As the price the economy can handle drops, increasingly expensive exploration drops, reducing replacement supply for depletion.

It looks like a feedback loop of the worst supply kind.

“The Texas Department of Transportation: repairing roads damaged by drilling activity to bring them up to standard would "conservatively" cost $1 billion for farm-to-market roads and another $1 billion for local roads.”

Now a little balance. I suspect the state govt folks might be padding their numbers a tad to enhance their efforts for a bigger piece of the state budget. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and accept the $2 billion/year estimate. First, all the oil field equipment that runs down the roads in Texas have to pay permit fees per run. No idea what the weight/millage charge is per run let alone the yearly total but I suspect it could be upwards of $100 million. Chump change. Also last time I drilled in an incorporated area I had to post a $250,000 road damage bond. The roads were documented before the first truck rolled and after I finished drilling. Any damage attributed to my efforts had to be paid before the bond would be returned. Fortunately the truckers did no visible obvious damage but did have to pay the city $12,000 fee to roll thru town. Still chump change. The number of wells estimated for 2012 times the permit fees/well will add about $20 million to the state coffers. Still chump change.

Now for the serious money. Based upon March production and current prices (including the pitifully low NG price) the State of Texas will collect about $3.3 billion in severance taxes from the oil patch and the counties another $660 million. And then there’s the off book numbers (that are hard to pin down) such as sales and property taxes and corporate income taxes that wouldn’t be collected were it not for oil patch activity. I won’t even offer a WAG but it’s gotta be mucho. And the total income all those oil patch maniacs tearing up the roads receive? Who knows but certainly even more mucho.

I would think every state in the country would be glad to pay for the road repairs if, in turn, they received several times that amount in taxes as well as many, many more $billions in incomes for their citizens. You notice the state agency wasn’t lobbying for a decrease in drilling in Texas. They were pushing for a bigger budget. I’ve already chewed out my Yankee cousins in PA for letting the oil patch skate by and not pay one penny in production tax so I’ll stop there.

TX has the best road network of any southern state. Yeah they have problems, but their state highways/"farm roads" (FM XXXX) are like glass when compared other southern resource colonies.

For comparison, see what resource extraction and farm equipment does to the narrow, rarely maintained roads in LA, MS, AL, parts of GA, SC, etc., etc. (better yet, y'all stay on the interstate :P)

From another perspective, that $2B is maybe a day or two of production revenue for Texas. Like you say, chump change. Just a cost of doing a very good business.

Drove through PA, and the interstates were 55mph within 50 miles of a major city. Drove in S. Tx, and traffic on undivided 2-lane blacktop was 70+, with mostly semi traffic. Not very safe, but the roads were mostly flat and sound.

Paleo - Yep...good roads but not safe roads. I've driven down many a two-lane undivided hw at night. Never a relaxing drive. In 30 some years I've helped pull mangled bodies out of vehicles twice at night. And one thing you never ever do on a Texas highway...especially on Friday/Saturday night: drive between 2 AM and 3 AM. Mandatory bar closure at 2 AM: way too many drunks hitting the road at the same time. At least the odds of a drunk hitting you in La. is no better at 3 AM than at 6 AM. LOL.

I wish we had a symbol for "mordant chuckle." That's what LOL usually implies, rather than "Laugh Out Loud." Oh well -- expressions change meaning all the time. Confusing to us literalists.

I'm realizing that much of the reason why Texas is able to have such low state taxes is that they tax the crap out of the oil/gas revenue such that they are effectively taxing the rest of the country to pay for their state spending. Now that is nice for Texas but the rest of the country can't do that since they don't have such resources to tax.

California should hike its oil extraction taxes and then allow drilling off its coast in order to get out of its fiscal mess. Yeah, it is not popular but desperate times call for desperate measures.

The roads were built for the climate we used to have ...

17 Pavement Buckles in 1 Day Prompts Warning in Wisconsin

Click here to see video of what happened when a vehicle encountered a buckled road earlier this week. [video is worth the view]

MnDOT says because the pavement there was laid down 30 years ago, it is more vulnerable. Older highways, like that stretch of 94, have cracks built in every 27 feet to help handle heat expansion.

Newer highways have cracks built in every 15 feet providing more room to expand and that is proving more effective.

Extreme heat buckles roads, sends workers to local hospital

The Iowa Department of Transportation is warning motorists about “pavement blowups that occur when thermal expansion forces the pavement to buckle and shatter. A number of such incidents have been occurring this week,” according to a recent DOT news release.

When it’s hot enough to buckle highways, it’s really hot.

Pavement blowups occur spontaneously and motorists receive no advance warning.

Holy Dukes of Hazard! An SUV with air-time.

Note the signs flagging the pavement "bump" in the SUV video.

Imay live in a coldcountry,but I never seen or even heard of this. I know about the phenomena on railroads, but that has beensolved with expansion space between the rails.

"Sun kink" is still a problem in the U.S.

This week, many Amtrak riders ended up having to get off the train and onto buses, because of the heat.

At least in the USA, and for better or worse, continuous welded rail long ago replaced a lot of the old clickety-clack "expansion space" rail.

spec - I have a different perspective. If Texas collected no produciton tax just as PA I wouldn't be selling my oil/NG for one penny less. I sell at the price the market will bear...not based upon what my net will be. The only change if I didn't pay Texas taxes would be that I'd have more capex to drill more welIs.

IOW are operators in PA going to lower the price they sell their oil for just because the state doesn't collect severance tax?

"Depletionist sites are seeing declining web traffic. "

I never had traffic to decline from. Actually, it's more of a flow problem than anything else.

I suppose you're referring to the link, above, to Heinberg's article.

From the article:

The Peak Oil debate is not a sporting event. What matters is not which side wins, but what reality awaits us. Will we see a continuing plateau in global crude oil production? How long will it last? How big a proportional contribution to total liquids production will we see from tar sands, shale, and other unconventionals? What will be the climate impact as the world’s petroleum supply is increasingly derived from lower-grade resources? And what will be the economic impact?...

...As many peakists have been saying all along, we’ll know for sure precisely when global oil production peaks (in terms of rate of production in barrels per day) only when we can see a steady decline in the rear-view mirror. But by then it will be too late for society to prepare for the economic impacts of Peak Oil. So is the Peak Oil “movement”—not as an exercise in analysis, but as an effort to warn the world and prevent catastrophe—doomed to failure? Maybe. But by the same token so is most of, if not the entire, environmental movement. We will not substantially change our collective behavior until crisis is upon us.

But even if we cannot avert a crisis, we can prepare some portion of the populace for the aftermath. We can build community resilience...

I'll second that. My participation on various sites drops off seasonally during warmer months. That said, I'm devoting more time to deep preparations and more very local community involvement.

I think many folks got into the whole peak oil/prepper/doomer thing for the novelty. The novelty wore off before reality set in, and the majority have moved on to whatever their next distraction may be, avoiding the drudgery, the weariness that muddling through brings. It's a bit like going to the movies during the great depression. Why wallow in it when there's a new I-Phone or celebrity to attend to? It's not like they were planning to take any action, to actually change, much, anyway. Peak Oil is last year's disaster movie.

Many folks have become as comfortably numb to Peak Oil, etc., as they have to the possibility of an asteroid hitting Earth, or the next ice age.

One wonders how much prepper food is rotting away in cellars across America.

Beyond that, those that get it should be too busy to spend much time on web sites predicting gloom. I'm quite involved in building things that should have value regardless of how things play out. I'm off to the harvest, and the new chicken coop we're setting up near the garden.

It's a pretty intense hobby. I don't begrudge people for being at high-tide for a while, then at low-tide later, when it's time to let the brain recover a bit. (All at widely varying timescales..)

I know we' don't have the time.. but we're designed to wake up and work, and then later, to lay back down and sleep a bit, or play some frisbee and roll in the grass.

"One wonders how much prepper food is rotting away in cellars across America."

You make an interesting point.

The purpose of having insight into the data should enable one to make the necessary lifestyle changes in preparation.

Instead, many people apparently treat prepping somewhat like going on a diet. A couple of weeks of intense effort, lose a few pounds, then go back to normal and put all the weight back on, and probably a few pounds more.

A year's worth of dehydrated food in the cellar is the quick fix, not the long-term lifestyle change. People think they've done all they need to, and then go back to their old habits.

I totally agree. The dehydrated food in the cellar will go faster than popcorn at the movies, when the "S" hits the fan. Although it can come in handy for flash crash events like power outages. My long term strategy includes two parts. Support local farms and marry an eastern European girl. Sounds silly, but I didn't grow up with shortages, she did. She already knows how to make preserves from the fruit in the yard. And, how to cook different meals based on what ingredients are on hand (think cake without eggs).

"Prepper food" in the freeze dried form is said to have a storage life of 25 years. I just ordered some, with the presently growing drought situation. Anyway, if TS doesn't HTF, one might consider buying another batch after 5 years, then slowly eating the first batch over the next 5 years, then buying another batch at 10 years, etc. That way, the reserve could be kept in good condition for as long as there were suppliers to restock the reserve. The same can be done with canned goods, but with a shorter time for turnover. I also have a batch of canned foods which I try to keep up to date by eating the oldest part of the batch on occasion...

E. Swanson

Rotating food stocks is important, though most folks won't usually eat the "emergency" or freeze dried stuff unless they get really hungry. A good way to rotate canned stocks is to use racks that dispense the oldest cans first, like this, or you can build your own (pdf). I'm working on something like this. We also write the date on stuff we plan to keep for a while. These are good practices, regardless.

The time-scale and scope of Peak Oil and related realities are just not compatible with a modern consumer-driven society. Many Americans have reacted to these ideas as if they were just another market-driven trend. They bought the books and products, watched the movies and talked the talk as long as it was the latest thing. Now that the peak is in the rear-view mirror, it's old news. On to the latest cellphone apps and the TomKat divorce. Look for disaster prep supplies to start showing up in garage sales, right next to the pink plastic children's toys.

Of course, the burgeoning garage sales are themselves a sign that people are starting to adapt to a new reality, however reluctantly.

I never did understand the freeze-dried thing. I only stock up on food that I know I'm going to eat, never occurred to me to do otherwise. Then again, it's easy for me because I actually LIKE brown rice and spicy beans, eat em' all the time, and I routinely go through 20 lbs bags of the stuff in a few months (or less).

I'll still be screwed if the global 'warehouse on wheels' ever stops rolling for any reason, but I'm hoping I'll be dead by then anyway.


You know you're a prepper when you automatically date all the food items you buy before putting them away.


Gosford City Council and sea level rises.

Affected property owners should send compensation bills to the coal industry. But those bills will be peanuts compared to claims from countries like Bangladesh


The rail line to Gosford from Sydney will also be threatened be sea level rises. Here are some pics:

NSW regional railway clock stopped at midnight but Hunter coal trains are rolling

One wonders how much the moves we've seen to make climate change/sea level rise "illegal", as they say, and exclude it from various jurisdictions' planning, is a stealth attempt to avoid future liability and litigation.

It's all very good to show pictures of railways close to the water but automatic railway track-lifting machines have been in use for over 120 years:

Loram Track Lifter

Loram Maintenance of Way Inc.'s latest offering is the Track Lifter Series (TL). These machines are designed to be more productive and cost effective compared to traditional services. The TL can lift track up to 12 inches, creating a new sub-ballast layer and establishing a more permeable ballast and overall stronger track structure.

Figure out how many feet you need to lift the track, and that's how many passes of the machine you need to do it. It lifts track at 1 mph, so figure out how many miles you want to lift, multiply by the number of feet to lift it, and that's the hours of machine time you need to do it. The railways are the least of people's worries in a sea level rise scenario.

Edit: I just thought I'd add this because it is interesting in that it illustrates track lifting in a rail line. CN Rail (a Class I railway) acquired a Short Line railway because it ran to the Athabasca Oil Sands, and CN wanted to run trainloads of oil from there to the Gulf of Mexico and other places. The line did, however, have a problem with tracks sinking into the peat bogs ("muskeg" in Canadian terminology), so this is how they fixed it:

Rehabilitation of Canadian National Railway Track Servicing Oil Sands in Northern Alberta (PDF)

The railways are the least of people's worries in a sea level rise scenario.

Dead wrong.
You need to Google a little more deeply.
If lifting ballast was all that was required a railway could be built on ballast over a swamp.
Rail track requires good formation. Ballast degrades over time due to several reasons and requires to be cleaned. As a consequence of ballast degredation the track sinks. The track is lifted by cleaning the old ballast repacking with new ballast and removing spoilt ballast.

Lifting alone will not protect a railway from the ravages of a rising tide. That's a good article you linked, read the part about "drainage" to get you interested.

If lifting ballast was all that was required a railway could be built on ballast over a swamp.

That's true, and that's the way a lot of railway lines were build in Canada.

They would lay the track in the winter when the swamp (muskeg) was frozen, and then as it thawed, they'd run back and forth dumping ballast between the tracks. Eventually the ballast would fill the swamp to the bottom, and they would have a solid railbed. That's probably how this particular line was built in the first place since much of it was built over muskeg, and they didn't spend a lot of money on laying track.

Additional efforts where required in areas with a natural soil that consist of Muskeg. Ten foot ties, additional bank widening, and added depth of ballast was implemented to provide additional load bearing support throughout the foundation of the track. A representation of the ten foot ties installed in a muskeg region can be seen in fig 7.

They did a lot of work on the line to improve the drainage, but I don't see any indication that they replaced any ballast - they just added more ballast. They claimed their new track lifter made it possible.

The railways are the least of people's worries in a sea level rise scenario.

Quoting you again in case you simply ignored it.

And your point is?

Railways are easy to raise and protect from high seas. Buildings and streets are much more difficult.

I would tend to agree. Considering the speed with which Germany showed that rail can be replaced and reset in a real pinch (ie after Allied Bombing raids), where there are only hours and days in which to act, it doesn't seem like we're all that stuck when it comes to railway routes, even if we tend to look at Rail ROW's as being so solidly 'set in stone' (you might say..) .. it seems like we are looking at timescales that certainly allow for rerouting or reengineering various routes.

Of course it can be engineered. For a cost, and an ongoing cost if it needs to be done every several years, bearing in mind we know now the sea is rising and nothing is being done while the rise is relatively slow.

RMG made the ludicrous assertion that railways don't have to worry about rising seas because the track can be raised easily with ballast.

It's not just single tracks near the sea, there can be dual and quadruple tracks, there are tunnels, platforms, sidings, signal infrastructure, communication systems, access roads, stanchions, overhead wires.....the list goes on. The economic costs in a resource inhibited world will be prohibitive.

And re-ballasting is not cheap and never undertaken lightly, it's fairly labour intensive, inhibits revenue and takes time if done correctly. RMG's link has some good info on what is required. Ballast must be made, stockpiled and transported as do ties that need replacing.

I didn't say that the railways didn't have to worry about a sea level rise, I said they can cope with it.

I live near the Canadian Pacific Railway main line through the Rocky Mountains. Several years ago a dam broke here in town, and the rush of water wiped out the CPR main line. How long did it take them to put the ballast back in place and put the rails back on top? About 2 hours. They had four backhoes, a track laying machine, and other equipment standing by because they knew the dam was probably going to break. It was quite a performance.

And consider jokuhl's comment:

the speed with which Germany showed that rail can be replaced and reset in a real pinch (ie after Allied Bombing raids)

I used to live next door to an old Austrian who was in Germany during WWII and experienced the bombing. He said, "The Allied bombers used to blow up the tracks every night. The trains were always on time the next morning." They just replaced the ballast, relaid the rails, and away the trains went.

Railways are much more resilient and repairable than you seem to think. Most of the rest of our infrastructure is less so.

Do I need to quote you again.......obviously you don't even comprehend your own words.

Look the damn railways were built on the coast because it was flat, cost effective and convenient. They will simply be abandoned and if possible built elswhere. It would be simply stupid to try to engineer protecting against a continual rising tide. Stop being a pissant and harking back to a ridiculous comparison with WW2. Of course you being a denier of AGW, population overshoot and economic meltdown makes it imperitive you deny problems with infrastructure that may be affected.

Railways are resilient and repairable in an economic environment which desires to make it so. The costs involved with relocating railways affected by a rising tide will be enormous, inconvenient, costly and most probably not even contemplated within the mix of associated events coinciding with climate change due to AGW (which you deny).

Anyone with a raiway track engineering background will know you haven't a clue as to what you are talking about.

I'm not denying that sea levels are rising, I'm just denying that it is impossible to raise or relocate the railway lines to match the sea level rise. Since the pictures were from New South Wales, Australia, here is a link to the NSW Government Sea Level Rise page:

Sea Level Rise

In the twentieth century, the global average sea level rose by 17 cm and sea levels are projected to continue to rise. There is strong national and international evidence supporting a projected rise of up to 40 cm by 2050, and 90 cm by 2100, for the NSW coastline.

90 cm is three passes by a track-lifting machine over the next 88 years, plus raising the bridges, so it doesn't seem that big an engineering effort compared to say, raising an entire city by 90 cm. Erosion of railway embankments can be prevented by laying riprap on them, which doesn't seem that difficult compared to stopping beaches from disappearing and preventing the foundations being eroded out from under the hotels on top. Reading the planning documents, I find the NSW government certainly is more concerned about the buildings, streets, and other features than about rail lines.

Perhaps I'm rather blase about what railways can do in difficult terrain because I have seen what the two big Canadian Class I railways do in the Rocky Mountains. The Canadian Rockies make the American Rockies look downright mellow, whereas Australia is the flattest continent and has nothing similar.

Some of the Canadian Pacific Railway's engineering efforts are popular tourist attractions. The most popular is the Spiral Tunnels where trains do a figure-8 inside a mountain to gain enough elevation to get over Rogers Pass. Here's a link to a video of CPR Spiral Tunnel 3 parts of same train at once in shot! which shows a long train entering the tunnel, exiting the tunnel, and passing under the viewing stand - at the same time.

US Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending June 29, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.6 million barrels per day during the week ending June 29, 14 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 92.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.4 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.7 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.8 million barrels per day last week, down by 344 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.1 million barrels per day, 16 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 823 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 81 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 4.3 million barrels from the previous week. At 382.9 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.2 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.9 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 4.1 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 19.2 million barrels per day, up by 0.9 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged 8.9 million barrels per day, down by 4.3 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.7 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 3.8 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 11.1 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.


US refiners step up utilization to meet demand for gasoline & diesel, even though retail gasoline sales remain mired in slump - Redux

Yes, this is the same title I used last week because the US refining situation did not change very much over the last week. However in general, gasoline & diesel demand increased over last week’s levels. This resulted in total products supplied by US refiners and blenders to have increased about 2% vs. the comparable year ago week, or 1% higher when compared against the year ago four week period. Oil use by refiners has been consistently about 3% higher than last year, despite widespread commentary in the major media that implies US oil demand is falling. Indeed domestic demand is falling in some areas, particularly for gasoline – down about 3% from last year, but foreign demand for various oil products and demand for distillates like diesel is increasing.

This means that the great energy supply paradox of 2012 continues - that is, US refiners struggle to keep up with demand even in a lackluster economy. While refinery utilization, at 92%, fell from last week’s 92.6%, it is near the highest levels for the last few years. Utilization is also effectively near the maximum capacity possible when the outages at the largest US refinery, Motiva, and major renovations at some Pennsylvania refiners (for example, the Delta airline refinery acquisition) are considered.

Underlying strong demand for oil products is the fact that the US has flipped from being a product importer to a product exporter over the last year - and in dramatic fashion too.

Gasoline inventories nationally improved slightly last week as refiners tried to optimize output for gasoline production, although they fell to low levels in the Northeast. NE wholesale prices for gasoline were about 10 to 15 cents/gallon higher than most of the rest of the country as a result. In general, gasoline imports were higher than those levels usually seen earlier in the year, as Europe endures a recessionary economy and ends up with surplus gas. Imports have alleviated any imminent gasoline supply problem, although there may not be enough imports to get the US through the end of the summer driving season (around Labor Day) without at least some local markets experiencing low supplies or even shortages.

A final note: The EIA release today was impacted by the recent tropical storm, reducing Gulf of Mexico oil production for a few days or so, and temporary reduced, for one day, by the closure of the LOOP (Louisiana Offshore Oil Port). These items may have reduced oil inventories about 4 million barrels, about equal with the total drop in crude stocks seen. However extra imports may show up in next week’s report with the arrival of delayed tankers.

China Starts Stockpiling Rare Earths: Report

China has started stockpiling rare earths for strategic reserves, a state-backed newspaper [China Securities Journal] said Thursday, in a move that may raise more worries over Beijing's control of the coveted resources.

The China Securities Journal said current low prices for rare earths had prompted the start of strategic buying and the reserves could be used to address future shortfalls of the resources. Government stockpiling could reduce the volume of China's exports of rare earths, the analyst said.

China has so far granted companies the right to export 21,226 tonnes of rare earths this year. In 2011, the government granted rare earth export quotas of 30,200 tonnes but only 18,600 tonnes were exported.

Fukushima Reactor Meltdown was a Man-Made Disaster, says Official Report

Last year's accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was a manmade disaster caused by poor regulation and collusion between the government, the operator and the industry's watchdog, a Japanese parliamentary panel report has said.

... "The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco, and the lack of governance by said parties," said the report, compiled by the Fukushima nuclear accident independent investigation commission.

"They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly 'man-made'.

"We believe that the root causes were the organisational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual.

"Across the board, the commission found ignorance and arrogance unforgivable for anyone or any organisation that deals with nuclear power. We found a disregard for global trends and a disregard for public safety."

"What must be admitted – very painfully – is that this was a disaster 'Made in Japan.' Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to 'sticking with the programme'; our groupism; and our insularity.

The National Diet of Japan: The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission Report: Executive Summary: http://naiic.go.jp/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/NAIIC_report_lo_res.pdf

While not unexpected, the critical tone of Thursday's report contrasts with a similar investigation by Tepco in which the utility insisted it had acted appropriately in the wake of a natural disaster it claimed it could never have predicted.

Hmm . . . I'm going to have to take a look at that. What could they have done better? It seems the only thing they really did wrong was build a plant there. I'm not so sure anything else would have helped since even if the diesels survived fine, would the pumps have survived? The wiring needed? The junction boxes? Etc.

I think maybe the 'one-page emergency procedure plan' irked a few people.

LOL. Yeah, that was clearly inadequate. But my point is that even if they had a great emergency plan, this situation may have overwhelmed it. It just wiped out almost every back-up system they had for longer term cooling and the blocked roads made impossible to get new things in quickly.

I think this disaster probably did make the newer passive-cooling based systems mandatory. (The newer systems have a big tank to drip in cool water even if all power is gone for like a week.)

Profoundly Man-Made Disaster

Ian Masters interview with Arnie Gunderson

The discussion about Japan is very interesting. Then the subject moves to California.

187 whistle-blowers at San Onofre about the steam-generator. So all of this "we don't know what went wrong... the reasons for the failures need to be studied" is pure nonsense/cover-up/misdirection. Gunderson offers that the management ignored the vibration - the pipes rattling could be heard and there were also vibration monitors - until things actually started breaking.

Another bit: NEI approves the leadership of the NRC. The NRC is captured by the nuclear industry.

Image NEI:

Image NRC:

It's all about families, grass, and blue sky.

A Problem of Culture

Nuclear Reactor Safety

A Little Known Nuclear Facility in Paducah, Kentucky

Scientists Identify Tropical Oceans as 'Beating Heart' of Climate Change

The world’s oceans are increasingly pumping tropical warm water towards the poles with important consequences for life on Earth, according to a new study.

When the warm water reaches the continental shelves, it peels off in northerly and southerly directions, travelling along the shelf-line towards the poles. According to scientists at Plymouth University’s Marine Institute and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), many of the pulses coincide with El Niño events – and their heat content is increasing in intensity.

“Warm tropical waters appear to be acting like a heart, accumulating heat and energy, and then pumping it in bursts that progressively move toward the poles, a process that seems to be accelerating.”

Dr Beaugrand said: “When you compare the timing of these warm sea surface temperature anomalies with the reductions of polar sea-ice in the Arctic and to the west of the Western Antarctic Peninsula, and the melting of ice shelves in Antarctica and Greenland, they coincide to a strong degree.”

“If this pattern continues, global temperatures may continue to rise in sudden jumps – and the evidence suggests that the rate of rise is accelerating.”

also Tropical Oceans Role in Climate Change

The report – Global synchrony of an accelerating rise in sea surface temperature – is published in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association

Being Poor in America Is Increasingly Illegal

In the United States of America, we do not have debtors' prison. Right? Oh, so wrong. The financial and legal penalties for being poor in America are only getting worse.

If you are arrested for a misdemeanor, you may be fined. In many parts of America, collection of these fines may be farmed out to private companies. These companies are essentially bill collectors. They make their money by adding fees onto the fines imposed upon you by the court. These fees are often quite substantial. Poor people can often not afford to pay. For some of them, a misdemeanor can snowball into a years-long legal nightmare.

Poor Land in Jail as Companies Add Huge Fees for Probation

... In Georgia, three dozen for-profit probation companies operate in hundreds of courts, and there have been similar lawsuits. In one, Randy Miller, 39, an Iraq war veteran who had lost his job, was jailed after failing to make child support payments of $860 a month. In another, Hills McGee, with a monthly income of $243 in veterans benefits, was charged with public drunkenness, assessed $270 by a court and put on probation through a private company. The company added a $15 enrollment fee and $39 in monthly fees. That put his total for a year above $700, which Mr. McGee, 53, struggled to meet before being jailed for failing to pay it all.

... welcome back to the 1930's

Rain !!!

For anyone who saw the movie "Independence Day", we had a cloud the size of the mother ship suddenly form over our area, thunder, lightning and a cloudburst !! It reached 103 degrees just prior to that.

Somewhat bizarre, but I'll take it, thank you. Must have been my rain dance yesterday.

EDIT: cool air off the lake is creating thunderstorms. Heh.

Are those intense thunder showers doing any good or are they just washing away the soil?

Since I'm in the city, a lot washes into the sewers. I don't think dry grass is a good absorber - at least, when I walked the dog afterwards, grassy areas still looked rather dry and cracked. Well-mulched garden areas look like they took up quite a bit of water this time.

Fills up the rain barrels nicely.

Fracking in Ireland and Being Dependent on Halliburton’s Mud

The University of Aberdeen study for the Irish Environmental Protection Agency has been played as some kind of endorsement for charging ahead with fracking in Ireland – but this is not the case if you actually read the study. The University study is, in fact, a long series of warnings that proposed drilling methods, the local geology and the potential impacts on water quality all require studies not even begun. It also points to the necessity of creating a regulatory system not now in place which can cope with watching thousands of explosive, toxic well-sites.

And then there are the pipelines. ... Highly explosive transport systems require an elaborate system of on-site government regulation which Ireland does not have and cannot now afford. And it’s simply too easy for the PIGs to cheat.

Do these people not use gas from the North Sea fields?

Conservatives Demand Surrender To China

We are in a worldwide economic competition to build the post-oil economy. This is a competition for millions of jobs and trillions of dollars. Every country wants a share of the design and manufacturing of wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal systems, biofuels, electric cars, high-speed rail, urban and suburban light rail, advanced batteries, smart-grid power transmission systems, and all of the rest. And there is also the fight for the construction, installation and maintenance contracts for all of these systems.

Many countries are fully engaged, and have national plans to capture a share of this new industry. They compete with us as countries, and see us as a country to compete with even if we do not. Because we refuse to act as a country, we send our companies out to compete with countries, and as big as our companies are they cannot compete with the resources of engaged countries.

Our top competitor is China. Shots have been fired; China is helping their companies compete, and this has cut solar prices. So a few American companies are going under. In response, America's oil-backed conservatives are demanding immediate surrender. In fact, they don't just demand surrender, they are giving aid and comfort, even actively helping the other side, running down America's efforts to fight for a share of the new green economy.

Why should nuke guarantees cost less than home or student loans?

The Department of Energy wants to give the Southern Company a nuclear power loan guarantee at better interest rates than you can get on a student loan. And unlike a home mortgage, there may be no down payment.

On a package 15 times bigger than what the federal government gave the failed solar company Solyndra, Southern would be required to pay somewhere between $17 million and $52 million. Advocates argue the fee is so low that it fails to adequately take into account the financial risks of the project. Numerous financial experts have estimated the likely fail rate for new nuclear construction to be at 50% or greater.

Furthermore, since a primary lender would be the Federal Financing Bank, the taxpayer is directly on the hook. Guaranteed borrowings are not supposed to exceed 70% of the project's projected costs, but it's unclear what those costs will actually turn out to be, as the public has been given no firm price tag on the project.

There is apparently no cash down payment being required of Southern as it seems the loan is designed to be secured with the value of the reactors themselves, whatever that turns out to be. In the unlikely event they are finished, liability from any catastrophe will revert to the public once a small private fund is exhausted.

Southern wanted the terms of the DOE offer kept secret ...

Just talking to a friend about power yesterday, and I was saying that power companies and such only understand centralized power generation - power comes from a "power plant" somewhere. This idea is common throughout society, so the idea of distributed power - windmills over farmland, solar over roofs - is just impossible to "get" for many. Like the DOE.

Nuclear looks good to the power companies, the government, and technophiles who underestimate the risks of disaster and the value of farmable, livable land. But then again, it does look like renewables have a tough time supporting unchanged BAU. So, the choice is change or try to maintain the same old with increasingly desperate measures...

Britain's oil, gas output seen down further in 2012

Britain will pump fewer barrels of oil this year than last, predicted industry body Oil & Gas UK, after the temporary closure of a key field due to a leak, adding further woes to the country's growth prospects.

"It is expected that production in 2012 will struggle to approach last year's," Oil & Gas UK said in its annual economic report published on Thursday.

Britain's oil and gas production has been in decline since peaking at 2.7 million boepd in 1999. It came in at 1.8 million boepd in 2011, the industry body said.

British oil production peaked in 1999, and now it is following the Hubbert curve down in a highly predictable fashion. This should not be a surprise to anybody, particularly the government, but apparently it is for a lot of people.

Rising Temperatures and Drought Create Fears of a New “Dust Bowl”

Triple-digit days. Weeks with little to no rain. Soil crumbling away. Stunted corn stalks. Right now the fertile fields of the U.S. Midwest are experiencing corn-killing weather,with parts of five corn-growing states in the region experiencing severe or extreme drought. In at least nine states, one-fifth to one-half of cornfields are currently in poor or very poor conditions.

Image: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

also US Drought Monitor shows record-breaking expanse of drought across US

and Drought hits 56 percent of continental US; 'significant toll' on crops

The Drought Monitor noted that the drought is starting to "take a significant toll" on food supplies. "In the primary growing states for corn and soybeans, 22 percent of the crop is in poor or very poor condition, as are 43 percent of the nation’s pastures and rangelands and 24 percent of the sorghum crop."

US drought hits global grain outlook: FAO

Severe Drought Hitting Farmers In Five States Is ‘Sucking The Life Out Of Everything’

Sobering post by Greg Jeffers, a Peak Oil aware former investment manager who has set up his own small farming operation:


Self-Sufficent. Prepped. Self-Reliant.

Bull Sh#!.

If you don't have rain, you have nothing. . .

I have often said that if a 1936 summer showed up in the U.S., we would have REAL trouble. REAL TROUBLE. Its only a matter of time... could be 100 years from now, or it could be this is just week 1...

Two good books:

Non-fiction: The Worst Hard Time (about the people who stayed in the Dust Bowl areas, in the Thirties)

Fiction: The Time it Never Rained (about the Fifties drought in Texas).

Not surprisingly, grain prices are spiking.

Corn soars 5 pct, soy closing in on 2008 high

U.S. corn surged 5 percent o n Thursday to its highest price in over a year and soybeans jumped to within sight of their record high as new forecasts offered no sign of rain relief for withering crops.

With fields now at the mercy of what may be the worst Midwest drought in nearly a quarter century, grain traders ignored the potentially bearish influence of a rising U.S. dollar and focused on growing signs that one of the biggest corn crops ever planted by U.S. farmers is now shrinking by the day.

More food riots around the world this summer?


STUDY: Media Avoid Climate Context In Wildfire Coverage

Seven of nine fire experts contacted by Media Matters agreed journalists should explain the relationship between climate change and wildfires. But an analysis of recent coverage suggests mainstream media outlets are not up to the task — only 3 percent of news reports on wildfires in the West mentioned climate change.

The major television and print outlets largely ignored climate change in their coverage of wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico and other Western states. All together, only 3 percent of the reports mentioned climate change, including 1.6 percent of television segments and 6 percent of text articles.

I suspect they avoid the words 'climate change' to avoid all the bashing they'll get from deniers if they mention it. Just read the comments under any article that does mention climate change in any of these severe weather or wildfire stories. It will be filled with people bashing the article as "left-wing propaganda" and "perpetuating the climate hoax". And that is pretty silly. Even if climate change is wrong (which I doubt), it is mainstream accepted science accepted by the vast majority of scientists. This is something conservatives in Europe have at least accepted.

Man: My entire state is on fire!
Denier : Oh you're just being a lefty!

Let them bash, it fills the comments and the more people talk about it generally, the better it will be for the science to get diseminated. It won't hurt that TSHTF this year on the weather front either.

Yes. CC denialism is not part of the conservative package. It is something local to the US. Here in Europe, we got better conservatives :c)

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all conservatives are not created equal."... I forgot who said that.

Most American conservatives are not conservative. It's a neocon scourge.

Fox Invents Keystone Pipeline Jobs For Veterans

After hyping exaggerated claims about potential Keystone XL pipeline related jobs, Fox News is now simply inventing them. Fox is claiming that 114,000 U.S. veterans are heading north of the border to build the Canadian portion of the Keystone XL pipeline. In fact, the jobs are "not at all related to the Keystone pipeline," according to the company recruiting workers in Alberta, Canada

The jobs are for "heavy-equipment technicians, welders, steamfitters/pipefitters, power engineers and construction staff professionals". Can you say, "Oil Sands", boys and girls.

The Keystone XL pipeline is only involved in that it could take the produced oil to the US Gulf Coast. In the absence of same, it could go to China.

Pakistan: No light at the end of the tunnel

... "They have no electricity from morning until late at night," Ali explains. "They have no idea when the supply [of electricity] will be resumed or if it will be resumed."

This uncertainty makes it impossible to plan a working day. ...

... Mahmood Ahmad of Grease Pakistan, one of Pakistan's main suppliers of generators, says demand for generators running on diesel, petrol and gas has increased in recent years.

"Over the last couple of years, it isn't that we have started to sell or rent out more generators," he explains, "but we have definitely seen the capacity [of the generators demanded] being doubled. So if 500 generators of one kilowatt were being used, now that requirement has jumped to 500 generators of two kilowatts."

But purchasing a generator or a UPS is not an option for most Pakistani households, which means that the power outages are further widening the country's already stark wealth divide. Those who can afford it get some respite, while those who cannot must endure. ...

•Electricity generation in Pakistan has shrunk by up to 50 per cent in recent years
•The shortfall has increased from 4,600 megawatts to over 7,000 megawatts per day - almost 40 per cent of the national demand
•Cities and towns across Pakistan experience about 12 hours of power outages a day
•The outages last up to 20 hours in rural areas
•In the financial year June 2011 - May 2012, the cost of importing of generators reached a record-breaking $95m

Reading the article, the claim by Matthew Yglesias that third world countries (and countries like China) WISH they were as well run and uncorrupt as Greece really makes sense. The government doesn't bother to pay its bills, power theft is rampant, the rich just use generators... Really. It ain't getting fixed soon or easy.

Three central banks take action in sign of alarm

China, the euro zone and Britain loosened monetary policy in the space of less than an hour on Thursday, signaling a growing level of alarm about the world economy, although suggestions of coordinated action were played down.

Thanks for the graph Ron, very interesting.
People have been saying for years that we will only identify peak oil in the rear view mirror. Your graph is that mirror for OECD countries. For OECD to have a new peak we would need to have an additional 6.5m bbl/d from somewhere else, just aint gonna happen.

If we couple your graph with Westexas's graphs from below showing exports, we get the frightening scenario of the following...

1. Currently OECD consume 22.5m bbl/d out of available exports of 34m bbl/d or 66% of ANE.
2. By 2020, just 7.5 years away, ANE will be only 17m bbl/d, and to maintain 66% of ANE, OECD will only be able to import 11.25m bbl/d.
3. Even if current production in OECD of 14.75m bbl/d can be maintained, total oil available will only be 26m bbl/d.
4. From 2006 to 2012 the fall in available oil was 6.3m bbl/d, yet the next 7.5 years is going to be something like a 11.25m bbl/d fall.
5. If biofuels try to make up a high percentage of this decline in the future, then we will run into food shortages around the world very quickly.