Drumbeat: August 3, 2012

Ambani, Tata ‘Islands’ Shrug Off Grid Collapse: Corporate India

About 1.6 trillion rupees ($29 billion) spent by companies including Tata Motors and billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), to quarantine their plants from the national grid is shielding India’s biggest users of electricity from disruptions. Sixty years of missed investment targets, transmission losses and theft is prompting factories to build their own plants boosting costs in a nation that suffers from the fastest pace of inflation among BRIC nations.

“Large Indian companies have created their own islands as they can’t rely on a precarious state power network,” Juergen Maier, a fund manager in Vienna at Raiffeisen Capital Management, which oversees about $1.1 billion in emerging-market assets, including Indian stocks. “The outage this week will spur companies to make more investments to cushion themselves against such shocks.”

Oil Rises From Three-Week Low as U.S. Hiring Exceeds Forecasts

Oil rebounded from the lowest close in almost three weeks in New York as payrolls climbed more than forecast in July in the U.S., the world’s largest consumer of crude.

Futures rose as much as 1.5 percent, trimming a second weekly decline. U.S. payrolls increased 163,000, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 89 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a gain of 100,000. Tropical Storm Ernesto moved into the eastern Caribbean, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Oil fell 2 percent yesterday after the European Central Bank failed to assure investors it was ready to take immediate steps to support the economy.

Asia Fuel Oil-Stays in steep backwardation on supply bets

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian fuel oil's front curve stayed in steep backwardation on Friday on expectations that supply will tighten in the first half of August while demand could pick up in Japan and China.

The balanced August/September and September/October spreads widened by 25 cents and 13 cents, respectively, although the prompt spread has eased after hitting the highest in more than a month on Wednesday.

Gas Liquids ‘Bloodbath’ Brings Shale Pain to Oil Market

The shale boom that sent natural-gas prices to a 10-year low is being felt for the first time in the oil markets.

KEPCO to raise utility bills by 4.9%

Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), the state-run electricity supplier, said Friday that it will raise utility bills by an average of 4.9 percent as early as next week to improve its worsening balance sheet and help reduce power consumption. It also said it will hike electricity charges once again before the year’s end.

Refinery problems blamed for rising gas prices

Refinery problems in Illinois and Indiana are behind gas price increases that took the cost to as high as $3.90 a gallon at some Springfield-area stations on Thursday, according to AAA Chicago.

It also was the first time in months local drivers were paying prices higher than a year earlier, based on an AAA daily fuel-tracking report.

Tropical Storm Passes St. Lucia, Moves Into Caribbean Sea

Tropical Storm Ernesto, the fifth named system of the Atlantic season, moved past St. Lucia into the eastern Caribbean, the National Hurricane Center said.

Oil export sanctions cost Iran $133 million a day

Iran is paying a high price for its refusal to abandon its nuclear programme with sanctions aimed at oil exports costing the country US$133 million (Dh488m) a day.

Iran Oil Shipping to Resume as Insurers Step In

India, the third-biggest buyer of Iranian oil, will offer state-backed insurance to tankers, helping the nation’s biggest sea carrier to resume cargoes from the Persian Gulf nation hit by international trade sanctions.

Tanzania looks to learn from Abu Dhabi with wealth fund

Tanzania plans to establish a sovereign wealth fund to invest future energy windfalls.

The east African country is benefiting from a steady increase in its natural gas reserves and the government is studying states with significant hydrocarbon revenues. It is focusing on those that - like Abu Dhabi - have established sovereign wealth funds, said Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania's president.

Statoil 'getting hands on' Kenya entry ticket

Statoil is poised to make its entry into Kenya with the signing of a deal to gain exploration rights to a deep-water block reported to be imminent.

The Norwegian state oil company, which has already seen exploration success off neighbouring Tanzania, is keen to expand its position in the hot East African play after a succession of major gas discoveries by several players in the region.

Nigeria leaks billions from rampant oil theft

Oil firms and government say nearly 200,000 barrels of oil stolen each day from pipelines and wells by criminal gangs.

Analysis: China unveils oil offensive in South China Sea squabble

SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) - First came the diplomatic offensive, then the flexing of military muscle.

Now, China is opening a third front to assert its claims in the South China Sea - moving ahead with its first major tender of oil and gas blocks in disputed parts of its waters.

Dragon's hunger to devour oil firms is good news for Gulf

Last Monday saw the ravenous Chinese dragon devour two Canadian oil companies.

The acquisitions make the Chinese state corporations concerned more attractive partners for the Arabian Gulf. But they also show the increasing opportunities in new hydrocarbon resources outside the Middle East.

Israel Finds $240 Billion Gas Hoard Stranded by Politics

Israel, reliant on imported energy since the state’s foundation in 1948, now has more natural gas than it can handle.

Noble Energy Inc., Delek Group Ltd. and other explorers have discovered enough gas under the Mediterranean Sea to supply Israel’s needs for 150 years. To profit from the finds sooner, the companies want to export the gas by pipeline or ship. As the Ministry of Energy prepares to publish a blueprint for developing the fields later this month, officials say the country’s economy and security must come first and shipments abroad should be limited.

Oil-Tanker Pool Seeks Return to Single-Voyage Cargoes

Tankers International LLC, operator of the largest pool of the biggest oil carriers, wants to shift hiring of its vessels back to single-voyage charters from longer-duration accords to increase returns.

The company decided it is carrying too little crude in the spot market, as single voyages are known in the industry, non- executive Chairman Morten Arntzen said yesterday on a conference call.

Agency's decision on beetle could affect Keystone XL pipeline

LINCOLN — A federal agency's recent decision involving the endangered American burying beetle could cause up to a year's delay in construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, if the project wins federal approval, an environmental group said Tuesday.

But a spokesman for pipeline developer TransCanada Inc., said that assessment was premature and that the company would be able to work around new rules concerning the beetle.

Enbridge claims solution for exposed pipe in Toronto park

Enbridge Inc. says it's found the solution to an exposed oil pipeline in a Toronto park, after an environmentalist told CBC News he was worried it could be site of a spill.

The pipe in question runs through Rouge Park, a large wilderness area in the city's northeast. It's part of a line that crosses the south of the province, taking crude oil from Quebec City to a refinery in Sarnia, Ont.

Experts: Governor's drilling estimate off

COLUMBUS (AP) -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich's claim that a single energy company could recover $1 trillion worth of oil and gas from the state's shale is an exorbitant overestimate, according to experts.

At current oil prices, that figure represents more than four times U.S. oil production last year. Viewed another way, every drop of oil produced in America for the next four years will be worth roughly $800 billion, based on current prices and production rates.

Warning to Peak Oil investors

Sometimes, all it takes is one simple chart to smash a sacred cow.

Right now, we can smash the sacred cow of Peak Oil. The chart is in today's essay.

The Republic of Biofuels and the Age of Plenty

What is the role and scope of biofuels in a world potentially awash in newfound oil & gas?

Norway’s first offshore wind farm

The very first Norwegian-owned offshore wind farm is not located on Norwegian territory.

Wide Differences Found in Buildings’ Power Use

The report, to be released on Friday by the city’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, estimates that if poor-performing buildings in the city improved their efficiency and reached just the median level of energy use in their categories, the city’s energy consumption would decline by at least 18 percent and greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by 24 percent.

The Sound of a Damaged Habitat

YEARS ago, when selective logging was first introduced, a community near an old-growth forest in the Sierra Nevada was assured that the removal of a few trees here and there would have no impact on the area’s wildlife. Based on the logging company’s guarantees, the local residents agreed to the operation. I was skeptical, however, and requested permission to record the sounds of the habitat before and after the logging.

A River Newly Wild and Seriously Muddy

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — The Elwha River drains out from Olympic National Park, a pristine place in the world. And as recently as a year ago, the river looked the part: it babbled its final miles in water clear enough to see the bottom. Now it runs thick with grainy sediment the color of chocolate milk.

But believe it or not, that is a good thing, or at least the roundabout result of one.

We need to act urgently on global warming

It doesn't matter whether we've hit peak oil yet. We still must address global warming. We can't wait for oil shortages to wean us off our bad habits.

First U.N. climate fund board meeting set for August 23

LONDON (Reuters) - The first board meeting of the United Nations' Green Climate Fund will be held on August 23 to 25, an official at the fund's interim secretariat confirmed on Thursday, five months later than it was originally planned.

The fund is designed to help channel up to $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

However, the fund is an empty shell after last year's U.N. climate talks failed to make solid progress on sources of finance and the global economic crisis has left rich nations reluctant to commit cash, prompting fears the money may not emerge in time.

Scientists Warn Congress About Disastrous Effects of Climate Change

Drought, wildfires, hurricanes and heatwaves are becoming normal in America because of climate change, Congress was told on Wednesday in the first hearing on climate science in more than two years.

Al Armendariz: The TT Interview

Armendariz, an El Paso native, recently joined the Sierra Club’s Austin office, where he will work on the group’s Beyond Coal campaign in Texas, which seeks to slash emissions from coal-fired power. He has given up his teaching position at SMU and says he has “nothing but fond memories” of his time there.

In his first public interview since stepping down, Armendariz spoke with The Texas Tribune about his decision to resign, his work at the Sierra Club and why climate change is the biggest environmental problem facing Texas.

Facebook reveals its carbon footprint

Facebook has, for the first time, revealed the carbon footprint of its operations and its more than 900m users' likes, photo albums and status updates.

The data, published on Wednesday, shows that despite the social networking's rising star, its carbon emissions are still a fraction of internet rival Google. Facebook's annual emissions were 285,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2011, compared with Google's 1.5m tons in 2010.

Big Drought Makes for a Small ‘Dead Zone’

According to researchers who study hypoxia in the gulf, extra-dry weather in the corn belt is responsible for the small size of the hypoxic zone, which measures a little under 3,000 square miles – roughly two times the size of Long Island.

“Because of the massive drought in the Midwest, there’s a whole lot less fertilizer being flushed into the rivers and whole lot less water being flushed into the gulf,” said Don Scavia, an aquatic ecologist with the University of Michigan.

64 Okla. temperature records fall or tied in July

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — More than 64 temperature records were broken in Oklahoma during a scorching July, and additional ones fell across the state Wednesday on the first day of August, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The National Weather Service reported that Guthrie, about 30 miles north of Oklahoma City, registered 114 degrees to break the statewide record of 113 degrees, set at Meeker in 1896 and tied in Ralston last year.

Report: When it rains, state's downpours are getting worse

Pennsylvania's heaviest downpours have gotten wetter and more frequent in the last six decades, according to a report released Thursday by PennEnvironment.

Between 1948 and 2011, the state has seen a 52 percent increase in the number of "extreme" storms - those that are among the largest in the state in the last 64 years.

New law temporarily bans use of science panel's finding on sea levels

RALEIGH -- North Carolina lawmakers have temporarily banned using a science panel's recommendation to plan for rising sea levels, after the governor decided Thursday not to veto the measure.

The measure has been lampooned by comedians and has drawn the ire of environmentalists. It blocks the state from adopting any rate of sea level change for regulatory purposes until 2016, while authorizing more studies.

War over the Arctic?

The sea lanes are mainly a Canadian obsession, because the government believes that the North-West Passage that weaves between Canada’s Arctic islands will become a major commercial artery when the ice is gone. Practically every summer Prime Minister Stephen Harper travels north to declare his determination to defend Canada’s Arctic sovereignty from – well, it’s not clear from exactly whom, but it’s a great photo op.

Greenland's ice sheet melts in spurts

Washington: Loss of ice from Greenland's vast sheet may occur mainly in short bursts, suggest Danish scientists who used aerial photos dating back to the 1980s to plot shrinking of glaciers around the island's northwest coast.

Reporting in the journal Science, the scientists revealed that most of the ice loss happened in two periods - 1985-1993 and 2005-10 - with relative stability in between.

According to them, it would be hard to project sea level changes from Greenland ice melt until these patterns are deciphered.

Link up top: We need to act urgently on global warming

It's just not true that the law of supply and demand will bring us painlessly into a solar-powered, green utopia. Barring state intervention and environmental activism, industrial civilization will not rethink its oil addiction, any more than a shark can be talked into going vegetarian. What peak oil means is that the quest for oil will become more nasty, violent and desperate.

I have never heard it put any better than that. However I would say that neither state intervention or environmental activism would really help very much if any at all.

Ron P.


On a related note- arctic sea ice extent is at a record low now for this time of the year. Of course it is not the all season low and we may not hit a new season record this year but it is very interesting for a couple of reasons. Data about ice volume shows a far steeper decline than ice extent (which still hasn't broken the 2007 record). The declines in volume and extent do not have to match up of course but I feel that extent decline really should be reflecting volume decline a little more than it has in the last 4 years since ice is of varying thickness to begin with before melting starts- correlation should be stronger

This means either that 1. Ice volume measurements are suspect or 2. Ice volume is correct and the ice is melting from the bottom up mainly (as it usually does). If number #2 is correct we should start seeing a dramatic decline in ice extent in the next couple of years as volume seems to project to zero out somewhere in 2015-16. If most of the ice is now very thin the downward curve should start to steepen as we go into late summer. The arctic is, of course, the air conditioner of the northern hemisphere so its loss will spell trouble for the industrialized world (which is also in the northern hemisphere for the most part). Keep an eye on this website:


PS- I'm in a little bit of a rush this morning- if someone could post the ice volume projections and current extent this post might make more sense- thanks

From Neven's Arctic Sea Ice Blog...

Also 2012 lower than all minimums before 2007

With more than a month left to go before the melting season ends, 2012 has already surpassed all of the sea ice area minimums preceding 2007 ...

It looks like the summer minimum for 1979 isn't far from the winter maximum for 2011. Am I interpreting that right?


Well, maybe not 1979 but whatever year the top edge of the gray area represents.

I believe the shades of grey are the statistical boundaries for the point in time.

If most of the ice is now very thin the downward curve should start to steepen as we go into late summer.

Here's a link with a graph showing arctic ice volume loss over time: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/09/07/313873/arctic-death-spiral-c...

I keep wondering if loss of old ice will suddenly shift the arctic ice extent into a steeper dive also. To some degree that may already be happening, because although this melt season has not had the same favorable wind conditions as the record 2007 melt, 2012 & 2007 are very close in level of melt so far. The tale of the tape for the record will be in mid-September.

I was amazed by something observed daily at http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ in which an aerial view of the region showed a very quick dissapearance of ice along the northwest passage just off of Greenland. The part of the passage that is a straight line through a series of rock outcroppings suddenly over a couple of days just cleared away.

I disagree. I think interventionism is often well-intentioned but poorly executed, but don't underestimate the ability of environmental concerns to alter value assessment.

We talk a lot about price. However, people don't make choices based on price alone but based on value. Value can include other variables besides immediate, up-front cost.

For example, I invest in really expensive boots for my construction job. As a result, they're going on 10 years and a second sole. While the upfront costs of the initial purchase and the resole work amount to about $600, this means that I've spent, thus far, $60 dollars a year to keep my feet safe, comfortable, and unharmed from the rigors of the many job-sites I must frequent. This number will go down as I probably have another five years before I'm due for another rebuild.

These boots were more expensive, but they were also more valuable over the long run, since I know I can't find quality footwear for the annual price that's as durable and comfortable as what I have.

This is a simple analogy based on long-term savings and my own personal preferences. Value, being subjective, can be influenced by other external considerations, such as fashion (there are more durable makes than Prada shoes, but people value the label and so pay more) or, in this case, environmental considerations.

Fortunately for the Earth, many environmental considerations also make economic sense. Hybrid vehicles make economic sense. Small-scale solar hot water and photovoltaics make economic sense. For many industries, the current cheapest-price option is less important than the long-term price stability. Natural gas is cheap now, but it's been cheap before, and then spiked. The result of this volatility contributed to much uncertainty in investment for several decades.

Some would be willing to pay more upfront for an energy source that is predictable in it's cost. Some would not.

I disagree that Peak Oil will be as is described. I think industrial civilization is rethinking it's oil addiction, as evidenced by the continued decline in US gasoline consumption and the trend towards smaller, more efficient cars, as well as corporate investment in using other resources for chemical and plastics feedstocks.

Change is often incremental, but cumulative; a few things change here and there before you suddenly have this hyperbolic growth (consider the computerization of the world). Right now, the world is tied up in it's debt crises and is making incremental changes, but I think we aren't far off from a serious, market-driven shift in the ways we produce and consume energy.

It's just a question of where the ultimate C02 concentration ends up as for our long-term prospects as a civilization.

Chin-up, boys. Fatalism never achieved anything.

Yeah, Dan, I opened this link: Scientists Warn Congress About Disastrous Effects of Climate Change, above, saw the picture, and was overcome by a wave of nausea. I swear I had a momentary flash of pointed ears and fangs.

I'm convinced that the time for incremental change passed us by some time ago. I believe you confuse fatalism for an acceptance born of a hard, unbiased look at the facts as they are, not as some would wish them to be. From your example, what percentage of shoes produced on the planet today will ever be resoled, or could be?

I'm not sure what kind of construction you're in, but do you really think the value you place in wearing a pair of boots for ten years will somehow offset the net losses to the biosphere that one day on your job represents in real terms?

As you say "Change is often incremental, but cumulative...".

Yes, it is. The cumulative effects of the last 200 years of change are becoming self-evident.

I'm convinced that the time for incremental change passed us by some time ago. I believe you confuse fatalism for an acceptance born of a hard, unbiased look at the facts as they are, not as some would wish them to be.

Well stated.

I disagree. I think interventionism is often well-intentioned but poorly executed, but don't underestimate the ability of environmental concerns to alter value assessment.

Dan, I have no doubt that environmental concerns can give a great value assessment. I just doubt their ability to do anything that will actually make a difference in the real world. I understand a few people will do a few thing that they actually believe is making a difference. But what it really amounts to could be compared to peeing in the lake in an attempt to make the water rise.

For example, I invest in really expensive boots for my construction job. As a result, they're going on 10 years and a second sole. While the upfront costs of the initial purchase and the resole work amount to about $600, this means that I've spent, thus far, $60 dollars a year to keep my feet safe, comfortable, and unharmed from the rigors of the many job-sites I must frequent. This number will go down as I probably have another five years before I'm due for another rebuild.

My original comment had to do with the author of the piece saying, in effect that environmental activism, might keep peak oil from becoming nasty, violent and desperate. I really don't think you getting extra miles out of a pair of boots will make all that much difference.

Ron P.

Yeah, Frank says it best.....

Environmental disaster is here and much more is baked into the cake. Sorry. There is no hope. Real change needs to have begun at least 30 years ago. Despite this horrific summer, denial is still the name of the game. Around here, I see no significant trend to smaller, more efficient vehicles. The pigs have won.

"Fatalism" is, actually, not that well represented on this site; there are a few folks who occasionally site depressing trends in human behavior and scientific stats, but that's kind of because that's what the science says.

I don't think the market will solve anything, Dan. Been there, done that, never really worked, time to try something else. Pasteur, Einstein, Schweitzer, Freud-- the real movers and shakers in the last 200 years usually weren't driven by the market. Of course, there were exceptions-- Ford, Edison, a few others who made a real mark during a brief heartbeat in history when profit and innovation were riding in the same chariot. But that hasn't happened in half a century. Zuckerman, Gates, Jobs... those guys may be rich, but they aren't in the same league. IMO, they brought us lots of toys, big changes in culture, maybe, without answering-- or even asking-- any of the big questions.

For me, The Oil Drum is a long term project to change the way that people think-- about consumption, population, success, happiness. It's the most wildly creative, well-informed think tank I've seen anywhere on the web. It challenges basic assumptions and social constructs, and invites civilized debate. It's also a firehose of raw data the likes of which is unknown anywhere in the mainstream media, and my primary source for news domestic and international.

Poke around a bit. I think you'll find that a lot of us are forging a path between sunny optimism and utter despair... with occasional lapses to either of the more extreme positions!

"For me, The Oil Drum is a long term project to change the way that people think-- about consumption, population, success, happiness. It's the most wildly creative, well-informed think tank I've seen anywhere on the web."

First sentence - I hope you're right, but that "long term" is rather shorter than long.
Second sentence - Agree absolutely. Great comments on TOD.

Cheers, Matt

Point taken. There's that sunny optimism rearing it's ugly head again!

Thanks for the props and yes-- here's hoping for long term, or at least not too short.

I agree on incremental change.
How about a change in dry walling specifications greatly reducing heating and cooling bills which takes up a large percentage of total energy needs?

'Normal drywall is made from gypsum-based plaster. The new drywall will contain the paraffin capsules for almost half the mix. As the building heats up during the day from sunlight, human activity, computers, appliances, etc. the beads of paraffin in the drywall will turn into a liquid state as they absorb the heat inside the building. This helps cool the building.

Conversely, at night when the beads start to return to a solid it releases the stored heat, keeping the building warmer.

The new drywall is a result of experiments at Spain's Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. When scientists ran tests, they found 1.5-inch thick boards made from the new material had five times the thermal capacity than normal drywall at the same thickness.

Incredibly, a six-inch layer of hollow brick masonry was found to have the same capacity of the new drywall. Further, in an area where the material was tested, a temperature range of 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit could be maintained without using air conditioning.'


The combination of innovations like this together with air source heat pumps which use CO2 as the working fluid and so can cope with continental climates such as that in the US can clearly take out massive amounts of power demand without any decrease in utility or convenience.

This'll work if it is cheaper than regular drywall. In which case, half of the country's housing stock will be replaced in maybe 40 years (or maybe not, depending on what is in store for the economy).
WRT heat pumps, home improvement loans are unavail. to the unemployed, and a dangerous thing if future employment is uncertain. I think most people would wait until the economy improves before installing a heat pump. I don't expect the economy to improve for quite a long while. al
On another note,
I won't be installing a heat pump so long as I am able to cut wood. Most rural people who live in forested areas are of the same opinion. I believe that with modern woodstoves, wood can match heat pump efficiency (you need to include electrical distribution losses & power plant efficiency).
Remember, unless the electricity available to the homeowner is 100% nuclear or solar, heat pumps still require the release of fossil carbon, while wood heat does not (other than a miniscule bit of chainsaw fuel, ie a gallon or two for 6 cords. 6 cords of hardwood equals about 1050 gallons of fuel oil.
I suspect that carbon intensity of manufacture of heat pumps is much higher than wood stoves, based simply on BTU/BTU cost of base model stoves and base model heat pumps and relative technological complexity.

I agree. Where I am in Canada heat pumps are extremely expensive. What I did was insulate well and put a radiant floor driven by a high efficent electric boiler and a air tight wood heater.

When I am running the wood heater the electric boiler does not turn on.

An inch and half thick? Regular drywall is 1/2 inch on walls, and 5/8 on ceilings. You will have to put in new door jambs, windows sills, and trim on every house you remodel. Doors that open flat against a wall no longer will. Electrical boxes will have to be extended.

Worms, can of, one each. New construction wouldn't be as bad except for the electrical fittings. But still not simple.

Not to mention the extra weight and the "new technology" makes it FAR harder to recycle the drywall. Right now one can take paper fiber reinforced 'standard drywall' scraps and add them to the land like one would gypsum. (Glass fiber reinforced, the green board for bathrooms not so much)

Nothing is for nothing.
Just the same, a large reduction over time could be made in energy use.

If you are talking about retrofitting, you don't have to do a 100% job.
You can install where the hassle is relatively minor, and still make savings.

As for burning wood etc, not everyone lives where wood is readily available cheaply.
My heat pump, admittedly not a CO2 job as I live in the UK where that is not needed, costs about £1,500 fully installed, enough for 1 floor of most houses.

It has a COP of around 4:1, and so does not take long to pay for itself.

Water heating is a different issue, but the point is that substantial energy savings can be made relatively easily at affordable cost.

Seems like the retrofit would only be necessary for exterior walls.

Is the fire rating up to code?

Is there testing to see if it might emit noxious fumes like the Chines drywall that was used i the U.S. a few years back which caused problems?

Any issues driving nails, screws, drywall anchors.screws through the material?

Cost compared to standard drywall?

Here in east texas the economy is doing ok. Not much new home construction except on the top end, but commercial construction in the new developments appears relatively strong. A lot of chain type casual dining coming in but what is amazing to me is the number of banks that are being built. There are at least five new branches being built as we speak with twenty or thirty constructed in the last five years. This is in a small city of 100,000. What is going on? My opinion is there is a big banking bubble being blown. Is this activity being mirrored in other areas of the country?

I live in Houston, which is not exactly a different part of the country, but I've also noticed something similar here. Not so much recently as over the last five years. It used to be there were lots of intersections with a gas station on three or four of the corners. Now most of those gas stations are gone, and it's banks. I can think of two spots near my house where banks have replaced gas stations.

Within three miles of my house there are five branches of Chase, three Wells Fargo, two Bank of America, one each of probably half a dozen smaller banks, and three supermarkets with a bank branch inside of each.

I have no idea what is going on. Most of these branches are quite small, with a small staff, and commercial space is pretty cheap in Houston, but I still can't see how they make any money. They may be trying to take business away from the payday lenders and pawn shops. We've recently had a new payday lender set up shop and a pawnshop move into much larger premises within a mile of my house.

I forgot about the branches that opened in the grocery stores! We do have the Citi, Wells, etc. also but many are new banks that are small. I am no banker, but having access to the Fed's discount window gives them the ability to borrow at nearly zero percent to invest in treasuries with no risk? Easy money.

Yes! North of Seattle (Edmonds, Shoreline) banks are being built like crazy...and yes often replacing corner gas stations.

Agreed about banks. Here in Austin I live in a community with the main drag being about 3 miles long. There are 15 banks in those three miles. Most of them built in the last five years.

I don't get it.

"I don't get it."

It's all about financial system hubris; maintaining the illusion of absolute reliance upon the status quo of convenient access to your money. Doing the math, you may be better off stuffing it under your mattress, or converting your savings into hard assets. Burying jars of greenbacks in the backyard is starting to make more sense... or convert to silver/gold; reduce the POOF risk. Banks only pretend to be your friend.

How do you think they pay for these new branches?

I'm not sure they need your money, at least the big banks, they can get as much as they want from the Fed. What they want is to entice you into a loan. The Federal government, Fed, and the banks are desperate to get people to take on more debt. The magical thinking seems to be that we just need to get the virtuous debt cycle started again and take debt from 300% of GDP to 400% of GDP and everything will be OK again. That is what ZIRP was supposed to accomplish. Instead, we seem to be heading for the frugality of the 1950s.

Branch construction on the upswing as banks counter growing competition
"If you're a community banker trying to increase deposits or market share, the most likely way to do it, in spite of the tough competition and sometimes saturated market, is to build a branch.

According to those surveyed, 32% said they built branches to raise deposits; 25% said it was done to increase market share; 17% said generating loans was the reason; and 14% built branches to expand their reach to business."

Banks are building branches where customers actually want to do business
(PDF) http://www.steelcase.com/en/resources/overview/documents/building%20bank...
"The boom in branch construction is all about survival. Up to 90% of customer relationships are formed—and lost—in branches, according to consultants Booz Allen. Online banking isn’t growing as fast as banks expected, either. Industry analysts say the reason is the “trust gap.” Thanks to identity theft, phishing, and a majority of people inexperienced or uncomfortable with online financial transactions, online banking isn’t growing as fast as it might."

TD Bank goes green with Passaic County branch construction
"Companies can often qualify for tax benefits by building green and banks that use a prototype design to build multiple branches benefit from a faster and less costly LEED certification process, Block said.

Under a 2009 Recovery Act program that ends later this year, businesses can recoup up to 30 percent of what they spent on installing solar panels, wind turbines and other energy-saving systems.
Bank of America, the largest deposit holder in New Jersey, set a goal last year to have 20 percent of its corporate real estate LEED-certified by 2015."

Banks find alternative ways to branch out to customers
"Banks are investing in more new locations despite the onset of mobile and Internet banking because people still want to bank with people, said John Fickle, U.S. Bank senior vice president and regional manager for Southwest Ohio.

The largest banks by deposits in Cincinnati, Dayton and Springfield — Fifth Third, U.S. Bank, JP Morgan Chase, PNC Financial, Huntington, KeyBank, First Financial and Security National — added a total of more than 50 new Ohio branches in 2011 from 2010, according to information provided by the companies."

Maryland and Virginia lost 77 bank branches in past year
Nationally, banks shuttered 767 more branches than they opened in the year ending June 30. Only four states saw a net gain in branches during the past year: California, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Delaware. Bank of America shed 157 branches nationwide, the most of any institution. JPMorgan Chase, which doesn't have a local branch network, added the most with a net gain of 219 locations.


They seem to go where the business is.

Given the huge difference between income and actual living costs, even when compensating for buggy figures, improper location of suburbia etc there is still a long way to go for usa and europe before collapse.

Debt-to-GDP ratio can climb a long way because interest rate can be lowered down to almost zero, thereby reducing interest payment, keeping the illusion of growth continue.

Country Crude Oil Production Retail gasoline price Cumulative Production Total
Venezuela 2470 $0.08  
Iran 4234 $0.38 6704
Libya 502 $0.53 7206
Saudi Arabia 11153 $0.61 18359
Bahrain 47 $0.79 18406
Qatar 1638 $0.83 20044
Turkmenistan 223 $0.83 20267
Kuwait 2682 $0.91 22949
Yemen 163 $1.14 23112
Oman 889 $1.17 24001
Algeria 1884 $1.29 25886
Trinidad and Tobago 135 $1.36 26021
Brunei 150 $1.44 26171
Burma (Myanmar) 21 $1.63 26192
United Arab Emirates 3096 $1.70 29288

These are Nov 2008 prices, meaning gasoline in Venezeula has likely "skyrocketed" to something like 15¢/gal. The data is from this page of International fuel prices; I came across it on an .xls put together by Lester Brown. That page has excellent pdfs for the curious. The UAE is #16 on the list; the US is #22. UK and Norway are major producers who tax fuel heavily; surprisingly enough, so is Brazil, so it can be done in a developing nation. But good luck pulling that off with the above countries.

Denmark is a case history of a net oil exporter, showing a production decline, that taxes fuel consumption and that has successfully cut their consumption. Their 2004 to 2011 rate of change numbers (BP):

(P = Production, C = Consumption, NE = Net Exports.)

P: -7.9%/year

C: -1.0%/year

NE: -19.9%/year

P/C: -7.0%/year

Given an ongoing production decline in an oil exporting country, unless they cut their consumption at the same rate as the rate of decline in production, or at a faster rate, the net export decline will exceed the production decline rate, and the net export decline rate will accelerate with time.

In Denmark’s case, their 2004 to 2005 net export decline rate was 12.5%/year, while their 2004 to 2011 net export decline rate accelerated to 19.9%/year.

In simple percentage terms, a 43% decline in production from 2004 to 2011 resulted in a 75% decline in net exports, even as consumption fell by 6.5%.

If consumption had increased at 3.5%/year from 2004 to 2011, they would have hit zero net oil exports this year, 2012, resulting in a 100% decline in net exports. At the current rate of decline in the P/C ratio (or Export Capacity Index), I estimate that they will hit zero net oil exports in 2015.

I notice that Denmark has primarily cut back on Other liquids - offshoring their manufacturing capacity? They're 151 on my list of 172 countries, at $5.83/gal.

From the essay "National Policies & Oil Consumption" on my blog.


Addendum for Denmark in the Future:

2015 - 50% of urban trips by bicycle in Copenhagen (up from 38% in 2010)
2016 - 12 km Tram opens in Aarhus (pop. 252,213, metro 315,193) Denmark's #2 city
2018 - Copenhagen Metro "inner ring" completed
2018 - First semi-High Speed Rail (250 kph - 156 mph), 56 km rail line opens
2020 - Copenhagen 28 km Tram (Light Rail) "outer ring" opens (a partial ring, the ocean prevents a 360 degree ring)
2020 - 14.5 km Tram opens in Odense, Denmark's #3 city (pop. 168,798, metro 191,610)

Electrification of 512 track-km of rail lines out to bid in July 2012. Various completion dates.

This is from planning for future tram lines in Aarhus

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

Addendum for France in the Future:

Paris Metro doubled (+200 km) 2013-2025. Two million more daily riders
1,500 km of tram lines in almost every town of 100,000 and larger, 2010-2020, 1,000 km finished or under construction by 2013.
Increased efforts to make bicycling safer and easier
TGV expansion, with the focus away from Paris and on connecting outlying parts of France and neighboring nations.
Plans to electrify 100% of French railroads by 2026. This effort appears to have lost emphasis since President Chirac announced it. Additional rail lines are being electrified, but not at the required rate.

Addendum for the United States in the Future:

CAFE (car fuel economy standards) increased by 2025

All Oil Free Transportation projects are too small and scattered to make a notable impact of future US oil consumption. In the past, building Washington DC Metro reduced oil consumption by 200,000+ barrels/day - over 1% of US oil consumption, but no comparable projects are on the horizon.

One can extrapolate from the above that Denmark and France will continue to reduce their oil consumption faster than the United States will.

Denmark (and France) appear to still be trending down in oil consumption, while we transfer $11.2 billion from the Pension Guaranty Fund, $2 billion from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank fund and $18.5 billion from the US Treasury - just to keep our gas taxes low and to subsidize oil burning.

Signed less than a month ago - MAP-21. From another essay in my blog - "A conservative (small c) Principle - User Pays".

Best Hopes for the Danes and French - Not so much for us.


The political leadership of the US or what passes for political leadership is truly gutless in the US. The gas tax has been in deficit for a number of years and trucking fees don't begin to cover the damage that trucks inflict on the highways. Increasing the gas tax and trucking fees really should have been a no brainer for the Democrats and Republicans.

Price signals are the most efficient way to affect change in a capitalistic economy. Mandates, tax breaks, regulations and all, tend to be slow and add more regulatory expense then just a simple tax.

I completely agree - but even worse is $78 billion sucked out from other taxes and borrowing just to subsidize burning oil and a "Drive Everywhere to Everything Lifestyle". Money that could be invested in Oil Free alternatives.


Yes, spending money inefficiently does reduce what is done in toto.

For instance, if no price signal exists to differentiate two solar projects, one of which drives ratepayer subsidized upgrades on the same order as the construction costs of the PV and imposes increased system losses (which are passed thru to other ratepayers), and the other of which drives no upgrades and reduces wires losses, but both are competing for the same declining tiered incentive, allowing the less efficient project to go forward 'free' bumps a project with better social cost to a lower incentive rate, uses panels that the better project could have used, or at least raises panel cost for the better project.

FYI, losses reduced/increased by renewables are passed thru to ratepayers. The rate-regulated utility doesn't make or lose money on them. The disadvantage to the utility is that it raises retail electricity rates, because the net effect as currently implemented is a subsidy of inefficient projects over more efficient projects.

Negawatts are a lot cheaper (socially) beyond the meter than ahead of the meter currently. If upgrades are occurring for other reasons (like new generation), consideration of losses ahead of the meter is important, but projects driven solely by losses are very unlikely to become low-hanging fruit anytime soon (and trust me, I have tried, and if I could justify much in the way of loss-driven infrastructure upgrades, I'd be all over it)

There are many reasons why it is cheaper for developers to build DG in outlying (generation dominated) areas; failure to pass thru costs of doing so, prevents marginally better projects in more congested (load-dominated) areas from competing.

Start by removing sales tax exemptions from motor fuels at the state/local levels, to broaden the sales tax base. Also, the fuel excise tax should be raised dramatically (phased-in over several years), and indexed to increase automatically over time as fuel efficiency and inflation increase. Favoring trucks over rail needs to be reversed. For instance, fees to truck out of all sea ports, which are waived for containers/trailers leaving by rail/barge.

Small quibble KLR. You have their production labeled "Crude Oil Production" but your data is from the EIA's International Energy Statistics "Total Oil Supply". Crude oil production would actually be way less than the numbers you quote. The data below is the average for 2011 in thousands of barrels per day.

                      Algeria     Saudi      USA
EIA Total Oil         1,884       11,153     10,088
EIA Crude+Condensate  1,504        9,458      5,676
OPEC OMR Crude only   1,256        9,273

The EIA counts bottled gas, ethanol, biodiesel and even refinery process gain in their "Total Oil Supply". That is a sore spot with me. Mislabeling these things as oil is just a way fudging the numbers. Some people look at the USA numbers and conclude that we have passed our 1970 peak when actually we are far from it.

The EIA actually includes, in the United States "Total Oil Supply" refinery process gain on imported oil.

Ron P.

Iran has raised fuel prices significantly. Two tiers - so much per month at a lower price (about $1.50/gallon from memory) and the rest at around $3/gallon.

It has caused a drop in their fuel consumption.


I assume that we are mainly seeing a short covering rally in oil prices this morning, but in any case, it looks like average July price for Brent was about $102. Average to date for 2012 is about $112, versus $111 last year.

All those people not driving to work in Europe and still the average is $112/barrel.

Unemployment in Europe

11.2% unemployment in Euro area!

Break it down to the country level and we see 24.8% unemployment in Spain.

In a previous generation, this kind of unemployment would have had the price of oil at a fraction of what it is now.

In a previous generation, this kind of unemployment would have had the price of oil at a fraction of what it is now.

Oil always use to be cheap, except when it started getting more expensive starting in May 05 (initiation of peak plateau), and now the impact is a tighter tweaking (fewer employees) by corp's to hold profit margins. So now we not only have the have's and have nots, we have an increasing percentage of have nots as the ranks of the poor swell.

In previous generations, this was enough to spark revolutions, but now people have smart phones.

U.S. orders major Enbridge oil pipeline review after leak

The U.S. pipeline regulator raised pressure on Enbridge Inc on Thursday over the latest spill on its U.S. oil pipeline network, demanding that it submit a plan to improve the safety of the entire 1,900 mile system before restarting a key Midwest line.

The added demands are almost certain to mean the pipeline remains idle for even longer, potentially months if regulators also require it to implement reforms, according to experts. That could tighten supply of light, sweet crude for Chicago-area refineries at the height of the U.S. driving season.

Japan could become second biggest solar power nation

WITH nuclear power on the ropes in Japan, it could be solar power's time to shine. Minamisoma City in Fukushima prefecture (10 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi NPP) has signed an agreement with Toshiba to build the country's biggest solar park. The deal comes weeks after Japan introduced feed-in tariffs to subsidise renewable energy - a move that could see the nation become one of the world's largest markets for solar power.

A number of Japanese municipalities have started solar projects in recent months. Plans have been drawn up for large-scale solar parks in Hokkaido and Kyushu, while SB Energy began operating two megasolar facilities, in Kyoto and Gunma, on 1 July.

Standoff at Scarborough Shoal

... The latest tension is at the Scarborough Shoal, a small cluster of uninhabitable islands which lies about 220km off the coast of the Philippines and falls under its exclusive economic zone according to international maritime law. But China also claims ownership despite its nearest coastline being 900km away. The Scarborough Shoal has valuable resources including fishing, shipping routes and potentially enormous oil and gas deposits.

After more than two decades of double-digit increases in defence spending, China now has the largest fleet of advanced warships, submarines and long strike aircraft in Asia. The Philippines is working hard to get support from allies such as Japan and the US to help it build up its military capabilities.

Reactor Shutdown in South Korea Raises Blackout Fears

... South Korea is warning of the possibility of power shortages in mid-August. That is when the vacation period ends and demand is expected to peak. At that time, four of the country's 23 nuclear reactors are likely still to be out of commission.

The country depends on atomic plants to generate more than one-third of its electricity.

Spiral of Banks Warns of Financial Meltdown

Call it the financial meltdown forecaster. The team of economists who last year demonstrated that a small number of companies wield disproportional power over the global economy has now produced a simple visual tool that can monitor financial stability in real-time.

… A DebtRank value of 0 means that if a bank defaults, it poses no risk whatsoever to other members of the network. Theoretically, if a bank with a value of 1 were to fail, it would obliterate the economic value of the entire network

Battiston represents DebtRank values pictorially within a spiral. Companies ranked 0 sit on the outside of the spiral, and a company ranked 1 would occupy dead centre. As a company's DebtRank value rises, it moves steadily towards the centre of the spiral, posing ever greater threats to the entire system as it does so.

In August 2007, well before the financial crisis, all 22 banks sat safely around the edge of the spiral

As the 2008 crisis arrived, many of the banks had plunged towards the centre of the spiral, where greater risk lies

Representations of the 22 companies before and at the peak of the crisis show visually how valuable the tool could be to regulators. In August 2007, well before the crisis, all 22 banks sit around the edge of the spiral (see image 1), with DebtRank values averaging just 0.08. By the crisis, the average had risen to 0.52, sending banks plunging towards the centre (see image 2).

At that point, several of the individual institutions could have wiped out more than 70 per cent of the total value of the network on their own, had they failed.

The model also demonstrated how shocks to the system can be rapidly propagated between the closely connected banks. If all 22 simultaneously suffered a 10 per cent loss in the value of their assets, as was seen in the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the losses to the entire network could have caused a the system to crash

To create DebtRank registers, regulators would need to receive daily or weekly updates of all transactions, debt profiles, detailed balance sheets and other assets.

The problem, he says, is that most global financial transactions are confidential, and any regulation that does occur is only at national level. "The police are local, but the transactions international," he says. "There's no authority keeping track at international level," he says.

also Team studies the innermost circle of the financial crisis

and OTC Derivatives and Systemic Risk in Financial Networks

Full article: http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120802/srep00541/full/srep00541.html

Debt Rank, asset size and fragility – 2007 vs. 2008

... similar to the gravity well of a black hole. Since they're all connected, once one passes the 'event horizon', they're 'all in.

The other day, someone observed the similarities in cascade failure (i.e. grid, environment, etc.) - this corroborates that observation.

To illustrate the DebtRank mechanism we produced an interactive web widget:

Link to the live Widget !

Forecasting Financial Crises (FOC)

And this is how it can take down the whole ball of wax ...

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

... When the team untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a "super-entity" of 147 even more tightly knit companies - all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity - that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network," says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

"It's disconcerting to see how connected things really are," agrees George Sugihara of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, a complex systems expert who has advised Deutsche Bank.

image: http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/mg21228354.500/mg21228354...
The 1318 transnational corporations that form the core of the economy. Superconnected companies are red, very connected companies are yellow. The size of the dot represents revenue (Image: PLoS One)

So, Global-Hyper-Mega-Co has 147 divisions... it is still a single entity and a monopoly, yes?
So, no matter what you buy, it is a product of Global-Hyper-Mega-Co.
No matter who lobbies your officials, it's GHMC.
It's all GHMC news on all the connected GHMC media.
Any fraud is a production of GHMC...
Anywhere in the capitalist world.
Nicely explains the cooperative actions in fixing the LIBOR rate,
Why Iran is such a threat... have they hung the bankers yet?,
Why the internet must be turned into television.
I guess it's GHMC who accounts all the carbon in the ground as already being on the books.
Everything is bent for the good of GHMC.
The people be d@mned:
There are lots of people,
There is only one GHMC.
And It's a people, too... according to the U.S. Supreme Court...
Made in our own image.

Kind of brings to mind that old kindergarten wisdom we were told..

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall" .. not as a prediction as much as a pattern to watch out for, like not setting up your tent under a stand of tall old pines at a windy point.

In fact, with the descriptions of yours and Seraph's link, I might be less worried about the intentional levels of control that these corporations and powerbrokers wield, and more about the levels of overconfidence in their system that leaves them thinking that they are immune to icebergs.. in fact, the very idea of icebergs is actively prohibited from the thought process alltogether.

All the eggs are in one basket and the basket is circling the drain?

It is a weakness. If the whole world threatened to not buy GHMC product for a week, would GHMC be responsive to demands? What would the effect be if GHMC was boycotted?

Drought worsens in midwest and threatens next year's corn crop

Obama administration under growing pressure to end support for corn ethanol as gas and food prices continue to rise

The worst drought in 50 years has intensified across the US midwest, not only condemning this year's corn crop but threatening the prospects for next year's too, new figures showed on Thursday.

The political fallout intensified as well, with growing pressure for the Obama administration to end its support for corn ethanol.


...there is little prospect of relief for the drought in this growing season, Mark Svoboda, another climatologist at the center, said. What matters now is whether there will be enough rain to get next year's crops off to a good start.

"This drought isn't going anywhere," he said. "The damage is already done. What you are looking for is enough moisture to avert a second year of drought," he said.

Mars Rover/Curiosity alert: Mars Rover NASA Social happening now - http://www.ustream.tv/NASAJPL

What is that rover gonna find?! Just gotta love this new rover because of the much greater info. it will be able to process. Sweaty palms until that thing is safely on the surface!

Bigger question is why did we only send one? NASA more than most should have learned the lesson of all your eggs in one basket.

Budget cuts?

Touchdown @1:30am EDT Monday. It's hard to believe that Opportunity is still at work gathering data, 8 1/2 years into a 90 day mission; the little rover that could. Best hopes for similar success this time.

Its big. You couldn't pack two on the same launch vehicle, so the cost to send two is much higher (not 2x, since R&D costs are a pretty good chunk of the cost). And there are still effective single point failures, like a fatal design flaw, or software glitch.

NASA used to build a spare that they kept at home. I suspect not any more.

But a second one in a few years would be nice.


According to Wikipedia:

The total cost of the Curiosity Rover program is ~ $2.5 B

That is about the unit flyaway cost of 10-12 F-35 fighter aircraft....at current projected costs, which will likely (continue) to increase.

The U.S plans to buy ~ 2400+ of these, and will pay for operations and maintenance and upgrade costs for 30++ years (plus costs for other F-35 supportive weapons systems), compared to paying operations costs for Curiosity for perhaps 5 years if we are lucky.

NASA projects have almost no lobbying support compared to MIC projects...it is a scale thing...the massive size of the MIC begats massive lobbying and support due to the number of decent-paying jobs widespread across the U.S. MIC lobbying also uses huge doses of FUD to justify the juggernaut to the masses.

Simply put: NASA doesn't produce enough jobs compared to the MIC, and it doesn't kill terrorists.


evertheless, the White House budget proposal cuts NASA's Mars funding from $587 million this year to $360 million in 2013, and then to just $189 million in 2015.

I will call 3:2 odds against minimum mission success. I truly hope for beating the odds. If they do, everyone on the team deserves a hearty congratulations. Maybe cards and letters from the school kiddos (and us adults as well)...a celebration of applying talent through study and hard work.

Too many billions of dollars. NASA, I'm sure, would have loved to have sent two out on this launch window, but it's really not up to them. This sort of thing is drifting lower and lower on the national priority list, especially with an anti-science Republican-controlled House. It's a wonder Curiosity ever got built.

Related: Nasa announces space shuttle replacement shortlist

We now have a much clearer idea of how American astronauts will get into orbit in the coming years.

Nasa has selected three companies to help develop launch systems that can take people to the space station.

They include the SpaceX firm, which recently sent an unmanned cargo capsule to the 400km-high outpost...

...The US space agency is giving Friday's selected companies what amounts to 21 months of further seed funding under an initiative called CCiCap - its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) programme.

That'd be over $1.12 billion in "seed funding"...

Have you seen the price of seeds lately? ;-)

Sorta Related:

Atlantis Orbiter https://maps.google.com/?ll=28.586523,-80.650927&spn=0.610175,1.056747&t...
:The Atlantis Orbiter conducted the final flight of the Space Shuttle program on July 8th, 2011 [These are 360° views, turn off the side panel]

Endeavour Orbiter https://maps.google.com/?ll=28.586249,-80.651195&spn=0.610175,1.056747&t... : The Endeavour Orbiter awaiting decommissioning in the Vertical Assembly Building. [Endeavour is in an assembly bay, as you rotate around you can see Atlantis over in the main transfer aisle]

Russia Sends Warships to Syria, Officials Say

... News agencies in Russia, which has a naval refueling base in the Syrian port of Tartus, reported that three warships with 360 marines aboard, had been dispatched to the base, raising speculation they might be planning to evacuate the estimated 30,000 Russian citizens in Syria if the situation there continues to worsen. But the Russian Defense Ministry later disputed those reports, saying there no plans for the ships to dock in Tartus.

The Defense Ministry statement was ambiguous, however, saying the commanding officers of the ships “have the full right to carry out a resupply” that involves a stop in Tartus.

As tensions have risen in Syria this summer, there have been several reports that Russia was deploying warships, but each time they have been followed by official denials. Military experts say Russia’s naval base in Tartus is tiny, understaffed and would be difficult to defend in a conflict.

Study: Many Americans die with 'virtually no financial assets'

... about 46 percent of senior citizens in the United States have less than $10,000 in financial assets when they die. Most of these people rely almost totally on Social Security payments as their only formal means of support, according to the newly published study, co-authored by James Poterba of MIT, Steven Venti of Dartmouth College, and David A. Wise of Harvard University.

That means many seniors have almost no independent ability to withstand financial shocks, such as expensive medical treatments that may not be covered by Medicare or Medicaid, or other unexpected, costly events.

Virgin Atlantic makes annual loss after high fuel costs

The carrier made a loss of £80m in the 12 months to the end of February, compared with a profit of £18.5m a year earlier.

Founded by Sir Richard Branson and 49% owned by Singapore Airlines, Virgin said its fuel costs rose by one third.

also Lufthansa curbs growth again as big fuel bill looms

Deutsche Lufthansa pulled back further from plans to lift capacity and expand its passenger fleet to safeguard profits threatened by soaring fuel prices.

European airlines have been struggling in recent years with sky-high fuel prices, lower spending on air travel in Europe and fierce competition from low-cost carriers and fast-growing Middle East rivals.

Even budget carriers have had a tough time. Quarterly profit at Ryanair slid 29 percent in the face of austerity, recession and stubbornly high fuel prices.

Lufthansa's fuel costs were up 22 percent in the first six months of 2012 - both because oil prices rose and because the euro weakened against the U.S. dollar.


"The “NGL bloodbath,” as it was dubbed by Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. last month, is rippling across the oil and gas industry as explorers cut production and reduce cash flow projections, service companies forecast lower demand for drilling rigs, and pipeline partnerships suffer falling revenue for their gas liquids processing plants. The price of an ethane- propane NGL mix was down 58 percent".

It always strikes me as odd that some are shocked when the inevitable happens. Perhaps it just the inability to see the cumulative effect of small but constant changes. I've mentioned that my private company focused on deep conventional NG because there were just too few conventional oil prospects left. We leveraged our effort by focusing on trends that also had relatively high condensate yields. The high price for oil certainly helped the weak NG prices. But another benefit was the price on the NGL's we recovered. We would either seperate them at the well head or get a split of their revenue from the gas processing plant. Now we've seen a small dip in the price for the condensate but a huge drop in the NGL price. We've been plotting our drop in NGL revenue weekly...just as sure as CHK et al (and the bankers/investors) have.

So in addition to hurting the shale players we conventional players are becoming even less inclined to drill. Some operators are spinning the drilling slow down in a variety of ways. But it's difficult to not see softer prices combined with what appears to be increasing problem in raising capex from all sources as putting a potential cap on shale development. It's certainly not the end of the shale plays by any means. But IMHO it gives some credible indication that the rapid increase in development will not continue to expand nearly as fast as some have projected. In fact, given the slower drilling activity and the rapid decline rates of the wells we might be seeing some level of equilibrium developed not too far down the road. Even with lower prices I expect to see the Eagle Ford and Bakken to remain fairly active. But I would be cautious about predicting a continued rate of increases in production as we've seen the last few years.


Something that has been tossing around in my head with respect to the gas industry is "What happens if this coming winter is another non-winter?"

I can see the shale gas drillers slowing down because of the present low prices. But if they are hurting now what would it be like if their traditional heating fuel market doesn't materialize again this winter.


Or in the alternative, what happens if we have a normal winter (or perhaps more accurately, a winter liked we used to have)?

... or even a severe winter? Any chance a glut becomes a shortage?

I'm also trying to decide if I should buy propane soon, or wait a few weeks.

I could be wrong, but I suspect that North American natural gas markets have never been this dependent on such a high percentage of very high decline rate supply. Once the shale players slow their drilling (which they have certainly done), an interesting question is whether they can ever again catch up with the overall decline and bring production back to prior levels.

Natural Gas Is Heading Higher: More Data
July 27, 2012

Now heed the following. Ceteris Paribus should the pace of surplus storage reduction continue at an equal pace from the May 10 peak supra normal stockpile figures of 48.4% and 49.9% of the one year and five year respectively, then the five year average surplus would go below mean just a little over five weeks from now. It would take just under seven weeks to crack below last year’s figure. Further extrapolation under the same above assumption suggests that by the official end of the storage season (October 31) the one year and five year storage volumes would be in deficit to their historical averages by 19% and 27% respectively . . .

The market is getting stretched beyond a point of no return. An aircraft carrier cannot turn on a dime. It’s not even August and we have just seen the first mini supply panic. Gas prices are still perched only around the $3 mcf level. Rig counts for now remain low. So while the market is trying to get to the magic profitable $5 mcf gas, daily production will continue to decline and inevitably as below normal weekly storage injections mount up, the rubber band will get stretched to breaking point. Then one calm morning a catalyst will come. A hurricane, planned turnaround maintenance shutting down nuclear power plants, or in a few weeks when the report comes that gas storage has crossed below 1 and 5 year averages…. and what a about possible a cold winter. The slingshot effect will be sudden and powerful. It always is. Markets don’t adjust peacefully. Lock in your gas contracts now. I recently extended my home electricity contract by two years. Prices inexorably go lower than they should and higher than they should. This phase of the cycle is upon us. $8.00 gas is coming, so prepare.

Storage back to normal levels by the end of August (five weeks)? I don't see that, at all. The storage surplus is eroding at a rate to where it will be normal by the end of October, or basically what the industry targets.

I think we all pretty much agree the marginal cost of shale nat gas is much higher than we see today. But $8? We need demand to get $8. Right now we don't got demand.

If I am following his numbers correctly, the May 10th storage level was about 50% (49.9%) over the average five year storage level*.

And as of the report for the week ending 7/20/12, the five year excess supply diminished by 1.7% in one week, to 15.8%.

So, again, if I am following the numbers correctly, the five year excess supply fell, over a 10 week period, from about 50% as of 5/10 to about 16% as of 7/20.

*I'm not completely sure if he is always talking about five year maximum or five year average, but I think it's the latter.

I agree with the 7/20 number of 16%, but I read the surplus to five year average in May at 40% which may be our disconnect. I show the surplus dropping more slowly as a result.

Storage is being filled up right now, more slowly than the historical average due to the winter overhang. So what we can expect to see is that the surplus to 5 yr average will fall, but it will fall more slowly as storage gets closer to full. So I think it will work out to just about even to the 5 yr average when nat gas summer is over in October. Since we are getting a lot of supply from Mid Con and Northeast shale plays, it is not even clear to me how much a hurricane will affect available supply (at least to the primary consuming regions).

Here are some recently updated (late July, 2012) Texas RRC data for Barnett Shale natural gas production and for total Texas natural gas well production (note that we are using a common data source).

From 2008 to 2011, the RRC shows that Barnett Shale gas production increased by 20%, from 4.4 BCF/day in 2008 to 5.3 BCF/day in 2011:


However, this increase was not sufficient to keep total Texas natural gas well production on an upward slope, and we have seen three straight years of declining Texas natural gas well production, with annual Texas gas well production down 6.1% from 2008 to 2011, from 19.3 BCF/day in 2008 to 18.2 BCF/day in 2011:


Completely agree that the erosion in Texas onshore conventional production is not offset by Texas shale production. And I will be curious to see how quickly shortages develop if new shale wells activity slows down significantly.

It looks like we're getting into another brittle situation. Not a lot of wiggle room. I worry for friends/family reliant on natural gas going forward...

That 1000 gallon propane tank I buried looks better all the time; lets me buy at a discounted volume, and if filled, lasts us for 6+ years, normal usage, or a really long time in frugal mode, a decade or more. $2.15/gal. now, my supplier may be able to give me $1.90 in a couple of weeks if he can squeeze in 800 gallons, or not.

Storage will be topped up for this winter, courtesy of the current glut. A severe winter could definitely eat into that, but it would take something truly unusual to create a shortage.

Propane? Just be careful timing the market. ;)

You might want to review the above numbers.

I commented upthread. Time will tell of course but I think he's hyping a bit.

In particular it is not correct to extrapolate the surplus/deficit trend during the summer fill season into the winter discharge season. What the current declines in the surplus relative to 1 yr/5 yr averages signify is that the industry is filling storage more slowly than usual. Which makes sense: we ended last winter with a huge glut, so the rate of fill during the summer would have to be slower to achieve the goal of topping up by winter.

I agree that shortages can develop quickly, but it just feels to me like he's flogging it.

Ghung - If memeory serves me almost all past winter shortages have been more a result limitations of the distribution system then from the well head or storage. The price spikes tend to be focused more in the local distribution systems. You probably know but many don't that all the NG wells in the US flowing at max rate can't deliver normal winter delivery requirements on a daily basis. But trillions of cu ft in storage are still many miles away from the end users. Then the choke point becomes the pipeline systems between storage/well head and the LDS's.

aws - It's just like the swallows returning to Capistrano every year: in the oil patch around August folks start talking about a bump in NG revenue come winter. Sometimes it does...sometime not. But when it does it's usually a spike that doesn't last long. More importantly I may be getting 50% more in January as I'm getting now but that won't have much effect on my economic analysis of potential wells I'll be drilling in the next year or so. A short term uptick in cash flow won't make me drill wells that aren't viable with low trend prices. Supply/demand cycles work in the oil patch like most business. But do so on a much longer cycle than many sectors. A decrease in drilling today may take several years to show up significantly on the production rate side. Same goes even for long term price gains with respect to increase in drilling activity.


"It's just like the swallows returning to Capistrano every year"

They stopped returning a while back:

The tiny bird that put San Juan Capistrano on the map has snubbed the mission in recent years. A recording of a mating call is a last-ditch effort to lure them back.

The birds, with their orange-colored rumps and white foreheads, once arrived in such numbers that their swarms looked like storm clouds in the spring sky, a migration that inspired songs, paintings and a yearly parade.

But urbanization and disruptions from a preservation effort at the church have chased them away, and the once familiar cliff swallow's mating cry is no longer heard.

(LA Times). One day it may be the same for NG pricing factors.

Maybe that's where Yogi came up with that line..

"Nobody goes there anymore. Too Crowded."

Just remember... "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Very good Dredd. That was my subtle little joke...saw that special about the swallows a few years ago. Same with August dreams of high January NG prices: rarely hear anyone in the oil patch talk about it anymore except for the accountants trying to project cash flow. The markets, especially for NG have become too volatile and the margins to thin. Exploration is a multi-year game plan. Almost no one is going to use higher winter NG pricing in their economics. It varies from company to company but we use last year’s average and keep it flat for the life of the well. Too pessimistic this way? Nope: in the last 3 years since we started our forward projections have turned out to be too high.

Which is why we’re now only drilling conventional NG projects that only have a significant oil component or has only oil potential. What price do we need to spend another $160 million drilling for NG like we did during the last 3 years? At a minimum $5-6 minimum would be my guess.


Hi Rock -- Appreciate your comments on that article. It was very informative. Just a few opinions on what is going on:

As crude prices have weakened over the last 6 weeks (to levels that still seem astronomical to me), refineries are able to pump out downstream products to push out NGLs, forcing the NGLs to accept lower premiums to compete. But NGLs as you point out have been the bread and butter of the wet shale plays. NGLs have allowed those producers to dump natural gas on the market at $2-2.50/mcf, but now they need a higher price on the nat gas to sustain revenues. Voila, a rally in natural gas. Summer demand from the electric gen sector supported the rally for a bit, but when the price went much above $3/mcf, natural gas lost market to coal, and the price had to retreat.

So the shale gas producers seem to me like they are in a squeeze. If crude stays low, their prospects of making up the revenue loss on natural gas are poor, even though their break-even price moves upl.

steve - there's another dimension to the situation beyond the normal demand/supple dynamic. You see that the majority of the aggressive shale players are public companies. We've already discussed why that's the case. But public companies rely on perception as much as the hard numbers. In a declining price market the investors/bankers will often lower their expectations faster than the actually drop in the financial value. The less capex means less drilling means less reserve replacement which means less enthusiam from the investors/bankers "Death spiral" is the term that immediately comes to mind. That death spiral created by the drop in NG prices 4 years ago for the dry shale drillers nearly destroyed current big players like CHK and Devon. The question remains: whic companies could survive another DS?

Rockman, does this mean U.S.energy independence was a tad over optimistic?

Joe - I think before folks get to giddy about being "energy independent" they might focus on decreasing the rate at which we're becoming more import dependent. Once there they can focus on reducing the amounts of imports. Consider it a 3 step program
Of course the final step is no imported energy. That's not impossible...really. Just count up all the countries today that don't import any energy. Of course, that isn't because they don't want to but can't afford to.

Like was once said: be careful what you wish for...you might get it.

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

Mountaintop Mining: Background on Current Controversies

... Critics say that, as a result of valley fills from mountaintop mining, stream water quality and the aquatic and wildlife habitat that streams support are destroyed by tons of rocks and dirt. The mining industry argues that mountaintop mining is essential to conducting surface coal mining in the Appalachian region and that it would not be economically feasible there if operators were barred from using valleys for the disposal of mining overburden.

This report provides background on regulatory requirements, controversies and legal challenges to mountaintop mining, and recent Administration actions. Congressional interest in these issues also is discussed, including legislation in the 111th Congress seeking to restrict the practice of mountaintop mining and other legislation intended to block the Obama Administration’s regulatory actions

On the above article, The Sound of a Damaged Habitat:

Gives a whole new meaning to the term, biodiversity. I say this as a small woodlands owner who practices selective harvesting. Something new to think about. Marking trees to cut or leave is a humbling experience, this makes it more so.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." The Bard's words ring true again.

Here's to holistic logging.

ten billion sold out.

Before packed audiences in a petite London theatre, computational scientist Stephen Emmott has been giving a new kind of talk. The brainchild of Emmott and director Katie Mitchell at the Royal Court Theatre, 10 Billion is a daring one man show in which Emmott desperately strives to pull together into one grand and devastating portrait the many ways we are impacting the planet. Standing on a set that he admits eerily resembles his office in Cambridge, UK, where he is the head of Computational Science at Microsoft Research, Emmott takes theatregoers on a brisk and bracing tour through our own history and use of Earth’s resources, before offering a glimpse of what the future might look like if the population reaches 10 billion. It isn’t good.


In the current print version of the journal Science, the "3 Q's" section is devoted to nueroscientist Stephen Emmott.

Question: What was the audience's reaction?

I found it very difficult to judge their reaction because I couldn't see them. But people who stayed on afterwards came up to me and said "it was absolutely life changing," and "it made me think completely differently." So the experiment looks successful.

What is going on in London? (I hear there is some sort of sporting event happening there? /sarc)

One more drop of urine in the ocean...

theatre review

Edit: Trying to be hopeful...

Do you know where one can view the show online? I saw this linked earlier but couldn't find the content only the review.


No, sorry.

Refinery Run

This will be quick, since I am midway through a trip away from home. On my journey, I had the (mis)pleasure of viewing from the road the state of some Northeast refineries (such as in Trainer, PA), which could well serve as an appropriate backdrop for some dystopian post-apocalyptic movie – especially those like Trainer venting huge flames of natural gas flaring erratically over rusting infrastructure.

Still, for the most part, these refineries will receive a last minute reprieve with some renovations due to sharply rising wholesale gasoline prices and improved profit margins.

In fact, the greater Chicago area and the greater NYC area are experiencing near shortage conditions for wholesale gasoline. Chicago because of unexpected delays in restarting the Enbridge pipeline, and in New York City because of a sharp fall in gas imports.

The word ‘shortage’ was the word used by Reuters in describing the situation.

In general, nationwide gasoline supplies still are falling, although it is still not yet clear whether there will be any widespread shortage in the next month. Usually gasoline supplies hit a seasonal low about Labor Day in early September.

Diesel supplies in mid-US are low too due to an important refinery outage.

The Colonial Pipeline, persistently running at maximum capacity for the shipment of gasoline and diesel, completed the expansion of a distillate line.

See links for more info.

Rising North American oil supply continues to reveal infrastructure mismatches
According to Ernst & Young US Oil & Gas quarterly outlook

Colonial Pipeline completes 75,000 b/d distillate expansion

Enbridge's Monaco says company coping with Line 14 shutdown

There's an acute supply shortage in the New York Harbor market since imports
from Europe are at low levels, traders said.

In the last drumbeat I was going to ask 'where are the pro-nukers'? but didn't.

Well this tidbit in the last days makes me want to hear the response to the below positions.


- Nuclear power has become hard to justify as the shale gas revolution creates an abundance of natural gas that makes it the fuel of choice to back up renewables, the chief executive of General Electric told the Financial Times on Monday.


Nuclear power is no longer an economically viable source of new energy in the United States, the freshly-retired CEO of Exelon, America’s largest producer of nuclear power, said in Chicago Thursday.

At two or three dollar natural gas, nothing else is cost effective, not even coal. Solar, coal, wind, geothermal, nuclear, nothing, not even hydro, can compete with the minimal capital cost and low fuel cost (especially since the fuel arrives by pipeline) of a natural gas combined cycle power plant. Adding in the ability to load follow, and you have perfection.

As long as the gas prices stays at or below $3. But as mentioned at length above, that $3 gas isn't going to last. At $5 gas, things look different. At $8, the field is changed to the point that only high-value peaking capacity is viable, and everything else (but oil) looks cheaper.

As for nuclear, The former head of Exelon may well be right. To be viable you need practice building a nuclear plant, and an infrastructure set up to deliver a steady flow of components. The way the Navy builds ships. The first ones off the line are late and over budget; the later ones hit the schedule and the budget. Even the later Nimitz class carriers were ahead of schedule and on budget.

So a couple of plants here and there are not going to lower the costs of nuclear power. A National Energy Policy that builds two plants a year for 20 years would do it, but I don't think the political will is there, and it's even less likely that the will is going to last past one election cycle. One of the main disadvantages of a democracy is the short attention span. A monarchy could pull it off, at least until the revolution. The French pulled it off with a fairly benevolent oligarchy, but at the time they started, they had no alternative. If they have shale gas, they'll use it.

For the US in particular, another factor is that the capital cost of a solar plus wind solution, backed up by pumped storage and big batteries (sodium sulfur or even lead acid, no one says they have to move) and HV-DC distribution is probably less over all than nuclear, and also would be deployable in smaller batches. A pair of AP1000 reactors is a big pile of money even by government standards. And a huge part of it is upfront for concrete and the pressure vessels, you get no return at all for years later. Solar you can do in stages, as you can with wind, and the batteries should get through the permitting process quickly. Pumped storage will be decade long battle as the NIMBYs and BANANAs will fight it out in court, but Congress could fix that with a simple legal change that would be a lot less controversial than selling 40 nuclear plants for $150 billion of corporate welfare (assuming no cost overruns, see above) and stuffing the waste-stream into Yucca Mountain which would immediately follow Harry Reid being declared an Enemy Combatant and shipped to Gitmo.


According to the PDF, they are down to 0.71 Euro per watt, and are shooting for under 0.60 Euro/watt by the end of the year. If they last that long :-).

The carnage is even getting the Chinese companies down.


Whoever does survive is going to be in great position to lever their low cost production process into a major position. And the technical barriers to entry and economies of scale will keep the competitors out.

The slight flaw in this is that you will need trillions of dollars worth of batteries. I'm not sure I'd want to live anywhere near a sodium sulphur battery that could store gigawatt hours of energy. It would be the size of an aircraft hangar and would make a hell of a fireball if it caught alight. The energy stored would need to cover energy demand for several suburbs for a rainy week. Better I think are individual household batteries of the kind that don't overheat such as nickel iron. In round figures I think we're talking $30-50k per household for an all weather energy storage system (including an EV) versus $2.5k per house for the share of the cost of an AP 1000.

There is already one; large, but not aircraft carrier size by any means.


"The four-megawatt sodium-sulfur (NaS) battery system consists of 80 modules, 8,000 pounds (3,600 kilograms) each, constructed by the Japanese firm NGK-Locke. They were shipped to Long Beach, California, in December and transported to Texas aboard 24 trucks."

It's 4 megawatts for 8 hours, or 32 MW-H. If you search around you can find that in another article.

Written by Boof:
The energy stored would need to cover energy demand for several suburbs for a rainy week. ... I think we're talking $30-50k per household for an all weather energy storage system (including an EV)....

Nonsense. You do not understand how to design an off-grid PV system. If you are thinking about powering the entire electric grid using renewable energy, then you do not limit the system to photovoltaic panels and batteries.

Your estimate of $2.5k per house for nuclear powered electricity is ridiculously low. Assuming 10 cents / kWh retail and 30 kWh/day of consumption, just the electric bill would amount to $21,900 after 20 years.

'Meatless Monday' too hot a potato for USDA

Joining the ranks of thousands of companies, restaurants, schools, average Americans and Oprah, a recent newsletter from the USDA made a humble suggestion for its employees to reduce their environmental footprints: Consider eating a meat-free lunch once per week. The agency was referring to "Meatless Monday," a project of Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Syracuse universities and supported by many other health-related organizations.

Now wipe that smile from your face....It was later retracted. How dare someone suggest that one should cut back on consumption.

After angry press releases from the meat industry and outraged tweets from Republicans in Congress, a USDA spokeswoman announced the agency does not endorse the "Meatless Monday" initiative and said the suggestion was posted on the agency's website "without proper clearance." Problem solved, I guess.

IMO the timing was wrong, they should package this as 'carrying health benefits' instead of packaging this as something for drought relief. People don't really care about other people's misery.

For decades we ate only fish sticks every Friday :-)

Apparently, the meat industry thinks that "health benefits" are also up for debate. They have done their fair share of injecting fear, uncertainty and doubt into the science. Maybe they use the same PR firms as the climate deniers.

However one packages it, the meat industry will complain. The end result is not truth, it is competing marketing/political campaigns.

Raging Bulls: How Wall Street Got Addicted to Light-Speed Trading

This is a long but brilliant article about Wall Street's quest to execute the fastest trade, which right now is capped at the speed of light.

I will just post the final para.

Furthermore, trade on it now, this microsecond. It is only a matter of time, perhaps a few decades, says Alexander Wissner-Gross, a Harvard physicist, before some hedge fund decides it needs a particle accelerator to generate neutrinos, and then everyone will want one. Yes, they travel slower than light, but they indisputably can tunnel through the earth, cutting thousands of miles off an intercontinental message. And just a few days before the Battle of the Quants, right before the bad news about faster-than-light neutrinos, researchers announced they had sent a message by neutrino from the Fermilab accelerator in Chicago to a detector a kilometer away. According to Dan Stancil of North Carolina State University, the signal traveled at “very close to” the speed of light. Unfortunately, the data rate was only about 0.1 bits per second, meaning it would be useless for much more than sending a yes/no signal. “With the right modulation scheme, this could be increased by at least one or two orders of magnitude,” Stancil said, adding “I don’t know of a compelling commercial application.” But we’ve all heard the (apocryphal) story that Thomas J. Watson of IBM predicted “a world market for maybe five computers.” Stancil knows physics, but he seems never to have worked in finance. Any quant would know what to do next.
Buy neutrinos.

There's a proposal I came across on the web somewhere where top Indian physicists argue for Indian government funding for a massive neutrino detector project. They argue they can detect nuclear subs with them. Then it gets weirder when they talk about also using it to track some mysterious "UFO" object that apparently overflies India at great height, invisible to typical ground-based RADAR, but they believe to emit neutrinos. Very strange. Seemed they were maybe thinking of some kind of terrestrial UFO - not alien. Must try and track down the PDF again.

That would be interesting to read.

Good luck to anyone trying to build device to track what are essentially 'point' neutron sources.

Likely would require //at least several// widely spaced neutrino detection arrays, each //quite large// to get an even remotely interesting angular and range resolution.

Then...how easy would it be to run some decoy sources?

How vulnerable would these detectors be to earthquakes and budget constraints for RDT&E and operations and maintenance?

I have been reading these 'the oceans will become transparent someday in the not-too-distant-future' pap, and the folks saying it //always// have stars in their eyes...over-promising and not even making it to under-delivering!

I have a modest proposal: Let us Earthlings invest even a portion of what these untenable submarine neutrino detectors would cost into a robust, effective asteroid detection and tracking network. Then spend another small fraction of the MIC budget to devise and execute some experiments in asteroid deflection.

How about something that will advance science and engineering and provide planetary protection, vice enhancing the potential for planetary destruction?

Aw, shucks, you can detect neutrinos with most radio telescopes, dipole antennas... probably pick them up on your dental fillings...


And I may have heard an informal presentation on this very project at UVA in about 2009, which, of course, I did not understand. I think one of the problems is figuring out WHICH neutrinos you are detecting, and if they are the ones you are looking for. I think they wrote crazy software that does some kind of probability calculation.

I don't think you understand.

I KNOW I don't understand. Had a rough day, just having a bit of fun, sorry, didn't mean to distract.

You (and perhaps others) may be interested in this:


the remaining unexplainable reports were most likely the result of a supernormal meteorological phenomena not fully understood by modern science. [1][3] This phenomenon is referred to in the report as "Buoyant Plasma Formation," akin to Ball Lightning, and is hypothesized to produce an unexplained energy field which creates the appearance of a Black Triangle by refracting light. The electromagnetic fields generated by plasma phenomena are also hypothesized to explain reports of close encounters due to inducing perceptual alterations or hallucinations in those affected.[4] The Condign report suggests that further research into "novel military applications" of this plasma phenomenon is warranted, and that "the implications have already been briefed to the relevant MoD technology managers."[5] The report also notes that scientists in the former Soviet Union have identified the close connection between the 'UFO Phenomena' and Plasma technologies," and are "pursuing related techniques for potential military purposes."[6]

Here is the executive summary of the Condign Report posted by the UK MoD, as linked on the Wikipedia article:


Maybe when people get tired of wishing upon a star about LENR, they will latch on to folks who cook up schemes to harness energy from these alleged phenomena.

Methinks the use of mind-altering drugs is becoming more prevalent!

As human stressors increase, I think the propensity to desperately invest one's thoughts in magik will increase.

Second that! But don't blame the drugs, at least the old-school triple-letter ones. Back in the bad old days, at least we knew when we were high and when we weren't... most of the time.

Now the magik is in our StupidPhones and mobile telescreens... uh, iPads. We walk around wearing something mysterious on our hips and in our briefcases that keeps us in touch with all the other monkeys all the time! We don't really understand how it works-- it's magik!

We were at the cheapo movie theater in Pasadena yesterday, and saw an add for Best Buy that made me want to blow lunch... like, if we all bought all this weird crap, and stared into these little blue screens all the time, we could change the world! Who knows what we could do! Never mind the power outages affecting tens of millions of people... get the little ones online before their neurons have myelinated! Wow, man... it's 1971 all over again!

You know, I do have terrible allergies, but I need to be careful with the coffee and Sudafed before noon. \\Rant off!