Drumbeat: September 24, 2012

Doubts on Saudi Capacity May Keep Oil Volatile

Oil prices are likely to remain volatile over the next year, analysts say, amid worries that Saudi Arabia has become less able to pump the global market out of any extraordinary disruptions to supply.

Saudi Arabia and some smaller Gulf oil producers have stepped in to cover recent shortfalls, but analysts are increasingly skeptical about whether these countries have the capacity to shield Western consumers against a new oil shock.

Futures Jump as Government Moots Oil Tax Cuts: Russia Overnight

“Taxes are one of the major factors and if the government is really going to lower taxes paid by oil producers, it’s very positive for them and for Russian equity markets overall,” Ilya Kravets, who helps manage $100 million of investments at ED Capital, including crude producers OAO Lukoil (LUKOY) and OAO Surgutneftegas (SGTPY), said by phone in New York yesterday. “It’s very good news for Russian oil producers.”

The Pricing of Crude Oil

Arguably no commodity is more important for the modern economy than oil. This is true in terms of both production and financial market activity. Yet its pricing is relatively complex. In part this reflects the fact that there are actually more than 300 types of crude oil, the characteristics of which can vary quite markedly. This article describes some of the key features of the oil market and then discusses the pricing of oil, highlighting the important role of the futures market. It also notes some related issues for the oil market.

Shale Oil Reserves: A Game Changer Or Just Over Hyped?

Going forward over the long-haul, much oil will become economically recoverable that wasn't already, boosting production in the coming decades. Still, this means the price will likely keep increasing for basic energy consumption, especially when we remember that it takes more energy to produce this oil. The EROEI ratio will be dropping as it gets more and more expensive.

Still, the doomsday accounts are overblown at best. If oil prices continue to increase, the buses and truck fleets of the world will have an economic incentive to switch to natural gas, and the investment and research and interest in electric vehicles will continue to increase.

TransCanada toll will put Alberta at competitive disadvantage: gas users

The battle over tolls on a big natural gas pipelines has become a fight over the future of manufacturing products from energy in Alberta.

The makers of fertilizers and petrochemicals in the province are warning that a TransCanada Corp. proposal to change its natural gas transportation charges stands to price them out of business – worsening a competitive disadvantage that has already seen Alberta spurned for new project spending in recent years.

Kuwait warns dissenters against protest rally

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait's Interior Ministry said on Sunday it would act firmly against any "unlicensed" protests in the country, a day before a planned demonstration outside parliament.

Kuwait opposition rallies ahead of crucial verdict

Thousands of Kuwait opposition supporters rallied on Monday ahead of a crucial court ruling on an electoral constituency law amid rising tensions in the oil-rich Gulf state.

Around 10,000 people, who filled the seaside square opposite the parliament building, cheered loudly as opposition figures called for an elected government and warned against what they called a politicised ruling.

Lebanon ready to drill for offshore gas: minister

Lebanon is technically ready to start drilling for offshore natural gas reserves, its energy minister said on Monday, after exploration in around half the country's exclusive economic zone was completed.

"Lebanon has now reached the stage where it can start drilling for gas," Gebran Bassil told journalists on a tour to an area in the south of the country where reserves are disputed with Israel and Cyprus.

U.S. clears path for more sanctions on Iran oil deals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government officially linked Iran's state oil company to the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Monday, a determination that enables Washington to apply new sanctions on foreign banks dealing with the company.

The Treasury Department determined that the National Iranian Oil Company, one of the world's largest oil exporters, is "an agent or affiliate" of the IRGC, which the United States has long put under sanctions for terrorism and human rights abuses.

Brazil Oil Spill: Petrobras Charged With Crimes At Duque De Caxias Refinery

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A prosecutor from Brazil's Public Ministry has charged state-run oil company Petrobras with environmental crimes for a spill at its Duque de Caxias refinery that allegedly contaminated the mangroves and estuary of Guanabara Bay off Rio de Janeiro.

Public Prosecutor Renato Machado also charged two employees of Petrobras in a statement released on Monday.

State studies impacts of nuke plant seismic tests

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — State wildlife officials are mulling whether to issue permits that would allow Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to conduct seismic testing near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The California Fish and Game Commission on Monday heard testimony from scientists and others regarding the possible impacts of the large air canons used in the tests on whales and other marine life.

Uranium Substitute Is No Longer Needed, but Its Disposal May Pose Security Risk

Uranium 233 looked attractive because it could be made in a reactor from thorium, a cheap and abundant radioactive metal, and, almost magically, the reactor would produce more fuel than it consumed. Utilities manufactured some of it at the Indian Point I reactor in Westchester County, N.Y., which is now retired, and at reactors in Colorado, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

But in the end, ordinary uranium was cheaper, and 233 was not needed.

“Nuclear physicists weren’t geologists and didn’t understand the supply of uranium,” said Frank N. Von Hippel, a physicist and public policy specialist at Princeton. “It turned out there was more uranium than people thought and less nuclear power than people thought there would be.”

Dozens protest against detention of relatives at Saudi prison

Jeddah: Security forces were blockading roads around a desert prison in central Saudi Arabia on Monday where relatives of inmates were staging a demonstration to demand their release - a rare protest in the world's biggest oil exporter.

More than 100 people, including 13 children, had gathered since Sunday afternoon in the desert around the prison in Qassim province but were told by police they would be arrested if they tried to leave, protesters said by telephone.

Oil Drops From 1-Week High in New York on Europe Debt Woe

Oil dropped from the highest close in almost a week as renewed discord among European leaders on measures to stem the region’s debt crisis outweighed concern that tensions in the Middle East may disrupt crude supplies.

New York futures fell as much as 1.7 percent after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande disagreed over closer integration of Europe’s banking system at the weekend. Iran, OPEC’s third-largest oil producer, will defend itself if attacked by Israel, according to excerpts of a CNN interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad scheduled for broadcast today.

Gas prices dip, breaking nine-week run-up

Gasoline prices in the United States dropped four-tenths of a cent over the past two weeks as crude oil prices fell, ending a long stretch of sustained price increases, according to a widely followed survey.

Nigerian oil exports to hit 6-month high in Nov

LONDON (Reuters) - Nigeria's crude oil exports are due to hit a six-month high in November as almost all its oilfields pump near recent peak levels, provisional loading programmes showed on Monday.

Africa's biggest oil producer is to due sell around 2.12 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in November, up from 2.05 million bpd scheduled to load in October and 1.84 million bpd in September.

UK prompt gas falls as Norway ramps up exports

LONDON (Reuters) - British prompt gas prices fell on Monday following an increase in imports from Norway where a key gas field and production facility were ramping up output following maintenance.

Gas for within-day delivery fell to a two-week low at 59.75 pence per therm on Monday morning, but traded up slightly to 60.00 pence by 1114 GMT.

Wyoming, Alaska top list of states that use most energy

In 2010, the United States used roughly 97.7 quadrillion Btu of energy, up from roughly 95 quadrillion in 2009. To put that in perspective, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates global consumption at roughly 500 quadrillion Btu. Effectively, the U.S. population, which accounts for approximately 4.5 percent of the world’s population, uses a fifth of the world's energy.

The vast majority of U.S. consumption is from fossil fuels, mostly petroleum, followed by natural gas and coal. The remaining use comes from nuclear energy, at 8.6 percent, and renewable energy, at 8.2 percent. While the U.S consumes an enormous amount of energy as a whole, some states consume much more energy than others. Based on the Energy Information Administration’s data for 2010, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states that consume the most energy per capita.

Belgium nuclear plan breaches 2009 deal — Electrabel

London (Argus) — The Belgian government's decision to close two of the country's seven nuclear plants before 2015 and its proposals to increase the tax on nuclear plants has come under fire from the units' operator Electrabel. The firm says the plans breach the terms of the initial deal agreed between Electrabel's parent company — France's GDF Suez — and the Belgian state in 2009.

Hedge Funds Cut Bets as Prices Drop Most Since June: Commodities

Hedge funds cut bullish commodity bets for the first time this month as weaker manufacturing from China and Europe eclipsed central banks’ efforts to boost growth, driving down prices the most since June.

Russia to apply more cuts in oil exports duty

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian government has offered to cut export duty for more remote oilfields in a move aimed at boosting crude output in the world's largest oil producer and generating more revenue for state coffers.

Local news agencies quoted Energy Minister Alexander Novak as saying the government will discount export duty by 45 percent for new oil fields in the East Siberian regions of Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk, the far north Yamalo-Nenets and Nenets districts, and the Republic of Yakutia.

Libya targets oil production increase to 1.8 million b/d in 2013

Tripoli (Platts)- Libya is currently producing an average 1.6 million b/d and expects to increase output by 30,000-40,000 b/d by early 2013 once repairs to one of the pipelines in eastern Libya are completed, National Oil Company Chairman Nuri Berruein said Monday.

He told reporters on the sidelines of the CWC Libya Summit that Libya was targeting production of 1.8 million b/d next year.

An Urgent Warning for Energy Investors

Is it priceless oil... or just worthless mud?

For decades, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wouldn't allow Canadian oil-sands promoters to call their assets "oil reserves." Instead, the SEC required them to be classified as "mining reserves." It was a distinction that cost them billions of dollars...

China envoy warns Canada against politicizing Nexen deal

TORONTO: China's ambassador to Canada warned in remarks published on Saturday against letting domestic politics drive the Canadian government's decision on whether to approve a Chinese state-owned oil company's proposed $15.1 billion takeover of Calgary-based Nexen Inc.

"Business is business. It should not be politicized," Ambassador Zhang Junsai said in an interview with Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper.

Indian Consortium Bids for ConocoPhillips Assets in Canada

A consortium of India's state-run companies have jointly bid to acquire stakes in oil-sands assets owned by ConocoPhillips in Canada that are valued around $5 billion, senior executives at Oil & Natural Gas Corp. and Oil India Ltd. said Monday.

India's state-run oil and gas companies are scouting for opportunities overseas to cut their exposure to the country's highly regulated sector and as part of a government strategy to secure energy supplies for Asia's third-largest economy, which imports four-fifths of its crude oil needs.

U.S. Is Said to Link Iran’s Oil Company to Revolutionary Guard

The Obama administration will today report that Iran’s state-owned oil company is linked to a military unit sanctioned for weapons proliferation, terrorism and human-rights abuses, according to a U.S. official involved in the finding.

In a classified report to Congress, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will present evidence that the National Iranian Oil Co., known as NIOC, is “an agent or affiliate” of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the official said on condition of anonymity because the finding isn’t yet public.

Ahmadinejad Says Iran Will Defend Itself From Any Attack

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a U.S. television interview that his nation will defend itself if attacked by Israel.

“The response of Iran is quite clear, I don’t even need to explain that,” Ahmadinejad said in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan scheduled to be broadcast tonight, according to a transcript. “Any nation has the right and will indeed defend herself.”

Ahmadinejad Under Attack at Home and Away as Bow Out Nears

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes his final appearance at the United Nations this week as a leader vilified abroad and with dwindling popularity at home.

With nine months left before his final term expires, Ahmadinejad, 55, presides over an economy hobbled by European and U.S.-led sanctions and a currency collapse that’s firing inflation. As Israel repeatedly warns that it may bomb Iran to stop it getting atomic weapons, Ahmadinejad’s last speech to the UN on Sept. 26 may highlight his growing isolation.

Activists: Syrian warplanes bomb Aleppo, killing 5

BEIRUT (AP) -- Activists say Syrian warplanes have bombed two buildings in the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least five people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees say Monday's raids in a southern neighborhood badly destroyed the buildings.

Karim Masimov quits as prime minister of oil-rich Kazakhstan

Karim Masimov, widely credited with steering Kazakhstan through the global financial crisis, has quit as prime minister of Kazakhstan, the largest economy in Central Asia owing to its oil reserves.

Criminal investigation at Chevron refinery

Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation of Chevron after discovering that the company detoured pollutants around monitoring equipment at its Richmond refinery for four years and burned them off into the atmosphere, in possible violation of a federal court order, The Chronicle has learned.

Air quality officials say Chevron fashioned a pipe inside its refinery that routed hydrocarbon gases around monitoring equipment and allowed them to be burned off without officials knowing about it. Some of the gases escaped into the air, but because the company didn't record them, investigators have no way of being certain of the level of pollution exposure to thousands of people who live downwind from the plant.

Data Barns in a Farm Town, Gobbling Power and Flexing Muscle

In an attempt to erase a $210,000 penalty the utility said the company owed for overestimating its power use, Microsoft proceeded to simply waste millions of watts of electricity, records show. Then it threatened to continue burning power in what it acknowledged was an “unnecessarily wasteful” way until the fine was substantially cut, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

“For a company of that size and that nature, and with all the ‘green’ things they advertised to me, that was an insult,” said Randall Allred, a utility commissioner and local farmer.

Two thirds support nuclear in the USA

Almost two thirds of US adults favour the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the United States, according to a September telephone survey, the Nuclear Energy Institute announced in a press release.

The survey found that American strongly favouring nuclear energy outnumber those strongly opposed by a two-to-one ratio, 29% versus 14%. Figures are up on a poll conducted in September 2011, six months after the Fukushima accident, when 62% of American favoured nuclear energy, with 35% opposed.

Wind Sprints to the Cliff

The wind industry’s main trade association is predicting that new installations will fall to zero without a renewal of the production tax credit, which applies only to projects finished by New Year’s Eve. Since renewal is iffy, some wind machine factories are already shutting down, as my colleague Diane Cardwell reported on Friday.

Audi Backs a Biofuels Startup

Most biofuels companies take some form of biomass, such as corn, grass, or algae, and process it to make biofuel, often with the aid of microörganisms. Joule's approach is to take out as many of the intermediate steps as possible. Joule has taken a microörganism (the company won't name the organism) and introduced combinations of genes known to produce ethanol from carbon dioxide and water and sunlight. To increase the productivity of the microbe, it has removed as many of the microörganism's original genes as possible—without killing it—to ensure that its metabolism is geared toward making ethanol rather than growing the microörganism. Joule calculates that it could produce 25,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year this way, and has demonstrated a rate of 15,000 gallons in the lab. It's also developing organisms that produce diesel.

Urban areas poised for growth spurt; Yale researcher says planning needs to start now

NEW HAVEN — The world is on the cusp of a city-building boom that potentially will transform everything from public health and housing to climate change and biodiversity, a Yale University researcher says.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Yale’s Karen Seto and other researchers predict that by 2030, urban areas around the world will expand by more than 463,000 square miles.

L.A. prepares for freeway closure, Carmageddon II

At Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, just outside the Carmageddon Zone, officials plan to house as many as 300 doctors, nurses and other staff members in dorms at nearby hotels so nobody will have trouble getting to work.

Some patients, including women in the latter stages of complicated pregnancies, are being encouraged to check in before the freeway closes at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 29.

Breathing European air shortens lives -report

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Microscopic particles, among the most harmful forms of air pollution, are still found at dangerous levels in Europe, although law has cut some toxins from exhaust fumes and chimneys, a European Environmental Agency (EEA) report said.

Extreme weather cost US insurers $34bn in 2011

The US insurance industry racked up losses of $34bn during 2011, according to a new report.

The Ceres sustainable investment coalition said the losses are the largest in a single year since 2005.

Extreme weather triggered widescale drought, wildfires and tornadoes in the West and Central States while the East coast was battered by storms and flooding.

Climate expert: Record loss of arctic ice could impact Wisconsin

"We believe that the winds aloft at the level of the jet stream will weaken and lead to slower-moving and 'wavier' atmospheric circulation patterns," he explains. "Such a change would favor more extreme weather events in middle latitudes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and—ironically—cold snaps."

Vavrus sees a connection between the record Arctic melting and recent unusual weather across the country.

"This year alone has produced dramatic examples of societally relevant extremes right here in Wisconsin: a very mild winter, an absurdly warm March followed by a killing frost, and record dry and hot weather during the summer," he says.

Senate to EU: US airlines won't pay carbon tax

The Senate unanimously passed a bill on Saturday that would shield U.S. airlines from paying for their carbon emissions on European flights, pressuring the European Union to back down from applying its emissions law to foreign carriers.

Report warns of global food insecurity as climate change destroys fisheries

The Persian Gulf, Libya, and Pakistan are at high risk of food insecurity in coming decades because climate change and ocean acidification are destroying fisheries, according to a report released on Monday.

The report from the campaign group Oceana warns of growing food insecurity, especially for poorer people, from the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic to the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, Eritrea, Guyana, Indonesia, Kuwait and Singapore.

Some of the countries at highest risk were in oil-rich – and politically volatile – regions.

Tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea have intensified due to earlier monsoon onset

The tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea during the pre-monsoon season (May – June) have intensified since 1997 compared to 1979 - 1997. This has been attributed to decreased vertical wind shear due to the dimming effects of increased anthropogenic black carbon and sulfate emissions in the region. The decrease in vertical wind shear, however, is not the result of these emissions, but due to a 15-day on average earlier occurrence of tropical cyclones, according to a study spearheaded by Bin Wang at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa and published in "Brief Communications Arising" in the September 20, 2012, issue of Nature.

A Melting Greenland Weighs Perils Against Potential

But even as warming temperatures are upending traditional Greenlandic life, they are also offering up intriguing new opportunities for this state of 57,000 — perhaps nowhere more so than here in Narsaq.

Vast new deposits of minerals and gems are being discovered as Greenland’s massive ice cap recedes, forming the basis of a potentially lucrative mining industry.

What Will Ice-Free Arctic Summers Bring?

Noting the climate change in Cannon's backyard, the rest of the globe is indeed taking action—just not the type that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "The world is looking at the Arctic as a new ocean to be developed and exploited," notes Arctic system scientist David Barber of the University of Manitoba, most particularly oil as evidenced by Shell's bid to drill the first offshore well in the Chukchi Sea. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic holds an oil and gas bonanza—and companies from Russia to the U.S. are lining up to start exploiting it.

Jeff Rubin has an article on Bloomberg, dated yesterday:

How High Oil Prices Will Permanently Cap Economic Growth

He presents a good description of the problems we know so well on Drumbeat...

E. Swanson

The end of growth means governments will need to radically change how economies are managed. Fiscal and monetary policies need to be recalibrated to account for slower potential growth rates.

Rubin's got his finger on the pulse about the impact of triple digit oil prices on the economy, and the above sounds good, but the devil's in the details of 'How To' accomplish that task so banks remain viable, country's (like the US) stop piling on more debt and most people can find work. It's time to scale back this empire.

I definitely think we should scale back and end this reliance on perpetual growth. Soon. Maybe another 5% of growth won't hurt.

Just as soon as I get a job, we'll put an end to this growth nonsense.

Yep, we're doomed alright! ;-)

Fiscal and monetary policies need to be recalibrated to account for slower potential growth rates.

Yes, "slower" growth --like 0% or even negative growth.

We could really use a banking system that can function well with steady state (or negative) population and economic growth. Unfortunately, our current system cannot. It *requires* perpetual growth and inflation, simply to service the interest on the existing mountains of consumer, corporate and government debt. We could get to such a system by declaring something like universal Jubilee and replacing our debt-based fractional reserve lending with zero interest banking and a social credit system...

Heck, who am I kidding! Party on, dudes!

... even negative growth.

Isn't this called 'shrinkage'?

Steve Keen and Charles Eisenstein are two who are thinking, writing and speaking about how a non-growth system might work (and why our current growth based system can do nothing but blow up in our faces). I don't pretend to understand all of what they say, just pointing folks in their direction as food for thought.

A double whammy of rising oil and food prices means inflation will be here sooner than anyone would like to think.

Black_Dog, I wonder when the increased inflation will strike?

It is almost scary that it hasn't already, now that we are past QE2 and into IE (infinite easing). The fact that we do not see much inflation today is an indication of how strong the deflationary pressure of this recession depression remains.

I wonder at times whether this creates an inflationary pressure (sort of like bottling up steam in a boiler) that might at some point 'explode'?

Just thinking.


In the US (and China) you have cheap NG and cheap coal a plenty. That helps a lot. In Europe we don't currently have that subsidy. Headline inflation may not be that high, but in the real world of food and energy prices that affect the low income majority of the population, inflation is much higher. Incomes and welfare payments are atatic or falling, rental housing prices are rising, gadgets and trinkets are cheaper, but they won't feed or clothe the children.

Perhaps one reason QE hasn't lead to more inflation yet is that most of that money has possibly gone to the 1% and they just deposit it in bank accounts e.g. on the Cayman Islands or invest it into stocks like Facebook that are totally over valued in real terms.

So if that wealth is ever redistributed more evenly (which doesn't look like any time soon) and enters the real (resource based) economy people will suddenly notice that there is nothing to back it and inflation starts hitting hard.

QE is just an asset swap: bonds for reserves. It's not inflationary because there is no mechanism for excess reserves to get out into the real economy. The current round of QE seems to be focusing on MBS. I haven't read too much about it, but I'm assuming it works in a similar manner.

BC - That was my thought. I don' try to dig too deep into it...far, far away from geology. But I've read nothing that indicated any significant amount of monies would end up in the hands of the public. Some economic theories that more liquidity would cause business growth but from I've read much of the business sector is already sitting on a good bit of capital waiting to see what way to go with it. I'm sure you can explain it better than me but the monies, if that even the right term, isn't going into the economy per se and never was planned to do so. I might be reading it wrong but it seems the primary purpose was to keep the banking system afloat. This might be a reasonable goal for the sake of the public as well as the banking system. But it would create neither a significant number of jobs nor inflation since the monies don't enter the retail sector. How would it if a lot more folks aren't employed and thus spending more money or are out there borrowing and spending like crazy.activity I've not seen reported. So of course it's sitting with the 1%...that's where it was always going (I think).

We're in a deflation period, historically they last for a long time, one or two decades. The banking system is insolvent, the Fed is pumping money into an insolvent banking system while the global economy, soon here in the US, slows again, which will create more debt/money destruction, very difficult to see inflation soon, unless you're pimping gold or one of the great many other over-valued "assets."

Quantitative easing and other discount window operations do not create 'new money' or credit, they recycle existing credit. This is why 12 years of QE in Japan have not produced inflation.

To create new money the private sector offers unsecured loans (leverage), that is, loans made without collateral or against collateral that is pledged elsewhere. In this instance the new money is credit, created on the lenders' ledgers.

Like any bank, a central bank is able to create credit by making its own ledger entries (money out of 'thin air'), however, any loans cannot exceed required collateral.

For a central (reserve) bank to leverage itself would be for it to become instantly insolvent (as reserve banks do not have capital). The insolvent central bank means there is no lender of last resort. That in turn means there is no guarantor for bank deposits or reserve adequacy.

That there are ongoing bank runs in Europe indicates the central bank (ECB) is insolvent or is perceived to be so by depositors. This would be on account of the central bank making unsecured loans.

An explanation for where the money is going:

The private sector is not increasing debt and has been at points paying back debt, thereby reducing the money supply. -> Deflation

The governments have been creating money with QE largely to buy their own bonds. This bond buying is what enables the governments to run huge deficits (thereby pumping money into the economy) -> Inflation.

It looks like the two have been largely in balance recently, but the government can turn open the taps when required (after maybe a short lag of deflation).

A lot depends on confidence. If that is lost, the velocity of money speeds up and inflation can come very quickly.

A lot depends on confidence. If that is lost, the velocity of money speeds up and inflation can come very quickly.

I thought that worked the other way around. If people lose confidence they stuff their money under the matress, slowing the velocity and causing deflation. If I am correct, it would require a spike in confidence to spark inflation?

I am not an economist thank $DEITY, but it seems to me QE has a direct effect on the raising the value of stocks, which allows corporations to create new jobs and pay everyone by selling existing or new paper certificates in the expectation of growth. Those employees then compete for goods with people who actually produce something. And as I understand it, inflation occurs when excess money competes for limited goods.

Dak – You and I are in the same boat. But if you’re correct about the function of QE where are all the new jobs? Where the big surge in spending…no counting increased energy bills. We need to hear from some market mavens but over the years I don’t recall many companies issuing new stock…excluding IPO’s. Companies typically expand by using their credit lines. But, if it’s true we keep hearing that companies are sitting on loads of capex. If they aren’t reinvesting what they have why would they dilute the value of their company to raise more money?

Again, as others who apparently understand it more than the two of us combined, these created monies are making it into the hands of the population. If the money is going into the banking system I keep reading stories how the banks are more focused on investing in paper and not loans to individuals or companies.

Economists have characterized measures like QE1, QE2, and QE3 to "pushing on a rope". Just because you create more money doesn't force people (or banks) to invest it or spend it on anything useful. The current US gummitup needs a new plan, but unfortunately it doesn't have one, and I don't think the other side has a credible plan at all.

The Canadian government doesn't need a new plan because its current one is working okay, but it really wishes the US government would do something different because the current US downturn is depressing the Canadian economy.

Central banks can create fiat money, they cannot create wealth. People and companies are going to borrow money to do what? Creating wealth provides a return on capital, but there is little to invest in that actually creates wealth and hence a return on capital so no one is borrowing even at 0% interest rates. There's nothing to invest in, plenty to speculate on, but no wealth creation, speculation just creates more losers than winners.

It seems to me that the velocity of money (eg. through services) is actually being mistaken as wealth creation, rather than just passing existing wealth through ever more hands which it is. Wealth creation has practically stopped and eventually the velocity of money will also grind to a halt.

Renewable energy investments have the potential to create wealth. They harness the energy available from our environment to do useful work, without depleting the available energy resource and with little or no fuel costs. I think that is one of the secrets to the success of the German economy. Even before the advent of the steam engine, the wealthy were those who owned the land, windmills, water wheels, draft animals or slaves. Those who could get the most work done or produce the most food etc.

Alan from the islands

Alan - I think that's a very good observation. Unfortunately there's one big "IF": if the investments are good and profitable investments. The Germans, as you point, seem to have found good investment angles. That skill appears to be lacking in many other folks. It's similar in the oil patch: folks think all you need to do, thanks to high oil prices, is drill wells and you'll be successful. It might be difficult to understand but I have seen it repeatedly in my 37 years: high oil/NG prices always lead to an increase in failure rates. I see it today happening to folks drilling for oil: one poor investment after another until they go under. Success in the oil patch has never been determined by what oil/NG were selling for. It has always been about your finding costs. One of the most profitable NG drilling programs I've ever done sold NG for about 1/3 of even today's low prices. It's not what you sell it for but the difference between what it cost you to find it and what you sell it for. Always has been...all ways will. I suspect the same could be said about every alt investment opportunity out there today.

I'm not an expert, so take this with that in mind.

Rising stock price is not generally a source of new capital for corporations (unless it's an IPO, or a new issue of shares). So QE doesn't have the effect you think. Businesses will grow (and spend, and hire) when they perceive that economic conditions make it advantageous for them to do so. That is, when there is enough demand, or potential demand, to make increased production of goods and services profitable. Since QE does not push new money out into the general economy, it cannot stimulate demand in any direct manner. What QE appears to do, insomuch that it keeps bond rates low, is to force investors onto a quest for yield, with equities being the natural choice. The result is a boost for the stock markets, which is supposed to create a "wealth effect." That the economy continues to limp along shows how well that's working out.

I noticed in a recent drumbeat that China had turned on the taps (though I didn't do due diligence on the extent). So this makes: USA, EU, Japan, and China, the world's 4 largest economies, all printing money at the same time, two of them with promises of "unlimited" printing. I'd hate to be an Australian or Brazilian exporter at the moment, or for the foreseeable future...


I admit to being completely confused about QE's at this point. Some posts state it's the same as printing money, while others make assurances it's all above board requiring collateral. I'd like to have a diagram showing 'how' the money is originated and where it is going.

I agree. An Oildrum article on the relationship between these deflationary and inflationary policies and trends would be most welcome.

If such an article comes from the 'Austrian school' all that is gonna do is upset the 'Chicago school', the 'Kensians'. the '....' and on and on.

Depending on the mods use of the 'nuke thread' function valid points of view/responses will go up in smoke.

I'd say visit http://www.complementarycurrency.org/materials.php and fish there for answers in the published works. Perhaps Gail/Stoneleigh will visit and suggest other forums where conversations from POV X can be heard and you can go read those sites and noodle out an 'answer' when it comes to 'economics'?

(take for example - http://www.mises.org/rothbard/historyofmoney.pdf That is gonna be an Austrian history)

It's not printing money. It's an asset swap. The Gov. takes bonds from the banks, and gives them reserves in exchange. The reserves reside in accounts at the Fed. Banks are limited in what they are allowed to do with reserves. They use them to meet reserve requirements, and lend or borrow them from other banks for that purpose (They may be allowed to buy bonds. That would make sense to me, but I don't know that for sure). One thing that cannot be emphasized enough: banks do not lend reserves out to the general public. That is, excess reserved do not encourage banks to lend. The result is that QE does not push new money out into the economy.

It's not printing money. It's an asset swap. The Gov. takes bonds from the banks, and gives them reserves in exchange.

And where do these reserves come from? Nowhere. It's printing money without all the mucking about with paper and ink. It's virtual money in the form of new bank assets.

The fundamental problem is that it is not creating jobs or solving the government deficit issue, which is the problem that physically printing money also did not solve.

No. There is a credit and a debit to the transaction. The banks are credited reserves, and debited bonds. There is no "money" being created ex-nihilo. Think of getting change for a ten dollar bill. You get credited two fives (or ten ones, or whatever), and debited one ten. No money gets created in the transaction. In the case of QE, the banks get a relatively non-liquid asset (reserves), in exchange for a very liquid asset (bonds). The Gov. makes this work by paying interest on the banks' excess reserves.

The thing is that the ten dollar bill never existed in the first place. You gave them an IOU for ten dollars, and they gave you two fives in change. If you printed a ten dollar bill and exchanged it for two fives, it would be more obvious what was going on, but this QE thing involves a lot of slight of hand.

If the US had a central bank, like most countries, it would also be more obvious. The government would print up, say, 10 billion dollars worth of bonds, and sell them to the central bank. The central bank would credit the government with 10 billion dollars in payment. But the central bank never had 10 billion dollars in its vaults, it just made an accounting entry in its books and, *SHAZAM* there were 10 billion more dollars.

If the government's objective was to bail out the banks, it wouldn't have to get involved at all. The central bank would just credit the commercial banks with 10 billion dollars, and they would be off to the races. This is one of the functions of a central bank - to act as a "lender of last resort" to the commercial banks and government. However, it is also responsible for controlling the size of the money supply.

The US Federal Reserve System, acting like a central bank but not being one, tends to obfuscate the process, and probably deliberately so. The smoke and mirrors nature of the US banking system is one reason it got into the current mess in the first place.

The talk of a 'debit' and a 'credit' side becomes laughable once one figures out the lack of transparent accounting of this 'credit' and 'debit' side.

Oh I just loved that article. Note the following:

It is the first audit of the Fed in United States history since its beginnings in 1913. The findings verify that over $16 trillion was allocated to corporations and banks internationally, purportedly for “financial assistance” during and after the 2008 fiscal crisis.

Compare this to the Bank of Canada, the Canadian central bank:

Bank of Canada - Corporate Governance

Accountability and Disclosure

External Audit
The Governor in Council (the Cabinet) appoints two firms of accountants (currently KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers) to audit the affairs of the Bank as stated in Section 28 (1) of the Bank of Canada Act. A copy of every report submitted by the auditors to the Bank is contained in the Bank's Annual Report and is submitted to the Minister of Finance.

The lack of transparency and accountability in the US system is obvious.

The lack of transparency and accountability in the US system is obvious.

Note how no one is rushing to defend the $16 trillion.

This dovetails with an "aha!" moment I had this morning while reading An Urgent Warning For Oil Investors linked above.

The cornucopians and other "invisible hand" zealots are fond of saying that "the cure for high oil prices is high oil prices", meaning that some demand will be destroyed and new supplies from marginal sources made economical, which will inevitably boost production and drive down prices. We have indeed seen new production from unconventional sources, but the effect on prices has been muted by soaring demand in developing countries, especially China and India.

But there is a flip side. The urgent warning alluded to above is that if prices for WTI go much lower than they are now then that could potentially wipe out hundreds of billions of barrels in very expensive oil sands reserves currently on the books. Reserves that evaporate because they are rendered uneconomical by relatively low oil prices!

So, due to the fact that a large and growing percentage of oil production is from expensive "unconventional" reserves I propose the following as a corollary to "the cure for high oil prices is high oil prices":

"the cure for high oil production is high oil production"

To the extent that high oil production and/or demand destruction drives down prices, then so too will expensive unconventional reserves become uneconomical to produce which will drive down production. Ouch!


Related, via Peak Oil News:

Low flow impacts

In the low oil price case, ANS production would cease and TAPS would be decommissioned, which could occur as early as 2026, when projected operating costs exceed wellhead production revenues.

Nice little abrupt drop to zero in that low price scenario. Just beautiful. Not only do we have a net energy cliff to contend with, we apparently also have a looming net profit cliff.

What's the alternative? Considering the short timeframe and what few rapidly depleting resources are available, I would hazard to guess that the best we can do now is devote an ever larger percentage of our remaining productive economy to increasingly costly energy production, at the expense of everything else.

And whadda' ya' know, that is exactly the same scenario published in Limits to Growth some 40 years ago now. Imagine that!


If TAPS closes and the Arctic becomes ice-free, will shipping the oil become an option?

Jerry, it would also seem that as cost of production for new oil resources increases, the sustained price level decreases demand when economics so dictate. As, for instance, where the cost of production exceeds the ability of the economy to continue to purchase oil. At which point, all reserves become moot since none can be exploited. Lower cost wells continue to extract oil until that 'low cost' oil is depleted. At which point the giant sucking sound you hear will be the world economy.


"Lower cost wells continue to extract oil until that 'low cost' oil is depleted. At which point the giant sucking sound you hear will be the world economy."

Remember though, that is not a sharp line. Oil has many uses other than fuel, and not even all fuel uses are the same economic value. Prices will go up, marginal uses will get cut, marginal higher cost oil fields (ever smaller too) will come on-line. This little ratchet will cycle many times before the price of oil is so high it's simply not worth it for any purpose, and those extra-loud bags Sunchips were sold in for awhile become common.

Jeff Rubin's commentary was the first in a 4 part series taken from his latest book, "The Big Flatline: Oil and the No- Growth Economy”. The second installment was posted on Bloomberg this evening:

Coal and Nuclear Power Can’t Substitute for Pricey Oil

E. Swanson

Liked it.

Here's the third Jeff Rubin article on Bloomberg:

On Keystone, Environmentalists Lose by Winning

I think Rubin misses something. As I understand it, the southern leg of the pipeline from Cushing, OK to the Gulf coast has been approved. Also, I don't see where he gets his title, as he discusses economic losses to the US, not environmental effects. The pipeline will likely be built, no matter who is the next President, but the route will not be that first proposed...

E. Swanson

Data Barns in a Farm Town, Gobbling Power and Flexing Muscle

QUINCY, Wash. — Set in the dry hills and irrigated farmland of Central Washington, Grant County is known for its robust harvest of apples, potatoes, cherries and beans. But for Microsoft, a prime lure was the region’s other valuable resource: cheap electrical power.

NY Times continues its polemic regarding data centers.

"In an attempt to erase a $210,000 penalty the utility said the company owed for overestimating its power use, Microsoft proceeded to simply waste millions of watts of electricity".

Between the proverbial rock and hard place. Read the entire article and what you find out is the utility gave Microsoft a good rate but based upon a certain minimum usage. This, in itself, doesn't give M an incentive to conserve energy. That was the goal of the utility: it was to establish a minimum cash flow from the arrangement. IOW to increase energy consumption to max revenue. Either through better efficiency or a smaller expansion, M used less energy. A good thing except the utility fell short of its cash flow projection and that initiated a fine for M. A fine because M didn't use enough energy. One would think these days a company wouldn't get fined for doing that. OTOH the utility gave M a discount rate to encourage greater energy use. As it turned out it was cheaper for M to use more electricity than paying a fine for using less. We have had similar contracts in the oil patch with regards to NG sales: take or pay contracts. You paid for NG you had contracted to buy whether you had the need for it at the time. Had its good points but also at times caused such foolish situations.

Wasteful, of course. But it's good to remember it's the utility company forcing the situation...not M. One would have hoped both parties would have had adults negotiating and had simply agreed for M to pay the amount the utility had planned for but apparently the utility wanted to zap M for even more money by assessing a fine. If the fine had been equal to the amount M had contracted to buy they would have had no incentive to waste energy. IOW the utility wasn't any more interested in not wasting energy than M.

As some say: common sense isn't as common as one would hope.

One more thing to remember about this story is that we had another banner year for hydro power here in the Pacific Northwest. On more than one occasion, the hourly spot price for wholesale electricity delivered by the Bonneville Power Administration went to zero. Once again we had the problem of too much generation and not enough load or transmission capacity to take it somewhere else. That's why the server farms are in Qunicy -- after the aluminum smelters in the region shut down folks have been wondering what big energy hogs could be located close to the hydro dams.

It will be interesting to see what happens in a drought year.

You forgot to mention that the utility lost money because it held generating capacity in reserve to service Microsoft, which was never used. It could have sold that electricity. The fine was fair, IMO.

MS running electrical heaters needlessly to push their consumption closer to forecast is sheer petulance.

On Dec. 16, Microsoft delivered its ultimatum to the utility in a letter from Darrell Amundson, the facility’s manager.

The letter stated bluntly that Microsoft “has the alternative available to it of increasing power utilization” in a “commercially unproductive” manner.

“By staff estimate,” the letter said, “Microsoft could incur approximately $70,000 in power costs to avoid the $210,000 penalty, resulting in real savings of $140,000. Microsoft must make the decision on continuing to burn $70,000 worth of power in the next three days.”

Not to mention the blatant lie:

The Microsoft spokeswoman, Ms. Platt, said the company remained committed to the environment. “Microsoft’s focus on efficiency and resource utilization has not changed,” she said.

a lot of lead bullets: a response to the new york times article on data center efficiency

As I was reading this New York Times article on data centers and power use, there was mainly one word stretching, doppler-like through my head: “Nooooooo!”

Not because the article exposed some secret that everyone that’s worked on websites at scale knows and this intrepid reporter was blowing the lid on our quasi-masonic-illuminati conspiracy. Not because there was information in it that was in any way shocking.

The reason I was yelling in my head was that I could see, clear as day, how people who don’t know what’s involved in running large scale websites would take this article. Just look at the comments section.

The assertions made in it essentially paint our engineers and operations people as a bunch of idiots who are putting together rows and rows of boxes on data centers and not caring what this costs to their businesses, nay, to the planet.

And nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the weekend, I profiled two more French tram towns - Reims and Brest. One town has colorful trams and the other colorful passengers.

Perhaps a smile on a Monday morning :-)

Best Hopes for Bright Colors,


Note how quickly Brest built their 14.3 km tram line, which included reworking the structure of one of the largest draw bridges in Europe.

The tram line opened on June 23rd, 2012 with the "colorful passengers" seen above. Construction started in March 2010, after a contract award on September 15, 2009.

Best Hopes for a Quick Response in an Oil Supply Emergency,


There's an app for that ...

Not fare: Hacker app resets subway card for free rides (w/ Video)

As fares form a crucial part of transit system revenue to keep everything running, system administrators would need to take note of what security hackers accomplished—an app that takes advantage of a weakness in NFC-based subway cards that lets users ride on trains for free. The two researchers, Corey Benninger and Max Sobell, from the Intrepidus Group, figured out a way that replenishes a fare-card balance.

They tested the app's success on two transit systems, New Jersey Path and San Francisco Muni trains. Benninger and Sobell said that other systems might be vulnerable to such an exploit, in the form of an Android application that could make it possible for holders of a card to get free rides in Boston, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

A number of cities are rolling out RFID/NFC enabled access control as they move away from magstripe cards. This comes at a time when smartphones are also being enabled with NFC capabilities," they said.

The researchers wrote software for mobile phones to accomplish the free-ride exploit without difficulty. When a traveler exhausts the ride-remaining balance, the app can reset the balance to 10 rides remaining, not zero rides. They call their hack app UltraReset. They loaded up UltraReset on their smartphone and wrote data back to a card without the associated payment being required. They said anyone with know-how to rewrite data to the NFC chip can do this.

RE: Extreme weather cost US insurers $34bn in 2011

Perhaps the insurance companies will take note that scientist orgs and some research journalists are blaming denial ideology in significant part on the media:

An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that 93 percent of climate info on Fox News prime time and 81 percent on the Wall Street Journal Opinion pages is misleading.

(Is A New Age Of Pressure Upon Us? - 4). There are also some new sources of damage and destruction from global warming induced climate change (ibid).

Perhaps insurance companies should begin to criticize the media for the misinformation.

Interesting - on the front page Sept 21st Drumbeat shows up, not the 24th.


Spitzer, 54, may be a member of the slide-rule generation that learned multiplication tables by heart, but his work as a neuropsychiatrist has shown him that when young children spend too much time using a computer, their brain development suffers and that the deficits are irreversible and cannot be made up for later in life.


More Americans now commit suicide than die in car crashes, making suicide the leading cause of injury deaths, according to a new study.

(Interesting - how much this new reality tied to oil price/car and far better emergency surgery VS uptick in Suicide compared to car accident volume?)

eric blair,

That dove-tails with the statistic that in the U.S. suicide kills more military realm folks than war does (Surge of Snap Sergeants). Somehow our bragging seems to be misplaced.

As suicide and car crashes are major causes of death of teenagers, removing them from the breeding pool, Darwinian theory would predict that today's children would be more cheerful and have a lower propensity to ride in cars than the kids of a previous generation.

I believe that lower car ownership among youngsters has already been documented, and the "What, me worry?" attitude to climate change of the younger generation seems to bear out the prediction of increased cheerfulness.


Suicide is the source of more deaths than car accidents now in the U.S., and as linked to in my comment above, suicide in the military is a greater cause of soldier deaths than war.

I would question the part about military suicides causing more deaths than war. Aren't most of these suicides a delayed response to war?, presumably due to PTSD and/or disabilities from injury. So they would be indirect casualites of war, and should be counted as part of the cost.


U.S. soldiers kill more of themselves than the enemy kills of them in the seemingly endless wars "of late."

Is this a Pogo moment? ... "we have met the enemy and it is us" - Pogo ...

The US military - and I realize that this might be a sensitive point for some Americans - is notorious for killing more of its allies than its enemies. I have talked to many old soldiers world-wide, and the consensus is that you don't want to be anywhere near when the US military starts shooting.

An old WWII French Resistance fighter I once worked with told me, "When we got the secret code telling us that the British Air Force was going to bomb the German lines, we would move forward so we could take advantage of the German confusion. When we got word that the American Air Force was going to bomb, we would retreat about 10 miles so we didn't get hit ourselves."

He had the French Croix de Guerre for capturing 20 German soldiers by himself. He claimed he was only intending to capture two officers, but 18 solders showed up unexpectedly so he captured them, too. He said the actual capturing wasn't so bad because he was so busy disarming them, but he almost fainted during the medal ceremony. While they were reciting his heroic acts, it suddenly hit him - My God! I could have been killed!

I enjoy your posts more and more.

Rockman, et. al.

Interesting story here. 1st article as of time of posting.

"How Decades Of Federal Support Spurred The Natural Gas Boom: ‘Most Companies Would Have Given Up’"


Wyo - Yes...interesting. True that the oil patch, like all other US industries, has had their tax breaks and incentive programs to spur drilling from time to time. But as far as the govt being the big push behind hz drilling and frac'ng...LOL. During my 37 years I've watched the whole process step by step and the govt had very little to do with the development. But that doesn't mean they didn't shove a lot of money down that black hole. Even Big Oil doesn't get much credit: they gave up on most basic research in the 60's and 70's. The service companies, like Baker Hughes and Halliburton, spent the many $millions on developing the technology.

And Mitchell Energy??? They were the biggest govt $ whore at that time. LOL. I can give you a very firsthand personal account of how ole George Mitchell knew how to work the system. Around 1978 George was going to do one of the first super fracs...500,000 lbs. Used to have a copy of the press release but long lost now. The feds were going to contribute $500,000, a "portion" of the project costs, to the effort to "help" the oil patch out. A portion?...total BS. I was doing the same frac for a small independent utility company and it cost me $350,000. George was using the same service companies. But he got the feds to pay for the entire project and he got an extra $150,000 on top of that.

And in neither case was this some sort of grand effort to expand the tech. The research aspect wasn't how we were frac'ng but what we were frac'ng: shales. Yes...34 years ago we were trying to make money with shale gas. And neither effort proved very successful on a economic level. The surge to frac the shales has never been about the frac'ng or hz tech. It's been about the price of oil/NG. When NG went over $10/mcf all the players thought they were going to drilling thousands of wells for formations like the Haynesville Shale in east Texas. And they would have if NG prices hadn't collapsed. The frac and hz drilling tech worked just fine...the economics failed. Just like the way the tech is working with the oil shales. But it's working with them because of the price of oil...not any great tech breakthrough. If for some unimaginable reason oil prices slide do to $60 or $70 per bbl folks shouldn't expect all this tech to save those plays IMHO.

BTW George was also good at bleeding the govt for projects outside the oil patch. If interested search "The Woodlands Texas". It's a very affluent burg north of Houston. Ole George got the feds to supply a big financial hand to help him develop his baby on the pretext of providing "low cost" housing. Once the govt check cleared he began building one of the most expensive (probably the most) subdivisions in the state. I don't remember the details but I think the feds eventually sued him and made him build some "low cost" Houston in the form or apartments. Apartments which have some of the highest rents in the area. Nicest place in this part of the state to live. It's own little city of McMansions and subMcMansions complete with big PRIVATE lakes, big PRIVATE greens , big PRIVATE athletic fields, their own PRVATE commuter bus service to haul folks to d/t Houston, some of the best restaurants and entertainment venues in the region. All in all one of the nicest "low cost" housing developments the feds have ever helped fund.

Some R's jump on President Obama about projects like Solyndra. I have no doubt such failures would have occurred if an R had been president. And maybe worse. BTW: George was a huge R supporter. The govt is the Mother of All Pimps IMHO. And it doesn't matter if they are D's or R's, MIC or NGO: there is a long list of folks who are ready to be the next whore and grab their piece of the free pie.

True that the oil patch, like all other US industries, has had their tax breaks and incentive programs to spur drilling from time to time.

Exactly who got the benefit of all those subsidies is a little unclear. I can remember about thirty years ago the service company I worked for at the time thought it might be a way to make some money. We looked at the contract bid documents -- this was in the 1980s, so they weren't electronic -- and decided that reading something the size of a phone book, and then complying with every last footnote of it, was something we just didn't have the resources for. I guess those contracts went to someone, probably the company that helped write the specifications.

But at least the oil industry is a bit more cost effective for its subsidies. In return for getting about 70% of the energy related subsidies the fossil fuel industry supplies about 88% of the energy used by the nation. When it comes to transport fuels, the figures are a bit harder to dig up, but oil accounts for about 95% of transport fuel, and renewables (mainly ethanol) about 5%. The largest "subsidies" are the Foreign Tax Credit, which in effect subsidizes the imported oil we use, and the ethanol industry subsidies. These two subsidies are about equal. So the taxpayer pays about the same subsidy on 95% of transportation fuels and on 5%.

Of course, defining a subsidy is extremely complex. Most definitions of subsidies depend on a detailed understanding of the the 13,458 page tax code. I would suggest that anyone who claims to understand a document that size is a liar.

Arguing about who gets the largest subsidy is simply missing the whole point. The only logical solution to both the climate problems and peak oil is to scrap the tax code in its entirety and replace it with a hefty carbon tax, including a tax on the embodied carbon dioxide emissions of imported goods and services.

But that is politically impossible: think of all the bureaucrats, lawyers, and tax accountants who would be unemployed.

But that is politically impossible: think of all the bureaucrats, lawyers, and tax accountants who would be unemployed.

Hmmm... well since we decided to throw all the immigrant farm workers out of the country I have an idea that there might be some openings in the Ag field. It would be a win-win situation perhaps :)

Canada got rid of all its subsidies for oil companies some years ago. Recently, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation went looking for subsidies for oil companies so they could complain about them, and they couldn't find any.

The Canadian political picture is simpler, though. The oil consuming regions didn't want the federal government subsidizing oil companies, the oil producing regions wanted the federal government to just go away and not bother them at all, so the consensus was that they should be abolished. The federal government had a budget shortfall, so collecting more taxes from oil companies appealed them too, and *POOF* the subsidies were gone. Corporate lobbying is not as well established in Canada as in the US.

However, a lot of things have been easier in Canada. Universal medical insurance, for one. Not having dollar bills for another. When the federal government introduced the dollar coin, the "loonie", it just stopped printing dollar bills, and after a few rumblings, everybody settled down and used the coins.

It helped that Canadians have a better sense of humor than most nationalities. When the federal government sent the first set of dies for the coins to the Mint, they got lost in transit. Since they didn't know who had the original dies, and losing them was a bit suspicious, the government had to pull its alternative backup dies out of storage and send them to the Mint instead. They featured a bird called the loon on the back, so people started calling them "loonies" and calling their piggy banks, "loonie bins". Big chuckles all around.

Even more hilarity ensued when the two-dollar coin was introduced to replace the seldom-used (except in horse race betting) two-dollar bill. It was bi-color and bi-metallic, and if you froze it in the deep freeze and then hit it with a hammer, you could knock the center out of it. People would go into a store and say, "Hey, can you break a toonie? and the cashier would pull out a hammer. From a marketing perspective, both the loonie and the toonie were real winners. They ran them up the flagpole and while everybody laughed, nobody shot at them.

I think in more serious countries like the US this would have gone over more badly with the voters. Minor diversion aside, we now return you to your original programming - oil company subsidies.

When the federal government introduced the dollar coin, the "loonie", it just stopped printing dollar bills, and after a few rumblings, everybody settled down and used the coins.

RockyMtnGuy, until they stop printing dollar bills in the USA, there will be limited use of dollar coins.

Me and my parents were amazed on our visit to the mint in Winnipeg to find out they were producing the blanks to be shipped south and minted for the US Sacajawea dollar coins. Winnipeg mint has many countries flags flying and a sign below each flag stating how long they have been a Canada mint customer. US since 1996.

...they were producing the blanks to be shipped south and minted for the US Sacajawea dollar coins.

paxmark1, one would think that if the US Mint could stop minting the virtually worthless one cent (penny) they would have plenty of space and machinery to make the dollar coins from start to finish.

Expedition to Study Methane Gas Bubbling Out of the Arctic Seafloor

This will be MBARI geologist Charlie Paull's third Beaufort Sea expedition. ... Paull's work in the Arctic started in 2003, with an investigation into the enigmatic underwater hills called "pingo-like features" (PLFs) that rise out of the continental shelf of the Beaufort Sea. (Pingos are isolated conical hills found on land in some parts of the Arctic and subarctic.)

During 2010, the research team conducted ROV dives on a shallow underwater mound called Kopanoar PLF. At the top of this mound they discovered "vigorous and continuous gas venting" that released clouds of bubbles and sediment into the water. In one ROV dive, the researchers saw something no one had ever seen before—a plume of gas bubbles that moved rapidly along the sea floor, apparently following a crack in the sediment that was in the process of being forced open by the pressure of the gas coming up from below.

For the 2012 expedition, the team will continue its strategy of following the topography to study areas of gas venting in the Beaufort Sea. They plan to focus on three circular, flat-topped mounds on the continental slope. The researchers believe that these pingo-like features form at the tops of "chimneys" or conduits where methane is seeping up from sediments hundreds of meters below the seafloor.

Also Gas Outlets Are No New Phenomenon Off The Coast Of Spitsbergen

The reason for the expedition was the supposition that ice-like methane hydrates stored in the sea bed were dissolving due to rising water temperatures ... what the researchers found in the area offers a much more differentiated picture. Above all the fear that the gas emanation is a consequence of the current rising sea temperature does not seem to apply. At least some of the gas outlets have been active for longer.

Carbonate deposits, which form when microorganisms convert the escaping methane, were found on the vents. “At numerous emergences we found deposits that might already be hundreds of years old. This estimation is indeed only based on the size of the samples and empirical values as to how fast such deposits grow. On any account, the methane sources must be older” says Professor Berndt. The exact age of the carbonates will be determined from samples in GEOMAR’s laboratories.

Expedition: http://www.geomar.de/index.php?id=518&no_cache=1&tx_geoexpedition_pi1%5b...

"No reason to get excited ..." -All Along The Watch Tower

But that is false in the case of global warming induced climate change:

More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.

(Perfect Storm: New Global Ground Zero). Way past time to stop listening to the psychopaths of denial.

Jim Kunstler had an interesting post today (as usual). I would say, though, that assertions such as this may result in diminution in the value of an otherwise cogent appraisal.

Until a few decades ago nobody ever swooshed through these ancient hills in a motor car, on a magnificently engineered minor country highway, and in perhaps less than a decade no one ever will again , and at the collective level of a culture or a nation we have no sense of this whatsoever. [Emphasis mine]

Of course we understand this is merely hyperbole employed to dramaticize his point. To casual readers, though, it comes across as crass doomerism for the sake of sensationalizing his message, and detracts greatly.

I recognize the tendency to such in my own feeble attempts, and so share the blame, I suppose. Nonetheless, TOD 'doomers' should be aware of the impact on erstwhile attentive readers.


Yes, that caught my eye too. Kind of reminds me of some of the early Club of Rome forecasts about mass food riots by the 1990s (missing the tail effects of the Green Revolution), or the famous Simon-Erlich bet on the prices of metals between 1980-1990 (which Erlich lost badly). The macro trend is easy to spot if you remove enough cultural, religious and ego blinders to see it. Unfortunately, none of us can predict the specific price of anything with any great precision in a year, much less a decade out. Currencies fluctate against one another, depressions and recessions can destroy demand (reducing prices that would otherise increase due to long-trend scarcity), etc. The economy imploding in a decade or less seems rather unlikely, even assuming current trends worsen.

I strongly suspect Erlich, Malthus and possibly Kunstler will be proven mostly right in the long run. But... "in the long run we're all dead". Unfortunately, as all those "Are we smarter than yeast?" posts have pointed out, most human beings have a very short cultural memory, strongly discount (if not outright ignore) the future, and have an extremely myopic here-and-now mindset. Most will never spot macro trends even as they are living right through them.


Wowee, I said "proven wrong" above when I meant to say "proven right". Have to read my own posts a little more carefully before hitting the save button.


Kind of reminds me of some of the early Club of Rome forecasts about mass food riots by the 1990s...

You know, I read the Club of Rome book Limits to Growth and there was not a word in it about mass food riots by the 1990s, or anytime else for that matter. And that was the only book they published until 2004 when they published Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update.

People have been telling us for 20 years about things that Club of Rome predicted by the 90s when they made no such predictions for the 90s at all. I do wish those folks would just take the time to read the book before telling us what was predicted in the book.

What the book did predict.

1. Current (1970!) behavior will limit growth within 100 years. "The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity" [p 29]
2. It's possible to avoid this result, to establish ecological and economic stability.
3. If we want the second outcome, we'd better get to work.

Ron P.

People have been telling us for 20 years about things that Club of Rome predicted by the 90s when they made no such predictions for the 90s at all.

In this youtube video they show parts of what I think is a TV special on Limits which was put out in the early 1970s -


Go to about 4:55. It says "ahead of us, sometime after the year 2000, this computer study forsees calamity". There's a nice graph of their main run scenario which shows this calamity occurring around 2030.

Keep in mind this TV show was from 40 years ago. Yet for some reason as early as the 1990s you had people saying Limits to Growth had been proven wrong by the passage of time. We still have several decades to go before we can say that.

" Club of Rome forecasts about mass food riots by the 1990s"

Could you cite a specific instance of such a forecast? I thought I had read all of the Club of Rome reports and don't recall that particular "forecast".


Please keep in mind I made a typo in my above post. I *do* agree with the general thrust of what Ehrlich and Limits posited, and also agree that what has happened in the last 40+ years does not in any way invalidate or discredit their arguments or the data behind them, despite what the BAU/MSM chorus thinks. That said, Ehrlich in particular was a tad incautious and dramatic in some of his earlier works. Something cornucopians love to pounce on at every opportunity, generally in an attempt to discredit the entire environmental movement.


The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970's and 1980's hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.
- Paul Ehrlich - the first sentence of his 1968 ``The Population Bomb''

This vast tragedy, however, is nothing compared to the nutritional disaster that seems likely to overtake humanity in the 1970s (or, at the latest, the 1980s) ... A situation has been created that could lead to a billion or more people starving to death.
- Paul Ehrlich, "The End of Affluence" (1974), p.21

Which just goes to show you that making accurate predictions about macro events is a lot harder than it looks, even when you have tons of data backing up your conclusions. If Erlich had made that same bet with Simon 20 years later, he would have won hands down.

Ehlich was incautious. The Club of Rome was not, as others have pointed out. Ever since it was published people have gone and taken select statements in their report and used them completely out of context. The main run scenario did not show any serious problems occurring until the middle of the 21st century, about 2030 at the earliest.

Harm, you wrote: "Kind of reminds me of some of the early Club of Rome forecasts about mass food riots by the 1990s". That was not a typo, that was simply a grossly incorrect statement. The trends predicted in "The Limits to Growth" have been spot on so far, or nearly so anyway. Of course there were several possible scenarios predicted in the book but the most dire ones are the ones that come closest to what has transpired so far. It is one book that doomers like me can point to that has been spot on. But some people are always making up things that the book predicted that are simply nowhere in the book.

You should just admit your error and leave it at that.

Looking Back on the Limits of Growth

Recent research supports the conclusions of a controversial environmental study released 40 years ago: The world is on track for disaster. So says Australian physicist Graham Turner, who revisited perhaps the most groundbreaking academic work of the 1970s,The Limits to Growth.

Limits to Growth

Ron P.

I have to preface this with the fact that I've never read LTG, it was written 10 years before I was born so the only exposure I've had to it has been through TOD. I should probably get it and read it one of these days. And I'm only an Engineer and not a statistician with experience in extrapolating trends either...

But anyway, I'm looking at the graph you posted Ron and a few things come to mind:

1. Back when they first made those extrapolations, most of the interesting (and critical) changes don't happen until around 2020 (eyeballing it). The part from 1970-2000 really doesn't seem like much of a breakthrough in terms of just extrapolating previous trends. In other words, their curves from 1970 to 2000 look a lot like what I'd come up with using excel and a best-fit curve if someone asked me to perform such a task. Not exactly cutting edge in my mind. The fact that the actual vs. predicted match as closely as they do really doesn't impress me that much for this time period. Has there been an update for the 2000-2012 period? This might help clear things up.

2. Where things appear to get interesting is in the 2020-2030 timeframe. Here things break down and extrapolations don't appear to continue as an infinite-growther might expect. Now if LTG is ultimately proven correct for the 2020-2050 timeframe then I'd be more impressed, or dead, assuming I was part of the declining population curve :) The good(?) part is that I should live to see this time so will be able to look back and see what actually happened.

3. One ominous sign to me is that the remaining non-renewable resources curve is starting to diverge from the predicted, going on a path that could take it much, much higher than expected for the 2050 timeframe. I'm guessing a lot of their predicted outcomes hinge on that curve. I really don't know what sort of scaling or units they are using in the graph so perhaps its just my ignorance showing through.

Calling John Callahan...

As I have mentioned many times here, I was in direct contact publicly with someone who worked on LTG project - even before the book came out. While my memory of what this person from MIT discussed with me some 40 plus years ago is now starting to fade, the persons associated with the project made no specific predictions about riots, and in general, they weren't trying to predict history at all but only making the case for a future resource shortage and a general negative feedback effect on the world from industrialization. That is they did not state, for example, that global warming or environmental pollution would have adverse consequences for humanity, but they did imply there would be undefined adverse consequences that would lead to the fall of human population.

Over a period of years, many persons read into these conclusions specific 'predictions'. Having been intimately familiar with the LTG computing process and concepts, I found it quite amusing - almost unbelievable - that so many discussed these 'predictions' that were never actually made.

Yes, I fell into one of the conrnucopian traps here and mis-attributed some Ehrlich predictions as belonging to CoR/LTG. And if it can happen to me (though admittedly I haven't read all of LTG, just skimmed excerpts), then what of your average American? TODers and environmentalists have a big PR problem in the U.S.

I can tell you a lot more people get their "information" about environmentalism from sites like this than from TOD:

Jeez... a conclusion from the source article:

Around the world, the population control movement has resulted in billions of lost or ruined lives. We cannot stop at merely rebutting the pseudoscience and recounting the crimes of the population controllers. We must also expose and confront the underlying antihumanist ideology. If the idea is accepted that the world’s resources are fixed with only so much to go around, then each new life is unwelcome, each unregulated act or thought is a menace, every person is fundamentally the enemy of every other person, and each race or nation is the enemy of every other race or nation. The ultimate outcome of such a worldview can only be enforced stagnation, tyranny, war, and genocide. The horrific crimes advocated or perpetrated by antihumanism’s devotees over the past two centuries prove this conclusively. Only in a world of unlimited resources can all men be brothers.

That is why we must reject antihumanism and embrace instead an ethic based on faith in the human capacity for creativity and invention. For in doing so, we make a statement that we are living not at the end of history, but at the beginning of history; that we believe in freedom and not regimentation; in progress and not stasis; in love rather than hate; in life rather than death; in hope rather than despair.


Robert Zubrin is a New Atlantis contributing editor. This essay is adapted from his new book — the latest volume in our New Atlantis Books series — Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism.

[bold mine]

"Merchants of Despair". Gosh....

Robert Zubrin is a flaming psychotic. If you have ever seen him speak in person, you would have no doubt of this. He is delusional in the extreme. His is a bizarre religious zeal.

Yes. And unfortunately, more people listen to him and other lunatic fearmongers like Alex Jones than to cogent, reasoned data-based analysis.

Poll: Nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe in angels

46% Americans Believe In Creationism According To Latest Gallup Poll

Yeah, we're pretty much screwed in the "hearts and minds" department.

lunatic fearmongers like Alex Jones

If Corporations and Governments had not had past behaviors of screwing over their customers and the citizens they serve - would Alex and his ilk have past indiscretions to point at today to use as a basis for their 'fearmongering'?

If Alex was running for office and made statements about, oh say, the lack of airplane windows being able to open, would he be fearmongering about such 'safety features'? How about if Alex was talking about how some college girl wanted state-supported sex - would that be 'lunatic fearmongering' over how tax money is being spent?

Make no mistake - Alex is wrong on many things. But so are other 'media people' - where is the line that is drawn to say the wrongness is now 'lunatic' or 'fearmongering'? And what if "history" shows the decision to label something 'lunatic' or 'fearmongering' at time X turns out to have been right at time X+Y?

Because the dominate TOD POV can be called EXACTLY 'lunatic' or 'fearmongering' or both. It was done in the past and I'm betting any of us with a bit of digging can find someone withing a week of ether side of the day of this post calling the Peak Oil POV 'lunatic' or 'fearmongering' or both. Most of the TOD regulars think history will show us to be right if not having shown us right.

And do remember the old 'poll report' about how useful polls are:

I'll concede Alex has a good point or two to make about the global banking cartel (which has instituted itself as a de facto shadow government in the U.S. and elsewhere). However, his irrational hysteria about things like population control and environmentalism (not to mention his very obvious and occasionally manic paranoia about the government being 'after him') tends to undermine his credibility on other issues. "A broken clock is right..."

I actually used to like Robert Zubrin (Mars Society) until he published Merchants of Despair. If we could somehow bring human population down to sustainable levels and bring everyone up to a first world standard of living (thereby almost single-handedly solving poverty, mass extinctions, habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, wars over resources, etc.) there's absolutely no reason why we would have to remain strictly earthbound as a species. Unfortunately, his shoot-the-messenger views on environmentalism will help bring an end to the era of space exploration more surely than if people listened to the Club of Rome.

things like population control and environmentalism

If one has a mental framing of 'maximize personal freedom' then the outside force of government on such topics will be 'harmful'.. Because once you start down the 'population control' route at what point is eugenics "wrong"?

70% waste WRT spending money on Carbon Control and the harsh reality of for every unit of money spent on the actual Carbon reduction, a unit goes to the global banking cartel does seem to support Alex's position of the unhealthy tie of Government and said cartel.

so many discussed these 'predictions' that were never actually made.

The construction and knocking down of strawmen, in order to discredit the study in the eyes of the bulk of the population. A very successful misinformation campaign if you ask me.

Harm, you wrote: "Kind of reminds me of some of the early Club of Rome forecasts about mass food riots by the 1990s". That was not a typo, that was simply a grossly incorrect statement. The trends predicted in "The Limits to Growth" have been spot on so far, or nearly so anyway.


Ok, I incorrectly attributed Ehrlich's statement to the Club of Rome/Meadows --got it. I should have checked the source of those quotes more carefully, I concede that. Unfortunately, the general public probably does not see the distinction and also tends to lump Ehrlich together with CoR & "Limits" as though they were one in the same (like I just did myself). And this is part of the problem we face in getting the word out. To most people, we are all "discredited alarmist doomers" who want to take away all their toys and freedoms.

Okay, correction accepted.

I would just like to point out that Ehrlich was correct about population growth, he was just wrong on how soon the consequences of an exploding population would hit. Like Malthus he underestimated the ability agriculture had to increase the food supply. Malthus underestimated the industrial revolution and Ehrlich underestimated the green revolution. But both are now hitting their limits.

Also, as to the Simon Ehrlich wager, from Wiki:

Julian L. Simon and Paul Ehrlich entered in a famous scientific wager in 1980, betting on a mutually agreed-upon measure of resource scarcity over the decade leading up to 1990. Simon had Ehrlich choose five commodity metals. Copper, chromium, nickel, tin, and tungsten were chosen and Simon bet that their prices would decrease, while Ehrlich bet they would increase.[note 1] Ehrlich ultimately lost the bet, and all five commodities that were selected as the basis for the wager continued to trend downward during the wager period.

Had Ehrlich made that bet in 2000, though well after Simon was dead, he would have won hands down.

Ron P.


Agreed. Take a gander at the last line of my 9-24 (11:12pm) post above:
"If Ehrlich had made that same bet with Simon 20 years later, he would have won hands down."

Yeah, I missed that, sorry. I was just trying to point out that Ehrlich was not the fool many try to make him out to be, his timing was just a little off that's all. The true fool was Simon.

Ehrlich's point was, in his wager with Simon, was that natural resources were finite. Simon argued that they were infinite.

The Ultimate Resource II: People, Materials, and Environment By Julian Simon

Chapter 3
Can The Supply Of Natural Resources - Especially Energy - Really Be Infinite? Yes!
Chapter 11
When Will We Run Out Of Oil? Never!

Ron P.

But, Ron, for all practical purposes, natural resources ARE infinite!

All we have to do is invent some type of cheap space travel (get Earth-to-orbit costs down from ~$10,000/lb to say $1/LB), establish mining colonies on the moon, mars, and near earth asteroids to get at those rare metals and other stuff we "need" more of. By that time we should have warp capability, so can start colonizing/terraforming other habitable planets (thus relieving overpopulation, pollution and habitat destruction here). Once AI, genetics, bioengineering and robotics are perfected, we all merge into a single immortal collective consciousness (the Singularity) and can work on the *really* long-term problem: how to spawn a new universe once entropy destroys ours!

See, what could be simpler? ;-)

But first let's go for the low-hanging fruit. We must run a pipeline from Titan to Earth - a whole moon made of luscious hydrocarbons!

Darwinian and Harm - glad to see you both coming to realize that you largely agree on this issue, as D - you can be a bit harsh with the criticism as times...

But I just have to say that IMO, the (I'm tempted to say 'vast') majority of the 'general public' probably has no idea who Ehrlich or the CoR & LtG are...

They know who Justin Bieber and the latest Kate in the headlines are, and not much more. Bread and circuses for the masses, the rest of us are geeks with glasses. (Just made that up.)

Hi Ron

Know of any updates to include the last 12 years to match fit?

No, that is the only update I know of other than the book that came out in 2004. I am sure there will be others soon however. I am predicting decline in natural resources, especially oil, will be all over the news in less than a year from now.

Ron P.

I'd be curious as to how Kunstler comes to the conclusion that nobody will ever drive through some ancient hills on some road ever again...in less than 10 years. Looking around today with all the traffic and gas out there, if Kunstler really believes that then I'd come to my own conclusion that perhaps he's gone looney. Or needs to sell more books.

"in perhaps less than a decade"? LOL. He is going to eat those words. Perhaps he meant century?

Yes, Kunstler is over the top. Not that there isn't the possibility of things going downhill that quickly, but it's unlikely. Humans are very ingenious when the crisis hits.

That said, I do think it is likely (almost certain) that, just as there are those alive today who remember when cars were rare or even nonexistent in many places, there are those alive today who will see the return of that condition. The automobile is a technology that destroys it's own support system, a very expensive use of energy, and I can't see any way (even with electric cars) for it to last through this century. Heck, if they're still common in 2050 I'll be incredibly surprised (assuming I live till then, which is fairly likely - I will be 69).

Until a few decades ago nobody ever swooshed through these ancient hills in a motor car, on a magnificently engineered minor country highway, and in perhaps less than a decade no one ever will again, and at the collective level of a culture or a nation we have no sense of this whatsoever. [Emphasis mine]

- A few decades ago (appx 12) nobody ever swooshed through any hills in a car, this is not conjecture. The entire agony/ecstasy of modernity has been mercifully brief, 400 years or so.

- The magnificently engineered minor country highway is likely to become a potholed mess (as maintenance funds vanish), not just in New York State but elsewhere.

- Credit collapse/lower fuel prices will shut in fuel supplies while bankrupting consumers at the same time (the same way Greece was bankrupted). No money = no swooshing, no car ... probably no house or food. Look for Spain to follow Greece down the rathole by the end of the year.

- Fuel rationing would eliminate unnecessary driving almost overnight, the absence of new customers would destroy the auto industry, also overnight.

- Complex systems have flaws that cannot be determined until the flaws are revealed by a system crash. Nobody expected rating agencies to be the Achilles heel of the shadow banking system. Who knows what the 'X' vulnerabilities of the fuel-distribution and consumption 'system' are but they are certain to be revealed by the ongoing credit unraveling. This isn't doomsterism but an observation of what is underway right now.

There might not be any swooshing down any roads this time next year.

People may not be swosshing in cars but there was transportation in the old days. The old stage road in my part of northern CA goes through part of my property and, with a little work, would still be usable.

The difference is that the ranchers didn't need to go anywhere "far away" very often. Maybe make a trip to town now and then but "work" was at home and they didn't need to telecommute.

Many people don't seem to recognize that many towns are spaced about a day's horse-travel apart. There's an old stage house about two miles down the road from my house.

I can see it returning to this.


One of the old stage roads runs thru my place, too. Lots of stages in the old days.

Hi Mike,

That's a really neat link! FWIW, I know Ernie because we had him do some air conditioner work at our rental and way back we bought a washer at his store in Garberville - it's still working.


"- The magnificently engineered minor country highway is likely to become a potholed mess (as maintenance funds vanish), not just in New York State but elsewhere."

Around here (Sonoma County, CA) that's already happening. The roads, never very good, are deteriorating fast and there is no remedy in sight. Haven't we also read that cities like Detroit are grinding up paved roads and reverting back to dirt? Its a lot less fun to drive than it was 20 years ago.

As I understand it, it's not city streets but more rural, less-used roads that being turned back into gravel.

My bookmarked link is now dead, but IIRC that was rebuked, saying only 1 road was turned back to gravel which was not supposed to have been paved in the first place.

They also had stats for the state showing many more miles were first time paved.

I think it's more than one.

Roads to Ruin: Towns Rip Up the Pavement

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as "poor man's pavement." Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.

Making a rural comeback: The old gravel road

Michigan has changed more than 100 miles of pavement to gravel. After one road was torn up a year and a half ago, the County Road Association of Michigan bottled the millings and asphalt and sent them to state legislators as a message.

In North Dakota, a couple of stretches nearly 10 miles long have gone to gravel along with a sprinkling of smaller patches. County leaders are discussing more such changes, a transportation official there said.

South Dakota may hold the distinction of being the most torn-up state in the Midwest. A state transportation official estimated that 120 miles of pavement have been ground up or left to crumble back to gravel.

And not just in the US:

Lack of funding returns semi-paved roads to gravel in remote areas of the country

Over the last decade, a total of 600 kilometres of surfaced country roads have been returned to gravel

A little perspective. Paved and Confused

If we continue converting paved road into gravel road at the rate reported in the three stories cited above, we'll eliminate all 2.7 million miles of the nation's paved roads in about, oh, 24,000 years.

Just saying...your claim that only one road was turned back to gravel, and it wasn't meant to be paved in the first place, is not correct.

Perhaps in the near future folks that have to drive those roads will start carrying a bag of quickcrete and water, and maybe a warning cone, to fix holes as they can.

Yes, this approach would definitely be in keeping with the Teapublican philosophy of eliminating all public expenditures, except for military, police, or religious indoctrination. Those future drivers should also cary firearms and fire extinguishers (to act as their own police and fire departments)!

How's this one for a techno-fix?


Called the Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CT2WS), it will be used in a combat setting to significantly improve the US Army’s threat detection capabilities. There are two discrete parts to the system: The 120-megapixel camera, which is tripod-mounted and looks over the battlefield (pictured below); and the computer system, where a soldier sits in front of a computer monitor with an EEG strapped to his head (pictured above). .... The soldier is linked into the computer system via an EEG (electroencephalogram) brain-computer interface that continually scans his brains for P300 responses.

They only need the brain though, right?

Dump the body, save the brain ...

I remember a SciFi story (theme) a while back where an alien race harvested human 'nervous systems' - (brains - the works) and used them to run their ships. Breathing = life support, etc. I think it was Berserker Wars - "Starsong"

Variants of the theme have been reused many times in other stories.

Yeah, I was thinking the same - it reminds me of a really awful movie my son made me watch not too long ago...

Fred Saberhagen?

eric - Interesting. Thanks. Life's becoming more like a video game every day. A spotter can sit in his padded chair in a air conditioned box, ID a threat and send the info to a drone pilot sitting in her padded chain in Ohio and she can take the target out. We've always had these and they already had a name: FOP....Forward Observation Post. Of course, there has always been a proven way to deal with the FOP: have your sniper team kill them. Hopefully that tripod will know how to hunker down. LOL.

Maybe the good news is that the software will do a better job of seperating the indians from the friendlies.

There's always an escalation of measures and countermeasures. I wonder what the best way to counter this is, beyond taking out the scope? How about simply overloading the organic processing unit with distracting false events? Shouldn't be hard to figure out what kinds of things will distract a human brain more easily.

... Shouldn't be hard to figure out what kinds of things will distract a human brain more easily.

The military's porn problem: A national security threat?

LOL - that's exactly one of the things I was picturing!

When I worked for a defense contractor decades ago, the engineers imagined a simpler threat warning device called a "pucker switch". Installed in a pilot's anal sphincter, it would fire radar-confusing chaff when the pilot saw a missile coming at him ... with a very fast response time.

while that is an interesting 'tail' - could the picture/story of the camera/brain thing be a fraud? Last I knew for brain connectivity you needed a good surface to adhere to and that head-rig in the picture looks like a full head of hair.

Now its possible that things have advanced in the brain-interface world yet something nags at me about the head of hair in the picture.

Fueling the fleet, Navy looks to the seas

Scientists at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have successfully developed and demonstrated technologies for the recovery of CO2 and the production of H2 from seawater using an electrochemical acidification cell, and the conversion of CO2 and H2 to hydrocarbons (organic compounds consisting of hydrogen and carbon) that can be used to produce jet fuel.

Located at NRL's Center for Corrosion Science & Engineering facility, Key West, Fla., (NRLKW) the carbon capture skid has been tested using seawater from the Gulf of Mexico to simulate conditions that will be encountered in an actual open ocean process for capturing CO2 from seawater and producing H2 gas. Currently NRL is working on process optimization and scale-up. Once these are completed, initial studies predict that jet fuel from seawater would cost in the range of $3 to $6 per gallon to produce.

Jet fuel from sea water probably works better when you start with water from the Gulf of Mexico. The question is, do they have to pay BP for it?

Pretty big water cut, though. ;-)

Ja, jet fuel from sea water... let me see where this might go:

Taking CO2 presently stored in sea water, creating Jet Fuel to be burned, thus liberating the CO2 into the atmosphere! I presume that the burning of the jet fuel will balance out the excess O2 produced when H2O is broken down to get the H2. Result: ever greater atmospheric warming.

((Of course the chemicals used are free. And the electricity used to power up the production of H2 is without cost. It will be interesting to see the details if/when a production facility is active.))

But, hey! If that's what it takes to keep Business going, who am I to complain. We can use the jet fuel to travel over the huge dead zone in the equitorial latitudes. And we can all (of us who survive) live on the coast of Antarctica, and the Canadian and Eurasian arctic. After all, we won't need to worry about polar bears, will we?


What you are looking for is the SeaLand process. Wanna say 1974ish project with Stirling engines. The copy my memory has is 4 pages long and features a jet ski as an example of a SeaLand powered craft.

(Now the Methonal/Ammonia from air people and the Stirling factions can come up with the link to the source material.)

Data that lives forever is possible: Japan's Hitachi

The company on Monday unveiled a method of storing digital information on slivers of quartz glass that can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading, almost forever - a few hundred million years at least.

Hitachi's new technology stores data in binary form by creating dots inside a thin sheet of quartz glass, which can be read with an ordinary optical microscope.

Provided a computer with the know-how to understand that binary is available—simple enough to programme, no matter how advanced computers become—the data will always be readable, Torii said

It would seem like those "thin sheet of quartz glass" would be rather fragile though, wouldn't it? Forever being a very long time, I'd guess there might be opportunities for them to be broken.

True. Perhaps storing data on a larger, thicker crystal (the original Superman movie teaching crystals comes to mind) would have a better change of surviving intact.

Housing crystals in titanium jackets (similar to modern hard drives) might keep them safe. Probably not for a million years, though.

Everything has a failure mode, and entropy always wins. I suspect there is no better way or preserving data long term than songs, stories and religious fables. The data density is poor and the error rate is high, but it does last a long time.

Surge in error correction and/or holographic systems?


Kind of like Ridulian Crystals from the Dune novels.

I was thinking HAL myself.


The more difficult problem is ensuring that enough data is deleted. Otherwise at some point, the workforce will be 100% occupied by reading what the past generation wrote.

Imagine if the Babylonians had left information equivalent to that stored in existing data centers. We wouldn't be able to find anything important.

What, are you implying that spending 2% of our national power output on old tweets, digital photos from bar hopping adventures, and 10-year-old email is not important?

Get your priorities in order man!
I am reminded of Sturgeon's Law, though I think his estimate of 90% of everything being crap was way, way too low.

Sturgeon orginated his Law in the '50s. There is probably a corollary of the Second Law that implies that in a closed system (no discarding) crap goes to 100% with the passage of time.

... asymptotically approaches 100% ;-)

Like the legal code :/

New Data On The Biofuel Ecobalance: Most Biofuels Are Not 'Green'

... Compared with the first worldwide ecobalance study of its kind in 2007, also carried out by Empa, the team, led by Empa researcher Rainer Zah, included both innovative energy plants and manufacturing processes and also updated assessment methods.

However, despite a more extensive data set and up-to-date methods, Empa comes to the same conclusion as the study in 2007: many biofuels based on agricultural products indeed do help to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, but lead to other environmental pollution, such as too much acid in the soil and polluted (over-fertilised) lakes and rivers. "Most biofuels therefore just deflect the environmental impact: fewer greenhouse gases, thus more growth-related pollution for land used for agriculture", says Zah. This results in only a few biofuels having an overall better ecobalance than petrol, especially biogas from residues and waste materials, which – depending on the source material – impact on the environment up to half as much as petrol. And within the biofuel group, ethanol-based fuels tend to have a better ecobalance than those with an oil base; however, the results are very much dependent on the individual method of manufacture and the technology.


Deal to turn whisky 'leftovers' into biofuel for cars

In what is claimed to be a world first, the Tullibardine distillery in Perthshire has linked up with a spin-out company from Napier University in Edinburgh. They plan to use bacteria to feed on the "leftovers" from the whisky making process. This will produce butanol which can be used to fuel vehicles.

"It takes a cost to us and turns it into something that has social as well as commercial value."

The project is being supported by a grant from the Scottish government's Zero Waste Scotland initiative.

Toyota plans expanded range of hybrids (Update)

Toyota Motor Corp. is boosting its green vehicle lineup, with plans for 21 new hybrids in the next three years, a new electric car later this year and a fuel cell vehicle by 2015 in response to growing demand for fuel efficient and environmentally friendly driving.

... But rivals are working on green offerings, too, such as Nissan Motor Co. focusing on its Leaf electric car. Another challenge is that customers in emerging markets, which are driving growth in demand for autos, are still not as interested in hybrids and other fancy—and expensive—technology.

In Japan, where green subsidies have been a big plus in recent years, hybrids make up nearly half Toyota's sales, Uchiyamada, the engineer known as "the father of the Prius," said.

"The public's consciousness is a lot higher than we ever imagined," he said.

"The public's consciousness is a lot higher than we ever imagined,"

Sometimes it takes a rap on the head to get someone's attention, and make them aware. Those emerging markets will only get it when something extreme occurs.

Not that trying to continue the auto age is sustainable in any way shape or form; for which a knock on the skulls of us first world nations is certainly looming; the question not whether, but when.


Of course what they don't spin is Toyota abandoning the large scale roll-out of its eQ all electric model in 2013. The market is not ready for all electric.


I suspect Toyota is finding that the market has a much greater demand for hybrid cars that can provide electricity during long-term power outages. Such a hybrid would certainly be my vehicle of choice.

For gravy, add a 20 km electric-only range with plug-in charge capability.

Thats roughly what the now available plug in has. After tax rebate its only a few thou more expensive then the standard model. Still I doubt it is more economical than the standard (because of battery replacement mostly).

They were going to have a 50 mile range with the eQ electric . . . that is a non-starter. I think we need a solid 100 mile range for electrics to be popular. The EPA rating system (which is pretty good) only gives the Leaf a 73 mile range. That may be enough for early adopters but it won't ever become popular with such a short range unless gas prices more than doubled.

The battle between the two biggest plug-in cars has pretty much made the direction of plug-in cars clear: The GM Volt is crushing the Nissan Leaf in sales. So their move to create new plug-in hybrid models is just doing what the market wants. Ford seems like they will be a big winner with their upcoming C-Max Energi that should be a pretty popular plug-in cars.

Of course all the plug-in cars will remain niche vehicles unless prices come down or gas prices go up sharply.

Don't Drive Your Nissan Leaf Too Much

Electric vehicles have a lot going for them—they’re clean and quiet, they accelerate briskly, and they have far fewer parts than conventional gas-powered cars, reducing maintenance. But that may all be trumped by their high price tag and limited range—most go 100 miles or less on a charge. Now electric vehicles are in danger of having another black mark: several Nissan Leaf owners in hot areas of the country have been saying that the battery capacity of their cars is shrinking fast. One 2011 model could only travel 59 miles on a charge, down from the EPA's rating of 73, and Nissan's original claims of 100 miles. Now the results of a Nissan study of those vehicles are in. The cars are being driven too much.

"Now the results of a Nissan study of those vehicles are in. The cars are being driven too much."

That is amazingly valuable information to the design crew. Clearly (and totally unexpectedly) Marketing was wrong. As unthinkable as this may be, the engineering crew will be able to use much better data to build a much better car.

Leaf II should be a considerable improvement.

Since low "fuel" cost per mile is a major feature of electric cars, wouldn't you expect them to be bought by high mileage drivers?

Someone who drives rarely and for short distances might as well by an ICE vehicle.

Leaf II should be a considerable improvement.

Unless limited charge-cycle lifetime is an intrinsic property of Lithium Ion batteries.

And deep discharge per cycle.

See the life vs. depth of discharge graph on the TOD article on solar & batteries a few days ago. (Different chemistry, but common to most types of batteries).


About the only batteries that have a shot at deep discharge and survival is Ni-Fe.

And I bet there is a sweet spot in the chemistry where you "lose" the least amount of energy given at max charge they just my Hydrogen gas and heat.

Agreed. Slow charging/discharging and avoiding deep charge cycles are the key to longer battery life. These of course go against the way people want to use these vehicles. If I drove a lot of miles, I'd want to be able to quickly charge, so I wouldn't be surprised if these customers acquired the highest power fast chargers thet could get their hands on. It might not be a technical problem with the system, but be a form of "pilot error".

The Volt is "crushing" the Leaf only because the USG is a top purchaser and now there are up to $10,000 "rebates" being offered by Govt. Motors to get people to consider buying them. John

They were going to have a 50 mile range with the eQ electric . . . that is a non-starter.

Hmm, a lot of us still seem to not understand the longage of expectations issue, eh?

Suggestion: fill a wheelbarrow with sand and push it over a hilly road to a destination 25 miles away... now think about the 25 miles you need to go with it before you are back home! Yep 50 mile range is a non starter alright

Still, the whole idea of Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts is a pathetic delusional attempt at maintaining BAU.


Link above has nice pict of electric bicycle hauling dirt...

.. and still pretty much forgotten is the few hundred owners of Rav 4 EVs that report a top range of some 150 miles on NIMH batteries, and packs that are getting reported to be passing 100,000 miles. A car from 10 years ago.

"White 2002. We bought out a lease at 41k miles in 2005. Power comes from our roof-mounted 4.8kW PV solar PV system. Have seen Range over 120 miles. Our "second car" is a battery-assisted bicycle and a regular bike, and our "third car" is a membership in City CarShare." Meg


"As of 02.2010 the odometer shows 100,000 miles. Have not had it in for service in 2 years / 30K miles. Seems to be doing fine. internal battery resistance obviously climbing over time. My 75 mile round trip commute still works, with 20% remaining when I get home!" Patrick


And if that is the case, why didn't Nissan use a system like that?

You can come to your own conclusions about the validity of this claim, but apparently/allegedly Chevron came by the patenting rights for building large scale NiMH packs, as developed for this Toyota, and it has been held up ever since.

Whether it's true, and why Chevron might have any reason to block such a development as a workable EV battery, I can only guess.

NiMH Batteries: Obsolete Technology or Suppressed EV Solution?


"The EV1 program was shut down by GM before the new NiMH battery could be commercialized, despite field tests that indicated the Ovonics battery extended the EV1's range to over 150 miles."


"In 2001, oil company Texaco purchased General Motors' share in GM Ovonics. Texaco was itself acquired by rival Chevron several months later. The same year, Ovonics filed a patent infringement suit against Toyota's battery supplier, Panasonic, that ultimately succeeded in restricting the use of its large format NiMH batteries to certain transportation uses."

One of the key benefits of the patent system is that it can be used to delay the introduction of new technology by 20 years while the old technology is depreciated. The patent wars in smartphones are likely to have the effect of significantly slowing the evolution of that technology.

However, the Ovonics patents are all expired or expiring shortly, and should no longer be an impediment to EV development.

Cost, weight and volume. Lithium Ion batteries are favored because they have much higher energy density. I'd rather give up some range, and add some weight and use NiMH, because I want to have confidence in my batteries.

When I first heard about this debate and patent deal, I looked into as much as I could find about it, and there was an engineer who had been working on Nimh's saying something to the effect that 'They're bomb-proof, you just can't kill the things!'.. afraid I haven't seen that source again. I don't know if it's legit or not. I've certainly killed a few Consumer Grade Nimhs, but considering the chargers and overall design of the circuitry around them, that might well have been built into the setup just to keep the shelves moving..

Fingers crossed that something will slip through again one day..

(Woo-Hoo, BAU! Nothing I won't do for B-A-U!!)
That wasn't me, I don't know who said that..

there was an engineer who had been working on Nimh's saying something to the effect that 'They're bomb-proof, you just can't kill the things!'

Perhaps tweeks that improve the energy density (or the fast charge circuits) are killing 'em.

The older Ni-Fe batteries without Cadmium last longer than the Ni-FEs with it.

Could well be. I'm always interested to hear about the Nickel Iron batts that you mention.

I'm just also impressed at the witness borne by the Rav4-EV crowd, and want to make sure that people remember that the 120 mile EV already exists, and that in a vehicle format that could apparently be optimized a good bit more.


I'm always interested to hear about the Nickel Iron batts that you mention.

As I know more I'll mention it.

Something one buys once and is useable for your lifetime has value.

Something that can store electricity - something that can't be stored in all but a few cases - has value.

The Ni-Fe issues are "low" power density and they lose charge over time at a greater rate than other types of batteries.

I keep following EEStor chatter because even if they never hit their target someone might make some solid-state caps that will get to a battery level/battery price.

Degrowth And Peak Oil By Ugo Bardi

The problem, however, is not so much for how long we'll be able to keep the production of liquids stable; it is that the resources we are using for this purpose have a low energy yield and do tremendous damage to a lot of things. We are destroying enormous areas, poisoning the water aquifers, and forcing agriculture away from food production. More than that, we are increasing the amount of greenhouse gases generated for the same amount of energy produced. Emissions keep increasing and climate change accelerates, as you could see from what happened to the North Pole this year.

Degrowth will happen of course, whether we are are ready for it or not. But in my opinion our economy cannot cope with degrowth. Degrowth, of two consecutive quarters is very correctly referred to as a recession. Degrowth brings with it a very serious unemployment problem. And the more degrowth we have the worst the unemployment problem will get.

Of course growth is very bad also. Growth, and the desperate attempt to keep liquid fuels expanding, is, as Ugo describes, destroying the world. Dammed if we do, dammed if we don't.

Ron P.

Damned that we did (back when). Had we had the wisdom to think through what unlimited growth would do back before the agricultural revolution we might have opted for a different route to the future. Endless growth in profits and standard of living was just too tempting I guess.

"Had we had the wisdom to think through what unlimited growth would do back before the agricultural revolution..."


"The first references to the constant were published in 1618 in the table of an appendix of a work on logarithms by John Napier."

It was several thousand years after the agricultural revolution before math advanced enough to understand exponents.

Even the rice and chessboard problem goes back only to a time long after agriculture and the central governments needed to manage it were formed.

It was several thousand years after the agricultural revolution before math advanced enough to understand exponents.

There was that ancient Chinese? philosopher who asked to be paid in rice. One grain on the first square, two on the second, twice that many on the third, until the whole chessboard was filled. When the king realized how big 2**64-1 was, he had him executed. So I guess understanding the exponential was very dangerous in the Darwinian sense.

I wonder if income could grow slowly to minimize environmental damage and simultaneously we could attempt to reduce population growth to negative rates (degrowth) through easy access to birth control and education. Eventually we might stabilize per capita income at some sustainable level. It seems possible in theory, but not likely to happen in the real world.


I get the impression that whenever a population is on a disastrous exponential growth binge, that right before the end the growth rate does drop considerably, even though there is still enough resources to support further growth. But its always too little, too late. This is what may be happening with dropping fertility rates worldwide. But it may be too little, too late. And instead of of embracing it, every government except China seems to be fighting against it. But if people were truly rational, instead of just being slightly more cunning animals, would we be in this mess?

And instead of of embracing it, every government except China seems to be fighting against it.

ChrisInns, it does seem ironic that countries are fighting the declining birth rate. Imagine the good that could occur if they supported the decline.

Two-thirds of the world's new solar panels were installed in Europe in 2011

Europe accounted for two thirds of the world-wide newly installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, with 18.5 GW. Its overall PV capacity totalled 52 GW. The yearly electricity produced by PV could power a country with the electricity demand of Austria, which corresponds to 2% of the EU's electricity needs. These are some of the highlights of the 2012 Photovoltaics Status Report published today by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre.

and Saudi-led consortium wins Morocco solar energy bid

Mustafa Bakkouri of the Moroccan Solar Energy Agency said Monday that the consortium, led by Saudi International Company for Water and Power together with the Spanish Aries IS and TSK EE, would build a 160 megawatt solar power plant in the southern Moroccan town of Ouarzazate.

In 2009, Morocco announced a $9 billion project to build five solar plants to harness the sun's rays and produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020—38 percent of its energy needs.

Four consortiums were competing for the bid. The Saudi consortium's proposed plant would produce one kilowatt of energy for $0.19, as opposed to $0.24 offered by two of the other competitors.

Maybe the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation isn't so secure after all ...

North Atlantic 'Achilles heel' lets upper atmosphere affect the abyss

A University of Utah study suggests something amazing: Periodic changes in winds 15 to 30 miles high in the stratosphere influence the seas by striking a vulnerable "Achilles heel" in the North Atlantic and changing mile-deep ocean circulation patterns, which in turn affect Earth's climate.

"If we as humans modify the stratosphere, it may – through the chain of events we demonstrate in this study – also impact the ocean circulation," he says. "Good examples of how we modify the stratosphere are the ozone hole and also fossil-fuel burning that adds carbon dioxide to the stratosphere. These changes to the stratosphere can alter the ocean, and any change to the ocean is extremely important to global climate."

A stratospheric connection to Atlantic climate variability

Just caught this. The rig count range is rather tight (194 to 214) so I'm not sure this is that gloomy a picture for the Bakken. Maybe just something of a plateau period starting...maybe. If they aren't hyping the increased cost too much that may be the root cause. Not that many Bakken locations aren't viable but the cash flow isn't sufficient to keep the high drilling pace up. Add the high decline rate to the mix along with increased ops costs and companies may just have to slow the pace up to match the revenue/outflow ratio.

"The second factor is oil production growth in the Bakken has begun to slow more than expected. The North Dakota Industrial Commission announced that the rig count has dropped to 194 rigs, which is the lowest level since July of 2011 and below the all-time high of 214 reached in May. They also announced that daily oil production for the state in July averaged 674,000 barrels of oil per day. This was less than expected and only marginally higher than June. Bakken oil companies are concerned about well costs which are close to double what they were in 2009. Western North Dakota is a long way from larger population centers and the infrastructure in place has not been adequate to keep up with the boom in the Bakken. For example, there is a severe shortage of housing and if someone can find an apartment it is renting for $2,500 or more. Hence, the salaries to attract oil field workers are significantly higher than they are in other parts of the country. Many producers like Continental Resources (CLR) and Marathon Oil (MRO) are now focusing on reducing costs and not just on as rapid as possible growth. This trend should stay in place for the rest of the year allowing excess take away capacity to remain in place."

Hey Rockman,

Do you know how the cost split for a well breaks down? I am particularly interested in how much ceramic proppant a bakken well uses, if any at all!

Moric - Since I don't work the Bakken the ceramic angle was new to me. But a little research: apparently besides the ceramics doing a better job, at least on the deeper wells, there's another reason for the switch: a lack of frac sand. And the ceramics, though they might use less, costs a good bit more. Here is Hess whining about increased costs. Might be part of the explanation for the small drilling slow up.


Thanks Rockman! Nothing like a little google-foo to get some quick numbers! Been researching ceramics for awhile now. Seems to me if we are going to continue to drill deeper and tighter formations, ceramics will have to get better & cheaper. I don't suppose your seeing any use of ceramic in the EF? Trying to find someone who might have experience with them.

I've seen a bunch of EF wells with ceramic proppant. In the shallower normally-pressured oil window, it's a waste of money. In the deeper, over-pressured parts of the retrograde condensate and gas windows, an argument can be made that ceramic is worth the money. The correlation isn't clear though, too many different things going on so there's never a perfect control group.

I have seen operators bring their wells on much more gently- choked back so that the closure stress on the proppant isn't so severe, enabling them to use cheaper white sand. This was first made common in the Haynesville, another over-pressured fractured shale (to use Rockman's terminology :) ). It's hard to tell the difference just looking at rates, but I've seen pretty compelling evidence via pressure/rate transient analysis that curtailment works in the long run. It's obviously not a cure-all for the high decline rates, but it is an incremental improvement.

About the rig counts and lower than expected July results, I'm interested to see the August results. If August shows anemic growth, we might be able to infer a bit more. But if you look here:
A "poor" month is usually followed by a "good" month, in terms of incremental daily production increases. This is mostly due to timing. If a bunch of those wells were completed towards the end of the month, the numbers are skewed. Likewise, if a bunch are completed at the beginning of the month, the large incremental improvement could be misleading. See the change from November to December, and the change from December to January this year.

Also, most operators are done are nearing the end of drilling to hold leases on the periphery. In other words, they'll concentrate on the areas that give them a chance to recoup the loads of money they've invested. That means fewer rigs, particularly since many operators have stated they're starting pad (development) drilling- less rig mobilization since they'll sit on the same pad for 6 months.


The slide at the bottom of that link is telling. The vast majority of Hess' wells are under 155bopd.


-The last cause is a higher than budgeted non-operated drilling spend from additional wells and higher non-operated wells costs, adding up to around $100 million.

what's a "non-operated well cost"?


Hey Andrew,

A non-operated well is a well that another operator other then Hess has drilled and that Hess has a working interest in. Could be something like 20% ownership of the mineral rights in a section of land that they are JV'ed on with another operator. Generally these JV agreements force a penalty for companies who don't want to drill on the operators drilling schedule. This being the case, being an operator in a land JV is seriously beneficial. I am assuming in Hess's case, the well costs they are quoting are costs related to drilling wells on JV'ed land.

Likewise the telling slide at the bottom might be a little sneakier then you think. We don't know what stage of the life cycle a lot of the wells are at on that map map. If the well is 3 years out and still doing 150 bbl/d that is going to be a pretty damn good well, if the well was just frac'ed 2 months ago it is another story.

Hope that Helps!


andrew - Moric gives a very good explanation. I'll add that often any well drilled by a company, say Chesapeake, isn't owned 100% by that company. Even ExxonMobil usually doesn't own 100% of wells it drills...especially offshore and overseas. My company typically operates every well we participate in but usually own 25% to 50% for a variety of reasons. You may recall a while back Chesapeake sold off positions in some of its Eagle Ford play. Not only did this raise some capex they badly needed but it also reduced their share of the cost to drill wells in those areas. In some cases dropping from 100% to 60% or so.

Rockman, Moric : Thanks for the response.

Gen. Wesley Clark on Oil, War and Activism

WhoWhatWhy now has an exclusive conversation with General Clark, filmed this year by our friend Mike Gray. In it, Clark explicitly lays out the central role of oil in American military strategy, and advocates for increased use of clean energy alternatives. He also says that the only way to change policy on energy and the military is for a mass public movement to stand up to the oil industry, the richest and most powerful in history. He says young people have the most to gain, and will have to take the lead.

From the transcript ... then there is transportation fuel. And that’s mostly oil. And that’s mostly imported. And that’s what people fight wars about, mostly they don’t fight war about coal, they fight about oil.

Q: What would you estimate we’re spending annually on keeping the oil pipeline open?

Wesley Clark: Well, it’s 300 billion dollars of US foreign exchange to buy the oil, another 600 billion dollars for the defense budget. Not all of that is directed toward energy but you could say that 150 billion dollars a year we‘re spending on the wars is certainly about oil, directly or indirectly.

And you could probably say half of the rest of the defense budget is one way or another connected to stationing troops abroad, trying to protect access to oil, exercises, procurement of equipment. And then you could look at the bill for the Veterans Administration. So this comes out to be half a trillion dollars or more a year, is going to this. It’s been a tragic failure of policy and a failure of US leadership.

... $500,000,000,000

Solyndra wan't even a boondoggle. They had a niche that looked profitable, but by the time they were ready to exploit it, the rest of the market had run away from them.



They had a way to produce PV-grade silicon directly from metallurgical grade (as in steel mills) without going through the messy chlorination route. But it was expensive. Chlorination plants are expensive to build, but cheap to run. So now Elkem is out of the business as their silicon of adequate purity just costs too much.

We had conservatives screaming bloody murder about spending $1.50 per Wisconsin resident annually to support higher speed rail, yet they are totally oblivious to the $300 per American we spend (assuming only $100 billion in military expenses supporting the oil industry) just to maintain access to some, not all oil.

Don't get me wrong - the $1.50 won't solve the $300 problem alone, but there's probably a set of solutions costing around $100 per person per year to solve the $300 problem

But, you see its the principle of the thing, not the amounts. The $300 (serious underestimate) goes to making our macho big stick bigger, the $1.50 went to hippy energy. Every serious person knows hippy energy sources are not real!

These pictures are a counterpoint to the pictures of Americans with all their possessions [junk]...

Chinese families' worldly goods in Huang Qingjun's pictures

The results offer glimpses of the utilitarian lives of millions of ordinary Chinese who, at first glance, appear not to have been swept up by the same modernisation that has seen hundreds of millions of others leave for the cities.

But seen more closely, they also show the enormous social change that has come in a generation. So the photo of an elderly couple of farmers outside their mud house reveals a satellite dish, DVD player and phone.

... it also shows how little you really 'need' to get by.

Lighter-than-air craft rise again

“It’s a new era for logistics in cargo. Transport is our first aim for these craft,” says Edworthy. “It’s impossible to get into some of the resource rich areas of the world. Ecologically, you can’t do it. Areas of the far north, or the Amazon are good examples.”

Planes need large runways, and helicopters can only carry limited loads. But the Aeroscraft can take-off and land vertically using turbofans that can swivel to provide lift and move the craft forward.

... “It will be slower than a 747 [plane] at approximately 110 knots (approx 200km/h) cruising speed,” admits Edworthy. “But it would be the event of ‘getting there’ rather than how quickly you get there.”

Out of curiosity, what are the operational ceilings for these new designs? For example, here in Denver we never see the Goodyear or similar blimps as they have multiple problems with the high altitude and the high-speed straight-line winds that can develop relatively quickly. Will there be barriers that these newer airships can't cross?

This may be why ...

Denver Elevation: 5,280 feet (1,609.344 m) above sea level

Goodyear Blimp Performance

Service ceiling: 7,500 ft (2,285 m)

Probably can't go any higher because the helium would have to expand beyond the outer envelope.

Though Zeppelins could reach 20,000 ft. (an interesting - history changing - story)

New SARS-like virus detected in Middle East (Update 3)

Health officials don't know yet whether the virus could spread as rapidly as SARS did or if it might kill as many people. SARS, which first jumped to humans from civet cats in China, hit more than 30 countries worldwide after spreading from Hong Kong.

Osterholm said it was worrying that at least one person with the disease had died. "You don't die from the common cold," he said. "This gives us reason to think it might be more like SARS," which killed about 10 percent of the people it infected.

Saudi officials said they were concerned that the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage next month, which brings millions of people to Saudi Arabia from all over the world, could provide more opportunities for the virus to spread. They advised pilgrims to keep their hands clean and wear masks in crowded places.

Saudi downplays impact of mystery virus on Hajj

Saudi health authorities downplayed Tuesday the impact of a possible outbreak of a virus from the family of deadly SARS on its forthcoming Hajj pilgrimage, stressing that the cases remain rare.

"There have been two cases of flu over a period of time. This is normal," said health ministry spokesman Khaled al-Mirghalani.

... not bothering to mention that this 'flu' has a 50% [going on 100%] mortality rate

Last year, nearly three million Muslim pilgrims performed the hajj

The USDA gave Iowa a waiver to feed to more aflatoxins to livestock a couple of days ago. Now Illinois is following suit.

Illinois requests authority to blend corn containing aflatoxin

In a letter to the FDA dated Monday, the Illinois Department of Agriculture said the state "has experienced one of the most severe droughts in recent history" and that initial results from a statewide survey show above-normal levels of aflatoxin in corn.

Yes, we must limit the amount of aflatoxins in the corn given to livestock. It is an important health hazard. Unless there isn't enough corn. In which case, screw it.

Also BPA harms human reproduction by damaging chromosomes, disrupting egg development

A Washington State University researcher has found new evidence that the plastic additive bisphenol A (BPA) can disrupt women's reproductive systems, causing chromosome damage, miscarriages and birth defects.

Keep on rocking the drumbeats with links.

It's not who votes, it's who counts the votes ...

Will 9 GOP governors put Romney in the White House?

... Despite serious problems with electronic tabulations in the presidential elections of both 2000 and 2004, electronic voting machines have spread further throughout the country. In Ohio, former Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell awarded a no-bid state contract to GovTech -- a well-connected Republican-owned company which no longer exists -- to help count Ohio’s vote. GovTech contracted with two equally partisan Republican companies: Smartech for servers and Triad for IT support (Push and Pray Voting) .

Electronic voting machines with ties to Republican-connected companies have proliferated throughout Ohio. Federal money from the Help America Vote Act has helped move electronic voting machines into other key swing states in substantial numbers that are not easy to track.

The machines can quickly tabulate a winner. But their dark side is simple: there is no way to monitor or double-check the final tally. These partisan Republican vote counting companies have written contracts to avoid transparency and open records laws.

also BlackBoxVoting

S - Who knows: between the vote counters and a few thousand strategicly placed Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CT2WS), taking out 'enemy' voters, ole Mitt might have a chance after all.

Researchers use new statistical method to show fraudulent voting in Russian election

A team of Austrian researchers has applied a new statistical method in looking at elections in various countries and the ways that some of them might be influenced by fraud, and have found, as they describe in their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that two recent elections stood out as likely suspect, one in Uganda and one in Russia.

Wonder if US election officials would be OK with those Austrian researchers having a look under our hood...

Ahmadinejad Says Iran Will Defend Itself From Any Attack

Graph included in my latest article: Iranian oil production drops like a stone.

Another graph on Saudi Arabia shows that their crude production is within the limits given by Al-Husseini in his October 2007 estimate

Minesweeping exercise near Saudi oil hub

Wow! we are, today, seeing what happens when you position imminent conflict in Iran with crashing economies. Oil fluxuates wildly!


I think you made a new word, fluxuates. But I'm too exhaustipated to look it up..... :-}

Oil and upheaval, and the vortex that is the Middle East

For the oil markets and industry, the Middle East is a perennial flashpoint. Given the region’s critical importance to world energy supply and its reputation for “instability”, news from there moves the market sometimes in knee-jerk fashion. But rarely has so much been going on across so much of the region as in the past two years. And rarely have developments there seemed so pregnant with consequences for energy markets.

Unrest affects output as well as regimes

Meanwhile, the tightening of international sanctions on Iran, the third-largest OPEC producer, has had a profound impact not only on Iranian exports but also on oil trade flows more generally. For analysts, this is not just a question of counting how many Iranian barrels the sanctions may in effect have removed from the market – however tricky that accounting exercise may be. The questions are many: which producers are picking up the slack left by the drop in Iranian supply, and where do their increases leave spare output capacity? How are refiners and importers coping with the Iranian shortfall and adjusting for changes in supply sources? What is the effect on the shipping industry? How is Iran adjusting to the sanctions, and how will a reduction in exports and potentially production affect its longer-term production capacity? How does this all look as seen from the oil trading floors, and how are market expectations shaping trading behaviour both in physical crude and product markets and in futures exchanges? And, inevitably, how is it affecting prices?

The economic consequences of climate change...

Ottawa drought to blame for damage to some homes
Home repair companies flooded with work as recent rain reveals foundation cracks, sinking, shifting

"The structural damage that has occurred this summer has been devastating to homeowners. I mean repair bills on average, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000," O'Neill said.

The insurance industry is already aware of the costs...

Climate change leads to rising subsidence risks in Europe (LLOYD'S)

Damn those Rossby waves! This woman's having her worst bad hair day ever!

Britain gets almost a month of rain in 24 hours
Several people die in accidents as most parts of the country are hit by downpours and strong winds


Just came back from a week long hike in the Himalayas. Locals say that the weather freaks them out nowadays. It's raining when it should snow and it's sunny when it should be raining. Hiking, fishing or farming; all seasons have either shifted or changed. Too bad the city people can't notice all this.

Alaska Railroad Flood damage.

2 days to fix this, railroads are amazing.

Probably helps to have tracks going right up to a damaged area, tracks that can carry heavy parts, crews and equipment.

Almost two thirds of US adults favour the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the United States, according to a September telephone survey, the Nuclear Energy Institute announced in a press release

First time I ever laughed when reading drumbeat

Since I went 100% wireless six months ago, I no longer answer calls from unknown numbers.
Why?? because they cost me both time and money, which I no longer wish to waste.

I expect anybody who has some intelligence to do the same.
Our phone system is turning into a obnoxious nuisance, mostly because lax enforcement of DNC lists.

Thus phone survey's (like everything else) are losing their accuracy.

P.S. I strongly oppose nuclear power.

I estimate that the recent 3/11 incident in Japan has already cost Americans 3 to 4 months of average lifespan. I expect that the Japanese lost several years of average lifespan. A major incident on US soil could easily subtract 10 years off our average lifespan.

Just how could our government compensate us for that??? No way.. no how.. not going to happen.

So why take this silly/stupid risk??
Get rid of nuclear power before you pay the price for someone else's negligence/greed/stupidity!!

Oh please god, let this be true.....

After his wife's plane was forced to make an emergency landing this weekend, Romney told the Los Angeles Times, he was worried for her safety. The candidate then continued on a bizarre tangent that showed just how little the Republican nominee understands about flight.

“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney told the paper. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly."
Romney said the biggest problem in a distressed aircraft is that "the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous."


Apparently unbeknownst to Romney, some of the windows on aircraft do open. They are called "emergency exits" and have clearly marked window releases, which probably don't work in flight. They are usually over the wing so you can run screaming along it and jump off rather than just doing a headplant into the ground. I usually try to get a seat next to one because, first, you get extra leg room, and second, you will be one of the first people off the aircraft in the event of a crash and fire.

It's true.

Yep, this is the best the GOP could do.

And he's still raking in the funding from millionaires. We will really see if an election can be bought this time round.

I now await the website with slick graphics and a message dedicated to curing this very dangerous problem of lack of opening windows for airplanes.

Toss in griefer culture with a phonebank for volunteers to call Romney staff for position papers and airlines for comments and its got Cobert Report level ha-ha moments.

We will really see if an election can be bought this time round.

Or stolen via electronic vote fraud and voter suppression in a few key battleground states.

See my response to Seraph above, re: Austrian elections researchers...

He's just steppin' in it left and right ...

Mitt Romney Accused Of 'Dyeing His Face Brown' For Univision Interview (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

... Some called it an orange spray tan, others labeled it "brownface," but the conjecture was the same. Social media platforms were abuzz on Wednesday with the insinuation that the GOP candidate had somehow darkened his skin before coming on Univision's Latino forum.

... good thing he didn't give a speech to the NAACP

p.s Don't take him on a submarine, he'll be looking for the screen door.

Ryan's 'Secret' Tape Is Even More Extreme Than Romney's

On recently transcribed remarks from an audio recording, Ryan said his ideas and values were shaped by an extremist author who thought humanity must "reject the morality of altruism," and that his opinions on monetary policy are guided by a fictional speech which says "the words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality."

That author says the "collectivist philosophy" Ryan ascribes to Social Security and Medicare is a "looters' credo." By that reckoning, anyone who receives assistance from the government -- including disabled combat veterans or impoverished children -- is a "looter."

LOL - I almost spit my tea just now.

I thought the subtle, swaying, almost subliminal pulse of the rumba clave behind Romnoid's voice every time he spoke was a particularly effective device. /sarc

I don't believe any one human can be this stupid. Please, in the name of humankind, tell me these lies are a smear campaign. No one can be that stupid. Right? Please?

I think it hilariously funny. Actually he is not really that stupid, but has led such a sheltered life that he just doesn't know very about the outside world. He is kind of an oxymoron, a smart person that is so uninformed about the real world that it makes him seem really stupid.

Ron P.

Some argue that Romney was making a joke. Some argue that he was serious.

The fact that it is debateable is a problem for Romney.

About half a dozen years ago an event made it to the press. It seemed it was an actuall case and not just some joke. A couple got married in Germany. Lots of jokes about upcoming kids at the speeches at the wedding party. Then after about half a year the couple begin to ask around: "Those kids they are talking about, when will they come?" They DIDN'T KNOW.
We had a lot of discussions at the time about excatly what kind of shielding that can lead to not only one individual but both in the couple displying this level of ignorance.

I think you can find yourself in situations where everything around you is so unreal that your own gauges get skewed.

I have said before that I was a bit shocked to see how much McCain left his own persona behind when he was running. He's in the glare of the (metaphoric and literal) spotlights, with a loud intercom blaring in his ears telling him what needs to be said, what's happening in the world, what's important, what 'they' need, etc.. It was eerie to see McCain's concession speech, because like a flash, it was HIM again. That must have felt good! Romney is the same.. mostly also true for Obama.

It's not about the president, I have to rememeber. It's about us. We're being given this spectacle, being asked to team up for one hero or another.. They're just guys.. mired in a massively powerful and frightened system.

No more TV.. find something real to work on.

I tell everyone - get rid of your TV. I haven't had TV for 15 years, and I miss it not at all - quite the contrary. My life and my thinking given back to me. They don't call them "programs" for nothing.

Occasionally I'll be at a friend's house and their TV will be on, and it's like a weird spell is being cast. I can hardly get their attention, they are so glued to the darn thing. And if you haven't watched TV in a few years, the commercials will have you wondering just what the heck is going on with our "culture"...

I'm with you. We hardly watch TV. Haven't watched much for a couple of decades. Friends are sometimes shocked to see our tiny TV, about the size of a typical desktop computer screen. (It's downright unAmerican to have such a tiny TV!) We watch "Book TV" occaisionally. Other than that we watch it now and then if some really important event is on. Or a DVD movie once in awhile. I probably watch more TV in my hotel room on one business trip than I watch in six months at home (and that just reminds me why I don't watch it at home).

I would much rather read a book than waste my time with TV. TV just rots your brain, in my opinion.

Dumped mine in 2006. Literally. It fell onto the floor when I used the big toe to adjust sound volume, and the picture got blurry. Also I do for principal reasons not pay TV-licence that is mandatory in most european countries, and the gov office found out I had one. Threw it out and never looked back. I do miss the occational sci-docu, other than that I don't miss it a bit.

Since I went tv free, I have been offered at least 4 of them gratis from slightly bemused friends and family. Nice tv's too.

Seems tv's don't break anymore, they shrink until useless.

India finally makes a move on Canadian energy assets

India’s national oil companies have been eyeing Canada’s oil sands for at least a decade.

Now, amid unconfirmed reports that three of the country’s largest national oil companies have jointly bid for the northern Alberta assets controlled by ConocoPhillips’ Canadian division, valued at $5-billion, the question on the minds of many observers is what took them so long? “That really is a mystery,” said Frank Atkins, an economics professor at the University of Calgary specializing in world oil markets. “We seem to know a lot about China, what China wants and what China needs, but we tend to forget about India.”

The world’s second-largest country by population has many of the same wants and needs as its larger neighbour. Both countries boast the highest economic growth rates in the world, both are net energy importers and both are anticipating dramatic growth in their energy demands over the coming decades. Yet unlike China, which has made several multibillion-dollar investments in Canada’s oil patch in recent years through its various national oil companies, Indian NOCs have remained on the sidelines. But not from a lack of trying.

Experts suggest India has simply lacked the resources to compete as global push for oil sands assets has grown.

Report: ONGC denies bid for Canada oil sands

MUMBAI, India - State run Indian oil giant Oil and Natural Gas Corp. denied Tuesday that it and two other state-run oil companies jointly bid $5 billion for a stake in six Canadian oil sands assets owned by U.S. energy giant ConocoPhillips, the Press Trust of India reported.

"I can categorically say that we have not made a bid yet for the $5 billion deal," ONGC chairman and managing director Sudhir Vasudeva told PTI.

India imports three-quarters of its oil and its state-owned oil companies have been looking to secure energy supplies overseas to meet rising domestic demand.

"We expect the economy to return to growth next year… governments must act to ensure this immediate upturn strengthens rather than weakens,” he added.

This is Draghi speaking.

"Return to growth"---that is what they always say. It is bizarre that they keep repeating what is so obviously and patently false.

I even think (maybe it's my imagination) that the elites in America and Japan have stopped saying it very much, because it rings so hollow. Only in Europe they keep up the pretense....

Just another "How screwed might we be?" list:

9 hot businesses you can start now:

In a lousy economy, startup ideas can be found in surprising places. We asked Thumbtack.com which opportunities are drawing the most interest from entrepreneurs and their customers.

Lady Gaga impersonator
Bollywood dance instructor
Wedding cupcake chef
Voice coach
iPhone repair
Destination wedding photographer
Ghost writer
Organic house cleaner
Pregnancy masseuse

While I expected to see something along the lines of 'Home Efficiency Consultant', I expect there must be some socially redeeming aspect to being a Lady Gaga Impersonator. Since I've never danced very well, I would hate to impose on our local Bollywood dance instructor, who would likely tell me that I'll never dance very well. Such is life...

Consumers spent 3.3% more in 2011

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Consumers opened their wallets last year, spending an average 3.3% more on household expenditures than they did in 2010, according to federal data released Tuesday. It was the first yearly increase since 2008, the height of the Great Recession.

Overall, average annual spending rose to $49,705.

Spending on transportation rose 8% to an average $8,293 in 2011, with outlays on gas climbing 24.5%, according to the annual consumer expenditures survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average nationwide price for a gallon of regular gas rose 26.2% to $3.51 over the year, according to AAA.

Americans also bought more food -- both at supermarkets and restaurants. Overall spending on food increased 5.4% to $6,458. A year earlier, spending on food had dropped 3.8%.

Begs the question: Did consumers voluntarily spend more on food and fuel because they're doing better financially, or was it largely the fact of higher costs? Could it be that they just grew tired of staying home and eating crappy frozen pizzas? Maybe a "Consumer" can enlighten me...

According to the article, spending increases barely outpaced inflation, and food and gas price increases seems to have been a big factor.

Still, my feeling is that people were tired of depriving themselves, and also doing better financially. IME, roads are full now (unlike a couple of years ago), and stores are crowded again. Many of my friends have new and better jobs, and are doing things like buying houses, getting married, and having kids.

Yup, I don't see anybody cutting back anywhere around here. Roads are more crowded than ever, everyone is getting new toys (trucks, motorcycles, boats), houses are still being built (nothing like the bubble though). My neighbor even had the A/C on this past Friday and also had all the windows open in the house.

They re-paved my entire development this past summer when the original road was only 6 years old and didn't have a single pothole or crack in it.

Food is a bit more expensive but it's only a bit-player in my monthly budget, and judging by the fatties waddling around everywhere, we are in no way close to people not being able to afford the essentials.

This is why I think Kunstler is smoking crack.

What else would you expect after the Fed injects $trillions of funny money into the economy?

"Food is a bit more expensive but it's only a bit-player in my monthly budget, and judging by the fatties waddling around everywhere, we are in no way close to people not being able to afford the essentials."

There is no "we". It's easy to paint one's current condition on everyone else when they're out of sight of one's narrow view of things. The food kitchen my brother helps manage is still seeing record demand. Perhaps you should get out more; volunteer or something...

...or maybe you're like most folks who are doing OK in this economy; don't want their little boats rocked by reality.

I suppose you don't think this is a problem...

Ghung - Just one more reason why anecdotal data doesn't paint the whole picture. Sounds like you and yours see a wider landscape as I do. I slip between the affluent and desperate on a regular basis. Averages or mediums don't really mean that much to me or to you or your brother. Again, how much inflation is significant and what isn't? Kinda depends on how much you have to spend. Fortunately for me inflation could bite me hard in the butt and I might not feel it. OTOH some folks out there are going to have a tough time coming up with that extra $10 for this week's grocery run.

Most of us tend to not pay attention to folks lower on the social ladder unless they're asking for government subsidies or being made fun of (People of Walmart, Cops reality TV). If there was a "Poverty Channel", do you think anyone would watch?

Well I do get out quite a bit, though I've probably said about a dozen times on here that I live in the greater DC area so obviously my observations are limited to this region over the past decade.

But around here, people are driving as much as ever, being as wasteful as ever, are fatter than ever, and seem to be shopping as much as ever. My 2002 Subaru Impreza is typically the oldest car I'll see on my 40mi round trip commute each day - though I usually drive a 2007 motorcycle which is typically the oldest crappiest vehicle I see on the road as well. Everyone seems to drive a BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, or large fancy pickup truck.

That's the reality around here.

As for the debt being a problem...yeah it'll be a problem someday, but right now it really doesn't seem to be causing too much upheaval, outside of the usual election-cycle banter. The deficit is probably the best thing the economy has going for it right now.

While I believe we're in a deflation period, the price of many things is increasing - reflecting the rising cost of energy I believe. That includes direct costs of fuel, but also the costs of food. We've seen the latter very clearly as grocery bills rise ever higher. Relative to inflation the real cost is even higher. At this stage apparently people can (in aggregate) dig deeper, but is that money being shifted over from some other category not measured in this data?

I dunno - I still see a lot of landscaper trucks driving around to mow people's lawns. I take that to mean the hurt has not gone that far yet.

"but is that money being shifted over from some other category not measured in this data?"

I'm sure that this is the case (see Merrill's 'Staples' post, below); folks are prioritizing and adjusting to the new normal. While there's still plenty of fat that can be cut, that "fat' that was was someone's job at a Staples, etc..

I expect that, after the elections, we may see another round of belt tightening, especially if the Republicans get more power. The imbalances haven't been dealt with in any real sense. Overshoot will rule going forward. Austerity lite is just another indicator of an overall end to growth.

We see few stories on the actual level of austerity some folks are dealing with. Orlov has a guest post today, expressing some things that the PTB don't really want advertised; not good for the national psyche and all that.

An interesting comment by Jim Chanos

And as for investment: "They say people are holding back investment ... and again, the numbers belie that," said Chanos. "Domestic GDP investment in the U.S. is back up just about to pre-recession levels and bottomed out in 2009, 2010 ..."

The problem, he said, is actually that "the investment we're all looking for is actually saving labor ... Look at what the internet is doing to retail," he added.

According to Chanos, investing in technology that makes things more efficient doesn't save jobs. So we're looking at a capital-labor tradeoff that's been going on for years. In the early years of the Bush administration this was masked by strong construction jobs but since the housing market collapsed, those are gone.

The structural unemployment is something that the government and financiers cannot really deal with well, and I think that they are underestimating it.

As a small example, the changeover from paper checks to check imaging probably reduced banking industry employment by over 30,000 jobs, many of them lower paying but solid jobs for high school graduate level employees. It also reduced several thousand jobs at suppliers of paper check handling software and hardware.

While this is a small example, you can multiply it many times over across the economy.

Look at what the internet is doing to retail," he added

Next in line are millimeter precision stereo cameras which will model your feet, hands and body enabling you to buy stuff online which usually requires a trip to a brick and mortar store. Prototypes are being tested already.

It's conceivable someone could be born in a house, the parents receive groceries, goods and prepared meals delivered, get an education online, work from home, meet your bride or groom online, have a midwife come to the house to assist in the birth of the children, retire and die in that same house without ever having needed transportation or for that matter ever leaving the confines of that house. Now that's cacooning.

I am saddened to hear that India is letting Walmart into the country. Say goodby to all the simple small shops that circulate value within the local economies. Those transactions will be vacuumed out of the cities and towns and the money sent away.

Hey, Sam Walton's kids gotta eat somehow!

The Staples Implosion Represents The End Of An Era

"The days of hawking non-essential commodity goods inside humongous square footage are long gone," writes Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions, in a note this morning.

"Yet, there is this feeling that brick and mortar names without unique experiences or traffic driving offerings (think food) are only stalling the inevitable by closing under-performing locations as opposed to repositioning for a future of success."

'Cure' for Cornicopians ...

Researchers Use Magnetic Pulses to Brain to Reduce Overly Optimistic Tendencies

... The human brain has two areas in the brain known as the left and right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) which are believed to at least partly control our feelings of optimism and pessimism. More specifically, the left IFG has been suspected of being the side involved in processing "good" information, while the right does the same with "bad."

Interestingly, the right IFG doesn't seem to be as good at its job as the left, which has led to some theories regarding while we're all so darned optimistic about things.

To gain more evidence regarding the true role of both IFGs, the research team used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), ... The only change noted was for those that had had the TIMS directed onto their left IFG; they became noticeably more logical and less likely to paint a rosier picture of the evidence just presented to them.

Or maybe we just need to fine-tune their parasite load...

Common Parasite Linked to Personality Changes - Eating a raw steak or owning a cat can make you more outgoing

Nice one.

The parasite is the reason pregnant women are advised not to clean litter boxes: T. gondii can do much more damage to the fetal brain than the personality tweak it inflicts on adults.

When I first saw your comment I had an involuntary picture of eating a raw steak in front of a cat! I probably need to be more outgoing! I once ate raw steak under social pressure at a small banquet back in communist Poland. An experience I would now have the bottle to resist. If you have never met Slav hospitality, especially during a time of shortages, it has a powerful effect on social behaviour, especially when they bring out the Insitute's brandy!

Sadly our two old cats are long buried under our apple trees. I gave meat-eating a rest also a long time back. Any tips for memory preservation? I do long(ish) distance running which is reported to help. Not so sociable though.

Research looks at hydrology, soil constraints to shale-gas development

Across the Appalachian Plateau in Pennsylvania, 50 to 70 percent of shale-gas pads are being developed on slopes that could be prone to erosion and sedimentation problems, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

The potential for erosion problems is substantial because of the extensive scale of the shale-gas play, said Patrick Drohan, assistant professor of pedology, who was the principal investigator in a recently concluded 12-month study of the hydrologic implications of gas-well development and its effect on the plateau's landscapes and soils.

"Even though between 50 and 70 percent of the pads are being constructed on soils and slopes at risk for excess water movement and erosion, that doesn't mean all sites are having problems," he said.

Another factor that concerns researchers is that 21 percent of pads have been developed on potentially wet soils, where drainage problems around the site could result in the loss of amphibian habitat. These locations potentially have a water table within 18 inches of the surface, Drohan noted.

... add more intense rainfall due to climate change and you get ... wasteland

Global bacon shortage "unavoidable," group says

Britain's National Pig Association, "the voice of the British pig industry," warned recently that a global shortage of bacon and pork "is now unavoidable" because of shrinking herds.

The trade group reported Thursday that annual pig production for Europe's main pig producers fell across the board between 2011 and 2012, a trend that "is being mirrored around the world." The group tied the decline to increased feed costs, an effect of poor harvests for corn and soybeans.

But the projected decline isn't news to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In its monthly outlook report (PDF) from August, the department linked a reduction next year in the United States to this year's drought in the Midwest. The government expects corn and soybean meal prices to go up and hog producers to cut production in an attempt to control losses in their operating costs.

... Peak Bacon?

and maybe Peak [Olive] Oil ...

Drought sends olive-oil prices soaring

Ancient artifacts unearthed by archaeologists show that olive oil has been an integral part of Mediterranean life for thousands of years. The Mediterranean, with its baking summers and warm, wet winters, usually provides an ideal climate for olive groves. But a drought in Spain is having a dramatic impact on the market, according to Thomas Mielke of Oil World, a research firm.

Spain is the Saudi Arabia of olive oil, accounting for nearly half of global production. The absence of rain in Spain might reduce total global output by around 20 percent compared with a year ago, when the world was awash in over 3 million tons of olive oil.

40% of the US corn crop is now being turned into fuel ethanol. This, combined with the US drought, is driving up feed grain prices worldwide. Two of Canada's biggest hog producers recently went bankrupt because of high feed prices and low hog prices because of US hog producers slaughtering their breeding stock.

It doesn't help that the US drought hasn't hit Western Canada, or that Western Canada generally feeds grains other than corn to hogs. Shortages of corn in the US drive up prices of feed grains worldwide because other feed grains can be substituted for the shortfall in the US corn supply.

Britain's National Pig Association

Are they realy called that? I highly doubt the brittish pigs are organized...

You must never have read Orwell's 'Animal Farm'...

Actually not. Is on my list.

Technology enables system use in a power outage

Honda Motor announced it will begin sales of a new model for its household MCHP (Micro Combined Heat and Power) gas engine cogeneration unit in November 2012, through gas utilities across Japan. ... the ECOWILL household cogeneration system,which runs by burning natural gas or LPG (liquefied propane gas) for electricity generation and using the exhaust heat for hot water supply and heating, the new model has an autonomous operation function that enables system use in a power outage or other emergencies.

... Maximum power output during autonomous operation is approximately 980 W, ... Hot water for a bath and a floor heating system can also be available during an outage.

With EXlink and Honda's original power generation technologies, MCHP1.0K2 achieves power generation efficiency of 26.3%. In addition, thanks to its highly-efficient heat circulation system that thoroughly recovers the heat generated by the engine, MCHP1.0K2 achieves combined power and heat generation efficiency of 92.0%.

Boy, it sure looks like $4 gas price is the magic number, for now. I just looked at the chart from gas buddy.
You can see the glass ceiling.

I guess those boomerang kids are really helping to hold consumption down.

Boy, it sure looks like $4 gas price is the magic number, for now.

eastex, "for now" I'd agree with you. But, if something happens in the Strait of Hormuz, all bets are off.

"it sure looks like $4 gas price is the magic number, for now. "

By coincidence, the local price of gas just dropped to $4.00 down from $4.08 last week.

So you may be right.

$1.25 x 3.75 l/g /1.02 CD/US = $4.60, and not expecting it to be less next year.

Link up top: Doubts on Saudi Capacity May Keep Oil Volatile

"The Saudi spin about increasing supplies to the market is also not very credible when the supposed increase is coming after a sharp drop in exports," Swiss consultancy Petromatrix said in a research note Friday.

Charles Mackay pointed to this contradiction a couple of days ago. They say they are increasing production yet their exports are dropping.

Anyway it is good to know that there are others out there who are starting to doubt this spin by Saudi, IEA and EIA on spare capacity. With the world oil price around $110 a barrel every nation earth is producing flat out. Well, that is except in places like Sudan and Syria where war and other political problems are preventing it.

Ron P.

Temperatures are dropping (only 103 F high in Riyadh last time I looked) and lower to come soon.

The last stage of setting up production from their first natural gas only field just came on-line a few weeks ago.

Less demand, more natural gas to burn to make electricity - I can see Saudi exports increasing as less oil is burned to generate electricity :-)


The last stage of setting up production from their first natural gas only field just came on-line a few weeks ago.

What gas field is that? The only one I know about is the Dorra Gas Field which they share with Kuwait. But that one did not come on line in the last few weeks. It is scheduled to come on line in 2014 but may be delayed until 2015.

Dorra Gas Faces Delay as Saudis Propose Switch, Rifaai Says

“We are still drilling, things are still going as planned,” al-Rifaai said. If the issue isn’t resolved by the end of the year, the project would be completed in 2015, a year later than planned, he said.

Ron P.

It was on Drumbeat. The Karan non-associated natural gas field.


Blasts hit oil, gas pipelines in Yemen

ADEN — Two bomb blasts struck Yemen's gas and oil pipelines that link central fields with maritime terminals on the Gulf of Aden, officials and a company statement said Tuesday.

The first explosion early on Tuesday sabotaged the country's sole pipeline transporting gas from fields in Marib to the southern Belhaf export terminal, Yemen LNG Company said.

The second blast hit an oil pipeline operated by Korea National Oil Corporation, also in Shabwa, a local official said, adding that suspected Qaeda militants were behind the night time attack.

Why do they even bother? Yemens oil production is declining like a rock. If the current trends continue in a linear fashion, they hit zero PRODUCTION in just 10 years from now according to http://mazamascience.com/OilExport/

Exxon To Drill Near Russian Offshore Nuke Dump

ExxonMobil, in its exploration venture with Russia’s Rosneft in the Kara Sea will be drilling into the arctic seabed near the where the Soviet navy dumped old nuclear reactors, 17,000 loads of radioactive waste and even scuttled a nuclear-powered submarine.

Edward Gismatullin has the fascinating story on Bloomberg today, which features assurances from Exxon and Rosneft that of course any drilling near the nuke dump would be done with the utmost precaution. According to Gismatullin’s report, a new study on radiation levels in the area has found no change since the last time they looked, 18 years ago. Hopefully that means the waste is stable.

One legged blind guy riding a uni-cycle on a tightrope while juggling running, freshly sharpened chain saws..... I have no idea why that vision flashed before my eyes!

Officials: Salt dome cavern failed, disagree with seismic claim

Assumption Parish officials said the Department of Natural Resources has confirmed Texas Brine Cavern No. 3 at the abandoned salt dome has failed.

Scientists with Texas Brine announced late Monday night they discovered large amounts of an unidentified material in the bottom of the abandoned salt dome in Assumption Parish.

While measuring the depth of the cavern, the tool bottomed out at around 4,000 feet, which is about 1,300 feet shallower than they believe the cavern should be.

According to a spokesman for Texas Brine, the dense material doesn't appear to be consistent with material normally found inside brine caverns. Samples have been taken to be analyzed.

France court upholds Total convictions over oil spill

Total had been found guilty of failing to address maintenance problems when it chartered a rusty 25-year-old tanker, the Erika, that broke in two and sank off the Brittany coast, sparking one of France's worst environmental disasters.

In a separate case on Monday, a French appeals court sentenced a former boss of a Total subsidiary to a year in prison for a 2001 chemical plant blast that killed 31 people.

The blast, which erupted in September 2001 in a storage warehouse packed with 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the AZF chemical fertiliser plant near Toulouse, also injured 2,500 people and damaged 30,000 homes.

Sao Paulo: A city with 180km traffic jams

Friday evenings are a commuter's worst nightmare in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

That's when all the tailbacks in and out of the city extend for a total of 180km (112 miles), on average, according to local traffic engineers, and as long as 295km (183 miles) on a really bad day.

"We have become slaves of traffic and we have to plan our lives around it," says Crespo. There is even one radio station dedicated exclusively to reporting traffic conditions and alternative routes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Brazilian car industry has been breaking successive production records over the last decade, as the income of millions of Brazilians has improved thanks to economic growth.

... Sao Paulo needs urgently to invest more in public transport instead of building new roads and expressways that will only be filled up with more cars."

That's when all the tailbacks in and out of the city extend for a total of 180km (112 miles), on average...

Seraph, that is an almost unbelieveable amount of gridlock. Glad I don't live there.

The streets are more like car parks during, cough, 'rush hour'. Amazingly the taxi drivers get through it but you do need hang your sense of personal security on a peg before you get in.


That road looks like it is carrying about 7 lanes of traffic, which, if it is well optimized (doubtful in South America) could handle about 14,000 cars per hour, which might optimistically carry 17,000 passengers.

A light rail system could carry 20,000 passengers per hour per track, or as much as a 16-lane freeway. A heavy rail system could carry 40,000 passengers per hour per track, or more, potentially much more, depending on how much money they wanted to spend on hardware.

Basically, they have just run out of space for cars and need to use something more space-efficient, like trains.

RER Line A in Paris carries 55,000/hour in the peak direction at Peak. 262 million/year with two tracks.

In our plans for a "rail saturated" Washington DC, we take the HOV lane of I-395 from the Beltway to the Potomac (Amber Line), the inner break down lanes of I-66 in Arlington (Copper Line) and I-395 itself in DC proper (yet to be written up, likely Georgia Avenue Light Rail and maybe a Metro Line too.

Later, we can take more >:-)


Best Hopes for Oil Free, Space efficient transportation,


That stretch with water on both sides is next to the University. On Google maps aerial view it is very lightly loaded. But given the way it divides beyong this stretch, I can imagine that it bottlenecks nicely.

Not only are they stuck in traffic, but they are faced with all those billboard ads. Look, the whole right side is one billboard after another!

I bet those billboards charge premium. It's like super bowl, every day.

Spain Recoils as Its Hungry Forage Trash Bins for a Next Meal

... At first glance, she looked as if she might be a store employee. But no. The young woman was looking through the day’s trash for her next meal. Already, she had found a dozen aging potatoes she deemed edible and loaded them onto a luggage cart parked nearby.

Such survival tactics are becoming increasingly commonplace here, with an unemployment rate over 50 percent among young people and more and more households having adults without jobs. So pervasive is the problem of scavenging that one Spanish city has resorted to installing locks on supermarket trash bins as a public health precaution.

Others admitted to foraging through the trash. Victor Victorio, 67, an immigrant from Peru, said he came here regularly to find fruits and vegetables tossed in the garbage. Mr. Victorio, who lost his job in construction in 2008, said he lived with his daughter and contributed whatever he found — on this day, peppers, tomatoes and carrots — to the household. “This is my pension,” he said.

So pervasive is the problem of scavenging that one Spanish city has resorted to installing locks on supermarket trash bins as a public health precaution.

As a public health precaution? Their actually concerned with the health of those rummaging through dumpsters for food? Probably more like they are trying to rid the city of starving, unemployed people that are embarrassing them. First these people get laid off, then run out of money, then rummage for food in bins, then starve because the bins are locked?

I would say if all the spanish cities adopted the same 'Health Precaution', there will either be a run on bolt cutters or riots will ensue, whichever comes first. Heck, they'll probably riot just to get arrested to get a meal.

The locks are in a tourist town. The impoverished are an embarrassment and bad for business.

Here's such humanity at its best:
Starving, begging villagers were quarantined away from the highways because it made for a bad image.

Mexico looking at risky deep water oil

To compensate for the aging Supergiants, Pemex must now exploit resources at depths of up to 3,000 meters -- where they estimate there may be some 29 billion barrels of oil.

Pemex has only three exploration rigs available to explore hundreds of thousands of square kilometers and to probe the subsoil they must drill wells which take around 100 days to complete.

Progress is painfully slow compared to the United States.

Pemex has so far invested some $3.8 billion in its Deep Water exploration, which many analysts say is not enough. So now there is controversial talk of constitutional amendment which would allow additional capital and expertise to be brought into Mexico's oil industry.

Total warns against oil drilling in Arctic

Total SA says energy companies should not drill for crude in Arctic waters, marking the first time an oil major has publicly spoken out against offshore oil exploration in the region.

Christophe de Margerie, Total’s chief executive, told the Financial Times the risk of an oil spill in such an environmentally sensitive area was simply too high. “Oil on Greenland would be a disaster,” he said in an interview. “A leak would do too much damage to the image of the company”.

An Electric Carmaker Struggles as Its Production Lags

“Tesla’s story is starting to show some serious cracks,” said Carter Driscoll, an analyst at CapStone Investments. “This shows that capital raising is a necessity, not a luxury, as the company had maintained.”

Tesla’s problems could also spark criticism of the government’s energy loan program, which has been heavily promoted by the Obama administration. The program came under fire after Solyndra, a solar-panel maker, collapsed in 2011 owing taxpayers $535 million.

In Tesla’s case, the moves suggested that cash was getting tight.

Cargill says it's a victim in fraud scheme

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York, Minnetonka-based Cargill said it arranged to buy 1.2 million biodiesel credits, known as RINs, from a New York broker in 2010, only to learn later that the credits were invalid.

A few bugs at Minnesota biofuel plant

Gruber didn't offer details on the problem, citing proprietary reasons, but indicated that the culprit is literally a bug. In an apparent reference to the yeast used to ferment isobutanol, he said there are "tweaks we can make in our bugs to fix it."