Drumbeat: October 3, 2012

Egypt oil subsidy reform still under review - minister

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is holding off on reform of its costly state energy subsidy regime until it completes more studies and holds a "social dialogue" on the issue, the country's oil minister told Reuters.

Reducing state expenditure by targeting subsidies more toward the needy is seen as vital for Egypt to secure a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to plug an unmanageable budget deficit.

In an interview, Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal said Egypt would have a major economic problem until the subsidies bill, which represent about a quarter of state spending, is cut.

Oil Falls to Four-Day Low as U.S. Supply Increases, China Slows

Oil fell to its lowest in four days after U.S. crude stockpiles climbed for a fourth week and a measure of China’s economy declined, signaling fuel demand may be faltering in the world’s biggest users of the commodity.

Futures fell as much as 0.9 percent in New York after the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said yesterday inventories rose 462,000 barrels last week in the longest run of gains since May. An Energy Department report today may show supplies increased 1.5 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News survey. China’s purchasing managers’ index for non- manufacturing industries expanded at the weakest pace since at least March 2011, data from the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed.

UK: Fuel sales down by half a billion litres

Nearly half a billion fewer litres of petrol and diesel were sold between April and June than during the same period last year, according to new figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The fall came after sales rose at the start of the year when the threat of a tanker drivers’ strike triggered panic buying.

UK gas crash unlikely, says Statoil

Britain’s need for Norwegian gas will be halved or completely eradicated should the country succeed with its climate policy, writes Internet publication Energy and Climate, citing a UK National Grid report.

“We cannot speculate about such a scenario,” Morten Eek, information officer in Statoil, says to Aftenbladet.

Oil: The 75 Dollar Floor Price

Oil analysts, pundits and commentators are getting a hold on the rising threat of what is called "severe correction" hitting oil markets. The 2008-2009 sequence where Nymex prices crashed from a peak around $147 a barrel to about $40 are relatively fresh in the mind. The rebound was also dramatic, pushing prices through 2010 back over the 100-dollar mark into low triple digits by Q1 2011.

The present outlook certainly includes the potential for gung-ho traders working another downside then upside miracle, but fundamentals dictate otherwise. The basics of world oil have changed, even in the 4 years since 2008: neither further price growth beyond $125 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate (WTI), nor a crash below about $60 to $75 a barrel for WTI are realistically possible - although traders do not need (or want) to know that!

However, prices far below $100 a barrel for the two major reference grades, WTI and Brent, are the new rational "market equilibrium" outlook, meaning several things.

Greece looks out to sea for gas wealth salvation

LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) - Offshore natural gas could dramatically change Greece's fortunes, should early estimates of $600 billion worth of reserves be confirmed, according to a study presented to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in June and seen by Reuters.

The study, collating existing scientific data, says that geological similarities indicate that reserves offshore Crete may match the prolific Levantine Basin where recent Israeli and Cypriot discoveries are clustered.

It points to strategically significant reserves in Greek waters south of Crete in the range of 3.5 trillion cubic meters (Tcm), enough to cover over six years of EU gas demand, and the equivalent of about 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

Lithuania hits Russia’s Gazprom with $1.9 billion arbitration claim for alleged price-gouging

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania’s government said Wednesday it planned to file a €1.45 billion ($1.9 billion) claim against Russia’s Gazprom, alleging that the world’s largest natural gas company has hiked prices unfairly.

Government ministers said the size of the claim covers what the country has overpaid for natural gas since 2004, when Gazprom obtained a major stake in Lietuvos Dujos, the country’s largest gas importer, and changed the formula for determining the gas price.

Chevron sells BPCL 10,000 bpd Nigerian oil for a year-sources

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian state-run Bharat Petroleum Corp has signed a deal with Chevron to buy 10,000 barrels per day (bpd) Nigerian crude in the year ending March 31, 2013, two sources familiar with the deal said on Wednesday.

Chevron will supply light sweet barrels to BPCL at the official selling price, the sources said.

Presidential debate could shed light on energy issues

Wednesday’s presidential debate offers one of the final chances to pin down the candidates on the energy issues that have loomed so large in this campaign — from gasoline prices and green jobs to the Keystone XL pipeline and Solyndra.

Danish shipper asks Vitol if tanker used for Iran oil

(Reuters) - Danish oil and shipping group A.P. Moller Maersk says it will talk to Vitol to determine whether one of its tankers was used by the trading house to ship Iranian fuel oil.

Iran tightens measures to stem currency fall

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Police threatened merchants who closed their shops in Tehran's main bazaar and launched crackdowns on sidewalk money changers on Wednesday as part of a push to halt the plunge of Iran's currency, which has shed more than a third its value in less than a week.

The measures underscore the serious concern by officials facing one of the most potentially destabilizing scenarios, which has been partly blamed on the fallout from Western sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran police clash with protesters over currency crisis

Riot police in Iran have clashed with protesters in the capital over sharp falls in the currency, the rial.

Tear gas was used to disperse the demonstrators, some of whom were setting fire to tyres and rubbish bins. There were many arrests, reports say.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC that scores of people gathered outside the central bank, calling for the governor to stand down, chanting anti-government slogans.

At least 31 killed in suicide bombings in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Three suicide bombers detonated their explosives-packed cars near an officers' club in Syria's northern city of Aleppo on Wednesday, killing at least 31 people and causing massive destruction that trapped scores under the rubble, Syrian state media and activists said.

The blasts went off at a main square in a government-controlled district of the city, while a fourth explosion detonated a few hundred yards away near the Chamber of Commerce, they said.

China and Japan face off: Tiny islands, big dispute

The China and Japan face off over five islands has sunk relations to a 40-year low - the worst since diplomatic relations began. But the sabre rattling is just for show, say analysts.

What's Bringing US Jobs Back From Overseas?

"Going overseas is not the panacea that it was thought of just a decade or so ago," Schoenherr said, adding he was surprised by the study's results. "Companies have realized the challenges and thus are moving back to the United States."

The research revealed that rising labor costs in emerging countries, high oil prices and increasing transportation costs and global risks, such as political instability, are the motivating factors in bringing manufacturing operations back home.

Drilling for oil in the Arctic: the risks are too great for companies to take on

If oil companies persist with plans to drill in the Arctic they will cross a line beyond which they cannot claim to operate responsibly.

Oil giants eye Arctic prize despite dangers

DRILLING for oil and gas has always been a risky business; overcoming technical, political and environmental challenges is part of the job.

But last week the chief executive of the French oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, declared that when it came to the Arctic Ocean, the risk of a spill was simply too high.

5 dead in fire at Indonesia oil pipeline, output unaffected

"Our Tempino-Plaju pipeline caught fire at 1006 .... It did not catch fire because the pipe exploded but our pipe was being tapped illegally. Oil was being stolen by the community. Someone was smoking there and it caught fire," Pertamina EP public relations manager Agus Amperianto told Reuters.

Losses from looting have increased since mid-2012 and amounted to 29,000 barrels in September alone, Pertamina said, adding that nearly 250,000 barrels have been stolen since May.

Judge dismisses claims by BP fuel dealers that Gulf oil spill hurt brand name

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed claims by BP fuel stations and convenience stores that the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico diminished the value of the oil giant’s brand and cost them business.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s ruling says the dealers’ claims against BP PLC aren’t viable under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, general maritime law or state law.

Japan joins ´shale revolution´

Big energy consumer, Japan has uncovered its first domestic shale gas deposits. Bad news for Russia, the second largest exporter of oil to Japan. But experts say industrial production of ‘artificial oil’ from gas is many years off.

Unusual Dallas Earthquakes Linked to Fracking, Expert Says

Three unusual earthquakes that shook a suburb west of Dallas over the weekend appear to be connected to the past disposal of wastewater from local hydraulic fracturing operations, a geophysicist who has studied earthquakes in the region says.

Penn State Faculty Snub of Fracking Study Ends Research

A natural-gas driller’s group has canceled a Pennsylvania State University study of hydraulic fracturing after some faculty members balked at the project that had drawn criticism for being slanted toward industry.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, which paid more than $146,000 for three previous studies, ended this year’s report after work had started, said Kathryn Klaber, coalition president.

Cabot’s Methodology Links Tainted Water Wells to Gas Fracking

Methane in two Pennsylvania water wells has a chemical fingerprint that links it to natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, evidence that such drilling can pollute drinking water.

The data, collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are significant because the composition of the gas --its isotopic signature -- falls into a range Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (COG) had identified as that of the Marcellus Shale, which it tapped through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

September auto sales a tale of haves, have-nots

The average age of vehicles on the road is about 11 years, according to data from Polk, which tracks vehicle registrations. That's old enough to be running up big repair bills and making new cars and their warranties, extended-service intervals and safety features very appealing.

Also, data from Polk, J.D. Power and Associates and TrueCar.com all show younger buyers returning to the market at a faster clip than expected. They are the foundation of automakers' sales and earnings growth as they get older and more well-off and move up through pricier models.

Teen Drunk Driving Falls on High Gas Prices, Less Alcohol

Drunk driving among U.S. teens fell 54 percent in the past two decades, a trend helped by laws to curb underage alcohol consumption and higher gas prices keeping high school students off the road, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nuclear Firms Seek Eased Export Rules as U.S. Demand Wanes

The U.S. nuclear-power industry is seeking to ease export restrictions so it can sell equipment and technology to nations including China and Russia as domestic demand wanes for reactors.

Regulations unchanged since the end of the Cold War impede U.S. companies in gaining export licenses, putting suppliers at a global disadvantage, according to a report released today by the Nuclear Energy Institute, a Washington-based group whose members include Exelon Corp. and Southern Co.

Navy aims to turn seawater into jet fuel

The U.S. Navy may need to look no further than the water around its ships to produce jet fuel, according to a program underway at its research laboratory.

The technology would free the Navy from the logistical and economic challenges of refueling ships underway.

In 2011, for example, nearly 600 million gallons of fuel were transferred to Navy vessels at sea from oil tankers. The challenges of doing this are risky in stormy weather, more so while engaged in battle.

Add in volatile fossil fuel prices that are projected to trend higher in the future, and producing your own while underway begins to make sense, according to the Navy.

'Superweeds' linked to rising herbicide use in GM crops

PULLMAN, Wash. -- A study published this week by Washington State University research professor Charles Benbrook finds that the use of herbicides in the production of three genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops -- cotton, soybeans and corn -- has actually increased. This counterintuitive finding is based on an exhaustive analysis of publicly available data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Statistics Service. Benbrook's analysis is the first peer-reviewed, published estimate of the impacts of genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant (HT) crops on pesticide use.

Obesity and under-nutrition prevalent in long-term refugees living in camps

A quarter of households in refugee camps in Algeria are currently suffering from the double burden of excess weight and under-nutrition. According to a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, obesity is an emerging threat to this community, with one in two women of childbearing age being overweight, whilst nutritional deficiencies such as iron-deficiency anaemia and stunted growth remain a persistent problem.

Fewer babies signals more than effects of recession

"Most demographers were expecting a mini-baby boom right now," says demographer Sam Sturgeon of Taylorsville, Utah, president of Demographic Intelligence, a consulting company in Charlottesville, Va. "We anticipated that because the number of women of prime childbearing age has gone up. We were looking at what would have been the grandchildren of the baby boomers."

The boom "never materialized," says Sturgeon. He adds fertility rates usually rise within a year or two of a recession's end.

Out on the Prairie, Moon, Music and Lectures, Too

Hundreds of people, some from as far away as Tokyo, came to the Prairie Festival in Salina, Kan., to sleep under the stars and hear lectures on subjects like sustainable agriculture.

Output not stockpiles key to cap food cost-EU aid chief

MILAN (Reuters) - Building strategic agricultural stocks to curb market volatility, as proposed by France, would not be the most effective way to tame food prices, EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said on Monday. He said what was needed instead was an increase in food production in the world's poorest countries, which remain vulnerable to the threat of a new food crisis despite the recent easing in grain prices from record highs hit this summer. Last month, French President Francois Hollande launched a global campaign to win support for creating strategic stockpiles of food commodities after a year of drought renewed fears of a new crisis in agricultural supplies.

Put Climate Change in the Budget Now, Save Lives and Money Later

A new scientific report concludes that climate change is already costing the world $1.2 trillion a year and is eating up 1.6 per cent of global GDP, and rising. It's also killing at least 400,000 people every year, mainly in developing countries. That's not counting the 4.5-million people a year who die from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels.

U.N. climate chief urges greater ambition in Doha

WASHINGTON (Reuters Point Carbon) - The U.N. climate chief said Monday that countries have not backed off what they had agreed in climate talks in Durban last year but said current actions and pledges are not enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperatures.

Rich nations owe more to combating global climate change - Brazil

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Major emerging economies' obligations to cut emissions under a climate change agreement should not be the same as those of rich countries, Brazil's chief negotiator said, signaling a retreat to an old position that has hamstrung years of U.N. negotiations.

Drop in Emissions Not a Trend Set in Stone, Study Says

The downward trend comes largely as a result of the recession, increased use of natural gas and solar and wind power, and advancements in energy-saving technologies. But the study suggests that the downward trend won’t continue.

S.F. port plan shifted to allow for rising sea

When the conceptual design was approved in 2003, the idea was to slope the triangular plaza down toward the water. Then the $25 million project was put on hold for lack of funds until 2009 - and when preparations resumed, the Port of San Francisco took into account scientific forecasts showing that water levels in the bay could rise 16 inches, or more, by 2050.

New satellite data reveals sea-level rise

(CNN) -- Sea-levels are rising unevenly around the world, with Pacific countries in particular suffering significant increases over the past two decades, according to accurate new satellite data.

On average, global sea-levels have been rising at about three millimeters (mm) a year, however, this masks large differences between regions of the world.

While some regions have seen sea-level rises of 12 mm a year, others have actually seen decreases of about 12 mm a year.

'Irreversible' warming to raise sea levels

LONDON (UPI) -- European researchers are saying irreversible warming triggered by greenhouse gases will cause sea levels to rise for thousands of years to come.

Writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, published by the Institute of Physics in London, scientists said as a result of greenhouse gas emissions up to now the world is committed to a sea-level rise of 3.6 feet by the year 3000.

Chief Steps Down at a Company Serving Electric Cars

Better Place, an electric vehicle infrastructure company, said on Tuesday that it had replaced Shai Agassi, its charismatic chief executive and founder, with Evan Thornley, the company’s top executive in Australia.

E. Swanson

Agassi is an excellent demonstration of the power of cornucopian delusion and the attendant danger of mis-perceived historical metaphors.

“The first flight after the Wright brothers took off in the air, for about 10 feet, wasn’t to the moon,” he said. “What you do is slowly move up, gradually.”

Earth to Shai: The Wright brothers were building an energy-wasting machine at a time when the supply of energy seemed infinite. You are trying to perpetuate an energy-wasting machine when the facts are all too clear.

All the will power in the world isn't going to change the fact that, as the linked story says, building a viable network of battery-swapping stations for coal-cars is a fool's errand.

I will believe that we are actually making some progress in cutting fossil fuel energy usage when people in general and politicians in particular start recognizing that the worst mistake in the last two centuries was becoming dependent on the automobile. Just look around and you will see that the majority of people could benefit greatly from a more muscle powered approach to mobility. Instead, a significant proportion of the population thinks they can solve their health problems with even more sloth and pills to solve the problems associated with that sloth.

The batteries do not have to be charged by coal. Wind and solar would work fine.

The "coal-car" meme is getting pretty tired. A large percentage of EV buyers put up home PV systems. And even if you are totally grid-dependent, the percent of power from coal has dropped drastically in recent years due to the low price of natural gas.

But hey, don't let the facts get in the way of your catch-phrase.

Must be near a billion ICE cars by now? While "sustainable growth" continues to be catch phrase of the pollies/PTB?

A one million EV/PV car target is considered quite desirable, no doubt. (All created using fossil fuel). Drop in the bucket, let's be honest.

Scale is our enemy. And the reality.

Cheers, Matt

We DO need electric vehicles but they should be electric shuttles and buses to get the last mile out of Green Transit Rail and lightrail. The environmental and resource costs of our personal car Auto Addiction is a lot more than just the fuel - it is 12x the amount of
Green space consumed, a football field of asphalt parking for every 5 cars, 30,000 annual deaths by Auto Addiction, hundreds of thousands of casualties due to Auto Addiction, obesity, loss of community, ambulances, traffic cops, traffic courts, endless maintenance of the miles of asphalt.

We need to prioritize our Green investments - if people can afford electric cars, fine but we should not be wasting $7500 of taxpayer money for direct subsidies while we need to expand public Green transit which should be available to ALL and not just the affluent.

The VW microbus was just a box on a Beetle chassis. Why, oh Why have we waited 10 years for Toyota to do the same thing with the Prius? A 10 seat Hybrid would actually be useful, not just a symbol.

While I see your point, the VW Bus (Transporter, Combi, etc.) was built on a frame whereas the Beetle was a uni-body style. Just sayin', for clarity... About the only things they had in common were the engines, transaxles, and headlamps.

We do not even have solar energy to meet existing residential demands so how are we going to power personal cars which take as much energy as a small house? I am trying to get a solar carport in the only place I can place it which will JUST meet my existing electricity demands. Also it is not JUST the fuel for cars it is the whole Auto Addicted
alienating infrastructure of 8 lanes of asphalt, acres of parking etc etc.

Precisely. And also the lithium in the batteries, let's not forget.

Using 3,500 pounds of mostly idle stuff to accomplish everybody's daily locomotion is just wildly insane, regardless of the energy source dumped into it.

We do not even have solar energy to meet existing residential demands so how are we going to power personal cars which take as much energy as a small house?

Well, for starters, we could start by rethinking what we call an 'AUTO MOBILE'...

I had asked my little old mother to visit these folk in Budapest a couple of weeks ago. She made contact and took some great pictures of their solar electric velomobile.


We could also start by rethinking what we mean by "residential demand".

Heck, if this catches on and becomes a trend we might even set off a whole bunch of rethinking about all kinds of things... Umm, like growth based economies and things like fractional reserve banking >;-)

Okay, "ng-cars." You think I'm uninterested in the facts?

That's rich coming from a fan of "electric cars."

The automobile is an unsustainable technology, if we are to continue using it is an everyday means of travel. I find it fascinating to be labeled an ideologue by somebody who seems to want to sacrifice this indisputable point to some unexplained (investment related perhaps?) affection for "electric cars."

Meanwhile, you cannot seriously hide behind "A large percentage of EV buyers put up home PV systems," can you? How many people is that? 5,000? 10,000? How many of those people own their own suburban homes? All of them, of course. What is your prescription for those who live in apartments? In Oregon, where solar charging is impossible for 8 months of the year? For those who can barely afford a used Kia, let alone $100,000?

There are two ways to talk about "electric cars," as Orbiter notes below. One is to see them as part of a transition away from cars-first living. The other is yours, which is to cheerlead for them, and help the corporate elite finish walking us off the cliff.

One is to see them as part of a transition away from cars-first living. The other is yours, which is to cheerlead for them

Uhh. Can't you cheerlead for them because you think they can begin to lead us away from the cars-first culture. Especially, the bigger/faster/more powerful culture.

Absolutely not! It's all bad, very very bad!

Tsk, tsk for even asking!

This is the 100,000 mile journey we have to do without ANY intermediary steps. Deal with it.

This is just the next stage of Better Place collapse.

Who wants to pay tens of thousands for a car and then get locked into buying miles from a single-source provider. He always tried to sell it as being like a cellphone business model. Well, with cell phones you can switch carriers or at least threaten to in order to keep the market competitive. Better Place lacked that.

I like the battery swapping idea but I don't think it will be a viable thing until 15 to 25 years down the road when a significant EV market has developed. Once there are lots of EVs out there and multiple EV makers, they can get together and form an industry standard. And we will learn a lot between now & then that will make the system much better.

You think the cell phone market is competitive? Do a little research on that. We have the highest rates and the worst network in the rich world. Because the state leaves it all to the corporate sector.

Meanwhile, as usual, you seem to miss the issue of the energy costs, which includes both the non-road-worthiness in the sprawling USA of the tiny cars involved in this guy's scheme, and also the immense costs of establishing a viable network of battery swap stations in a country larger than Israel or Denmark. Should we mention the issue of lithium supplies?

I keep hearing Lithium isn't a problem. Personally, I'm not a fan of Lithium batteries, I worry about the safety and field life of them. I'd rather have something a bit heavier that I can trust.

Oil: The 75 Dollar Floor Price, above; peak oil economics in a nutshell, though I'm not sure I agree with his take on substitution. It's clear that things are going to get messy(er). The author, Andrew McKillop, published Home Run for Peak Oil last spring, another good read, though I think he underestimates the denial-sphere.

There is almost no 'forward ability' or potential for global oil demand to grow at even rates of around 1.5% a year for more than 1 or 2 years before actual physical shortage onsets....

...Special Report: Peak Oil

Today, more than the recent past, the peak oil denial industry is making heroic efforts at sidelining peak oil by describing it as controversial. Calling it controversial is an effective way of discrediting the concept, and ignoring its troubling implications for the global economy and human society.

Making sure that there is no full public discourse on why oil prices rise anytime there is the slightest tremor of economic recovery, in lockstep with equities, dragging up all other commodities with oil, peak oil denial is based on a single premise. This basic premise is contrary to fundamental laws of physics - that finite geological resources, of oil, will somehow last forever.

The basics of world oil have changed, even in the 4 years since 2008: neither further price growth beyond $125 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate (WTI), nor a crash below about $60 to $75 a barrel for WTI are realistically possible - although traders do not need (or want) to know that!

I agree with that basic rationale and have posted suggestions of an ever narrowing oil price window. Once 147 was hit, it set in 08 dollars a ceiling of what the economy could handle, probably at a higher economic peak than we will experience again (unless fusion saves the day). Meanwhile, the cost of marginal oil that is needed just to maintain current flow requires a minimum price. As we delve further into non-conventional sources and deep off shore the bottom price will rise while the top price the economy can handle either remains steady or falls. As we move forward I'm expecting the oil price window to continue to narrow and at some point cross over.

After that happens the question is, what do we do when what the world economy can handle as a top oil price exceeds the minimum required to maintain sufficient flow? This raises the specter that instead of a descent in oil flow due to depletion, the final coup de gras is it occurs for economic reasons.

I am not sure the top price declines- in fact I think that it increases over time if for no other reason than inflation. In 2008 the weakest rivets popped- the sub prime and distant suburb real estate markets. It will take a higher price than 2008 to cause the next set of rivets to pop. Plus I think systems adjust to a higher price over time and a price level that caused a shock the first time doesn't necessarily do it again the second time around.

if for no other reason than inflation.

So noted however my post did specify 147 in 2008 dollars.

My take is that there will be buyers even for 200 dollar oil. However it will take time for the economy to adjust to that. And when it does, things will be different. You and I wont afford that oil. The oil will be pumped and brought to the market, but we will pay for it as a (high) fractional cost in other comodeties, such as food. Car ownership will drop lots in those days.

I think you are assuming no disruptive event happens to the financial system. I predict that in the next couple of years it will "collapse" from debt saturation and paper assets will no longer be desirable as holders of wealth (they will be rapidly declining due to money printing or counter party default -- one of those two options is guaranteed and neither is good for paper wealth). Call this "hyperinflation" if you want, or something like that. Then the only measure of wealth will be real physical things that you own, and oil will be one of the most valuable. Then few people will be willing to sell oil in return for pieces of paper, since what would you accept in return that has an equal value that doesn't drop over time? Other natural resources? Well they'll be experiencing the same dynamic. The incentive would be to NOT sell oil because it will be an investment kind of like gold is today, it just keeps going up faster than any return you could make by selling and investing those dollars you received for selling (this would be especially so in a contracting global economy). Then relative oil price will go wayyy up, even though few people will be buying it and production rates will tank, simply because it will be hoarded as a store of wealth.

This historic shift in the global financial system will in my opinion mark when Peak Oil happens, and I think it will happen quickly when it does happen, and this will divide the history of humanity into 2 stages -- the fun pre-PO, and the less fun post-PO.

What a fine simple description of our time. It will be a new world.

NH: Should I have my 17yo daughter read your post to curtail any enthusiasm she has for learning to drive? (Serious question).

If she were my daughter, I would want her to learn to drive (could be a very useful skill to have in a pinch), but encourage her to arrange her life so she didn't need to drive/own a vehicle...

"Should I have my 17yo daughter read your post to curtail any enthusiasm she has for learning to drive?"

Not only should she learn to drive (even if she never owns a car, there are still rentals and zip cars and the like) but she should consider getting a commercial license too. Truck driver is one of the most consistent job openings available at least in this area.

Regime change is a powerful reason to continue to sell oil for paper.

Wonderful! That is exactly what I think will happen. That is why I keep saying: Invest in hard assets or paper assets backed by hard assets or watch your wealth evaporate in front of your eyes.

If I was a non-perishable commodity exporter today, I would immediately reduce my exports in order to earn just enough money to balance trade (exports = imports). I am surprised it is not being done.

If I was the President of the US, I would create a Strategic Natural Resource Reserve. SNRR would raise money by selling bonds to the Fed and use the money to import vital commodities in large quantities. This can continue as long as the commodity exporter is stupid enough to accept central bank created confetti money. Why is Obama not doing this?

The reported 10% year-on-year decline in UK petrol & diesel sales (for Q2 2012) is a significant reduction, even by UK trends of the last few years. It will be interesting to see how these compare with the next few quarters going forward. The panic fuel buying in March would have left many drivers with a full tank going into Q2, helping to exacerbate any underlying decline trend in the quarter.

However, I would expect most commentators to conclude that the reduction is a direct result of the general public's reduced liquidity, after several years of below inflation salary changes. Personally I perceive less traffic on many of my journeys. The AA (Automobile Association) states that "While we welcome the fact that new cars have become more fuel-efficient, this goes nowhere near to accounting for the crash in demand over the past three months, and the past five years." Today's BBC news article here:

Oil consumption in the UK has declined by 13.7% between the recent consumption peak in 2005 and 2011 to 71.6 million tonnes, a level of oil consumption below any year since at least 1965 (when the BP data series starts).

The decline in UK petrol (gas) consumption between 2010 and 2011 was 4.84%.

The decline in UK petrol consumption between the first six months of 2011 and the first six months of 2012 was 4.27%.

UK oil production fell by 12.2% in the second quarter of 2012 compared to a year earlier.

Similarly, UK natural gas production fell by 12.9%.


The decline rates in total energy production in the UK (due to the North Sea (UKCS) production decline?) seems to have increased recently. In the 2009 to 2010 time frame the decline in total energy produced in the UK (currently about two thirds oil and gas, but also primary electricity (nuclear, wind and natural flow hydro), coal and other solid fuels) averaged around 6%. Since 2011, the average decline is closer to 12%.

Oil and gas production are very roughly back to the level around 1980 in around 10 years but with the coal production at a fraction of level produced in 1980 with nothing good ahead. Integrated over time this must have an impact then more money flow out of the country to pay for the needed oil and gas. I guess in some way or another dramatic or not salaries will start to decrease compared to other countries until a level is reached then it will be attractive to do labour intensive work in UK.

The decline in UK oil & gas production between 2011 and 2012 was certainly sharp, but not surprising considering the developments that got postponed during the 2009 oil price slump. From AFE to first production tends to take about 3 years.

Over the longer term since we hit Peak Oil & Gas at the turn of the millennium, decline has averaged 7% per annum, which seems likely to hold for another few years. https://www.og.decc.gov.uk/pprs/full_production/monthly+oil+production/g... illustrates the fairly steady drop-off.

However, demand destruction is still not enough to counteract even a 7% decline rate. Clearly our economy is not being squeezed hard enough...

The cognative disonance in the UK over peak oil is almost total. It is clear from the number of comments on the BBC post (987 and counting) that fuel prices are causing huge pain and real demand destruction, yet almost nobody comments on global fuel supply or the near total collapse of UK oil production, and the few that do raise few upvotes.

One UK paper /website, The Guardian does better, but only on some posts. An article in their energy/business/environment sections will get multiple peak oil comments that get good upvotes. Identical comments against consumer/driver/general sections will be completely ignored or flamed.


Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.” – Claud Cockburn

Ralph, I too look for a glimmer of awareness in the comments after this kind of article. On the BBC site you expect to get a fairly wide section of the population. My conclusion is that the majority of posters just do not see the price of fuel as being an international issue. Instead they fall back on short term complaining about the current/past politicians etc. There is still some time to go before the majority become aware of the link between limited supply and price and the global nature of the challenge.

Seems to me that for the UK (and the US as well), simple historical production curves should bring quite a few people towards the concept, typically :

From Matt Mushalik website :

And this one in particular, also conveys the "bigger easier fields first" aspect quite well.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending September 28, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.8 million barrels per day during the week ending September 28, 222 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 88.2 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.6 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.1 million barrels per day last week, up by 511 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.5 million barrels per day, 295 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 573 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 58 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 0.5 million barrels from the previous week. At 364.7 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 3.7 million barrels last week and are near the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 2.4 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 18.3 million barrels per day, down by 3.3 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 8.7 million barrels per day, down by 2.5 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged about 3.7 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 4.5 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 1.7 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

What is driving the price of oil DOWN recently($98 to $90 per barrel)? Is it increased supply, lower demand or both? OR, could it be politics related to the US Presidential election?

Looks like WTI is below $89 now and RBOB has dropped 8 cents so far today. Could be investors selling off their stuff to accumulate cash so they can pay their cell phone bills?

The price swings rarely if ever make any sense. I've seen the prices go up when the reports show inventory builds, and prices drop when inventories drop. Supply and demand doesn't seem to have much weight in these markets.

What would happen if we took oil off of the commodities market?
Would the price stabilize?

How would you propose to take a commodity off of commodities markets?

While short-term fluctuations may not make sense from supply and demand, longer term trends certainly seem to obey basic economics.

I agree with your second statement. Regarding your first statement, the WTI NYMEX contract has only been around since 1983. How was oil traded before that? Is this question moot since these contracts are merely paper?

The exchange could have a rule that traders are only allowed to sell contracts. There is president.


Futures trading can't have much of an impact because the only reason one party can buy a futures contract is that another party sells that contract. The total of longs and shorts is zero. And so are gains and losses every gain is somebody else's loss.


If you were to imagine that the overall sentiment can go up and down you can imagine that the futures price could follow the sentiment. A comparison might be that strictly based on an intangible such as "style" one model of autombile can command a greater price than another, even though they are both completely abundant. Similarly as investors are looking around for a place to put their money, at some time more of them will be looking for oil futures while others are less enthusiastic. The "tilt" in sentiment will move the price just as a 1957 Pontiac will outsell a comparable 1957 Edsel. (Both are actually worthless but command attractive prices if you have one)

Still Falling: Central Atlantic Region Gasoline Inventories Fall to Record Lows

Confirming what the huge gain in the wholesale price of gasoline in New York City harbor area already tells us, the EIA reported that gasoline supplies fell to record lows in the Central Atlantic region (New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, see map above). They fell to 20,380,000 barrels, as compared to 24,669,000 barrels only four weeks earlier. In 2011, the low point reached was about 24,000,000 barrels; the high point in 2012 was about 33,700,000. Wholesale gasoline prices in the New York City region, as well as in Southern California, in recent days have skyrocketed 50 cents/gallon relative to the commonly quoted commodities futures price for gasoline. [ The Great Leap Forward: Spectacular Gasoline Price Superspike Marks Monthly Close of Futures Trading ]. This essentially means that in areas of low supplies, retail prices may be as much as 50 cents a gallon higher - or more in the Southern California - as compared to most of the contiguous US states.

Gasoline supplies in the US, and in particular the Central Atlantic region, have been falling for some weeks. A combination of factors contributed to this situation, but perhaps the latest, cruelest blow was a refinery explosion in Venezuela. [ The Amuay Disaster ]. Not only did Venezuela increase its imports from the US of [ unfinished gasoline components ] over the last month, but gasoline tankers out of Europe that normally would deliver their cargo to Northeast US locations were diverted to Venezuela - in a few cases in mid-voyage. [ Venezuela Ramps Up Fuel Imports Ahead of Election ]. Gasoline imports during September into the East Coast averaged about 500,000 bpd, as compared to roughly 800,000 bpd in June and July. There are recent shipping reports indicating that the pace of gasoline imports will pick up significantly in the second half of October, thereby preventing the present situation from getting worse. Also, Delta Air's renovated Trainer, PA refinery hopes to start full operations this week.

Higher retail prices have apparently take a bite out of retail gasoline demand. Even adjusted for seasonal trends, gasoline demand appears to have incrementally fallen over the last few weeks. Per MasterCard's Spending Plus report [ Gasoline demand falls in 2 weeks to Sept 28-MasterCard ] retail gasoline demand in recent weeks is a more than 1% below last year 's level. A few weeks back, gasoline demand looked to be on the verge of finally increasing as compared to last year.

For additional, more in-depth, longer term perspective as to the current gasoline situation in the Northeast US, see this well put together perspective:

Fuel mismatch leaves US Northeast short of gasoline:Kemp

LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Observers have blamed spiking prices and tight gasoline markets along the U.S. East Coast, especially around New York, on regional refinery closures, exacerbated by transport bottlenecks that make it hard to bring in sufficient supplies from the rest of the country and abroad to make up the shortfall.

"U.S. refineries (are) able to offset the impact of the past year's East Coast refinery closures, but not the shortfall in imports from Europe," Goldman Sachs explained in a research note ("SPR weighs on crude oil, but motor gasoline prices spike higher" Oct 1).

It's interesting that these petrol price spikes are occurring a month before the elections in primarily blue states (Democratic).


Very Interesting ...

Gasoline Prices and Electoral Politics in the Age of Unconventional Oil Part One

Gasoline Prices and Electoral Politics Part Two

... When income level, fuel usage and state gas tax rates are factored in the correlation is less obvious.

Krugman on Gas Prices and Who to Blame ... Paranoia Strikes Deeper

If Krugman had a bit of honesty discussing oil, he would remind people here and there that the US went through its production peak in 1971.
Truth is he is as stuck in "classic economics" as any other economists, the big "devil" being in that case any "malthusian" reminder along the line of finite resources.

I really don't think Krugman is being "dishonest" by not talking about when the US peaked. He cannot be considered dishonest because he did not bring the subject up. Actually I think this article is the epitome of honesty. The article is all about the cause of high oil prices, not peak oil. And the price of world oil really has nothing to do with when the US production peaked.

And it happened — where else? — on Fox News on Sunday, when Mitt Romney bought fully into the claim that gas prices are high thanks to an Obama administration plot...

The claim that Mr. Obama wanted higher prices is a lie, pure and simple.

And it’s a lie wrapped in an absurdity, because the president of the United States doesn’t control gasoline prices, or even have much influence over those prices. Oil prices are set in a world market, and America, which accounts for only about a tenth of world production, can’t move those prices much. Indeed, the recent rise in gas prices has taken place despite rising U.S. oil production and falling imports.

Ron P.

I'm not referring to this article in particular, more in general (and to one I remember and could try to find back where he is saying resources constraints aren't an issue at all with respect to the current crisis).
Krugman is still in this funny "economists world", past industrial revolution thinking, where you look at current crisis comparing it to the 30ies one for instance, basically under some monetary Keynesian or not, various cooking recipes under the "encompassing all goodness criteria" of leading to growth or not.

As to "And the price of world oil really has nothing to do with when the US production peaked."

It had everything to do during the first oil shock.
If you don't know it yet, the song "first oil schock= arab embargo" is a complete myth , the reality being "first oil schock=US production peak" (US first world production of the time BY FAR, and this in a growing production/consumption environment.
(first oil shock being understood for what it was, that is as oil prices going through a steep transition towards a new plateau).

As to the current barrel price, let's not forget that the US is still the first consuming and third producing country, and that it of course has its effect on oil price as any major consuming/producing nation.

Yes, this is very interesting. I do not believe longer term petrol prices can be manipulated but short term prices can be rigged by plant closures, "maintainance" etc. I didn't believe this until after the Enron debacle in which investigations revealed power supplies were purposely rerouted through bottlenecks to create shortages and boost profit though pass through fees. Yes, I know that the California power situation had many flaws due to regulatory bungling- but there was smoking gun evidence (documents, tapes, etc.) of deliberate alterations in how power was delivered to soak consumers.

Many individuals involved in leadership positions in the oil production, refining and delivery indutries are radical right-wing zealots (such as the Koch brothers). In fact, given the conbtributions made to the Republican Party and right wing extremist organizations by the oil industry- it is very likely that the oil industry as a whole has radicalized and is playing a dominant role in US politics. This is the rise of the petro-elite takeover of democracies in the age of peak oil. As oil prices rise, oil companies become richer and richer compared to other industries in the US and gradually take control over the political process. The prize is critical: the ability to put in officeholders (like Romney) that will destroy renewables and any power alternatives to fossil fuels- thus locking in future increasing profits and greater and greater control over the nation. In a nation as dependent on oil as the US, he who controls the gas pump determines the election. This is the path of all heavy petro nations in the future- towards less freedom, less choice.

Of course there are no end of people who will dismiss any idea of elite power as a consiracy theory. They trot out yards of evidence that everyhing is supply and demand, industry is too competitive to cooperate, etc. They ignore the increasing coordination of elites through organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce. They ignore the regular revolving door membership of the Republican Party and oil executives. But when a later investigation (such as Ennron) suddenly shows deliberate manipulation of short term prices- these consipracy debunkers always seem to magically dissapear until the dust has settled and they can come back with their free market theories of how these things are just not possible and anyone who suggest they are is a irrational and a rumor-monger.

Now I'm not saying that all these refinery closings and transportation bottlenecks before the election are deliberate- but given the past history in these affairs- surely they warrent a skeptical eye (and perhaps an investigation) This, by the way, does not refute PO theory that prices will rise LONG TERM due mainly to supply and demand.

Also, the possibility of sabotage at the Amuay refinery in Venezuela has been discussed in the media around the world:

The Sabotage Theory of the Explosion in Venezuela’s Amuay Refinery

Charles -

Thanks for the explanation for what I've witnessed in New York State over the past few weeks. We've had that big run up like everyone has experienced and up until maybe 10 days ago it seemed like the sky was the limit. Then gas prices seemed to hit a ceiling of ~ $4.05 - $4.10 per gallon and fell back into the $3.95 range. I initially thought "here we go again - something always happens to break the momentum..." but before I could even get the words out - well, the price trend did a complete reversal and prices have now blown right past the old highs into the mid $4.10's - it was a very quick change in the trend that I was not expecting to see happen. I really don't think I've ever seen it reverse so dramatically.

Meanwhile the California wholesale price superspike not only continued for the fourth business day, but prices are still rising further in spectacular fashion.

It's possible that average retail gasoline prices in California will soon be closer to $5 than $4.

L.A. CARBOB assessed at record $4.0439/gal in tight market

Houston (Platts)--3Oct2012/624 pm EDT/2224 GMT

Los Angeles CARBOB rose to a record $4.0439/gal in the spot gasoline market Wednesday on a scheduling squeeze and Mexican demand adding to refinery issues in a tight market.

Platts assessed the main California-specific grade of gasoline Wednesday at a record $1.25 cents/gal over the NYMEX November RBOB futures contract, assessed at 3:15 p.m. by Platts at $2.7939/gal. The differential rose 35 cents/gal from Tuesday and 75 cents/gal since a power failure early Monday at ExxonMobil's Torrance refinery in Los Angeles.

After hours, the differential traded at plus $1.40/gal and plus $1.45/gal, several sources said.


Record high prices are being followed by gasoline shortages, now popping up in parts of California:

Gas prices rise as shortage looms

California Gas Stations Begin to Shut on Record-High Spot Prices

OPIS: California Low-Carbon Fuel Will Mean Higher Pump Prices

Californians could face even higher gasoline and diesel costs when new low carbon fuel regulations gain traction Jan. 1, warn fuel experts at the Oil Price Information Service [OPIS], which says studies show price hikes of as much as $1 per gallon for gasoline and $2 per gallon for diesel could be on the way.

The California Low Carbon Fuel Standard aims to cut greenhouse-gas producing emissions from motor fuel by 10% between now and 2020. It was part of Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), the Global Warming Solutions Act.

Critics say the low carbon fuel standard will have the unintended side effect of driving up pump prices as restrictions on crude oil feedstock tighten supply. High-carbon crudes like those coming from oil shale fields will result in a higher CI rating for the petroleum products they produce.

also http://www.opisnet.com/

... studies show price hikes of as much as $1 per gallon for gasoline and $2 per gallon for diesel could be on the way.

That should spur the sales of electric and efficient ICE vehicles in California.

It would probably spur a backlash. Hopefully this is just hype.

$4.29 this morning in Sebastopol.


Now seeing stories about $5/g gasoline in San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. Seems surreal, as I just purchased fuel on Monday for about $4.60 for 91 octane unleaded.

Calif gas prices spike 8 cents a gallon overnight

Other San Francisco motorists have been taking the recent price spikes mostly in stride, but now that gas is closing in on $5 a gallon, some are considering changing their transportation habits.

"I might actually park my car for a while and start biking," said Sam Hewatt, 25, who was filling his sedan with $4.99-a-gallon premium.

Ethanol Output in U.S. Fell 3% to 785,000 Barrels a Day

U.S. ethanol production fell 3 percent last week to 785,000 barrels a day, the least since the Energy Department began publishing weekly data in 2010.

Output sank for the second week in a row. Inventories plummeted 2.3 percent, the most in eight weeks, to 18.8 million barrels, the department said.

I'm in Maryland and gas prices have been falling like a stone in recent weeks. In my county we've dropped from $3.79/gal a couple weeks back down to $3.50/gal today.

Navy aims to turn seawater into jet fuel

The item above claims J-5 fuel can be produced for $3-$6 per gallon. If this is real, why isn't someone doing it already? The low end of the range, $3, is around the current price for heating oil, which is more or less equivalent to J-5.

The key item appears to be the cost of the hydrogen and of the energy to extract the carbon dioxide from the seawater.

If you read the original paper you will find the cost per gallon using OTEC technology is $8.70. The lower costs are for nuclear energy as the primary source. It's interesting that a cost can be quoted to two significant figures for a 200MW OTEC system when the largest functioning OTEC system ever built was one which produced 50kW in 1993, but a cost using well-establishe nuclear technology has 100% price range.

No doubt as hydrocarbon fuels become increasingly unavailable military aircraft will try to substitute synthetic fuels. But the costs are probably much higher than these estimates, and the capital cost ($1.25 billion to $1.85 billion to produce 82,000 gallons or under 2,000 barrels per day) is staggering. Initial oil production from fifteen typical Bakken wells would match this, for a capital cost of $0.15 billion.

So the estimated capital cost of this naval fuel is about ten times the cost of some of the most expensive fossil fuel.

I think this is another dead end.

They say:

Turn Seawater Into Jet Fuel It's Simple:
How it Works? CO2 + H2 = Jet Fuel

Ok why not: CO2 + H20 = gold bars or fried bacon?
But what they wrote means an endothermic process going on, so you are definitively a negative efficiency.

CH4 + 2 O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O + energy

The Navy research is Completely Nonsense. Or, wait, maybe.. they are willing to use 100 BTU of fossil stuff to produce 85 BTU of modern seawater jet fuel paid by total US debt? This will be actually ok for a while but the most stupid thing on Earth.

It seems to me that one the great failings of EROEI is that the calculation ignores the type of energy input versus the energy output. If the energy input is from a source that would otherwise go wasted e.g. natural gas that is flared, or the wind or sun then even a negative EROEI makes sense.

For the military availability is more important than price. Fuel that is produced from using electricity plus sea water irrespective of its costs has to be something that they should be developing. Electricity can be generated from multiple sources which are not under the control of single or group of nations. There is also the possibility that technology could downsized in the future that will allow them to produce the necessary fuel in theater reducing their logistics issues by an enormous magnitude. My guess is that a gallon of gasoline delivered in Kabul is substantially greater than $8/gallon.

Liquid fuels are worth more than other types of energy due to their incredible energy density. It would make a lot of sense for the Navy to synthesize liquid jet fuel from electricity and seawater, even at a net energy loss. BUT:

- can they actually do it for anything like $3-$6? I doubt it.

- would you want to operate a nuclear reactor in a war zone, to power a fuel synthesis plant?


If the plant can be scaled down, space could be made on carriers to produce their aircraft fuel with excess reactor power. I expect this will be the first step they take, making carriers virtually self-sufficient except for food. Older nuke carriers could be retasked to fuel production/storage/unrep for the balance of a carrier group.

The nuclear reactor on a ship produces steam to largely drive multi stage turbines that provide rotating power for propulsion. Electricity produced from the same steam may be limited, epecially during periods of war "action". The aircraft carriers would have to be retrofitted with supplemental turbines and alternators/rectifiers to get enough electricity for this process, IMO. Could be done, but at what cost in both equipment and space aboard the ship? Probably best to build a ship from scratch for this purpose.

Never been on a nuclear powered carrier but had a Navy vet friend of mine describe how the ship's power system works.

"Never been on a nuclear powered carrier but had a Navy vet friend of mine describe how the ship's power system works."

I have. The Nimitz has two A4W reactors, each rated at 550 MWth, and power to spare. Electrical power is supplied by multiple auxiliary steam turbines; plenty of redundancy, especially since more efficient digital systems have been retrofitted in, reducing overall consumption. Other efficiencies can be had (lighting, more efficient motors, etc.)... and one would be surprised at the amount of wasted space on a Nimitz class. The fuel storage tanks, piping, transfer systems, etc. are already there.

With good funding, the Navy could do this. They have a lot of talent and are great at getting stuff into small spaces. The CO2/CO scrubbers, O2 generators, etc., on my LA Class sub were about the size of a large refrigerator and could clean the air and make enough O2 for 120 souls (and then some). I forget how much hydrogen and carbon we were dumping, but it was a lot.

Fuel could be produced during off-peak periods with just a small fraction of available reactor power. 'Off-peak' is most of the time aboard ship.

If you were building a liquid fuel production ship, taking a carrier hull and reactors, only putting two propulsion turbines in it, and replacing the other two with the fuel plants would make for a pretty good fuel self contained unit. And using common parts as much as possible would keep costs less astronomical than they would otherwise be. And you would still have enough room to carry ammunition and other stores as a regular supply ship.

That would be an impressive target.

A carrier battle group normally consist of only one carrier. There currently no carrier battle groups containing "older nuclear carriers" that could be "retasked to fuel production/storage/unrep for the balance of a carrier group." The oldest current nuclear carrier, the USS Enterprise, is 51 years old and is scheduled to be deactivated in December and decommissioned in 2013. After the Enterprise is deactivated the USA will have 10 carriers, all of them nukes and each of them assigned to its own carrier battle group.

Meh... why not Enterprize?, and Nimitz is pushing 41 years, fairly old. Just sayin' there are options.

Enterprise's reactors reach end of life in 2015, plus or minus a year. It would be several hundred million to replace them and refuel them. IIRC the last time she had a reactor overhaul/replacement it ran over 400 million. On a 53 (by then) year old hull -- ain't gonna happen.

As to using the Nimitz, not likely as long as we continue to deploy 5 carriers a year, six months at a time for each carrier, with 12 months on average between deployments. Such a schedule requires 10 carriers. Further, cdeployed carriers typically spend most of their time a thousand miles or more apart.

The Navy would be better off designing and building a class of several nuclear powered fuel makers which would allow one to be deployed with every battle group. Given the increasing constraints on Navy ship biulding, that is not likely either.

That still leaves the issue of ship to ship fuel transfer in dangerous conditions (weather or hostile action).

I think they are talking about Nuclear power aircraft carriers. So they turn N energy into fuel. Not going to be 85% efficient, especially if you count the low thermal efficiency of the reactor. We will see if it makes economic sense, the cost of the logistics train multiplies the cost of fuel on station by a lot, so maybe this approach doesn't break the budget.

Because the U.S. Navy intends to reduce the deliveries of jet fuel to its ships, it will not use fossil fuels to manufacture jet fuel at sea. They will probably use electricity from nuclear power reactors to make jet fuel.

Maybe in the DoD's calculus, the cost of producing 850 BTU of fuel with 1000 BTU's of nuke energy is balanced out with the fact that for every 50 convoys of fuel delivered to Afghanistan, one Marine is wounded or killed.

From FY 2003 to FY 2007 in Iraq and Afghanistan, a total of more than 3,000 Army personnel and contractors were wounded or killed in action from attacks on fuel and water resupply convoys.

According to U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), ground convoys were attacked 1,100 times in 2010, and that may not count movements of fuel at the tactical level, from forward operating bases to patrol bases.

DoD: Energy for the Warfighter: Operational Energy Strategy - 2011

p.s. This skips over the moral and ethical question of invading another country to access resources.

"p.s. This skips over the moral and ethical question of invading another country to access resources."

don't think that is a worry for the military as long as it conforms to rules of war. If they are legally tasked by their Civilian leadership they follow the orders regardless of their moral and ethical considerations- as they should.

"they follow the orders regardless of their moral and ethical considerations"


"as they should"


Robert McNamara: I was on the island of Guam in his [General Curtis LeMays'] command in March 1945. In that single night, we burned to death one hundred thousand Japanese civilians in Tokyo. Men, women and children.

Interviewer: Were you aware this was going to happen?

Robert McNamara: Well, I was part of a mechanism that, in a sense, recommended it. [regarding his and Colonel Curtis LeMay's involvement in the bombing of Japan during World War II] LeMay said if we lost the war that we would have all been prosecuted as war criminals. And I think he's right. He ... and I'd say I ... were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side has lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?

(Quote From Fog of War). Even General Smedly Butler became disabused of that notion.

A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities and the American Way of War from World War II to Iraq

The figure of roughly 100,000 deaths, provided by Japanese and American authorities, both of whom may have had reasons of their own for minimizing the death toll, seems to me arguably low in light of population density, wind conditions, and survivors’ accounts. [28] With an average of 103,000 inhabitants per square mile and peak levels as high as 135,000 per square mile, the highest density of any industrial city in the world, and with firefighting measures ludicrously inadequate to the task, 15.8 square miles of Tokyo were destroyed on a night when fierce winds whipped the flames and walls of fire blocked tens of thousands fleeing for their lives.

So I guess we need to station a nuclear reactor (and a big lake) in Kabul.

I had wondered where the hell those alchemists and other alchemy advocates where hiding out.

NY MTA may need $20 billion [from 2015 to 2019] just to keep system in good repair

... The MTA, the largest U.S. mass transit system, runs the city's buses, subways, commuter railroads and some major bridges and tunnels. ...

The authority is a major issuer in the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market. Its debt outstanding is expected to rise to $40 billion in 2016 from $31.8 billion at the end of 2012, the report said.

About 60 percent of the MTA's current capital plan is paid for with debt. ...

Population Pyramids of the World from 1950 to 2100


china &india look balanced but its an illusion

I'm surprised at the .1 diff for USA for the young??? validation

Very interest info, thanks.

One pattern that stands out consistently is that less developed regions have larger child populations, and then the population drops off in middle and old age. Because they don't have access to contraception, etc., but then they don't have advanced medical care.

In the developed regions the child populations are now smaller, but because of medical care they have huge populations in middle and old age.

So I think this should be instructive to everyone. The problem is not just birth rates. Yes, this is a start and it's good to see the world child population sort of level off below the age of 20. But it's unsustainable to keep people who are well past their expiration date alive.

It's easy to heap blame on the financial and fossil fuel industries. But what about the medical industry? Now, I'm not a eugenecist nor would I suggest abandonment of the ill and elderly, but we need to start thinking outside the box.

EB, I agree... sort of. I think, though, that as things get "dicey," the elderly will be the first to die off. Along with the infirm of any age, and the severly disabled. Not that they will be euthanized... just that they are vulnerable to the 'new', super bugs.

Sadly, the third group to face realatively high die off will be the very young. Historically, they have always suffered when illness is common.

Next, the poor, having poor nutrition and housing problems, with concomitant difficulties. Rats, for instance. And, of course, the ever popular cockroach. All disease carriers par excellence.

The only way the wealthy will add to the draw down will be if the hoi poloi find them while in a particularly surly mood.

Of course, you understand, I am just repeating doomer talk I have heard. We all know that BAU will continue, unabated and unchanged, into the infinity of exponential growth.


But it's unsustainable to keep people who are well past their expiration date alive.

Uhhh... as one of those future "past his expiration daters", I'm not so sure I'm ready to leap to embrace this. It's one thing to discuss those costly, "heroic" (and ultimately doomed) end-of-life measures we spend gobs of money on in the US, but quite another to claim you know with certaintly *when* it's someone's time to kindly kick the bucket.

Casually throwing around grim statements like this without qualification also invites some rather unhelpful and extreme interpretations, especially from new or casual readers. This is exactly the kind of stuff that gets the paranoid right-wing crazies (cue Alex Jones and InfoWars) perpetually worked up and convinced that all environmentalists are out to kill them.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it was those old folks (us old folks) who provided the infrastructure and technology that the younger folks rely upon for their survival.

Granted I'm taking some liberties here but not that many. If I felt that the up-coming generation was going to dump me on the debris pile, I'd really have second thoughts as to whether I'd be willing to forgo personal "pleasures" so that some younger person accrues the benefits.


If the old folks want to take credit for the infrastructure, they'll have to take the blame, as well...

In any event, the paranoid right get worked up regardless of some random statements on a blog. End-of-life counseling got transformed into death panels, truth be damned. No reasonable perspective is possible in the face of all the half truths and outright lies being spread. You can't so much as say "Let's talk about end-of-life care" without being accused of murdering old folk.

An example of a reasonable perspective is to place some cost limit on quality-of-life adjusted years afforded by any given procedure. This allows the vast majority of interventions we currently use, without the massively expensive care "wasted" on the elderly who will die within the month. Moreover, it's not that this massively expensive care is denied, just that the cost for it won't be born by government.

It's not really because of medical care. Even in the bad old days, people had a good chance of living to "three score and ten" if they survived childhood.

The reason the population pyramids are skewed in developed nations is that people are having fewer children. So, a country like Germany has a huge bulge in the middle, not because sick old people are living longer, but because adults have fewer children than their parents had, thinning the bottom of the pyramid.

This is inevitable when a country's birth rate drops - a temporary snapshot of a demographic transition, not the result of people living past their expiration date.

I've been digging into local history in my birthplace. A surprising number of people born before the US civil war made it into their 90's. Most of those that died before 60 got nailed by something like typhoid, tuberculosis, or pneumonia. Dysentery got some of the children, childbirth complications got some of the mothers. Families that became impoverished seem to die young for several generations.

It's hardly surprising, the 80-20, 70-30 (call it whatever) rule applies here as well. Most of the gains in life expectancy are from basic things like hygiene, waste segregation, elementary medical care and vaccination. All right vaccination is not exactly basic but is still pre WWII technology. I would add antibiotics to the list as well but it's effect has been secondary and most of the times it's use can be avoided if proper care is taken to prevent the diseases/infection in the first place.

One of the explanations for China's rapid economic growth is that as a result of the one-child policy, an unusually high proportion of the population is currently in the working age bracket.

In a couple of decades China's population pyramid will look more like a mushroom, and things will be very different.

But it's unsustainable to keep people who are well past their expiration date alive.

In general, the largest medical expenditures occur in the last year of a person's life. In many cases this may be almost all the medical costs for a lifetime (even in advanced countries).

The extended life expectancy in countries such as the U.S. is not due, in the most part, to the vast spending on fixing people who get sick: it is due to things like safe water supplies, vaccination, and mosquito eradication, which have largely eliminated epidemics.

Many of today's elderly in developed countries are in good health until shortly before death. For example, my father-in-law was hospitalized for the first time at age 80 for a broken wrist after he fell out of a tree he was pruning. He did develop congestive heart failure a couple of years later, but was still doing contract landscaping when he died of a heart attack at 85 while trying to fix his stalled truck, without ever having been hospitalized again.

Much of current medical expenditure is devoted to things that make the elderly more comfortable or more functional (things like knee replacements or cataract surgery) rather than keeping alive those "past their expiration date". But it's not advanced medical care that accounts for the huge populations in middle and old age: they're generally still alive because they weren't killed by epidemics or endemic diseases, either because they were vaccinated, or because diseases such as cholera, typhoid, malaria and yellow fever were stopped by public health measures.

A lot of medical expenses is simple low tech care of seniors who can no longer take care of themselves. Alzheimers or stroke victims, or unable to walk, or ... Some of these folks go one for several years in this state of extreme dependency.

I don't think that's true. When Oregon tried to ration healthcare, it wasn't the elderly they targeted. It was the very young: premature babies. They're even more expensive.

Remember that those over the age of 65 cost, on average, $25,000 in their last year. A premature infant born at less than 25 weeks (normal being 40 weeks) weighing less than one pound costs on average $202,700 for the initial hospitalization alone. Although premature infants make up a small percentage of the total number of births each year, they constitute about 50 percent of total hospital spending on infant hospital stays, and half of infants born very prematurely end up with major disabilities.

Low-tech care of the elderly is stuff that was done by the family in the old days.

Iraq is scary...

Great article on Russian oil production in Forbes today: Is Russia Ready For Life After Oil?

Last year, oil production in Russia reached 511.3 million tons, or 10.26 million barrels per day. It was the highest level since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the highest in the world together with Saudi Arabia. Russia’s declared goal in its oil policy is to maintain annual output at around 505 million tons over the next few years and increase it to 535 million tons by 2030.

However, despite the fact that proven Russian oil reserves are still vast, and that Russia probably has very large undiscovered deposits, it will be practically impossible to achieve this goal because of structural deficiencies in the market structure (taxation on revenue instead of profit).

A significant fall of Russian oil production is inevitable.

In other words, the world's largest crude oil producer has peaked and is headed for decline, likely starting next year. Russian oil production has been on a relatively flat plateau since about a year ago.

Ron P.

Ron, hasn't Russia heard about fracking? After all, it's already saved The American Dream, right?


Mix Unusual Dallas Earthquakes Linked to Fracking, Expert Says from DB up top

Three unusual earthquakes that shook a suburb west of Dallas over the weekend appear to be connected to the past disposal of wastewater from local hydraulic fracturing operations, a geophysicist who has studied earthquakes in the region says.

and Oregon Volcano Power Project Gets Green Light

Engineers working for Seattle-based AltaRock Energy and the firm's partners have been given the green light by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to start injecting water into a series of connected cracks 3 kilometres down at Oregon's Newberry volcano. Their goal is to heat the water, before returning it to the surface as steam to drive turbines and generate electricity.

add Newberry Volcano is 4 miles south of Bend,OR (metro population 170,705 as of July 1, 2009)

... It is hard to fathom as you drive through the summit area that you are within a 17 square mile caldera at the summit of a 500 square mile volcano, a volcano that remains very active to this day. Newberry is both seismically and geothermally active. Geologists believe the caldera sits over a shallow magma body only 2 to 5 kilometers deep.

... What could possibly go wrong?

... What could possibly go wrong?

Oh let's see.....It could trigger a caldera eruption which would rival that of Mt Mazama (which created Crater Lake). Pyroclatic flows will travel a hundred or more km from the eruption, frying all living creatures and burying their remains under many meters of welded tuff.

However, on the bright side, it would leave another beautiful lake in the resulting crater. This would become another national park, and be a boon to Oregon's tourist industry. In addition, Bend could be rebuilt as a greener, more energy efficient city with good light rail system. Also, the huge quantity of volcanic dust blasted into the stratosphere will help alleviate global warming.

/ sarc

Here's another example of what happens when you mix water with magma :-) ...

The Brief but Violent Life of Monogenetic Volcanoes

A new study in the journal Geology is shedding light on the brief but violent lives of maar-diatreme volcanoes, which erupt when magma and water meet in an explosive marriage below the surface of the earth.

Maar-diatremes belong to a family of volcanoes known as monogenetic volcanoes. These erupt just once before dying, though some eruptions last for years. Though not particularly famous, monogenetic volcanoes are actually the most common form of land-based volcano on the planet.

German Geothermal Project Leads to Second Thoughts After the Earth Rumbles

Published: September 10, 2009

LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, Germany — Government officials here are reviewing the safety of a geothermal energy project that scientists say set off an earthquake in mid-August, shaking buildings and frightening many residents of this small city.

"It could trigger a caldera eruption"

Geothermal drill rigs have drilled in lava 4 times. 3 times in icland and 1 time in Hawaii. http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/view.php?id=143

The NewbErry volcano is not like most volcanoes in Cascade mountains. Most of its eruptions have just released Lava. It seldom has had large explosive eruptions of ash.

Note that I closed my post with "/sarc". That means I was being sarcastic. I was joking.

I grew up in the PNW, and as a young lad I spent many days camping and fishing at East Lake in Newberry. In college days I pounded on a few rocks around there (such as at Big Obsidian Flow) and I have some aquaintence with the geology of the mountain. I believe the geothermal drilling at Newberry is looking for hot rock, not liquid magma. If they do manage to generate some electricity at Newberry it will help all the Californians who have moved to Bend keep their I-pads charged.

However, regarding your statement "The NewbErry volcano is not like most volcanoes in Cascade mountains. Most of its eruptions have just released Lava. It seldom has had large explosive eruptions of ash." The USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory has this to say:

Caldera-Forming Eruptions
Indenting the top of the broad shield-shaped edifice is the volcanic basin of Newberry caldera, created by a major explosion and collapse event about 75,000 years ago. This was the most recent of at least three caldera-forming eruptions that lofted pumice and ash high into the air and spread pyroclastic flows across the volcano's surface. An earlier caldera likely formed about 300,000 years ago, the approximate age of several mapped rhyolitic to dacitic ash-flow tuffs on the eastern side of the volcano.

And regarding one of those "just released Lava" flows

About 350,000 years ago, a massive lava flow from Newberry moved over 65 km (40 mi) north until it reached Smith Rock, where it filled the channel of the Crooked River and flowed downstream.

I think Bend would have a much larger problem if one of the Three Sisters volcanoes "went critical". As I recall, there was a recent episode of uplift to their west which appeared a bit worry some...

E. Swanson

New volcanic activity can occur essentially anywhere along the Cascade Range, from N California up into British Columbia. This is the volcanic manifestation of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and there will be future eruptions in the Cascades.

Mt Lassen erupted back in 1914-1917. St Helens erupted in 1980, killed 57 people, and lahars (volcanic mudflows) destroyed roads and bridges, and reduced the channel depth of the Columbia River. Mt Baker caused some concern in 1975-76, but didn't erupt. Steam vents melt ice caves at the summit of Mt Rainier. In pre-historic eruptions, lahars from Rainier reached the Tacoma area. Steam fumeroles melt ice near the summit of Mt Hood (years ago a guy died of suffocation in one of those).

I recommend that anyone traveling in the PNW take time to visit the Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mt St Helens. A very interesting area which always reminds me of a famous quote by Will Durant:

"Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice."

By the way, did I mention that there is considerable potential for geothermal energy the Pacific Northwest?


While we are on the subject, has Mount Hood ever erupted with enough lava to block the Columbia river? I'm aware of the flood basalts in central Washington state, etc...

E. Swanson

I'm not aware of any lava flows from Mt Hood which would have blocked the Columbia. If I remember correctly, the flood basalts came from a dike system over in Eastern Oregon and Idaho. The flood basalts reached the Pacific Ocean, and did block the river for a time. The Columbia was also blocked by a major landslide at Cascade Locks. The "Cascades of the Columbia" was a major rapids system resulting from that landslide (the Cascades are now beneath the lake behind Bonniville Damn. That landslide figures in the Indian legend of the "Bridge of the Gods".

I find it highly unlikely that we would have much effect on the next eruption.

Here's a primer on how to blow a volcano.


Hint: Chances of authorities raiding your home at 6:00 AM after following the link are remote.


Supercapacitors Hailed as potential Answer to Greener Public Transportation

... Supercapacitors are allowing trams in Mannheim, Germany, to use 30 per cent less energy than their equivalents in other cities. In a recent 24-hour speed race at Le Mans, Toyota put their faith in a hybrid TS030 car that used "supercaps" for energy-capture during braking. In China, supercapacitor technology has been embraced so fervently over just the past four years that tens of thousands of supercap buses are now on the roads.

... Supercapacitor technology is now deployed on Spanish and French trains and hybrid buses all over the world, on construction equipment such as cranes, and on garbage-collection trucks in the US. On buses, it can reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by around 30%. The Munich-based heavy-vehicle manufacturer MAN estimates that their supercapacitor-fitted coaches each save around $4,500 a year on fuel costs

Unless I'm missing something, the math in the last two stories don't add up. 3mm x 900 years equals 2.7 metres or almost 9 feet. Not 3.6 feet. (And I won't bother to mention the obvious fact that with feedback effects that we've already set in motion, both of those figures are way out to lunch).



Scientists are in panic but they have been cowtowed for so long they just make pabulum up as they go along now.

Catastrophe is something they do not know how to handle because today's discourse of that sort is left to a few who know the difference between a catastrophe and a Sunday picnik ("doomers"):

The consensus in American politics today is that there’s nothing to be gained from talking about climate change. It’s divisive, the electorate has more pressing concerns, and very little can be accomplished anyway. In response to this evolving consensus, lots of folks in the climate hawk coalition (broadly speaking) have counseled a new approach that backgrounds climate change and refocuses the discussion on innovation, energy security, and economic competitiveness.
If there is to be any hope of avoiding civilization-threatening climate disruption, the U.S. and other nations must act immediately and aggressively on an unprecedented scale. That means moving to emergency footing. War footing. “Hitler is on the march and our survival is at stake” footing.
It is unpleasant to talk like this. People don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to believe it. They bring to bear an enormous range of psychological and behavioral defense mechanisms to avoid it. It sounds “extreme” and our instinctive heuristics conflate “extreme” with “wrong.” People display the same kind of avoidance when they find out that they or a loved one are seriously ill. But no doctor would counsel withholding a diagnosis from a patient because it might upset them.

(The Brutal Logic of Climate Change). That this is evidence of very wide and broad psychological problems is evidently of no concern, because we can call 9-1-1 after all (New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage). I would say "don't get caught inside a burning insane asylum" but that has already happened.

Thanks for the links, the "Brutal Logic of Climate Change" article is an eye opener. I've always thought the arbitrary numbers that get tossed around such as "350 ppm" and "2 deg C" were meaningless, but that article really fills in the details as to just exactly why they are meaningless.

I did find one small quibble:

Based on current scientific understanding, positive climate feedbacks — the ones that accelerate the process — considerably outweigh negative feedbacks. At some level of temperature rise, some of those positive feedbacks are likely to become self-reinforcing and effectively unstoppable, no matter how much emissions are cut. These are the “tipping points” you hear so much about.

I'm certainly no climate scientist, but even I know that "self reinforcing" is the very definition of a positive feedback, as opposed to the "goal seeking" of negative feedbacks. Thus there is no "tipping point" in that sense.

For example, if I put a float valve in my toilet tank that increases the flow of water as the tank fills then that is a "self reinforcing" or positive feedback which will quickly lead to the catastrophic consequence of the tank overflowing and flooding my bathroom.

OTOH, if I put a float valve in my toilet tank that reduces the flow of water as the tank fills then that is a "goal seeking" or negative feedback that leads to the flow being shut off completely once the water reaches a certain level in the tank.

Therefore, the true tipping point in the climate system is when positive feedbacks outnumber negative feedbacks to an extent that throws the climate out of equilibrium and potentially either into a state of chaos or to a new equilibrium at an average temperature that is not conducive to human civilization as we know it.

The "point of no return" that is alluded to in the article is the point at which the positive feedbacks exceed the ability of humans to counteract them with negative feedbacks, thus defeating any attempt to maintain the current equilibrium.

It remains to be seen, but I personally would hazard to guess that we passed that point a long time ago.


Not quite that simple.

Take the practical example of woodland. At low temps/CO2 these are carbon sinks - negative feedback entities that reduce the CO2 and thus temps even whilst they are dependent on that CO2 for growth.

However, when the temp CO2 goes too high, the temp rises with it, and the woodland dies/rots/burns. Thus the sink turns into a reservoir, and a positive feedback mechanism. More CO2 > more temp > more die off in woodland > more CO2.

Flipping from one mode to the other induces something that on the macroscopic scale reacts as a tipping point - the CO2 level takes off when the temp (and thus the CO2 level itself) reaches a particular level.

Of course, on a global scale there are a bunch of theses feedback switches happening at different temps, and so one temp/CO2 level is simplistic. However, some are more important than others and since they are all connected via CO2 itself - the macroscopic view can be of discontinuities in the graph.

And yep, I'm pretty certain that if you wrap humans into that macroscopic scenario I think we passed tipping point back a while. The only proviso on that is geoengineering - dangerous, but probably the only option left.

Positive feedback (or self-reinforcing) doesn't have to mean a runaway process. There are natural negative feedbacks in climate as well -mainly the fact that infrared cooling increases with temperature. As long as the strength of positive plus negative feedbacks summed up are below a critical value the runaway is avoided. Rather than setoff a runaway process, these feedbacks are more likely to increase climate sensitivity (how much warming you get for X amount of forcing).

Positive feedback (or self-reinforcing) doesn't have to mean a runaway process.

Um, at no point in my comment did I say ANYTHING about a "runaway process". C'mon folks, is it really so much to ask that you actually READ a comment before replying?


Some of the current sea level rise is due to human extraction of water from fossil aquifers. If there is not enough water in these aquifers to last 900 years at the current extraction rate, then that contribution to sea level rise will decline in the future.

It is true that draining the fossil acquifers raises sea level, but the amount of rise is miniscule and has no meaningful effect on sea level in comparison to melting land ice. And will not even if they are completely drained.

Today it is of similar magnitude. It is startling that a number of aquifers are being drawdown at something like 50 cubic kilometers per year. Obvious these aquifers will be depleted at some point in the not too distant future.

Thermal expansion of seawater is a much bigger deal.

True. In todays world. The only term that could take off catastrophically is ice melt.

Y. Wada, L.P.H. van Beek, C.M. van Kempen, J.W.T.M. Reckman, S. Vasak, and M.F.P. Bierkens (2010), Global depletion of groundwater resources, Geophysical Research Letters, estimate:

The hydrologists estimate that global groundwater extraction and depletion have increased by 312 km3 to 734 km3 and 126 km3 to 283 3 per year, respectively, since 1960.

Using the depletion numbers because some of the extracted water returns to the aquifer:

rearth = 6,378 km
Searth = 509.9 million km2
71% of Earth's surface is ocean
surface area of oceans: 362 million km2
126 km3 / 362 million km2 = .35 mm/yr to .78 mm/yr of sea level rise is caused by ground water extraction It appears to be a significant fraction.

Thats with no further fossil fuel being burnt. Once they start using the IPCC scenarios for continuing emissions they come up with figures like 6.8m before 2100. That's a lot more than 3mm/yr.

Millennial total sea-level commitments projected with the Earth system model of intermediate complexity LOVECLIM


Sea-level is expected to rise for a long time to come, even after stabilization of human-induced climatic warming. Here we use simulations with the Earth system model of intermediate complexity LOVECLIM to project sea-level changes over the third millennium forced with atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations that stabilize by either 2000 or 2100 AD. The model includes 3D thermomechanical models of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets coupled to an atmosphere and an ocean model, a global glacier melt algorithm to account for the response of mountain glaciers and ice caps, and a procedure for assessing oceanic thermal expansion from oceanic heat uptake. Four climate change scenarios are considered to determine sea-level commitments. These assume a 21st century increase in greenhouse gases according to SRES scenarios B1, A1B and A2 with a stabilization of the atmospheric composition after the year 2100. One additional scenario assumes 1000 years of constant atmospheric composition from the year 2000 onwards. For our preferred model version, we find an already committed total sea-level rise of 1.1 m by 3000 AD. In experiments with greenhouse gas concentration stabilization at 2100 AD, the total sea-level rise ranges between 2.1 m (B1), 4.1 m (A1B) and 6.8 m (A2). In all scenarios, more than half of this amount arises from the Greenland ice sheet, thermal expansion is the second largest contributor, and the contribution of glaciers and ice caps is small as it is limited by the available ice volume of maximally 25 cm of sea-level equivalent. Additionally, we analysed the sensitivity of the sea-level contributions from an ensemble of nine different model versions that cover a large range of climate sensitivity realized by model parameter variations of the atmosphere–ocean model. Selected temperature indices are found to be good predictors for sea-level contributions from the different components of land ice and oceanic thermal expansion after 1000 years.

Sea levels will rise some meters, but not for hundreds of years. This is for a model where CO2 is constant after 2100, which doesn't seem realistic, since CO2 in the atmosphere has a half life of a couple hundred years.


Don't worry, they are going to solve this problem during the Presidential Debates tonight.


Then comes the electoral alchemy where we drop our magic paper ballot into the ballot box, then soon all these problems will piff poof piffle go away!


CO2 doesn't have a half-life, i.e. it won't decay as a simple exponential. There is a long tail lasting thousands of years.
I question the glaciology, I think their melt timescale is way too slow. Other effects suggest melting timescales are much faster than growth timescales. Changes in icesheet albedo as dry snow becomes wet snow, becomes wet ice, becomes dirty old ice. And we now know much meltwater penetrates to the base, and helps the ice flow speedup. Also as sea get warmer and higher, the grounding line (where the ice starts floating on seawater) can move dramatically inland, allowing ice drainage to speedup. So all in all, we are likely to see this happen much faster than their model shows.

"we are likely to see this happen much faster than their model shows"

That is the one thing that has been quite consistent ... they continually underestimate because their concept of acceleration in the model is too close to linear progression.

I wonder if they accurately model potential positive feedbacks at the base of the ice on the Greenland ice sheet. For example, visitors to eastern Washington state can see first hand the effects on the landscape of ice dams catastrophically failing repeatedly during the last ice age.

Missoula Floods

As the depth of the water in Lake Missoula increased, the pressure at the bottom of the ice dam increased enough to lower the freezing point of water below the temperature of the ice forming the dam. This allowed liquid water to seep into minuscule cracks present in the ice dam. Over a period of time, the friction from water flowing through these cracks generated enough heat to melt the ice walls and enlarge the cracks. This allowed more water to flow through the cracks, generating more heat, allowing even more water to flow through the cracks. This feedback cycle eventually weakened the ice dam so much that it could no longer support the pressure of the water behind it, and it failed catastrophically.

Please note, I am NOT suggesting a large lake will form on Greenland, only that meltwater can be part of a positive feedback that eventually leads to rapid weakening of the ice from the bottom up.


Global slowdown 'becoming a genuine possibility,' as Europe, China decelerate further

LONDON - The euro zone's economic woes accelerated last month and China's slowdown looked likely to extend to a seventh quarter, surveys on Wednesday showed, while the United States proved the bright spot with better-than-expected news on services and jobs.

Purchasing managers indexes (PMIs) suggested the aggressive actions taken by the world's central banks over the last two months have yet to convince consumers to start spending again.

The chances of the euro zone in particularly seeing growth again before next year has dwindled.

Falling new orders and more layoffs marked a worsening decline for euro zone companies, the PMIs showed, while growth of China's normally robust services weakened to an almost two-year low last month.

I have no idea what the pros and cons are of this promotion for leasing solar panels (in partnership with the Center for Biological Diversity) but maybe you, dear readers, will be interested examining this and commenting.


If you currently pay $1K a year in electric bills and could eliminate that with a $20K solar PV installation that's a 5% annual return on investment, which is a lot more than bank interest for the average Joe. The downsides are the hardware could be damaged (so buy physical insurance) and the manufacturer may not be worth the 20 year warranty (so buy derivatives against their default) and the end-of-life salvage value may be zero (on the other hand the 20 year discount value on dollars may be less than zero). Subtract subsidies, add administrative overhead, crank the spreadsheet and pull the trigger when the target enters the sight.

Apparently some investors think that is the case. I'd jump if it were not for the subsidies and overhead components.

A lot of third party financing plans becoming available. Some (SunCity?) own the PV system, and sell you the power at a negotiated rate, which presumably is a bit lower than you are currently paying your utility. I think the investors (in SunCity or whomever) capture some sort of tax break that improves their return).

Lots of Cons.

Minimal Pros

The model generally these days is 20 years of payments with an escalator. Designed to stay just below electricity rates thru time (what happens if somehow electricity rates drop?). No early buy outs. The model is changing rapidly it was different just months ago. The lease providers are staying just ahead of the IRS in regards to skirting rules on leases.

Individual usage changes the numbers some but 85% of the large amount of saving over that 20 years goes to the banksters and 15% to the homeowner. Just enough to get folks to sign on. If your monthly bill is too low to allow acceptable return you will be denied a lease.

It's the worst way to get solar, besides putting the whole thing on a credit card and making minimum payments. The leases are then bundled by the banksters and sold as securities on Wall Street (sound familiar?).

There are serious restrictions when it comes time to sell the house. The buyer must take on the lease or else the seller must pay off the whole thing right then.

If the banksters at the FHFA (federal housing agency) hadn't killed the PACE program, government financing would have been available at much much much better rates.

Thanks Obama!

Thanks all, for breaking this down for dummies like me. Very helpful!

Why do you suppose that the Center for Biological Diversity is getting mixed up in this is the pros are minimal?

You're not a dummy. These things are complex: TOU rates, net metering, tiered rates, escalators, etc etc.

The numbers are so good for the financiers that there's extra thousand$$ to pass around. Anything to get people to sign these things.

So a truly good cause sees a way to collect some money. Good. The banksters see a cost effective way to persuade people to sign up.

Solar has green cachet. The Good Cause and the banksters both use that to their advantage. Fortunately, going solar is a desirable end, even when the means suck.

Over the course of the lease the homeowner will pay for the system several times over. Typically some portion of the electricity bill expense remains on the homeowner, and rate increases are increasingly in the lower tiers lately, raising the cost for this remaining usage, solar lease notwithstanding.

Thank you. The complexity of the economics and the marriage with a good cause is perplexing!

Sounds more like a steal than a deal.

[edit - Sierra Club is now making the same solar lease offer]

I think they are closer to win-win. The investors get a decent low risk return on their money (I'm hoping to become one, I already have PV on my roof), and the roof-owner leasee gets somewhat better rates than he would have. Its a far better deal, to own -if you have the cash (like I did), but many homeowners don't, so it is either use third party financing and ownership, or don't do it at all. This is really the great white hope for rooftop PV expansion in the US in the next several years. With any luck the financing will have to be competitive -else the roof-owner can choose another vendor, and as installation costs go down, the competitive rates for the power should go down as well. So, as with many things, you might be better off waiting.
I really think this is the ticket to getting gigawatts of rooftop PF installed. I also think much of that capacity will be on commercial rooftops, not individual homes.
Sure, some of the money goes to investors and bankers, thats the way capitalism (which I think sucks, but don't know how to replace).

They are win-win, but the spoils of that win are much diminished for the homeowner. Like 85% diminished. Your local bank on the corner can beat the solar lease terms and leave you owning the system and not constrained by all the terms and conditions.

The investors get a great deal. Big win for the folks who already have money. That's why they are throwing thousand dollar checks around to anyone who gets near one of these leases. They collect any local or state rebates. They collect the 30% tax credit. They benefit from commercial tax write-offs (depreciation, etc) AND they get a 20 year income stream they can turn around and sell on Wall Street. All virtually guaranteed, received in short time, and without risk (to them).

The homeowner gets some production and maintenance guarantees, and sees small utility savings. With restrictions.

The killed-by-Obama's-FHFA PACE program would truly have been a win-win-win proposition, unless you happen to be a bankster. Homeowner would own the system. Transferability not an issue. Much much much lower interest rates, much much much greater savings for the homeowner. Cash flow positive from day one. No banksters involved.

That's how you beat capitalism. Have the government offer low rate financing without greedy middlemen sucking out all the benefit while deceiving people thru expensive advertising intentionally misinforming them around how much benefit they will really get.

If you can't buy the system outright, and don't have access to better financing options, then a solar lease is the best LAST RESORT for going solar.

It's not a technology problem, it's a policy problem. A government that was serious about promoting solar for its citizens could change the rules IN ONE DAY to allow much greater benefit to the homeowner, and write the banksters out of the equation. If there were a government around that had that objective.

There are also some attempts at crowd funding. Our government is substantially owned by rich owners of fossil fuel rights. They want to delay solar as long as possible. Another new area is community solar, where several wannabe solar people get together, pool their resources and build a jointly owned system, not necesarily on everyones roof. Soft costs, like permitting, etc. ought be be lower per watt for larger systems (also inverters, etc.). It might also be possible to buy smaller shares of a cimmunity system than would make sense as a standalone, so maybe the cost of getting your feet wet can be reduced.

Yes, agreed.

But the community solar route is an unnecessarily circuitous and inefficient process (time and money-wise) that could be vastly simplified with benefit to the homeowner and the planet, thru simple policy changes.

It's the bankster government owners stopping things in my example.

I would argue community solar where applicable could be a pretty good solution. Say both you and your neighbor want to go PV, but only he has the proper orientation of roof. With a two-way community approach both yours, and his panels would be located on his roof. And one double sized inverter is cheaper than two smaller ones. And one safety inspection, and so on. Then with larger cooperative groups other possibilities open up, such as incremental expansion.

I agree it could be a great solution.

It is not currently because it's too difficult and savings are unnaturally low and eaten up transactionally.

Yeah, I'm pretty skeptical on these lease deals.

I'm wondering if there will be a DIY revolution. I'm finally getting around to building another PV system (as soon as Solar City completes the main panel upgrade and EV charger installation that they are current botching, Grrrr.) and I'm amazed at the newer technology. First of all, the panel prices are shocking low compared to when I installed the previous system like 10 years ago . . . around 1/4 of the price! And second, these microinverters seem pretty awesome. They really simplify the wiring and design of PV system. No sizing calculations. No high-voltage DC at all. No DC disconnect. Just their plug & play AC system.

If you can wire up a 240 Volt outlet for an electric dryer then you pretty much have all the skills you need to install a microinverter based PV system.

Let us know how it goes. Including the hoops you gotta jump through for inspections and permitting, etc. The commercial installers are still charging way too much, roughly half the price is overhead, customer-acquisition (those sales folks knocking on doors, I get one almost every month), paperwork, permit fees, inspections, and profit. The real key thing is to drive these prices relentlessly downwards. German installs are coming in at under half the price per watt as ours. A small part of that is they have less stringent grounding standards.

It would also be great for people who can't initially afford a fullscale system, if they could start with a panel or two, then add more when they have spare cash to invest.

The real key thing is to drive these prices relentlessly downwards.

For grid-tie homes
I think the house builders, PV/wind industry, and govt need to create a standard for house wiring a renewable circuit and a connection plug, so it would make houses/dwellings have commodity installations.

An installer would not have to 'custom wire' any installation. They would just plug in the PV array grid-tie inverter output or wind grid-tie inverter output to the plug.

For the US I assume plug would be 2phase, as that seems to be a reasonable standard.

The plug would be wired to the mains per safety and building standards, properly, to code. Whatever cutouts, circuit breakers, grounding, or cutout switches would be part of my idea of a 'plug' concept.

I envision 20amp (max) would suffice for most people interested in using PV or wind.

Next or in parallel the PV builders would start to sell modular systems that compliment the plug scheme. Win/win, and hopefully lower costs and safer systems for all.

My wild guess is that, if EV cars adopt a standard plug shape to connect between house and car for 2phase charging, an 'inverse' plug shape would be in the plug between wind/PV output grid-tie inverters and the house.

I think Germany is close to that for under 5KW systems. There are lots of sources for the big premium over here. Some of this is discussed here:
Red Tape

It would also be great for people who can't initially afford a fullscale system, if they could start with a panel or two, then add more when they have spare cash to invest.

The microinverters are perfect for this. Can't afford a big solar system? Fine. Throw up a rack, a couple microinverters , and a couple panels. As you get more time & money just add more racks, microinverters, and panels over time.

That is not the most efficient way to go since you need to go through the permitting process multiple times but once you do it once, you know the process.

Yes the microinverters are a game changer, a 200 watt grid tie panel that offsets a kilowatt-hour a day might cost as little as $400, giving an annual 10% or more return on small increments of investment.

But most jurisdictions require a certified installation which can easily double the cost; one panel no longer gives any payback, for that multiple panels are needed which makes the entry cost comparable to a traditional kilowatt grid tie system.

The sticking point is other outlets on the branch circuit the microinverter is plugged into. Other loads on the branch will use power from the microinverter which is not going through the circuit breaker. So for example two heaters on the last outlet of a 15 amp circuit could pull 30 amps through some section of the wire. The only idiot-proof solution is to connect the microinverter(s) into the main panel through a dedicated circuit breaker. A DIYer could easily do that by removing all the other outlets, but even so official inspection is inevitable.

But if a custom plug were standardized for plug-and-play grid tie, new construction could add the matching outlet at minimal cost.

But most jurisdictions require a certified installation which can easily double the cost; one panel no longer gives any payback, for that multiple panels are needed which makes the entry cost comparable to a traditional kilowatt grid tie system.

Do you have any evidence to back this up? Many places assume everyone will get an installer, encourage people to get installers, and even kinda hide the fact that you can self-install but I don't think most places ban self-installs. In order to qualify for a local/state incentive you may need to hire an installer. Fine . . . fair enough (actually, I think that is great because it helps the local economy). But often the savings from the local incentive is outweighed by the cost of hiring installers. (BTW, You do NOT need an installer to qualify for the Federal tax-credit.)

I do think most people SHOULD get installers. But I also think there are millions of competent DIYers that should install their own systems as long as they file plans, get the plans approved, get the installed system inspected, and get the system approved.

Well might be a difference in terms, IMO requiring that a system is inspected and approved is the same as requiring a certified installation, whether or not the actual installer is certified in advance. Getting permits, filing plans, transcending the typical utility FUD contract is way beyond the average Joe, thus a killer for plug and play.

Personally I think a 200 watt grid tie inverter could be safely added at any point to any existing (already safe) electrical installation. But houses do catch fire, and linemen are electrocuted, etc. Maybe the US could institute a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price%E2%80%93Anderson_Nuclear_Industries_I... that caps personal liability for grid tie systems at $1K or so?

Nah, that might encourage people to use dangerous shortcuts :)

In order to get the (now small and diminishing) CA CSI rebate, a licensed solar contractor must be involved.

The process could be simplified.

In order to get the (now small and diminishing) CA CSI rebate, a licensed solar contractor must be involved.

See . . . this is what I mean. This statement is wrong. Period. But such myths are very strong. The installers are very good at scaring people off.

Except for those systems that are self-installed, all systems must be installed by appropriately licensed California contractors in accordance with rules and regulations adopted by the California Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB.)


Here is a Californian that built his own system and got the rebate:

I'm not surprised you've heard that though. I talked to this one guy who did his own gas car to EV conversion (which I could not do . . . way too complicated) but then he hired someone to install a solar system because he didn't think he was allowed to install the solar system himself!

Looks like I was wrong! Thanks!

Where I live now, the main solar guy won't do anything but grid-tie.

For about 15K total, I can probably reach payback in 10 years since my home has a very large south facing, uninterupted roof.

Anyway, I've decided to wait and shoot for a new home on some land I'm eyeing. No utilities exist there, so I'd be off grid.

The local solar guy said "Good luck getting someone to do off-grid out in the woods, it's going to cost you plenty."

I just told him it was better than being grid-tied and huddling in the dark, but he didn't get it :-)

"The local solar guy said "Good luck getting someone to do off-grid out in the woods,"

If you are off-grid, you can do it yourself. It's not electrocuting the lineman and getting along with what the utility does that's difficult. Otherwise, four-way switches are as hard as residential electrical gets, assuming you have enough sense to not use roofing nails pounded through the romex to hold the wires in place.

You could go partway DIY. Hire a certified electrician to do those parts that must pass inspection. I'd hate to have to redo a wiring job, because my DIY skills weren't quite up getting a passing grade. Much of the installation cost is mounting. Of course you don't want to ruin the water barrier that is your roof either, so in some cases, you might want to hire a roofer. Even if you have to do that, you become the prime contractor, cutting out one of the middlemen.

From IEA, Fatih Birol ... Iraqi Growth Fuelled by Energy

... Thus far, Iraq’s oil production has grown from an average of 2.4 million barrels a day (b/d) in 2010 to more than 3 million b/d in mid-2012, the highest level in several decades, with oil exports rising to 2.5 million b/d.

Even conservative projections of Iraq’s production over the coming years imply profound effects on the Iraqi economy, as revenue from oil exports accounts for around 95% of government income and amounts to more than 70% of gross domestic product. Translating growth in oil receipts into tangible benefits for the Iraqi population will be crucial, with progress in resolving the continued and widespread shortages of electricity a particularly urgent task. Growing production of associated and non-associated natural gas, and a reduction in natural gas flaring, will provide a valuable source of fuel for power generation and, potentially, for export.

Will Iraq’s ambitions be realised? And what would the implications be for Iraq’s economy and for world oil markets?

The obstacles are formidable: political, logistical, legal, regulatory, financial, lack of security and insufficient skilled labour. One example: in 2011 grid electricity could meet only 55% of demand.

Another reason for permaculture ...

The more, the merrier: Mixing plant species for benefits

Researchers believe that the richness of plant species can boost primary production. ... A team of scientists in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom examined how mixed cropping benefits plants and their neighbours, boosting both their quality and weight. Their findings, presented in the journal PLoS ONE, show how carbon and nitrogen are higher in plant mixtures.

According to the researchers, clover species live in areas that contain root-inhabiting bacteria that remove nitrogen from their air and provide it to the plants. But the advantage is not given solely to clover species; non-nitrogen-fixing neighbouring plants also get a boost because nitrogen in clover enters the soil, triggered by the leakage from the roots and the breakdown of dead roots.

White clover in particular can quickly transport the carbon it had absorbed during the day to plant parts found under the ground. However, the team observed that this occurred only if they grew close to other plant species. In such conditions, the transport was three times faster, and sweet vernal grass in a mixed culture also incorporated and transported carbon more quickly.

Methane emissions traced back to Roman times

Emissions of the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere can be traced back thousands of years in the Greenland ice sheet. Using special analytical methods, researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, have determined how much methane originates from natural sources and how much is due to human activity.

... The analyses show that from around the year 1800 there are large increases that are man-made. Approximately half originates from the production of food – especially rice fields and cattle. Then a lot is emitted from the decomposition of organic materials that are deposited and methane is emitted from burning coal for energy.

"The extent to which our ancestors were able to influence the emissions of methane with their activities is surprising. The general trend from 100 BCE to the year 1600 shows a correlation between the increase in the appropriation of land for cultivation and the emission of the biogenic methane. Today, half of the methane emissions stem from human activities," says Thomas Blunier.

Government Body Pressured to Withhold Info on Fukushima Radiation

The National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) abruptly halted its inquiry last year into the dispersion of radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster after contacting the National Intelligence Service, it was belatedly revealed on Oct. 2.

... According to a confidential inspector’s office report acquired by Chang, then-NIER director Yoon Seung-joon (now head of the Korea Environmental Industry and Technology Institute) sent a report on radiation leaks from Fukushima to the NIS some time between March 25 and 31, 2011, after being asked about modeling findings for radiation from the accident.

On Mar. 31, the NIS asked a research team member, identified by the surname Song, about simulation methods. Song responded by emailing a methodology to the NIS via the government mail service.

According to the examination, Yoon directed Song to not respond to outside requests and to suspend the research. The NIER’s research was also reported on Mar. 28, 2011, during a meeting of Ministry of Environment officials, but the details were not externally disclosed.

What we got for $50 billion in 'green' stimulus

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Over 770,000 homes weatherized. A doubling of energy from wind and solar. Cleaning 688 square miles of land formerly used for Cold War-era nuclear testing.

These are just some of the 'green' benefits from money spent under 2009's $787 billion stimulus package. Whether it was worth it is an open question, and one sure to come up in greater frequency as the presidential campaign enters its final weeks.

Tallying just how much cash went to green projects isn't easy. The government website that tracks stimulus spending lists 27,226 individual awards under the "Energy/ Environment" section, totaling just shy of $34 billion.

But that doesn't include things like high speed rail and smart meters, which lie among the 43,000-plus "infrastructure" awards.

Also: Poll: Romney supporters likelier to have 'green' homes

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Republicans aren't generally thought to be the most environmentally-conscious voters. But a new poll shows Mitt Romney supporters are more likely to have made green home improvements than supporters of President Obama.

Sixty-four percent of Romney supporters said they had made home improvements that could be considered "green" over the past five years, according to a survey released Monday by Harris Interactive and the solar power company Sunrun. Those improvements included things like buying energy efficient appliances and installing low-flow toilets. ...

...Romney supporters were also slightly more likely to have installed solar panels on their homes. Three percent of Romney supporters went solar recently, compared to only 2% of Obama supporters, according to the survey.

A desire to save money appears to be the motivating factor for both sides though. Eighty-five percent of the respondents said lower energy costs was what motivated them to go green. Concern for the environment was actually the least mentioned factor.

Poll: They have bigger homes, higher energy bills, more money.

Exactly. If your house has 20 bathrooms, even if they all have 20 low-flow toilets, the energy and rources required to make, clean, heat/cool and supply those bathrooms more than offsets any water "savings" vs. an average house's 2-3. Like that running harder to stay in place post (or falling further behind).

In Britain higher income groups spend more on energy for their homes than lower income groups. This differential could well have worsened in recent years since the economy has remained at 4% lower GDP since 2007.

In many locations the larger consumption means their marginal power rates are higher, and adding some PV (but not enough to reach net zero), offsets the higher tier part of your bill, so the financial benefit is higher. They are also more savvy about taking advantages of any programs, and tax breaks.

But, in any case, we are still early on in the PV era. Demand driven by early adopters -who even with subsidies usually end up paying a big premium for being early, is important for developing the industry. Later purchasers will benefit from better cheaper future products because of this.

Analysis: North Dakota Oil Drilling Costs Have Peaked - For Now

... Service costs are falling as companies concentrate drilling in fewer locations, industry executives say, while equipment rents are down after demand evaporated due to a nationwide glut of natural gas.

North Dakota, a relatively unpopulated, rural state, had little of the infrastructure needed to smoothly handle an oil boom that tripled output in less than five years. Production hit another record high in July, at 674,000 barrels per day, and is forecast to double again by 2015.

Costs escalated due to shortages of equipment, crews and fracking raw materials like sand, which had to be brought in by rail. Oasis Petroleum Inc, for one, says fracking makes up 40 percent of its entire well costs.

Lynn Helms, director of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources, put the average well completion costs for the Bakken at $9 million to $11 million -- or about $3 million higher than the other hot U.S. oil development in Texas, the Eagle Ford.

But conditions are improving as infrastructure gets built out and more "pad" drilling is done. Continental says the move yields up to 10 percent cost savings per well, and Hess Corp (HES.N) anticipates efficiency gains next year for the same reason.

IPAA Archived Presentations

North Dakota, a relatively unpopulated, rural state, had little of the infrastructure needed to smoothly handle an oil boom that tripled output in less than five years. Production hit another record high in July, at 674,000 barrels per day, and is forecast to double again by 2015.

Using a Dispersive Diffusion Model for Bakken Oil Scenarios

In order to create this model I made a number of simplifying assumptions. We have the number of wells producing oil for every month from Dec 1953 to July 2012 and the number of barrels produced each of those months. We are particularly interested in the recent increase in output which began in January 2005.

Using the Bakken Production Model developed by WHT and assuming that the average well follows this model we can create our model in a spreadsheet. We first find the change in the number of producing wells each month and then assume any increase in the number of producing wells is due to new wells being brought online. We also assume all wells are average wells and we know what the output for every future month will be from those new wells (because we assume they behave as the model predicts.) Keep in mind that the only input to the model is the change in the number of wells producing each month and two parameters P0=4,175,000 barrels and D0=0.00045, in the equation derived by WHT ...


What URR does your model predict for the Bakken?

If the production curve is symmetric, then it looks like the predicted URR is about 9 billion barrels. In 2008 the USGS estimated the technically recoverable oil for the Bakken to be between 3 billion and 4.3 billion barrels (The Bakken Boom - A Modern-Day Gold Rush (TOD, Dec. 12, 2011)).

In the paper by James Mason on page 7 we have the following:

With an average well EUR of 500 Mbbl, the quantity of recoverable oil is 19.5 Bbbl, which is 80% of Continental Resources’ 24.3 Bbbl recoverable oil estimate for the entire U.S. Bakken.

The model at my blog has a slightly lower EUR per well at 30 years of 435,000 barrels. If Mason's assumptions about land areas for oil development and 4 wells per square mile at full saturation are correct, this leads to about 40,000 wells when the Bakken is fully developed. When we multiply these two numbers we arrive at a URR of 17 Gb. The output curve would be far from symmetric, it would have a long fat tail on the downslope after a plateau.

I have not explored the possible length of the plateau, Mason's analysis suggests a plateau could be maintained until 2045 at 1.5 Mb/d. My guess would be the 1.3 Mb/d might be maintained until 2040, but only if the "high" well profile continues to hold. Rune Likvern's analysis suggests this is unlikely and I agree.

What is not clear to me is how far the well profile will fall and how quickly this might occur. I may try the "low" well profile from 2015 to 2017 and a slightly higher increase in the number of wells and see how that looks. Any future scenarios are no better than model guided guesses.


Edit: I have added to the model as proposed above. I have added two years, show how it declines when new wells are no longer added and suggest that the plateau would end in 2023 if the average well decreases to half the current level (Jan 2008 to July 2012) in Jan 2015 and stays at that lower level until Dec 2019. More at http://oilpeakclimate.blogspot.com/

The extended model shows that wells are being added at a rate of about 5,000 wells / year in the years 2015 and 2016. Considering the number of drilling rigs, available workers and water supply, is this a plausible rate?

You are correct that the 4800 new wells per year is unrealistic. This is an artifact of decreasing the average EUR per well by half from Dec 2014 to Jan 2015. In reality the change would be gradual and the new wells added would ramp up more gradually as well. Note that in the past 18 months the number of wells has doubled. If it continues at that rate, doubling every 18 months, the numbers become unrealistic very quickly. I am not sure at what point the rate of increase in the number of wells can no longer increase, the highest month so far has been an increase of 193 wells which is 2300 wells at an annual rate.

The model could be further refined by reducing the EUR gradually. If this was done (probably a 10 % decrease in EUR/well for new wells each year from 2013 to 2019) we would end up with more realistic increases in wells.

I may try that when I have some time. Thanks for the feedback.

Edit 10/6/2012:

The model has been updated as I proposed in the previous paragraph. See



It should be noted that most of the 'realistic' estimates of Bakken has landed in the 4-5 Gb territory. I personally think that in due time, with high enough prices and improvements in technology, that number could potentially double if everything goes to plan(which as we know, is quite an assumption).

Still, to get to 17 Gb is not exactly Maugeri-land, but it is certainly a pie-in-the-sky stretch.
Also, I've worked through Mason's paper and his decline rates are quite mild.

And I agree with you that Rune's analysis of Bakken is measured and moderate.

Hi Symmetric,

The "realistic" estimates may be low. I don't think many anticipated over 600,000 barrels per day from the Bakken even a year ago. The EIA reference case has the Bakken at 800,000 by 2015. If Webhubbletelescope's dispersive diffusion model is correct, I think the 4 Gb URR estimate may be low.

I agree that Rune's analysis is excellent, I consider this a supplement to his, from a model perspective.

Note that the URR of 17 Gb is based on an assumption that there is no future decline in the EUR/well for new wells. For that reason, it is quite optimistic/unrealistic. The rough model I produced with the unrealistic well increases of 4800 new wells per year (due to the artifact of decreasing EUR/new well by half over a 1 month interval) has a lower URR of about 11 Gb, which approaches your "realistic" optimistic URR estimate of 9 Gb. Thanks for the feedback.


High Court Asked to Throw Out Oil Refinery Permit

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Opponents of a proposed $10 billion oil refinery in southeastern South Dakota on Wednesday asked the state Supreme Court to strike down a state permit that would allow a Texas company to begin construction.

Gabrielle Sigel, an attorney for three groups fighting the Hyperion Energy Center, said the Board of Minerals and Environment erred when it approved an air quality permit last year because its study did not include a full-blown environmental impact statement.

... Hyperion's proposed refinery north of Elk Point would process 400,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude oil each day into low-sulfur gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and liquid petroleum gas. It would be the first U.S. oil refinery built since 1976.

Four times the capacity of the Coop refinery in Regina SK. To me it would make more sense if Cenex (Midwest US retail oil cooperative) was the one building the refinery.

Enbridge CEO floats new light oil pipeline plans

...One $2.5-billion initiative would include expanding Line 9 beyond its current 240,000 barrel a day capacity, adding rail access to U.S. East Coast refineries from Chicago and increasing the ability to move oil to the Eastern U.S. Gulf Coast, said Steve Wuori, head of the company’s liquids pipeline division.

Wuori outlined a new $5.5-billion “Light Oil Market Access” initiative, which would include a new pipeline, called Sandpiper, to Superior, Wisconsin, from the Bakken region. It would also expand the company’s mainline, using such pipelines as Line 62 in Illinois, Line 6B East of Chicago to southern Ontario and Line 9.

Deforestation in Snowy Regions Causes More Floods

New research suggests that cutting down swaths of forest in snowy regions at least doubles – and potentially quadruples – the number of large floods that occur along the rivers and streams passing through those forests

... The analysis showed that, in all four waterways, deforestation turned 10-year floods into three-to-five-year floods. Twenty-year floods recurred every 10 to 12 years. Most dramatically, in 240 Creek, 50 year floods happened every 13 years, almost four times as often.

"Once you look at how the frequency has changed," Green said, "you start to realize that deforestation has had a pretty dramatic effect on floods."


Seriously, this should be obvious.

New? NEW? NEW???!?!??!??!!!!?

Whats next? New research sugest the use of wheels can reduce friction?

Previous studies covered extent/impact, this study covers frequency.

It's like the difference between AM and FM.

Yes, and they state that previously there wasn't the data to calculate the frequency, that the basic stream discharge data for this area of the west is only 50 yrs old. Even this study is modeled for 2 watersheds.

That said, I wish they'd defined deforestation. Complete tree removal in a watershed? 80% or better? Certain forest practices, clear cutting, have long been used for regimen control. Cutting that induces earlier snowmelt in a portion of the watershed can mitigate downstream flooding crests, or can prolong reservoir filling, or induce drifting in sheltered areas. Regimen control via forest practices and slope aspect has long been an important component of government timber sales.

New sophisticated control algorithms poised to revolutionize electric battery technology

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed sophisticated estimation algorithms that allow lithium-ion batteries to run more efficiently, potentially reducing their cost by 25 percent and allowing the batteries to charge twice as fast as is currently possible. In one instance, electric batteries could be charged in just 15 minutes.

... Manufacturers usually rely on voltage and current to monitor the battery's behavior and health. But those are very crude measures, said Krstic. Relying on these measures leads to over-designed, oversized batteries that weigh and cost more. They also take a long time to charge, compared with gas-powered vehicles.

Krstic and Moura are taking a unique approach to making lithium-ion batteries more effective. Instead of monitoring voltage and current, they have designed sophisticated algorithms that can estimate what is physically going on inside the lithium-ion battery.

Brazil August Crude-Oil Output Down 0.8% From July

Brazil produced an average of 2.006 million barrels of crude oil per day in August, down 0.8% from July and down 2.2% from August 2011, the ANP said. Output from the subsalt, a series of ultra-deepwater fields buried under a thick layer of salt off the country's Atlantic Ocean coast, totaled 203,200 barrels of oil equivalent, or BOE, in August. That was down 6% from July but was still the second-biggest output from the oil-producing region.

I think folks like who are betting on Brazil becoming a major exporter soon are betting on a lame horse. Leonardo Maugeri says Brazil will be producing 4.5 million barrels per day by 2020. They are going in the wrong direction to do that.

Ron P.

Petrobras expects to spend $236 Billion US in the next four years developing its energy resources. It will be interesting to see what rate of return they will get on that investment, because they don't seem to be getting much for the $150 billion they spent in the last four.

October 2, 2012 11:02 pm

The funds raised will go towards developing Brazil’s own vast offshore oil reserves, which are already expected to command a huge part of Petrobras’s $236.5bn investment budget over the next four years.


That is true, on the other hand this has been known for years. Petrobras have had different alterations of this plan since at least 4-5 years back. And they are running way behind schedule.

There are many reasons, both above-ground and below it. One of the biggest problems is that Petrobras is going the same path as Pemex; that it becomes a cashcow for local populists and demagogues to milk and use for their own largesse that they shower their electorate with in order to get re-elected.

Since most of their oil is in ultra-deep and in pre-salt layers, it requires very extensive expertise as well as being able to get a large amount of capital investment into fruition at a rapid pace. Countries like the U.S., South Korea, Germany or China can pull that off. Brazil can't. But their pols are still forcing them to in order to maximize employment.

The net result is that the people they hire are often underskilled(if they have any skills to begin with), the people in charge are amateurs, prone to mistakes and slow to build up and scale up in time. Since most of the rigs needed has to be imported, a fact that these populists refuse to, this means that Brazil has to make their own stuff. But they have no expertise in this area and the plan was that they would acquire it. Well, turns out it isn't so easy and hence the massive delays.

All the while, depletion continues unabated and now they are seeing 'surprising' declines in their main oil fields while they were doozing off and overpromising to their population.

Brazil can certainly increase its production, but it will be hard and as I've indicated below, don't expect any revolutions. It's Iraq and the U.S. which will be the primary drivers of oil production growth in the coming 5 years. Brazil and Canada will be important additions but far less consequential.

I must ask the question, where did you form the opinion that the Brasilians don't know how to drill a deep water oil well? You write as though you have first hand experience. Have you?

My experience from working there in the early norties, the Brasilians were very independent and there own ways of doing things, many simplified ways of obtaining a result. These were home grown ideas that were developed from the development of the Marlin field and others during the eighties, when they were the world leaders in deepwater drilling. Do not underestimate Petrobras's ability for drilling deep water drilling. Some of their expertise maybe getting spread a little thin due to increase in activity but they have many very competent people working for them.

Having said that their aim has always been for self sufficiency, rather than large exports, so I don't expect too much oil to be exported either. It will mainly be used for domestic consumption.

From what I have picked up talking to people working in Iraq, the wells are being drilled but the oil production is waiting on take away capacity. The crews are crew changing in APC's. So security is tight. I haven't heard of any attacks on the crews so far, so time will tell how much they can produce.

Output from the subsalt, a series of ultra-deepwater fields buried under a thick layer of salt off the country's Atlantic Ocean coast, totaled 203,200 barrels of oil equivalent, or BOE, in August.

I assume they mean 203,200 barrels per day, but that doesn't sound like much at all, and it's not even all oil, considering the enormous investment that Brazil has spent developing the subsalt plays. Petrobras will have to do a lot better than that if they hope to save the world from peak oil. Combine that with Russia's plateau production and Kazakstan's ever receding Kashagan production targets, and it's hard to see where the oil will come from that will be needed to replace the 5.7% world's average decline rate.

As I always point out whenever the potential for future Bz oil exports come up: Brazil intends to become a first grade industrial nation. They are gonna need all the energy they can get, and will never become a net exporter. They have no plans to export energy. They want to build factories and export stuff.

Brazil will reach a 3.2 to 3.5 mb/d production profile by 2020, most likely closer to 3.2 mb/d than the higher estimate.

They can't get that much higher. What is much harder to caluclate, however, is how long they can stay near those levels.
But even if you take a quite generous view, they won't get much above 3.5 mb/d by 2030 if you work through the numbers.

Petrobras has consistently downgraded their production estimates the last few years and that will continue.
As you indicated, a lot of people who have betted on Brazil are going to get severely burned.

Brazil will reach a 3.2 to 3.5 mb/d production profile by 2020, most likely closer to 3.2 mb/d than the higher estimate.

I think you are a tad overoptimistic. Brazil production has dropped by over 200 thousand barrels per day in the last eight months. They were at 2,231,000 bp/d of C+C in January according to the EIA, now in August they are, according to the article above, at 2,006,000 bp/d. That's about 10 percent. Of course most of that was due to problems other than decline but maintenance problems do not usually last seven months. I think they have far more serious problems.

But the biggest problem is yet to come, the decline rate of the sub-salt. I am predicting that it will be a lot higher than most people predict. How high? Well the deep water GOM is now experiencing a decline rate of above 20 percent. The sub-salt will be much higher than that.

Ron P.

We had Richard Heinberg give a talk in my home city of Tauranga New Zealand. It was a really great and interesting talk and I have to give thanks to him for taking the trouble to make us another stop on his world tour. We planned for about 140 people but over 250 people showed up in the end, including the mayor of the city who chaired the event. He seems like an extremely nice man and the talk he gave was very convincing in that he managed to sell the truth about the world situation in an extremely enlightening and positive way.

I get the feeling that the level of interest in and action towards things like permaculture, energy efficiency, peak oil, population levels and control, etc is increasing. I believe we're slowly moving out of the phase of talking about doing things to the phase where we're increasingly doing the things we're talking about. It could be a matter of time before significant action starts up locally and nationally towards sustainability, critical mass doesn't seem to be that far off.

Critical mass is a good analogy as it requires a certain number of players to overcome the contaminants that stop the process. I fear we are *very* far from critical mass.

I am constantly being surprised at the intensity of local interest and activity. People have spontaneously begun to conserve, go solar, share rides, superinsulate, and all that good stuff-and talk about it, and some like me are focusing on gadgets and associated businesses that could be appropriate in a far lower energy society. Anecdotal to be sure, but this is a very ordinary place, and so something has gotta be going on of a wider scope.

Here, I think we are in fact getting near to the sustained reaction phase.

I have even noticed a reduction of the hate mail when I write my little op eds preaching coal is sin.

I guess you could say that we've reached the point where that which was once considered fringe is becoming mainstream. I believe what this means is a side-lining of what would have once been considered the fanatics with a mainstreaming and coalescing of many of the various movements. You could say in visual terms it is a movement away from say a few cyclists clad in Lycra zooming at 30mph zipping between cars to many cyclists dressed in normal clothes. One of the issues at this point is that the zealots perhaps will resent the mainstreaming because of how it changes their role, sort of like the nerdy backlash against the rise of simplified computers as appliances like the iPad.

...People have spontaneously begun to conserve, go solar, share rides, superinsulate,

That's good, but where is that trend leading? We are in a net energy decline, so that spontenaety on the surface seems positive, but it doesn't look so great when looking out further down the road. Everybody living on less works up to a point, but then reaches a point of abject poverty for tens of millions. Sure the rich will still be rich, but the ranks of the poor will swell much more than they already have. The conservatives like Romney/Ryan are talking about dramatically scaling back food stamps and welfare. Doesn't matter much to many like our family and probably yours, but those that receive them will have to find other ways to make up the difference. It's going to be hard to watch the fall of Empire from the inside.

That's good, but where is that trend leading? We are in a net energy decline, so that spontenaety on the surface seems positive, but it doesn't look so great when looking out further down the road. Everybody living on less works up to a point, but then reaches a point of abject poverty for tens of millions.

What are the solutions to net energy decline?

A. New sources of energy.
B. Energy Efficiency.
C. Reducing 'waste'

We're starting to get mainstream action on A, B and C. Billions of people get by on what counts as significantly less than American energy consumption levels without being in relative or absolute poverty. Whilst it isn't psychologically convenient to move people into action when they don't have to, never underestimate the ability of people to accept what is a fait accompli. People have a choice to not do anything at the moment or they have too many choices which makes them confused, start to take away the choices and you can reach acceptance on action very quickly. Years of work has gone into making what was once a fringe and backward concept of sustainability into something which is downright plausible and mainstream.

The conservatives like Romney/Ryan are talking about dramatically scaling back food stamps and welfare... It's going to be hard to watch the fall of Empire from the inside.

I'm not an American but this confuses me. Why do people expect from the Federal Government that which would be better provided by a more responsive local political establishment? I don't see the point in asking a government to do something which it was never intended to do in the first place and then being upset when it cannot respond to what you believe it ought to be doing. In the end the end of central government welfare will probably be a net gain for blue states anyway, so give to republicans what belongs to republicans and give to democrats what belongs to them as well. (butchering a Jesus quote lol).

You should remember that it wasn't so long ago that people starving on the streets in western cities really did happen, that it can happen again, and if we allow it to happen our way of life and our society will be worse off for it. It may not mean much to you, not being in the US, but it does mean a lot to me. Food stamps and welfare are ways to keep from replicating the worst parts of 1800's London - crime, begging, dead children... If the federal government doesn't keep up their end of it, it won't happen in many places. And there is absolutely nothing good in that. I don't care if they are Republicans.

The United States may be in a time of stress, but economically we still have way more than enough to keep people from starving in the streets. We have a moral obligation to do so. That said, I don't expect this will be anything - Romney and Ryan aren't likely to win.

Regardless of that, the American empire is in decline and will continue to decline.

I was hoping that perhaps a dose of reality might bring certain people to their senses. I.E. bring their conception of reality back in line with reality. I don't want people to starve on the streets.

This is good news for NZ and saner parts of the world, but here in the Land of OWOLINN (Our Way Of Life Is Non Negotiable), talking about conservation, renewable energy or reducing consumption is treated as heretical Commie crap by most people. Even in one of the most liberal places in the country (Bay Area), suggesting that growth in population and consumption can't go on forever is usually met by blank, unbelieving stares or expressions of horror. "Back away from the dirty hippie, Sweetie, he's probably on drugs!"

The SF Bay Area seems to be especially wedded to the idea that technology can solve all problems. It's actually a great way to go through life since one can simultaneously enjoy a high consumption lifestyle with all the accompanying support for economic and population growth and, at the same time, consider oneself to be an environmentalist. All with the comforting knowledge that whatever impacts are caused to the environment and sustainability will be mitigated to an acceptable level.

Iraq sets bar lower on oil output and looks to attract foreign firms

Baghdad was contemplating a target of 9.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude by 2020, said a senior government figure, in a significant departure from the previously held ambition of pumping 12 million bpd within the next five years

Another interesting tidbit of information here (but may well have been reported earlier on the oil drum) Danes set the pace on green energy vision

Gulf countries have started paying attention to alternative energy forms for similar reasons to the Danes. A spiralling demand for electricity is exhausting domestic supplies of natural gas, the preferred feedstock for power generation in the region. With the exception of Qatar, the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, Gulf countries have been forced to import gas, or burn crude oil to make up for the shortfall. Ironically, the energy-rich GCC is losing its energy independence, or is at least being forced to forgo some of its crude export revenues. No one in the Gulf has felt the pinch more than Dubai, where declining oil and gas production forced it to import gas long ago

They will lower it again. 6 mb/d should be their basic challenge and I think they can get through it. 8 mb/d is the outer rim of what's possible this decade.

Of course, Iraq is increasing its own domestic oil consumption rapidly, although they are starting from a lower base than Saudi Arabia, so that's a factor that should be remembered whenever you read about Iraqi oil production. Net exports will be lower in 2020 even if you get to, say, 8 mb/d than it would have been if you would wave a wand and make their current production go up to that level today.

It will be interesting to see by just how much the difference will be. It's hard to come by reliable statistics on this issue but all indicators are on a rapidly expanding domestic usage.


An interesting energy storage system and engine to use it. And, it looks dirt cheap.

It takes lots of heat energy to change liquid air to gaseous air, much like changing water to steam. Where will all that heat energy come from?

And while we're asking questions, where does all that liquid air come from.

There is a plant beside I-95 in Kittery, Maine, that makes liquid oxygen and nitrogen, from air taken from the atmosphere. It's one of the biggest electricity users in the state.

I'm wondering if this website can't be traced back to some bored sophmores at MIT.

I think the most useful application would be a "bottoming cycle" which could recover energy otherwise lost as waste heat in a vehicle. The liquid air would act rather like a battery, as the energy required to liquify the air would be recovered when the air is heated and then used to drive a prime mover or turbine to generate electricity. For example, the heat from the exhaust of an IC engine could be recovered, as well as the heat from a radiator or a turbocharger's intercooler.

In this situation the usual notion of Carnot efficiency would not be simple to apply, thus calculating the total conversion efficiency would be difficult. I would expect that the university professors who are listed as being involved have already worked thru the math...

E. Swanson

It takes lots of heat energy to change liquid air to gaseous air, much like changing water to steam. Where will all that heat energy come from?

Worst: ambient (return about 25%)
Best: low grade waste heat from some industrial process (return about 70%, well not really but if you can use waste heat as an input stream ...)

And while we're asking questions, where does all that liquid air come from.

From whatever source is available. Its just energy storage, possibly prohibitively expensive.

Exactly, just another form of battery with pluses and minuses. No mention of overall efficiency but probably much lower than a standard battery or even H and fuel cells. Might be useful for powering trucks and trains with refrigeration units.

I was thinking more of stationary apps.


And then there was the fireless steam locomotives that had a big thermos bottle of phase change material.

From your article, I get the idea that the process itself is not very efficient, about 25% as a standalone system. If waste heat is added but not counted in the efficiency equation than the system could potentially deliver up to 70%. Refrigeration would also potentially deliver a similar overall efficiency.

Since there are other uses for waste heat, I'm not sure how realistic it is to not count its use in the efficiency calc. There are other ways to store energy along the heat gradient that can return 25% so this method would need to be compared against others.

At low power output you should be able to use the ambient heat of air, i.e. let your tank warm up. If can live with a small amount of power for a longer rate of time, maybe that will do?

Ambient air should work, the question then becomes what to do with the waste cold. Air conditioning and refrigeration seem like a good use just as space heating and process heat are good uses for waste heat.

I think they mention on the Web Site that the efficiency is equivalent to a current Lithium battery.

Some companies have been working on compressed air engine powered vehicles. I think this is equivalent, but instead of compression, the air is liquified and that is how the energy is stored. Maybe a Dewar storage tank is a lot easier to make technically than a high pressure tank.

This system is mentioned in the context of renewables: wind and solar, giving a base load capability.

Enbridge ordered to expand cleanup on Kalamazoo River
An estimated 3 million litres of oil spilled into the river in summer of 2010

The EPA says more cleanup is needed in three locations: upstream of Ceresco Dam, upstream of the Battle Creek Dam in the Mill Ponds area, and in the delta upstream of Morrow Lake.

Prior orders from the EPA directing Enbridge to complete other cleanup and restoration work in the Kalamazoo River system are still in effect.

I thought they were done.

Definitely uncharted territory in cleaning this sort of spill. The dilbit evaporates and the sludge sinks.

I want some of that here in BC! WHoo Hoo!

Energy-saving program shut down too early, millions in rebates never paid out

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

“The government is claiming the program worked – and that’s a good thing – but makes it even more perplexing that they haven’t continued it,” said Gillian McEachern, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Defence group in Toronto.

Jarvis bike lanes to be removed after last-ditch council effort to save them fails Toronto Star

The Mayor Rob Ford administration overpowered a last-ditch effort to save Jarvis St. bike lanes, convincing councillors to stick with a plan to spend up to $300,000 to erase the lanes this fall.

Council voted 24-19 against a Tuesday evening motion to scrap the plan that will remove the 2-year-old lanes and, against the wishes of many local residents, return the reversible centre car lane after completion of a separated bike lane on nearby Sherbourne St.

--- snip ---

Before the vote, John Mende, the city’s acting general manager of transportation services, told council the number of cyclists on Jarvis tripled after the bike lanes were introduced in 2010.

North Rosedale and Moore Park residents complained bike lanes clogged their commutes. But their rush-hour trips were extended on average by only two minutes each way, Mende said.

Before the debate, the mayor seemed to cast doubt on that figure.

“Hundreds of people were calling and emailing my office saying it’s slowing down their commute time. I think it has slowed up traffic,” Ford told reporters. “People wanted to get rid of the bike lanes so, again, I’m doing what taxpayers want me to do.”

Never underestimate the power of the suburban voter and their elected official representative.

Toronto knew what sort of a buffoon (texting while driving, rude to bicyclists, etc. happened afterwards) he was and elected him anyway. It takes a special sort of environmental de-evolution into the the rhyming word to produce a mayor who makes another auto worshipping Mayor, i.e. Sam Katz of Winnipeg almost look semi-enlightened on transit issues.



Maybe Rob is not a train wreck waiting to happen, but definitely a car pileup in the making. And some squashed cyclists.

I can't see that name [Sam Katz] without thinking of this:

I have a friend like this, he hates cyclists with a passion. This despite knowing I'm one of them - it's my main means of transport.

These people won't get it until they ride for themselves. And they won't ride themselves until they are too poor to drive. The thing they may not realize is that the day when they have to use a bike may not just exist, but exist much sooner in the future than they imagine.

Honestly, I don't have any more sympathy for drivers. They are the obstacle in front of every reasonable attempt to make cities more walkable and bikable, and they are the ones blocking mass transit. Everything has to be their way. Cars are the problem, it's as simple as that, and if you put driving in front of other forms of transit, you are part of the problem too.

Democracy in action. Beautiful isn't it?
It's like concerns about the environment. Everyone is concerned, but that concern is of a much lesser priority than concern about economic growth. Until the rivers are burning and birds falling dead out of the skies scaring the heck out of schoolchildren, not much will change easily.

So it goes...

That doesn't do much good when a lot of the change is not apocalyptic but incremental - the birds don't drop out of the sky en masse, they just slowly disappear. Same with fireflies. Same with fish. Everything just slowly degrades, so it never seems like an "emergency", and there are still a few around if you look, so they say, "see, there are plently left!"

Yeah, environmental concern is the last of concern of industrial humans, because most of them don't have any idea what nature is, having never encountered it.

You are indeed quite correct. Our perception of change in the world as we industrial humans is severely compromised. That fact, combined with our detachment from nature (no one who is still in nature fails to see the changes) and our political processes don't offer much hope. But, que sera sera. The good thing is that life will survive the reign of Homo collosus and will bounce back (as it always has) after our downfall.

We may not live to see what rises from the ashes of the Anthropocene, but we can be certain that there will be a rise. I can rest in peace knowing this. I suppose one might call my beliefs about the future "faith", but based on the record written in the stones of this world, we ought to know that mass extinctions come and go but life goes on. I do not fear. I'm only sad that my children will be born and live through an increasingly desolate time. Ah well. At least I got mine! ;)

So what's the problem? Bicycles stop working if there is no bike lane? Maybe this mayor hates cyclists, whatever. But he is actually doing a favor to cyclists by removing the bike lane. Bike lanes contradict the rules of the road and make cycling more dificult and dangerous. Very few people take the trouble to know about these facts and simply repeat the same old lies about cycling. Here is a link to an interview to a person who knows best about the subject:


Charting the refining capacity shortfall

FT Alphaville

This rather nice chart is from Goldman Sachs:

The point Goldman are trying to make with it, is that while US refineries have been able to offset the impact of the past year’s East Coast US refinery closures, they have not been able to make up the shortfall in imports from Europe.

Concerning the above article in Reuters, Egypt oil subsidy reform needs more studies: minister, Egypt is contemplating doing business with the devil. They are seeking a loan from the IMF that will allow international banksters to loot their country. How many times must countries witness the cycle of debt, paying interest and austerity before they realize that it does not benefit the country?

When you are desperate, you go to the loan shark.

I think Egypt is going to be a mess. It was messy as is but there was a dictator running a tight ship and managing to get outside aid & investment. Now with oil output declining, rock-throwers scaring off tourists, a less stable government scaring investors, an Islamist government scaring off foreign aid . . . . well, they are probably going to be in a pickle. And the high-expectations of the people are not going to be met. They'll get angry. And . . . . more revolution? I hope they can prove my fears to be unfounded and I wish them luck.

How many times must countries politicians witness the cycle of debt, paying interest and austerity before they realize that it does not benefit the country people?

International loan money at work:

...kind of like politicians welcoming Walmart into India... or Mexico:

They don't care a monkey's about the people, it's all about the next election.


There's a similar report in today's NYT:

Egypt Struggles to Pay Oil Bill

The main point is the subsidized price of fuel in Egypt is so low that people tend to waste it. If the price were increased to reflect the world cost of oil, there would be less trouble paying for the imports, but the public, especially the poor, would be hit very hard. A classic case of being caught between a rock and a hard place. Not unlike the situation in the US regarding the Federal deficit and increasing taxes to pay for the spending...

E. Swanson

You gotta just love the US stock markets:

Jobless claims rise:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- More Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, as improvement in the job market remains choppy.

About 367,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ended September 29, up 4,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

...so: Stocks open higher...

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks opened higher Thursday as investors digested two reports on the U.S. labor market and the European Central Bank's president reiterated its commitment to its new bond buying plan.

The Dow, S&P 500, and the Nasdaq rose between 0.1% and 0.3%.

The Labor Department reported that the number of people filing for first-time unemployment claims rose by 4,000 to 367,000 for the week ended Sept. 29. That was slightly higher than expected.

Dow currently up about 92 points :-/

One electric vehicle maker is staying afloat

(Fortune) -- The infant electric vehicle industry is in turmoil. Toyota is backing off its EV plans in the face of disappointing sales by the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. At Tesla, founder Elon Musk is having trouble scaling up production from more than a few dozen cars a week, while a third CEO in less than a year has been installed in an effort to get Fisker's Karma back on track.

In the latest upheaval, Shai Agassi, the energetic founder of BetterPlace electric charging networks, has been ousted as CEO. Despite ramping up installations in Israel and Denmark, Agassi proved more successful at raising venture capital -- more than $750 million -- than stemming losses, which are said to reach nearly $500 million...

...Contrast them with the successful work by a little West Coast outfit that operates under the radar. It makes an all-electric, battery-powered vehicle of its own design that seats eight and can run for more than eight hours on a single charge (assuming calm winds). The design has been tested for more 30 years, and some 10,000 vehicles have found buyers. Six models are available in different lengths, with factory-direct prices starting at $27,000.

One drawback: The vehicle's top speed is five miles per hour, about the pace of a brisk walk.

Another thing: it only operates in water.

Kind of misleading title.. makes it sound a lot like 'ONLY one staying alive..' (only just got the float pun, admittedly.. but the misdirection remains)





Yeah, the title of that article took me a while to decipher too. Most who just glanced at the headline would have thought that the EV industry had all but disappeared.

P.S. I have a Bionx retrofit e-assist wheel on my commuter bike. Highly recommend it.

Petrol stations are running dry

More reports of petrol stations running dry continue to emerge on Wednesday.

This despite the South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) telling motorists not to panic over petrol shortages.

Eyewitness News visited dozens of petrol stations in the East and West Rand, where it emerged that at least a third had no fuel.

The truck drivers' wage hike strike has left some service stations unable to receive new deliveries of fuel.

In some areas, only trucks driven by owner-drivers are delivering fuel, driving in convoy and with police guarding them.

Some trucks have been set on fire by militant strikers, although not so far any petrol tankers AFAIK.

Food stocks in supermarkets are still available, but shortages are expected soon. (I just bought tomatoes. They are tiny, the size of golf balls, and double the price of last week.)

Breaking news: Shell South Africa has just declared force majeure in some areas of Gauteng. They have plenty of petrol in stock, but cannot guarantee delivery to service stations.

Gas prices skyrocket as shortage looms

LA MESA, Calif. - Gas prices are rising rapidly in San Diego County and some stations could soon run out of gasoline, a La Mesa store owner said Wednesday.

Wholesale Gasoline Shortage In California Causes Gas Stations To Shut Down: Hoarding Next?

As one owner noted: "I can get gas, but it’s going to cost me $4.90 a gallon, and I can’t sell it here for $5," and another added that "we’re going to start shutting pumps Friday, as gas is costing me almost $4.75 a gallon with taxes. There’s no sense in staying open. The profit margins are so low it’s not worth it."

Interesting dilemma, try to sell gas for a price so high no one will buy it, or shut down the pumps and wait for the problem to go away?


Is this the beginning of a cascade of shortages or a localised aberration?
I know there are regular postings on here about falling MOL's.


Good question, my understanding is that it is a local aberration due to refinery problems. Then again, I seem to recall seeing posts elsewhere on TOD that growing refinery problems are a part of a larger trend of critical strains on supply due to undercapacity and underinvestment.


Remember back in 08 when gas prices pushed $4 and a lot of small gas stations closed down. Now the next wave of gas station closings is probably coming with $5.

I'm curious how long the shortage could last and whether or not we'll see any civil unrest or hoarding.

I'd guess there won't be civil unrest or hoarding, at least not soon.

Stations are shutting their pumps because they can't charge enough to make a profit. Why is that? Because other places are selling it cheaper.

We've seen this before. Independent gas stations have it great when prices are falling, but suffer when they rise.

The benefit of being unbranded can be great when wholesale prices drop, but when they rise, they can send the price at the pump soaring.

"As an independent, you live and die with market volatility," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. "As spot prices and wholesale prices for gasoline go up or down, your cost moves very quickly."

The independents don't have the long-term contracts like some other retailers and end up paying the spot price, well at least that's what I've read and it makes sense. But on the other hand, the retailers that are getting the fuel at their contracted price could cause worse shortages since they are almost "giving it away" at the lower price, selling at a volume higher than they should given the market conditions. So you'd think at some point, depending on the severity of the shortage, even the big retailers with their long-term contracts could have a hard time getting gasoline. At this point, can the refiners declare a force-majeure or whatever it's called?

Corrections to this logic are welcomed.

spudw, I wonder how high the wholesale price in California needs to get before it makes sense to truck gasoline in from nearby states where it is cheaper?

Well, to use an example, there was a small fleet of tanker trucks that about one year ago started moving crude oil from Cushing, OK to refineries in southern Texas when the price difference between the two locations at one time reached more than $10 a barrel, or about 25 cents/gallon.

However the problem is probably not so much price but whether gasoline from other locations can be used under California's strict environmental rules. The state may seek to obtain a temporary waiver to allow out of state, or out of season, gasoline to be used for a few weeks. A waiver was already requested by the California Independent Oil Marketers Association, and sent to the governor for consideration.

It's not a closed system. If a price increase is sustained, it will draw imports from elsewhere. California imports gasoline from Asia, Europe, and elsewhere in the US. It has to be made to California standards, but they do it. Plus, as Charles notes, in an emergency the environmental laws can and will be suspended.

"Retailers are not yet reflecting the wholesale price increases they have experienced, so unless supply problems improve quickly, retail prices will definitely be going up."

Jerry McManus, it looks like the worst (e.g. $5 per gallon gasoline) is yet to come.

The last report I saw (below) indicates that wholesale gasoline prices in south/central California at one time today reached $4.40, and it is my understanding that this wholesale level may equate to a retail price exceeding $5.


They are being silly. There are plenty of people in LA & San Fran willing to pay $5, $6, $7 or even $10 per gallon if they have to. Yes, demand will drop but that is the point of prices.

I'll smile widely as I drive by the gas station in my EV. :-D

The problem is they don't have to. If the branded gas station across the street from you is selling gasoline for cheaper and still making a profit, you cannot raise your prices, even though you are losing money.

If this were not the issue, the price would simply rise, and yes, people who could afford to would pay it.

California may be very car-driven, but there's a part of me which is grinning about this. After all, the price of gas is around twice as much in many parts of the world.
Isn't it time that they too joined the rest and therefore start to wean themselves off, or at least halt, the use of gasoline?
Of course it has been falling for the past few years, but it could use some help!

Explosion, massive blaze at Winnipeg racing fuel warehouse forces dozens from homes

... No one was hurt when fire and explosions rocked Speedway International, a company that boasts on its website it is “North America’s No. 1 source for 99.99% racing methanol.”

Soon after arriving at the conflagration, emergency crews quickly retreated due to the danger posed by the contents of the warehouse as well as nearby tanker trucks and rail cars.

Speedway International says its Pro Comp racing methanol can be shipped throughout North America in sealed 55-gallon drums via tank trucks and by rail. It says the fuel is used for drag racing and Indy car racing.

Mock nuclear explosion to test Metro Detroit readiness

... Under "Operation Shared Burden," a mock 10-kiloton nuclear device will be detonated somewhere in the Metro area in one of the first comprehensive emergency preparedness exercises ever performed in the United States, according to the Region 2 South Healthcare Coalition, which is coordinating the event.

At least 1,000 "victims" will be rushed to a number of Metro-area hospitals, including the Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, St. John Health System, St. Joseph Mercy Health System and Oakwood Health Systems.

Aerial Survey of Bay Area Planned Aug. 27 - Sept. 1

Beginning Aug. 27, a helicopter may be seen flying at a low-level altitude over portions of San Francisco, Pacifica and Oakland, Calif. The flyovers are a part of a joint research project between the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to assess natural background radiation levels.

NNSA conducts radiation detection workshops in Tennessee and Tajikistan

... in the U.S., NNSA contributed to a training course in Harrogate, TN at Lincoln Memorial University-Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) the week of Sept. 17. The agency said more than 350 students and regional medical professionals participated in the course designed to prepare medical professionals to treat victims of terrorist attacks involving radiological materials and chemical agents.

Bleak Photos Capture The Fall Of Detroit
Was Detroit chosen because it is already mostly destroyed?

Here is an article in Time: Strapped Europeans Swap Cars for Bikes

... sales of bicycles surpassed those of cars in Italy.

You missed the part...

..for the first time since World War II

Let that sink in for a moment.

Every few years this statistic comes up and I counter with:

New bicycle - ~$1000
New car - ~$20,000

Yet, for the most part people buy more cars - at 20 times the price - than bicycles. Wow.

You don't need to spend that much for a car. (Though you don't need to spend that much for a bike, either.)

I gave serious considering to going car-free, but eventually came to the conclusion that it is not safe around here. During daylight hours in the summer I bike, but at nighttime or in winter, you'd have be crazy to bike. Or even walk. And public transportation is a joke.

I bought a new Corolla for $13,000 and plan to drive it into the ground.

Utica Shale Needs ‘Nodding Donkeys’ to Unleash Bonanza


Sounds like right from the start they'll have to use "Nodding Donkeys".

n the Utica’s oil window, you’re going to need to look at moving some tools in to help lift the oil out,” Pritt said during a gathering of energy-industry executives in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 2. “We’re still basically just learning” about the formation.

New wells in the Bakken formation of North Dakota and Montana generate enough pressure to flow on their own for as long as two years before pump jacks or other so-called artificial-lift equipment is needed, Jeffrey B. Hume, executive vice chairman of Continental Resources Inc., the dominant Bakken operator, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

The next level down on the descent into expensive and difficult to extract oil?

Rock, RMG at al, is it unheard of to need to use pump jacks this early in a well's life?

It depends on reservoir pressure. Some fields have enough pressure to raise the oil to surface level, at least until they become depleted, others have to be pumped right from the start.

BTW, they don't have to be the beam pumps you tend to associate with oil fields. If they are down hole pumps, you won't see the pump on the surface.

aws - As Rocky explains having to lift a well early on isn't uncommon. It's an added production expense but it doen't take much grease to make it worth while. Remembering that the average oil well in the US makes less than 10 bopd: the vast majority of those wellls are using some sort of lift system. And in a large percentage of those cases the salt water disposal costs more then the lifting expense. The downside of the Bakken et al isn't so much that they have to lift but much the rate has fallen off. This reduced production volume hurts much more than the additional production costs.

If there is any demarcation with profound implications going forward, it isn't the line between the 1% and the 99% or the line dividing the Status Quo into two safely complicit ideological camps: it is the divide between those who squarely face the burden of knowing the present is unsustainable and those who flee into the comforts of denial. Those who accept the burden of knowing are part of the solution, those who cling to denial are part of the problem.


This applies to a lot more than financial problems.


Todd, thanks for putting me on to Louis Bromfield. I'll have to work on interlibrary loan because I'm too cheap to buy anything except reference books.

Talisman's Yme oil platform could collapse in storm: document

The evacuated Yme North Sea oil platform is at risk of collapse this winter, operator Talisman Energy (TLM.TO) warned safety authorities in a July letter seen by Reuters on Thursday.

Repairs were needed to avert such a risk, Talisman said in the letter to the Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority dated July 26, written several weeks after the platform was evacuation.

"A structural collapse can arise through considerable shifts and deformations ...The unit can then in the worst case drop down vertically, penetrate the tank and/or tip over on either side with a danger of damaging nearby pipelines/umbilicals," Talisman said.

"Without compensating measures there is great probability of cracks forming and a loss of carrying ability ... by the platform's legs before or during the coming winter season."

Gulf oil-spill workers sought for health study

BATON ROUGE — The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is making another push to get people who worked on the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil disaster cleanup to enroll in a long-term health study.

Dr. Dale Sandler, chief of the agency's epidemiology branch, said Tuesday that more than 29,000 people have enrolled so far. But, she says, the goal is to get 35,000 to 40,000 people signed up before enrollment in the study ends Dec. 31. Enrollment started in March 2011.

The study looks at how the oil leak cleanup work affects the physical and mental health of people who participated.

Australia's First Bushfire Resistant Straw House to Be Built

Conceived by sustainable designer Joost Bakker, the house is based on design principles that minimise environmental impact and it is set to withstand temperatures equal to that of a worst case bushfire scenario.

Made with straw bale insulation and set into a recycled steel frame with magnesium oxide cladding by ModakBoard, the house challenges traditional construction methods and materials.

The design of the house was tested by CSIRO using a bushfire simulator in Mogo, NSW, earlier this year. The tests proved that the design could resist bushfire attacks and withstand temperatures of over 1000°C.

OPEC Exports Keep Falling - even after Saudi Arabia pledged more exports

Oil tanker, 'Oil Movements', reported today that OPEC exports will fall in the four week period ending on October 20. This continues the slow but steady decline in OPEC exports since about the start of August.

Saudi Arabia pledged to increase its exports a few weeks or so ago to make up for lost exports from Iran. Since the OM report is forward looking, if Saudi Arabia intended to increase exports, the increase should have already been reflected in this report.

10/4/12 Reuters News 15:30:00
October 4, 2012

OPEC exports to fall in 4 weeks to Oct 20 - analyst

Jonathan Saul
Pravin Char

LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Seaborne oil exports from OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will fall by 370,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to Oct 20, an analyst who estimates future shipments said on Thursday.

Exports will reach 23.69 million bpd on average, compared with 24.06 million bpd in the four weeks to Sept. 22, UK consultancy Oil Movements said in its latest weekly estimate.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries pumps more than a third of the world's oil. OPEC left oil output limits on hold at its last meeting, held in June.

Source: thomsonreuters.com [no link]


Guest Post: Six Charts On Money, Oil, And Credit

Meanwhile, oil exports have topped out. Oil exporters are using more of their oil domestically, leaving less to export. This raises the specter of an imbalance of demand-supply, i.e. insufficient supply to meet demand. In that case, prices rise.

Yes, I know, they are only fitting a curve to a limited time series (not that anyone at TOD would be guilty of that), nonetheless I found it informative.


Tomgram: Michael Klare, Extreme Energy Means an Extreme Planet

The New “Golden Age of Oil” That Wasn’t: Forecasts of Abundance Collide with Planetary Realities

Last winter, fossil-fuel enthusiasts began trumpeting the dawn of a new “golden age of oil” that would kick-start the American economy, generate millions of new jobs, and free this country from its dependence on imported petroleum. ...

... It turns out, however, that the future may prove far more recalcitrant than these prophets of an American energy cornucopia imagine. To reach their ambitious targets, energy firms will have to overcome severe geological and environmental barriers -- and recent developments suggest that they are going to have a tough time doing so.

Re: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-02/teen-drunk-driving-falls-on-hig... above:

This is ingenious. Use alcohol as a fuel for cars. This will make driving (fuel) more expensive, and also cause a shortage of alcohol (the kind that you drink), driving up the price of that too. All in all, a decline in car+alcohol related deaths and injuries must follow.

Oil sheen mysteriously appears off Louisiana's Gulf Coast

An oil sheen about four miles long has appeared in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the worst oil spill in U.S. history, a Coast Guard spokesman said Thursday.

It was not immediately clear where the oil is coming from, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Tippets.

The sheen is near the spot where, on April 20, 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded over the Macondo well, killing 11 workers and spewing oil that spread across a huge portion of the Gulf.

The Macondo well spill may well burp up oil for many years.

Jeff (westexas) does his best to point out the fundamental problem with James Hamilton's suggestion that America should start investing in NatGas vehicles. He adds his comments at the end of the following post.

Natural gas for transportation

Although there are many areas in which the American economic performance has been disappointing, one task we've been exceptionally good at is finding and producing more natural gas. In fact, America is currently just burning some of this potentially useful fuel as a waste product associated with oil production. On a dollar-per-BTU basis, natural gas and crude oil sold at a similar price 10 years ago. But today, energy from oil costs 6 times as much as natural gas. Any move to replace oil with natural gas would pay a big economic dividend.

Stop the presses! Global warming is solved!

BBC - Sucking CO2 from the skies with artificial trees

The short story is, a university egghead is proposing to draw CO2 out of the air using sodium carbonate. The resulting byproduct, sodium bicarbonate, would be washed away and rejuvinated in a processing plant. The eggbonce estimates that a mere 100 million of these things could soak up the entire world output of CO2.

FYI, sodium carbonate is made from limestone, salt, and ammonia by the Solvay process. This involves heating limestone to decomposition, similar to the first step of making portland cement. Ammonia is synthesized from air and natural gas via the Haber-Bosch process. Both processes are energy intensive. The resulting CO2 would be liquified and injected underground, another energy intensive process.

In short, a full rollout of this technology would result in more than doubling our energy demand. Just another technical detail to be worked out, I'm sure.

Or you could just dig trona out of the ground.


Still not a good idea though. Just because it works in the lab does not mean it scales up.

They could try planting some 'real' trees. They cost a lot less.

Fun comment on a NYT opinion Piece today..
Pity the Plutocrats
"The public’s attitude, they seem to believe, can have arisen only as a result of propagandizing by Mr. Obama. No American would ever stop respecting his betters unless he was brainwashed into it..."

'Indict the plutocrats with the consequences of generating personal benefit from widespread hardship by raising grain or fuel prices or foreclosing mortgages, and the spotlight of condemnation makes them self-conscious, which inhibits their only talent, self-interest.'


Not absolutely accurate.. but good, clean fun, just the same!

(regarding the pending revolution..) '.. They may not join the Romanovs, but they and their heirs will lose their special status, grand estates and grand inheritances.'

.. I thought the name 'ROMNEY' has been reminding me of something from history, and now I've got it! Yeeks!