Drumbeat: October 20, 2012

Clinton Cites Energy in Diplomacy From Oil to Climate

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today promoted energy as a foreign-policy priority, citing Iran and the South China Sea as oil-rich expanses where diplomacy and economics converge.

“Today, energy cuts across the entirety of U.S. foreign policy,” she said in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington. The top U.S. diplomat cited the U.S. role in helping boost Iraq’s oil production and brokering an oil-sharing agreement between South Sudan and Sudan as examples of “energy diplomacy.”

Obama-Romney Debate a Chance to Delve Into Global Energy

While President Obama and Mitt Romney have done plenty of sparring over domestic energy-policy issues—such as gasoline prices and who would drill more on public lands—they should both be prepared in Monday’s foreign-policy debate to lay out how they’ll take on the fundamentals of a rapidly changing world energy economy.

The global energy landscape confronting the next president is very different from the one that faced the candidates battling for the White House just four years ago—and it raises a host of complex new foreign-policy questions.

Oil Falls Most in Two Weeks on Economic Growth Concern

Oil tumbled the most in two weeks as Microsoft Corp. and General Electric Co. missed quarterly sales forecasts, raising concern that slowing economic growth will reduce oil demand.

Crude prices and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined for a second day on the companies’ results and as euro-area leaders failed to discuss further aid for Spain at a summit in Brussels. Oil also retreated as the euro weakened against the dollar amid speculation the debt crisis is worsening.

Gas prices could soon drop 50 cents a gallon

Autumn gasoline prices are about to drop faster than fall foliage.

With inventories rising and demand waning, gasoline prices could plunge 50 cents a gallon from October's $3.86 peak average over the next few weeks, providing a lift for the economy and possibly becoming a factor in next month's presidential election.

Aramco Draws on Export Finance as Bank Loans Wither: Arab Credit

Middle Eastern and North African companies planning $740 billion in energy projects will need to tap foreign export credit agencies and local banks as commercial lending to the industry slumps to a nine-year low.

Loans for facilities such as refineries and power plants may dwindle to $13 billion this year, down from a record $44 billion in 2010, as European banks curtail exposure to the region, said Arab Petroleum Investments Corp., a multilateral investment bank. Companies in 18 nations from Morocco to Oman have paid an average of 190 basis points above the London Interbank Offered Rate for loans this year, up from an average of 157 basis points from 2007 through 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Saudi Aramco's Vela, Bahri reach agreement on merger terms

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) and state oil giant Saudi Aramco have reached an agreement on the terms and conditions of Bahri's merger with Aramco's Vela International Marine unit, the firm said in a bourse statement on Saturday.

Ecuador to award contracts for new oil blocks

Quito (IANS/EFE) Ecuador will auction contracts for new Amazon oil blocks believed to contain as much as 1.6 billion barrels, Non-Renewable Natural Resources Minister Wilson Pastor said Friday.

To Keep Or To Export? The Northwest’s Natural Gas Debate

WARRENTON, Ore. - Natural gas production in North America has increased so dramatically that no fewer than 17 companies have now applied to export the fuel overseas. Two gas export terminals are proposed in the Northwest — one near Coos Bay, Ore. and the other at the Port of Astoria.

This week, federal energy regulators are getting an earful of public testimony.

BP backs Rosneft bid for stake in TNK-BP - Kommersant

MOSCOW (Reuters) - BP has approved Russian group Rosneft's bid to buy out the British oil company's 50 percent stake in its Russian joint venture TNK-BP, Kommersant reported.

Separately, the Financial Times reported that BP's board would continue its discussion on the matter over the weekend, adding the reception given to the bid was generally favourable.

Rosneft to Replace Gazprom as Energy Driver on TNK Deal

OAO Rosneft’s proposed acquisition of TNK-BP will accelerate the state oil company’s eclipse of OAO Gazprom as the dominant force in Russia’s energy industry.

Kuwait sets parliamentary elections for December one

(Reuters) - Kuwait has set December 1 as the date for a parliamentary election at an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Saturday, state media reported, a day after the oil producer's ruler amended voting laws.

Friday's announcement that the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, had ordered changes to the voting system prompted the opposition to say it was considering a boycott of the coming election.

Dubai oil firm eyes $1bn spend in Turkmenistan

Dubai-based Dragon Oil plans to invest up to $1bn in infrastructure in hydrocarbon-rich Turkmenistan until 2015, according to a senior company official.

Turkmenistan approves $1.2 bln budget deficit for 2013

ASHGABAT (Reuters) - Turkmenistan's parliament has approved a $1.2 billion budget deficit for next year to help fund plans to raise salaries and pensions in the gas-rich former Soviet republic, state media reported on Saturday. The state budget for 2013 envisages outgoings of $31.5 billion versus income of $30.3 billion. The reclusive Central Asian state, which closely guards economic data, did not reveal the size of the deficit in relation to gross domestic product. Economic growth in Turkmenistan, a country of 5.5 million people, hinges on the development and export of the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves. BP data shows the country consumed less than half the gas it produced in 2011.

Chesapeake: A New Beginning?

Unlike what some persons may think, Chesapeake's selling off of some of its assets does not in any way spell trouble for the company. Rather, it should be seen as a way of building a solid foundation that will help the company achieve maximum success within the horizon come 2013. This means that if you are on the look out for a partnership with an oil and gas company that has a bright future, then Chesapeake is where you should be. The fact that they are concentrating more on natural gas is at their advantage because at the end of the day, it will surely be to their favor with the steady increase in the demand for gas.

Colombia Bets on Shale as Peace Talks Open Oil Frontiers

Colombia, the fastest-growing major oil producer in Latin America in the past five years, is looking to join the global shale boom as it expands exploration in areas once dominated by guerrilla groups.

From Radiation to Smog, Numbers for the Public

The small nonprofit Safecast is applying lessons learned from measuring radiation post-Fukushima to the pervasive and growing problem of urban air quality. Buoyed by a $400,000 prize from the Knight Foundation, the group is designing low-cost environmental sensors that measure air quality every minute and post the data publicly. The sensor system, which uses off-the-shelf components, will make its debut in Los Angeles.

Canadian Town Sells $10 Plots of Land

Got an extra ten bucks? If so, you, too, could be the owner of a sparkling new home in Reston, Manitoba, a rural prairie town in Southern Manitoba bordering Saskatchewan on the west and North Dakota on the south.

In an effort to jump on the oil boom in that part of the country, officials are once again selling undeveloped land for a mere $10, an initiative they first started in 2010. Back then they had 14 lots for sale, 11 of which have houses built on them today, economic development officer Tanis Chalmers told ABC News.

Electricity fraudster hits out at sentence

A thief who admitted fraudulently extracting more than £1,800 worth of electricity from her Northern Ireland Electricity meter has criticised a judge for giving her a suspended sentence for the offence.

Chinese government mulls policies to support solar power industry

(Reuters) - China is working on policies, including subsidies and easier access to the grid, to help its ailing solar power producers expand in the domestic market, the China Daily reported on Saturday, citing industry officials and government sources.

The State Grid Corp, China's largest state-owned utility, is considering giving its subsidiaries at city level the authority to approve solar power plants with less than 10,000 kilowatts of installed capacity to be connected to the grid, said deputy director Meng Xiangan.

Toward a Hip Solar Historic Landmark

Solar panels on an 1850’s building?

In New York City, where most buildings were built before the Second World War, owners of historic rowhouses and brownstones have special considerations to deal with when it comes to installing solar panels or green roofs or undertaking efficiency retrofits that have the potential to interfere with some distinctive architectural feature.

But preservation officials said there’s no reason why historic buildings can’t be part of the city’s efforts to rein in fossil fuel consumption to adapt to climate change.

Recycling Helps, but It’s Not All You Can Do for the Environment

Recycling paper and glass does indeed help the environment, though experts say all of us ought to do more.

A Sad Green Story

The period around 2003 was the golden spring of green technology. John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a bipartisan bill to curb global warming. I got my first ride in a Prius from a conservative foreign policy hawk who said that these new technologies were going to help us end our dependence on Middle Eastern despots. You’d go to Silicon Valley and all the venture capitalists, it seemed, were rushing into clean tech.

From that date on the story begins to get a little sadder.

Maybe the playing field needs leveling

But I wish Mr Brooks would grapple for a moment with the complexities of carbon policy. What does it tell us, for instance, if fossil-fuel technology has advanced more than green technology? Mr Brooks seems to take it as evidence that it was foolish for government to even try to battle the market. Alternatively, it could be interpreted as evidence of just how inadequate a carbon-price-only strategy is likely to be, given the scale advantages enjoyed by fossil fuel industries.

A "Money Bomb" for Climate Candidates

Climate change is an issue getting short shrift this election season. But can political donors change that by flooding money to climate-loving candidates? That was the goal of a "money bomb" campaign introduced this week to support "Climate Heroes" running for office this year.

UN’s Green Climate Fund Plans Headquarters in South Korea

The board of the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund, set up to channel $100 billion in aid annually to developing nations by 2020, proposed South Korea as the site of its planned headquarters.

How do you move 100,000 people off a disappearing island?

Due to rising sea levels, Kiribati is slowly sinking underwater, driving its citizens, led by president Anote Tong, to seek alternate spaces in which to live. Kiribati’s population is growing, with over 33% of i-Kiribati (as Kiribati’s citizens are known) under 14 years of age. Meanwhile, the ocean’s level is steadily rising. Furthermore, satellite readings published in Science may be pointing to an increase in the rate of this sea-level rise, suggesting that the pressure on Kiribati will correspondingly increase in the coming years.

Dry summer helps push Lake Michigan water levels to near-record lows

Submerged rocks, trees and debris already have surfaced — new fixtures along the widening shores. Lakers carrying weighty cargo, like coal, iron ore and limestone, have had to lighten loads to make it to harbor. And for a few days this month, the corps limited the use of the Chicago Harbor Lock to prevent river water from running back into the lowered lake.


In my post Is Shale Oil Production from Bakken Headed for a Run with “The Red Queen”? there was one vital element that was not given attention and that was economic risk management (the post was lengthy as it was).

I take it that most companies keep track of how much money they literally have placed in the ground at any given time. The reason for this is that the growth in shale/tight oil production from Bakken (and other plays) has run at a pace that has required most of the companies to divert and/or borrow money to finance their activities. For all companies (and lenders) there exists a threshold to how much money they wish to have tied up at any time.

Given that activities involving oil and natural gas extraction involves risks, primarily from price swings, the companies normally adopts strategies to handle these risks. Stable and rising prices results in a predictable environment that makes forecasts pretty straight forward. The challenge arrives from declines in price.

Strategies amongst companies involved in shale/tight oil extraction may vary, and changes in price expectations as expressed by the futures markets likely influences how they budget and plan ahead. Normally it takes 5 - 6 months from drilling starts until a well starts to flow in the shale plays then add time for planning and approvals.

The chart above shows development in shale oil production for Slawson Exploration Company (a private company) from January 2010 and as of August 2012. Note how wells added each month closely follows a linear trajectory.

The chart above shows estimated monthly net cash flow (black bars) for Slawson from January 2010 and as of August 2012. In the chart is also shown development in cumulative net cash flow (red area) relative to January 2010.
It may be Slawson is aware of where their limit for tied up capital is.

The chart above shows estimated monthly net cash flow (black bars) for Bakken (North Dakota) from January 2009 and as of August 2012. In the chart is also shown development in cumulative net cash flow (red area) relative to January 2009.

The chart shows that net cash flow for the well developments in Bakken have had an accelerating need for capital from other sources than operations. Even if the project economics may look favorable, access to financing may become a constraining factor for future developments in Bakken.

From January 2010 and as of August 2012 the activities in Bakken required an estimated net supply of around $14 - $16 billion which would have to come from savings (companies’ deep chests), diverted from profits from other company activities and/or borrowing. Clearly there is a limit to how much money in the ground the companies are willing to be exposed to. This to meet the challenges a drop in prices could introduce. At a certain point the game transforms from tying up more capital in new wells into caring for the balance sheets.
This is also what economic risk management is about, to develop strategies and identify thresholds that ensures that if things gets worse (like from price declines) the companies (and their lenders) will deploy strategies to ensure they get their money back and preferably with a profit.

Total capital expenditures for shale oil developments in the Bakken for the recent 12 months (September 2011 - August 2012) have been an estimated $17 - $18 Billion of which an estimated $6 - $7 Billion is financed from other sources. This assumes that net cash flow from operations is all used to finance new wells.

The above may explain the size of dividend payments from public companies that have financed their activities with debt through several years.
Reading some of the sales pitches on other sites for listed companies involved in shale oil developments, I have found few that say anything about outlooks for Earnings Per Share (EPS) and/or dividends for the listed companies.

From what I understand there was a high of 217 - 218 active rigs in Bakken a little time ago and this is now down to a range of 185 - 190 active rigs.

Availability to rigs does not presently appear be an issue for adding wells in the Bakken formation.

Any thoughts/comments?

Well based on your excellent analysis I just parted with my KOG, all signs are that the top is in... I have also sold a number of preferred shares, e.g. Gastar series A, knowing full well (pun intended) that the fat monthly divvy was unsustainable..

The gas industry has forever been cyclical, as with oil, and as scarcity increases there is no reason to expect this to stop. However, I suspect the cycle lengths will be shorter/faster. With shale wells, depletion is faster and drilling is more expensive, so companies will be faster to stack rigs when costs are high and profits low, but excess supply will drop more quickly as well. The shifts between coal and gas for generation will be slower, and between gasoline and CNG for vehicles slower still.

Economic recession, a core aspect of price cycles, is likely to be quicker too, given recent gov'ts willingness to quickly shirt monetary policy. As supply can adapt more quickly today, price signals can be more quickly addressed.

Gas has already risen from a low of $2.00 or so to about $3.50. As truck conversions (Picken's plan is moving along, albeit slowly), generation, home usage, chemical/fertilizer plants, LNG terminals, and other consumption industries pick up at the same time the shift from dry gas drilling to wet progresses, and now as rigs are stacked, the stage is set for weak companies to crash as cash runs out and investors flee, a year of consolidation, and then a super-spike as supplies drop. A cold winter could make that next year; most likely it will be 2014-15.

If not for the high price of oil the rig stacking and crash would already be in play for a year or two. The unusual combination of high oil with low gas has kept the production of gas high. When gas goes back to 12-15mcf all the bcfs flared in ND and West TX will be sorely missed. It's almost criminal to waste so much precious fossil energy, but that's the unregulated world of economics at work.

I think NG itself has likely already bottomed, but dry NG companies perhaps not yet. As for shale oil companies, I am somewhat surprised to see such high monthly losses -- oil is high enough that many companies should be highly profitable. Of course, Bakken sales suffer from the sub-WTI pricing, so $70 local prices may not have been expected in a world of $110 oil. And of course all drilling expense is front-loaded, as infrastructure and equipment must be bought up front and amortized over years; however, it really needs to be in a just a year or so for many shale wells even if the goal is to use debt to grow quickly. It would be interesting to see analysis of an Eagle Ford oil company, and see if they carry more debt given higher oil prices to also maximize growth, or if calmer heads prevail and most drilling is funded from cash-flow alone.


As for shale oil companies, I am somewhat surprised to see such high monthly losses -- oil is high enough that many companies should be highly profitable.

Just to make myself clear; a negative cash flow (what is shown for Bakken North Dakota) should not be confused with profitability.
My objective was to raise the question about how much external (debt/credit) capital the companies (in total) could get access to as this also will contribute to set the pace of future developments.

Just to make myself clear; a negative cash flow (what is shown for Bakken North Dakota) should not be confused with profitability

No doubt, but the 40% decline rate year on year the first two years certainly does seem to require that a very sharp pencil be used in the quest for profitability.

With this short decline I could not see how their could be a profit if cash flow is negative somewhere around there production increase start to be flat.


I was noticing that the drop in rigs in North Dakota somewhat coincides with a drop in the price of WTI. WTI spot price was above $100 a barrel fro quite a while before about May 4, 2012. Then it dropped into the 90s and even 80s. The number of drilling rigs in North Dakota hit a high of 203 on June 1 and June 8, and then started dropping. If it takes a month or so to be able to start getting rigs moved out, it seems like the lower price may have played a role in the decision to cut back drilling rigs.

Another thought is that if the cash flow is not so good for oil, it must be terrible for natural gas, with its low price.

I am curious how you estimated these amounts. Are they intended to include all costs, including costs of leasing the land?

Estimates based upon WTI price for crude oil, netted back to the wellhead (that is taxes, royalties, transport and operations costs being subtracted).

Well (average) costs are $8 Mill at the start of 2009, linearly increasing to $10 Mill in 2011 and do not include costs for mineral rights and financial costs.

I recently ran across this article from 2004 about abiotic natural gas:

An Inexhaustible Source of Energy from Methane in Deep Earth

I've heard that this idea has been debunked. But the source is from the National Academy of Sciences and it's reported on phys.org, which are normally two bastions of factual science. Does anyone know of more information about this line of research?

article is here:


from the conclusion:

our analysis shows that methane production
is thermodynamically favorable under a broad range of
high pressure-temperature conditions. The calculations indicate
that methane production is most favored at 500°C and pressures
7 GPa;[...]
The wide pressure–temperature–composition stability field of
methane documented here has broad implications for the hydrocarbon
budget of the planet and indicates that methane may
be a more prevalent carbon-bearing phase in the mantle than
previously thought, with implications for the deep hot biosphere. In particular, isotopic evidence indicating the prevalence of
biogenic hydrocarbons pertains to economically exploited hydrocarbon
gas reservoirs, largely in sedimentary basins; these
observations and analyses do not rule out the potential for large
abiogenic reservoirs in the mantle.

In the mantle? Wow, that would be one heckuva' dry hole...


so "inexhaustible" in the sense we can't get to it? I like that.

If it exists and we CAN get to it, just one more "greenhouse bait" monkey trap.

GOWHN – As before I’ll completely ignore the debate of whether any or all oil/NG has an abiotic source or not. It has no bearing on what I’ve been doing for the last 37 years. Which has been looking for areas where oil/NG has ACCUMUATED. I’ve spent zero effort concerned with where the hydrocarbons originated. Other geologists, drilling in the few new basins where there had been little or no drilling, would focus on source rock potential. But not me and the vast majority of other geologists.

We look for those subsurface geologic conditions conducive to the ACCUMULATION of oil/NG. One key is finding TRAPS. Oil/NG, just like the oil in your salad dressing, floats to the top. NG, being a gas, more so. The great majority of oil/NG ever generated (regardless of the nature of that process) didn’t ACCUMULATE in traps but leaked all the way to the surface. So if the trap didn’t exist when the oil/NG were migrating thru the area it leaked to the surface. But a geologic trap has to contain pore space in the rocks for the oil/NG to ACCUMULATE in. Even the low effective porosity shales wouldn’t trap producible oil were it not for their fracture systems.

So what we drill are geologic traps with sufficient pore space that existed at the time the oil/NG migrated through the area. The oil patch spends $billion every year on data that allows us to find these traps. Notice at no time does this process focus to any significant degree on the origin of the oil/NG. There are physical (pressure and temp) limits to where FF can exist with oil being much more limited than NG.

Bottom line: I and every other geologist can fully sign on to the abiotic origin of FF and our process would carry unchanged just as it has been for almost a century. A process that has led to millions of wells being drilled around the planet. We still have a few relatively undrilled regions to poke holes in. But areas with proven FF sources and ACCUMULATONS have been heavily drilled. And that’s the problem: not a lot of proven traps left to drill. Especially those with the size potential of our giant oil fields. Accepting abiotic origins doesn’t change that calculus.

Soooo... You're saying you have no plans to drill to the earth's mantle for the elusive abiotic oil? How in the name of Betsy Ross is America going to become energy independent with that sort of attitude?!

EM - I'll leave the mantel to my Russian cousins. They started that well 20 or 30 years ago. Don't know if they are still drilling. At one point they were making just 1 or 2 feet per day. The Swiss also had a fling at very deep drilling looking for that mother load of abiotic NG

B-b-but I thought America was supposed to be first in everything! Now the Russians are gonna plant their flag on the mantle and claim it as their own!

Seriously, though, two feet per day sounds pretty tedious :-) How does that compare to the slowest hole you've ever drilled? Just curious...

EM - Below 15,000' an onshore Gulf Coast well can slow up to 200' - 300' per day. A DW GOM might do twice that below 15,000'. But it was much worse than just slow drilling. They were running into temps right at the limit of the down hole equipment...and had another 30,000' at least to drill. A project that could only be funded by a govt.

" A project that could only be funded by a govt."

Kinda reminds me of that Russian comedian's tag line, "Only in America!" but in reverse. As for the extreme temperatures, well, surely that was to be expected, no?

"As for the extreme temperatures, well, surely that was to be expected, no?"

From what I remember, those temperatures were expected, but not that soon. They were drilling in a very old rock formation (billion year plus?) that was seismically inactive, and furthermore it had been under glaciers for most of the last million years. The deep rock was still impressively hot.

Any references for this out there? I'd like to read a bit more about it.


Mohorovičić discontinuity. Follow the links.


Not to mention the "Well to Hell" link, which story apparently received some uncritical distribution in the U.S.

The "Well to Hell" is a putative borehole in Russia which was purportedly drilled so deep that it broke through to hell. This urban legend has been circulating on the Internet since at least 1997. It is first attested in English as a 1989 broadcast by Trinity Broadcasting Network, which had picked up the story from Finnish newspaper reports.

The legend holds that a team of Russian scientists led by a certain Mr. Azzacov in an unnamed place in Siberia had drilled a hole that was nine miles (14.5 km) deep before breaking through to a cavity. Intrigued by this unexpected discovery, they lowered an extremely heat tolerant microphone, along with other sensory equipment, into the well. The temperature deep within was 2,000 °F (1,100 °C) — heat from a chamber of fire from which (purportedly) the tormented screams of the damned could be heard. The recording, however, was later revealed to have been a cleverly remixed portion of the soundtrack of the 1972 movie Baron Blood, with various effects added.

I have heard that audio clip. It is a realy scary piece of recording... At the site I downloaded it from, they wrote that this was just the noise of the rocks down there, amplified by the eco effects, and entirely natural.

"in Russia, hole drills you!"

Ha! That's the one!


I haven't been involved in too much slow drilling, nothing like 2 ft a day, not even two feet a hour, but I was fascinated one night when the tide was going out faster than we were drilling and we had break out a joint to stop the kelly bushings jumping out of the table.

This was on semi sub offshore drilling 48" hole, 9 5/8 drill pipe and a 3" air stinger for reverse circulation. We were drilling holes for a sewage scheme. I fun job in many ways.

Toolpush ~ Yeah, I imagine that would wake everyone up who was on duty!

What kind of sewage scheme would be drilled offshore?


The deep ocean outfall
Treated wastewater from the Malabar
Sewage Treatment Plant enters a large
tunnel, which carries the wastewater
under the sea bed about 3.6 kilometres
out to sea, where the ocean is about
80 metres deep. The wastewater is
released into the ocean through
about 200 diffusers. The diffusers
are spread over about 800 metres
at the end of the tunnel.

I had a hard time finding anything decent on Google as the project was pre internet. The project received a lot of negative press as it was not an ideal solution, and out dated when it was built, but as a Sydneysider, it took the polluted off the front page of the newspapers, where it used to a common occurrence when the wind blew the wrong way, and into the academic circles to argue the finer points of what should have been done.

Thanks so much, Toolpush. I have to wonder why more places haven't thought of this wonderful solution (pun intended) to sewage problems.


How was the joint? I'd break out one or two joints as well.


You have never heard how the oil patch is such a wonderful place to work?

Joints are 30ft long
Dope comes in 50lb buckets
You are gareenteed a trip every day
and the boss is the Pusher

edit, translation

Joint = one length of drill pipe, usually 30 ft long
Dope = Thread lubricant, either Zn, CU, graphite, or in the good old days, Pb base
Trip = Pull out of hole, or Run in the hole with the drill string
Pusher= Toolpusher, Rig supervisor.

Straight out of the Stoned Okie's Drilling Handbook.


I'm not sure that I should be pleased or worried that I understood it after following TOD :) (see nym for reason)


I worked on one well where we made about a foot an hour for a couple of days. We were pushing through a layer of sticky gooey clay. The bit clogged up and skidded on the stuff, and the mud wouldn't wash it away. We had to trip out and dig the clay out of the bit to make any headway at all. Thankfully we finally got through it and were able to make up for lost time.

Wow, that sounds pretty sucky (yeah, another pun intended). Outta curiosity, how deep do you find clay like this?

In this location it was only about 100 feet down. Which was lucky because it made all that tripping out go a lot faster.

Thanks for saying this so forcefully. For some years now, I've said the same thing: abiotic oil theory is only meaningful if it successfully predicts the existence of oil accumulations (traps) that can produce large flows that we wouldn't otherwise find. TTBOMK, that's never happened. Even the Eugene Island thing involved a conventional trap.

I'll go you one further. Let's assume that not only is the mantle full of oil, but that in the core there is a singularity that forever spits out hydrocarbons to recharge the mantle.

Even then, the rate of production cannot possible be very high, else history would have been replete with stories of oil spouting in geysers from the ground and there would be lakes, if not oceans, full of oil.

Since it is obvious that oil in pools at the surface are minimal, and that we have readily emptied subsurface accumulations (however they were filled), any process of any type that refills these must be operating at a rate far below that needed for replacement.

Any finds in the mantle would be just like tar sands -- hard to get and hard on the climate -- and in the end would simply add a few more years to BAU before depletion or climate change comes calling.

Since it is obvious that oil in pools at the surface are minimal, and that we have readily emptied subsurface accumulations (however they were filled), any process of any type that refills these must be operating at a rate far below that needed for replacement.

Umm, doesn't that kinda make it obvious that what we seem to be having is actually a needs problem?

The current BAU paradigm, BTW, is based almost exclusively on the premise of creating evermore artificial needs for an unsustainably growing world population that is already far into ecological overshoot...

May I remind everyone that the only obvious solution to this little dilemma is to go forth and fish faster before all the fish are gone!

"...go forth and fish faster before all the fish are gone!"

Exactly! Because that's capitalism at its core. Need I bring it up yet again? Okay, it goes back to The Tragedy of the Commons. Capitalism recognizes no externalities, has no regard for the common good, has no loyalties except to the Bottom Line.

Edit: I should have said that this was not directed at you, Fred, but at any readers who are new.

I think hat should be 'Bottom Line Now!' since they do not take into account their effect on future profitability.


A modern version of Sæhrímnir there new better technology will always save us.

Tea Party versus Agenda 21: Saving the U.S. or just irking it?


If you don't know what Agenda 21 is, you're not alone - only about 15 percent of Americans do. It is a nonbinding U.N. resolution signed by more than 170 world leaders (including Republican U.S. President George H.W. Bush) at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro as a way to promote sustainable development in the face of a rapidly growing global population.

A small percentage of Americans say it is an attack on their very existence - part of a grand conspiracy to take away their gun rights, destroy suburbia and turn America into a modern-day Soviet state.
Heather Gass says she has been fighting sustainable development plans in the San Francisco area that she says will include hefty road tolls and deliberately drive up gas prices "because they want to force us out of our cars."
Activists dislike the use of multi-unit apartment buildings in city plans - which they call "stack 'em and pack 'em" units - as well as bike lanes and other zoning restrictions they say impinge upon the value of their property and rights.
"What I want to hear from opponents of sustainable development is where are you going to put 50 million new housing units over the next few decades?" said Mitchell Silver, head of planning for Raleigh, North Carolina, who is also president of the American Planning Association (APA). "So far, I haven't gotten an answer to that question."

This article was picked up today by the Toronto Star (it's not on their website, so I used the Reuters link.) I'd never heard of this before, and our Mayor, with his "the war on the car is over" rhetoric, is a natural constituent (of course, our mayor doesn't have the mental ability to produce an argument on these issues, even a really incompetent one like the Republican/Tea Party one here.)

Anybody elese have this stuff on their radar?


It's been discussed here before. It came up during a Florida town meeting about whether they should prepare for rising sea levels, among other things. Search the site on agenda 21 and previous mentions should come up.

Unlike guns, in the U.S.,anyway, I don't think cars are protected as a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution. Not that I don't think there are good arguments against guns,either. I would be glad to forego any attempts to get people out of their cars if they would, in turn, quit sponging off the taxpayers to use public roads. I don't think you will hear many on the right arguing that the public provision of roads and highways is a socialist plot. But it is very much a socialistic enterprise. Socialism is only directed at the things they don't like, like solar companies and environmental protection of air and water and the regulation of the financial industry.

Freedom has become another word signifying a willingness to sacrifice the future of the planet for what are perceived to be fundamental rights that trump every other consideration.

In answer to the issue about another 50 million new housing units, they would probably answer with something like there is plenty of available land, especially in Canada and in places like Nevada.

"I don't think cars are protected as a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution"

Owning a car is probably a right. It's just a piece of metal and such after all. Driving it is definitely a privilege, at least in the states I've had licenses in. (WI, FL, NV, ID, WA, your state may possibly vary). I believe the state has to allow you the opportunity to take the test as well, but that is as far as it goes.

You should also have the right to buy gasoline, subject to proper storage for a hazardous liquid. There is no obligation for anyone to sell you the gas though, as long as they are not discriminating against you for a prohibited reason, just like any other commercial transaction.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has this piece on who is promoting Agenda 21 misconceptions:


The latest issue of Time Magazine, October 29, has a two page article by Fareed Zakaria titled The New Oil and Gas Boom with a subtitle "The U.S. will soon be a net exporter of energy. That could change everything".

In 2011, for the first time since 1949, the U.S. became a net exporter of refined petroleum products. Several studies this year have projected that by the end of this decade, the U.S. will surpass both Russia and Saudi Arabia and become the world's largest producer of oil and liquid natural gas.

And Sunday night, at 8 and 11 PM Eastern on CNN, there will be a 1 hour special: Fareed Zakaria's new CNN Special, Global Lessions, The GPS Road Map for Powering America.

I am sure everything he covered in the magazine article will be covered in this TV special also. I am recording it to watch later.

Ron P.

Here is one of the newsworthy parts..

Much of this opportunity comes from America's newfound ability to draw oil and gas from geological formations that just a few years ago geologists deemed impenetrable.

It would be nice if the journalists could get their facts correct. Probably any O&G geologist could have told them about these formations being too expensive to drill, not impenetrable.

I believe he is referring to those new kryptonite bits that were perfected just a few years ago. Or perhaps he is referring to the acquisition of the password that allows you to enter middle earth without harm from the gnomes that protect its gates.

Hide away - most here have heard my rant before and can stop reading now. The Bakken was first "penetrated" and produced more than 50 years ago. Same can be said for the Eagle Ford Shale. I drilled and frac'd my first EFS well more than 25 years. The Austin Chalk (a carbonate shale) was drilled horizontally and frac'd in hundreds of wells in Texas more than 20 years. It didn't last long but those "penetrations" of the AC doubled Texas oil production. The oldest NG play in the US is the New Albany (think N.A. N. Y) Shale. It's gas was light street lamps in KY over 100 years ago.

We've not only known about these "new" plays for more than half a century but have produced them to some extent. As you say it's about the price we get and not "new" plays and technology.

Birth of an Industry —
Florence and Boulder Oil Fields

The first oil well was drilled in 1859 on Oil Creek near
Titusville, Pennsylvania. It produced about 30 barrels of oil per day from a depth of 69 feet. Thus the modern petroleum industry was born. Just 13 months after this first well was drilled, a second oil discovery was reported on another stream named Oil Creek. This one, however, was located over 1,000 miles to the west near Canon City(Colorado), which was then in the Kansas Territory.
On September 8, 1860, the Canon Times reported that Gabriel Bowen had recorded a claim for his discovery of an oil spring about eight miles northeast of Canon City.

What makes the Florence field so unique is that the oil it produced came from fractures found in Pierre Shale at the structural bottom of the Canon City Embayment.


Tony - Talk about what's old is new again. I just drilled a well in Victoria Co. Texas in an area know for very shallow production ... mostly NG. So I ran a triple combo log from 1,200' to the drill floor. A surprise: I found a 20' thick NG sand at a depth of 46'. But I'm in the fresh water column and can't disticquish oil from water. The NG cap is sitting on another 60' of nice porous sand. Probably fresh water but who knows? The NG cap proves I have a trap (point bar). I have deeper pay to complete first. But I also have my water supply well with 4.5" PVC pipe through the zone. I need to get with my engineer to figure how we can test the zone in the water well without risking anyone's safety. Oil is a serious possibility since 100's of millions bbls of oil have migrated thru this section. If I can net just 10,000 bo out of it the wells would yield about a 40 to 1 return. Probably not oil but the fantasy is a lot of fun at the moment.

Trust a political reporter to get it wrong. Shale is impermeable. Condi is impenetrable. Mitt is impervious.

I would have picked "All of the Above" for Mitt


Analysis : Canada takes hard line on natural resources, no matter the cost


" In a ruling with huge repercussions for CNOOC Ltd's proposed $15.1 billion takeover of Nexen Inc, Industry Minister Christian Paradis said the C$5.2 billion ($5.3 billion) bid by Petronas would not be of "net benefit" to Canada."

The Harper Cons are good at bait and switch... one should ask oneself what the switch is!

Amid the Echoes of an Economic Crash, the Sounds of Greek Society Being Torn

ATHENS — The cafes are full, the night life vibrant and the tourists still visiting in droves, but beneath the veneer of normalcy here Greece is unraveling. In good times, money papered over some of the problems. As the economic crisis grinds along, austerity is fraying the bonds of civility, forcing long-submerged divisions to the surface . . .

“In Greece today, there are people with nothing to lose, and they’re dangerous,” said a popular blogger, Pitsirikos, as he sat in a cafe here. “If something happened, it would be like pouring gasoline on a fire. From moment to moment, things change completely. It’s not stable.”

The introduction of the euro in 2002 helped raise living standards after lean years. Today, those gains are slipping. Every day, it seems, the unthinkable becomes commonplace. The government just passed a law allowing supermarkets to sell expired food at discounted prices. The price of home heating oil has tripled since 2009, and many apartment blocks are voting not to buy any since too many tenants can’t afford it.

As he stood outside a supermarket in a middle-class neighborhood here, a man who gave his name only as Stefanos, 70, said that his biggest fear was that Greece would reach a point “where for every five people unemployed, only one is working.”

In the latest Greek polls, the neo-Nazis got 15% and the communists got about 29%.

All this echoes of the final stages of the Weimar Republic.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s there was an ideological struggle between communism and facism all over Europe.

Germany has a historic responsbility to unify the European project in financial terms and deepen the political dimension too. It would stem this decline in political degeneration, but it is too early to say if it would change anything over the long haul.

It is very hard to maintain the sort of deep trust one needs in a post-peak scenario within communities, not to mention nations, when resources are running low. If depopulation would start to slowly set in, even if only quite mildly, the survival instincts would go into overdrive and then the true conflicts would being to flare.

One of the details I found interesting, and frightening, was that apparently sections of the police were joining the neo-Nazis in their roundup on immigrants.

It is this basic need for order, almost at any cost, that also drove the Nazis to power and which Hitler had an instinctive ability to understand in a way that his left-wing antagonists never did. More than freedom, people crave stability and safety. If violence is necessary to get there, so be it, as long as they don't have to be directly involved. Self-rationalization can then kick in and explain almost anything to a mind willing to find any answer for the brutality unfolding before their eyes - a brutality they may have been voting for.

It was this that led to the widespread acceptancy of the persecutions of Jews. People just started to believe that, in fact, the Jews were behind all the problems in society.
And now it is immigrants in Greece.

The social/political costs of Peak Oil are seldom discussed on many sites concerning Peak Oil that I frequently visit. Many seem to either fall into the perpetuating doom category or convince themselves that post-Peak a new brave world would arrive where human nature is somehow erased (or at least suppressed somehow by natural constraints).

When I was a lad, my rural Iowa grandfather used to tell stories about the Great Depression. One of his favorites was about the communists holding a meeting down at the Grange Hall one week, advocating an armed overthrow of the federal government, and the fascists holding a similar meeting the next week. He always said that both got a respectful hearing, and a surprising number of people were in favor.

After he was elected, FDR sent trusted people out to the rural parts of the country to check on the mood (note that rural America was in trouble even before the Crash and the Depression and Dust Bowl -- the Roaring 20s was very much an urban phenomenon). They sent back word that an armed revolution seemed a distinct possibility.

out in rural Oregon there are lots of guns -- but very little talk of "overthrowing" the government.
People are angry at their lack of jobs and perceived lack of opportunity, but they blame the "enviro-nazis", etc.

Armed rebellion seems really unlikely. People support the government -- at least as long as the Second Amendment is protected (whatever the status of Amendments I, III, IV, etc.)

Neither Communists nor Fascists (at least in the sense the words were used in the 20's) gain any traction.

Fox, CNN, NPR and MSNBC all support the existing paradigm, and they tell us what to do.

Life is (pretty) good.

The fascists (using Mussolini's definition) have taken control, and have the full (though largely unknowing) support of the masses, be they rural Oregonians or urban east coasters. As you point out, the MM tells us what to do, and the peeps obey. There will be no armed rebellion this time around, USians as a whole have grown too soft and too ignorant.

Greece had a civil war 1947 - 1949. Check out the Truman Doctrine and Turkey.

The insurgency resulted in 100,000 killed, 700,000 displaced persons inside the country, and catastrophic economic disruption. This civil war left deep political division in Greek society between leftist and rightist. The civil war inflicted worse damage on Greece than the Second World War itself, and even by the 1990s the wounds had not entirely healed.

Greece also had a Military Junta 1967 - 1974. Again check out relations with Turkey.
The Balkans farther to the north (not Macedonia) have a recent history of savage post-Yugoslav war. A combustible region. This is not just about money - Turkey and Greece are long term 60 years members of NATO http://www.nato.int/docu/review/2012/Turkey-Greece/EN/index.htm

I strongly recommend "Eleni" by Nicholas Gage.

Eleni describes the life of his family in Greece during the Second World War and Greek Civil War. Gage’s mother, Eleni, was executed for arranging the escape of her children from their Communist-occupied village. Decades later, as an adult, Gage sought out those responsible for her death.

It is this basic need for order, almost at any cost, that also drove the Nazis to power and which Hitler had an instinctive ability to understand in a way that his left-wing antagonists never did. More than freedom, people crave stability and safety.

This is the largest reason the left is failing in America and is on the verge of extinction. The right is like a pack of dogs- violent and united- proud of their similarities with each other. The left is like individual cats, always leery of joining each other, constantly accusing ech other of not being "pure" enough- always weak and proud of how different each member is from the rest. The only left that can take power is a killer left like the communists of 1917 Russia or a kick-you-in-the-face left of the New Deal unionists.

The left we have in America is overly individualistic, sanctimonious, and most of all- too middle class to want to rub elbows with the poor. You can't lead a powerful political movement from a Starbucks. The only thing the left is good at here is bickering and further dividing.

I think the core of the problems of the left can be summed up more simply; they are too rich to fight against the rich. So you have two parties of the rich squabbling over just what table scraps they should give to the rest, and how much they should demand from those who have almost nothing.

Money rules all in America.

I think the Canadian poet said that best

"from the homicidal bitchin'
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will to eat"

...still you gotta love his ending...

"But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A."

I thought the U.S. left ended operations sometime aroumd 1969-70. They became "liberals." ;-)

I think that Greece is a good example of what an uncontrolled crash of a "Wants" based economy looks like, and the above NYT item is a very good and very sobering article.

This is why I think that we need to focus on advocating for training of young people and retraining of older people--in vocational and agricultural skills--in order prepare them for the reality of our ongoing transition from a "Wants" based economy to a "Needs" based economy.

I also think that we need to consider an "Enemy of my enemy is my friend" approach, i.e., I think that we should seek support from people who, while they may not agree with us about Peak Oil/Peak Exports (although I think that the GNE/CNI data speak for themselves), they may agree with us about a desperate need to reform our educational system.

Following are some excerpts from an article I am working on:

A Gradual Descent Versus a Crash

Let's assume that it is possible to at least makes things not as bad as they would otherwise have been if we recognize the reality of finite fossil fuel resources and if we especially recognize the problem of constrained Global Net Exports of oil (GNE).

Let's assume you are on a commercial airliner, and the pilot starts a gradual descent for landing. As the plane approaches the runway, if the pilot is maintaining a safe rate of descent, about a 1,000 feet per minute, you have a safe landing. If the rate of descent is too high, say several thousand feet per minute, it becomes a crash, instead of a landing.

Using the airliner analogy, recognizing the finite resources problem would be analogous a gradual descent for landing. Not recognizing the finite resources problem would be analogous to an airliner showing an increasing rate of descent, resulting in a crash. Regarding the ongoing decline in the GNE/CNI ratio, we are seeing the latter, an accelerating rate of decline, not the former, a steady, very slow rate of decline.

In other words, in my opinion, 99.9% of the population are like passengers on a plane discussing dinner plans for that night, oblivious to the fact that the airplane is showing an accelerating rate of decline, headed toward a near vertical dive into the ground.

The GNE/CNI Data

I frequently refer to the ratio of Global Net Exports of oil (GNE*) to Chindia's Net Imports (CNI), or GNE/CNI. We have nine years of post-2002 annual GNE/CNI data. I have shown the declines in the ratio in three year increments, and I have shown when GNE would equal CNI for a given decline rate, when the Chindia region alone would theoretically consume 100% of Global Net Exports of oil, i.e., when the GNE/CNI ratio would be 1.0.

2002 to 2005:

Ratio fell from 11.0 to 8.9, a rate of change of -7.1%/year. At this rate of change, the ratio would approach 1.0 around the year 2036, i.e., in 34 years after 2002.

2005 to 2008:

Ratio fell from 8.9 to 7.0, a rate of change of -8.0%/year. At this rate of change, the ratio would approach 1.0 around the year 2033, i.e, in 31 years after 2002.

2008 to 2011:

Ratio fell from 7.0 to 5.3, a rate of change of -9.2%/year. At this rate of change, the ratio would approach 1.0 around the year 2030, i.e., in 28 years after 2002.

As the saying goes, making predictions, especially about the future, is difficult, but note that the rate of decline in the ratio has accelerated, at least through 2011. A key but massively overlooked consequence of this declining ratio is what I estimate is a monstrous rate of depletion in post-2005 Available Cumulative Net Exports (Available CNE), i.e., the total estimated post-2005 supply of global net exports of oil that will be available to importers other than China & India.

Based on the current data, through 2011, I estimate that globally we have already consumed, in only six years, roughly half of the total post-2005 cumulative supply of net exported oil that will be available to importers other than China & India.

The following chart shows global public debt versus the GNE/CNI ratio for 2002 to 2011:

My premise is that the oil importing OECD countries are trying to keep their "Wants" based economies going, in the face of constrained supplies of Global Net Exports of oil, via massive deficit spending--financed by real creditors and by accommodative central banks--as the 2002 to 2011 decline in the GNE/CNI ratio strongly contributed to an average 17%/year rate of increase in annual Brent crude oil prices from 2002 to 2011 (with one year over year decline, in 2009).

*GNE = Top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, BP + minor EIA data, total petroleum liquids

I don't know about controlled vs. uncontrolled crashes. What I see coming is this:

As average wages drop, and prices remain steady or rise, the average person is not able to purchase all he "wants."

AThis will result in 'triage' of available cash. The consumer will study available cash, and look at her needs. We will see a true "needs based society."

And so, the basics of society will evolve and accommodate limitations on oil, and/or on natural gas. Some people no doubt will not survive the changes; populations will adjust just as societies will.

The real questions involve whether or not the body of science survives, or whether the changes will create conditions similar to those that drove the destruction of the libraries of antiquity.

I am not completely sanguine as to the outcome.


A recent interesting opinion piece in the Sunday NYT, with a very interesting graph:

Do Tax Cuts Lead to Economic Growth:


Each point on the following graph, taken from the above article, represents the average annual US economic growth per year over a five year period, starting at that point:


Note the severe contraction in average five year growth starting in 2002. The author of this article attempts to link faster growth to higher tax rates and slower growth rates to tax cuts, with the peak five year average growth period being from early 1995 to early 2000.

However, the average rate of increase in annual Brent crude oil prices from 2002 to 2011 was almost 17% per year. I think that the combination of the Bush tax cuts and massive deficit spending, financed by real creditors and massive Quantitative Easing (QE), were all necessary to keep our average five year rate of growth in GDP after 2002 just barely above zero.

The author of this article attempts to link faster growth to higher tax rates and slower growth rates to tax cuts

Not necessarily but, he does quite a good job of calling BS on the right wing claim that tax cuts will spur growth! In this case, I think that the graph shows that growth is affected by something else with tax rates having little or nothing to do with it. That's what I took from it.

Alan from the islands

A Sad Green Story (above)

As expected from David Brooks, a flop of a story, a failure to describe the real causes behind the problems with the program. The first off is that sometimes companies just flat-out fail from poor leadership. With A123 - they effed up. Built a defective product and crazy expensive cars caught on fire and/or stopped working triggering a massive recall. Solyndra was the victim of a silent trade war with China where China subsidized the hell out of their PV industry and simply drove Solydra into the ground.

But the biggest failure is that the program is TOP DOWN, aka VooDoo, aka Trickle-down, aka Supply-side economics. If you give someone a loan to build a supply of an item few care to buy...guess what happens? Failure. You have to create demand. Stipulations of US made could be placed on such a demand-side solution so that the money meant to stimulate US companies wouldn't go to non-US companies. What you then get is panels on houses and a boost in domestic employment - the things you actually want.

My stumbling block "for entry into the market" has primarily been on the inverter. I want a grid-tie inverter with battery backup with 120V/240V 60Hz "split-phase" to run a power-outage sub-panel that has as one of its items a 240V well pump. Most inverters available are either grid-tie only (no backup) or off-grid (99.9% useless to me) and most even beyond that are single-phase 120V which means I'd have to wire the well pump as 120V at the box and run it through an auto-transformer($, efficiency loss, phantom loss). Those inverters that meet my criteria are few and quite $$! They cost more than the PV array I would be able to put on the limited amount of (almost) properly oriented roof space available (a remote mount though technically feasible is not neighbor feasible). It seems that to get any kind of economic payback or parity you have to max out the inverter capacity with panel capacity or the cost of the inverter will swamp the whole system. So right now I'm trying to figure out if it's all worth the hassle of code-compliance and cost for the small array I'd be able to put up.

For a DIY grid-intertie-only system, these micro-inverter systems are looking particularly interesting because of the ease of the end-system wiring in code compliance and monetary scalability. No HVDC lines and you just run the output wires into your mains box and back-feed through a breaker (auto-cutoff on loss of grid IEEE1547, UL1741) (I think some utilities require an extra external disconnect which some of them will compensate you for - YMMV). The main drawback I see is that if you go this route you'd better not change your mind on grid-intertie-only, because otherwise you'll have to go back and re-do all of the wiring from the panels to the box (and sell a dozen micro-inverters to try to get your money back though that may be easier than selling one larger inverter).

I'd like to see a government program where flyers are mailed out *so that people actually know about the program* where they can go to website or mail something in and get into a free energy audit program where someone will analyze their house for efficiency upgrades, insolation/solar viability, etc, and then send them pertinent information regarding their options thereof. Such as if the audit revealed that roof insulation was low, increasing it to X would save $X dollars/year and there was a rebate program for X% making estimated payback in X years or net return if financed at X% would be X dollars.

Sub, not sure what your hangup is on using the 120V inverter with an auto-transformer. I recently installed such a system for a friend (Outback GVFX-3524 & FW-X240). Works well, feeds the grid and keeps a 20 kwh battery set charged. The auto-trans is on the switched side of the well pump's pressure switch, so it only draws power when called for. Cost for inverter and transformer was under $2200. I put in a small 240V transfer switch so the pump can be run either on 240V grid power or inverter power. No big deal. This is the setup we plan to use to replace our old stacked Trace inverters with (less the grid tie of course). Lots of options there.

As for code, inspections, all that; sometimes it's best to get the core system installed to code and make some modifications after the inspectors leave (not recommended for the electrically inept). I installed a separate panel for our current Outback; moved critical loads (lighting, electronics, refrigerator) to it for pure sign and reliability). I've also moved some loads to direct 24 VDC battery power (this computer, some LED night lights, vent fan for the batteries).

An ordinary battery charger with a switched high frequency transformer might be an option.

Old low frequency battery chargers use a transformer and a rectifier. New battery chargers use a rectifier and chop the voltage to the transformer with a high frequency and then rectify the current again. The new battery chargers may work on DC but it is possible they use an old transformer for the internal low voltage circuits.

"not sure what your hangup is on using the 120V inverter with an auto-transformer"

It adds about $500 to the system and is another component that could fail and they seem to draw around 15 watts of phantom power. The pump is on a 240V 20A breaker - it's probably overkill, but there's no documentation as to the depth of the well or what the pump is and I don't want to pull it out just to find out...at 120V that's 40A not sure if the line is even capable of carrying that, and the run to the pressure switch is still about 50ft.

For my personal use I'm fine with Frankenstein-esque setups, but this has to be "people" friendly. So far I've been led down the path to the Xantrex XW series which is capable of doing what I want (and more) and at first glance looks reasonably priced - but then they start trying to nickel and dime...the 4548 (4500W 120/240 split phase, 48V battery bank) is around $2800 which sounds great - but they want you to pair it with a $1,200 code-compliant wiring cabinet and if you want to use it for solar to add one of their $500 MPPT charge controllers. That's $4,500 before shipping and before adding a single wire. I'm probably just spoiled but that's a bit of cash. OutBack has a series that is capable of split-phase, but it seems you have to buy two of them and I've not yet seen a full explanation of how they coordinate.

I'm sure there are a lot of people like myself that would like grid-tie and backup power, and I've heard plenty of stories of people who thought that their grid-tie system would provide them some backup power only to be lights out when the grid went down. Some of these grid-tie systems manage an integrated DC disconnect, combiner box, and mppt for $1,000 less than the Xantrex does alone, over $2500 less with its special wiring box and mppt added - surely an automatic transfer switch and slightly more sophisticated control system doesn't add that much. Again, I'm probably just spoiled or missed the boat on something - but it's a huge premium over the grid-tie-only inverters.

Jamaica has this weird voltage/frequency combination (110/220V/50Hz) that rules out the use of equipment that, on the basis of frequency, rules out ALL grid interconnected equipment spec'd for the US market. Most if not all grid connected inverters being used here are Euro spec (240V/50Hz) and there can only be used in single(split) phase installations under certain conditions (depends on what relationship the inverter expects between neutral and ground).

As a result, I have attended two major trade shows in the US recently and had discussions with inverter manufacturers with a view to seeing if there is any way tht I can source grid tied inverters that can work in Jamaica without having to do anything unusual. It is my hope that a certain large market that has recently instituted a very aggressive program of incentives for renewables and has sections of it's grid that are somewhat similar to Jamaica (hint: 100V/50Hz), might stimulate development of some compatible inverters.

Which brings me to the subject of your requirements. SMA is introducing a series of new, transformerless inverters that have a 15A 120V "backup power" output that will continue to produce power in the event of an outage.

The Sunny Boy 3000/4000/5000TL-US series will offer lighter weight and higher efficiencies for residential 3-5 kW systems. Featuring dual MPP trackers and OptiTrac Global Peak MPP tracking, the TL-US series is an ideal string inverter solution for shading situations and difficult roofs. Integrated AFCI (UL 1699B) meets NEC 2011 requirements and the units’ unique Emergency Power Supply function provides daytime power in case of a grid power outage.

AFAICT there is no storage at all so, a cloud passing over your array will mean lights out! I overheard discussions about sophisticated systems that do grid tie and incorporate storage and standby power but, it sounded like these were future products. Based on the level of PV penetration in Germany, storage and the ability to provide power after sunset seem to be getting some attention.

If things hold together long enough a product that suits you just might come to market.

Alan from the islands

"Solyndra was the victim of a silent trade war with China "

Not entirely. Solyndra was targeting a niche that went away on them while they were getting their technology to market. It wan't just the Chinese that were cutting prices.

By the way, on the well pump issue, you can get an variable frequency drive that will make the 120 to 240V conversion, and get three phase out of it as well. And a soft start capability so the surge doesn't fry the inverter. When the pump is not running the drive will be off, and have less parasitic load than the transformer.


$701, bottom of the page. I'm not sure that one has a three phase output, but if they don't Allen-Bradley will. They have everything.

"Solyndra was the victim of a silent trade war with China "

Not entirely.

I agree. The biggest cost of PV production has been the cost of polysilicon, which the US leads in. It is the huge drop in polysilicon prices that has enabled under $1/watt cSi panels to be produced (in China or elsewhere). It was this much quicker than anyone expected price drop of cSi that has upended so many plans. Aggressive Chinese industrial/trade policy is only one factor, rapid technological improvement and the shortfall of demand below the projected trendline caused by the great financial crash are the primary causes at work here.

With A123 - they effed up. Built a defective product and crazy expensive cars caught on fire and/or stopped working triggering a massive recall. Solyndra was the victim of a silent trade war with China where China subsidized the hell out of their PV industry and simply drove Solydra into the ground.

Solyndra was as much a mistake of technology choice and management as was A123. Solyndra proposed to manufacture CIGS thin film solar cells by coating the cells on the insides of cylindrical glass tubes -- sort of like flourescent tubes. These would be capped at both ends to seal the tubes and bring out the electrical leads. The tubes would then be assembled into frames which made up the solar panels.

CIGS is inefficient. Their factory took too long to build and put into production. The machine to cap and seal the tubes never really worked right. The assembly was expensive. CIGS is environmentally unfriendly and the tubes have to be recycled.

Solyndra was a science experiment that was scaled up and went wrong. It's not really clear why anyone ever thought their approach was a good thing.

Meanwhile, the Chinese bet on the very old and proven silicon solar cell technology which was known to produce more efficient, environmentally friendly, reliable, long lived cells. The problem with these was cost, but they drove down the cost of polysilicon, of sawing the wafers, baking wafers, and assembling them into solar panels. These required more straightforward innovations in manufacturing, low cost labor, and good management.

Unfortunately, much of the alternative enery government funding seems to go into highly innovative, but highly risky, new technologies. This is consistent with the view that research should be done by relatively small teams working in research universities and then their science experiments are somehow "technology transfered" to industry, which is supposed to gratefully receive this wisdom and turn it into economic miracles with minimal effort. This relieves industry of the need to support large-scale R&D projects. And indeed, industry R&D in the US has been mostly abandoned.

(The other misconception in the US is that there are some tinkerer inventors working in a garage somewhere who will use their innate cleverness and shrewd business acumen to produce some novel energy products that will be deployed across the country and save the day.)

Solyndra was a science experiment that was scaled up and went wrong. It's not really clear why anyone ever thought their approach was a good thing.

The one thing Solyndra was very good at was PR. I don't no how many glowing press releases I had read about Solyndra's breakthrough concept/product. I think great PR trumped engineering judgement.

The two former great white hopes for PV in a world of expensive silicon were thin film, and concentrated PV (as well as solar thermal electric). First Solar was first to sub dollar/watt production cost, but now their cost advantage against silicon has vanished. CPV assumes that PV active area is precious and augmentation by optical means is worthwhile, and that assumption is now under challenge.

The one thing Solyndra was very good at was PR

Well, I must have a top notch BS filter in my brain. I remember attending the Intersolar 2011 trade show in SF last summer and passing by the Solyndra booth. I don't remember if I asked the questions or just listened in on the sales pitch but, I distinctly remember thinking, "this is BS, what a dumb idea". Their failure did not surprise me at all.

Alan from the islands

Solyndra proposed to manufacture CIGS thin film solar cells by coating the cells on the insides of cylindrical glass tubes -- sort of like flourescent tubes

So instead of using a flat substrate they used a cylindrical one which meant that only a small percentage of the PV material would be facing the sun directly, with half of the material in the shade, depending on reflected sunlight to produce electricity. A lot of complications for questionable benefit. I would argue that traditional flat panels on a trackers would be more efficient. Like I keep saying, Solyndra's technology was a really dumb idea.

Alan from the islands

It works fo flourescent tubes and if nobody else does it might be worth a try. Sometimes it works and sometimes not.

Fluorescent tubes produce light from electricity and the reflected visible light is just as good as the direct light, adding to the overall output. Solyndra's technology was doing the reverse, harnessing electricity from light at an efficiency of what, 10% for light striking the PV surface directly (at a 90 degree angle),

As an experiment, I would suggest making PV modules that are very thin strips and the stick them on the surface of a cylinder so that each strip goes from one end of the cylinder to the other. Below, I've tried to illustrate what such a cylinder covered with six strips might look like but for this experiment I would want to use 20 or more strips to approach a circular profile for the cylinder rather than a hexagon.
/ \_________\

Line the cylinder up so that the sunlight hits the cylinder at an optimum angle then measure the output of each strip and add them all up. As a control take the same number of strips, lay them out on a flat surface and tilt the surface so that the mid-day sun is directly above it. Measure the output from each strip on the flat surface and total it. Compare the total amount of energy (kWh) harnessed by each set up.

If such an experiment has been done and it was found that the tubular arrangement produced more energy, I will stop saying it was a really dumb idea. My scepticism is borne out of my observation of the devastating effect of shading on the output of crystalline PV modules as well as the reduced output at low incident angles.

Alan from the islands

They did claim a couple of positives. Sparse cylinders on top of a reflective surface have a flatter production profile (output versus time of day), than fixed mount panels, which would make their KWhours somewhat more valuable to the grid/utility. Buts its probably not easy for the owner of a commercial rooftop to monetize that advantage. Also it was claimed the amount of weight per square foot was lower than other panel types, with the implication being you could mount their system, where you couldn't mount other Pv solutions. I think the number of rooftops that actually fell in that category was few to none however.

Another advantage of the Solyndra system was the fact that the panels needed no roof penetrations. Panels were just set on the roof, and wired together. No screws or other anchors for winds less than 130 mph. For winds up to 150 mph small, ~15 lb. weights are used on each leg.
Another problem, the O ring seals on each end, was eliminated when they developed a fully welded hermetic seal system for the ends.
From what I have been told Solynra’s problem was a projected manufacturing cost of about $ 1.14 a watt in 2013 which investors could see was fatal.

The way we went was "both"... a microinverter system with a lot of panels to keep our energy-using room renters covered, and a separate cheap off-grid system for battery storage and daytime uses, like running freezers, computer screens, fans, pool pumps, etc.

I'm going to pile on here and say the biggest problem with solar is that it is unlike any other type of energy we have used up to now, and the utilities have a vested interest in fossil fuels and hydropower.

Homeowners generally don't buy part of the power plant; they only pay for the hookup and the electricity. With solar, we are expecting homeowners to own their own plant, and shell out the money for it. Lately solar leasing has become a thing, so this is slowly changing, but in any case nobody is thinking of solar as basically a distributed power plant. This also put solar in a place where it competes with existing utilities which have every interest in squashing it, which they make every effort to do.

I am not sure what would work (other than a government program ala Tennessee Vally Authority, the interstate highway system, or the early nuclear industry), but as it is the government subsidies for efficiency and solar are not doing the job. Voluntary programs like what exist today don't do squat.

I used to believe as you do and agree there is 'some' vested interest, but this does not explain everything. Storage is an under-discussed issue, maybe the most. FF's are 'storage' in a systems sense as are dams in a hydro system, or the fuel in you cars fuel tank.
Power generated must be used(!) fairly closely and extra sent to resistor banks (aka "the toaster"). Think of a partially cloudy day and varying power output times 100's of thousands of grid tie panels and then meet expectations of system balance by turning on and off coal, water, nat. gas with each passing cloud bank.
It has been expressed that part of this could be absorbed by having 'smart water heaters' in a smart grid than will take the extra power when power dumping is needed and add 'storage' to the system.
This is complicated, expensive and MUST be factored in for system stability. This is why we have taken the easy way out and gone with hydro, coal, nat. gas. It is easy to regulate 240v 60 Hz. this way.
The expectation that on windless and overcast days we will have all the power we want, when we want it, requires built out capacity of 100% of main power generation.
So which system did we build first and why? We wanted lights on when it is dark out, cold beer on hot days, power on windless days, 24/7.
There were many small individual power systems before the grid, the grid was more reliable, very important if you are running a business, and less expensive.
Alan at big easy mentions pumped storage which has good enough efficiency and is easiest to install but lacks the political election words of "smart grid".

Using a crude spreadsheet model I've satisfied myself that no matter what we do, if we don't curb exponential oil consumption, we're fnckd.

I generated a discovery/consumption graph using random numbers. Different runs would differ in detail, but a steep fall-off would always emerge once consumption got to the same order of magnitude as discovery.

Tar Sands Pictures

Once this landscape was a pristine wilderness roamed by deer now it's 'the most destructive industrial project on earth'.

Lush green forests once blanketed an area of the Tar Sands at Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, larger than England. Area where blackened earth now stands dubbed by environmentalists as most destructive industrial project on earth. Boreal forest - once home to grizzly bears, moose and bison - is vanishing at rate second to Amazon deforestation

I leave no comment here. Words could not do it justice.

Ron P.

But... It'll all be "Restored". NOT!

The plan is to restore the oil stands mines to agricultural land, since putting it back to peat bogs would be rather difficult - sort of like restoring England's dark, trackless forests, peat bogs and marshes to the conditions they were in before men arrrived and started farming them would be rather difficult.

The photos are highly misleading, and deliberately so. They talk about the oil sands being bigger than England, which is true, but then imply that the close-up pictures of the tailings ponds at the oil upgraders are typical, which is not true. What companies are doing is recycling the water from the oil sands separators back into the separation process, which means that they have to let the silt settle out in big ponds. The total area of tailings ponds is only about 200 km2, versus about 140,000 km2 of oil sands, and 4.4 million km2 of Boreal forest in Canada.

They show pictures of trees stacked up and ready to go to the sawmill, ignoring the fact that it is a commercial forest and the lumber industry has first claim on all the trees in the area. They show a picture of a bucket wheel reclaimer, ignoring the fact that bucket wheel reclaimers are commonly used in the coal mining industry, but are no longer used in oil sands mining - the one shown must be one that is worn out and nobody wants it.

And then they show pictures of smoke stacks with "smoke" pouring out of them. Secret inside information - the "smoke" is actually ice crystals. At extremely low temperatures such as you find in Northern Canada, the water vapor going up a stack turns into ice crystals when it hits the cold atmosphere, and you get a highly visible cloud of ice, otherwise known as an ice fog, pouring out of it. People in southern climates are not used to it, but in the North you see this phenomenon all the time. The reality is that if the temperature was above the freezing point, you would see nothing at all.

Even if I believed that "restoration" will actually happen and will be meaningful, which I don't, the Carbon will not be restored to where it was and will instead be contributing to the massive warming we don't seem to give a #%$@ about. As usual, dollars (or your currency of choice) beats everything else.

Figured you'd soon chime in.

So much happier to believe you than my lying eyes


A correction on the smoke thing. I live in Sweden and am very used to see white smoke from smoke stacks. One learn very quick to see on the colour if it is smoke or water. It does not take extreme colds to spot the water. It condense to water droplets at plus temperatures. The only thing it take is for the temperature to drop below what can support that H2O concentration. When it burns the temp is several hundreds degrees warm. If the outdoor temp is plus or minus 20 degrees makes only a 40 degree difference. Lots to us people, but makes little to the water fumes, who has to take a several hundred derees of cooling. In Sweden, most plants (CHPs for example) produce white smoke 365 days a year. Warm dry days the fog dissolves into fume again very fast.

A guy I know from work grew up next to a paper mill. He told us once when we were working at such a plant that as a child he believed clouds came from paper mills.

That's true. If the humidity is high enough, the water vapor coming out of the stack will condense to fog and you will see a white plume most of the time. This would be true even if the fuel was hydrogen and there was nothing but water vapor produced.

Here in Alberta the humidity is usually much lower than in Sweden so you usually will see nothing coming out of the exhaust stacks. If the humidity is high, you will see water vapor condensing, and if the temperature is very low, you will see clouds of ice crystals. You will not see actual smoke because that is not allowed under environmental regulations.


No use in trying to explain, RMG. Too many minds are made up. Until such time we can switch transportation to some other form of a portable energy source, a source that might actually have a useful range, the bitumen is needed. Sure, it would be great to have something else to run personal transport, but for many of us it won't work.

Electricity based on hydro where I live comes to mind. And folks in America really like importing it on the grid and feel good about plugging into it to recharge their wonderful electric cars, but no one considers the lost valley farm and forest lands behind the dams. Those lost lands make the settling ponds in Alberta look like toddler pools.

Look at a topo map of BC. See all the big lakes running north south? Those were once valleys full of farms, forests, and 'roaming' animals. They are now resevoirs....species be damned. occupants be damned. (Pun intended)

Wake up folks, all energy use disrupts nature. One of the worst forms is the current trend of run of the river projects. Habitat destruction for high priced power built by 'friends' of Govt.; the excess cost of which is picked up by consumers in a guaranteed payback scheme.

I used to fly water survey folks into all the rivers of northern BC and southern Yukon. Reason? The purpose of which was to study the feasability of diverting northern river flows into the Rocky Mountain Trench to move the water south and generate electricity. I felt revulsion and was thankful to see the project shelved as unrealistic.

I have worked in the boreal forest lands. I'm sorry to sound so callous about it, but anyplace that has so many biting bugs that can actually kill you or drive you insane is not on my list of places I would like to see protected at all costs. Grizzlies used to roam southern California, too. I don't see much development, of any kind, curtailed. It's okay to plant vinyards, factory farm, build cities and disgusting housing developments where you might live live, but us dirty Canadians better stop developing tar sands and contribute to ruining the world.

It reminds me of the war on drugs. Make war on the pot growers and importers, but say nothing about the market. Don't want to see bitumen produced? Don't use it.

For now.


To rid the world of evil requires that we no longer commit evil acts, and as consumers we have much to account for. But what I'd like to know is this: Can we do a better job and, if so, at what cost? Can we look to our elected representatives and to the energy industry for leadership? Are these issues insurmountable?


Can we look to our elected representatives and to the energy industry for leadership?

According to Hermann Scheer in this youtube video, the answer is no.

Alan from the islands


When I was young, I remember hearing about "the system". When I was a bit older, I didn't think there was a "system". Now I realize there IS a system, not one with one leader at the top or planned out necessarily, but there is one nonetheless. The system is what underlies our current form of civilization.

We are a part of it when we drive a car, pay taxes, go shopping... Even if we know that there are problems, like abuse of agricultural workers, how can we fix it? We can get out a greater or lesser extent, but it requires great effort. Getting produce that is ethically picked means either growing your own or researching to find out which is ethical. There is no easy way. The same with fossil fuels; if you can't get to work without a car, well, you are going to use that car. Etc.

And to some extent, merely to live (unless you live like a Jain monk) is to commit "evil". We kill and destroy to survive and make our own living space. How much of that is acceptable is the crux of the issue. Of course, if we destroy too much, we ourselves will be destroyed.

RMG says in part:

"... What companies are doing is recycling the water from the oil sands separators back into the separation process, which means that they have to let the silt settle out in big ponds. The total area of tailings ponds is only about 200 km2, versus about 140,000 km2 of oil sands, and 4.4 million km2 of Boreal forest in Canada. ..."

The problem is the clay that travels along with the silt does not settle out at an acceptable rate.

Quoting(s) from Chemical & Engineering News pp 56-59 September 5,2011:

"In the ponds, sand, clay, residual bitumen, and chemical leftovers from the extraction settle out, eventually allowing the water to be pumped off for recycling or for treatment and disposal in underground wells. But this settling process is painstakingly slow -- it can take decades."

"The big, unsightly, and difficult-to-reclaim retention ponds that dot the Alberta landscape are a highly visible strike against the oil industry. They collectively hold about 250 billion gal of waste and cover more than 50 sq miles."

"The sand and large clay particles are heavy enough to settle out in the ponds relatively quickly, Chou explains. But fine clay particles below about 50 um in size remain suspended in the water above the sediment layer. These particles are charged and repel each other, so they don't clump together and settle. This layer, floating midlevel in the ponds, is about 70% water and 30% clay and has the consistency of yogurt; left alone, it can take 40 to 100 years for the water and clay to separate"

"Many people worry that ruptures of the tailings ponds could spread toxic mining debris. The breach of a coal-ash sludge pond in Kingston,Tenn., in late 2008, and the failure of an alumina tailings reservoir in Hungary last year loom large in the memories of environmental groups."


"The problem is the clay that travels along with the silt does not settle out at an acceptable rate.:

The solution to that is an appropriate polyacrylate, otherwise known as a flocculant. Molecular sticky spaghetti that sticks the fines together until they are big enough to sink. And it's biodegradable.

If it was really a problem they would already be using it. I used to buy it from Allied Colloids, but they were bought out by Ciba; who knows where they are now. Someone is still selling the chemicals though.

Let me guess - that flocculant is made from fossil hydrocarbons. How much flocculant is needed for each barrel of tar oil's worth of water recycling?

How much oil do you you need to make it and ship it to Alberta?

Yes it is true that if the government thought the tailings ponds were a problem, it could order the use of flocculants or other methods to speed up the settling process. However, from an engineering perspective, waiting 40 to 100 years for the fine tailings to settle out is not a problem because the mines will be in operation for that length of time, and the government will still be there to issue the reclamation certificate at the end of it.

It's really the optics of the process that disturb people, rather than the reality of it. The oil sands mines are some of the biggest mines on Earth, and people wonder how they can ever restore the land. They will do it the same way they do it with smaller mines. I have seen old coal mines completely disappear given some reclamation effort and sufficient time.

In fact I live in a former coal mining town, and you would never know there had been mines here unless someone pointed out the reclaimed sites to you. They are now highly popular recreational areas with small lakes, walking and cycling paths, and picnic areas. Only the old timers remember what they used to look like.

And the wildlife is still here, too. My wife was walking the dog back from the dog-walking park (an old coal mining site) the other day, and a grizzly bear calmly walked across the road in front of her. Fortunately, my wife stayed calm, the dog didn't freak out, and the Griz was cool with it, too. It was preoccupied with fattening up for winter.

Unlike California, we still have grizzly bears left here in Alberta. California used to have a lot more of them than we did (this is not good grizzly habitat) but now they have none at all.

The rate of tar sand extraction is set to at least double is it not?

With respect to the Tar Sands CAPP has a history of over-promising and under-delivering...

The Race for BTU

Gregor MacDonald

More revealing is that back in 2006 (the first chart), the industry expected Canada to be approaching 4 mbpd of production by 2011-2012. However, the latest data shows that the 2011 annual average only reached 2.9 mbpd, with recent months hitting 3 mbpd. In other words, the industry itself, on a five year time-frame, missed its forecast by nearly a million barrels. That is not a small miss for country producing only 3 mbpd.

"In other words, the industry itself, on a five year time-frame, missed its forecast by nearly a million barrels. "

It always takes longer and costs more than you think.

There was a bit of a downturn in 2008, aka the "global economic recession", that significantly affected the industry, and a lot of companies put their plans on hold. Oil prices have since recovered and many companies have taken their plans off hold and are moving forward with them.

These are just estimates - a line in the sand, a guess of where we will be when. They can always erase and redraw the lines, depending on circumstances. The volumes are starting to get seriously big, though.

I expect to see a slow but steady increase in oil sands production. They will continue producing at the same rate or increasing rates for decades, unlike the Bakken, deep water offshore, and similar plays which will show very steep decline rates.

We created this landscape - every time we fill up, it gets that much bigger.

Jamaica on the brink

The first step is for us to realise the gravity and the urgency of our crisis. Take your heads out of the sand, Jamaicans - this one is not going to go away. In fact, it is going to get worse, very worse. The future of your entire world, and of your children and grandchildren, is at stake here. Unless urgent steps are taken, we are facing an economic and social collapse on a scale which will make the meltdown of the 1990s look like a picnic!

Be clear what this will mean: the public and private sectors will cave; thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, will be laid off; the education and health systems, both public and private, will shut down. Banks will go bust. Life savings will be wiped out, whether in local or foreign currencies. Pensions gone, everything will crash.

Supermarket shelves will become bare and gas will disappear from the stations. Prices will soar as the exchange rate zooms off into the stratosphere. Simple things which you currently take for granted - visiting a friend, going to a football game, playing a game of dominoes, going shopping, going to church - will become major challenges as everyone ruthlessly scrambles for survival. Crime rates will go through the roof. Our entire institutional structure and way of life will have had the rug pulled from under it. It will collapse.

This is the bitter reality which we face. Will we, as a people, face the facts? Will our leadership rise to the challenge? There is still time, but not much.

First let me say tha AFAIAC it could have been titled "World on the brink" and Jamaicans could be replaced by "citizens of Earth". Next let me link to who the writer of this piece is, a Jamaican currently working as professor of Anthropology at CUNY.

He seems to be attributing the crisis to as lack of leadership, lack resolve and a penchant for frivolity with no reference, that I can see, to any environmental or geological basis to this mother of all economic crises that he seems to be predicting. Nor does he he hint at what can be done apart from correcting the stated human failings. Can anybody else figure out what exactly this guy is on to. Has he been reading Kunstler (The Long Emergency), Heinberg (The Party's Over), Caton (Overshoot), Diamond (Collapse), Charles Hall (Energy and the Wealth of Nations: Understanding the Biophysical Economy) or heaven forbid, The Oil Drum?

I cannot remember ever seeing such a downright pessimistic, gloomy article in this newspaper that did not suggest that the failings of a particular administration were the cause. I just don't know what to make of this!

Edit: Judgement day must be at hand. A comment of mine has been published that includes the following:

Clear and trustworthy information on the true state of the worlds energy reserves is difficult to come by, particularly as it relates to liquid transportation fuels. As a result decisions are being made, both at the individual as well as corporate and national levels that, may turn out to have been extremely misguided.

We are on the cusp of the mother of all energy crises and as the late German MP, Hermann Scheer was fond of saying, "Without energy nothing works". I should add that without CHEAP energy a lot of things we have come to take for granted in modern civilisation, do not "work". That is what is at the root of our current predicament. Any solution requires a re-alignment of our priorities that, I am not sure is even possible to contemplate.

How much closer can I get to stating the problem that is Peak Oil without spelling it out?

Alan from the islands

For all: I may have discovered a new term this morning that might allow us a handy short cut to describing some of the sillier cornucopian ideas. Dibert's boss wants him to "cloudwash" some of their software because that's a hot marketing term now. Dilbert explains this won't improve the program and only the dumb clients wouldn't understand that. IOW the term cloudwashing only offers the illusion of significance. The boss: "But that's who we're pitching to". Because obviously the smart clients wouldn't be buying their stuff any way.

View it here: Dilbert, Sunday October 21, 2012

We don't care what smart people think, there aren't that many of them.
We only need to convince our dumb customers.
Dumb people will believe anything.

Sounds a lot like the peak oil argument. There aren't that many smart people out there who understand what is really happening right now. Dumb cornucopians will believe almost anything. They believe world oil production is about to skyrocket because of fracking.

Ron P.

Dumb people will believe anything.

And as we speak many of them are being talked into the dumb idea 20% tax cuts will ignite the economy into such a higher gear that tax revenue will increase above the level it was prior to that promised tax cut.

Snake oil, it will always sell like hot cakes.

The Cartoonist who writes Dilbert has endorsed Mitt Romney:

His own blog:


So while I don't agree with Romney's positions on most topics, I'm endorsing him for president starting today. I think we need to set a minimum standard for presidential behavior, and jailing American citizens for political gain simply has to be a firing offense no matter how awesome you might be in other ways.

He is talking about the Justice Department trying people for dealing in medical marijuana. Does he actually believe that Mitt would tell the Justice Department to cease and desist that practice? Geeze! I can see any person wanting to change presidents because he thinks another may handle the nations problems better but if that is his biggest priority then he has no idea what's going on in the world.

Ron P.

Romney represents the end. With Obama, we get to continue working for change. Cornel West's view is realistic, I think:

I hope Obama wins because Romney is so dangerous. But when he wins, the hard work only intensifies. We'll still need to critique US foreign policy and the worshiping of Wall Street. Let's start treating workers the way you treat bankers and have loans available to students the way they're available to banks at zero percent interest.
Obama might tilt towards main street rather than Wall Street in his second term, but we’ll see whom he surrounds himself with. When you choose Geitner and Summers, you’re sending pretty strong signs that this is going to be a Wall Street-friendly government. But we’ll have to keep putting pressure on him. The important thing to recognize is that when he does win, the work begins all over with pressing for issues that will be critical of the system that he runs.

I just watched the "60 Minutes" episode on medical marijuana. The Justice Department is not enforcing the ban on controlled substances where medical marijuana is concerned in states where it is legal. Scott Adams is blowing smoke about the prison sentence. No one is being prosecuted in states where medical marijuana is legal. And they had a Justice Department spokesman on the show, stating very clearly that they had no intention of doing anything concerning medical marijuana. He said they had more important things to do.

On the other hand, Romney just might change that policy. Being a Mormon and a Right Wing nutcase he just might insist the Justice Department enforce the law. Scott Adams is obviously betting on the wrong horse.

Ron P.

I follow this on the NORML website, and there have been many Justice Department actions against medical marijuana during Obama's term. Scott Adams is NOT blowing smoke. Dispensaries are routinely being threatened with seizure, people are being arrested. Here is one article about it:


I have the popcorn ready for after this election, when whoever wins will probably have to deal with Washington and Colorado legalizing it entirely.

Co and or WA legalizing MJ would be a huge victory for common sense.

I do not, and have never, and probably never will partake, but I see no logic in treating weed as a heinous illegal drug...not unless we ban/make illegal alcohol and tobacco as well to be logically consistent.

But...the tobacco companies likely fear the competition, and the police departments and the prison-industrial complex across the land probably fear the loss of the war on drug 'business'.

And of course the Holy Rollers and legions of old bitties and 'get off my lawn' old grumps who relish imposing their 'morals' on others will pitch a blue fit. Maybe they should take a puff and chillax.

I saw the 60 Minutes report too. But if you Google "Medical Marijuana raids in California" you will find out that the Feds are conducting raids this week.

Go figger.

The obvious has just occurred to me, only the very rich fixate themselves the effects income tax on the very rich. It is through their inordinate influence on content of media that they make it seem like such a big deal for everybody else.

The minions just grudgingly pay their taxes as they have little (no?) choice. AFAIK massive fuel taxes in Europe are not an election issue nor is the need for them questioned. So, as long as the populace does not see taxes as an unbearable burden and sees how they benefit from them, they live with them. An interesting note, the highly successful author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, was interviewed by Jon Stewart last week and said the she was quite willing to "stay and pay" (in the UK) since, before her success it was the UK welfare system that saved her from utter destitution and homelessness. She now regularly makes Forbes richest women's lists.

When you're rich, you want to stay rich and often dread the idea of having to share the fruits of your (subordinates) labor. The rest of us have lots of other stuff to worry about.

Alan from the islands

I disagree with your premise. In the U.S. I know plenty of people who make less than the amount above which the President wished to raise taxes (even then, a small increase at that)...and these the majority of these people I know (who make between 80-160K) take up the verbal sword and march to the front lines of the chess board to fight for the very wealthy.

These people who see themselves as the first or second tier down from the tier which is slated to pay a slightly higher tax rate see themselves as secondary victims, in that they believe the 'jobs creators' argument.

Now that I think about it, my home town area is full of people who make <80K, and the majority of them buy this 'jobs creators' argument as well.

Maybe we should cut the budget to 50% of its previous level, and let the military and intelligence and Homeland Security budgets remain the same, and see how that plays in Peoria.

It would be interesting to serve on a government body charged with advising the Congress on balancing the budget...I once saw a web site which depicted all the US government spending as circles of different size, along with bullet lists of what these different departments do.

That is why I said:

It is through their inordinate influence on content of media that they make it seem like such a big deal for everybody else.

IOW, the people you refer to have been/are being brainwashed. Also why I brought up Europe and J.K.Rowling. US citizens have been/are being led to believe that their taxes are of little benefit to them. What they are NOT being led to believe is that, their taxes benefit the wealthy owners of the MIC substantially or that the defence budget represents a huge subsidy on the price of oil!

It would be really interesting to see the web site.

Alan from the islands


This is the poster I remembered, here is a link to it at Amazom...it is for sale at Amazon:

Plenty of other interesting sources:










I see bumper stickers which state "Cut government spending 50%"...it would be instructive to get a bunch of people together and tell them to balance the budget, and then go further so that we can pay a small amount of our debt principal down each year, and see what they come up with.

What is Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid were eliminated? People were told to fund their own retirements...perhaps many parents and children would live together? Perhaps w/o government subsidies, the health care industry would have to reduce its prices...or face massive layoffs. Perhaps the military can intelligence agencies and DHS can be cut 50%...again, with massive layoffs...with massive layoffs, the foreclosure rate can skyrocket, and the price of houses would come down significantly...but taxes could be lowered...

This would make for a great group exercise...don't need higher maths..mostly basic arithmetic...what would a fundamental simplification and reduction of government look like?

It would not look like an Ayn Rand novel. It is easy to control results in a work of fiction; the unintended consequences would be huge; you would not like what you got.

Part of the reason that the happiest people on earth live in the highest taxed countries is that their basic needs are taken care of; medical care is not relegated to a for profit institution (talk about making an "offer you cannot refuse."); transportation is recognized as necessary for workers (you don't see the corporations paying for our highways). The folks who live there know what it costs, and are willing to pay the price in taxes since they believe the benefits are worth the cost.

As a nation we have refused to recognized that all spending bills are taxing bills. Consequently we do not engage in adult discussion on cost relative to benefits. Lying politicians tell us we can wage a war for oil off the budget, that we can vote for spending and cut taxes, and they make every effort to destroy the government by "starving the beast." They should be jailed for treason - - - for honoring a pledge to a political flack over their oath of office.

There is more to being conservative than lowering taxes. Government is NOT a business - - - it can not look to make a profit. It is more likened to a family, where Congress and the President / Governor / etc., are like a father, or patriarch, taking care of its people. I as a father did not make a profit from my family. I did not sell them off, and I did not offshore them. I spent was was needed to take care of them, and see that they were educated, their medical needs were met, and that they were fed and clothed. While doing so I tried to be frugal and to preserve something for the future. Some factors (job loss as companies were sold and off-shored, widespread economic distress, etc.) acted contrary to this effort. Bottom line, though, is that my priority was always the well being of my family. Not showing a fiscal profit every year, or ever. Imagine if I had simply "cut the budget by 50%" and let them starve; neglected their health, or refused to attend to their education and training? That would be unthinkable. This is the sort of stupidity that unthinking "Libertarians" engage in. They think John Galt is a real person. It is fiction. End of story.

Just my rant.



Nice, thoughtful comment.

I wish the people in the U.S. to engage in a real, fact-based budget priorities debate.

Not inane bumper-sticker sound-bite/meme-talk.

An interactive U.S. budget tool/widget, which allowed everyone to twiddle the knobs and arrive at a budget which meets agreed-upon revenue limits, would be an interesting exercise. This budget tool would need to provide read-outs on the number of people affected by the various budget changes, and the ways these people would be affected.

Too bad we are on the verge of 'the Romney Ryan experiment'...I estimate they will attempt to significantly cut the non-defense spending while increasing deference spending...perhaps engaging in new military adventurism...I hold no hope that they have a credible energy strategy, industrial/jobs policy, or that they will run a balanced budget.

Refalka can be the beloved first horse, though.

Maybe the MR Western White house's auto elevator will need to be reinforced to lift the weight of the presidential Escalade.

I'm locking it in, whether it was a typo or an intentional pun, I love 'Deference Spending' .. seems we've deferred on the investments we ought to be making to get OUT of the perpetual war business.

I've wondered if we might soon need to call it what it has become, 'Offensive Spending'. It's funny, this country doesn't seem eager to approach problems from the back foot.. but in war, we're a little coy about really naming it.

Unless you define dumbness as willfull ignorance, most of these people are not the slightest bit dumb. Many of them can solve the rubrics cube. I am still working with the top layer.

Ron - thanks for the exact words. Priceless IMHO. I couldn't remember the details. My coffee hadn't kicked at 4 AM this morning and I left my funnies at Denny's. I suspect that line will be repeated here often.

"We don't care what smart people think, there aren't that many of them."


The daily strip for today.

Supposedly, that's the reason those scam e-mails are so ridiculous. A Nigerian prince died and left you all his money! Your e-mail address has been chosen as a lottery winner! A beautiful girl wants to meet you, but needs money for a plane ticket! All with atrocious spelling and grammar errors.

That way, the scammer doesn't have to waste time with people who aren't completely trusting and gullible.

I knew someone who fell for more than one of these. A 'Dr' someone...

I read that some of the looniness in these pitches is by design. They really do want to screen out anyone but the super gullible in the first pass.

When you have no costs, a high payout, and a mailing list of tens of thousands, you can afford to concentrate on the dumbest 0.1%.

Unsophisticated investors were the 'golden prize' at Goldman

“Getting an unsophisticated client was the golden prize,” Mr Smith said in a television interview ahead of the publication today of Why I Left Goldman Sachs. “The quickest way to make money on Wall Street is to take the most sophisticated product and try to sell it to the least sophisticated client.”

Ignorance is profitable.

At 19, an auctioneer liquidating a high-tech company told me of a Mafia money-laundering scheme where similar businesses were bought and run at a profit, then run at a loss, then dismantled. Later I heard about the scheme where assets are replaced by debt.

Destruction is profitable.

RE: How do you move 100,000 people off a disappearing island?

Or, as this CBS report indicates, how do you move millions of people on the East Coast CBS News Report

As is to be expected, lots of great(?) comments. I liked this one:

The sea levels are not rising as a result of climate change. There are a secret group of liberals who each night gather up all of the b-s generated by the pugs that day, put it in bags and then dump it into the ocean. Hence the rising sea levels.

Alan from the islands

The answear to the question is simple: "With a boat".

The more interesting question is; where do you move them to?

Perhaps a Maritime Hooverville?

Authorities said they started appearing about two years ago, likely because of the economy.
"The numbers have tripled or quadrupled," Elliot said, "They have arrived and have little intention or ability to go anywhere else."
Most of them don't have working engines anymore and none of them are actually used for marine recreation. Patrol officers said the owners either find abandoned boats or buy some on the cheap, and then move aboard without ever having to pay rent as long as they keep floating in the river.

They won't even move when a deadly hurricane is heading their way.

The answer is: they can't be moved it they don't want to.

We would all rather die in place than solve our problems.

There you have it.

Has The Oil Drum analyzed Candidate Romney's Energy Plan?

I took a look at it on his web site (below verbatim in block quotes)and I invite some of the highly educated energy experts on this site to analyze this plan. I put my questions after each main point in square brackets [question].

Mitt's Plan

Mitt Romney will make America an energy superpower, rapidly and responsibly increasing our own production and partnering with our allies Canada and Mexico to achieve energy independence on this continent by 2020. This will require genuine support for increased energy production, a more rational approach to regulation, and a government that facilitates private-sector-led development of new energy technologies by focusing on funding research and removing barriers, rather than chasing fads and picking winners and losers.

[AFAIK, the U.S. only imports energy in the form of oil, and some NG mostly from Canada, which doesn't count in this visions of North American energy independence (NAEI). We also import electricity from Canada, but this is OK according to the NAEI vision. SO, I understand that the goal for NAEI means eliminating any FF imports from countries outside of North America (I will be expansive and call this anywhere from Canada down to Panama, including the Caribbean).

So...how much oil and NG does NA import from non-NA countries? Is it feasible to eliminate those imports by 2020? Also, if someone here asserts that this is achievable, the next question is how long can NorthAm remain energy independent? After all, even if the shackles of government are cast off, the resources are still finite...given the fact that NA population is increasing, and the fact that there is not one word of promotion of increased energy efficiency in this plan, how long will our energy independence last past 2020...Mitt did not provide a time domain for this...I guess this plan would be recorded as a success if NA achieved energy independence for just the year 2020?]

Empower states to control onshore energy development

States will be empowered to control all forms of energy production on all lands within their borders, excluding only those that are specifically designated off-limits. Federal agencies will certify, but the states will lead.

[ Does anyone have any credible estimates on how much extra oil, NG, and coal production per year this would unleash? ]

Open offshore areas for energy development

Mitt will establish the most robust five-year offshore lease plan in history, that opens new areas for resource development – including off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas – and sets minimum production targets to increase accountability.

[ Does anyone have any credible estimates on how much extra oil, NG, and coal production per year this would unleash? Is there a lot of oil and NG off the Eastern coast? How can the government set minimum production quotas...this would require very detailed knowledge of the OOP and recoverability, no? ]

Pursue a North American Energy Partnership

Mitt will approve the Keystone XL pipeline, establish a new regional agreement to facilitate cross-border energy investment, promote and expand regulatory cooperation with Canada and Mexico and institute fast-track regulatory approval processes for cross-border pipelines and other infrastructure.

[ Does anyone have any credible estimates on how much extra oil, NG, and coal production per year this would unleash? ]

Ensure accurate assessment of energy resources

Instead of relying on decades-old surveys developed with decades-old technologies, Mitt’s plan facilitates new energy assessments to determine the true extent of our resource endowment.

[Can the rock-lickers and fellow travelers here opine on the adequacy of our North American energy assessments, such as seismic 3D surveys etc? How would the government facilitate new and purportedly better surveys...by direct subsides, tax credits, other means? Perhaps by encouraging surveys in previously off-limits areas such as ANWR/1002/etc?]

Restore transparency and fairness to permitting and regulation

Mitt will pursue measured reforms of our environmental laws and regulations to strengthen environmental protection without destroying jobs or paralyzing industries. Mitt’s plan will also streamline the gauntlet of reviews, processes, administrative procedures, and lawsuits that mire so many new projects in red tape.

[ Can Rockman and other experts give us an estimate on how much oil and NG and coal are being restrained from production per year by onerous regulations? Also, can someone offer an example of how environmental regulations can be both strengthened and streamlined simultaneously?]

Facilitate private-sector-led development of new energy technologies

Mitt will promote innovation by focusing the federal government on the job it does best – research and development – and will eliminate any barriers that might prevent new energy technologies from succeeding on their own merits. Strengthening and streamlining regulations and permitting processes will benefit the development of both traditional and alternative energy sources, and encourage the use of a diverse range of fuels including natural gas in transportation.

[ I am not sure what this means...can anyone elaborate?]


More than three million new jobs, including over one million in manufacturing;

[Given the amount of oil and NG we would produce in NA which replaces the oil and NG imported from outside of NA, is this a credible number? Are these jobs across all of NA, or just in the U.S.? ]

An economic resurgence adding more than $500 billion to GDP;

A stronger dollar and a reduced trade deficit;

More than $1 trillion in revenue for federal, state, and local governments;

[ Is this based on keeping extraction taxes the same as present, and therefore based on additional extraction? Is this $1T per year, or what is the time domain? Also, how can $1T in additional revenue to government only result in $500B in GDP? Wouldn't that $1T find its way back into the private economy? ]

Lower energy prices for job creators and middle-class families; and

[Will lower energy prices restrict future energy production and also raise demand at the same time? Can anyone offer ideas on how these lower prices will facilitate NA energy Independence from 2020 ans on...]

National security strengthened by freedom from dependence on foreign energy supplies.
[How much oil and NG does NorthAm import from the ME...how much from Africa?]

Does anyone here know if this is the entirety of Mr. Romney's energy plan, or just a fast-and-funny bubble gum PR baloon for the masses..is there a link to an actual plan with specific regulations and specifics on how they will be changed, and with specific production number increases estimated on the effect of each change?

ulan - As far as oil and NG goes IMHO very little is being held of the market by regs. At least compared to how much we produce today. And what difference would a D president make compared to an R president re: future energy supplies? Again IMHO very little. Both parties are controlled by a very powerful special interest. If one party or the other does't satisfy this SI it will destroy those politicians. That powerful SI: the American voter IMHO.

Rockman, thank you for your perspective.

So...to summarize, North Am is producing about as much energy as it can, invariant of what politicians are in power...Dem, Repub, or Libertarian such as Ron Paul, or the brave souls starring in Atlas Shrugged as the captains of industry?

I find your SI comment interesting: If the biggest SI is the American People, and the AP want boundless low-cost energy, then the politicians are empowered to go forth and get out of the extraction industry's way...were it not for the realities of finite resources and the fact that the easiest resources are extracted first, and then harder/more expenses sources, and so on.

But, back to Mitt...I find it interesting that his plan and his campaign has been silent on nuclear energy...perhaps if government regulations got out of the way then breeder reactors and Thorium reactors could power our needs (including electrified ground transportation)for many thousands of years? Since FF fuels are finite and therefore a dead-end, and wind and solar power are too expensive and intermittent, and conservation can only go so far, then the obvious only path left to maintain our expectations of civilization is breeder nuclear reactors.

Of course, there are significant issues with this assertion, but I find it pathetic that this conversation is not being carried out in the U.S. ... I guess that as long as we can extend and pretend for the next 5-10 years at a clip, that is what passes for long-term planning in the U.S.

ulan - Energy independent in the future? Hell yes! Why not? In my perverse view we are already "energy independent". We're the 3rd largest oil producer and the largest NG producer on the planet. We have huge coal reserves. We can build nuclear plants at will...all it takes is putting forth that will. Add that to the obvious fact that the US economy can outbid the vast majority of the other economies for energy resources. After all our 5% of the global population consumes around 25%of the energy resources. And so what if we import a lot of oil? How many know whether the fuel in their car at this moment is from imported or domestic oil? And do you really care? Yeh, yeh, yeh...trade deficits. That keeping you awake at night? And if it is would you vote to stop importing oil? I doubt very many would.

A few months ago I visited a small west African country, The Gambia. A very nice and gentle people. And what we call our lack of "energy independence" they would call unimaginal luxury, my dry good and cheap tailor sews in his courtyard during the day because that his only reliable source of light. A ver fit people since they have little to eat and have to walk everywhere.

I'm not sure what to be more indignant over: our gluttony or our lack of understanding of that fact.

Mitt doesn't have an energy plan, he has an election plan- this is window dressing to get him in the big chair

+100 electoral votes! The same for all his other proposed policies.

I took a venture out onto the Internet and came up with some possible answers to the question posed upstream How much oil does the U.S import and from where?


According to the EIA, the U.S. imported (net) 12 million BOE/day in 2007, 49% from the Western Hemisphere and 51% from outside the Western hemisphere (see pie graph at the links in the EIA page).

~ 30% of the 49% imported from the Western hemisphere came from Canada and Mexico (meeting Romney's criteria of North Am production) and a further ~10% was imported from Venezuela, leaving another 9% from inside the 'Monroe Doctrine' zone...(Trinidad/Tobago? Brazil? Ecuador?)

one may be surprised to learn that almost 50% of U.S. crude oil and petroleum products imports came from the Western Hemisphere (North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean including U.S. territories) during 2006. We imported only 16% of our crude oil and petroleum products from the Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. During 2007, our five biggest suppliers of crude oil and petroleum products were:

Canada (18.2%)
Mexico (11.4%)
Saudi Arabia (11.0%)
Venezuela (10.1%)
Nigeria (8.4%)

According to this Oct 2012 NPR article, the percentages have changed from 2007...~ 61% of U.S. oil came from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (data from 2011?):


Canada (15.1%)
Mexico (7.5%)
Saudi Arabia (12.9%)
Venezuela (5.9%)
Nigeria (5.2%)

Rockman, as a person intimately involved with the production of oil, you are an expert on the supply side.

You are obviously passionate about the U.S. demand situation as well.

What are your recommendations for the U.S. to reduce the U.S. oil (and overall energy) demand?

ulan – “You are obviously passionate about the U.S. demand situation as well.” No…I’m not. My passion, like that of the vast majority of Americans, is limited to having the energy I personally need at a price I can afford. As far as everyone else’s demand being met I couldn’t care less.

OK, OK, OK…a tad bit over the top. LOL. But look how the great majority acts and the public policies they support (or at least don’t actively oppose). Yes, a small group focused on conservation but if you read their words carefully you’ll see the prime motivation for a great many is for their personal well being and not that of society.

Going back to my rant about the US being “energy independent”. I suspect most here understand the phrase itself is a tad silly. If the US supplied all of its energy needs, including driving, from solar power we would not be “energy independent”…we would be 100% dependent on solar power. So OK…it really means “import independent”. So is importing a portion of your needs that bad if A) the commodity is available and B) your economy afford to pay for it? But what if your source of that commodity is 100% domestic and you can’t afford it? The west African nation of Equatorial Guinea is 100% energy independent: they produce many times what they consume. But the great majority of that energy (oil) is exported because the local economy can’t compete on a price basis with the EU and US. So they are at once energy independent and supply destitute.

As you point out the US imports a great deal of energy. But we can afford to pay for it. Additionally, the US is one of the largest producers of domestic energy on the planet…a fact that many still can’t grasp. No…we are not import independent. But IMHO the US may be the most energy independent country on the planet. When was the last time an American had their electricity cut off because the plant ran out of fuel? When was the last time all the gas stations in a neighborhood shut down waiting for the tank trucks to show up? When was the last time an airport shut down for lack of jet fuel? When was the last time a farmer had to leave his crops to rot in the field because he didn’t have fuel available for his harvester? When was the last time folks in NYC had to walk home because the subway shutdown when the grid ran out of juice? When was the last time an American found empty shelves at the grocery because the crops couldn’t be harvested or couldn’t be transported to the city?

Etc, etc, etc. A thousand other examples. How does that song go: Freedom is having nothing else to lose. In that case the US is far from being free. We have a great deal to lose: one of the most affluent economies on the planet.

Reduce demand? Like a man once said: when you find you're digging yoursef into a hole the first thing you do is stop digging. So many folks come up with solutions for filling holes. Those won't help us if we keep doing what we've been doing for the last 50+ years. And I've yet to see any significant change in that regard.

It is difficult to have a meaningful conversation when people are as polarized as they are today. A few years ago, I engaged a Democratic Party convention on the nuclear power issue, asserting that new generation Thorium reactors would have to be a significant part of any sustainable paradigm in the near to mid term. While the vote, after my discussion and 'lecture' on the issue was close, they decided to oppose any nuclear power option dogmatically. I have since stopped attending such conventions.

And that, in my mind, is the real problem. People do not want an adult conversation on much of anything. Friends have told me that not driving their SUV was not an option. They did not want to hear, let alone discuss, the topic of peak oil, the dilemma of exponential growth in a closed system, or the possibility that things could not continue as they have for any reason. It was too uncomfortable for them; it threatened their plans, and their preconceptions. They listened instead to Faux News, telling me about 'studies' that reflected their need for confirmation of what they already "knew."

It does not really matter which political party you choose. Both are entangled in the problem, and neither so much as hints at a problem today, much less addressing ways to deal with a very real predicament impending upon us.

So, good luck with trying to find energy independence. I am afraid that it will only come when we stop using energy. I do not like to think what that means.




A stronger dollar and a reduced trade deficit

A stronger dollar would decrease exports and increase imports, thereby increasing the trade deficit.

Hi Ulan,
Maybe this isn't quite the answer to your question but I suggest this excellent powerpoint by Dr. David Rutledge, particularly slides 16-19:


Dr. Rutledge shows that the U.S. oil production curve has, since 1901, deviated from a perfect normal curve by at most 10 months. Think about that. The bank panic of 1907, WWI, the boom of the 1920's, the great depression, WWII, the post-war baby boom, the cold war, Apollo, Hippies, Computers, and all the election campaigns of 111 years affected the residual by less than 10 months.

OK, so assume politics and culture have no effect - its about geology and technology after all. There was the invention of hydraulic drilling, the tri-cone bit, modern geology, seismic surveys, plate tectonics, horizontal drilling, fraccing, 3d tomography, deepwater, name your favourite...

10 months.

Rutledge also calculates the correlation coefficient of actual production vs. the normal growth curve, such as observed when a bacterium is inoculated in a flask of nutrient broth. He gets 0.99991. Over 111 years, American behaviour has deviated from that of a flask of bacteria by 0.00009.

Canadian production has been a bit more bumpy, and i don't know about any analysis similar to what Rutledge has done with US data, but i doubt that PEMEX or PetroCanada, or any national strategy has had much effect.

OTOH, renewables are still at the lag phase and early exponential phase of the growth curve. A boost in the form of subsidies now would produce an effect that would amplify as the renewables base grows. Which policies do you think would best promote renewables?

half full,

This is a fascinating slide set, thank you.

From my various readings, I have the inkling that, through increases in price, U.S. energy use could be cut some 20% per capita without extreme impacts to the citizens.

I also think that, with a lot of push from the government, to provide for this reduced energy load, we could perhaps obtain some 20% of our electricity from wind, and another 20% from solar (talking U.S. here)....maybe 25% each...all that would require mighty investments in the electrical grid, storage/load-leveling technologies, and in our expectations of continuous power availability.

Maybe we can obtain 5% from hydro.

The other 45-55% will have to come from a combination of coal, NG, and nuclear, and oil for any non-electrified rail and non-electric ground transport, and for a reduced-scale aviation usage.

The only way to get the kinds of penetration I opine about for wind and solar (and to keep nuclear's contribution about where it is now) is through a combination of both a meaty carbon tax, and an overall increased price for energy in general, combined with persistent, high government subsidies to wind, solar, and nuclear (safer plants and a long-term storage and possibly transmutation of high-level waste).

High carbon and other taxes, along with persistent, significant subsides, would be necessary to compel people to adopt extremely fuel-efficient vehicles, install and use more intra-city trams, carpool, bike, walk, telecommute,change zoning laws to encourage walkable mixed-use neighborhoods, etc.

The problem is human psychology...most people can't be bothered to think and plan about more than one year out, let alone 5,10,15, 25, 35 years out...and our two-party system will continue to pander to the LCD (least common denominator) population and pretend that BAU can putter/stagger along until magic comes along to rescue us...we are now lead-time away from building out a post-plentiful oil/NG and coal energy paradigm (including a significant power-down), and we won't get there from here due to our stubborn inertial human nature, including our discounting of the future, our proclivity to play the blame game, and our ruinous belief in majik.

Eventually, about 80% will come from solar - its just a matter of the path and whether North America leads the way or waits for other parts of the world to show how its done. A lot of big energy projects have been delayed or cancelled in recent years. Energy companies say its because of the recession but they must also be reading this


and this


If i was a big utility exec and saw that trend in solar prices while considering a 5 year building schedule for a new coal or nuclear plant, financed by 35 year notes, i would be really scared of having a white elephant on my hands in a decade.

We are already beginning to see an erosion of the subscriber base of utilities and transmission lines. It could start with the off-grid and rural customers, then work its way downtown, and every new panel installed will make it harder for central generation to compete and service the remaining customers.

Big, central generation systems are really quite vulnerable when compared with distributed generation. They have only thrived this long because they can monopolize the fuel source. Thats hard to do with sunlight.

Storage is the bottleneck, but that is because people are still stuck in the mindset that you have to store your own solar in your own home. That limits the battery choices to homeowner-servicable types like lead acid. With enough solar penetration, district storage makes sense. Big molten-salt batteries like NaS or Aluminum-Antimony need a professional operating engineer but can power a neighbourhood.

All this will take is for LCOE to stabilize at 12 cents/kWh for a couple of years in a row, and people will believe it is real. If the trend holds that will happen this decade.

Well one of the other great disconnects with the concept of storage is that we think we need to store it at the front end as electricity, instead of where much of the power ends up going to, which is heating and cooling. Storage is much cheaper when you're just talking about thermal mass and insulation.

Whatever the source "solution" if any, a tremendous push on conservation is required, obviously before the US (and the rest) understand this, no way out in sight.
And for this, --without talking solutions--, volume based taxes on fossiles are the best policy, and effective.(and on a pure nation selfishness basis as well).
Yes i know stupid to talk about it!, but whatever..

Yes, indeedy, it truly does get better...

Fossil Fuel Power - Another One Bites The Dust

AGL Energy Limited (AGL) announced on Friday the suspension of the first stage of its 1,000 MW Dalton power station in New South Wales.


The Dalton power station suspension adds to a continually growing scrap heap of gas and coal-fired projects around Australia. Elsewhere in New South Wales, the end of coal fired generation at Munmorah power station has been confirmed. In Queensland, Stanwell Corporation Limited is taking two units at its Tarong facility in Queensland offline soon and last week, it was announced some of Victoria's Yallourn Power Station's generation capacity would be mothballed.

See: http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article...

This should bring a smile to a few faces: "...more than 10 per cent of electricity demand in NSW was supplied by rooftop solar power systems during much of the daylight hours earlier last week" (makes me want to slap my hands together and sing off-key: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y84lrgNs8-g).


Yes!!! Death by a thousand cuts!!! This is what the fossil fuel based energy industry fears and it helps answer your question further up top.

Alan from the islands

That's how I see it, Alan. You keep at it, day after day. Never give up; never give in.


I think the fact the price of electricity has increased so much over the last 3 to 4 years might also have a little to do with the drop in demand.

It was not long ago I was paying 8c to 10c per Kwhr, now it is 20c to 30c /KwHr. The low number is for the first so many kwhrs then the rest at the higher rate.

People with full electric are getting quarterly bills of more than $1000 for electricity. This is what is starting to bight into the household budget, and it is not just the carbon tax as the state governments started raiding the govt owned electrical distributors to try and balance their budgets several years ago.

TOU rates current are 50c /kwhr at peak rate. So yes people are switching to gas, installing solar, hot water/PV, and looking at any way to decrease their electrical bills.

So to me, the morel to the story, if you want to decrease the use of a product, triple its price and low and behold people will find a way of using less. Now all we have to do is work out how to triple the price the of fuel in the US and our oil problems will be solved, don't you think?

They've learned from Germany, solar and wind aren't just playthings for those who wanna paint themselves green, they cut into peak pricing of wholesale power, threatening profits. Renewables may not be ready to take over the grid ,i.e. supply on demand power 24/7, but they are sufficiently advanced to damage profitability of the fossil fuel industry.

Steps up and back, since meanwhile, our earswhile steed, the '97 Subaru Legacy has just announced her retirement to us, and it looks like despite my pleas that we figure out how to become a 1 car family, that we'll be following Senor Dave Edmund's tragicomic example..

"Crawling from the Wreckage into a brand new car.."

(The 'safety' argument by the mom is a tough card to trump.. even with a Royal Oil Flush!! I'll be keeping my eye out for a good electric scooter or bike mod just the same..)

I'm sorry to hear of your Subaru's untimely demise, Bob. I have a 2002 300M Special I haven't driven for a little over two years. Killed a perfectly good battery (again) and I'll have to purge the fuel system, change the oil, and so on before I can put it back on the road. We can easily get by with a single vehicle, but I think your mom is right.

One of my favourite Fawlty Towers segments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv0onXhyLlE


It's my wife, in this case ('THE mom', as opposed to my mom..), and she knows why I'm so opposed to pushing those vanishing riches into one more ICE.. but we're also subject to a car culture around us that makes the alternatives unworkable.. for a little while longer anyhow.

At least most of our daily needs are walkable or bikable.

Here's my dream ride!

(inspired by the master himself, of course, Benny Hill!)
Well, I didn't find it, but wasn't there a lone trike going down Fremont St in San Fran to open or close the show? The rider finally tips over as he stops at the bottom..

(Benny was in Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang, if anyone remembers that arcane casting choice, relative to the advent of 'Dream Cars', and apparently never himself owned a car! You learn some strange things out there!)

Have you considered building a BugE? http://www.bugev.net/

People are using large-format lithium batteries and getting a significantly better range (http://ev4me.blogspot.com/).

I wish when he designed it that he'd made it closer to one of the old Messerschmitt Kabinenrollers. They're cool as hell, but the motor is obnoxious.

Offsetting Global Warming: Targeting Solar Geoengineering to Minimize Risk and Inequality

Instead, we can be thoughtful about various tradeoffs to achieve more selective results, such as the trade-off between minimizing global climate changes and minimizing residual changes at the worst-off location."

Gasoline Prices Dropping

I get the feeling that all is not well in gasoline demand-land. We have seen two seperate ten cent drops in retail price in the last 3 weeks. I have NEVER seen a drop of that magnitude here in Tulsa land over the last 13 years. Increases are always 10-15 cents overnight, and decreases are a penny on a nightly or semi-nightly basis. Maybe the tanks were jammed to the top for the Iran war that didn't light up?

Big drops in gas prices in the northeast recently, too, but I think that was because of the earlier spike upwards. Prices have been quite volatile lately.

Here's an interesting story about island communities getting together on renewable energy...


But even more interesting to me is the detail given on proposed schemes for the UK's Isle of Wight - trial smart grids and battery storage for solar PV. Some first steps in addressing intermittency without pumped storage.

Here's an interesting story about island communities getting together on renewable energy...

Just wait and see what will happen in the U.S. of America :-)


Ford has said hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric cars will account for as much as 25 percent of its new vehicle sales by 2020, from less than 3 percent last year.