Drumbeat: January 12, 2013

New Saudi refineries to reduce crude oil export cushion

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s drive to build new refineries means its maximum capacity to export crude, the big gun it aims at other producers wanting higher oil prices, is set to decline over the next five years.

Major oil importers are not alarmed, as actual Saudi crude exports are well below their maximum and because more US and Iraqi crude will become available. But India’s refining industry has reason to worry about the emergence of a rival processing more than a million barrels a day.

The three new refineries, each able to process 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of mainly heavy crude, could consume nearly a tenth of the kingdom’s current officially declared production capacity of 12.5 million bpd when they are all fully operational in 2017.

Saudi targets $110/barrel oil

London: There has been no official announcement but Saudi Arabia's effective target for oil prices appears to have risen from $100 to $110 per barrel, based on recent changes in the kingdom's production levels.

Oil Falls on Chinese Inflation Data

Oil dropped as accelerating Chinese inflation bolstered concern that economic stimulus may be curbed. The spread between crude in New York and London narrowed to the least in almost four months.

Oil prices jump 10% in a month

Oil prices jumped 10% over the last month on several factors including a Saudi production cut, the fiscal cliff resolution and the reversal of a key pipeline, but analysts expect the gains will be short lived.

Energy Rigs in U.S. Drop for Seventh Week, Baker Hughes Says

Gas and oil rigs in the U.S. dropped for the seventh straight week to the lowest level since March 2011 as energy producers curbed exploration.

Total energy rigs fell by one to 1,761, bringing the seven- week loss to 50 rigs, data posted on Baker Hughes Inc.’s website show. Oil rigs rose by five to 1,323, the first advance since Nov. 16. The gas count declined by five to 434, the field- services company based in Houston said. Miscellaneous rigs fell by one to four.

Gulf Coast Oils Weaken Against WTI on Seaway Expansion

Gulf Coast oils on the spot market weakened to four-month lows as flows on the Seaway pipeline resumed at expanded rates to send as much as 400,000 barrels of crude a day to the Houston area.

The 500-mile (805-kilometer) line running from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Freeport, Texas, has restarted after shutting Jan. 2 to complete the final connections necessary to expand capacity from 150,000 barrels, as Enterprise Product Partners LP and Enbridge Inc. said in a statement.

Yemen resumes oil flow in main export pipeline -officials

(Reuters) - Yemen resumed pumping crude through its main oil export pipeline on Saturday, two days after armed tribesmen blew it up in the latest attack on the country's energy infrastructure, government officials and oil industry sources said.

Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabotaged by insurgents or angry tribesmen since anti-government protests in 2011 created a power vacuum in the Arabian Peninsula country, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings for the impoverished state.

Los Angeles Gasoline Climbs After BP Carson Shuts Compressor

Spot gasoline in Los Angeles gained for the first time in three days after BP Plc shut a compressor at the Carson oil refinery for repairs.

The 266,000-barrel-a-day Carson plant in Southern California reported a breakdown to state and air regulators today. The refinery shut a compressor as part of a maintenance turnaround, a person familiar with operations there said.

Oil revenues up 15 percent in 8 months -- report

KUWAIT (KUNA) -- The nation's" total revenues for the first 8 months of the fiscal year (April-November, 2012) reached KD 21.6 billion, on the back of soaring oil revenues," said a report by the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).

Gulf Gasoline Weakens as Demand Declines to 11-Month Low

U.S. Gulf Coast gasoline sank to a two-week low as demand for motor fuel slumped to the least in 11 months in the U.S. and stockpiles on the Gulf increased.

Nationwide, gasoline use slipped by almost 6 percent to 8.01 million barrels a day in the week ended Jan. 4, the lowest level since Feb. 3, according data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Inventories of gasoline on the Gulf advanced 1.15 million barrels to 81.4 million.

Bakken Oil Output Fell in November for First Time in 18 Months

Oil output from North Dakota’s portion of the Bakken shale formation slipped in November for the first time in 20 months after producers began pulling rigs out of the state.

...Bakken wells tend to have steep decline rates because they’re created with directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, James Williams, president of WTRG Economics in London, Arkansas, said by telephone.

“The question is, are you drilling enough new wells to make up for the decline?” he said. “With a little decline in the rig count, and the very fast depletion rate of the wells, it’s not terribly surprising that the Bakken production leveled off.”

Ethanol Gains Most in Two Months Against Gasoline

Ethanol’s discount to gasoline futures strengthened the most in two months after a government report showed that corn stockpiles in the U.S. were lower than analysts expected.

Saudis May Have Drawn on Heavy Crude Inventories

Saudi Arabia cut output in December to 9.025 million barrels a day, the lowest level in 19 months, a person with knowledge of the kingdom’s energy policy said yesterday. The kingdom exported 9.151 million barrels a day, drawing the extra oil from inventories, the official said.

Saudi Arabia prefers to store light crude grades in winter as demand for heavier crude rises, he said. If there is increased demand for heavy crude, Saudi Arabia responds by supplying from inventories instead of boosting output, he said.

Two Former OPEC Officials Named as Saudi King’s Advisers

Saudi Arabia appointed two of its former OPEC officials as oil experts to a council that advises the king on energy and economic matters, including Majid al- Moneef, a contender for the post of OPEC Secretary General.

Swiss firm ABB picked to power Saudi water plant

Swiss power group ABB said it has won an order to design and deliver 420 kilovolt (kV) high voltage gas insulated switchgear (GIS) for a new desalination facility in Saudi Arabia.

The company will also support the grid integration of a new 2.5 gigawatts (GW) power generation plant being developed by the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), the kingdom's government agency responsible for desalinating sea water.

Would Exporting the Natural Gas Surplus Help The Economy, or Hurt?

Natural gas exports are turning into Washington’s hottest energy question.

On Thursday, five big corporations that rely on low gas prices announced a new trade association to try to block “unfettered exports,” and Ron Wyden, the new chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, sent a letter to the Energy Department asserting that the analysis the department was relying on to justify the exports was outdated and inaccurate.

The gas drillers, meanwhile, have established a new group to push for export approvals and lined up two former energy secretaries — Bill Richardson, a Democrat, and Spencer Abraham, a Republican — to press their cause.

Menace Of Crude Oil Theft

A report last year by the International Energy Agency on crude oil theft in Nigeria was frightening. It said, “Oil theft, costs the Nigerian government an estimated $7 billion in lost revenue per year.” According to the report, theft and sabotage often lead to pipeline damage, causing oil firms to cut output.

The IEA said further: “Flooding and large-scale theft of crude drove Nigerian oil output to the lowest level for more than two years in October 2012. Oil production in the country fell to 1.95 million barrels per day in October, with production in recent months hovering between two million and 2.5 million barrels per day. The drop from September to October was around 110,000 bpd, leaving Nigerian production at the lowest level in around two and half years.

Opinion: Nigerians still waiting for their 'African Spring'

(CNN) -- Twelve months ago, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan gave his people a bizarre New Year present: he announced the immediate removal of fuel subsidies. The controversial measure meant that, quite suddenly, citizens were to pay as much as three times the usual price for gasoline.

Nigerians were outraged. They filled the nation's streets in protest. The coalition was broad: young and old, female and male, poor and (some) rich. Their action, often spontaneous but orchestrated by labor leaders, amounted to a fierce rebuke to Jonathan's administration.

BP Offers Forties at Two-Week Low; Azeri Crude Exports Stable

BP Plc failed to find a buyer for a cargo of North Sea Forties crude for loading in February at the lowest differential in almost two weeks. Total SA bought a lot of Brent blend at a cheaper premium than the previous trade.

Daily exports of Azeri Light crude from the Turkish port of Ceyhan will be little changed in February from this month, according to a loading program obtained by Bloomberg News.

Total chief signals shift from US dry shale gas

Total will halt making new investment in dry shale gas in the United States while gas prices remain low, chief executive Christophe de Margerie has said.

The French oil major has joint ventures with Chesapeake Energy in the Utica shale area of eastern Ohio and the Barnett gas shale area in Texas.

"It is not great because we have invested on the basis of gas prices that were far higher than today," de Margerie said in an interview with French daily Le Monde on France's current national debate on its energy future.

World Global gas-to-liquid congress opens in Qatar

Manama: The inaugural World Global gas-to-liquid (GTL) congress gets underway today in Doha amid plans that the participants from several countries will initiate a new course of direction for the promising industry.

Encana Chief Executive Eresman Steps Down, Takes Advisory Role

Encana Corp. Chief Executive Officer Randall Eresman resigned yesterday after six years in the role and will be replaced by board member Clayton Woitas until a permanent successor is named.

New Jakarta Toll Roads to Exacerbate Traffic Woes: Expert

The building of six new toll roads in Jakarta will only increase the use of private vehicles and worsen the capital’s notorious traffic problems, a transportation analyst warns.

BP Seeks $3.4 Billion Cut in Potential Oil Spill Fine

BP Plc is seeking a reduction of as much as $3.4 billion in the fine it may have to pay for pollution caused by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The company wants credit for collecting 800,000 barrels of spilled oil, according to a court filing. London-based BP is facing a maximum fine of more than $20 billion.

Shell's Arctic Drilling Experiment Has Been an Epic Failure

In December of 2011, Royal Dutch Shell produced a series of videos advertising the company's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Their tagline: "It's time to explore, and Shell is Arctic Ready."

That slogan sounds rather different after 2012, a year in which little went as the company planned – this week prompting U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to announce an urgent, high-level review of what went wrong.

Kulluk grounding shows Shell not ready for Arctic

Shell Oil Company is learning the hard way that Alaska's waters demand respect. Operating in the Arctic's remote and difficult conditions requires planning and attention to detail that Shell has not been willing or able to provide. It is well past time to end Shell's poorly designed and inadequately evaluated gamble in the Arctic. The Department of the Interior must not grant any further approvals and must send Shell out of the Arctic before they do even more serious harm to people and our environment.

Yoko Ono Takes Fight Against Gas Drilling to Albany

ALBANY — For months they have been descending on Albany: farmers, environmentalists, latter-day hippies and placard-bearing parents.

But on Friday, the forces against hydraulic fracturing, a method for drilling for natural gas, brought to Albany a face and a voice familiar to the world: Yoko Ono.

Natural gas vs. Matt Damon: the furor over 'Promised Land'

Matt Damon's new fictional movie about natural gas development in a rural township was being lambasted by the natural gas industry even before it premiered. And yet, the film shows no tanker trucks laden with toxic fracking fluid. It depicts no roughnecks descending on a small town unprepared for the influx of new workers. It features no ghastly wastewater ponds and not even one drilling pad or derrick. In fact, drilling has yet to begin in the fictional township of McKinley.

Family discovers their tap water is flammable

Could you imagine turning on the faucet in your kitchen or bathroom, and the water ignites, in some cases, creating a fireball right in your house? Believe it or not, it can happen, thanks to a chemical in some drinking water. One family outside Cleveland is living this nightmare right now.

A Nuclear Post-Mortem for Sandy

The operators of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant, the reactor that declared an “alert” during Hurricane Sandy, made several small errors, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Friday. But an inspection team has concluded that “performance was acceptable and that emergency action level declarations were timely.”

Discolored Slopes Mar Debut of Snow-Making Effort

After a decade of legal battles, a ski resort in Northern Arizona recently became the first in the world to make artificial snow totally out of sewage effluent. On Dec. 24, Arizona Snowbowl fired up its snow guns for the first time, and to everyone’s surprise, the snow that blasted onto the mountain was yellow.

The discolored snow has sharpened an already fraught conflict.

Yes, Money Does Buy Happiness: 6 Lessons from the Newest Research on Income and Well-Being

According to the modern godfather of income and well-being research, Richard Easterlin, it is better to be rich than poor, but rich countries don't get any happier as they got richer. They hit a happiness ceiling, essentially. This idea matters a great deal, because in a world where only relative income matters, there might be less need to care about growth or pursue policies that maximized lower-income families' post-tax incomes. The work by Sacks, Stevenson, and Wolfers suggests Easterlin was simply wrong. Absolute income matters absolutely, and voters, economists, and policy-makers have everything to gain by putting the spotlight on income gains for the average family.

The Changing Newsroom Environment

Revenues for conventional news operations are bound to keep shrinking. The best view of how this plays out may well be the documentary “Page One: Inside The New York Times,” which chronicles a pivotal year, 2009, when 100 newsroom positions were eliminated (I took a buyout at the end of that year and write on a contract through the Op-Ed desk now). Thirty more positions are being eliminated now.

These background financial pressures, building around the industry the same way that heat-trapping greenhouse gases are building in the atmosphere, are what will erode the ability of today’s media to dissect and explain the causes and consequences of environmental change and the suite of possible responses.

The U.S. Will Again Produce More of the Nitrogen Fertilizer it Uses for Agriculture

Since fracking technology in this nation advanced beginning in about 2006, the U.S. energy situation has changed so rapidly that markets have yet to adapt. So far, the larger supply of natural gas is increasingly being used to replace coal for electricity generation and it has reduced energy costs for industrial and residential consumers.

Why the Government Should Pay Farmers to Plant Cover Crops

But if there were one concept I wish members of the House and Senate ag committees, as well as USDA decision makers, could grasp as we head into farm bill season, it's this: by diversifying away from the old corn-soy-corn rotation and adding off-season, nitrogen-fixing cover crops to the mix, farmers dramatically decrease their reliance on chemical fertilizers and toxic herbicides, while maintaining yields. That lesson is driven home in what I consider to be the most important ag research released in 2012: the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture's report on a set of field experiments it conducted at Iowa State University.

VT Sen. Sanders pushes bill to address climate change

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says the warmest year on record in the United States and in Vermont has persuaded him it's time to get serious about climate change.

Carbon tax would help kill two birds

I am struck by how many liberals insist on reducing carbon emissions immediately but, on the deficit, say there is no urgency because no interest-rate rises are in sight. And I am struck by how many conservatives insist we must reduce the deficit immediately but, on climate, say there is no urgency because, so far, temperature rise has been slight. (Although 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental United States.) One reason interest rates are so low is that they are being suppressed by the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing. That won’t last. As for the climate, well, “Mother Nature doesn’t do quantitative easing,” Harvey said. Beware of nonlinear moves in both.

We need to start tapping on the brakes in both realms by agreeing on spending cuts, tax increases and new investments that would be phased in as the economy improves, as well as higher efficiency standards for power plants, buildings, vehicles and appliances that would be phased in, too.

State turns to climate analyst

In a world of dire scientific warnings about climate change, Delaware on Friday announced that it has hired a nationally recognized expert to help it develop detailed projections for changing conditions along the state’s coasts, farms, cities and suburban neighborhoods.

Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, will fill the knowledge gaps Delaware officials face in planning for rising temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns, extreme weather events and other weather trends during this century.

Cuomo greets findings of Hurricane Sandy commission

A commission formed to examine ways to guard against storms like Hurricane Sandy, which caused extensive damage on the east coast of the United States in October, has called for flood walls in subways, water pumps at airports and sea barriers along the coast.

Top Australian climate scientist: Heat wave ‘encroaching on entirely new territory’

Australia’s top government-appointed climate commissioner says this week’s heat wave is occurring amid record-breaking weather around the world. “This has been a landmark event for me,” professor Tim Flannery told Climate Desk from his home in Melbourne. “When you start breaking records, and you do it consistently, and you see it over and over again, that is a good indication there’s a shift underway — this is not just within the normal variation of things.”

Climate-change denial feels the heat

Scepticism about climate change in Australia may be something else that will melt during the nation's great heatwave.

''There's a powerful climate change signal in extreme weather events in Australia,'' said Joseph Reser, an adjunct professor at Griffith University's school of applied psychology. ''The current heatwave is outside people's experience.''

Global warming is changing the way we live, national report says

Global warming is already changing America from sea to rising sea and is affecting how Americans live, a massive new federally commissioned report says. A special panel of scientists convened by the government issued Friday a 1,146-page draft report that details in dozens of ways how climate change is already disrupting the health, homes and other facets of daily American life. It warns that those disruptions will increase in the future.

US temp could increase by 10 degrees by century end: Report

The US might experience an increase of 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century if steps to address the climate change issue across the globe are not taken, an American draft report has warned. Noting that evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans, the draft of the third National Climate Assessment, released yesterday said that there is "unambiguous evidence" that planet earth is warming.

"Climate change is already affecting the American people. Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts," the report said. "Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and arctic sea ice are melting. These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity," it said.

Impact of climate change hitting home, U.S. report finds

(Reuters) - The consequences of climate change are now hitting the United States on several fronts, including health, infrastructure, water supply, agriculture and especially more frequent severe weather, a congressionally mandated study has concluded.

A draft of the U.S. National Climate Assessment, released on Friday, said observable change to the climate in the past half-century "is due primarily to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuel," and that no areas of the United States were immune to change.

"Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience," the report said.

Months after Superstorm Sandy hurtled into the U.S. East Coast, causing billions of dollars in damage, the report concluded that severe weather was the new normal.

Here's the full draft report of the National Climate Assessment:

I would recommend this web-page instead, which gives an overview and allows us to download one section at a time:

I've examined two sections so far (#4 on energy supply and #6 on agriculture). The latter is very thorough.

See technical discussion at Climate Etc.. Climate Prof. Judith Curry observes:

I am very concerned that the highly confident story being told here has enormous potential to mislead decision makers.

The report does not address statistical evidence against AGW. See:
Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming, Michael Beenstock and Yaniv Reingewertz d N. Paldor, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., 3, 561–596, 2012 doi:10.5194/esdd-3-561-2012

recent global warming is not statistically significantly related to anthropogenic forcing.

It underestimates climate persistance (Hurst Kolmogorov Dynamics) and natural variability. See:
Markonis, Y., and D. Koutsoyiannis, Climatic variability over time scales spanning nine orders of magnitude: Connecting Milankovitch cycles with Hurst–Kolmogorov dynamics, Surveys in Geophysics, doi:10.1007/s10712-012-9208-9, 2012.
The report does not address the systematic Type B error of all projected model means running hotter than reality over 12 or 32 years etc.
Robust policy analysis must address all the scientific evidence.

Markonis, Y., and D. Koutsoyiannis say "the overview of climate variability at all scales suggests a big picture of irregular change and uncertainty of Earth’s climate."

i.e. It could quite easily be worse than the models say. The conclusion to draw is not persistence for ever, but rather to expect that things nastier than the models can predict will happen in response to the current climate forcing.

hot air
Agreed. So prudent engineering practice will be to primarily design for the known extremes of natural fluctuations per quantitative Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics.
Then add a small adjustment for anthropogenic warming on top of the long term warming from the Little Ice Age and natural oscillations.

So Beenstock an ECONOMIST who did not believe in AGW even before the research uses statistics to "prove" that AGW is a statistical illusion. Right.... Most economists can't even figure out how their own so called "science" works. No wonder they can't understand physics and the real world. Beenstock believes "God" and the "Market" are all that's needed.

He admits that there is a "temporary" warming caused by CO2 but, not to worry, it will come back down again on its own no matter how much CO2 we pump in (according to his statistical analysis). Or he is dead wrong.

EDIT: Sadly though, I have to say, the up their own behinds admins at physicsforums.com won't allow this paper to be discussed there. Any attempt to do so is immediately deleted under their no climate change debate policy. They won't even make an exception for this.

Beenstock is a professional who understands statistics. Can you show quantitative statistical causation for AGW with greater peer review and lower uncertainty than Beenstock et al. (2012)?
For discussion, see David Stockwell at Niche Modeling on Cointegration

There are lies, damned lies and statistics. I don't know what Beenstock understands but Physics isn't one of these things.

What his claim boils down to is that you can't absolutely prove anything using the limited datasets available. Well we already know that. He also "proves" that the climate system is not simple, neat and tidy - well we knew that as well. He then ignores the physics and assumes that his stats trump all. He is just playing a game because he knows that most people will look at "Polynomial Co-integration" and think "Wow". But it's just high tech numerology he's playing with IMHO.

Still the possibility remains (logically at least) that he may be correct and even the IPCC doesn't assign 100% to the probability that warming is man-made (Currently a greater than 90% probability is the official position). However Beenstock insists he is "99.8%" certain that he is correct and that apparent link between warming and CO2 was a statistical fluke.

Strangely he doesn't even seem to be aware of the possibility that his oh so generous 0.2% chance that he is wrong still allows for a 1 in 500 chance that it is his research that is a statistical fluke. Never mind the much higher probability that he's simply playing with numbers to fit his belief system that don't actually prove or disprove anything in the real world. He should stick to economics.

I suspect he knows he is playing games.

Webhubbletelscope if you see this thread any chance you can have a look at http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/3/173/2012/esd-3-173-2012.pdf for comment?

Recommend that you first study and understand both the physics and statistical analysis in Beenstock et al 2012. They are analyzing the physical parameters for causality and distinguishing spurious significance from true physical causation.

Sorry, but curve fitting is just matching a few parameters to a known curve. There's no underlying physics just statistics. It proves nothing because nature is run by physics not number fidling.

Good news:

Solar PV meets 5.6% of electricity demand in Italy during 2012

Italian grid operator Terna SpA has released interim figures on electricity production in 2012, reporting that electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) generation increased 72% over 2011 levels to 18.3 TWh.

According to these figures PV met 5.6% of demand in Italy in 2012, 0.8% more than in Germany. Together hydropower, geothermal, wind and PV met 25% of the nation's electricity demand, another 13% have been imported.

Source: http://www.solarserver.com/solar-magazine/solar-news/current/2013/kw02/s...


Texas electricity use dropped in 2012, council says

Electricity use across the state's biggest power grid fell 2.7 percent last year compared to 2011, the state's hottest year on record, while natural gas was the No. 1 fuel powering generators.


Natural gas widened its lead over coal as the No. 1 fuel for electricity generation, accounting for 44.6 percent of the power provided last year. That's nearly 11 percentage points more than coal's 33.8 percent, and compared to a difference of just 1.4 percentage points in 2011. Coal was the top fuel for generators in 2010, but its share declined in 2011 and 2012....


Nationally, electricity demand has been sagging in recent years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. EIA data shows that use in the U.S. fell in 2008 and 2009 as the financial crisis took hold, rose in 2010 and slipped again in 2011. Through October, 2012 was running slightly lower than 2011 as of the same month. The agency predicts U.S. electricity growth will grow 0.9 percent annually through 2040.

See: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/01/10/4539127/texas-electricity-use-dr...

Back in the '60s, electricity demand throughout North America was doubling every seven to ten years. Perhaps I'm being overly naïve, but I fully expect North American demand to drift slowly downward over the next twenty or so years due to long-term price elasticity, structural changes in our economy, slowing population growth, continued advancements in energy efficiency, on-site generation and market saturation.


Replaced 9 sixty watt bulbs 540 watts with Samsung led 13 watt= 60 watt bulbs now 117 watts wife really likes the light. And I just read that researchers have mimmiced the fireflys light which increased LED's efficiency by 55%.

I searched and finally found a incandescent to put n the pump house so the pipes would not freeze.

Be aware that if that if the bulb burns out the pipes will freeze. I know this from experience. A better solution from an old farmer neighbor was to place a (metal!) bucket full of warm ashes from the woodstove into the pumphouse in the evening. It worked great. Sometimes the low tech solutions are the best.

"A better solution from an old farmer neighbor was to place a (metal!) bucket full of warm ashes from the woodstove into the pumphouse in the evening."
I known one who bought an old tractor from a farmer. It had to be refilled with oil regularly and check the diesel level. It worked great until they eventually forgot about the oil.

It doesn't really say, but I assume that is the "Self Thermostatting" Type. Works much better than the old type with a thermal switch.

You can cut & splice as needed, I did up my pump several years ago with it. Buy it by the foot from the local hardware store.

But don't seem to need it as much here in central Florida as in years past, I wonder why ;-)

23 a while ago.
Shut valves to lower house.
So far, so good.
Hot ashes not a bad idea.


I'm not sure of your circumstances re. water & electricity but it may be similar to ours.
We have a farm and need to run a hose from the house in order to fill water-troughs (pretty much every day, regardless of temp). We have a converted bee box which is lined with foam slabs, which we press against the wall of the house to cover the outdoor tap. We have a "trouble light" hanging from the inside of the box which needs an incandescent bulb (we usually use 100w high-impact bulbs). I don't know what we'll do if/when we can't buy more bulbs.

Our pump-house covers the well-hole, which is a 6' deep cement hole which contains the jet pump & pressure switch and the top of the well casing. It has no heat (apart from thermal), but it's covered by a sheet of plywood. Once during a cold snap the little tube on the pump froze, so we lowered a small electrical heater with a fan/blower (I think you're supposed to warm up your car with it). Anyway, it had things flowing again after 30 mins of blowing warm air at the pump.

During really severe cold (which is getting less frequent) we've even left the taps trickling a bit, just to keep a bit of movement overnight.

I've often wondered what we'd do during a prolonged power outage (in terms of preventing the basement pipes from freezing). As suggested, I would take the ash bucket downstairs and put it by the water tank, etc but thankfully I've never had to actually do that.

Believe it or not, The Pet Shop Solution!
Simple heaters for terrariums might just work for you. Some are always on, others have temp. controls, look around.

And part of my "life boat" is this reliable little Honda generator.
If you need more power in an emergency there are more available.

The 2000 watt ran my refrigerator, some lighting, and a computer during a 12 hr. outage. Do the math if you need to run motors, pumps, heaters etc.

Heat Tape:

Thanks for the info, Tom

Never having had a terrarium, I would never have considered those heaters.

We do have a generator (bought after Ice Storm '98) but have rarely needed it. We'd like get a big one to run off the tractor PTO to share between three farms (ours and the farms of my two brothers-in-law, one of whom needs the milkers to run) but they are very expensive.

We tried heat tape but the rodents chewed it up. We replaced it with a 10' in-line heater (in the water line for one of the barns) and it's been trouble-free for 20 years.

One more direction to have in mind, (if you're into this sort of thing..) starts with my reminder that those folks who died of cold and were found frozen solid, would pretty much start to thaw out immediately as soon as they were laid to rest six feet underground. IE, salvation might have only been a few feet away for those sad souls, and also for us. [ Understanding that nobody digs graves when the surface is frozen.. but point being, ya know.. ]

We kept our pipes from freezing in one house with a 'cool tube', which naturally drew underground temps up into the wet-wall area of our Maine Woods home by natural air convection and the chimney stack effect. I would also think that it might be worth putting your waterworks into what would effectively be your 'root cellar', giving the effort a number of other benefits of course.. and you wouldn't have to worry about a light bulb or a power outage at all.. The PLANET would take care of that particular problem.

One last source of heat.. albeit NOT what you'd toss down into your root cellar, could be a big, insulated Compost Pile that would maybe be up against a couple walls of the pumphouse, offering heat and insulation, and also benefitting from a situation where it was helped to keep ITSELF warm in the winter and continue composting.

Just some notions..


Compost heat

True enough, Bob.
Our compost/manure pile steams slightly all winter. Snow does not survive on it.
If I flip the pile over with the loader, it steams visibly for hours. Flipping it over has its risks, though: the ground is so soft that often the front tractor tires sink into the warm, soft soil, with the rear tires spinning on frozen ground only 4' away.
Not easy to get out of (the tractor isn't 4WD).

Yair . . . "Not easy to get out of (the tractor isn't 4WD)"

Not trying to tell you how to suck eggs RickM but you do know how to push yourself back with the roll function on the bucket?


Yes, SP
But pushing/rolling/rotating the bucket into the manure pile does nothing... it's much too soft. The trick works in many situations but not when we're tight against the manure pile, unfortunately.
The only way we get out is to put chain & branches under the rear tires so that they have something to grab onto. Rubber does not grab ice, no matter how chunky the treads....

How are your brush fires?

I need to fill water troughs on a daily basis also, and leave things dripping.

I had to search several rooms to find a incandescent.

Possibly a heat lamp in the future?


Several years ago, the incandescent burned out and the tap froze. My wife was in a hurry so she got one of the heat lamp bulbs that we used at lambing time. The heat lamp promptly melted the styrofoam inside the box and deformed a sheet of vinyl siding on the house... way too much heat for that job.

It seems that every year there are advances in new efficiency but in north america there are new devices that people can't live without. Are we becoming more efficient? I live in Montana and now people want air conditioning in their house for the summer months..everyone carries a small computer with them everywhere they go..plus the one they have at home..kids have ten times the stuff I had as a kid.. consumption still seems way up...and we have oranges year round...not to mention an assortment of other foods from all around the globe. I would be interested in a good study that would show energy use per capita today versus... say 40 years ago. I don't dispute your claims but I am just a bit skeptical that we have reduced our consumption of energy; It is a big ship to turn around so quick..

No question, it's a very big ship. If my maths are correct, end-use consumption per capita in the United States has remained essentially flat over the past decade or so; i.e., 12,124 kWh in 2000 versus 12,034 kWh in 2011 (it appears to have peaked in 2007 at 12,469 kWh). We'll soon know for sure, but it looks like US electricity usage in 2012 will fall somewhere in the vicinity of 11,750 kWh per man, woman and child.

Note the rapid rise in consumption between 1949 and 1973, the reduced rate of growth in the years that follow, and how it starts to flatten out by 1999.



Dear Halifax

Is that end-use 12034 KWh per capita at the household level or over the whole economy? I've got us down to about 300 KWh per month for the household. I think as appliances konk out and we save to replace them, I should be able to whack off another 100 KWh to get us down to 200 KWh. There is a solar workshop here on Mar 7 that we're going to with my questions about our local monster hailstones. With the increasing extreme weather we're wondering if we should be moving some of the household basics to PV sooner than I had planned. I'm just going to love cleaning snow off the PV panels on the garage roof (not)!

With respect to getting usage down, we are fortunate to be in such a dry climate. We don't use the drier except in an emergency which is a megabig electricity hog. Clothes lines and clothes racks work fine and help with computer back and neck. One advantage of not being on a coast where clothes on a line grow fur or are eaten by slugs.

Thanks Paleo

Hi Paleo,

That's for the entire economy (residential, commercial, industrial and transportation end-use).

Congratulations on your extremely low usage; some mighty impressive numbers there.

The rolling 12-month average for our now all-electric home currently stands at 8,635 kWh (720 kWh per month),and with the addition of the Nyle heat pump water heater this past October, I expect to get that down to about 7,500 kWh/year. That's a 90 per cent reduction from where we started back in 2002 (fuel oil and electricity usage combined).

So far this January, with a mean hourly temperature of -6.1°C and with winds gusting to over 70 kph, we're averaging about 38.5 kWh a day for space heating purposes and just under 1.5 kWh/day for domestic hot water (two person household/45 year-old, 2,500 sq. ft. Cape Cod).

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/EC20130101-2013011...


Thanks for your kind words.

Well, you are blessed by being able to buy electricity from renewable energy. Here in Saskatchewan it's mainly produced from coal, so trying to get away from that. There's perpetual talk and no action about building transmission lines from Manitoba Hydro facilities down the west side of Lac Winnipeg to southern Saskatchewan but it seems to be all talk, sadly. We could also build out wind but that's not happening either really and won't with this government. We could in this province source all our electricity from renewable energy but right now, very little is. Something to agitate for when our government ever changes.

Your efforts in electricity usage are commendable as they include winter heat. We burn natural gas for winter heat and hot water. That's where our next efforts will be, reducing that. There's an old door to replace as soon as it gets warm enough that the insulating foam will work and once the roof is fixed this summer, we can get serious about adding to wall insulation. I'd like around R25 to go with the attic's R66. Still hesitating between stucco (fire-resistant but cracks in shifting ground) vs wooden siding (might be too expensive to be available anymore but should wiggle alittle better). Regina is built on clay from glacial Lake Regina and it's wise to build to wiggle and like ornamental trim. They build "floating walls" out here and my first response upon seeing them was profane bafflement.

Onwards! Always multiple projects and manuscripts one is very behind on!


You might want to consider Hardie siding. It's a fiber and cement board product. It's a good product and fireproof.

Here's their Canadian web page; http://www.jameshardie.ca/


Thanks, I'll look into it. I think my neighbor is considering it. Do you have personal experience with it?

I haven't personally used it but I know of two houses in the area that have and they were satisfied. I'm in the Coast Range Mountains of northern California.


Our neighbour put hardi board siding on 13 years ago & is happy with it. We used cedar. Northern BC, same agricultural zone as Sask.

Great stuff. I've installed thousands of feet of it and have it on part of my house over 1" foam. Fireproof, and holds paint better/longer than wood. It also comes in 4x8 sheets in several styles (T-1/11, etc.). Be sure to use the right primer.

I've replaced our wood siding with Hardie panels. I like it. Fireproof,
insect-proof, termite-proof, cheap ($25 per 4'x8' sheet), guaranteed for 50 years. Wood-grain finish.

Another vote for the Hardie siding. A neighbor of mine was one of the first installations in Colorado in around 1989 and it has held up to our 8000 foot weather very well. When my cedar needs to be replaced, that is what I'll use. It is definitely the siding of choice around here.

I had a 12 by 20 storage shed built in Pensacola and they used Hardie Board for the outside walls. They just nailed the Hardie Board to the studs and that is all the wall there is. That was just after Ivan in 2004 and it is holding up fine. Looks like it would last fifty years.

Ron P.

Believe it or not, there is an osb based product supposed to be better than Hardy, and that is Smart Board. It is easier to cut and install, and is constructed with a water proof glue. Both products must....must be edge sealed on their butt joints. While my house is totally sided with cedar shingles on 60 minute paper on plywood sheathing, I really would use smart board before hardy. It comes primed and doesen't break. We put it on my sons house. As a carpenter I would choose cedar first, smart second, hardy third, stucco never.


10KWhr is about what we got down to for seasons without heating or cooling needs. Of course the plugin Prius adds another 3KWhr/day demand. Right now my twins are home from college with their monster computers and extra clothes to wash (this time of year we don't even try the clothesline -that is still several weeks away), so right now its more like 17-18(ugh!).
I know what to do to get it down, but I await appliance deaths before doing any of them:
(1) Replace the electric dryer with a gas-dryer that suck draws 5KW.
(2) Replace the LCD big screen TV with LED 220 to 75? watts.
(3) Replace the 10year old refrigerator (about 1.5/day)
(4) Replace the 12year old AC, a new efficient one would probably be 50% more efficient.

(2) Looks likely, that guy seems to be getting slower and slower to turn on -is that how these things die? The others not likely soon.
Built window shades -as awnings are too expensive, and lots of strategically placed vegetation to shade as much as possible during the summertime, plus seasonal homebuilt "pergolas" for the deck, so the summer AC demand has been cut severalfold compered to neighbors -we average 15-20 100plus days per year, so this is a BIG deal.

(2) Might be the inverter for the background illumination cold cathode tubes on the way out. Try looking from an angle or using a torch and you may see a dark TV image just not backlighted. Next stage will be dark screen for a slit second making you think you blinked then progressing to needing to leave it off to cool down before the screen will come on before going off again after a few seconds. They can be changed out or repaired. A google may help you find a company that repairs them, I can't remember who or where as it is few years since I was trying to get a replacement.


Thanks. I had to reread it a few times to figure out what you were saying. I'm not at all sure though, the sound doesn't come on in the dark state. Also if you try to turn it off, it takes a minute or three before it realizes you've flipped the switch.

Yeh, sorry if obscure, pretty tired at the moment. Usually the inverter starts dropping out but the shutting off and sound delay sound like something different.


Breaking down your per capita gross usage number in terms of solar PV provision, here are some rounded numbers.

12mWh/365 days: 32.88kWh's usage per day.
32.88kWh/5.5 hr solar day: 5.98kW needed capacity
6kW*$6. per watt = $36,000. capex.
$36k amortized over 25 years at 4% APR = $190. per month payment.
$2,280./12,000kWh = $.19 per kWh net retail cost.

Obviously, it's more complex considering solar variability and storage requirements, availability of raw materials, et cetera, but $.19 per kWh does not look like such an onerous number that rendering the planet inhospitable seems preferable to paying it. Also, that's a retail price and includes $20,000. in interest cost. Were we to adopt an aggressive conversion strategy at a national level, capital could be made available at a lower interest rate, and installed cost per watt could possibly be reduced by half. If we cut the interest rate to 2%, and the installed cost per watt to $3., then the retail cost per kWh drops to $.08.

On the transportation side, let's take the U.S. daily urban travel day of 36.5 miles (Stat source) and use a Nissan Leaf and a Nissan Versa as comp vehicles.
I've run the numbers using different scenarios of buying the vehicles vs leasing them, and amortizing the PV costs over a 5yr term vs a 25yr term. Leasing the electric car and amortizing the PV cost over the life of the panel seems to be the way to go at this moment. The lease prices below reflect what Nissan is currently advertising on their website. I don't know how closely it matches reality. I may go talk to my local dealer to find out.

Lease rates:

(36 month)Leaf lease/ mo. $220. + ($2000 buy in/36 months) = Lease price per month: $275.
(36 month)Versa lease/ mo. $195. + ($2000 buy in/36 months)= Lease price per month: $250.

Fuel rates:

Cost per electric driven mile: $.06 (2kW array @ $6./w installed cost amortized at 5% over anticipated 25 year life of panels; 5.5 hr solar day)
Cost per petrol driven mile: $.12 (30 mpg combined efficiency / $3.50 per gallon)

Total cost per month to drive the solar powered Leaf 1113 miles: $345.15
Total cost per month to drive the petrol powered Versa 1113 miles: $379.88

Afterthoughts: The Leaf lease price surely reflects government subsidy. Gas prices are likely to rise. Solar prices are likely to decline. Electric car prices are likely to decline. I expect electric cars will become increasingly attractive economically over time. I don't think it will be long until you can take your pick of car manufacturer, walk into their showroom, sign your name to a lease or purchase agreement, drive away an electric car, have a crew show up at your house the next day to install your appropriately sized PV array, and all for a roughly equivalent monthly expense of a comparable ICE car.

Interesting times.

Hi Riban,

I buy 12,000 kWh a year of wind energy and low-impact hydro from Bullfrog Power (http://www.bullfrogpower.com/) which is roughly equal to one and a half times our total needs. The premium is $20.00 a month, and if I were to purchase a PHEV Dodge RAM or Caravan, say, then I'd probably bump my subscription up by another $5.00. Dead simple and totally painless.


PHEV Dodge RAM or Caravan

Does PHEV exist in the light truck and van categories? Given the expense of battery capacity aren't most EV and PHEV's coming out in small vehicles that don't take too much juice to push.

No, not as yet. They're still under development and it will likely be a few more years before they become commercially available.

As I noted in the previous Drumbeat, the PHEV Caravan was averaging 55 mpg in field tests. The PHEV RAM was reportedly scoring 37.4 mpg, but that's with the 5.7 litre HEMI V8; a PHEV RAM equipped with the 3.6 litre Pentastar engine and eight speed automatic would likely get you into the mid 40's.

See: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2012/09/chrysler-upgrades-phev-fleet

See also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4myoqfoUbhc


Hi Paul, Don't know how soon theses are going to be available and how much they're going to cost but, Bob Lutz says Via Motors' X-Truck makes Prius look like a 'gas guzzler'.

Don't know how "Maximum Bob" and his band of merry minions are going to get these 5,500 pound behemoths to get better mileage than a Prius or a Volt but, the Detroit Auto Show starts tomorrow and Maximum Bob's gonna be there kicking up a storm. Just like last year IIRC.

Alan from the islands

Thanks, Alan, for the tip. I take it these vehicles will have some honk'n size batteries !


With Honk'n size batteries, I'd expect Honk'n sized price.


Here's a Jay Leno's Garage review of the Via Motors Vtrux.

24 kWhr liquid cooled lithium pack. The motor runs in steady state when needed and is said to convert around 200hp (150kW). With the numbers they give it will still get 20mpg running on gas alone and they expect the gasoline engine to last 3 times as long because of the duty cycle and steady-state operation. In the video with mixed electric and gas driving they mention that particular truck as near 200mpg.

Leno also mentions having 18,000 miles on his Chevy Volt and says he's only used 12 gallons of gas... which is around 1500 mpg.

Via Motors has been promising vehicles and not delivering vehicles for a long time now. I would put very little trust in the outfit. And Bob Lutz tends not to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

I hope that GM gets around to putting their Voltec drivetrain technology into pick-up, SUV, and mini-van models though. The technology has proven to work, gets great customer satisfaction, and got great reviews. Yes, it is still a bit pricey but hopefully they can bring it down. If you plug in every night, the gas savings can be huge since most people don't drive much more than electric range each day.

It's just pure "gut feeling" but there's something tricky about this "Via Motors" thing. The fact that they're using GM bodies and motors and Bob Lutz is involved...it has all the sense that GM is pulling some kind of tricky move to put the developmental risk into this "other company" and if it happens to work out - I suspect we'll see "Via Motors" get "purchased" by GM, they'll swap out the "Via" badges for some "bowties" and zing - call it a day.

In my endless quest of wondering about engine choices (i.e. why they didn't use the 3 cylinder GM already had for the Volt) I'm also left wondering why they used the bastard 4.3 V6 (a V8 in which two cylinders fell off) instead of using the 3.7 Inline-5 of the Colorado.

$6/KWhr is a bit high. Aren't new residential systems coming in closer to $5. And Germany is installing them for around $2. Of course commercial flat roofs are cheaper, and ground mounted 10MW or larger utility scale is cheaper still. Since we are postulating replacing residential/commercial, and industrial sectors (at roughly the same size each), putting a large amount of this into larger more cost effective installations into the mix makes the most sense. I know as an individual trying to zero out his carbon budget, those other avenues may not be available to you. [Although maybe if you put your retirement savings into funding third party solar?]

Yes, $6. is a purposely used high value as I don't want to be farting rainbows.

As for the cost in Germany, could you link me up with that data source? The low installed price I could Google up for that country was $4.11/W.

On Amazon, complete grid tie system kits are under $2./W from multiple suppliers. I've no information about the quality of those systems.

Best hopes for rapid advancement in battery tech.

It is a little more than $2.
1.75 euros/watt as of a few months ago, plus 20%VAT, ~= $2.75 for ready to use systems up to 10kw.

Are there any estimates of how much of that leveling off of electricity consumption is due to industrial outsourcing of production to China (and other countries)? And thus taking out all of the embedded energy of those products and gadgets out of the US electricity consumption?

I could imagine that is a sizable chunk in many of the savings of CO2 and energy in Europe and the US.

It's impossible for me to say. I can tell you that the aluminium industry is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the United States and its energy requirements have fallen considerably due to various improvements in process technology. For example, in 1980, the North American aluminium industry required an average of 17,477 kWh to produce a tonne of primary aluminium; by 1990, that fell to 16,443 kWh; in 2000, 15,772 kWh; and in 2010, 15,120 kWh (the best plants today consume about 12,500 kWh per tonne).

The petrochemical industry is another major consumer of electricity and has worked hard to reduce its energy requirements. Over the past twenty years, Dow, for example, has reduced the energy intensity of its operations by nearly 40 per cent, and expects to trim its energy requirements by an additional 25 per cent by 2015 [all energy inputs, not just electricity].

Motors account for about 70 per cent of the electricity consumed by industry. US industries operate an estimated three hundred million motors and roughly ten per cent of these will be replaced in any given year. New "premium efficiency" motors use 20 to 30 per cent less energy and their simple payback is generally one to three years (potentially much less after utility rebates). This is where we can expect to see impressive gains.



Then again, some aren't as optimistic as Paul:

Scale Matters:

In our own modern situation, the freedom enjoyed in first world countries is arguably both a direct and an indirect a result of the enormous energy surplus we have benefited from. Energy surplus has allowed us to substitute energy slaves directly for the forced labour that has been a prevalent feature of so many previous societies, and it has allowed us to intensify complexity in order to create many opportunities for innovation and advantage. It has also enabled an increase of scale to the global level, so that hard work for low pay, and unpleasant externalities, could be off-shored while retaining the benefits in the first world, albeit very unevenly distributed within it.

The size of the global energy surplus is likely to fall very substantially in the coming years. This will inevitably have a major impact on global socioeconomic dynamics, as it will undermine the ability to maintain both the scale and degree of complexity of the global economy. The expansion of effective organizational scale on the way up is a relatively smooth progression of intensification and developing complexity, but the same cannot be said for its contraction. As we scaled up we built structural dependencies on the range of affordable inputs available to us, on the physical infrastructure we built to exploit them, on the trading relationships formed through comparative advantage, and on the large scale institutional framework to manage it all. Scaling down will mean huge dislocation as these dependencies must give way. There is simply no smooth, managed way to achieve this.

Solar seems to be slowly, but steadily, gaining ground all over.

For California this was recently in the news:

California hits a renewable energy milestone

California has hit a major milestone in renewable energy: State regulators reported Thursday that more than 1 gigawatt -- or 1,000 megawatts -- of solar power has been installed through the California Solar Initiative, which encourages homeowners, businesses, local governments and nonprofit organizations to install solar panels on their roofs.

And when I observe CAISO (see bottom of page graph) many sunny days have about 1GW of peak solar production for about 3 to 4hrs.

So will it be 'enough'? Don't know, but still makes me happy to see the renewables fraction slowly creeping up over the recent few years.

I think there should be a celebration when we hit 1.21 Gigawatts. Get Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd to say a few words of encouragement.

Obviously a GW isn't nearly enough. Thats what 25watts per person (assuming pop 40m -I think thats a bit high), and that has to cover residential commercial industrial, and agricultural. We need to exceed that amount manyfold -like maybe 50times. So we gotta get going on drastically raising the install rate.

See my reply to this comment on the DB for January 9.

Alan from the isands

Well, this is just the rooftop solar from the California Solar Initiative. If you add in solar from commercial scale utility projects, the total is more than 2 Gigawatts. Great Scott!

The goal of CSI was to hit 3 Gigawatts but they may need to do something because the program is pretty much out of money.

FOR ALL: A little fact checking re: the flaming faucet story. There have been incidents when oil patch activity has damaged fresh water aquifers. I’ve seen them first hand myself. OTOH the MSM has found a ready market for inaccurate reports. All well and good but it also tends to lessen the credibility of incidents that do occur when it’s so easy to come up with counter evidence when an apparent scam is exposed. From:


"This week, a local NBC affiliate out of Cleveland did a story on a Portage County family (the Klines) concerned about the levels of methane in their water well...Unfortunately, producers with the Today show in New York didn’t quite apply the same standard of accuracy in running with the story on its broadcast this morning, airing a piece that carefully avoids mention of the facts, even in the face of a mountain of evidence that directly contradicts its thesis.

It’s important to note right up top that the operator of the nearby natural gas well in question conducted extensive baseline water testing before any development activities ever proceeded – sampling the Kline well even though it technically resides outside the “presumptive liability” zone of 1,500-feet from the well. A copy of those test results can be found here.
As you’ll see, methane was found in the Klines’ water well before the natural gas well was even drilled. Other baseline water tests focused on the area in question confirm that methane is commonly found in water wells throughout the region.

But perhaps the most important detail concerning the Klines’ water well is this: According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the Kline water well was actually drilled through the existing water aquifer and into a rock formation below called the “hard blue shale.” According to the statement that ODNR submitted to Today: “The water well in question was found to be drilled into shale, which is known to contain methane and is naturally occurring.”

In other words: natural gas was found in a water well that was drilled into a shale formation that contains natural gas. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the relatively shallow shale rocks that underlie Portage Co. have long been known to house some pretty low-quality drinking water. In a report filed by USGS in 1966 – 56 years ago, mind you – the agency found that:

“The shale units in Portage County generally have not been used as a source of water because of either the poor quality of the water or its insufficient quantity.”

The fact that the Klines’ water well was drilled into one of those shales explains a lot about the composition and quality of their water. One of the other points the reporter made sure to highlight in the Today show piece was that methane levels discovered in water sampling tests from December 2012 (based on tests conducted by ODNR) were higher than what was detected in the baseline samples collected in August 2012. So even if there were methane in the water beforehand – and lots of it – what could explain the increase in concentration?

Here, a 2008 report that appeared in a prominent scientific journal examining how and why levels of methane can change in groundwater might prove useful. That report, entitled “Spike-Like Concentration Change of Methane,” observed that it’s common for methane levels in groundwater to increase or decrease over time, as methane concentrations are “controlled by the hydrostatic pressure gradient in the aquifer.” According to the study, the pressure gradient can change for a number of reasons — not only due to withdrawals from the well, but also from atmospheric conditions, such as changes in barometric pressure. Because of this, changes in temperature can cause methane concentrations in groundwater to fluctuate."

IOW test the well water often enough and higher than average concentrations will be found.

"In a report filed by USGS in 1966 – 56 years ago"
No, that would be 46-47 years ago.

PLEASE just click "save" once. Clicking multiple times does not make your post appear faster, it just creates multiple copies. If you're not sure your comment posted, check before trying to post it again. Chances are, it did post.

If there are multiple copies of the same post, remove the last one(s), and keep the first one. There are technical reasons why this works better. It also means that if a mod is removing extras at the same time you are, all copies aren't removed.

When I go back to the posting I'm commenting on to see if my comment has appeared, I right-click my mouse to get a menu with RELOAD on it. Click RELOAD and the comment usually pops up. (Downside: clicking RELOAD takes removes all the NEW labels.)

Hey mudduck, it ain't that difficult. When you click "save" you will get some indicator that the computer is busy. On mine it is a little circle that keeps going around and around. Don't do anything until it stops. It used to be an hourglass years ago but no longer.

At any rate, if you have any doubt, just open TOD up in a new window. That way all your NEW labels are preserved.

As I said, it just ain't that difficult.

Ron P.


Ever work for the Marshall Institute?

The facts are not disputable:

For the first time, a scientific study has linked natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing with a pattern of drinking water contamination so severe that some faucets can be lit on fire.

The peer-reviewed study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, stands to shape the contentious debate over whether drilling is safe and begins to fill an information gap that has made it difficult for lawmakers and the public to understand the risks.

The research was conducted by four scientists at Duke University. They found that levels of flammable methane gas in drinking water wells increased to dangerous levels when those water supplies were close to natural gas wells.

(Fracking Linked To Methane In Flammable Drinking Water). Just use "the google" with this search criterion "tap water at sink catches fire fracking" and it lights up, if you know what I mean.

Actually Dredd I just read the original Duke University report and it doesn't support the Huffington Post headline in this case. The researchers were specifically not stating that "fracking" was the definitive cause (just one of a number of possibilities including "natural" they identified). They recommend a set of further actions including determining the likely source of the methane. See report at https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/89595/research-a...

Dredd - I'll check it out when I get home . Thanks. As I said I've see first hand oil patch examples of contamination . And I' also seen many examples of water wells contaminated with methane with oil patch wells drilled very close by. And none of the problems we're associated with the oil patch activity

Dredd - Read that report as well as the others sited in the article. Sorry but almost no proof of methane contamination caused by oil patch activity was presented anywhere. A bunch of correlations but only one documented example where a well had failed casing and cement that led to contamination. As I said in my original post it does happen. The question remains as to how many flaming faucets are due to oil/NG drilling activity?

“But they were alarmed by what they described as a clear correlation between drilling activity and the seepage of gas contaminants underground, a danger in itself and evidence that pathways do exist for contaminants to migrate deep within the earth.” Well, da! Every oil/NG reservoir on the planet exists because there are NATURAL pathways which exist that allow hydrocarbons to migrate.

“We certainly didn’t expect to see such a strong relationship between the concentration of methane in water and the nearest gas wells. That was a real surprise,” said Robert Jackson, a biology professor at Duke and one of the report’s authors.” I suspect they were surprised because no one on the team apparently knew anything about exploration. Nearly every deep concentration of oil/NG has evidence of hydrocarbons migrating up into the shallow section above the reservoir. There’s an entire branch of exploration that focuses on detecting those shallow contaminations as part of the exploration process. Not just hydrocarbons in the aquifers but all the way up to the ground level. Lots of surface imaging using satellites. Approaches using soil sampling and a variety of geophysical methods to detect those hydrocarbons and various mineral deposits produced by the shallow hydrocarbon migration. One includes airborne magnetometers that detect very shallow areas of enriched magnetic minerals like magnetite that are created by the reduction chimney typically produced by the shallow migration of hydrocarbons. Another method involves mapping radon gas variations. In fact just as easy to blame surface contamination of abnormally high radioactive radon gas in the same area as oil/NG drilling. Correlation…not causation. In some areas I’ve seen so much NG dispersed in the shallow section above a deeper reservoir that it completely destroyed the data quality of the seismic data.

“But they were alarmed by what they described as a clear correlation between drilling activity and the seepage of gas contaminants underground, a danger in itself and evidence that pathways do exist for contaminants to migrate deep within the earth.” Well double da! What would have been really shocking would be finding no evidence of NATURAL pathways for deeper hydrocarbon accumulations to leak oil/NG to the shallow section. Again a classic example of incorrectly assuming correlation implies causation. I would imagine there’s a nearly perfect correlation of fertilizers being used on farms where methane contamination was discovered. So the conclusion is that fertilizers produce methane in the aquifers? LOL.

An interesting bit of evidence they decided to not highlight in the report: “The researchers did not find evidence that the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing had contaminated any of the wells they tested”. So exactly how did those oil patch wells cause NG to seep into the aquifers? As I pointed out they reference just the one documented case where the shallow casing and cement failed causing the contamination. But exactly how does drilling any other NG well cause contamination? Lots of folks claiming it has happened with no explanation of how it can physically happen. Being in the oil patch I do know. An “underground blowout” can do it.

What the heck is an UNDERGROUND BLOWOUT? Another lesson from Rockman 101. UB’s are not that uncommon but the public never hears about them because there’s no burning rigs or pools of nasty oil polluting the environment. Imagine a well drilling and the mud weight isn’t high enough to prevent NG from a deep reservoir from rushing up the hole. But they see the well kicking and shut the well in (prevent the drilling mud and NG from flowing out of the well head). But that doesn’t stop the NG rushing up the hole. It’s at a higher pressure than the shallow water-filled reservoirs (including the very shallow fresh water aquifer) so the NG begins charging a shallower rock. So it’s a blowout (uncontrolled flow of oil/NG) but the wild flow stays underground. No film at 11. No reporters running around interviewing the morning members of the dead’s families. But still a very serious event. The NG will continue charging the shallow section until the well bore collapses and seals itself or the operator goes in hole and plugs off the flow.

So the facts: It very common for shallow aquifers to naturally contain significant amounts of NG in areas where there are NG fields. The pathways that allow deeper accumulations of NG also exist to allow NG to migrate to the shallow aquifers. It’s common for those shallow concentrations of methane to occur above NG reservoirs. It’s common for operators to drill NG producing wells into deep NG reservoirs. Thus it should be expected to find higher concentrations of methane in fresh water aquifers in areas where companies are drilling for NG with those methane contaminations not being caused by the NG exploration effort itself. Sorta like saying folks carrying umbrellas cause it to rain because every time it rains I see folks carrying umbrellas. Correlation…not causation.

Not PA but a real example I just ran into about 6 weeks ago. Drilled a 5,000’ wildcat outside of Victoria, Texas, in an area where many 100’s of BCF of NG has been produced at this depth and shallower. How shallow? About 2 miles from my well produced $6 million of NG from the fresh water aquifer. Knowing this I logged my well all the way to ground level. Many operators typically stop around 2,500’ below ground level. I discovered a 20’ thick column of NG at 46’. Not enough to be commercial but I’m not talking about methane contaminated fresh water but a pure concentration of methane. Flames from a faucet? Enough NG to provide a big McMansion with all its energy needs for at least 50 years.

I’ve studied every report “proving” that oil/NG operations have caused methane contamination that I’ve seen. In nearly every case no proof that the drilling operation caused the problem but were just in the same area. In an area where methane contamination should be expected whether an operator has ever drilled/frac’d a well. Areas where typically there is a documented history of methane in water wells long before the first oil/NG well was drilled. Again, I readily admit it can happen. I’ve consulted for two landowners who sued an operator for doing just that. Won one…lost one.

And lastly let’s not forget my personal motivation: nothing would make me happier if the drilling and frac’ng of every shale play in the country was made prohibited tomorrow. I drill for convention NG and the shale plays have all but killed my program. I’m not here to defend the oil patch. In fact it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit to see every shale player go out of business tomorrow and kick every one of their engineers/geologist. Mine is a very competitive business and their wellbeing is not my concern. OTOH my Yankee cousins having their water wells contaminated by oil patch activity isn’t my concern either. I’ve got my own problems that none of them are concerned about either. I just like to keep the facts as correct as possible. Just classify me as a knowledgeable busybody. LOL.

Yes: facts are not disputable. But misinterpretation of facts can often be disputed.

As I often had occasion to tell my Baptist mother: I believe in your experience -- explanations may differ.

That's great. I'll borrow it. Thanks.

The Medicine Hat shallow gas field, the biggest gas field in Canada, was discovered in the late 1800s when the Canadian Pacific Railway was drilling a well to supply water for their steam locomotives. Their water well exploded and burned down their railway station. Rudyard Kipling, who visited the area somewhat later, described Medicine Hat as having "all Hell for a basement" because gas leaking from water wells kept burning down houses in the city.

In areas where you have both shallow gas fields and deep aquifers, things get very complicated. I have talked to a farmer who was drilling a water well on his land, and hit a shallow gas deposit instead. Being the practical sort, he hooked up his water well to his furnace and trucked in water for his house. It wasn't a big gas deposit, but it was big enough to heat his house for the rest of his life, so he was happy.

As it happens, in order to reach the biggest aquifer in Alberta, farmers have to drill through several gas formations to reach the water formation. If the driller doesn't properly case the water well going through these gas formations, the farmer WILL end up with flaming well water. It's easily mitigated by venting the methane off the water to the outside, and farmers in the area are used to doing that, but it's better to case the water well.

Places which have shale gas formations frequently also have shallow gas reservoirs because the deeper shale is the source rock for the shallow gas. Pennsylvania is one of those areas with both shallow gas and deep shale gas. In those areas, the water and gas formations are often connected, and if you produce the water too fast, you will release the pressure holding gas in the gas formation, and draw it into the water formation. Result - flaming well water.

The hydraulic fracturing is typically happening a mile or so underground and is unlikely to affect shallow formations. It's what is happening in the first few hundred feet that matters. These are the sort of issues that the talking heads on the MSM won't mention when talking about "fracking" because they frankly don't know anything about them.

I wish the detractors of fracking would focus on the real threats -- liquid disposal, water use, scarring the landscape, air pollution -- rather than the red herring of underground water contamination which is easily refuted. On the other hand, are all those bad things taken together worse than the effects of coal mining that take place every day without news coverage? Or nuclear power which leaves a deadly menace for generations to deal with? I consider myself an environmentalist, but I also fully understand that it is a lost cause. Opposition will fade as fossil fuels deplete and the bills start to go up. The time will come when the vast majority will not only favor fracking, but demand it. Who knows when that day will come, but I'm quite sure I will live to see it.

Kingfish – “...rather than the red herring of underground water contamination which is easily refuted.” Glad to see my longwinded effort didn’t go to waste. Not sure when you started hanging around these here parts but I’ve been trying to beat that into my Yankee cousins from the start. I’ve notice as the frac fluid contamination stories have diminished the methane contamination stories seem to have taken their place. Hopefully that’s because they finally took sufficient steps to stop illegal/improper dumping such as both PA and NY passing laws to make it illegal for local municipal treatment centers to accept (for a fee) those nasty frac fluids and discharging them into the streams untreated. I estimate that went for at least two years.

Finally saw a detailed review of Matt Damon’s supposedly anti-frac’ng movie. If it was supposed to be a hatchet job on the drilling/frac’ng side of the oil patch they missed the mark big time. That goofy cable show, “Blackgold”, paints an uglier picture of oil patch operations and it’s generally considered a supportive story of our side of the fence. The review just confirms my decision to not watch the movie. Sounds just too boring: all about pushy salesmen (landmen taking leases) working over hardworking citizens. Now if had were a heavy handed attack on the drilling side of the oil patch with scenes of big nasty drill rigs and frac trucks I would have rushed out to see it. That’s my world. The land leasing world rates right up there with watching paint to dry IMHO. LOL

Rockman, thanks to you and others at TOD my understanding of all energy issues has exceeded my brain's ability to hold it all. And now that I have all this information all I have learned is (1) there are no easy answers and (2) the hard answers that might work won't be done. The die is cast, in my opinion. So now my focus is entirely on my son's future and anything I can do to set him up as best I can. I know you are a father as well and I imagine this must occupy your thoughts from time-to-time. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Kingfish - "...I imagine this must occupy your thoughts from time-to-time." Actually just about every day and sometimes more than once. Perhaps more so then the average parent. At almost 62 yo I won't be around for most of her life. She's about to turn 13 yo and her youngest relative is 59 yo.

About two years ago we were chatting about the future and I asked who was going to be responsible for keeping her life good. She said me and mom. I told her we were going to try to give her a good start but she was the one who was going to be responsible. She looked a little shocked but quickly got it. Lots of folks have various ideas about surviving the trials ahead. With her I've always focused on one key element: being as independent as possible. She wanted a horse so she has a horse that she gets up in the dark every morning to takes care of before school. Want some new "thing" save her allowance and I'll match it...if her school grades are high. Want to play a lot of sports...OK but same thing with the school grades. I have rarely ever helped her with her studies. The world is full of info that she has access to. So figure it out on your own. She did want to go to Texas A&M and become a vet. She knows she'll have to earn it on her own. Now she's thinking about the Un of Alabama because she's become a fan of their sports teams. Asked if that disappointed me. Nope...told her she was the one who has to live the results...not me. Make bad choices and figure out how to deal with it. She accepts that.

That's all I figure I can do: teach to be as independent and self reliant as possible. The details of how to go forward are up to her. Given how rough I expect the future will be for the country this is all there is to give me some piece of mind.

Thanks, Rock. My son turns 13 this year at I'm heading to 58, so a little shy of you, but in a similar boat. My son isn't an academic star by a long shot, but he's good at figuring things out, which is a skill that should serve him well. As a college IT Director, I get to see both education and technology up close, and I'm not encouraged by what I see. The students are way more concerned about the wifi in the dorms than they are about their studies. One kid has been bugging me because his dorm room internet connection isn't fast enough for the games he runs on the xbox he got for Christmas. About 1/2 of the students are foreign and fully 1/3 are from China, Korea and Taiwan. So many of these kids getting an education that will be pretty much useless to them in a post peak world. And can the school itself (and many, many others) survive without foreign students who, in turn, rely on affordable international air travel. How long will that last? I give it ten years. Maybe twenty on the outside.

Then there's the technology trap. Computerization breeds complexity which then requires more computerization. It's a positive feedback loop that keeps me employed, but isn't sustainable. Twenty five years ago my school ran just fine without any computers. Today the technology budget is a huge part of the school's operating costs. Are the kids getting a better education? Maybe, but I don't think so. And don't forget that the entire secondary education system runs on debt, as does the rest of our economy.

But there's a bigger issue down the road. Our computerized society demands a continuous supply of electricity. Once that ends, most of what has been recorded since 2000 will disappear. At my school, we have a closet full of old transcripts on cardboard forms. Those will be around for hundreds of years. But since around 2000, nothing is on paper. It's on machines that require non-stop electricity, and more electricity is required each year. And what about our bank accounts and brokerage accounts and 401Ks? All computerized. And for this system to be sustained requires a continuous flow of electricity -- FOREVER. I don't see that happening.

So, for my son, I see huge challenges that go well beyond heating his home and getting around. I can easily imagine a point, maybe mid century, when the electrical grid deteriorates to the point the the internet and our computerized civilization fails. The grid doesn't have to fail completely for this to happen, it just has to become unstable. So, add all that to the more obvious impacts of post peak oil life. Things are going to be way different and I really don't think this vision is alarmist or extreme. That's why I spend almost every moment trying to think of what I can do to prepare him and it doesn't necessarily include college. It does include knowing how to make things, grow food, use tools, and having some land to do it all on. Fortunately, my wife completely gets it and that helps tremendously. But in the end, it will be up to him. I only hope I can help set him on the right path.

Amen ROCK, and also to my southern cousins, those damned-able Texans. I have made about three comments on the drum, whilst reading it from the original inception. I worked through all of memmel's blather and many others. You sir re-sparked my interest with your hands on experienced stories. I appreciate that almost as much as I appreciate your ability to use the language in a kick the tires comprehensible way. Really just wanted to say thank you. Take care

Ditto feeling as Oilo; on behalf of my fellow Joes and Janes, thanks Rockman (and others of similar guru-ship).

3 teenagers myself, but they were all born before I turned 30. Tough on the family budget for years (though, having a conservative attitude "forced" upon one's self can't be a bad thing, all future-things considered), but hopefully I'll be there for my grandkid's weddings. Hopefully. :)

Cheers, Matt

You’re welcome OE and AJ. And following up on Kingfish’s observation about the possible downside of high-tech education I’m thankful my daughter is interested in a large animal vet career. Not sure how well it will serve her in 25 or 30 years but she lives in the country and between my land and her aunt’s she can get by with a minimum of energy. Ranchers don’t pay much but they always have a minimum need to satisfy. Add in some farming/hunting ability and she should be able to subsist comfortably. Perhaps not be very wealthy but I suspect there’s not much future in that regards for a great many folks.

Yes…I do tend to be blunt in my personal and rather pessimistic observations. But I think I see the future fairly clearly so I’m motivated to post long winded essays on where I think we’re headed. Many here do it for similar reasons. I don’t think those that share this view have any significant chance to change the future path we’re on and can really just post some warnings.

Sorry, Rock, but you got me a bit wrong. I wasn't commenting on high tech education, my school isn't a technical school. My comment was on general education -- I believe technical education will be a good place to be for the next twenty years as the country tries to find magical technical solutions to solve its energy problems. I also believe that those technical solutions won't solve our dilemma but will help smooth some of the bumps on the way down. The kids I worry about are the vast numbers of psychology, liberal arts, and other majors that have no future. And I was a liberal arts major, so it's not like I'm against it, but back in my day you could expect to find a job with that kind of degree, not now and certainly not in the future.

Of course, no amount of technical magic will be enough to solve the energy problem and eventually even technical wizards will have to find something else to do. Large animal vet? Sounds like a good bet to me. I'm thinking of steering my son into photovoltaics and home reinsulation along with computer programming at the local community college. A little welding won't hurt either.

I would say nuclear is no problem, fracking is not very bad and coal is really bad. Coal being replaced by fracked gas is a real improvement. Add a lot of wind turbines if you want to save gas and don't dare nuclear.

Re: A Nuclear Post-Mortem for Sandy

The (Oyster Creek) reactor was shut down for refueling at the time the hurricane hit, and refueling operations were suspended in preparation for the storm’s arrival. That turned out to be prudent because of the loss of grid power that occurred with the hurricane’s arrival.

The loss interrupted cooling of the reactor and the spent fuel pool. With no operator action, that would eventually have been a problem; the commission’s report said that without cooling, the spent fuel pool would have boiled in 28 hours. Some hours after that, enough water would boil away to create the possibility of fuel damage, meaning a release of radioactive material. But it had no immediate impact because operators re-established cooling after 85 minutes.

They really were exceptionally lucky they had just shut down for routine refueling before the hurricane hit.

The operators kept control room logs in a way that safety inspectors found hard to decipher

Best not "DECIPHER" them for the public. Reading the report it appears that the water level had risen beyond the pre-set red safety limit where the main intake pumps had to be shutdown. After communication with the OCC (Outage Command Center) the "limit" was raised and the pumps ordered to continue running. All electronic monitoring of the water levels at the intakes had failed and personnel could no longer take reliable manual measurements as required due to the flooding and high winds.

Wouldn't have been pleasant working in the plant that night I'm sure. And if they had actually been online at the time and/or the water risen even higher...


Good find.

With the severe increase in Sandy type events we can expect that luck to run out.

Thus, safety first, reckless endangerment last.

There really isn't any excuse by now for not having pumps that are fully submersible for that cooling. Its a predictable occurence and not that hard to make sure that the cooling continues even when flooded.

The US may think its better regulated than Japan, but this sort of thing shows that its only a matter of time before a US state is added to the list of uninhabitable areas created by nuclear accidents (East Ural, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and counting).

From link up top Bakken Oil Output Fell in November for First Time in 18 Months

Production declined 2.2 percent from October to 669,000 barrels a day, according to the North Dakota Industrial Commission. It was the first month-to-month drop since April 2011. The decline closely followed a decline in rig counts in the state, from 210 on Oct. 19 to 181 on Nov. 30,...

The correlation between production and rig count in the Bakken formation appears to vindicate Rune Likvern's Red Queen analogy. It's amazing how soon production fell after the rig count dropped. Time will tell whether this is just a random monthly fluctuation or the start of something significant.

What is really astonishing is that the number of wells in the Bakken actually increased by 115 but Bakken production still fell by 15,074 barrels per day. Production per well fell from 143 barrels per well per day to 136 barrels per well per day. There just wasn't enough new wells drilled to offset that god-awful decline rate.

Arthur Berman says the Bakken will need 1,600 new wells per year just to keep production flat:
A Contrarian View on the Shale Oil and Gas Revolution

His case-by-case analysis of around 2,500 Bakken wells led him to conclude that, unless a lot more wells are drilled, output would fall by nearly 40% within a year. Assuming this rate of depletion, roughly 1,600 new wells will have to be drilled just for production to stay flat. If we extrapolate similar production profiles for other shale wells in the country, the end result for production by 2020 is strikingly lower - just 1 million-2 million barrels per day according to Berman's calculations.

That works out to be 133 wells per month just to keep production flat. So you can see why, with only 115 new wells, production fell by over 15,000 barrels per day.

Ron P.

So for production to stay flat, every month they have to drill 2% more wells, compounded every month?

I have no idea how you arrived at that math equation but no, Berman said 1600 wells per were needed for production to stay flat. 1600 divided by 12 is 133.3, so 133 per month is needed.

That being said, the number of wells required to for production to stay flat will likely rise. This is only logical because as they move further and further away from the "sweet spots" then production per will will drop.

Ron P.

2% of total existing wells. Just a rough calculation.

Okay, but why would it have to be compounded each month?

Ron P.

Compounding to make up for the depletion of "sweet spots".

Compounding is only needed to maintain an exponential increase (or an exponential decrease in per well production -which maybe would be a model for running out of the sweeter prospects).

it seems to me that Depletion of sweet spots is distinct from the compounding issue. Whether new wells need to grow at some compound rate it would appear to me is a function of depletion rates of existing wells.

If existing wells deplete at a steady rate and if you need 1600 wells this year then you will need something more than 1600 wells next year- the original 1600 plus additional wells to make up for the depletion on the 1600 that have been drilled.

On the other hand if the depletion rate slows year to year to then you would need fewer than 1600 wells each year to maintain the production from the initial wells. So it is possible that the new wells can be 1600 or less.

If sweet spots decline then a replacement well not produce as much as the original well and an even greater number of wells would have to be drilled.

Crazy – It’s still a little early to tell if it’s a long term trend but Rune found strong evidence that newer wells in the Bakken where producing at significantly lower rates after being on for 12 months. And that was over only a 2 year period. I actually found the same trend in the Eagle Ford but with a lower number of significant wells. This may be representative of the decline in available sweet spots. The level of the 12th month rate decline even surprised someone like me who didn’t have high expectations of either trend. In a couple of months I’ll update the EFS and the well count will be sufficiently high enough to establish a good stat.

Let me add that I have included more wells from Bakken (ND) to the study and so far the trend remains; a decline in well productivity for newer wells.

- Rune


Presently (and in a different forum) we have a discussion about the shape of the production profile from shale oil wells (Bakken (ND)).

Using an average shale oil well and discounting the profile (this is actually what is done when Net Present Value (NPV) is estimated) it is demonstrated that around 80% of the NPV is obtained after 3-4 years of production/flow, which translates into roughly two thirds of the EUR for the well.

The remaining 20% of the NPV is produced during the next 30-35 years while recovering the remaining one third of the EUR.

Based upon this it is obvious that companies will strive after a design of wells that produces as much of the EUR in as a short time as possible, thus recovering as much of the NPV potential as possible.

The oil companies are in this to add value, that is they will follow the development strategy that offers the prospects of the highest NPV.

- Rune

Rune, I would be interested in your comment on this:

I get the feeling from some comments that the Bakken must be just marginally profitable, when, in fact, from the numbers, it would appear to be incredibly profitable.

From the NDSD website pointed out by someone the other day, it says that the average Bakken well costs $8 million ("$7,925,000 to drill and complete"). At the same time, it shows the average Bakken well dropping from 923 b/d to 436 b/d the first year, from 436 b/d to 163 b/d the second year, and from 163 b/d to just 99 b/d the third year.

But if you take the averages for each of those 3 years, then multiply by 365 days and by then $100/barrel, then you get:

Year one---680 b/d x 365 x $100= $24,801,750
Year two---300 b/d x 365 x $100= $10,931,750
Year three--131 b/d x 365 x $100= $4,781,500
3 year total--------------------$40,515,000

Even at just $50/barrel, that is still over $20 million in just three years vs. the $8 million investment.

What you describe is what I will describe as an exceptionally good well, with a first year flow of 248 000 bbls.
So far and based upon full time series for several hundred wells I found this (the average of these) to be around 90 000 bbls (Bakken (ND)) for the first year flow.
The average well cost (recently) is by several sources described as $9 - $11 Million, then add costs for acreage acquisition and plugging, abandonment and removal at the end of the wells economic life.
Then include taxes (total 11.5% in ND), royalties (could be anywhere from 12%-20%), operational costs (processing, storage, administration, etc.) and transport costs, if you deliver at the refinery gate, further financial costs.

It is SOP for oil companies to look at what is often referred to as the time value of money; that is the discounted cash flow over the economic life time of the well, also known as Net Present Value (NPV).

Anyone basing their investments on the principles shown in your example will get divorced from most or all of their money.

- Rune

Thanks, Rune. It is interesting that ND, which should have the best data, is so out of step with other estimates of "average" Bakken well production.

For instance, below are the "average" well productions for 4 different sources, including yours. Except for the ND numbers, the others have had to be picked off of graphs which at different times have showns up on TOD, so are rough, but not that far off. All are barrels/day:

North Dakota Dept. of Mineral Resources

David Hughes (est. from graph in recent Econobrowser blog)

Bernstein Research (est. from graph floating around since Aug.)

Yourself (est. from graph of Proforma 100 wells in recent "Red Queen" blog)

Elmo, could you please link to where I posted the well profile you refer to.

My pro forma 100 well (pro forma 100 points to a well producing 100 000 bbls the first year) has now and for some time had the following profile (profile may be adjusted as full time data series for more wells are added).

Year 1 (1. month) 575 bbl/d Year 1 (12. month) 165 bbl/d...Total 99 250 bbl
Year 2 (13. month) 164 bbl/d Year 2 (24. month) 110 bbl/d...Total 49 500 bbl

- Rune

Rune, I do not know if you are still responding to this thread, but if not, I will bring it up in a future Drumbeat

But you asked where I got the data for my calcualtions of your estimate of the average Bakken well. In your "Red Queen" analysis, in and around Fig. 15 you use the term "average" a number of times when describing the curves in Fig. 15.

And if I understand correctly, you then do economic analysis using those "average" wells to conclude that oil has to be $80-$90/barrel. So it seemed logical that your "average" well was the average Bakken well, so the decline rate I have in my table is the decline rate from your graph.

If that is not a description of the average Bakken well, then I have misunderstood--except that if the average Bakken actually has a lot higher production per day than the ones you based your economic analysis, then your conclusion of the economics for the average Bakken well can't be right--right?

That is the cost to drill and frack a successful well. It does not count the cost of a dry hole, the lease, production nor delivery to market. Is oil from the Bakken selling for the price of Brent or WTI?

It took 4 months for the production to rise from 0 to 923 b/d and 8 months to decrease to 436 b/d during the first year. A better estimate of the production from the first year is:

(923 b/d / 2) * 4/12 + ((923 b/d + 436 b/d)/2) * 8/12 = 607 b/d on average


To me the recent numbers from NDIC were surprising, and weather may have been a factor here.

To me one factor that is important to look at is the companies’ abilities to take upon themselves more debt and at what debt leverage they feel comfortable with/manageable.
Note that the press release from NDIC also referred to cost cuttings late in 2012 as (some) companies already had spent their budgets. This IMO needs to be seen in connection with companies’ debt levels.

The oil companies are in Bakken for profit.

This means that they will try to identify the most profitable development plan; the development plan that offers the highest Net Present Value (NPV) for future development(s) of their acreage. My impression is that initially it has been a race to drill and get wells in production to hold acreage by production. As this is achieved, I expect focus to shift to development strategies that has the best prospects for cost reductions and thus improved profitability.

The oil price is beyond the oil companies’ control, but costs may be influenced by things like improved well design, less pressure on suppliers of equipment and services (a lowered activity level may reduce cost inflation), a flat production level (plateau) may offer improved predictability for booking processing, storage and transport services etc..


This would mean that $80/barrel, or whatever the WTI price was back in November, isn't enough to increase marginal oil production in the Bakken. Maybe they need $90-100/barrel, and this price isn't likely to drop as lesser and lesser sweet spots are drilled in succession.

The wells in Bakken (and other shale areas) come at a wide range of productivity and as the companies gain more experiences they will improve their understanding of how to best produce areas according to their productivity.

Some wells/areas may be profitable with an oil price of $40/bbl (or lower) others may not be profitable even with an oil price above $150/bbl.

Normally the companies will drill up the most productive areas (sweetest spots) first and then move to other and less productive areas if the profitability is there. Normally the companies add a margin (say $10-$15/bbl) to reflect uncertainties both in productivity and oil prices.

If the companies expect that a well is likely to not meet their criteria for profitability, then they will defer drilling that well until the profitability is there.

- Rune


As I understood the situation, there was never a shortage of wells being drilled, but the hold up was always the number of wells being fracced. So what is needed is information on how many frac spreads are working and as some of the frac fluids can be effected by cold weather, have any spreads left the area for warmer climes.

Even if fraccing of the wells has been keeping up with the drilling, the fact that fraccing delays the production process infers that you will not get a drop in production immediately after a drop in drilling, but there will be a built in delay. Now if they are say the drop in production was caused by a drop in drilling during the summer, which sounds more reasonable to me, then we could be in for a sustained drop in the production figures over the next few months.

Then again it could just be an anomaly, one data point doesn't make a trend, i think we will have to see what next month figures are before we can draw too many conclusions.

Interesting times I feel.

Oil production dips for first time in 19 months

The number of idle wells waiting for hydraulic fracturing crews at the end of November rose to 410, about a 20 percent increase over October.

“The fracking has really slowed down,” Helms said. “It certainly is a trend that concerns me.”

In addition to weather effects, operators were cutting costs in November and through the end of the year as rapidly escalating costs consumed annual budgets faster than companies anticipated, Helms said.

410 wells waiting to be fracked but the operators are out of money... So what will happen in December? Perhaps not much?

Ron P.

and they don't like to frac in the cold, so it could be an interesting winter!

410 wells waiting for fracking.
Is this a huge number as there always will be a time lag from a well is drilled until it is fracked?
On average around 150 wells are drilled each month, 410 wells should then be an inventory of less than 3 months.
What number is a "normal" inventory level?


Rune - No such thing as normal. About 1.5 years ago I was told Eagle Ford players were waiting up to 6 months for a frac crew. Now I'm told there are frac trucks sitting in the yards waiting to be ordered out. In your ND stats do they give the date a well is finished drilling? And do they also give the first date of production? If so and you can match API numbers you'll have the stat. But it may change significantly depending on the time frame.

Typically the fastest such a well can go from the end date of drilling to producing will be 3 to 6 weeks. Takes time to coordinate services and set production equipment. But you also need to add the drilling time...about 20 days or so I think. So just a rough estimate but the lag time before a production drop can be correlated to drilling slow up is about 6 to 10 weeks. But that would be a minimum since it doesn't take into account weather or other days.


No such thing as normal.

Heyh, …what about “the new normal”? ;-)

What is the reason frac trucks are now sitting in the yards?
(Apart from the obvious that there is presently no need for them.) Did the companies burn through their budgets faster than planned?

If a huge backlog in fracking develops this can obviously be worked through by increasing the numbers of fracking crews, but apparently there is an optimum number for this.
Some companies in Bakken apparently burnt through their 2012 budgets faster than expected so will they continue to build an inventory of non fracked wells or will this at some point make them slow drilling to allow some of the backlog of non fracked wells to be worked through?

Carrying outstanding work from 2012 into 2013 also has an effect on what these companies will accomplish through 2013 on their 2013 budgets.

- Rune

Rune – Could be a capex depletion cause. I know EOG announced they were going to slow up drilling for the balance of 2012 because they had met that year’s goal. Which is obviously BS: no company has ever stopped drilling because they met the yearly goal. They would keep drilling if they had the capex and viable prospects. It might have been a combination of insufficient capex and a sense of softening oil prices.

Also the availability of frac trucks could be partially due to more frac trucks being built. No way to find that stat but I know in early 2012 the delivery time for the just the turbines ran over a year so I suspect there wasn’t a surge of new trucks hitting the market place.

I believe that pipelines haven't caught up to all the new-drilled wells. Presumably to reduce expenditure they would hold off fracking until they had a pipeline connection available to sell their gas through.

We were talking about the oil wells in the Bakken, not gas wells. Most of the gas there is just being flared.

How much natural gas is getting wasted in North Dakota? Producers are flaring roughly one third of gas reserves in the state — enough natural gas each day to heat half a million homes. The flaring is so widespread, North Dakota is starting to rival some of America’s biggest cities in light pollution. Check it out:

Picture: Look How Much Natural Gas Gets Flared At Oil Fields In North Dakota

Ron P.

Does it really matter if it's a lack of wells drilled, or a lack of fracking, or a lack of capital for either or both that is causing the production decline. The key here is how quickly the production from existing wells drops, and this becomes apparent as soon as insufficient new wells come online, i.e., the Red Queen.

The key here is how quickly the production from existing wells drops, and

I agree that this is an important parameter.

To me shale oil/gas developments involve complex logistics that is the supply chain from acreage acquisition, drilling, completion, fracking, processing, storage and transport. This supply chain needs to be adequate to support changing activity levels.

These operations are also costly, so therefore some insights in capital requirements, development in debt levels, likely oil price movements, best strategies to develop acreage (highest NPV), breakeven costs and profitability (to name a few) also becomes important to understand the overall systems dynamics.

- Rune

It might, as it depends on where the bottle necks are in getting wells to production.

I am not familiar with the technology, so the following is just theorizing: If the slow down is due to fracking and the fracking slow down is due to cold weather and there is more fracking capacity than drilling capacity, then one is likely to see a big surge once the weather gets warmer again when the backlog of drilled wells is rapidly dealt with. In that case you would just add a seasonal oscillation on top of the otherwise increasing trend.

If on the other hand the bottle necks are elsewhere the sustained rate of well completions might indeed be dropping (or leveling out).

The only thing worse than being foreclosed on might be not being foreclosed on...

The latest foreclosure horror: the zombie title

When people move out after receiving a notice of a planned foreclosure sale and the bank then cancels, municipalities are left to deal with the mess. Some spend public funds on securing, cleaning and stabilizing houses that generate no tax revenue. Others let the houses rot. In at least three states in recent months, houses abandoned by owners and banks alike have exploded because the gas was never shut off.

Unsuspecting homeowners have had their wages garnished, their credit destroyed and their tax refunds seized. They've opened their mail to find bills for back taxes, graffiti-scrubbing services, demolition crews, trash removal, gutter repair, exterior cleaning and lawn clipping. At their front doors they've encountered bailiffs brandishing summonses to appear in court.

In some cities, people with zombie titles can be sentenced to probation - with the threat of jail if they don't bring their houses into compliance.

"These people have become like indentured serfs, with all of the responsibilities for the properties but none of the rights," says retired Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Professor Kermit Lind.

This happened to some former clients of mine. They fought foreclosure, but when the bank filed the final papers with the county, they gave up and moved out of state to find better jobs. Between the time that they moved out and before the court finalized the foreclosure, the house burned down (vandals suspected), taking the part-time neighbors' home and barn with it. Bad news: The insurance hadn't been paid by these folks or the bank, and (it gets worse) the bank pulled the foreclosure prior to it being finalized (but after the fire). These folks are now on the hook for the original loan, back taxes, clean-up costs, and have a $500+K judgement against them from the neighbors' insurance company. They aren't in a position to fight any of this. I heard recently that they were moving to Equador, hoping to get jobs and free healthcare for his skin cancer.

These folks seemed to be doing quite well prior to 2008; model citizens, real go-getters...

"Freedoms just another word for nuthin' left to lose." - KK

Wow, now that's a disaster story--I hope the best for them in Equador. We just got a call from the new hazard ins. co. that they had not been paid by the mortgage company, even though we have been paying our mortgage on time, so we told them we would pay it until it got straightened out. Didn't realize until reading your post just how important a decision that was. Lessons can always be learned from others experiences.

This Zombie Title issue is just so bizarre. These are the rules in Alberta:

What happens to my house if I file for bankruptcy in Alberta?

Most people are very concerned about their home and what happens to it if they file bankruptcy. There are only two options: you keep it or you lose it. To keep your home you need to answer YES to the following questions:

Do you want to keep the house? (Not everyone wants to keep their house. If you don't then filing bankruptcy will allow you to "walk away" from a house)...

So, if you declare bankruptcy and "walk away" from the house, then it's no longer your house - its someone else's. Ownership is between the mortgage company and the local government. If the mortgage company wants to keep it, it has to pay the taxes, insure it, and maintain it. If it doesn't pay the taxes and maintain it, the city takes the house in lieu of back taxes and maintenance fees. Either way the home owner is free and clear. Regardless of whether the mortgage company or the local government took it, he owes nothing on the mortgage and nothing in taxes.

The rules are a consequence of the Great Depression, during which many people walked away from their houses and farms, and the Alberta government and half the local governments went bankrupt. The Alberta government, which writes the rules, was not terribly happy with the banks so it changed the rules so they were not very favorable to the banks at all.

If the mortgage companies tried to do what they did in the US, the homeowner would probably end up owning the house and not owing them any money at all. He could probably get the property back from the local government free and clear of all debts just by paying the back taxes on it.

It gets better than that. A friend of mine ended up owning a farm because the mortgage company wouldn't negotiate. They were giving him the runaround on renegotiating his mortgage, so he had his lawyer send them a letter saying, "PROVE you have a mortgage on this property". After a year, they hadn't replied, so his lawyer filed an action, the court lifted the mortgage off the title, and he owned it mortgage-free.

Government changing rules so that they are not favorable to banks is not something that we have any knowledge of or experience with here in the US. Things are different in the seat of Empire...

RE: Impact of climate change hitting home, U.S. report finds

This law was passed in 1990, which shows global warming induced climate change was a scientific consensus in the federal government over two decades ago:

The report's roots can be traced to the The Global Change Research Act of 1990, which required that a national climate assessment be conducted every four years, with a report issued to the president and Congress. The legislation led to the formation of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, an inter-governmental body involving 13 federal agencies and departments, including the Departments of Commerce, Defense and Energy, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation, among others.

(National Climate Assessment). This 1990 law spurred the terrorist tendencies of Oil-Qaeda into action.

They hired the Marshall Institute, which had been running tobacco company propaganda for years ("lung cancer and cigarette smoking have no linkage"), to attack global warming induced climate change as a hoax.

This is meticulously detailed in a history of science presentation by an expert professor in that field (The Exceptional American Denial).

Therefore, the indictment and prosecution of Oil-Qaeda for their terrorist activities is way overdue.

I do think they are vulnerable to the same sort of fines and damages inflicted on the tobacco companies the moment a state prosecutor decides to seriously go after them. Temperature changes are far enough out of the noise that they'll lose a balance of probability test for any damage caused by extreme temperature. If you suffer damage from extreme temperature, you might have suffered it anyway, but the balance of probabilities is that CO2 emissions were responsible.

Uh... White House answers Death Star petition: No.

Build this Death Star, we will not. That’s the message from the White House in an official response to a petition urging President Barack Obama to build the moon-sized planet-killing space station from Star Wars.

“The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense,” writes Paul Shawcross, chief of the science and space branch of the White House’s budget office. But “the Administration does not support blowing up planets.”...

...It’s sad news in a way, as if more than 34,000 petition signers cried out in terror and were suddenly silence. But it’s good news for the Senate! After all, building the first Death Star enabled Emperor Palpatine to dissolve the Senate. That means that there’s no need for regional governors to take direct control over their territories and use fear to keep the local systems in line.

...seemed like one of Nate's April Fools postings. However, The Official Whitehouse response.

I highly recommend reading their official response ("This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For"), it is short, very educational, and hilarious.

Why did Kulluk leave Dutch Harbor? Essential repairs to be made in Seattle.

Logistics of Dutch Harbor, including air connections, dock space, and housing for workers are all being cited as to why Shell moved the Kulluk.

Royal Dutch Shell officials say maintenance was one of the main reasons the Kulluk -- the conical drilling rig that ran aground near Kodiak Island on New Year's Eve -- needed to be moved to Seattle, across the Gulf of Alaska in the middle of winter. Since the Kulluk's grounding, some have posed questions over why the vessel needed to be moved at all, given the predictability of severe winter storms in the region.
While Smith wouldn't elaborate on maintenance details, he would elaborate on Shell's reasoning for leaving Dutch Harbor, the busiest fishing port in the United States in terms of total fish brought into port, and famous as the backdrop for the Discovery Channel's “Deadliest Catch.”

Smith said that while Shell would have liked to have stayed in Dutch Harbor to perform maintenance on the Kulluk, that was a challenge logistically. Weather in Unalaska can be unpredictable. Skilled workers have to be flown in to the small Aleutian island community of 4,500 people, and weather delays are typical.
Due to that influx, housing is hard to come by. Hladick said last winter Shell considered bringing a barge to town just to house crew members working on its drilling fleet.

There has been much ado about Shell's decision to move Kulluk during the winter. My own personal view is that it wasn't unreasonable for them to tow it down in the winter. The real issue is that Shell seems to have been so poorly prepared to execute that move.

As I have pointed out in previous posts, while the Gulf of Alaska is a tough place in winter, many ships sail that route all season long. Kulluk has proven to be one tough vessel, and there is no reason to think it could'nt handle those conditions. However Kulluk is a difficult, unwieldly, and slow thing to tow. Given that it takes about 3-4 weeks to tow it to Seattle, it was almost certain that they would hit some heavy weather somewhere along the way.

Since they knew it was a %$^#&*$ (rhymes with witch) to tow, and getting caught in at least one storm along the way was all but certain, why didn't they have have more than one tug on the job? Especially since Shell has had a whole stable full of tugs up here.

"Bakken wells tend to have steep decline rates because they’re created with directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, James Williams, president of WTRG Economics in London, Arkansas, said by telephone.

“The question is, are you drilling enough new wells to make up for the decline?” he said. “With a little decline in the rig count, and the very fast depletion rate of the wells, it’s not terribly surprising that the Bakken production leveled off.” "

This is apparent from looking at the production of a typical well. Where are the petroleum and reservoir engineers who could easily show that this behavior was predictable from the start?

Oh yeah, it's all about thin margin profit, and shush to anyone explaining the reality of the situation.

Considering all the hype we've witnessed in the last six months, it sounds more like pump and dump to me.

re: Would Exporting the Natural Gas Surplus Help The Economy, or Hurt?

If those are our only two choices, I would say None of the Above. They were going to import LNG 10 years ago, now they want to export it to pay off the investments. Let them do it, but don't get stupid about it.

It is an interesting question. Clearly the people that installed the LNG ports want to export and the drillers probably want to export.

But to the NATION in general, perhaps it is better to not allow exports such that instead of natural gas exports we build industries farther up the food chain which use the cheap natural gas. Fertilizers, plastics, etc. That would certainly create more local jobs instead of just shipping out the natural gas.

I wonder if exports would be a good idea any way . . . I suspect other nations are going to do more fracking of their own. I don't think there is any magic that makes the fracking a USA-only thing.

S - Just MHO but the question itself makes no sense. What is this "nation"? Is it the producers? The consumers? The states that would benefit from higher severence tax revenue due to higher NG if a lot gets exported? Is it the fed govt that collects more income taxes from producers who make more profit by exporting NG? Is it the utilities that will have to pay more for NG? But they pass on increased fuel costs to their customers? Is there some way to calculate a net gain/loss? And if one can and the answer is no net gain then should it be allowed to happen...not allowed?

The 'nation' is cumulative thing. Clearly producer states within the nation may benefit from exports but the nation as a whole? Perhaps producer states would benefit more from export but the nation as a whole would benefit from keeping the gas domestic and creating fertilizer and exporting it. Interests clearly do not always align.

Or we slow down our rate of production/consumption so that our progeny have something left?

Ohh, Thats right, I forgot!
"What have future generations ever done for me!"

How silly of me, scratch that thought

eos - And what is saved for our progeny...will they save it for their progeny? IOW will there be a major shift in human DNA that will radically change their nature from that of their ancestors...us? I mean, like the way our nature has changed from that of our ancestors? Our ancestors who utilized fossil fuels as they felt they should.

We could use it to smooth the transition towards whatever we'll use later on. But, we'd rather use it as fast as possible "fish harder".

Fish harder indeed. What does it matter? Leave the next generation with what ever remains. It is not like the previous generations tried to leave us with anything more than what they could exploit. (This post is partially in jest.)

"It is not like the previous generations tried to leave us with anything more than what they could exploit."

This seems to me to be a cultural thing. Industrialization has warped timescales and alienated people from things like growing food, making things from scratch, etc. The Iroquois had a much longer timescale as change was very slow and incrimental. Currently, things are barrelling along very, very fast - China is the most extreme example, perhaps, but even just thinking of my lifetime (31 now), cellphones, internet, and personal computers literally went from rare to everywhere. This pace of change is not stopping, as over the next 20 years we will almost certainly see sea level rise and climate issues that are unprecedented in human history. Culture has changed dramatically and quickly as well, minority, women's and gay rights have all made huge strides in a very short time period.

That said, I don't see any giant sloths around either. This is not the first time in history that humans have exploited the environment beyond its limits, though the scale is now planetary.

Building a sustainable culture looks to me to be extremely difficult.

"A sin is that which our grandchildren will regret that we did."

One very big sin is foreclosing their future options by our actions that give us merely trivial gain in the present. That's what we are doing right now with fossil fuels- as fast and as deep as we can drill.

That is an obvious no-no- It's sin self-evident- and whether our grandparents did the same to us makes nothing.

What we should do and what we do do-- The ten commandments and the seven deadly sins.

And what I should do is finish the dishes.

On Scale of 0 to 500, Beijing’s Air Quality Tops ‘Crazy Bad’ at 755

BEIJING — One Friday more than two years ago, an air-quality monitoring device atop the United States Embassy in Beijing recorded data so horrifying that someone in the embassy called the level of pollution “Crazy Bad” in an infamous Twitter post. That day the Air Quality Index, which uses standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, had crept above 500, which was supposed to be the top of the scale.

So what phrase is appropriate to describe Saturday’s jaw-dropping reading of 755 at 8 p.m., when all of Beijing looked like an airport smokers’ lounge? Though an embassy spokesman said he did not immediately have comparative data, Beijing residents who follow the Twitter feed said the Saturday numbers appeared to be the highest recorded since the embassy began its monitoring system in 2008.

Residents are now being asked to stay indoors.

“This is a historic record for Beijing,” Zhao Jing, a prominent Internet commentator who uses the pen name Michael Anti, wrote on Twitter. “I’ve closed the doors and windows; the air purifiers are all running automatically at full power.”

Other Beijing residents online described the air as “postapocalyptic,” “terrifying” and “beyond belief.”

WI - Can't imagine how much worse it has gotten. In 2000 I stayed at a hotel just 100 yds from the US embassy while I was adopting my daughter. There were cloudless days when the air pollution was so bad you could stare directly at the sun (if you could figure out where it was) with no problem. Oddly I don't recall bad odors.

Did you use a mask all the time ? I can't go out on the road without one and it isn't as bad as Beijing here.

WI - That was the odd thing. Not only no bad odor but no breathing problems either. No watering eyes either. And I've never been a fairly fit chap so you would think it would bother me more. But visially it was shocking.

When I was a small kid in elementary school, the news was full of horror stories about thousands dying in killer London "fogs". Somehow those must have been worse than Bejing currently is.

Fogs => Smogs

A blend of fog and coal fire emissions.


China is intent on reducing its population secretly and does not publish the death toll from smog. A while ago China was threatening the U.S. embassy to stop monitoring their air quality.

Did you go to elementary school in 1952?


This video is not available to viewers outside of Canada unless you can somehow obtain Canadian residency through internet tomfoolery.

David Suzuki's Andean Adventure

Who would have imagined that some of the boldest and freshest thinking tackling major global issues would come from two little countries in South America? David Suzuki sets off on an "Andean Adventure", to see first-hand the places that just may represent the cutting edge when it comes to taking on the world’s energy, climate and economic crises.

From Ecuador comes a revolutionary proposal to not dig for oil. Below what may be the most biodiverse place on Earth lie oil deposits worth billions of dollars. But Ecuador has promised the world that with some help, it will leave that oil in the ground, to combat climate change, for the good of nature and humanity. It's a bold conservation plan and, as the President of Ecuador personally explains, also a challenge to the world.

Over in Bolivia, the country is embarking on a high-stakes gamble to develop the Earth's largest reserves of lithium, the "green gold" found within the country's spectacular salt flats....

See: http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/david-suzukis-andean-adventure....


Frontline Online: Who's planning to become the planet's greenest country?

...the Uruguayan government may now become the world’s leading wind energy producer, by 2015, as part of a wider scheme to produce 90% of its energy from renewables....

Energy from wind power will provide 30% of Uruguay’s total energy mix (setting it ahead of Denmark which produces 26% of it’s energy from wind). Hydropower will contribute 45% and biomass, 15%.

See: http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1763316/frontline_online_...


US$4-million LNG flirt ends - Government looks to another form of gas as it pushes for cheaper electricity

After a decade of expensive flirting and the expenditure of some US$4 million, the Government has finally ended its attempt at introducing liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the solution to the country's high electricity prices.

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell last week blamed the unavailability of the supply of LNG at reasonable prices as the reason for the reversal of a decision which had found favour with successive administrations over the past decade.

"Last year, in the middle of all that we were doing, I went to Angola to try to find gas. I recently went to Nigeria. I have been trying to find gas that makes sense," Paulwell told a Gleaner Editors' Forum as he noted that the original source for the gas, Trinidad and Tobago, has now officially been abandoned.

Rolling blackouts could return by 2015

"In about three years you are going to see degradation in the generating capacity and units are going to start to fail … . There will be blackouts if nothing is done," Paulwell told The Sunday Gleaner last week.

The energy minister said the plan by the JPS to construct a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant in Old Harbour, St Catherine, would be the ideal solution but if that does not work, other measures will be implemented.

According to Paulwell, his ministry is in the process of putting in contingency arrangements to prevent wide-scale power outages.

"Firstly, we have this request for proposal for 115 megawatts (MW) of renewables," said Paulwell.

"Much of that will give (the JPS) baseload, which would be much cheaper than heavy fuel oil or diesel."

Paulwell said electricity from the renewables should come on stream by 2015 and will include a combination of wind, waste to energy, bagasse, hydro and the most expensive, solar.

Geothermal takes a technological step forward


The step in question is fracking..err..hydroshearing. Yeah, yeah, that's it.

The point being the technology works for other things than oil and gas as well.

The rock types are usually quite different. Usually the best geothermal sites are areas of volcanic activity, which usually means igneous rocks, which are a lot harder than shale.

From what I gather plans to tap 280C heat in granite 5km deep in the Australian outback will use natural fractures rather than horizontal drilling and fracking
I wonder if plastic creep would close any manmade fractures. That is just the start of their problems which include low temperature power plant and air cooling, water recirculation, radon gas release and long distance transmission to market of any electricity produced. So far it doesn't look promising.

Where have the satellite atmospheric methane charts gone?

Back in April we were discussing atmospheric methane as measured by the AIRS instrument onboard the Aqua spacecraft and charted by Dr. Leonid Yurganov, in this thread http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9136/888830

Animated gif of Marc 2003 and March 2012 methane

I can no longer find any updates after April 2012 and the ftp and http addresses no longer work even for the older images. Does anyone know where they might be? I will continue to hunt in the meantime.

I looked for the data directly listed as available at the NASA AIRS data page but cannot find it. Indeed when I tried to go to check the listed "Image Examples" page I got "Forbidden".

Nor can I find the data in the datasets available. Maybe I've missed something obvious. So if anyone knows where current AIRS methane data is could they post a link.

After a bit of effort, managed to get access to the CH4 data via NASA Giovanni portal. Created some plots and tried to match the data and format/colours as close to Yurganov's charts as I could get with the Giovanni interface's options.

For comparison here is my plot of March 2003 and March 2012 to compare with Yurganov chart above.

And here's my December 2011 and December 2012 (larger so you can see the text)

But the question remains as to why Yurganov's long running monthly series (which was oft linked to elsewhere) has just vanished. Doesn't seem many people have managed to track the data down buried in Giovanni. Let's just hope that doesn't disappear next.

Full Size Image Dec 2011 http://img442.imageshack.us/img442/4208/p201112.gif
Full Size Image Dec 2012 http://img850.imageshack.us/img850/3426/pch4201212.gif

Manua Loa chart of historical CH4 levels through to December 2012 - http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/webdata/ccgg/iadv/graph/mlo/mlo_ch4_ts_obs_...

Maybe TPTB have decided that "better you don't know"?

An interesting study here which suggests that the growth in atmospheric methane is almost entirely from the production of natural gas - at least until recently anyway...

Sky-high methane mystery closer to being solved, researchers say

Levels of atmospheric methane have puzzled researchers in recent decades, first rising steadily due to human activities, then stabilizing for about decade starting in the mid-1990s before rising again in the last four years. Now, a new paper by academic researchers and a NOAA scientist identifies one reason for the period of slow-to-no growth: Decreased leakage of natural gas from oil fields.

Reduced leaking and venting of natural gas from oil fields probably accounts for up to 70 percent of the decrease in the growth of atmospheric methane at the end of the 20th century, according to new research published Aug. 23, in the journal Nature.

(Rowland-Blake Group, UC Irvine) The figure shows the long-term decline of the global concentration of atmospheric ethane (blue line), which closely matches the long-term decline of the global growth rate of atmospheric methane (pink line). This association clearly shows that fossil fuel reductions are probably responsible for a significant portion of methane’s long-term decline. This data set represents the longest continuous record of global atmospheric ethane levels.

Since 2007, levels have started to climb again, adding urgency to the scientific mystery. Recent work done by NOAA and University of Colorado researchers has suggested that the boom in oil and gas drilling over the past 5 years could be leading once again to increased methane leakage to the atmosphere.

So it "could" be the oil/gas industry again according to NOAA. Which, of course, leaves open all the other options - including the apocalyptic one I suppose.

Checking further for the preliminary monthly data for Mona Loa "in-situ" methane concentration it seems that November, December 2012 and January 2013 (avg to date) are the three highest months ever recorded - all higher than the previous record of January 2012. All data since December-27 2011 is marked as "preliminary" and doesn't appear in the main downloadable datasets. I do not recall data being held back as preliminary for this long before.

A few drumbeats back there were reports from measurements over producing gas fields in afaik Ohio and ...hmm I forgot... anyway, the levels measured and isotopic signature indicated high leakage (perhaps up to 10%) of production.

Try https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4realmethane2012/home

It has all of 2011, 2012. 2013 is still pending.

An interesting site. However some of the links to data force me to login with a Google account. Then, even after I've done that, Google tells me I don't have permission and must "request" access from the owner. I hope that is an error.

The entire FTP site for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is not responding. Maybe they are having a technical problem or changed domain names.

I downloaded all of Yurganov's charts from September 2002 to July 2012.

Actually I'm not that daft :-)

I did check and ftp.umbc.edu is up as is asl.umbc.edu for www traffic. The files were previously available via http as well as ftp. For example http://asl.umbc.edu/pub/yurganov/methane/MAPS/NH/ARCTpolar2012.03._AIRS_... - this is now "Not Found - The requested URL /pub/yurganov/methane/MAPS/NH/ARCTpolar2012.03._AIRS_CH4_400.jpg was not found on this server Apache/2.2.22 (Ubuntu) Server at asl.umbc.edu Port 80"

So the server is there just not the files. Also Google searches for the images at umbc.edu domain gets no hits (not even cached) suggesting the files have been offline for quite a long time now.

I will be happy if they re-appear but if it is a cock-up it seems to be a long running one.

Yes I see, and it later successfully grabbed the file for May on the 12th June. It hasn't archived anything from the methane maps directory since that date.

An email to sysadmin or researcher often does the trick... They might not know the data/ftp server is not available.

I did send off an email to Yurganov and have just received this reply: "The asl site is obsolete now. Please see my AIRS (monthly) and IASI-1 (10-days) archives at the site https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0Bx24zrfdcxuGMUJFWlp1TWJPUWs/edit
Also our AGU report is there. "

So again, anyone looking for latest Yurganov charts should bookmark https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0Bx24zrfdcxuGMUJFWlp1TWJPUWs/edit

EDIT: In a further comment when I said I would pass the link on Dr. Yurganov reaffirmed to me his belief that "These data should be publicly available in spite of lack of validation"

My personal observation is that the "validation" process seems to take a very long time and doesn't really change the data (apart from obvious errors). But that's just my observation. I'm glad Dr. Yurganov is able to continue to make his work on the preliminary data available via Google Docs.