Drumbeat: January 21, 2013

Peak oil and other fallacies

(Reuters) - "The limit of production in this country (the United States) is being reached, and although new fields undoubtedly await discovery, the yearly (oil) output must inevitably decline, because the maintenance of output each year necessitates the drilling of an increasing number of wells.

"Such an increase becomes impossible after a certain point is reached, not only because of a lack of acreage to be drilled, but because of the great number of wells that will ultimately have to be drilled."

This assessment could have been written recently about the outlook for oil production from North Dakota's Bakken formation or by any member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO).

In fact, it was written by Carl Beal at the U.S. Bureau of Mines in 1919.

ASPO International announces lower output target for Iraq

In the World Energy Outlook 2012 report the IEA presents its view of future crude oil production (see the figure). With decreases of over 2 million barrels per day (Mb/d) by 2035 both Russia and China have passed Peak Oil. In other nations where crude oil production has previously reached Peak Oil, the decline in their production continues. The savior in this time of need is Iraq with a projected increase in production of 5.5 Mb/d. We have previously heard that ExxonMobil wants to leave projects in southern Iraq and now Statoil is leaving West Qurna at the same time as other intended operators are writing down their production volumes by 600,000 barrels per day. Thus it is now doubtful that an increase in crude oil production of 5.5 Mb/d can be reached.

Gregor Macdonald: What the End of Cheap Oil Means

For much of the twentieth century, the developed world saw a steady march upwards in wages and living standards, due primarily to huge quantities of cheap, high-yielding liquid hydrocarbon. As we find ourselves bumping along the plateau of Peak Oil's apex, suddenly we find that "growth" is a lot harder to come by.

Oil Drops From Four-Month High as Debt Talks Begin

Oil dropped from the highest level in four months in New York before European finance ministers meet today to discuss the region’s debt crisis and as U.S. lawmakers vote this week on budget measures.

West Texas Intermediate futures slid as much as 0.5 percent, declining for the first time in four days. House Republicans will use the planned Jan. 23 vote on a debt-ceiling increase to try to force Senate Democrats to outline their spending plans. Finance ministers in Brussels will assess Spain, Greece and Cyprus and debate how to enact policies they promised to subdue the region’s crisis.

Canadian companies feel the world's pain

TORONTO (Reuters) - Financial results from Canada's biggest companies are likely to disappoint investors in the coming weeks with weak global growth and mixed commodity prices expected to have pummeled the quarterly earnings of oil companies and miners.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq Cut Oil Exports in November, JODI Show

Saudi Arabia exported 1.7 percent less crude in November than in the previous month, while Iraq and five other OPEC producers also curbed shipments, according to the Joint Organizations Data Initiative.

The kingdom, the largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, shipped 7.15 million barrels a day in November as it reduced monthly output by 2.4 percent to 9.49 million barrels a day. Iraq, with the second-biggest producer in OPEC, trimmed its exports by 3.3 percent to 2.62 million barrels a day even as it pumped 1.7 percent more oil, data posted today on the initiative’s website showed.

Speculators Boost Bullish Bets Most Since November: Commodities

Hedge funds raised bullish commodity wagers by the most since November as a jump in U.S. housing starts and the first acceleration in Chinese growth since 2010 drove prices to a three-month high.

Revolution in Saudi Arabia would be a 'disaster for US': memo to Obama

Dubai (Platts) - Revolution in Saudi Arabia and the possible overthrow of the ruling House of Saud would be a "disaster" for US interests while prolonged instability would cause havoc in oil markets and the economy at large while handing Iran a "strategic windfall," a former US intelligence official said in a recent analysis.

In a memo to President Barack Obama as he prepared to be sworn in for a second term in office, Bruce Riedel, senior foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy, said that while revolution in Riyadh was unlikely at this time, the "Arab Awakenings" made it a possibility.

Black Sea Storms Delay Crude Loadings at Russia’s Novorossiysk

Four tankers are waiting at Novorossiysk, Russia’s largest commercial port, to pick up crude cargoes after storms delayed shipments, according to OAO Transneft.

The first tanker in five days loaded on Jan. 20 during an easing of winter storms on the Black Sea before the weather worsened, Igor Dyomin, a spokesman for the pipeline operator, said today by phone from Moscow. The shipment was for 80,000 metric tons. The storms are expected to last until Jan. 23, Dyomin said from Moscow.

Algeria hostage toll rises with report of Japanese deaths

ALGIERS, Algeria (Reuters) - The hostage death toll from a four-day siege at an Algerian gas plant deep in the Sahara has risen to almost 60, with at least nine Japanese nationals also reported killed in an attack claimed by a veteran Islamist fighter on behalf of al Qaeda.

Grim tolls, more questions in Algeria hostage standoff

(CNN) -- After a fiery end to an Algerian hostage standoff that transfixed the world last week, more casualties piled up Monday as world leaders added up the grim tolls.

Algeria finds dead Canadian militants as siege toll rises

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian forces have found the bodies of two Canadian Islamist fighters after a bloody siege at a desert gas plant, a security source said on Monday, as the death toll reached at least 80 after troops stormed the complex to end the hostage crisis.

BP says too early to estimate restart of Algerian gas plant after siege ends

London (Platts)- BP said Monday it was too early to estimate when it could restart gas flows from its In Amenas fields in eastern Algeria two days after Algerian forces ended a bloody hostage crisis at the desert gas plant.

"Production from the plant was shut on Wednesday and we are not able to estimate when it may return," a company spokesman said.

Algeria Vows to Boost Security After 85 Killed in Sahara

Algeria will increase security at oil and gas installations after a terrorist attack and military response left as many as 85 people dead and exposed a growing threat from al-Qaeda in North Africa.

Algeria sees no impact on investment after gas plant attack

(Reuters) - An attack by Islamist fighters at Algeria's In Amenas gas complex will not prompt foreign energy firms to abandon investment in the country, Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Youcef Yousfi said on Monday.

"I don't think foreign workers are leaving Algeria definitively. They have left just to reassure their families," Yousfi told reporters in parliament.

"I don't think foreign companies will leave definitively."

Algeria hostage crisis may be future of terrorism

What is likely is that this sort of attack is to be the face of the terrorist threat that the west is going to face for the next few years. As security forces in Europe and the United States have become more adept at countering terrorists, plots in Europe and North America have been increasingly disrupted at earlier stages of planning. The days of terrorist networks like al Qaeda operating out of Afghanistan and directing 19 men to conduct the September 11 attacks or 4 young Britons to carry out the July 7 plot seem to have passed.

Trial opens in Paris in Iraq "oil-for-food" corruption case

PARIS (KUNA) -- The trial of around 20 defendants, including a former Minister, former diplomats, journalists, businessmen and others - as well as oil company Total and its CEO - opens here Monday in the case of alleged corruption during the UN-administered "oil-for-food" programme in Iraq from 1996-2003.

UN investigations have pointed to a system of "surtaxes" allegedly paid by Total for Iraqi oil and which were diverted for corrupt use by the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

China Imports of Iranian Crude Rebound to Highest in Six Months

China’s imports of crude from Iran rebounded to the highest level in six months in December after the U.S. renewed an exemption from penalties on banks that process payments for the Persian Gulf nation’s oil.

China, the world’s second-biggest crude consumer, bought 2.52 million metric tons of oil from Iran last month, according to figures from the General Administration of Customs today. That’s up 43 percent from November, when purchases slipped 9.3 percent. Shipments averaged 596,000 barrels a day, the most since June, and advanced 3.6 percent from December 2011, the data showed.

SA court finds Nigerian oil delta militant guilty of terrorism

NIGER Delta militant leader Henry Okah was on Monday convicted on 13 charges of terrorist activities by the North Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg for masterminding two car bombs that killed several people in the Nigerian capital at an independence day ceremony in 2010.

Officials: Pirates seize oil tanker in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Armed men have hijacked a tanker carrying 5,000 tons of oil from an Ivory Coast port and taken it off the coast of Ghana, though its precise whereabouts are unknown, government authorities and maritime officials said Monday.

Major Libyan Oil Terminal Remains Closed, Exports Delayed - Sources

The Zueitina oil terminal in Libya remains shut, almost a month after demonstrators forced the closure of the major oil exporting hub, a shipping agent told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.

The closure has caused severe disruptions to exports of oil from the North African country, traders have said.

Exxon holds oil talks with Iraq's Maliki

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil has asked Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki whether the U.S. oil major can keep operating in the country's southern oilfields while also working in the autonomous Kurdistan region, the government said on Monday.

The talks between the Shi'ite premier and Exxon came as the U.S. company is in the process of selling its stake in the huge West Qurna-1 oilfield in the south after clashing with Baghdad over its Kurdistan deals in the north.

Saudi Electricity net loss widens on costs

Its results are highly seasonal due to the wide variation between summer and winter electricity demand in the sweltering desert kingdom. The utility benefits from very cheap energy feedstock supplied by Saudi Aramco.

Taking a Harder Look at Fracking and Health

Some five years after the controversial combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and surrounding states got under way, a team of toxicologists from the University of Pennsylvania is leading a national effort to study the health effects of fracking.

Fracking Industry Goes After Promised Land Film

Before Gus Van Sant’s latest film Promised Land even premiered, the energy industry was up in arms, gearing up to counter the film's apparent anti-fracking stance with a barrage of “community” responses (read: thinly veiled corporate PR). James Schamus, chief executive of Focus Features the distributor of the film, expressed shock about the attacks on Promised Land: “We’ve been surprised at the emergence of what looks like a concerted campaign targeting the film even before anyone’s seen it.” cover for the movie "promised land" With blogs, astroturf websites, Facebook pages, internet ads, and theater ad buys in advance of the movie, the industry is working hard to spin the conversation in a more fracking-friendly direction.

Rift Widens Over Mining of Uranium in Virginia

Bills introduced last week would lift a moratorium on uranium mining at the site here, known as Coles Hill. Political supporters say that the mining would bring economic benefits and that risks from radioactive wastes, or tailings, can be safely managed. Opponents fear the contamination of drinking water in case of an accident, and a stigma from uranium that would deter people and businesses from moving to the area.

The politics of the issue do not divide neatly along party lines. Opponents include most state lawmakers from the region, all of whom are Republicans. A prominent supporter is the minority leader of the State Senate, Richard L. Saslaw, a Democrat, who lives in the northern suburbs. Asked about buried uranium tailings that remain a risk for hundreds of years, Mr. Saslaw, who is known for unguarded statements, said in a radio interview, “I’m not going to be here.”

France offers proposals for Saudi Arabia's nuclear energy programme

Saudi Arabia has yet to launch a tender offer process for its planned nuclear reactors aimed at meeting the kingdom's soaring energy demand, the French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Sunday.

Mr Montebourg and the chief executives of French utility EDF, and France's Areva as well as the head of French nuclear-research organisation CEA are visiting the Gulf state in a bid to sell French reactors to the kingdom. They have already met with several Saudi officials to discuss their proposal, including the kingdom's oil minister and the head of King Abdullah City of Atomic and Renewable Energy (Ka-Care), which is planning to build 17 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2032.

NTSB: Faulty Dreamliner battery was not overcharged

(CNN) -- The battery that caught fire aboard an empty Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Boston this month was not overcharged, the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday.

In its third update on the investigation into the cause of the fire, the NTSB said investigators in Washington took X-rays and CT scans of the lithium-ion battery, which powered the plane's auxiliary power unit. They took the battery apart and are still investigating some of the individual cells.

Masdar to explore renewable opportunities in Morocco

Masdar and Morocco have signed a framework agreement that paves the way for investment into the North African country's burgeoning renewable energy sector.

"We look forward to contributing to the development of Morocco's renewable energy industry," said Sultan Al Jaber, Masdar's chief executive, who signed the agreement with Fouad Douiri, the Moroccan energy minister.

Wind energy blown off course by weak support

It will not be plain sailing for the wind energy sector this year, as regulatory uncertainties and flagging state support undermine growth.

After many years of steadily increasing capacity, installation of wind turbines is predicted to slow, according to industry figures. Underperforming economies around the world have stunted government largesse, clouding the investment outlook and crushing margins.

Wind power delivers too much to ignore

Onshore wind power has expanded steadily across the UK in recent years and is a key plank of the country's commitment to greening its electricity supply. But as the turbines have gone up across the countryside, so has the level of opposition. Wind power has become a deeply divisive issue in British politics.

UK scientists to mimic plants to make zero-carbon fuel

LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists seeking to tap more efficient forms of solar power are exploring how to mimic the way plants transform sunlight into energy and produce hydrogen to fuel vehicles.

Some farmers may qualify for emergency government loans

Farmers in 12 Arizona counties, including Yuma, may qualify for emergency government loans after the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared the central part of the state a natural disaster area due to a lingering drought.

Federal report suggests Canada unprepared for new mercury light bulbs

OTTAWA - Canada's mercury-waste facilities are either patchwork or non-existent as millions of light bulbs containing the highly toxic chemical are set to flood the marketplace.

That's a key finding of a report commissioned by Environment Canada in the run-up to a major change in the way Canadians light their homes.

Mercury-Emissions Treaty Is Adopted After Years of Negotiations

GENEVA (AP) — More than 140 nations adopted the first legally binding international treaty on Saturday aimed at reducing mercury emissions, after four years of negotiations on ways to set limits on the use of a highly toxic metal.

US climate fears mount, but political action wanes

Climate change was thrust to the forefront of the US political agenda recently in the wake of the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy and record high temperatures across the country.

But despite President Barack Obama renewing his early promises to act, experts said political opposition would make it at least as difficult as during Obama's first, failed push to get new legislation through Congress, and said decisive measures will remain unlikely.

Joe Biden to climate activists: 'Keep the faith'

Vice President Joe Biden reassured environmentalists Sunday night that the Obama administration would not let climate change fall by the wayside in the president's second term.

Obama can mobilize national labs to work on climate change

At the recent annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, scientists presented evidence of climate change proceeding more rapidly than they had imagined 15, 10 or even five years ago.

Will The Grass Be Greener In Obama's Second Term?

One of the chief expectations of those who voted for President Obama is that he moves assertively to pass climate change legislation, whatever the political climate in Washington.

"We have a bipartisan common interest in moving away from fossil fuels towards clean energy," says Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. "The sooner that members of both parties in Congress realize that and develop solutions, the better off we'll all be."

Record heat puts Obama on climate hot seat

That news puts President Obama on the hot seat. As his second term begins, the president has a clear opportunity to revolutionize his whole approach to fighting manmade climate change. And 2012 couldn't have made a more powerful case for urgent action against the greenhouse gas pollution creating this problem.

Prancing On a Volcano

No one can know how historians centuries hence will view the period that runs from roughly the end of the Cold War up through the next couple of decades. It will be surprising if they do not see it as a turning point. Large forces have been unleashed that are beyond easy control, or perhaps any control. Obama has been mocked for his occasional grandiloquence on the most daunting issues of the day, most famously when he clinched the Democratic nomination in 2008 and predicted that future generations would be able to say that “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Even if we defy Orwell and prove capable of acknowledging what’s in front of our noses, there’s no way to riddle out the far-future consequences. Gutenberg did not foresee that his movable type — first employed to print a Bible, after all — would lead to an epidemic of freethinking and ultimately to religious wars and political upheavals throughout Europe.

Dieter Helm's Carbon Crunch left me frustrated and disappointed

Helm paints a depressing picture of all that is wrong with the world and then offers a neat plan for what we should be doing differently if we wanted to make a difference: he wants to see better carbon pricing, border tax adjustments and money spent on research and development.

What is causing Australia's heatwave?

Australia has always experienced heat waves, and they are a normal part of most summers. However, the current event affecting much of inland Australia has definitely not been typical.

The most significant thing about the recent heat has been its coverage across the continent, and its persistence.

Solutions lag as sea quickly rises

Sandy is the future, climate scientists say. As carbon dioxide emissions exceed worst-case scenarios, rising sea levels and storm surges will reshape every U.S. coastline, from San Francisco to Houston to New York. It is only beginning to dawn on Americans, half of whom live on the coast, that their future is a battle against the sea.

In the impulse to rebuild from Sandy, much of it financed by the federal government, big questions need to be answered. What to protect, and how? Where to retreat? Where to stand fast?

Koch-Funded Study Finds 2.5°F Warming Of Land Since 1750 Is Manmade, ‘Solar Forcing Does Not Appear To Contribute’

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study (BEST) has finally published its findings on the cause of recent global warming. This Koch-funded reanalysis of millions of temperature observations from around the world, “A New Estimate of the Average Earth Surface Land Temperature Spanning 1753 to 2011,” concludes:

… solar forcing does not appear to contribute to the observed global warming of the past 250 years; the entire change can be modeled by a sum of volcanism and a single anthropogenic [human-made] proxy.

50 doomiest graphs of 2012

The important observation to take away from these graphs is the appearance of an entirely new class of extreme weather event that occurs beyond 3 sigma. These mega-events essentially did not occur before the 21st century – they are the fingerprints of abrupt climate change.

The next time "fracking is no problem" comes up as a topic, a bet of methane for the debate:

That report, according to the AP, would have explicitly linked methane migration to hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in Weatherford, a city with 25,000+ citizens located in the heart of the Barnett Shale geologic formation 30 minutes from Dallas.

Another datum:

This isn't the first time Thyne's scientific research has been shoved aside, either. Thyne wrote two landmark studies on groundwater contamination in Garfield County, CO, the first showing that it existed, the second confirming that the contamination was directly linked to fracking in the area.

(say it ain't so Joe - reports suppressed that would limit resource conversion into energy for human consumption?)

What? Those folks out there in the country are complaining about the FREE NAT GAS which the frackers are letting them have? Don't they know that they can heat their water for free with that gas? They might even be able to heat their houses with that FREE GAS. Just add a tank to the water line to capture all that FREE GAS before they pump the water into their homes. So what's the problem? Hey, with a bit of extra plumbing, they could burn that BENZENE with their car's fuel!!!

E. Swanson

You may laugh, but I've known farmers to actually do that kind of thing. They operated under the, "If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade" principle.

There are parts of Alberta where farmers have to drill through several methane-rich formations to get to the main aquifer, and if they fail to case the well properly going through those zones, they are likely to get methane in their water. It's fairly easy to mitigate by venting the methane to the outside, but if they add some piping and a compressor, they could have a free lifetime supply of natural gas. Many farmers in these areas know how to do this because they often make extra money working for the oil companies.

The methane itself is flammable but not toxic. People produce methane themselves, particularly after a good old fashioned country meal of baked beans, boiled cabbage, and beer.

I don't think I've ever seen benzene in a natural gas well analysis, and I've read hundreds of them. It's the sort of thing you'd see coming out of an oil refinery. As I like to tell people, "Oil refineries don't remove toxic chemicals from gasoline, they put toxic chemicals INTO gasoline." I doubt that an oil company will ever sell an old refinery site to anybody except another oil company. The cleanup costs and environmental lawsuits would just be too expensive.

I beleive I mentioned it before: on a shallow well I drilled a few months ago I found a 20' NG reservoir at 46'...about 100' above where most of the farmes drill their supply wells. Normally I give my water supply wells to the landowner when I'm finished drilling just as a matter of good will. I'll never give this water well to the land ownner. It doesn't matter if he provides me with a mountain of indemnification I'll never escape the law suit if he blows himself up.

As far as the benzene goes I think the implication was that the drilling/frac'ng activity created this contamination. Like you I've never seen natural benzene contamination.

Rockman, what sort of pressure is natural gas under? You've mentioned gas roaring as it comes out of the ground in a blowout, so presumably it's under high pressure initially, but does pressure go down the same as volume over time, or do they regulate volume so as to maintain pressure? Or do they literally have to suck gas out of the ground with pumps eventually?

aardi - Typically reservoir pressure is a function of depth...deep wells = higher pressure. Pressure declines: two end point reservoirs. Water drive where the pressure declines very little over the life of the well. Eventually water is produced which reduces production. There are some tricks that can help keep such a well producing but rarely with a pump. Actually a simple approach is to drop soap sticks down the well periodically. The soap bubbles and lightens the density of the water making it easier for the NG to push it up the well bore. The other end: pressure depletion. Just think of a scuba tank: open the valve and the air rushes out. But this causes the pressure to drop which reduces the flow rate. Eventually the pressure inside the tank reaches the pressure outside the tank and all flow stops. In a NG field that’s the equivalent of the well head pressure getting down to the pressure of the pipeline you’re trying to transport through. Then you can put a compressor on the well that ramps up the pressure to force it into the pipeline. Typically you’ll burn some of the produced NG to fuel the compressor.

And then there’s a mix of conditions between these two end points.

And then theres using injection wells, to repressurize and force the stuff towards your producing well.

Injection wells typically aren't used in natural gas reservoirs. The idea is to lower the pressure as far as possible to accomplish two things: produce your gas (fluids flow from high pressure to low) and allow the remaining gas to expand. The compressibility of gas is roughly 1/P, so as P drops very low, you get out the last bit of gas.

okay, thanks. I was thinking particularly of shale where you are limited by how fast gas comes out of shale, which can't be much, but then I remembered you said gas was stored in the natural fractures in the shale and that is the gas you tap in a shale gas well.

Question: If you take a chip of gas-bearing shale that had just come up with the drilling mud and drop it in a bowl of water, would you notice bubbles of gas coming out of it? They'd probably gradually coat the surface of the chip, rather than stream upwards like in a glass of soda.

aardi - That's the unique nature of many fractured reservoirs. A sandstone reservoir may have a high percentage (say 30%) of pore space between the sand grains and be very permeable (500 millidarcies). The fracture in a shale may have permeability in the many thousands of millidarcies. And the shale matrix could have a high porosity also. But the permeability of the shale matrix is often measured in nanodarcies…IOW so low it won’t give the hydrocarbons in any practical time frame. So while the fractures can have an extremely high perm they represent only a tiny volume (often less than 1%) of the reservoir rock. So back to the analogy of a very small scuba tank with a very big valve on it: pop the valve wide open and you get a huge rush of air. But that flow declines very quickly. That is the production dynamics of SOME fractured reservoirs. But there are other fractured reservoirs in carbonate rocks that have very high porosity in the matrix which continuously fills those fractures as they deplete. These are the types of reservoirs geologists fantasize about. Unfortunately they are not very common.

Shale chips. Actually the shale chips have no effective perm to you won’t see bubbles as a rule. But shale reservoirs are often evaluated by grinding up a chunk to liberate what hydrocarbons are trapped in it. You’ll see metrics on shales like TOC (Total Organic Content) which provideds some indication of its potential productivity.

But we do have a process to evaluate those chips that circulate back up to the surface in the mud as we are drilling. We call it mud logging. First, the hydrocarbon content, especially the NG, is continuously monitored in the drilling mud that returns to the surface. Drill a rock with hydrocarbons (even if that rock doesn’t have great perm) and you might see a “gas show” on the mud log. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s commercial but, as they say, it beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. And the rock chips themselves are analyzed. The mud logger will look at them under a microscope and describe the sample. He’ll also look at them under a UV light to tell if there’s oil there. The oil will fluoresce under UV. To help the process he’ll often put a drop of a solvent on the cutting which can make the tiny bit of oil in it flow out. He’ll describe this “streaming cut”…often the color can be indicative of what you have in the reservoir. As ancient a technique as mud logging may be in some formations (like carbonates) it can give a better indication of productivity then the most modern electric logs.

Damn it Rockman, you just summarized my 3 years of undergrad study plus weeks of pre-field and survival training for my first job in your last paragraph! I guess that's why the pay for mud-loggers was so low :-(

o-t: Yep, mud loggers don't really get the credit/respect they deserve. OTOH it takes only a few bad apples to mess it up for everyone. About 20 years ago I drove onto my drill site at 2 AM and saw they were fighting a bad kick (what tends to happen right before most blow outs). Parked my truck off the location and ran to the mud loggers shack. Found the night logger with a needle in his arm and stoned out of his head. He probably couldn't tell if it was night or day let alone the well was trying to blow out. For others: the mud logger is often the first to see signs of a potential blow out.

But I have also made some pretty good wells based on a mud loggers report.

Surface gas leaks have been a long term problem at one of the Bangladesh gas reservoirs I have been looking at recently. Whilst not the subject of my study, it is interesting to note that surface leaks have been going on for several years and have been reported as being linked to bad cement jobs on a one or more wells in the field.

I have seen some impressive photos of gas bubbling up through ponds and some 'amateur surface gas collection systems' that have been set up. I have also heard stories that local residents have on occasion made use of the 'free' gas in several areas, including setting up small scale glass manufacturing enterprises.

The surface leaks on this field were one of the reasons for a significant 'hole' in the recent 3D seismic coverage of the field - it was too dangerous to be drilling shallow boreholes and detonating explosive charges over the crest of the structure where the gas leaks are most serious.


Link up top: ASPO International announces lower output target for Iraq

As a comparison, the total production of shale oil from the Bakken Field in the USA is 600,000 barrels per day. The production comes from around 5,000 wells and to maintain this level of production around 1,500 new wells must be drilled every year. In Iraq, we are seeing the “west” drawing back and the “east” – Russia and China – are taking a greater slice of the cake.

So here we have another estimate of the number of new wells require to keep Bakken production flat. 1500 wells per year works out to be 125 new wells that need to be brought on line each month. I would guess that is probably a pretty close estimate.

Also from that quote, Western oil companies are pulling out of Iraq while companies from the East are jumping right in. Do we know something they don't, or is it the other way around?

Ron P.

I presume that the "oil companies from the east" means Chinese oil companies. I don't think it's a matter of them knowing something we don't, I think it's a matter of taking a long view rather than pursuing short term profits.

"Chinese companies backed up by the Chinese government enjoy serious advantages over the international oil companies (IOC) and also have better bargaining power," according to Gal Luft, the executive editor at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. "One should not forget that those companies are less risk-averse and therefore can take on projects that the IOCs wouldn't want to touch."

China Outbids Oil Majors in Iraq

China is locking up resources all over the world. The Chinese government doesn't have to report to a board of directors or shareholders. On a geopolitical note, China could extend its sphere of influence from Iran into Iraq, giving them a major strategic position in the region. Meanwhile, the U.S. is shooting itself in the foot, leg, arm, etc with a failed mid-east policy.

China is sitting on $3 Trillion worth of increasingly worthless US Dollars and they've figured out that rather than feeding it back into The Machine (US Treasury Bonds) at near negative interest rates that they should take the money and buy real things with it that they can use to prop up Chinese living standards instead of propping up USAmericans living standards.

Well he specifically states – Russia and China – . But you miss the point. I, and the article, was talking specifically about Iraq. Perhaps I should have framed my question differently. Do they know something about Iraq that we don't, or is it the other way around? I strongly suspect it is the other way around.

Western companies are pulling out of Iraq while Russian and Chinese companies are increasing their share. I can understand why Chinese companies are investing in Africa and other places but the situation in Iraq is entirely different. The Iraqi government is investing nothing in these new projects. They are looking to foreign companies for 100% of all new capex. And what are these foreign companies going to get? On average about $2.00 a barrel for all new oil they can produce. Everything else goes to Iraq.

Now Western companies are pulling out, likely because they see it as a losing situation. If you ask me, I think the Western companies are wising up and those Russian and Chinese companies still have a lot to learn.

And you must understand, the Russian and Chinese companies are not locking up any resources whatsoever here. They only get a pittance per barrel of new oil, nothing more. It is money, not oil, that these contracts provide. And they must invest billions in hope of producing enough new oil to get their money back.

Ron P.

Wouldn't China have the first option to buy oil from a project they funded? What they want most of all is a secure supply of oil. Of course this doesn't explain why the Russians would agree to a deal like this as they are already self-sufficient in oil.

Wouldn't China have the first option to buy oil from a project they funded?

Not likely. There is nothing in the contracts that gives them such a choice. And anyway the Chinese have only a small piece of that pie. There were originally 13 contractors with bids that were accepted by Iraq, each sharing a small part, or parts, of 11 different contracts. They were BP, CNPC, Exxon, Shell, Lukoil, Statoil, Petronas, ENI, Kogas, Occidental, Japex, Gazprom and Sonangol. I don't know how many of them are left as some have pulled out but CNPC was the only Chinese company on that list.

Anyway, Iraq sells its oil to the highest bidder. If China is the highest bidder then they will get the oil.

Ron P.

The Russian's are as concerned about Chinese influence in the region as we are. These moves are, in my opinion, more about strategic politics than pure economics. Just as the Iraq war was for the U.S., but it didn't quite work out the way Cheney thought it would.

Philippines 'to take South China Sea row to court'

22 January 2013- The Philippines says it will challenge Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea at a UN tribunal.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the decision came after Manila had exhausted "almost all political and diplomatic avenues" to resolve the maritime dispute with Beijing.

He said he hoped arbitration would help bring a "durable solution" to the row.

Tensions between the two have been high since a stand-off at the Scarborough Shoal - which both claim - last year.

China claims a U-shaped swathe of the South China Sea; its claims overlap those of several South East Asian nations...

...The Philippines is taking a risk with this move, says the BBC's Kate McGeown in Manila. It knows China will not like it and it is increasingly dependent on China economically.

But it also wants to safeguard its claim to what could be lucrative oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea, our correspondent says.

The row between Manila and Beijing has been rumbling since April 2012, when government vessels from both nations faced off for several weeks at the Scarborough Shoal.


US drastically expanding military presence in the Philippines:

19 December, 2012- The US will significantly increase its military presence in the Philippines – an announcement that has angered China, whose Communist Party chief urged his military to prepare for a struggle and whose state-run media have criticized the agreement.

The US announced in 2011 that it would increase joint training exercises and ship visits to the Philippines in order to counter China’s growing influence in the region. These visits have been welcomed by Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III.

This month, the US announced that it would increase the number of troops, aircraft and ships that rotate through the Philippines. The announcement was made during the 3rd Phillipines-United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila, which was held Dec. 11-12. The two countries are expected to sign a five-year joint US-Philippine military exercise plan in their upcoming meetings, The Diplomat reported.

China's claim is pretty breathtaking considering all those closer nations.

What happens when someone discovers oil there? Does the region explode in conflict?

Not sure how I missed the point since my comment was specifically about Iraq, but whatever. I disagree with your view. Yes, it is a losing situation for western companies, but China doesn't play by their rules. I have nothing to base this on other than what I learn from my Chinese friends who do business in China, but their feeling is that nothing is done without a quid pro quo that is heavily stacked in China's favor. The contracts are a foot in the door to broader political and economic influence. At least that's how I see it.

The Chinese company, CNPC, got a piece of three different contracts because they were the lowest bidder. That is, they accepted the lowest per barrel dollar amount for each barrel of new oil produced from three different fields. They will share with BP $2 per barrel for each new barrel of oil from Rumaila. They will share $1.40 per barrel with Total and Petronas for each new barrel of oil from Halfaya. And they will get all of $3 per barrel of new oil from the tiny field of Al-Ahdab.

If you think the Iraqis gave the Chinese some kind of special deal that they did not offer the other 12 companies then you are entitled to your opinion, but I would very seriously doubt it. They were contracts that all bid on. Do you actually think the Iraqis would say: "Here is what we are offering everyone except the Chinese. But if they win the bids they will get something else, exclusive rights to all oil from the fields that they have part interest in."

Now do you actually believe that, or something similar, actually happened?

Ron P.

Have the actual final contracts (between Iraq-CNPC) for these projects been made public?

For the record I've seen plenty of cases where different customers are offered different deals (commodity pricing schemes), and there is usually plenty of quid pro quo to go around. It usually varies depending on customer. I don't know anything about the CNPC contracts but it wouldn't surprise me at all if something like this were to have taken place.


Are you responding to my comment? I didn't say anything about a special deal or exclusive rights to all oil fields that they have a part interest in.
What I said is

... nothing is done without a quid pro quo that is heavily stacked in China's favor. The contracts are a foot in the door to broader political and economic influence. At least that's how I see it.

In other words, the contract and the money, in my opinion (and it's just my opinion), is secondary -- like a loss leader at the supermarket -- the primary goal is to get into the game in a country that plays by rules that China is much more comfortable with than are the IOCs. That's all.

Yes, that statement was exactly what I was responding to. I was trying to explain why that is extremely unlikely. You are suggesting that China gets special treatment that the other contract winners do not get. I simply don't believe that and I will have to leave it at that.

But my original post was an attempt to explain that this whole Iraqi project, or projects, are turning out to be a huge disappointment for everyone. Stuart Staniford posted this in January 2010, a few months after the contracts were let:Iraq Could Delay Peak Oil a Decade

Iraq Expectations photo Iraqexpectations_zps8c2718cb.jpg

According to that chart, which I call "Great Expectations" in 2013 Iraqi production should be approaching 8 million barrels per say. What they have actually accomplished since that January 2010:

Iraqi Crude Only Production thru Dec. 2012 in kb/d. The arrow marks January 2010.
Iraq Crude Only photo IraqCrudeOnly_zps2ee3efbf.jpg

They are up about half a million barrels per day since then to 3 mb/d. Not quite where everyone expected. They will do good if they ever reach 4 million barrels per day. As this writer for Forbes put it:

Put all that together, and Iraq will struggle to nudge output towards 4mb/d over the next few years, let alone hitting 5, 6, or 7mb/d over the next decade. As for 12mb/d production targets by 2017 as a the new ‘swing producer’, forget it. Iraq has squeezed out all it can from its older fields; any further gains will be attritional, at best.

Ron P.

Looks like this time Stuart Staniford has erred in the opposite direction. I remember his "Nosedive in the desert" which predicted that Saudi production will peak around 2006 and then go a in a steep decline.

Well in all fairness to Stuart he did say:

Iraq could delay peak oil a decade--with the emphasis on the could.

But even with hedging his bet, he was still wrong. Iraq could not possibly delay peak oil a decade.

Also he was at least partially correct about Saudi Arabia. All the old fields in Saudi did peak around 2005. Stuart just underestimated the amount of new projects they had coming down the pike. Here is Saudi Megaprojects in kb/d. The 30 kb in 2013 is the Neutral zone and 65 of the 365 in 2015 is NGSs. The rest is Manifa. If it is truly spread over the three years as shown, that will not keep up with the decline rate. But they will try to speed things up by about a year or so.

Year      	2003	2004	2006	2008	2009	2010	2013	2015	2016	2017
Saudi Arabia	300	690	300	610	1430	670	30	365	300	300

Ron P.

Yes, Iraw production is huge disappointment and will continue to be, in my opinion. Do you think the Chinese oil companies are not aware of that? Do you think they are buying into Iraq's pie-in-the-sky projections?

Ron, these are smart people who know what is going on in the world as well as or better than any IOC. I agree that Iraq is never going to reach the unrealistic levels that they projected and some believed. However, the fact that the Chinese are going in and, in my view, must be aware of all this, tells me there is something deeper going on. I see only two possibilities -- the Chinese are stupid or they are going for something more than just $2 per barrel. I don't think they are stupid.

Kingfish, you are taking this stuff too seriously. No, I do not think the folks at CNPC are stupid and I do not think the other twelve oil companies that originally won contract bids were stupid either. But the folks at the IEA, who says Iraq will pump 8 mb/d by 2035, now they are stupid. ;-)

China can develop the fields at a much lower cost than Exxon so it is to their benefit to buy Exxon's share of the West Qurna 1 field. They can likely make money with the project, even if they eventually produce a lot less than originally hoped for. Exxon however would likely lose money on the project. So Exxon getting out and CNPC getting in is a win-win for both of them.

And yes, it is in China's best interest to get cozy with the Iraqis. In a few years China will be getting the lions share of Iraqi oil. It is just that this contract does not give them that. They will have to cultivate that relationship.

It is all explained very well here: A Chinese Oil Company May Buy Exxon's Iraq Stake

Understand, none of this expected vast increase in Iraqi oil is to come from new fields. It is all to come from new infill drilling into Iraqi's already tired old fields. Therefore as the link I posted earlier stated "Iraq has squeezed out all it can from its older fields; any further gains will be attritional, at best." That is, any increase in production from these very old and depleted fields will result in accelerated depletion of the fields. If they do manage to increase production by skimming the cream off the top it will only make the end come soon and suddenly.

Ron P.

Ron, of course I take this stuff too seriously -- I've been following you for years! Learn from the best, I always say.

I agree that Chinese Oil companies can be seen sometimes to have a wider agenda; be it some form of unofficial state contribution to oil company policy, or, as mentioned a desire to position Chinese influence and business clout into the local political scene. And yes, they can undercut western companies on price and also in the all important PR stakes, where they are not as susceptible as western companies. They also tolerate a higher degree of risk. I see Chinese companies engaging in many of the areas where my work sometimes involves me (Angola, Nigeria, Sudan, Iraq, etc) and they will undertake jobs that traditional IOCs and service sector companies have simply given up on.

It is also fair to say that while it may not necessarily be a contractual obligation, there is a high expectation that those companies will also get first call on where oil sales will go, after the national demand has been satisfied (and even before the national demand if the price is right).

Davos 2013: 'Dynamic resilience' in a volatile world

Nobody talks about "resilience" when all is well.

The ability to bounce back, stronger than ever, after having been knocked for six, is what is required now, both by the global economy, by governments and by companies.

As such, resilience could perhaps be defined as a mixture of determination, ability and hope that everything will be all right in the end.

"Resilient" is one of the two buzzwords at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting this week.

The other buzzword is "dynamism".

The global business leaders and politicians who are gathering in Davos in Switzerland this week appear to see the term as synonymous with forceful and energetic behaviour, whether by individuals such as themselves, or by companies, governments or international institutions.

And so the show begins.

Delegates who attend Davos week - at times described as a fat cat indulgence, at times derided as a conspiracy aimed at further enriching the wealthy while squeezing the weak and the poor, at times merely dismissed as irrelevant - feel they have a vital job to do; develop "resilient dynamism" on a global scale.

I think they're a little late to the party...

World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2013 Executive Summary: The Global Agenda: (pdf)

- How to get the global economy back on to a path of stable growth and higher employment

– How to address persistent vulnerabilities within the international
financial system

–How to increase global, national and industry resilience to major
systemic and catastrophic risks

Now that they have given up on sustainability, we are left with resilience. Thin soup, indeed, in a world that will be brought to its knees by extreme weather, continuing drowth, and decreased agricultural output. Maybe there will be a few left who continue to exist and possibly even thrive, because of their resilience. This new future, devoid of leisure, love, beauty, and joy, is hardly what many of us envisioned a mere few decades ago. Now we are faced with a life that will be largely nasty, brutish, and short.

For example, I would say that those trudging through the streets of Beijing are showing remarkable resilience in a world that has become polluted beyond their and our comprehension. They will push on despite the devastation to their health to a richer and more even more resilient future.

The masters of capitalism meeting at Davos have very little of value to impart to the rest of the world. Their worldview, which is based on infinite growth and no limits became obsolete a long time ago.

They have a different concept of "sustainability", it seems. From the "Industry Agenda":

– How to ensure stable, sustainable and affordable supplies of critical natural resources

- How to navigate a changing regulatory environment while pursuing new growth opportunities

In short "How to have our cake and eat it too..." Different world views and all that... the "Deciders".

How to ensure stable, sustainable and affordable supplies of critical natural resources

Real good question! Because right now we seem to be hell bent on scraping the whole earth of all remaining natural resources as quickly as humanly possible!.

Here's just one concrete example and I could give thousands of others... someone here posted this graphic before.


Infographic: The Global Timber Trade, Who's Buying, Who's Selling?

Too bad there isn't an easy way to create an easy way to visualize what that graphic means on the ground where the resources are coming from.
Here is a small glimpse as to what that means.


The Atlantic Forest in Brazil, which runs along the country’s southeastern shore near Rio de Janeiro, has been fragmented by centuries of human habitation. While the rain forest originally spanned over half a million square miles – an area comparable to the size of South Africa – almost 90 percent of it is now gone. Fields, roads, and cities have taken the place of trees.

So how exactly is it that the so called leaders of the world, who are currently congregating at Davos plan on reconstituting hundreds of thousands of already devastated natural environments all over the world to sustainably provide those critical natural resources?

I wait with bated breath for their words of wisdom.

In the meantime, on the off chance that any of them read TOD, may I seriously suggest making a plan to get off the growth train.

Peak buzzword ?

These are the people that set the policy which the corporate owned politicians make into government policy. Best wishes for everyone on this board to realize that the plutocracy will not deal with crises that are closing in on industrial civilization. We will collapse because the policy makers only solve problems within a growth paradigm. If industrial civilization could pay for itself it would have; since peak oil per capita in the seventies industrial debt has been sky rocketing towards collapse. We can not afford current fossil fuel prices and maintain our infrastructure much less convert to electric cars. These leaders will lead you off the edge of a cliff if you wait for them to somehow fix a situation that can not be fixed.

Oh well resume normalcy bias.

A Growing Dependence on Oil Money

In the United States, we are accustomed to viewing dependence on oil from a user’s perspective. However, for many oil exporting nations, the “producer’s curse” creates oil dependence of an entirely separate nature. As a result, the increasing economic perils that they face could spell serious trouble ahead for the U.S.


Good graphic of breakeven oil prices for various countries

Peak oil and other fallacies

Proved reserves have continued to rise steadily over the last 30 years, even as record amounts of oil have been produced from new and existing fields. Proved reserves hit a record 1.65 trillion barrels at the end of 2011, up from just 683 billion barrels in 1980, according to the BP "Statistical Review of World Energy".

Once reserves are understood to be a created inventory, not a natural endowment, several other fallacies about the outlook for the oil industry explode.

The first is that oil will become ever more expensive in future as reserves run out and oil production shifts to ever more marginal and expensive fields.

This assumes (wrongly) that reserves are fixed and declining. It also assumes new oil is much harder to find and develop than the reserves it replaces. But plenty of the reserve additions have been of oil that is only moderately expensive (such as U.S. shale deposits) once adjusted for inflation.

I think this is where the big fallacy of his argument lies. He assumes that growing reserves will hold down prices. But he has the cause and effect backwards, the only reason the reserves have grown is BECAUSE of the higher prices.

However, I do think we have hit a plateau wherein there is a LOT of oil available out there at current near $100/barrel prices so that prices will remain around where they currently are for a few years.

Oil is not a natural endowment? OK.

"...created inventory, not a natural endowment."

"Created" vs. "natural"... as in "endowed by our Creator"?

The author is using "created" in economic terms, meaning advanced technology will create reserves where only a resource previously existed.

"Once reserves are understood to be a created inventory,..."

This one sentence shows the false perspective that technology can overcome nearly any obstacle in obtaining oil. Same logic has been used to classify the kerigen bearing shale of Utah, Colorado and Wyoming to be wrongly called reserves.

What the author does not understand is the limit to oil price is based on what the global economies can afford. At $160 per barrel some more oil can be brought to market, but many cannot afford $6/gallon gas in the US. Much of the "reserves" claimed by the author will never be produced as technology to produce the oil cost more than market will pay.

However, I do think we have hit a plateau wherein there is a LOT of oil available out there at current near $100/barrel prices so that prices will remain around where they currently are for a few years.

It does seem we have hit a new balance price point that is enabling more resources to be produced. I think the tale of the tape as to whether this new balance can be sustained is whether OECD govt's can put a lid on increasing debt. Authorities are faced with trying to sqeeze the populace for more, or cutting back or a combination of both, but the question then is will there be growth without increasing debt? If the an attempt is made to sustain this new oil price level without debt increases, which in turn translates into no growth (or even recession), then what happens to capitol investment as banks pull back from lending? After all growth is prerequisite for lending, or at least it has been in the past. Maybe Bernanke has an answer for that too, with a catchy name like the double back QE twist?

I was also going to highlight the same comment:

we have hit a plateau wherein there is a LOT of oil available out there at current near $100/barrel prices so that prices will remain around where they currently are for a few years.

I agree that there may be a lot of oil from a volume perspective that can be produced profitably at $100/barrel, but I don't think the flow rate can be increased very much at current prices, as increased demand from China, India, and other rapidly growing economies outstrips decreasing demand in the OECD, we are likely to see prices rise.

That is probably true. But I also think much of the decreases in OPEC production lately have been voluntary cut backs in view of lower prices. If increased demand hits and can't be satisfied with more Bakken oil, I think the OPEC production will rise.

But how much of a buffer there is? I have no idea.


I agree with your assessment. Ron has suggested that before the recent OPEC cutbacks, that they were producing flat out and that new fields coming online over the next few years in Saudi Arabia will only make up for declines in older fields. I agree with that assessment as well. Unless Iraq gets its act together soon (unlikely IMO) once OPEC gets back to their recent 2012 peak levels, we will see prices rise if demand at current prices outstrips the supply available. Just my guess, I would be interested in other opinions/guesses.


But I also think much of the decreases in OPEC production lately have been voluntary cut backs in view of lower prices.

Well I am not so sure about that at all. First, when we are talking about OPEC cutbacks, we are talking about Saudi Arabia. They are the only ones cutting back, except for Iraq and their production is down because of trouble with the Kurds. And that is definitely not voluntary.

So that leaves only Saudi Arabia because there is no doubt that they are all producing flat out. And most of them, like UAE, have stated that they will continue to do so. But what is Saudi Arabia doing? Well, there is no doubt that as of last August they were producing flat out:
U.S. Reliance on Oil From Saudi Arabia Is Growing Again (Page 2)

Saudi oil experts said the kingdom was merely following the markets.

“This is strictly, totally business,” said Sadad Al Husseini, a former executive at Saudi Aramco, the state oil company. “Saudi production is flat out. Where you send it is a matter of where you make the best profit.”

Saudi Arabia Crude Only production in kb/d. The last data point is Dec. 2012. The data is from OPEC's MOMR.
Saudi Arabia photo SaudiArabia-8_zps4ddd79f5.jpg

Saudi peaked in June 2012 and had declined, on average, almost 60,000 barrels per month thru November. Then in December they dropped 421,000 barrels to 9,211,000 bp/d. Was that a deliberate cut. I have no idea but I expect some of it was and some of it was not. At any rate they will soon be down to that level, due entirely to decline, unless they bring Manifa on line soon.

But my point is, don't make the mistake of saying OPEC has cut production. No one has deliberately cut any production except Saudi Arabia, and I am not so sure about them.

Ron P.

Hi Ron,

When I talk about OPEC, I mean all of OPEC together, so I interpret others to mean the same. So when speculawyer says recent OPEC cuts, I think the total flow rate from OPEC countries as a group has decreased. I guess we are in agreement that OPEC was producing flat out and now they are not, I also agree that only Saudi Arabia has made voluntary cutbacks, other OPEC members are still producing flat out (Iraq is having political problems as you mentioned).

The only area I would question is that you seem confident that some of the recent Saudi decreases in output are involuntary, I don't think we know (which may be what you meant). I agree that some of the Dec cut may not have been deliberate, I would be surprised if it was more than 15 %.


When I talk about OPEC, I mean all of OPEC together, so I interpret others to mean the same.

There is no such thing as all of OPEC together, well, not recently anyway. They fight like cats and dogs. In 2008 they altogether decided to cut production because of the crash. Then one by one they ramped production back up. Then by January 2010 they were all producing flat out except Saudi, UAE and Kuwait. Then by the summer of 2011 all 12 OPEC nations were producing flat out.

The UAE has flatly stated that they will not cut production. And looking at the production chart of each OPEC nation individually it becomes obvious that all are producing flat out with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia. If Saudi did cut production then it was a Saudi decision and definitely not an OPEC decision. So no, OPEC definitely did not cut production in the last few months but perhaps Saudi Arabia did... perhaps.

I don't know how you can put a percentage on how much of the Saudi cut might have been deliberate and how much might have been due to natural decline. I would have to be far more vague on that point. I would say instead: Some of the cut may have been deliberate but I really don't know.

I do believe Saudi fields are in deep decline and have been for some time. But new oil coming on line in the last few years have masked that decline. (See Wikipedia Megaprojects.) Now they have nothing coming on line and that is why they are declining. They will have Manifa coming on line, perhaps as soon as late this year, or early next year. Then nothing. Well no big projects anyway. They have found some tiny fields but they will not make much difference.

But I don't thank that Manifa, if it comes on line over a period of two years, will do much more than mask further decline for a short period. Manifa will bring, they claim, 900,000 barrels of very heavy crude on line. If that happens over two years... well they are declining more than that.

Ron P.

the only reason the reserves have grown is BECAUSE of the higher prices.

Well, that's one of the reasons, but not the big one. The reason most reserves have grown, like those of Iran and Iraq, is because the folks who run those countries simply decided they should grow. So they grew their reserves... with a pencil.

And there is another reason. The Orinoco Bitumen, or heavy oil, was added to the world reserves a couple of years ago, and the Canadian oil sands a couple of years before that. This did not mean any new oil was found, just reclassifying what was found many decades ago.

Ron P.

Watching Obama's inauguration speech, early in, a couple of things he said: "...possibilities are limitless...; ...world without boundaries...; ...an endless capacity for risk..." confirmed my belief that the myth of endless growth is alive and well, considered necessary even in a time when limits are becoming glaringly obvious, not that I was expecting something more based in reason and reality...

Anyway, he goes on: "...but we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future."

Unfortunately, I'm forced to consider something Kunstler posted this morning as being a bit closer to "truth":

...but we have our cultural myths to defend... and voting blocs to appease.
It seems obvious to me that in the, say, four years ahead (one presidential term), we will not come to grips with any of the forces of reality bearing down on us. We will lose control of the money system; we'll go broke trying to keep up our oil supplies; the American public will get more economically desperate and angry; and pretty soon the practical matters of daily life will become rather harsh. And at that point faith in the system finally evaporates and people fight over the table scraps of a failed polity.
Many of us around the country are hoping for a better outcome in the successful downscaling and re-localizing of American life, but those questions are just not in the arena. Hence, the arena itself will probably have to topple and crash before life is reorganized outside of where it used to stand.

Ghung - I always have mixed feelings about such predictable speeches be they from a D or an R. Leadership requires that you do what one can to keep morale and attitudes upbeat. OTOH it should be balanced with a realistic assessment of the situation. IMHO President Obama is one of the best we've seen with a verbal pitch. For a variety of reasons he resonates with many. Unfortunately he doesn’t use that skill to lay out the troubles ahead many of us foresee and use those performance skills to rally the people into a more realistic response to a host of problems we're facing.

Obama tipped his hand a long time ago, when he had that meeting with CEOs and told them he was their pitchfork-catcher. He is a babysitter for BAU and TPTB -- nothing more, nothing less.

The folk at TAE think that Jack Lew's nomination is an indication of 4 more of the same. (I don't disagree)


"Jack Lew's nomination tells us all we need to know about Barack Obama's intentions. Which are to let the bankers and their shareholders continue to hide their debts, and continue to use the zombie money they thus seem to have to make leveraged wagers whose profits they can pocket and whose losses they can pass on to you."

A comment by "William" in response to the TAE post linked above.


Its not giantly complicated. Its just that the US is following the way of Britain. Lets note how civilizations of the past had long long reigns. Egypt, China, even Rome. But today powers are bigger and fade out faster mainly due to the speed they use up resources. If you are a power and spare capacity will be effected you think twice before acting. More and more there are less and less options till things come to a stall.

A well articulated comment. However this is already well known in PO communities, one aspect which is not discussed as much is that the US itself will not be affected as much as say it's client states such as Taiwan and Israel. Since it's the client states at the edge of the empire (esp those which have feuds with neighbors) which bear the brunt of the collapse in the former years.

I think JMG has written about it. I don't see any issues for US in the near future with it's vast pipeline of resources. The client states OTOH are a different story, unless they change their policies towards their neighbors it will be like watching a guy with one gun and one bullet standing up to a horde of zombies.

Here's the post http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.in/2012/11/in-twilight-of-empires.html

You will find the US has already placed battle ships and weapons in range and pointed at China for the very purpose of threatening it.

Substrate, why would you post junk like this? This is not a news item but a reply on an internet talk list similar to TOD. It is a readers reply to a post on Automatic Earth. It is just an opinion of one man with lots of opinions on what a lousy government the US has. And none of his opinions have any basis in fact. The US does not have any battleships anymore and certainly weapons of any kind pointed at China for the purpose of threatening them. Such a statement reflects the height of ignorance.

Ron P.

"It is a readers reply to a post on Automatic Earth."

Yes...and that's why I stated that in the post. I thought the comment was rather interesting and worthy of an audience over here.

Ironically I see this post of yours following a post by Ghung containing this link:US drastically expanding military presence in the Philippines

Then there's: Obama Says U.S. Troops in Australia Will Preserve Peace, Security in Asia

"President Barack Obama said the U.S. troops that will be stationed in Australia’s northernmost city will help ensure the security of vital sea lanes, as the U.S. moves to blunt China’s expanding influence.

Commercial traffic through the area is “critical to all our economies,” Obama said yesterday in Darwin, Australia. “Going forward our purpose is the same that it was 60 years ago: preservation of peace and security.”

Being from the US, you're well aware if the Prez Sez "preservation of peace" it means "we really want to go to war." I don't think Obama is stupid enough to actually start a war with China...but we are over there flexing our muscle.

Okay, let's get real for just one moment. The US presence in the Philippines and Australia is not to threaten China. The US has had a presence in the Philippines since WW2 and it was never to threaten China. Nuclear nations stopped threatening each other at the end of the cold war.

Well, Pakistan and India do rattle chains at each other occasionally, but don't mistake that for either wanting an all out war. They both know that there would be no winners, only two horrible losers if ever an all out war broke out between them.

Being from the US, you're well aware if the Prez Sez "preservation of peace" it means "we really want to go to war."

That statement is so ridiculously absurd it really deserves no comment. However... only someone completely naive would believe that President Obama wants a war with China, or anyone else for that matter. No Substrate, Obama does not really want to go to war. The exact opposite is true, he wants to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan and knows we cannot afford another war anywhere.

We are over there to preserve the peace. Small rebel groups are always starting something somewhere, like in Mali, and a military presence very often can preserve the peace even though sometimes it does not. Just how hard is that to understand?

Geeze... does anyone really believe Obama really wants to go to war with China? China has the bomb you know. A war with China would very likely mean the end of the world as we know it. No one in their right mind wants that.

Ron P.

Nuclear nations stopped threatening each other at the end of the cold war.


It said Jiang regretted allowing the Serbs sanctuary inside China's diplomatic mission and believed it was a serious political mistake. The memoir is said to tell how a furious Chinese government was forced to mute its protests after the Americans privately presented evidence of Serbian electronic communications from within the embassy.


As soon as I read the news that the new Chinese stealth fighter might have been reverse-engineered from an F-117 Nighthawk shot down during the NATO bombing of Serbia, I wondered the same thing implied (though not explicitly stated) in this Fox News piece: did we bomb the Chinese embassy because they were actively collecting parts and information on the plane?


The NATO sources told Defense & Foreign Affairs that the attack was based on intelligence that then Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was to have been in the Embassy at the time of the attack. The attack, then, was deliberately planned as a “decapitation” attack, intended to kill Milosevic.

Ron, isn't that a little bit naive? "We" (the West, I am from Belgium, Europe) are over there (wherever) to protect something. Something that has value to us. In Mali the French were there immediately. Their company Areva has a uranium mine over there, Total has some oil interests and there is a lot of gold... As long as the locals hit eachother, we do not go there to preserve peace. From the moment they threaten our (commercial) interest: we go there "to preserve the peace". What most of the times means: "to make them fight eachother instead of us."

Verwimp, I hope I am not naive, but at any rate I had rather be a little naive than a total cynic. The cynic sees evil in everything any government does and sees their intentions as always evil and selfish, never good or altruistic.

I don't believe that for one minute. And if I did I think I would just shoot myself.

Ron P.

Ron, this may become philosophical very soon :). In Dutch (my mother tongue), we have a saying that goes like "One man's death is another man's bread". I don't know if that makes any sense to an english native speaker. It means something like "Your pain, my gain." You can consider that as cynical, but I see a difference between the personal level and the level of societies among each other. Geopolitics is afaik rather cynical, while we behave the good way as individuals. And put that gun away, now! :p

The US has had a presence in the Philippines since WW2

Actually since the Spanish American war (1898) when we took them from Spain. We ended up in a nasty guerilla war against Muslim Moro rebels that lasted years. The US army under Douglass MacArthur was surrounding near Manila in late 41, early 42 (see the Bataan death March).

The whole situation is starting to get a bit scary. Sooner or later someone (Japan v China over Senkaku's) is likely to take at shot at the other. Things could spiral out of control like they did in August 1914, with no one expecting or wanting a wider war, but no one may be able to back down from the next incremental step. We are obligated to defend Japan (or the Philippines). Sounds pretty similar to 1914. I'm hoping the shock of a couple of fatalities when that happens will serve to concentrate minds, and cooler heads prevail.

The same rule for articles applies to comments posted on other sites. Copyright still applies. Don't post the whole thing. Link with a brief excerpt or summarize in your own words instead.

The last President who tried to inject a little realism into the discussion was Carter and looked what happened to him. We have been in fantasy land ever since.

... and Carter was a white guy with a good Christian name. Maybe it was the accent ;-/

Here is a summary of Carter's energy policy:
But lowering the thermostat and wearing a sweater was reported as wildly unpopular (google Jimmy Cardigan) and his appeal to the American public was not successful:
Ronald Reagan (or his managers) made us all Feel Good for a while, but when the public smelled a rat the main stream media took over:

The issue that was really the centerpiece of Carter’s presidency was energy — trying to promote useful alternative energy. And I don’t see how you can look at what’s happened over the last 25 years and not say that Carter was right: that we should have been researching alternative energy the whole time, and as a result we’ve fallen behind other countries; that we’re addicted to oil and unable to shake that. But if you listen to talk radio, Jimmy Carter is reduced to wearing the sweater and turning the thermostat down at the White House. They’ve done such a good job creating Carter as kind of an anti-Reagan — that part of Reagan’s greatness was that he saved America from the malaise, which, by the way, is a word that Carter never actually uttered. This has become the modern equivalent of waving the bloody shirt was for the post-Civil War Republicans: waving the Jimmy Carter cardigan sweater.

Carter was an engineer. He put solar panels on the white house, which one of which sits in a Chinese museum.


Carter was after the peak of the Mother Earth News era, 60's, 70's environmental movement, largely due to pollution problems.

The irony is not lost on me as to how much coal the Chinese burn and how dirty their air is. They have our solar panel but do not get the message. So much for long term cultures manifesting into some sort of superior intelligence.

.. very little realism

He also continued the march of finance and global trade, made oil a strategic resource we would defend with force (Carter doctrine) and pretty much held the neo-liberal (what we now call neo-conservative in the US) line.

So he didn't break the line that runs from (at least) 68 or so unitl now.

Seriously, the last guy we had in office that a somewhat left world view on economics was FDR, and he was all about empire at the end too.

I thought I did hear a call to the people in his speech. A call to be active, and that's probably a good thing. And I hope he uses his charisma and his bully pulpit to rally public opinion and be more effective.

But I also think it's going to be hard to press for what really needs to be done (i.e., face the fact that there may be limits to growth) because no amount of rhetoric will convince selfish, brain-washed Americans to sacrifice one bit. We've been programmed for growth and consumption for too long.

Still, there might be something done in the time remaining before the Good Times end. I think a push for marriage equality might be timely. I think that rights and respect for minorities is rare in a struggling economy. Best get it done while we can. If we can bake it in the cake, maybe it will persist after the fall.

There are still many things we can do without growth, including caring for the sick, poor,old, and young. But it is the nature of our system and our ethics that we refuse to do these things without growth because those at the top have an insatiable need for wealth even as those in the middle have not seem their incomes rise for the last 40 years. Bring the inequality level to what it was before Reagan and cut the defense and security budgets in at least half and then see what we can do for the old, the sick, the poor, and the young. We have been sold a bill of goods that the only way out and forward is yet more growth. But those who benefit most from the growth want to hold on to every last penny that went to them because of the growth.

Downscaling is anathema to the capitalist system, our way of life, and our view of what is right in the world. It simply cannot happen unless we descent into a financial disaster rivaling or exceeding the great depression. The vast majority of us are on the money train. Everyone cannot be at the top, of course, which speeds up the train even faster as the deluded middle class thinks they can become part of the elite if they work hard enough, sacrificing all leisure, their health, and their family in the process.

Obama operates safely in the bounds of conventional wisdom and the belief that we have the best economic system possible. He just thinks it needs a little tweaking around the edges. Well, the cake is baked and he helped bake it. His chance was before the fiscal cliff and he caved as is usual.

His chance was before the 2008 bailout and he voted for it (as a senator, just before being elected as president). Everything he did (and did not do) after that was no surprise.

Was there realyy any choice. I can think of three main responses:
(1) Nationalize the failing banks, and reprivatize them as that becomes feasible.
(2) Bailout.
(3) Let the chips fall where they may (the Austrian solution).

It was clear (1) was blocked by a single word (and Americans reaction to it) Socialism. And choice three might have felt philosophically pure, but would have led to great depression two, and all the dangers of political instability that might unleash. So the only door that wasn't a guaranteed disaster was number 2.

Re choice 3 - Iceland is doing well now AFAICS - Compare with Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy etc.

Iceland is quite the exception. They had an out-of-control banking sector that racked up massive liabilities and the rest of the country said "We are not going to cover that." But the rest of the country was in relatively good shape. They are well-endowed with great fisheries and they have geothermal energy resources that pretty much provide them with free energy. So what worked for Iceland just won't work for other troubled places as well.

It probably was about the best thing for Iceland to do. But, they still suffered quite a lot. Currency lost more than half its value. Lots of jobs lost, and expats mostly left the country etc. But a small country, with its own currency can tough it out austeritywise, because a large chunk of its economy depends upon the rest of the world the receding horizon problem isn't so great.

I suspect what worked for Iceland would work for other countries better than anyone is willing to admit. Greece has tourism and shipping. If they had put the bankers in jail, I suspect they would have recovered as well as Iceland.

The major obstacle is that some of the elite have to go to jail for their crimes, and others of the elite don't get a bailout and end up working on a boat again. In Iceland, it's so small (320,000 people) that you can't hide from your neighbors. Everyone knew who was involved and they had nowhere to run. Greece, Spain, etc. are all much larger and close to other countries, who came in a put up puppet governments to maintain the status of the elite. Remember Papademos? A BANKER and ECONOMIST - one of the crooks who caused the Greek crisis - who was put in charge of "transition" after Papandreou had the audacity to suggest a referendum on austerity?

The FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector is at fault for ALL of it, but as long as they control governments they will get their way. Spain's biggest problem is real estate and banking... well, they could use all the housing they have that's sitting empty to house the people with no jobs that can't pay rent. Who's in the way? Why not? A sane government would work to keep the people housed and fed.

What Greece doesn't have is its own currency. Stuck with the same currency as Germany, but with lower productivity, they just can't compete. Since they can't cheapen their products and labor enough to compete, all the jobs go away.

Who's in the way? Why not? A sane government would work to keep the people housed and fed.

With today's ideology, which is dominate almost everywhere, that's unthinkable, government taking over a goodly chunk of the economy to help the poor (so Marxian).

They could leave the euro. Eventually, I think they will.

And delay, just stretches out the pain.

that alone would not really help greece much. it is an incredibly corrupt and bureaucratic country... you have to see it to believe it, if what you're used to is e.g. western europe or even the us.

Based on what you wrote before you edited it, I guess this makes sense:

Jamaica labelled the 'Greece of the Western Hemisphere'

A lot of what was written initially sounded like you were describing Jamaica.

Alan from the islands

Reality check on what Iceland is actually going through and what policies were actually followed: http://studiotendra.com/2012/12/29/what-is-actually-going-on-in-iceland/

" but would have led to great depression two"

What do you mean would have? We are in year 5 of this depression. The depression of 1873 lasted four years. The depression of 1920 lasted two. In the latter the government did nothing; in fact they raised interest rates and let the bad debt liquidate as it would.

wait a minute; 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, I was wrong, year 5 is over, we are starting year 6 of this depression.

We are in either a little-depression, or a great recession. The Great one was much worse.

Currently that may be true but remember we're not out of this one yet (If we ever get out of it) so there is plenty of time for things to potentially get a lot worse!

6 trillion dollars in new Federal debt. 4 trillion or so on on the Fed's balance sheet. That's a lot of papering over of the real problem.

wait a minute; 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, I was wrong, year 5 is over, we are starting year 6 of this depression.

Thank god so many people have given up, otherwise it would already be much much worse..../sarc

GENEVA (Reuters) - The global jobless queue will stretch to more than 200 million people this year, the International Labour Organization said in its annual report on Tuesday, repeating a warning it has made at the start of each of the last six years.

The U.N. jobs watchdog estimates unemployment will rise by 5.1 million this year to more than 202 million, and by another 3 million in 2014, following a rise of 4.2 million in 2012.

If those predictions are right, global unemployment will hit a record. But the ILO has revised its jobless figures down each year as the number of those giving up the job hunt altogether swells, meaning they are no longer classed as unemployed.

The United States is certainly doing it's global part. It is taking in as many of the desperate hordes as is politically possible, and it is exporting as many jobs to those people as it can. Of course, at some point we won't be able to export any more exportable jobs, eventually you hit 0. And we won't be able to continue to bring in never ending millions to compete for the remaining retail, medical, government, bartending and waitress jobs. So at that point, the world will be on its own.

What do you mean we can't continue to? The Democratic party needs more voters! This country is turning into a disaster zone.

The Republicans don't take any stands against legal immigration. Zippo. As far as illegal immigration, they are pretty flaccid on that score as well.

(4) Let the bad banks fail, bail out the good ones, strengthen the good ones that did not need a bailout, break up the too-big-to-fail ones, investigate what happened, prosecute those people who did wrong, re-instate the regulations (from the depression era) that were repealed in the preceding 20 years (Glass-Steagal), etc.

I can dream.

Can dream even bigger: move to government-issued money (not debt-based), and 100-reserve banking.

But what actually happened was clearly a coup-de-etat.


"HSBC ignored over 17,000 internal compliance review notifications that said there might be an issue in account dealings; they knew they were working with cartels and suspected terrorists and did nothing about it, helping them funnel a trillions of dollars. As Cenk Uygur explains, HSBC got a slap on the wrist from the government, giving a clear sign to other big banks-- they can get away with anything.


HSBC was able to track Eliot Spitzer's 3 deposits to a holding account for an escort service. But they couldn't track $60 trillion in suspicious activity transfers from drug cartels and al-Qaeda that benefited them? Could it be because Spitzer was investigating the banks? Cenk Uygur breaks down the financial hypocrisy.

or (4) obey the law by putting the insolvent banks under FDIC control, imprison the banksters, cover the deposits up to the insurance limit of $100,000, pay nothing for deposits over the insurance limit, split the banks up and sell the pieces.

There are still many things we can do without growth

We'll have to, soon ...?
USA per capita GDP year-on-year change with linear trend that reaches zero in 2032.

And at that point faith in the system finally evaporates and people fight over the table scraps of a failed polity.

Polite prose for food riots, however I see it ending that way as well. Romney/Ryan were talking about gutting food stamps if they got in, which I thought that might test Kunstler's prediction above. People will put up with a lot of downsizing, loss of luxuries etc., but take the scraps off the table and that crosses a line that overrides any concern for incarceration.

The thought of rioting for food reminds me of that scene in Soylent Green when the green squares run out during morning rations and people start to riot. Then the garbage trucks with special scoops in front start loading people in to presumably be crushed by pnematic press, to later be churned into what else, green squares. Hadn't seen that movie in decades, then saw it with my wife a few weeks back. Very illuminating to see all these years later. Very accurate in some ways of the disparity between the have's and have nots, reduction in wildlife, higher population, etc. It seems like that's where we're headed unless something changes.

I doubt they would have really cut back as much as their red meat rhetoric suggested. We just had the heartless (literally) Dick Cheney in office and even he didn't do something so draconian.

You can only squeeze people so far and beyond a certain point it becomes quite counter-productive. Just ask the former leaders of various Arab nations. At some point the three hots & cot of jail will look better than just suffering with no help.

I doubt they would have really cut back as much as their red meat rhetoric suggested.

When something is said enough times it's hard not to believe it. Romney seemed to have an idea it was all a game, apparently wanting to change the rules to dramatically widen the gap between the rich and poor, possibly so his kids would have an even bigger leg up on the competition. I never got the sense he felt even the tiniest bit of empathy for anyone less wealthy than himself.

Obama is still pushing "Happy Motoring forever":

We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.

We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

The neoliberals still don't get it.

American can just keep driving their cars throughout their Auto Addicted suburbs forever (even as actual driving DECLINES as TOD post above points out) by taking 40% of our dwindling corn crop and feeding it to our cars, electric cars, etc etc etc.

Unfortunately while finally Climate Change is being spoken about Peak Oil, limits to growth, plans to wean ourselves off Auto Addiction cannot be touched with a 10 foot pole.

Anybody else watch President Obama's inaugural speech today? I like the guy, but I wish he hadn't said

America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:

This idea that there are no limits is not healthy anymore. It needs to stop.

I also wasn't thrilled with the empty rhetoric about climate change. I guess, I'm glad he at least mentioned it. But the only way to really do anything about climate change is to get people out of their cars. Yes, forget about guns, we need to take away people's cars! And of course, they aren't going to stand for that, so the only way to get people out of their cars is to make it so people don't want cars in the first place: i.e., provide alternative transportation. Trains, busses, walkable communities. I wish he would have talked about that.

I miss George Bush. If he had passed the NDAA and launched the drone strike campaign people would be upset. Obama is just to charming. Same basic substance as George W but with brand new non offensive flavor! I just love marketing....

wt - "provide alternative transportation. Trains, busses, walkable communities." But that would cost a lot of money especially for govt that has to borrow $trillons just to tread water. How about trying something that not only wouldn't cost govts money but have them earn more. And something that could be done much faster then building out infrastructure. Something like raising motor fuel taxes.

OK...on 3 we start holdng our breath...1...2...

Agreed that higher gas taxes (that at least go up with inflation!) would be a good thing. Also agree that building out a decent public transportation, especially in this sprawling country would cost insane amounts of money.

But we spend insane amounts of money on the military, and we pay to rebuild stuff wiped out by hurricanes and floods that maybe should be left unbuilt, and there's a thousand ways we could be spending our money better, if we had different priorities.

But we don't. Hence my comment about the empty rhetoric.

Will we ever stop talking and actually DO something? I doubt it, but I'm willing to be surprised.

WW - "Will we ever stop talking and actually DO something". Yes...we already have stopped talking and have been doing things for decades. The problem is that much of what has been done many on TOD would disagree. It would be one thing if we had gotten into the state because we weren't proactive. We've been very proactive but not dealing with problems in a manner many of us would have prefered. Spending on the military hasn't been an accident. A very calculated poltical move. Likewise spending of the social support system has also been a very calculated politcal decision. And not starting to consistantly raise fuel taxes many decades ago was a calculated political move by both the D's and R's IMHO.

The US has been very active in addressing our problems. Just not in a manner many here would agree with.

Off-topic, but is there a way to get in touch with you? My cousin graduates this June and has already accepted a geologist job with Chevron in Houston. Thought you'd might enjoy talking with him/any tips for his career welcome. Thanks!

SB - Good for him. Chevron is probably the best place for a newbe to start IMHO...with Shell Oil close behind. For him it's all about training at this stage. Advice? Try to slide towards geophysics ASAP. Second, always try to make his boss look good. Seriously...ass kissing is the only way to go with a major but just don't make it too obvious. Third, save every stinking penney he can...good times last only so long. After the late 50's boom busted Shell Oil fired every geologist under 30 yo...nothing personal just business.

"Will we ever stop talking and actually DO something". Yes...we already have stopped talking and have been doing things for decades.

I hope it's enough. I'm just looking out my window...

One of my favorite quotes:

"After everything is said and done, more is always said than done."

WW - Perhaps I should have wacked you upside the head with my sarcasm bat. LOL. Not only what we’ve done isn’t enough but we’ve taken major positions that have made the situation worse than it had to be IMHO. And I suspect we’ll continue this approach indefinitely. And it always seems to boil down to the same dynamic: doing what is best for those in the present at the cost of those in the future. I doubt I’ll be around to see it but I can easily imagine a much worsening environmental policies and more military adventures in the future when the hard times really begin.

Insane amounts of money. Right, everywhere. Do we need 23 different kinds of peanut butter? Absolutely not, we need only the one kind I like.

Same with cars. How many different kinds of x part are on the shelf, all of which do the very same thing? And besides, would any sane manager buy a machine tool that spends 87% of its time doing nothing? No. But the same guy would go spend a bundle on his car doing exactly that and not give it a thought.

Tomorrow morning I have called a meeting of the local just-do-it types, to talk about carbon footprint of our county and what to be doing about it. I have a white board covered with ideas, some of them actually pretty good. We will see if any of them remain alive after the meeting. Knowing these people, I am thinking one or another one will actually take off.

Gosh, wimb, at least peanut butter doesn't need refrigeration and is somewhat nutritious. My pet peeve is ice cream. The ice cream section in our local market is huge, perhaps 100 times the size of the peanut butter section.. If they only sold Blue Bell they could save thousands on energy costs and help save the planet.

My friend in Paris mails himself a dozen jars of Skippy every time he comes to the States. Try doing that with ice cream.

Like I said, everywhere you look- evil! True, peanut evil is dwarfed by icecream evil, but I like ice cream, so a little evil there might get a pass. What really takes the crooked crown is soft drinks- I mean those big ghastly boxes everywhere each eating up more coal than my house. I don't like soft drinks, so there's REAL evil.

The US HAS plenty of money already being spent on prodigious amounts on Transportation as calculated very well in this Chris Nelder piece:


NOTE: this is with out cutting the Wars at $1 Trillion per year and redirecting some of that money to operate and build Green Transit!

Here are Chris Nelder's basic figures:

Road maintenance: $186 Billion per year

Road improvement: $14 Billion per year

Traffic gridlock costs: $100 Billion per year

Environmental and Health care costs of Auto Addiction: $400 Billion per year

New Autos to maintain fleet: $288 Billion per year

Commercial aircraft maintenance: $50 Billion per year

Then as oft-noted by Green Transit advocates here there are the hidden costs of all the huge amounts of Green Space consumed by our current Auto/Air Addicted Transit.

I highly recommend reading the article for yourselves, obviously these are ballpark figures and some may be overestimated.

Chris Nelder's summary makes perfect sense in the LONG RUN!:

Against $6 trillion (minimum) in sunk costs and $1.6 trillion per year in maintenance, the $1.2 trillion per year estimate I offered in my article on infrastructure, plus building the high speed rail network at a generous estimate of $1 trillion, looks very reasonable. Put another way: Would you rather spend another $32 trillion over the next 20 years just to maintain our outmoded, unscalable, aged, unhealthy system, plus another $2.8 trillion in lost productivity due to delays and gridlock, only to wind up out of gas? Or would you rather spend $25 trillion to repair our existing infrastructure, transition transportation to rail, transition the power grid to renewables, upgrade the entire grid, and solve the carbon problem, to have free fuel forever?

There is not any free fuel. Any costs incurred from traffic gridlock would pale in comparison to scheduling delays and roundabout routes by trains.

Any costs incurred from traffic gridlock would pale in comparison to scheduling delays and roundabout routes by trains.

Even though I'm already into my second cup of coffee this morning and have read that statement ten times, my mind just can't seem to parse it! Perhaps I've finally lost it?

BlueTwilight wrote:

There is not any free fuel. Any costs incurred from traffic gridlock would pale in comparison to scheduling delays and roundabout routes by trains.

First what Chris Nelder means by "free fuel" is that Grid Controlled Electric Vehicles, ie trains, lightrail, trolleys, can much more efficiently utilize renewable electrical power without using oil. For details you can look at Anthony Perl's book "Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil" ( http://transportrevolutions.info ) Besides the fact that Rail can move 12x the people as personal cars, there are also major advantages in using electricity directly rather than using batteries.

Scheduling delays in the US for long distance Rail are primarily the result of Amtrak having to share tracks with very slow freights who actually control the Rails except the Northeast Corridor. Once Amtrak gets stuck behind a freight they frequently fall behind. These delays do not happen in Europe, Japan, Taiwan or those countries which are serious about Rail. In the Northeast corridor even with the semi High-Speed Acela train ridership now accounts for 75% of air vs train travel between New York and Washington.

Between New York and Washington, Amtrak said, 75 percent of travelers go by train,...


For local transit the biggest delays are buses stuck in the same traffic as cars. I take local Rail to work every weekday. It is 99% reliable and only late about 2 times per year.

The other costs of traffic congestion with ICE cars is that they continue to burn gasoline and spew pollution besides the time spent sitting in traffic.

Agreed that higher gas taxes (that at least go up with inflation!) would be a good thing.

WaterWeasel, I agree with you.
The US Federal gasoline tax has not increased since 1993.

The government needs to spend to get the economy going, once the economy starts humming, the deficits go away because tax revenue increases, like during Clinton's second term when there were budget surpluses. It would be better to spend on alternative transport, upgrading the grid, etc than on the military. I like the carbon tax idea as well, we should do both. I agree however we are likely to do neither.


Well, that's the theory at least. And in normal times, I'd assume it would work. But perhaps that strategy does not work right now because high energy prices prevent the economy from ever really humming.

But I agree that if it were to be tried, we should at least do it with infrastructure & alt energy. At least that provides something in the end that can help the economy run more efficiently instead of just providing more weapons.

The Clinton surplus myth doesn't want to die....
When you look at the total amount of debt during the Clinton years (or pick any president you want for the last 30 or so years) you'll see that the debt increased during every presidency. There were no surplusses. There were account reclassifications/gimmicks but no surplus.


Debt to GDP, Debt to GDP per Capita, and Debt as a % of per Capita Income all seem to have fallen during the Clinton years, even using the figures in the tables you provide, although they are without citation. Your own tables show that the situation improved (green text) in six of the eight years of Clinton's presidency.

Yes, overall debt increased in nominal terms, but on the more important measures things definitely improved, and could improve again. If this is a case of reclassifications or gimmicks, please show where.

The US does not have to see a retreat in the levels of debt in nominal terms as long as GDP continues to grow, which most people think will happen.

These links talks about how intragovernmental transfers are/were used to plug the deficit:


Jack: Remember what Rock said about models; pumping borrowed money into the economy may feel good for a short time but it can not reproduce a new generation of prosperity.


Rockman may always be right about geology and the oil patch. On economics, not so much.


How about stopping immigration. At what point will we decide we have enough people? Will it take 25% unemployment? 10% was clearly not high enough for our elite to think we have enough workers.

It's pretty much understood here that he and TPTB will say those things about growth and 'limitlessness', and one can still argue that it's no less a line of appeasement to the 'other' side as those Climate-Change Statements could be called merely that for my side.. but I think it's not all that newsworthy that he said the growth stuff, while it IS significant that he mentioned CC.

So, what kind of lumps do you all think he'll take for mentioning climate the way he did? Who else has now had their license to hold CC out there publically opened up a few more inches, since it's been up on that Podium now?

I'm really glad he chose to include it, and that he put it as directly as he did.. even if his mention of other energy technology was a little more vague, it's hard to claim that anyone would have missed what he meant.

"I’ve always prized myself on my ability to turn a phrase. Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it."

Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

RE: Peak Oil fallacies

From 1919: "Such an increase becomes impossible after a certain point is reached, not only because of a lack of acreage to be drilled, but because of the great number of wells that will ultimately have to be drilled…”.

From the critic of ASPO: “This assessment could have been written recently about the outlook for oil production from North Dakota's Bakken formation or by any member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO).”

Not only could have been written on TOD but has been many times. And is still true unless one believes there’s an infinite number of Bakken drill sites. Or that there are significant sections of the basin which haven’t been explored. There may be many thousands of more Bakken wells to be drilled. But eventually there will be little additional drilling because, as in the case of the Austin Chalk drilling boom over 15 years ago, all plays peter out. The 1919 statement was made out of ignorance about the huge and mostly unexplored hydrocarbon basins in the US. You don't ever know what you don't know until someone shows you. One could hardly point to ND and speculate about huge unexplored areas of the Bakken. In fact, an undrilled area was recently tested and not only was the Bakken not found productive the formation isn’t even present in this area. Of course, there are a few relatively unexplored areas in the US such as the Arctic and offshore east coast. But the statement wasn’t focused on those areas but the Bakken. Folks can debate what the URR from the Williston Basin might be in 15 or 25 years. But that debate itself points out that there remains virtually no huge unknown reserves left in that area. Those 1919 words may not have seen true for the US at the time but they seem rather credible for the Bakken today IMHO.

Yeah, but a bunch of Wall Street banks said the Bakken is our savior and we will be exporting eventually. So why should I believe you? ;-)

spec - Maybe because my income isn't dependent on folks believing the optimism. I've seen it so many times in the oil patch where an optimistic promoter risks no money on a well yet gets a nice cut if it works. And yet they always find someone who will invest with them. We have a short hand in the oil patch that gets to the point quickly: "Does the company have skin in the game?" If the answer is no then there's no reason to talk to them.

Interesting, potentially useful: Zero emission synfuel from seawater

Two papers published last year described a new approach to zero emissions synfuel, looking at direct carbon dioxide extraction from seawater. The new insight in these papers is that CO2 is very soluble in seawater, where the concentration is about 140 times higher than in the atmosphere. This could make seawater extraction a lot cheaper than direct air capture.

The work was done by the US Navy (full text here), and by the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC),who each developed membrane processes to extract CO2 from seawater.


The Navy costed the production of jet fuel at sea. But they neglected to include the cost of energy for the carbon capture process. I used the PARC research to estimate it and include it in the Navy costings. I arrived at $1.78 per litre. I was also able to calculate the cost of just the carbon capture part of the process at about $114 per tonne of CO2.

But if we don’t insist on running these processes on an expensive ocean-going platform, the cost drops to $0.79 per litre for synfuel and $37 /tCO­2. The costs are rough and there are a number of caveats, but this is surprisingly low. To put it in context, the American Physical Society recently reviewed carbon capture from air, and “optimistically” costed it at about $600/tonne.


As a purely speculative exercise, what would it take to draw atmospheric carbon down to 350 ppm with just this technology? If we follow the American Physical Society in their technical assessment of direct air capture and set a target of reducing atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm by capturing 400 Gt over a hundred years, we would need to collect 4 Gt/yr, from the perspective of an already decarbonised society. We would require the power of about 700 AP-1000 nuclear reactors. At the Chinese cost of $1.3b apiece and an 80 year lifetime this would cost a bit over $1 trillion dollars. That sounds like a lot of money. But its only about the cost of America’s 2003 Iraq War spread over the century, so I guess it’s a question of priorities.

If this pans out, climate change is a solved problem...technically. Culturally, not so much.

greg - Interesting. Are your cost numbers for just the operational expense or do they include some amortization of the infrastructure?

Rock - sorry, don't know. I just skimmed the piece and thought I would let the analytical minds here on TOD have at it.

It says it's a concept, so I'd say no-one really knows at this point. But even at triple the given estimate (i.e., 4.5% of one year's world GDP, spread over 80 years, or 0.056% of GDP, or fuel at $12/gal), it doesn't look impossible. Or even difficult, financially.

Politically and socially (nuclear power? Nuclear???) it'd be a problem.

EDIT: correction, that should be $9/gal.

greg - Thanks. I've seen a few ideas that seem economical when done in the lab. Energy in vs. energy out can look good but the infrastructure costs ofter kill the plan. Especially if private investors are going to foot the bill and not the DOD. I'm always a tad skeptical when a govt organizaations say the X process is doable...doable with someone else's money. LOL. Few investors would pay for $600 toilet seats, if you know what I mean.

Sure that applies for normal products. But how much are you prepared to pay for insurance?

For most people the answer depends on what you have got to lose, and sometimes on how likely it is that you'll lose it. 0.06% of income to protect against runaway climate change (and, we are told, the loss of pretty much everything) doesn't seem like a bad deal.

Politically and socially (nuclear power? Nuclear???) it'd be a problem.

There is a disconnect on social/political will and nuclear power.

While there is a vocal group who doesn't want to see Nuclear bombs and any kind of fission based electrical power - the volume of oil needed to move an aircraft carrier makes for a compelling case for fission powered weapons of war.

People who have concerns about CME/EMP and asking what happens with a civilian power plant have to overcome classified design decisions in military based systems hardened VS such energy pulses.

People who have concerns about asymmetric attacks VS civilian plants have to answer how those same sorts of attacks VS a weapon of war will succeed.

People who question the safety of civilian power and the associated profit motive override safety and maintenance concerns VS the nature of the military and its seemingly "no cost is to great" spending.

So the military making its own fuel via fission has less barriers to it happening than "the free market" and might be able to make it happen because other factors make it the "better idea". At some point someone will advocate such a system and point to the internet as an example of a military idea being eventually moved to the civilian sector.

I hope they do make it work, Eric.

Ideal case is that after a pilot plant shows feasibility, an advanced country says "no more fossil fuels after 30 years", and gets to work building this. Then China copies them.

Of course energy efficiency is way cheaper at present. But hopefully the easy pickings there will be gone in 30 years.

Its the disposal, not the capture that's the tricky part. What are you going to do with all that CO2? and all that nuclear waste you created in order to capture it ...

Technically its not difficult to capture, but there isn't any disposal process that doesn't run into major problems if scaled up sufficiently to make a dent in the atmospheric load.

There are a whole host of capture technologies waiting for a sufficiently large carbon price to be deployed, but they will all be niche and none of them can make a difference to the atmospheric concentration until disposal is dealt with.

And if we grid up 3 gigatons of Olivine per year and dump it into the ocean, we can absorb 9% of our annual CO2 emissions. Not nothing, but nothing at all like the scale of the problem.

And what happens when a supervolcano does a CO2 belch?

Well, first of all it must be a super super volcano because otherwise the belch would not even show up in the CO2 readings...

Broken link

Sorry, here it is. Even one of the largest eruptions in modern times, Pinatubo, did not show up in the readings...

So much for the "vulcano" argument...

Wasn't this CO2 in seawater plus gobs on energy creates jet fuel. So you need gobs of energy in the first place -presumably from very low carbon sources; nuclear, wind, or PV. Then you have a hydrocarbonlike fuel, which when burnt releases the CO2 again. So unless we do the CO2 capture and sequester thing on a good chunck of the generated hydrocarbon, we are at best carbon neutral.

I think estimated cost per gallon for liquid fuel is only a bit higher than currently from oil, so maybe this will fly. But cost in paper studies and real life may not converge. Perhaps fouling of the equipment with contaiminents in seawater will render far more expensive than hoped.

The most interesting part of this is the membrane design. It's been known for awhile (e.g., Cquestrate) that aqueous chemistry would be easier than gaseous chemistry for CO2 scrubbing. If these designs scale -- and by "scale", I mean scrubbing a significant portion of the 2.4 million pounds per second of CO2 that we're emitting -- then we're well along toward creating an effective artificial carbon sink.

then we're well along toward creating an effective artificial carbon sink.

Only when you put the resulting expensive hydrocarbons somewhere away from the atmosphere for thousands of years. I think we're far to selfish to do this, as history is proving that we're far to selfish to leave the hydrocarbons in the ground in the first place.

It's true, we need to put those gigatons of carbon somewhere permanent...

They have been working on this idea for a while:

I think the project started as a way to use the excess power generation that aircraft carriers have (because of refitting power consumption has been reduced quite significantly).
A carrier needs to take on Jet A every couple of days when flight operations are at a high level. Transferring that fuel is dangerous both in terms of the actual transfer as well as because during the transfer both the carrier as well as the supply ship have limited maneuvering abilities.

I think that the process is moving out of the lab but I agree that scaling something like this up will be a challenge.


Very good, next move- take the whole shebang to Suez and run it on solar from the sahara, and in the mean while, use that sort-of unlimited source to make all the energy intensive stuff to be shipped to the rest of the world on the clean blue sea.

So, all solar. Leaving us appalachians to go back to stalking hawgs in the hickories like we was intended to do.

Instead of blowing off the hickories and the mountains holding them up to get to the coal now so essential for our hair dryers and tooth brushes.

Wouldn't this acidify the oceans of the world even more and result in a massive die off of ocean life?

Or am I misunderstanding something?

As I understand it, the oceans are acidifying because of the increased amount of CO2 they absorb from the air. So taking the CO2 out again should reverse the acidification.

The process involves splitting the incoming brine into an acidic half and a basic half, but it recombines them after the CO2 comes out of the acidic half, leaving normal sea water but with less CO2 in it.

Until the fuel is burned and the CO2 put back into the atmosphere, absorbed by the ocean.... rinse, repeat.

As I said first up, this is the technical solution...if it actually works, which seems likely as the tech is very similar to membrane desalination.

Culturally, we need to decide that we're going to stop extracting any more fossil fuels. That means changing our ideology, our values, our economic system, our politics, and a few other social institutions.

("OK. And after that, what do we do this afternoon?" ;-)

When extraction ceases, the stock of carbon in the biosphere stops growing, and natural processes will start removing the excess. We could help that second part along, by pumping synfuel into disused oil fields. Petro. geologists and engineers will still have work to do.

Agree. it's better to recycle the carbon we already put into circulation than to digg up more FFs add to it.
And EROEI is completely irrelevant if the source of energy is renewable.

I would argue the opposite, that EROEI is only relevant when the energy return comes from renewables.

If applied to fossil fuels, to carry it to a logical absurdity, the EROEI for an automobile is millions to one: it is the energy in the gas tank divided by the energy needed to turn the ignition key. Further analysis reveals that the tank needs to be filled periodically; including that reduces the EROEI by the energy needed to run the pump at the gas station. Extending the energy cost through transport, refining, and oil wells ultimately brings it down to 5:1, but the absurdity still shows. There is no energy return when you are just draining a tank; the real EROEI is always less than one since the available energy is constantly decreasing.

True EROEI can be obtained from renewables, by extracting some of the energy that is otherwise lost down the entropy gradients. In this case the EROEI can be greater than one, and the energy supply can be increased if some of the excess can be used to build more extraction devices.

Interesting point.
I agree with your basic premise which is that the use of FFs simply is a depletion of exisiting inventory and therefore EROEI is just a measure of efficiency.
With respect to renewables (or as I like to call them negative entropy energy sources)as long as the result is any energy it is better than zero.
has some more flushed out thoughts on it.

I am not a fan of the term negtive entropy. Schrödinger himself excused it as a sort of teaching aid on the way to a full physical understanding. The distinction between open and closed systems is perhaps more applicable to a general analysis using classical thermodynamics; when including the statistical mechanical details one accounts for not just average entropy flows through artificial boundaries but rather the exact form (e.g. photons from the Sun absorbed in PV panels, scattering of air molecules by wind turbines).

A tree contemplating the Sun might think "any energy is better than zero" but the tree will not survive for long if the joule cost of growing leaves exceeds the joules collected over their lifetime. Similarly if the EROEI of a renewable process is less than one, in the long run you are better off finding some other way to use that input energy. And if the EROEI of all renewable processes available to a species is less than one, then in the long run that species is doomed!

I agree that it is a bit awkward. However, it captures the notion of energy going from a distributed state to a more concentrated state - which is what plants, solar panels etc do and which is exactly where they differ from buring FFs. If you have a word/term/expression which captures that concept better I'd love to learn about it.

I can't imagine we will generate synfuel, and refill hydrocarbon reservoirs. I could imagine getting to an energy system that was mostly renewable electricity, but some amount of synfuels would be generated for specialty purposes, such as emergency portable power, perhaps airplanes, maybe even renewables gap filling power.

... $1.3b apiece and an 80 year lifetime....

or $10 billion/reactor with a 40 year lifetime and a core meltdown with containment breach every 6 years on average. This makes the price a bit over $15 trillion. This cost does not include disposal of radioactive waste nor the method of sequestering the synfuel (inject it into an old oil well?)

Or overbuild wind and photovoltaic systems and use the surplus power to make the synfuel. $15 trillion would buy 3.8 TW rated of PV at $2/(rated watt) for 40 year (assuming the PV panels have a lifetime of 20 years). If an AP-1000 nuke generates 1.1 GW at 90% capacity, then 700 generate about 693 GW which is the same as the PV power with 18% capacity. That capacity factor is achievable in sunny locations. Wind is supposed to be less expensive than PV.

Removing CO2 from sea water is not the same thing as removing it from the atmosphere. Burning the synfuel would release it into the atmosphere where about half of it would be reabsorbed by the sea water in near term. It would basically remove it from the largest carbon sink and put it into the atmosphere at a rate faster than it would be reabsorbed. It does not quite work as carbon sequestration although it would reduce ocean acidification.

Wind and PV are intermittent. To do it with renewables, a location like the Sahara would be best. Use PV to electrolyse water to create the needed hydrogen, and in the daytime to run this process. At night, use solar thermal to run the CO2 removal and fuel synthesis using stored hydrogen.

These industrial chemical processes need to run for days at a time for best results, so wind and or PV need to be backed with something.

About the cost of wind, there are reports that the economic life of turbines may not be the 25 - 30 years estimated from engineering studies. I guess we'll have a better handle on that in a decade.

For optimal carbon sequestration, the excess synfuel (over demand) would have to be pumped into disused oil and gas fields.

As I said to Rockman upthread, the cost isn't large when you consider what it insures. Even at $15 trillion. $15T is 10% of one year's global GDP in 2050, under pessimistic assumptions. Spread over 80 years, it's lost in the noise floor.

About the cost of wind, there are reports that the economic life of turbines may not be the 25 - 30 years estimated from engineering studies.

I know of only one publication from an economics prof in the UK who has a history of writing anti-green articles via lobby organizations which claims that a turbine produces only 50% of it's original output after 10 years. It's bogus and has been discussed several DB's back.

Do you know of other such studies?

I suspect that the problem isn't a decline in the output of an individual turbine. Wind turbines are machines and thus have a lifetime of limited duration. They may be designed to operate for 25 or 30 years, but, like nukes, actual operational experience may be different. We won't know their actual lifetime until they've been out in the field long enough to quantify the failure rate. If it turns out that 50% of them in a large wind farm have failed after 10 years, that's the same as saying that the total output of a wind farm will decline by 50% after 10 years...

E. Swanson

Well, ofcourse, wind turbines are machines that need maintenance, just like nukes, gas/coal boilers and turbines etc. But the fact that parts fail does not mean that turbines aren't maintained or that data isn't available. In fact turbines are maintained and data is available, several studies I linked in a previous DB show that failures follow a bathtub curve, that turbines suffer on average less then 2 failures a year, that failures are fixed well within two weeks and that collective availability (the portion of time a turbine is ready to produce power if there is wind available) is greater then 90%.

I even downloaded a Danish dataset of historic turbine production numbers and there is no sign in the data that capacity declines by 50% or even 25% in 10 years or even 15 years.

Much was made about the conclusions from the CEPOS report (pdf) on wind energy in Denmark:

Notwithstanding its many disadvantages wind power’s one striking advantage is that, like nuclear, its marginal costs of operation are very small once the capital has been paid. However, unlike nuclear, many ten to fifteen year-old turbines are past their useful life. By contrast, most conventional rotating power plant can enjoy a working life of 40 to 60 years, as evidenced by most power plants in Europe today. This puts into question the strategic, economic and environmental benefits of a power plant that may have to be scrapped, replaced and re-subsidized every ten to fifteen years.

The report went on to question the economics of wind power. However:

Criticism of Danish wind economics

In 2009, the Institute for Energy Research commissioned the Danish think-tank CEPOS (Centre for Political Studies) to report on electricity exports from Denmark and the economic impact of the Danish wind industry. This report[28] states that Danes pay the highest residential electricity rates in the European Union (partly to subsidize wind power), and that the cost of saving a ton of carbon dioxide between 2001 and 2008 has averaged 647 DKK (€ 87, US$ 124). It also estimated that 90% of wind industry jobs were transferred from other technology industries, and states that as a result Danish GDP is 1.8 billion DKK (US$ 270 million) lower than it would have been without wind industry subsidies. The report was later heavily criticised. Firstly Danish paper Ingeniøren claimed that the report was ordered and paid for by the American oil and coal lobby. Later, several Danish researchers and professors from all technical universities in Denmark, wrote a joint response to the report, refuting it.[29] The report from CEPOS was even brought to Government level, where minister of Climate and Energy Lykke Friis discredited the work done by CEPOS and the report.[30]

Operational and Maintenance Costs for Wind Turbines

From experience, the maintenance costs of a new turbine will be very low but as the turbine ages these costs will increase.

Studies done in Denmark on the 5000 wind turbines installed in the country since 1975 has demonstrated that each new generations of turbines has had lower repair and maintenance costs than the previous generation. (The studies compared wind turbines which were built and erected at approximately the same time, but which belong to different technological generations).

Older wind turbines have an annual maintenance cost are on average 3% of the original cost of the turbine. Because newer turbines are usually quite substantially larger you get an economy of scale, lower maintenance costs per kW of rated power. This is simply because you do not need to service a large turbine any more often than a small one. Couple this with the constant development of new materials and techniques and you will make savings on the maintenance costs. For modern machines the estimated maintenance costs are in the range of 1.5% to 2% of the original investment per annum.

Most of maintenance cost of a wind turbine will be a fixed amount each year for regular servicing, but is can be preferable to base the maintenance cost on a per kWh rate. This is purely because of tear and wear increasing on the turbine with increasing production, so there is a balance between savings compared to cost.

As I said, we should know in another decade. Not enough data, yet.

I've no dog in this fight. If life gives you wind, make...electricity.

German onshore wind is quite old, we see at the moment a huge repowering in Lower Saxony and Schleswig Hollstein, the huge decrease of production or huge increase in maintenace is not correct and propaganda. In most calculations you see ~2% p.a. of the initl investment for maintenance and there is a market for used turbines (12-15 years old). Of the 23.000 German turbines 5000 are older than 15 years and 13.000 are older than 10 years, that is an impressive data base (end of 2012).

In Denmark many turbines are near offshore and may have slightly higher costs, but decrease of 50% in only 15 years makes a wind turbine completely useless and nobody would invest again, however, repowering is well and alive.

Wind and PV are intermittent.


wind and or PV need to be backed with something.

Or the demand pattern could be shifted to match the ebbs and flows of nature and the energy captured from nature.

Wind and PV are intermittent. . . . . so wind and or PV need to be backed with something.

This is true but most people don't understand how it really works. It is not like you put up a wind turbine and use that when it is windy and then fire up a generator when it is not windy. Most of the intermittency issues can be handled with good engineering & statistical multiplexing.
1) Geographic distribution . . . it is always windy somewhere. And the sun follows a very predictable east to west path
2) Energy source diversity. Sun & wind are actually often complementary such that it is sunny when it is calm and it is windy when it is not sunny. And there are other technologies to add in such wave systems, geothermal, hydro, tides, etc.
3) Overbuild in combo with the above.
4) Storage. This is expensive but even a small amount of storage can help at critical times. Pumped water is probably simplest.

And the biggest area is always on the demand side . . . conservation & efficiency. LEDs, CFLs, insulation, efficient appliances, passive solar light/heat, etc.

If you do all those, the amount of additional 'back-up' from a fossil fuel system can be small. Get rid of the coal plants and provide the rest from nukes & natural gas plants.

Plus remember we will have some sustainable supplies that are either continuous or even dispatchable. Hydro, geothermal, biomass etc. These mean that the minimum generation capacity -even on a windless night doesn't go to zero.

Their numbers don't pass my smell test.

The process consumes 242 kJ per mole of CO2.
Applying the capital, operating expense, and cost of energy assumptions made by the Navy researchers gives a carbon capture cost of about $114 per tonne CO2, using Navy nuclear electricity at 7.0 c/kWh.

A mole of CO2 is 44 g, so a ton of CO2 is 22727 moles.
a kWh is 3600 kJ, so a kWh can capture 3600/242=15 moles of CO2.
For a ton of CO2, you need 22727/15=1515 kWh.
At 7 cents, that is $106. Which leaves $8 for capital and operating expenses. Seems too low for me.

Another point: If you burn a kg of coal, you get about 3 kg of CO2=68 mole and 35000 kJ of thermal energy. To get that 68 mole out of the water again takes 16500 kJ. So a coal power plant running at lower than 50% efficiency wouldn't be able to capture more carbon than it emits!

Conclusion: that 242 kJ per mole can't be right. Either that, or the entire process is non-viable.

The numbers probably are wrong. But it doesn't matter.

Even if the numbers are out by a factor of two, or four, or 15 (see above), it doesn't really change the process's viability as a means of combating climate change. At a tenth of one percent of global GDP, it's affordable insurance when the alternative is the loss of everything.

As a means of making jet fuel? The US Navy is probably prepared to pay a significant premium for a supply of fuel which is at low risk of disruption, whether by enemy action or storm damage.

I don't understand the point about coal. The whole point of this process is to avoid burning coal or fossil oil, by using nuclear power instead.

Re: OPEC reserves. Their own words: http://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/data_graphs/331.htm

A very interesting chart IMHO. For the period 2002-2012 non-OPEC production has been 147 billion bo but had a net gain of only 13 billion bbls of additional reserves. But while OPEC produced 108 billion bo they had a net gain of 346 billion bo. So they discovered more than 25X the amount of reserves as the rest of the world and did so with a much smaller number of wells than the rest of us. Obvious we should let the NOC’s of OPEC lead the exploration efforts in all the other countries. They are obviously much better at it then we are. Rockman feels very ashamed at his failure to add significantly to our reserve base.

219 billion barrels of the additional OPEC reserves are from Venezuela alone, presumably the Orinoco Basin heavy oils (BP stats). Another 52 from Iran, 28 from Iraq. Seems plausible.

Best non-OPEC addition is Kazakhstan with 25 billion barrels.

It's not that their geologists are better at finding oil, it's that their politicians are better at schmoozing with the oil-rich states.

Yeah, considering what is being done in Alberta, Kern County, and North Dakota, I don't think Venezuela reclassifying much of their heavy oil areas as reserves is out of bounds. They do have a lot of technically recoverable oil especially at today's higher prices. However, your snark at the incompetent NOCs is still appropriate considering that despite that huge boost in oil reserves, Venezuela's actual production has dropped.

"They do have a lot of technically recoverable oil especially at today's higher prices..."

I don't think this includes the Orinoco oil being produced at today's prices. Because the Venzuelan oil cos. and others must pay huge royalties to the gov. I think prices need to go much higher for Orinoco to be produced on a large scale. Still a resource in my opinion. Probably viewed the same by most of the major private oil cos. too.

so it begins.....

"A new space company will announce plans to mine the minor planets at a press conference in Santa Monica, California, tomorrow, 22 January.

Deep Space Industries intends to build a fleet of commercial asteroid-prospecting spacecraft that can harvest and process these chunks of space rock."

note the graphic of an asteroid and BUCKET. this will happen in our life times. exploration of space is almost over, now comes exploitation. pundits have sed that we (this is western civilization) need 3 earths to support our wasteful lifestyle. what with mars and titan and the asteroids i say we will never have to experience collapse UNLESS WE WANT TO.

our death wish is very devious. we love to rape, kill and plunder FOR PROFIT!
right now there are men trying to figure out how to get to alpha centuria so we can rape any planets there as well. i bet "when earth attacks " is playing at the movies 4 light years away right now.

So you think thats going to be practical? With current space tech it costs maybe a billion dollars to return a few tens of KG of raw samples (basically just rock/soil -not processed ore). So we have to improve our space tech's cost performance by millions of times. Sure physics doesn't say its impossible. But probable?

Maybe they found unobtanium


Space tech is I'd say the least of the concerns.

1) Material science has progressed to create grinding/crushing wear points that somehow are going to not only perform without wearing out, but can perform in the cold of space and perhaps withstand heating from the sun if the material is pointing at the Sun?

2) Computer AI is advanced enough to allow the machines to work with minimal human interaction?

3) The power to run all of this is going to come from?

What ever happened to space elevators with nano-tubes? It was always my dream that we'd build some of these things and use them to launch all of our trash directly towards the sun, where it could be harmlessly incinerated. I don't think you'd get space mining without those elevators either though.

But space mining could be a way to finally get people off earth. I wish they'd get some colonies set up quick so we could start addressing the overpopulation issue asap by shipping people off-planet.

My dream:
Lose the space mining. Just get the space elevators with nano-tubes -- "so we could start addressing the overpopulation issue asap by shipping people off-planet" -- by launching -- "all of our trash directly towards the sun, where it could be harmlessly incinerated."

Did you forget your sarcasm tag? The space elevator has some overwhelming problems which are likely to make the concept impossible to implement. As for moving people off into space, where do you propose to put them? It's not just a matter of moving people, there's the problem of building the habitat and providing the life support for them, which is likely to be very expensive, as well as very time consuming. Considering that the Earth's population is presently growing at about 75 million every year, just moving that number off planet every year would only keep the population at a constant. Pushing a million a year off planet wouldn't make a significant dent in the population problem...

E. Swanson

A new life awaits you in the Offworld colonies…

Overpopulation is in the end self correcting.

And, lest I again be labelled exclusively pro-nuke, I stumbled across this:

Renewables: The 99.9 Percent Solution

It covers some new modelling on how renewables, basically wind and solar, might provide all the energy needs of a modern industrial society. The report is due out in The Journal of Power Sources, and was headed by colleges in Delaware. I don't know anything about this Journal. Do any of the regulars?

Rock as already commented on the fun one can have with models, but I found this one kind of interesting none the less.

It's technically possible to grow bananas in the Sahara Desert that doesn't mean it makes sense. The authors should put up a synopsis on TOD and let readers find the flaws. When this has been done elsewhere it usually brings to light crazy assumptions about 50% reduced energy use, cheap multi-trillion dollar capital and electric trains delivering hay bales to power stations.

Yeah, it's a bit premature without the actual report. Storage still seems the Achilles Heel to me, but mebbe they've got something interesting going on. I suspect not, but I'll follow it. If I can get my paws on the report when it comes out I'll post a link.

I'll look forward to it. There have been a number of nuts-and-bolts kinds of studies for meeting regional electricity needs with all, or practically all, renewables for the US Western Interconnect -- with lead researchers from Delaware, I assume that this one will be looking at other regions. The Western is a much easier problem in many ways than trying to meet the needs of the other two chunks of the US grid for several reasons. (1) The Western has a large existing conventional hydroelectric share (about 25% of all generation on average, almost 30% in the wet year of 2011) and relative to regional demand, a considerable amount of undeveloped hydro. Plus a variety of long narrow deep canyons where pumped hydro storage is possible. (2) Good solar and wind resources -- both with intermittency issues, of course, but those mitigated somewhat by the potential for geographic diversity. (3) Population concentrated in a small number of areas, so the layout of the long-distance transmission upgrades is fairly obvious and fairly simple.

Possibly interesting to note that of proposals for new nuclear reactors that have actually been submitted to the NRC, none are in the Western Interconnect.

When this has been done elsewhere it usually brings to light crazy assumptions about 50% reduced energy use, cheap multi-trillion dollar capital and electric trains delivering hay bales to power stations.

I certainly like to see the data myself but did you even read the article?!

To do justice to these all-renewables proposals usually requires a pdf download link. Better still the authors write a summary article for blog readership. One such article in Australia (in BraveNewClimate) got ~650 reader comments and whole counter-articles in rebuttal. People tried to condense all the comments into a summary. It's not being flippant to doubt these proposals, just that they need a lot of analysis by numbers of people.

The study did include a cost model, and "optimized" on how much of each source of energy was needed. A study of Saharan bananas would have to look at obtaining water.

Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor at Stanford, has also produced some proposals on how all electrical power could be created with Wind, waves, and solar. These solutions tend to be very pie-in-the-sky and require building many thousands and thousands of wind turbines and solar plants. Quite impractical and would be very expensive. But it is nice to know that at least someone is trying to run the numbers and see what could be done.

Storage is indeed a vexing issue but in reality it is not an immediate concern since the amount of renewable generation capacity is no where even close to matching much less exceeding the current demand.

We have millions and millions of people who want and need energy. Why is it so impractical to envision thousands and thousands of Wind, Solar and other alt-energy utility sources? Cause it's sort of a 'biggish' number?

Compare it to how many Bowling Alleys, Movie Theaters and Dry Cleaners can get built when you've got Thousands and Thousands of Communities around the country and the world.

What about these Thousands and Thousands of Dirty Sources we've built, and ALSO keep feeding with fuels that also require manpower and funding?

Sure, it's not particularly helpful to paint it as an ALL RENEWABLE grid, but you also have to accept that as a bit of a rhetorical flourish.. it's not that far from 'A Chicken in every pot.' It's setting out an ideal that really need not be taken (and so, debunked) literally, right?

The REAL point can be understood as 'We can be putting up a Helluva Lot MORE Solar and Wind, etc.. than we do presently' .. we're simply nowhere near the limits of how much we could use these simple sources to turn our course away from buying and burning Fossil Fuels.

I don't know how big a number we can get in terms of gigawatts of wind and solar but I do know that we cannot get a big enough number if we continue to invest billions in fossil fuel infrastructure. Don't spend another penny in new investment in coal for starters and phaseout existing coal. But before the election, Obama was running around touting clean coal, especially in heavily coal dependent areas of the country. You can't get to a renewable energy economy by doing the same thing we are doing now.

An integrated national grid for electricity would go far in helping to make ubiquitous wind more viable.

I don't know how big a number we can get in terms of gigawatts of wind and solar

If one looks ar Germany, one might get a fair idea. They.ve got 32.5GW and growing, of PV which puts them at the top of the world in terms of total capacity and capacity per capita.See


In terms of wind, according to information foun at the web site of the German Wind Energy Association, as of the middle of 2012, they had a total capacity of 30,016 megawatts(30GW). The result according to an article at renewablesinternational.net was 25% wind and PV in December. Not quite sure what that means as I couldn't find a reference to 25% of what.

Aaardvark gave us a link to the following publicaton that he says was brought to his attention by Ulenspiegel


Alan from the islands

I decided that Germany is one of the best countries. Clearly they have a checkered past but they have turned around to being one of the greatest places on the planet as far as having a healthy economy, doing something about climate change, doing great engineering, etc. Germany needs to be emulated by others.

This is one graph from the Fraunhofer publication. It shows a very pretty picture: you get solar maximum in the middle of the day when demand peaks, and in winter when the sun is weak the wind is stronger. Win-win.

But dig down into the data (they provide very detailed weekly graphs for the year) and you will see periods of several days at a stretch with no wind or sun that must be covered by fossil, nuclear, and imported power. And you will see how they ramp their hard coal power stations up and down to make wind and solar look good. (Sorry, no time to go into details.)

Written by aardvark:
... periods of several days at a stretch with no wind or sun....

Because Germany is not finished building out wind and photovoltaic systems, the variations are currently larger than they will be when they are finished. Germany's offshore wind power is waiting for a north-south power line to be constructed.

Germany may not be large enough to smooth variations caused by high and low atmospheric pressure areas. The wind and solar power from other European countries or from Desertec may need to be included.

I looked at Electricity production from solar and wind in Germany in 2012, FRAUNHOFER INSTITUTE FOR SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS ISE, when Ulenspiegel first posted it and did not see several consecutive cloudy days with weak wind. I saw several single day events in which their combined power output dropped low as I expected because only wind provides power at night. In the below chart I count 41 days in which the combined power dropped below 2,500 MW. The low output near the end of January looks the worst.

Upon closer examination:

it persisted for 2 days before wind power increased. Germany definitely needs sufficient other generation sources or storage to get through the night because wind and solar power sometimes drop to near zero then. The data shows that the claims of needing 1 or 2 weeks of storage are clearly false. Just like with my off-grid PV system, it looks like all other sources need to be able to provide power for 3 or 4 consecutive days.

Consider week 4 of 2012 in detail. If the solar and wind are supposed to provide an average of 10,000 MW, then to get through week 4 they need to be overbuilt by 3 times (~30,000 MW peak in the graph) and have 4 days of storage. The storage would have to provide 10,000 MW sometimes, like on the night of January 24.

average expected power: 1.68 TWh
storage = .96 TWh
solar and wind generation during week 4: .72 TWh

In this context storage could have several forms: hydroelectric, pumped hydroelectric, geothermal, run-of-river, tidal, biomass, natural gas, coal, batteries, imports or demand management. I notice on those cloudy and calm days on January 28 and 29, less total power was generated than on the other days of the week. That pattern repeats every weekend.

IIRC, 25% of the domestic net production, would be around 23% of the domestic gross production which includes transmission losses and self consumption of power plants.

PS. As most of the biomass powerplants do not show up in the statistics, which only cover plants with electric output >100 MW, the percentage was in fact much higher. Germany has >6 GW elctic power from biomass/biogas usually part of cogeneration.

Well, you are arguing with the wrong person. I've built my own solar system so I know that the stuff works.

The impractical part is trying to get the US public to go along with. But I have to say that we have made big strides. There are some pretty hefty renewable portfolio standards requirements around the country. We are no Germany but we are getting there.

And look where they don't have a RPS . . . shocking! (But in their defense, I know at least LA & FL have pretty generous solar PV programs.)

Of course we got that vast track of white politically recalcitrant states. But still when the UAE tries to claim the green mantle by promising to get to 7% (of peak summer load) in 2020, we can rightly dismiss it as pitiful.

This is rich... Gwyn Morgan (former CEO of Encana) in the business section of the G&M.

Time to fight back against Hollywood’s misinformation

Hollywood’s attack has escalated to the point where many films feature an anti-corporate “moral” message, the most popular of which portray industries as uncaring pillagers of the environment. The plot of James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar featured a greedy mining boss intent on destroying an ancient forest inhabited by native humanoids on the distant planet of Pandora to mine a precious mineral called unobtanium. Animated films for children also follow the lead; consider 1992’s FernGully: The Last Rain Forest, in which fairy folk help stop a logging company from destroying their forest home.

While mining and forestry are frequently cast in the villain role, the oil industry is also a popular target. But you can only sell so many oily movies. Who would have predicted that natural gas, an energy source that can’t be spilled and burns cleaner than all other hydrocarbons, would hand Hollywood a new villain to demonize (or should I say Damonize)?

For those who aren't aware of Gwyn Morgan...

Meet Christy Clark's Hard Right Advisor
Basher of enviros and unions, Gwyn Morgan blamed immigrants for crime. What does he like? US health care.

He's also chairman of SNC Lavalin which has this awkward problem...

Anti-corruption police arrest ex-SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime

Gwyn Morgan, SNC’s chairman, told reporters earlier this year that Mr. Duhaime was faced with a situation of being presented with agent contracts arranged by Mr. Ben Aïssa.

“This is not in defence of [Mr. Duhaime’s] actions, but … for various reasons, he felt he was obligated to pay the bill,” Mr. Morgan said. “In hindsight, we all regret that.”

aws - All I can say to folks like this guy is "Please stop trying to help us". While it's unfortunate that many citizens' knowledge base on many matters comes from what they see on the big and little screens it is what it is. Casting stones even when a subject is offered a bit too biased may feel good it really doesn't accomplish much IMHO. Just sit back, watch the movie, eat your pop corn and snicker quietly.

Typically I find that the usual motivation behind such red meat attacks isn’t so much to sway public opinion and teach them "the truth" but to garner favor from like minded folks. And works that way on both sides of the political fence.

Gwyn Morgan is kind of a friction fit into BC politics. He is an Alberta farm boy, who grew up without running water until he helped his father dig in a water line from the well, went to university, got an engineering degree, started working in the oil industry, and rose to become CEO of a major oil and gas company. A typical Alberta CEO success story.

He's somewhat on the redneck side, but you have to expect that given his background. The oil companies just loved those Alberta farm boys because they had a really good work ethic, didn't mind working long hard hours, hated unions, and were much better educated than redneck workers in most places. When they were taking a lease from a farmer, the landmen often soften them up by asking, "By the way, do you have any sons who need a job?" and from there was a very tall corporate ladder standing in front of them.

BC has rednecks hidden in its backwoods, too, but they don't often rise to become the CEOs of major corporations. As far as politics go, the farthest right BC politics goes is the provincial Liberal party. I guess Morgan is willing to work with the BC Liberals, and they no doubt like his money and oil industry connections. The company he created, Encana, is the largest corporate taxpayer in BC.

He is somewhat more political than your average Canadian oil company CEO. The company he rose to the top of was the Alberta Energy Company, which was owned by the Alberta government. It was established in 1973 by the Alberta Conservatives to frustrate the Federal Liberals, and it did a good job of it. One of the things it did was drill wells on the Suffield Military Range, where the British Army had 300 tanks conducting live-fire exercises ( British Army Training Unit Suffield)

Long story short, the Canadian government owned the surface rights, but the Alberta government owned the mineral rights, and under the Canadian constitution the Federal government couldn't stop the Provincial government from drilling wells. AEC also drilled on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, dodging low-flying cruise missiles.

AEC fracked its first well in 1975, and most of the rest of its wells, too. Compared to drilling wells on tank firing and aircraft bombing ranges it didn't seem unsafe, so Morgan doesn't see what the problem is. Morgan merged AEC with PanCanadian Energy, the oil and gas subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway, to create Encana in 2002, and then moved on to other things such as CEO of SNC-Lavalin.

SNC-Lavalin is a 100-year old Quebec engineering company. I don't think Morgan had much to do with their legal problems. They just brought him on board because their former CEO and some executives got arrested on fraud and money laundering charges having something to do with projects in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa. Morgan is just there because of his stainless steel reputation and his cozy relationship with the current Canadian Conservative government. I doubt he even speaks French.

Rocky - Thanks for the details. With his country boy background and his obvious success in the oil patch I can see where strong earnest opinions might develope. And in my youth I also had a problem with preaching to the unwashed. But I'll fall back on my teaching pigs to roller skate philosophy: it probably ain't going to make things better and might make them worse.

Yeah, teaching pigs to roller skate is probably a pointless exercise. I just watched a video of bulldogs skateboarding - they were really good at it - and if you can teach a bulldog to skateboard, you can probably teach a pig to roller skate. However, the ultimate destination of a pig is bacon, so there's no point.

"They just brought him on board because their former CEO and some executives got arrested on fraud and money laundering charges having something to do with projects in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa."

From Morgan's Bloomberg executive profile...

Mr. Morgan has been the Chairman of SNC Lavalin Group Inc. since May 4, 2007.

Seems like Morgan was there long enough to make the "not on my watch" claim invalid.

Here's a taste of what SNC-Lavalin was up to in Libya...

SNC-Lavalin defends Libyan prison project (2011-03-24)

Company spokeswoman Leslie Quinton confirmed the project was under way. She added in an e-mail that the prison will be "the country's first to be built according to international human rights standards. We think this is an important step forward for this country and an opportunity for us as a company to share values that we think are essential to all citizens of the world."

The opening paragraph in Morgan's opinion at the beginning of the thread...

Hollywood hates big business. Movies portraying corporate leaders as greedy villains have been common for decades, but the film that inspired today’s movie makers had its roots in British Columbia. That was the 2003 documentary The Corporation, written by a University of British Columbia law professor, Joel Bakan. It featured a procession of leftist luminaries, including Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky, uttering views such as that corporations turn citizens into “mindless consumers of goods that they do not want” and that “the problem comes from the profit motivation.”

Here's the underlying premise of the documentary The Corporation...

Eminent Canadian law professor and legal theorist Joel Bakan contends the modern business corporation is created by law to function like a psychopathic personality. The book was written during the making of THE CORPORATION (co-created with Mark Achbar) and formed the basis of the research and writing for the film.

It's rich for Morgan to disparage the documentary The Corporation when the corporation that he is the chairman of won the contract to build a prison for Qaddaffi... when the CEO of that corporation along with another senior executive were arrested for fraud.

Not saying that Morgan has anything to do with the fraud charges, just pointing out how remarkably absurd the position he takes in his opinion is.

RE: Solutions lag as sea quickly rises

It is only beginning to dawn on Americans, half of whom live on the coast, that their future is a battle against the sea.

In the impulse to rebuild from Sandy, much of it financed by the federal government, big questions need to be answered. What to protect, and how? Where to retreat? Where to stand fast?

The script has already been written and the movie played:

Instead of presenting and discussing the solution, fear traps us within a macabre realm of being able only to suffer the consequences of fossil fuel pollution over and over again, like the Groundhog Day movie plot.

The difference between the Groundhog Day movie and our current suffering of environmental catastrophes is that after each repeated catastrophe we are worse off because of the damage, thus, soon enough we will not be able to repair the damage because of the crippling costs that we will have to repeatedly bear.

(Groundhog Day & The Climate of Fear). Several towns along rivers that have continued to flood moved their towns to safer ground, not prone to flooding.

The choice is Groundhog Day or get out of the way.

...soon enough we will not be able to repair the damage because of the crippling costs that we will have to repeatedly bear.

Seems like we got a glimpse of that future with Sandy, as Congress was slow to act on hurricane damage relief. With oil consistently priced high, US annual deficits in recent years exceeding a trillion dollars, strong political winds to balance the budget, very low growth rates, and the need for operations twists and QE's to maintain an assemblence of BAU, is it any wonder many in Congress were hesitant to flip the bill? Should be a very poignant US historical moment when an area gets decimated only to be left to its own devices to possibly make repairs or simply move on. For such a wealthy country to reach the financial edge where it will have to admit to itself that there just ain't no mo money to make it right again, will be inmho be a high price of oil (reflective of peak oil) tipping point.

"Seems like we got a glimpse of that future with Sandy ..."

Yes, in several ways.

Take for example the policies of insurance companies. They have to be aware of future claims and at least ball park estimates of amounts of damage coverage they will face.

They don't do flood insurance in coastal areas hit by Sandy type storms (hint, hint).

The government does.

Which of the two is the smartest?

And there are 50 or so staunch climate change deniers in the House, less in the Senate.

Their whining about budget expenditures while advocating endless wars and ignoring catastrophe may break the bank if nothing else does first.

Relocation is likely to be resisted by deniers, as will helping the victims of climate catastrophes.

Not the behavior of socially evolved people.

World jobless numbers rise, says UN labour agency

The number of jobless people around the world rose by 4 million in 2012 to 197 million and is expected to grow further, the UN labour agency warns.

In a report, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said the worst affected were youth: nearly 13% of the under 24s were unemployed.

It said global unemployment was projected to rise 5.1 million this year and by a further 3 million in 2014.

The trend reflected a downturn in economic growth, the document said.

This was particularly the case in developed countries.

“Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and governments.”-
Benjamin Franklin

Regarding the accusation that President Obama is in cahoots with the oil patch to poison water wells I’m once again forced to defend the POTUS.


Interesting what some folks classify as a “smoking gun”. Saying the NG “could have originated” and “likely” aren’t exactly the terms one would use for “proof”. It appears the EPA cancelled further study because they realized they were pissing away money. Here’s the rest of the story that took 60 seconds to find on the Internet. Makes you wonder if the MSM even looked or maybe they did but liked their inflammatory approach better.

“Thyne concluded from chemical testing that the gas in the drinking water could have originated from Range Resources' nearby drilling operation.

Robert Jackson, a Professor of Global Environmental Change at Duke University and co-author of the "Duke Study" linking fracking to groundwater contamination did an independent peer review of Thyne's censored findings. He found that it is probable that the methane in Lipsky's well water likely ended up there thanks to the fracking process. Robert Jackson, a Professor of Global Environmental Change at Duke University and co-author of the "Duke Study" linking fracking to groundwater contamination did an independent peer review of Thyne's censored findings. He found that it is probable that the methane in Lipsky's well water likely ended up there thanks to the fracking process”.


“During 2010, the Texas Railroad Commission and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded to complaints by a landowner that his residential water well near Weatherford, Texas was contaminated with natural gas caused by production from two nearby horizontal gas wells (Butler #1H and Teal #1H) operated by Range Production Company. We used geological, geochemical, and petroleum engineering data obtained from those gas wells and from 26 nearby water wells to determine that gas dissolved in the Twin Mountains (Trinity) aquifer is not related to Barnett gas production. Instead, gas present in Pennsylvanian Strawn sandstones migrated across an angular unconformity into the aquifer. Thermal gas is present in shallow Strawn sandstones in Parker County: e.g., the Strawn Center Mills gas field is located ~8500 ft southeast of the landowner’s property. In addition, gas was flared from a water well drilled in 2005 only ~800 ft from the landowner's property -- four years before Range drilled the Butler and Teal wells. Furthermore, a water well drilled in 2003 by the nearby Lake Country Acres water district was abandoned when it flowed >100 Mcf of natural gas/day, and that district's water storage tanks are aerated to remove dissolved natural gas. The migration of natural gas from Pennsylvanian strata into the overlying Trinity aquifer independently is supported by the presence of ~500-1800 ppm total dissolved solids in water samples from some water wells. In addition, gas fingerprinting confirms that gas produced from the Barnett Formation by the Range wells is not the origin of gas dissolved in the Trinity aquifer. Barnett gas samples obtained from the Butler and Teal wells contain only ~1.2 mol% N2. But most gas samples produced from Pennsylvanian reservoirs in this area contain ~2.0-4.5 mol% N2. Similarly, the natural gas component of headspace gas samples collected from the landowner’s water well and from a nearby water well contains ~2.5-5.0 mol% N2: a match to Strawn gas. The EPA erroneously relied only on the similarity of the C and H isotopic composition of methane in gas samples from the landowner’s water well and the Butler gas well to conclude that Range was responsible for contaminating the Trinity aquifer. But C isotope data cannot distinguish Barnett gas from Strawn gas: e.g., methane produced by the Range gas wells, the 2005 water well that flared gas, and the landowner's water well has the same C isotopic composition.”

The important take away IMHO is that the landowner knew there was methane contamination in the area water wells long before the first Barnett wells was drilled and frac’d. The real shame is that when obvious scams such as this are exposed it makes it all the more difficult for landowners to seek recourse when the oil patch does screw up.

"when the oil patch does screw up."

There is oil patch (fossil fuel industry) and there is oil patch. They ought not all be included in the wrongs of any one of them unless they conspire and are convicted in courts like they have been historically.

An example of that is gas line green house gas pollution:

Natural gas is the largest source of anthropogenic emissions of methane (CH4) in the United States. To assess pipeline emissions across a major city, we mapped CH4 leaks across all 785 road miles in the city of Boston using a cavity-ring-down mobile CH4 analyzer. We identified 3356 CH4 leaks with concentrations exceeding up to 15 times the global background level. Separately, we measured δ13CH4 isotopic signatures from a subset of these leaks. The δ13CH4 signatures (mean = −42.8‰ ± 1.3‰ s.e.; n = 32) strongly indicate a fossil fuel source rather than a biogenic source for most of the leaks; natural gas sampled across the city had average δ13CH4 values of −36.8‰ (±0.7‰ s.e., n = 10), whereas CH4 collected from landfill sites, wetlands, and sewer systems had δ13CH4 signatures ∼20‰ lighter (μ = −57.8‰, ±1.6‰ s.e., n = 8). Repairing leaky natural gas distribution systems will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase consumer health and safety, and save money.

(Science Direct). The oil drillers and gas frackers are not responsible for that serious source of green house gas, the gas pipeline company is.

But when they (e.g. "GM, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, Phillips Petroleum, Mack Trucks, and the Federal Engineering Corporation") do conspire and are convicted of crimes, it is a different story:

The Great American streetcar scandal (also known as the General Motors streetcar conspiracy and the National City Lines conspiracy) refers to an largely unpublicized program led by General Motors to systematically replace streetcars and electric train in many cities across the United States with petroleum fuelled bus services.

Some believe that this program was directly responsible for the virtual elimination of effective public transport in American cities by the 1970s.

General Motors Corporation and others were subsequently convicted in 1949 of conspiring to monopolize the sale of buses and related products via a complex network of linked holding companies ...

(A History of Oil Addiction - 2). Any one case is not dispositive, but we see the fossil fuel industry deliberately continuing this policy by the deceits of the Marshall Institute who did the tobacco industry's dirty business until they lost.

Then the Marshall Institute went to work for oil patch (The Exceptional American Denial). This deliberate deceit has continued to increase since the 1990 law signed by Bush I (Government Climate Change Report). The ongoing fracking propaganda is yet another form of that general oil patch denialism.

Dredd - Good report. We seem to suffer from the same attitudes on both sides of the fence: companies ducking/minimizing their negatives and other folks exaggerating/lying about the alleged negatives. Sort of like the Hatfields and McCoys: no one remembers who started the crap but each side feels to need to take a shot at the other side. Both sides piss me off. I play by the rules (and pay what that costs) so I get very irritated when I see another operator cheating or even just taking undue risk. I mentioned before about helping bust two illegal dumpers and one company selling a bogus drilling deal. Very satisfying. But I’ve also been approached by more than one land owner asking me to provide false witness so they could sue an operator that did nothing wrong. I tipped the TRRC to one of them and they were convicted of contaminating their own water well in hopes of suing an operator on their lease.

OTOH the great majority of operators and land owners I’ve dealt with personally were honest and made the best effort possible to get it right. But you’ll never see those stories in the MSM.

Imagining a future when machines have all the jobs

So in 2009 he thought through what would happen to the economy if machines kept replacing human workers. The result was his book, "The Lights in the Tunnel."

Ford, 49, describes a nightmare scenario. Machines leave 75 per cent of American workers unemployed by 2089.

Consumer spending collapses. Even those who are still working slash spending and save everything they can; they fear their jobs are doomed, too. As people lose work, they stop contributing to Social Security, potentially bankrupting the retirement system.

Ford knows that his apocalyptic vision defies history. For two centuries, technological advances from steam power to the combustion engine have delivered more economic growth, more wealth, more and better jobs.

Of course, you know I wasn't going to let this bit of arrant nonsense slip by without a challenge so, I did a teeny bit of research and posted the following comment:

The more we use machines to do our work for us the more energy the machines will consume. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution mankind has harnessed the energy of fossil fuels to power machines. We are now at a stage where the amount of energy our machines consume is mind boggling.

As an example, every day the world consumes some 91 million barrels of oil and more than 720 thousand tons of coal. At least 1,200 typical nuclear reactors, roughly three times the amount currently in operation word wide, would need to be built to generate the electricity now provided by coal alone.

Since fossil fuels accumulated over millions of years and are finite, they will not last forever. When there are no more fossil fuels where will we get energy from for our machines? Martin Ford has not thought this through to it's logical conclusion.

The reply to my comment was just as uninformed as the article!

It's an AP story so, it should be out there elsewhere.

Alan from the islands

Classical economics, to include Adam Smith and Keynes have opined that the economy would eventually reach a steady state where further increase in product produced would not be required and people would be content with a level of income that was not increasing. Some would say that we have already reached the point where we cannot make much of a dent in the unemployment rate party because of automation.

The problem isn't the machines but our refusal to change our economic system to allow people to work much less or not at all and still bear the fruits of the increased production. For a variety of reasons, the historical decrease in work hours has stagnated. If we try to keep an economic system that might have been appropriate for the early stages of industrialization, we are left with lack of consumer demand as a result of mass unemployment. The work ethic needs to be killed off because we simply do not need the work hours anymore to produce all of what we need.

Your point on energy is a good one but even if we can find a way to decrease energy usage and still have our machines, there is not a solution to the problem if we adhere to the maxim that if you don't work, you don't eat. Call it socialism. Call it whatever. But adherence to a capitalistic approach to distributing the wealth will result in increasing misery and inequality as we move forward.

I just wanted to emphasize the point that, the idea that we'll all be sitting back while machines do all the work, is based on the assumption that we will have an ever increasing amount of energy to power this increasing army of machines and that that is a huge assumption.

I would guess that in some parts of the world, the increasing cost of energy is already slowing the replacement of manual labour by machines for some tasks. At any rate, my gut feeling is that we are going to have to learn to live without our machines at a quicker pace than we got used to them.

Call it socialism. Call it whatever. But adherence to a capitalistic approach to distributing the wealth will result in increasing misery and inequality as we move forward.

Come to think of it, that may explain the pushback against renewables from certain quarters. Renewables by their very nature are dispersed, as opposed to the concentrated nature of fossil fuels. Economies of scale certainly don't seem to work out much for solar PV, apart from bulk purchasing power and if energy is a major part of the means of production, renewables open the door to a much wider ownership of the means of production, with the potential to reduce the concentration of wealth.

Alan from the islands

Alan - I'll toss in a perspective from the oil patch. About 50 years ago the entire body count on an onshore drill rig might be 10 per tower (a 12 hr shift). Now that number could be as high as 20-25 depending on the type of well being drilled. And 50 years ago offshore drilling was limited but maybe around 30 per tower. Now it's not uncommon for a Deep Water rig to have 130 souls on board. As far as office workers go a lot more folks in-house per well drilled today than way back when. On the completion side, thanks to frac'ng, that number has jumped from 6 or so to maybe 20 these days. More machines require more hands to run them.

Of course we're drilling very different wells these days that are using more sophisticated tech (i. e. more machines). About the only area that machines have reduced the body count is seismic interpretation. With a modern 3d seis work station I can produce the same volume of product (and much higher quality) as a half dozen geophysicists could in 1975.

Bottom line: as the complexity and equipment increased in the oil patch it as required a fair bit more workers per well drilled than it did 40 or 50 years ago. More machines have created more jobs...not reduced the number.

I can understand that but, I was coming from a third world perspective where around here, sugar cane is still harvested by labourers with machetes and people only really started using weed whackers instead of machetes in the last 10 to 15 years.

I can easily see them going back to macetes if gas gets too expensive. It's not like they work even twice as fast, it's just a lot less effort. Another area I can think of is Concrete/mortar mixing on small construction sites. Most workmen mix by hand rather than with a mechanical mixer. Of course all big construction sites have their concrete trucked in while the mortar is mixed on site either with a small mixer or by hand.

Alan from the islands

Alan, that is low tech machines, most of which substitute brute force for brains/skill. Hopefully we can begin to substitute brute force with smart(ish) machines, that use skills (preprogrammed) instead of brawn to get the same job done. It remains to be seen if this vision pans out. But, I don't think we have to take for granted that automation implies increasing energy demand.

Alan - Yep: two different worlds. As you describe replacing manual labor with machines to do the identical job. And then there's the advances in techonology that allow us to take on new tasks, like drilling a 30,000' well in 5,000' of water that requires a lot more workers. Isn't that one of the biggest problems facing for thrid world counties: increase use of mechanical equipment decreases job availablity while a lack of high tech development isn't producing new jobs to replace the oneslost to mechanization?

Isn't that one of the biggest problems facing for thrid world counties: increase use of mechanical equipment decreases job availablity while a lack of high tech development isn't producing new jobs to replace the oneslost to mechanization?

I'm not even sure about that! I can not easily come up witj instances where jobs have been lost to mechanisation around here. Mostly it's just that machines have been used to make certain tasks possible or easier. Two example come to mind, one is that an auto lift makes working under a car a whole lot easier and the other is that it would be virtually imposible to stack heavy items on shelves 20ft. up in a wharehouse without a forklift!

Alan from the islands

Alan - "I can not easily come up witj instances where jobs have been lost to mechanisation around here." I don't know much about your country so you have to educate me. For instance in the last 30 years or so have a lot of manual farm labor been replaced with mechanical equipment? That's the sort of displacement I was thinking about. And the forklift example: has one forklift driver replaced a number of workers that use to move material around by hand? OTOH if they were a big local demand for forklifts and a forklift factory were built in your country there would be those new jobs along with all the new forklift driver jobs.

For instance in the last 30 years or so have a lot of manual farm labor been replaced with mechanical equipment?

Short answer, not really. Long answer, the best lands in jamaica for large scale farming were typically used to grow sugar cane or bananas. From a University of Washington web page on Jamaica's Geography

80 percent of the land surface is hilly or mountainous with more than 50 percent having slopes of greater than 20 degrees.

It is quite amazing to see the attempts to grow stuff on some fairly steep hillsides on which the use of most mechanical implements is just impossible. At any rate only people who cannot afford to buy or lease less steep land are going to bother to work on small plots on steep hillsides. Blue Mountain Coffee growing areas are the exception. A premium variety of coffee that is defined as grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica at elevations between 3,000 and 5,500ft., it commands a premium price on world markets. At the elevations it is grown, you are dealing in exclusively mountainous teritory but, once the land is in the area defined as Blue Mountain Coffee growing area, it is less likely to be owned by peasant farmers. Coffee cultivation is a labour intensive process as is the cultivation of Cacao for chocolate. Again, Jamaican Cacao is grown in hilly areas, is considered premium quality suitable for blending and being produced in limited quantities, commands prices above typical world prices. The export of agricultural produce in Jamaica is typically handled by state run commodity boards that have come under heavy criticism for not filtering increased prices to the small farmers that actually produce the crop. So, Jamaica is too small to produce most crops economically but, has become known for producing limited quantities of expensive, premium quality produce. Which takes us back to my short answer!

has one forklift driver replaced a number of workers that use to move material around by hand?

Short answer, again, not really. Long answer, forklifts are typically used to do jobs that are difficult or impossible to do manually. If stuff is going to be moved around at ground level it is quite likely it will be moved on a hand pallet truck rather than a forklift. Forklifts come into play when high storage bays are used or the items are too small and heavey to be moved by a team of men.

I remember once being told by a businessman, in response to my suggestion that he get a machine to do a job that, he didn't think it would make sense since he could just pick up a couple of people off the street and get the job done cheaper. An example of this might be food distribution. It is common to find Jamaica retailers buying things like rice, flour, cornmeal and sugar by the 100lb. bag and using manual labour to break the bulk and measure it out into unmarked plastic bags for retail. I guess the high cost of electricity plus high liquid fuel costs added to the extra cost of fancy printed packaging and the marketing costs of branded produce, all add up to make breaking the bulk more profitable than selling pre-packaged branded produce! Go figure.

edit: Fixed a couple of spelling errors. Haven't figured out what's wrong with this linux install. Spellcheck was working fine just the other day!

Alan from the islands

Bottom line: as the complexity and equipment increased in the oil patch it as required a fair bit more workers per well drilled than it did 40 or 50 years ago. More machines have created more jobs...not reduced the number.

My experience is quite the opposite, 15 years ago it took about 40 people to manage payrolls and accounts for an organization of 5000 people today the same work is done by 5 people, the software manages most of the accounting. Same with fabs, a decade ago it took 10 fabs to churn out the equivalent of our entire production, now it's down to 2. A lot of those people are now flipping burgers. Our company security too employs fewer people per head than usual, there's one control room with 50 cameras and two people to man the terminals with radios instead of 50 guards.
In fact I would argue that your oil patch is the exception, mechanization has resulted in the loss of millions of jobs from manufacturing to farming to mining. It's all very well documented.

Now they are developing software which will design hardware, my job is next on the line.

Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?

... there is an unpalatable truth to face for those of us with a bag of quinoa in the larder. The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken. Outside the cities, and fuelled by overseas demand, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture.

or Eating quinoa may harm Bolivian farmers, but eating meat harms us all

... Bolivian villagers aren't the only ones faced with the prospect of going hungry. It is estimated that more than 850 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat. But the solution to this crisis does not lie in abstaining from quinoa (whose meteoric rise in popularity cannot be attributed solely to vegans, many of whom have never touched the stuff) and other healthy vegan foods. According to Worldwatch, it is animal agriculture that is the real villain because meat consumption is an inefficient use of grain – the grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly by humans. Growth in meat output requires feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat eaters and the world's poor.

... it takes 4.5 pounds of grain to make one pound of chicken meat and 7.3 pounds of grain to produce one pound of pork. Even fish on fish farms are fed up to five pounds of wild-caught fish in order to produce one pound of farmed-fish flesh. This is inefficiency at its worst.

... it takes 4.5 pounds of grain to make one pound of chicken meat and 7.3 pounds of grain to produce one pound of pork. Even fish on fish farms are fed up to five pounds of wild-caught fish in order to produce one pound of farmed-fish flesh. This is inefficiency at its worst.

It takes quite a bit less grain to produce a pound of locusts which are about 75% protein per pound. They also require orders of magnitude less water and produce much less ammonia as waste.

So could someone tell me why it is that we use all kinds of toxic chemicals to kill off locusts that we could be eating instead?



There's been a small group of market stalls brought in from Oaxaca in our plaza. One of them has had a supply of dried (cooked or prepared, I don't know) grasshoppers for sale. I haven't managed to steel myself up to try them but I was tempted to get a few for the fur heads as they seem to have a liking for fresh grasshopper.


I haven't managed to steel myself up to try them but I was tempted to get a few for the fur heads as they seem to have a liking for fresh grasshopper.

Just go for it! They're nothing more than 'Land Shrimp' toss a few in skillet with some olive oil, garlic, a little butter, parsley, lemon, and a few other seasonings. Sizzle! Eat! Then wash them down with a cold one! >;-)


Nothing can be more omnivorous and filthy in their feeding habits than chickens and swine ; yet we relish the flesh of both with zest. Tripe, liver, and kidneys are esteemed by us, though a knowledge of their functions might cause a tremor of squeamishness to thrill through our bodies. As epicures we eat the diseased livers of geese, insect- eating frogs, small birds and game in an advanced stage of decomposition, and call them delicious as we discourse upon their "gamy" flavor, and at the same time we would not entertain for a moment the idea of eating a dish of freshly-roasted locusts which have fed upon the clean, juicy herbage of our fields. The Hebrews of North Africa eat boiled and fried locusts with avidity, while their co-religionists in this country turn from lobsters with scornful loathing.

The Arab relishes the savory dishes made from locusts, while he expresses his abhorrence of our habit of eating raw oysters. Our society belles shriek with horror and fright at the appearance of a cockroach, yet they sip with pleasure the sherry and madeira wines that are aged, mellowed, and flavored Avith these pests.

Professor Charles V. Riley, for a long time State Entomologist of Missouri, and now Entomologist at the United States Agricultural Department at Washington, undertook in 1875 a series of experiments " to demonstrate the availability of locusts as food for man, and their value as such whenever, as not infrequently happens, they de- prive him of all other sources of nourishment." Professor Riley took a lot of locusts to an hotel to be cooked, but he endeavored in vain to obtain assistance from the monarchs of the gridiron. The cooks and servants retired in disgust, and left the naturalists to do their own cooking. The savory messes that the latter concocted converted the kitchen ; cooks and guests alike agreeing that the soups, fricassees, and fritters, composed materially of locusts, were excellent. In regard to these experiments Professor Riley says :

"It had long been a desire with me to test the value of this species (spretus) as food, and I did not lose the opportunity to gratify that desire which the recent locust invasions into some of the Mississippi Valley States afforded. I knew well enough that the attempt would provoke to ridicule and mirth, or even disgust, the vast majority of our people, unaccustomed to anything of the sort, and associating with the word ' insect ' or ' bug,' everything horrid and repulsive. Yet I was governed by weightier reasons than mere curiosity ; for many a family in Kansas and Nebraska was, in 1874, brought to the brink of the grave by sheer lack of food, while the St. Louis papers reported cases of actual death from starvation in some sec- tions of Missouri, where the insects abounded and ate up every green thing, in the spring of 1875.

Emphasis mine.

I think that many of us alive today will see people brought to the brink of starvation right here in the US within the next couple of decades if we don't change our cultural revulsion to eating insects.

"plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"

I believe the postion of survival schools is - if you are gonna live, you gotta eat bugs.

(and remember that the USA is the only nation that killed off their locusts.)

And keep in mind that the USA doesn't know how it killed off its locusts. It probably had something to do with tilling the land and planting crops, but other than that the killing process is unclear. It still has grasshoppers, however.

Hmmm, I am sure I have seen locusts around here, 2 - 3 inches long. OTOH I wouldn't know if it is not a large species of grasshopper. Fur heads find them crunchy.


The extinct species in question was the Rocky Mountain Locust, which was North America's only native locust.

Though grasshoppers still cause significant crop damage today, their populations do not even approach the densities of true locusts. Had the Rocky Mountain locust continued to survive, North American agriculture would likely have had to adapt to its presence (North America is the only continent without a major locust species outside of Antarctica).

Because locusts are a form of grasshopper that appear when grasshopper populations reach high densities, it was theorized that M. spretus might not be extinct, that "solitary phase" individuals of a migratory grasshopper might be able to turn into the Rocky Mountain locust given the right conditions. However, breeding experiments using many grasshopper species in high-density environments have attempted to invoke the famous insect without success.

Ah, the stall has moved on. My chance is gone.


Liberian farmers take on Indonesian palm oil giant

Thirty hours by car from the capital Monrovia, the green and yellow flag of Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL), an Indonesian palm oil giant, floats over deforested hills in Sinoe County, southern Liberia. In 2010, GVL acquired a 63-year lease on 220,000 hectares (544,000 acres) of land to produce palm oil.

It pays annual rent of $1.50 (1.10 euros) per hectare for virgin forest land and $5.00 per hectare for cleared terrain in the lease which is renewable for an additional 30 years.

GVL's lease was signed in Monrovia, without the presence of representatives from those who live in Sinoe County.

"The Indonesians came here for the first time in September 2010," resident Benedict Manewah explained. "They said: 'We have a concession agreement, your president has sold it to us'.

"Three months later they came back ... and they started to destroy the properties, farmlands, crops, livestock and houses."

Manewah listed the crops he had planted. "I had rubber trees, cassavas, breadfruits, orange trees, cocoas, coconuts and palm trees" for his family's personal consumption.

GVL workers uprooted his crops to produce palm oil exclusively, and "they ship everything to their people, at home" in Indonesia, he said.

Analysis of fracking wastewater yields some surprises

Hydraulically fractured natural gas wells are producing less wastewater per unit of gas recovered than conventional wells would. But the scale of fracking operations in the Marcellus shale region is so vast that the wastewater it produces threatens to overwhelm the region's wastewater disposal capacity, according to new analysis by researchers at Duke and Kent State universities.

... Another surprise that emerged, Doyle said, was that well operators classified only about a third of the wastewater from Marcellus wells as flowback from hydraulic fracturing; most of it was classified as brine.

"A lot of attention, to date, has focused on chemicals in the flowback that comes out of a well following hydraulic fracturing," he said. "However, the amount of brine produced – which contains high levels of salts and other natural pollutants from shale rock – has received less attention even though it is no less important."

Brine can be generated by wells over much longer periods of time than flowback, he noted, and studies have shown that some of the pollutants in brine can be as difficult to treat as many of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids.

"Opponents have targeted hydraulic fracturing as posing heightened risks, but many of the same environmental challenges presented by shale gas production would exist if we were expanding conventional gas production," Lutz added. "We have to accept the reality that any effort to substantially boost domestic energy production will present environmental costs." [... go ask China about the environmental costs]

What on earth are they going putting gas well wastewater into regional wastewater disposal systems? Those are incapable of handling the type of chemicals used in fracking, or even in normal well production. They should putting the produced wastewater down water disposal wells to inject it into deep brine formations which are capable of accepting additional water.

I don't think the regulatory authorities in the region know what they are doing.

Rocky – I’m not sure they are referring to surface disposal systems or if they just mean something more generic like all systems including injection wells. I know both PA and NY had to pass laws to stop local municipal treatment centers from taking frac fluids (for a fee, of course) and running them thru their systems untreated and dumping it all back into the streams. Given those treatment centers were controlled by some of the same politicians whining about frac’ng you would think they didn’t have to make it illegal.

"We need to come up with technological and logistical solutions to address these concerns, including better ways to recycle and treat the waste on site or move it to places where it can be safely disposed," Doyle said. "Both of these are in fact developing rapidly." Hmmm….developed about a half century ago, in fact. As Rocky points out you get rid of brine by injecting into deep reservoirs. In just the trend I’m currently working in there have been hundreds of billions of bbls of salt produced and disposed of down injection wells. Salt water contamination has always been the greatest in the eyes of the TRRC and the La. DNR. From what I read a lot of Marcellus brine is being hauled to Ohio and put down disposal wells there.

“Opponents have targeted hydraulic fracturing as posing heightened risks, but many of the same environmental challenges presented by shale gas production would exist if we were expanding conventional gas production," Lutz added. "We have to accept the reality that any effort to substantially boost domestic energy production will present environmental costs."

And this brings up a point I’ve commented on a number of times: the amount of salt poured on northern roads to control ice. Salt in the environment is still salt whether it’s brine from a gas well or coming off the back of a state dump truck treating a highway. Suddenly they are going to start worrying about oil field brines while for decades they weren’t worried about road salt? Something I’ve never understood: salt pollution from old field activity is bad but from the highway maintenance crews it isn’t? I recently discovered that in PA the state accepts oil field brine to spray on the highways. So Mr. Lutz is very worried about expanding conventional production and the brine it might generate but not about road salt. Again, confusing.

Harmful Effects of Bisphenol A Proved Experimentally

Significant levels of BPA have also been found in human blood, urine, amniotic fluid and placentas. Recent studies have shown that this industrial component has harmful effects on reproductive ability, development and the metabolism of laboratory animals. BPA is strongly suspected of having the same effects on humans.

In collaboration with the Antoine-Béclère Hospital, Clamart, researchers kept petri dishes of human fœtal testicles alive in the presence of bisphenol A or in the absence thereof, using an original procedure developed by this team. In 2009, this procedure made it possible to show for the first time, that phtalates (a different category of endocrine disruptors that are found in PVC, plastics, synthetic materials, sprays, etc.) inhibit the development of future spermatozoa in the human fœtus.

In this new study, researchers observed that exposure of human fœtal testicles to bisphenol A reduces the production of testosterone, and of another testicular hormone that is necessary for the testicles to descend into the sacs in the course of fœtal development. A concentration equal to 2 micrograms per litre of bisphenol A in the culture medium was sufficient to produce these effects. This concentration is equal to the average concentration generally found in the blood, urine and amniotic fluid of the population.

and lessons from an older empire ...

Lead Poisoning: A Historical Perspective

... The Romans were aware that lead could cause serious health problems, even madness and death. However, they were so fond of its diverse uses that they minimized the hazards it posed. Romans of yesteryear, like Americans of today, equated limited exposure to lead with limited risk. What they did not realize was that their everyday low-level exposure to the metal rendered them vulnerable to chronic lead poisoning, even while it spared them the full horrors of acute lead poisoning

Roman aristocrats, who regarded labor of any sort as beneath their dignity, lived oblivious to the human wreckage on which their ruinous diet of lead depended. They would never dream of drinking wine except from a golden cup, but they thought nothing of washing down platters of lead-seasoned food with gallons of lead-adulterated wine.

The result, according to many modern scholars, was the death by slow poisoning of the greatest empire the world has ever known. Symptoms of "plumbism" or lead poisoning were already apparent as early as the first century B.C. Julius Caesar for all his sexual ramblings was unable to beget more than one known offspring. Caesar Augustus, his successor, displayed not only total sterility but also a cold indifference to sex.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. - George Santayana

also Antibacterial agent used in common soaps found in increasing amounts in freshwater lakes

and Scientists find tiny fragments of plastic in the digestive systems of fish pulled from the English Channel

BPA substitute could spell trouble: Experiments show bisphenol S also disrupts hormone activity

A few years ago, manufacturers of water bottles, food containers, and baby products had a big problem. A key ingredient of the plastics they used to make their merchandise, an organic compound called bisphenol A, had been linked by scientists to diabetes, asthma and cancer and altered prostate and neurological development.

The industry responded by creating "BPA-free" products, which were made from plastic containing a compound called bisphenol S. In addition to having similar names, BPA and BPS share a similar structure and versatility: BPS is now known to be used in everything from currency to thermal receipt paper, and widespread human exposure to BPS was confirmed in a 2012 analysis of urine samples taken in the U.S., Japan, China and five other Asian countries.

According to a study by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers, though, BPS also resembles BPA in a more problematic way. Like BPA, the study found, BPS disrupts cellular responses to the hormone estrogen, changing patterns of cell growth and death and hormone release. Also like BPA, it does so at extremely low levels of exposure.

Recent studies have shown that this industrial component has harmful effects on reproductive ability, development and the metabolism of laboratory animals. BPA is strongly suspected of having the same effects on humans.

Bah, Impossible! How could this be true? Humans are 'NOT' mere animals! We are completely separate and above anything else in nature.

On the other hand we tend to ignore synergistic effects of all the chemicals we release into the biosphere and focus on metrics of their toxicity in isolation and deem them safe based on this limited view. Typical blind men examining the elephant.


More than 248 000 chemical products are commercially available
(CAS 2011) and subject to regulatory and inventory systems.

That's one darn big angry bull elephant there. We don't really seem to have a very good handle as to what they are doing to our environment when they interact with each other. My unscientific hunch is that the sum of all the parts acting together is a very different beast from any one of the individual components acting in isolation.

Dr Albert Bartlett tells us that the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. Personally, I think an even greater shortcoming is our inability to engage in systems thinking and looking at the big picture.

In synergy 1 + 1 = 4


Unprecedented Glacier Melting In The Andes Blamed On Climate Change

... Glaciers are retreating everywhere in the tropical Andes, but the melting is more pronounced for small glaciers at low altitudes, the authors report. Glaciers at altitudes below 5,400 metres have lost about 1.35 metres in ice thickness (an average of 1.2 metres of water equivalent [see note]) per year since the late 1970s, twice the rate of the larger, high-altitude glaciers.

"Because the maximum thickness of these small, low-altitude glaciers rarely exceeds 40 metres, with such an annual loss they will probably completely disappear within the coming decades," says Rabatel.

Panasonic trims Ene-Farm fuel cell size and price

This month, Panasonic and Tokyo Gas announced the launch of their newest Ene-Farm home fuel cell, a product that residents can use to generate energy right from their homes. This is a smaller, cheaper, and efficient successor to the Ene-Farm products of the past; the new product can operate 20 percent longer than the previous model, for 60,000 hours. The developers, Tokyo Gas and Panasonic, said that this Ene-Farm home fuel cell achieves overall efficiency of 95 percent LHV, as the world's most efficient fuel cell.

The cost cut is attributed to the fact that the new entrant has less components. The price will be 1,995,000 yen [$22,500] with the standard backup heat source; including tax; excluding installation fee.

Something alarming happening at sinkhole, major cracks in well pad — Official

The Office of Conservation, in consultation with Assumption Parish Incident Command, is advising that the Texas Brine facility sinkhole appears to be undergoing a growth event, indicated by a recent upswing in measured seismic activity that began to decrease about the time of this morning’s release of debris and crude oil to the top of the sinkhole, as well as the appearance of cracks on the surface of the Oxy 3 well pad, located directly above Texas Brine’s failed cavern and on the eastern side of the sinkhole.

Following the appearance of the well pad surface cracks on the southwestern corner of the Oxy 3 well pad, the Office of Conservation advised that personnel and equipment should be removed from the site to ensure safety while observation and analysis of the growth event are ongoing.

Though the exact timing and extent of episodic growth events cannot be predicted, the Office of Conservation and its consultants had identified the Oxy 3 well pad as being within the area of potential sinkhole growth, and has maintained constant monitoring of subsurface conditions and activity for signs of instability in order to act quickly to protect the safety of the public and workers on site.

Sinkhole "burps" again, officials on alert

Let Elderly People 'Hurry Up and Die', Says Japanese Minister

... Taro Aso, the finance minister, said on Monday that the elderly should be allowed to "hurry up and die" to relieve pressure on the state to pay for their medical care.

To compound the insult, he referred to elderly patients who are no longer able to feed themselves as "tube people".

... The government is planning to reduce welfare expenditure in its next budget, due to go into force this April, with details of the cuts expected within days.

It is not the first time Aso, one of Japan's wealthiest politicians, has questioned the state's duty towards its large elderly population. In 2008, while serving as prime minister, he described "doddering" pensioners as tax burdens who should take better care of their health."

... is he related to Boehner? Must be talking about the same 47% as Romney.

also Useless Eaters: Disability as Genocidal Marker in Nazi Germany

Seraph, I'm 54 years old and have no desire to be a tube person. I've seen a friend's husband (in his 80's) kept alive with tubes into his stomach. He was miserable before and even more miserable after he came out of intensive care and into a nursing home. Where he died 6 months later.

We put suffering animals down because it's the humane thing to do. Why are we so scared of death that we prolong human life needlessly? Please pass me the morphine, and if that doesn't cut it, the cyanide.

JN2, my sentiments exactly. We spend a fortune trying to keep someone alive and miserable for six more months. It is just stupid and is perhaps doubling the cost of health care. People should be allowed to die if they are in such a condition. And they should be given assistance in dying if they request it. And I am 20 years your senior.

Ron P.

The majority view in Europe seems to be to avoid both actively killing "tube people" and neelessly prolonging life in absurdum. Seems the balanced view to me.

There is a difference to putting a person 'down' just because they're elderly and allowing them to die with dignity by choice [as in a hospice].

The Minister didn't seem to consider that there was more than one option. Although death is always personal it usually involves other people [family, friends, etc.]. I think the choice should always remain with the individual doing the dying.

Terminally ill people that choose a hospice often live longer than those that stay in a hospital. It appears the focus on pain management and emotional support causes an increased desire to live which more than compensates for the lack of treatment:


Same here, when I am old and sick of going to the hospital I plan to go mountaineering or sailing. Mother nature will take care of the rest.

Grandfather was tortured by russian doctors when he was a POW during WWII. He got hospital-phobia and refused cancer treatment. When it had progressed long enough, he went into the forest with a rope and selected a good looking tree for himself. I was 11 years old at the time.

he described "doddering" pensioners as tax burdens who should take better care of their health."

Those people made committed the sin of growing old.

Is this a veiled suggestion for Seppuku?

New from GAO ...

DOE Needs to Take Action to Resolve Technical and Management Challenges

The Department of Energy (DOE) faces significant technical challenges in successfully constructing and operating the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) project that is to treat millions of gallons of highly radioactive liquid waste resulting from the production of nuclear weapons. DOE and Bechtel National, Inc. identified hundreds of technical challenges that vary in significance and potential negative impact and have resolved many of them. Remaining challenges include (1) developing a viable technology to keep the waste mixed uniformly in WTP mix tanks to both avoid explosions and so that it can be properly prepared for further processing; (2) ensuring that the erosion and corrosion of components, such as tanks and piping systems, is effectively mitigated; (3) preventing the buildup of flammable hydrogen gas in tanks, vessels, and piping systems; and (4) understanding better the waste that will be processed at the WTP. Until these and other technical challenges are resolved, DOE will continue to be uncertain whether the WTP can be completed on schedule and whether it will operate safely and effectively.

Since its inception in 2000, DOE's estimated cost to construct the WTP has tripled and the scheduled completion date has slipped by nearly a decade to 2019. GAO's analysis shows that, as of May 2012, the project's total estimated cost had increased to $13.4 billion, and significant additional cost increases and schedule delays are likely to occur because DOE has not fully resolved the technical challenges faced by the project. DOE has directed Bechtel to develop a new cost and schedule baseline for the project and to begin a study of alternatives that include potential changes to the WTP's design and operational plans. These alternatives could add billions of dollars to the cost of treating the waste and prolong the overall waste treatment mission.

also Pantex Nuclear Plant Safety Culture

... MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED: In Session I of this public meeting and hearing, the Board will receive testimony from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and its contractor concerning the safety culture at the Pantex Plant. Areas of inquiry will include identification of shortfalls in the Pantex safety culture, potential impacts that a flawed safety culture may have on nuclear explosives operations, and management approaches to improving safety culture. The Board will also examine the status of emergency preparedness at the Pantex Plant. The Board will focus on plans and capabilities to respond to a site emergency, demonstrated performance in drills and exercises, and preparation for severe events resulting from natural phenomena, such as the event that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi complex.

A non-profit watchdog group, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), claimed that in 2005 Pantex workers could have caused a nuclear explosion when they improperly applied too much pressure on an obsolete W-56 warhead while attempting to dismantle it.[6] POGO said unidentified experts knowledgeable about the event told it of the danger. It also said requirements for plant technicians to work up to 72 hours a week contributed to the incident. The group made public an anonymous letter, purportedly from Pantex workers, which warned that long hours and efforts to increase output were causing dangerous conditions. BWXT said it would look into the complaint about unsafe conditions, but declined further comment. The U.S. Department of Energy fined BWXT $110,000 for incidents involving the bomb, but did not mention any possibility of an explosion or identify the type of warhead.

An Early Nuclear Warning: Was It for Naught?

The accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011 alerted the American nuclear industry and its regulators to the possibility that operators at plants with more than one reactor might have to deal with more than one meltdown at a time in a flood, earthquake or other catastrophe. Officials are now working to assure that they could master that situation.

But documents uncovered by a group that is critical of nuclear safety show that a high-level safety analyst at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission posed the possibility to his superiors in July 2007, about four years before the earthquake and tsunami that led to three simultaneous meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi. The documents also show that in August 2008, the commission staff formally acknowledged the issue.

But until Japan’s disaster, progress in the American nuclear industry was glacial. Dave Lochbaum, a nuclear expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, which uncovered the documents, compares them to records located after the crash of the space shuttle Columbia in which engineers voiced concern that debris falling during a launch could damage an orbiter.

Action to prepare for a dual meltdown was not a case of “forewarned is forearmed,’’ he said, but more like “forewarned is forestalled.’’

When Trees Die, People Die

The blight was first detected in June 2002, when the trees in Canton, Michigan, got sick. The culprit, the emerald ash borer, had arrived from overseas, and it rapidly spread -- a literal bug -- across state and national lines to Ohio, Minnesota, Ontario.

Within four years of first becoming infested, the ash trees die -- over 100 million since the plague began. In some cases, their death has an immediate impact, as they fall on cars, houses, and people. In the long term, their disappearance means parks and neighborhoods, once tree-lined, are now bare.

Something else, less readily apparent, may have happened as well. When the U.S. Forest Service looked at mortality rates in counties affected by the emerald ash borer, they found increased mortality rates. Specifically, more people were dying of cardiovascular and lower respiratory tract illness -- the first and third most common causes of death in the U.S. As the infestation took over in each of these places, the connection to poor health strengthened.

The "relationship between trees and human health," as they put it, is convincingly strong. They controlled for as many other demographic factors as possible. And yet, they are unable to satisfactorily explain why this might be so.


Before the 25th anniversary of the disaster on April 26, experts met once again in Kiev. Still under the impression of the massive nuclear disaster in Japan, the European Union and the governments of 28 countries have now promised to provide €550 million ($780 million) to build a new containment, although €190 million are still needed for the new shell. It is designed to cover the old sarcophagus the Soviets built in only 200 days in 1986.

and to give a sense of size:

The new semi-circular shelter will be 105 meters high, 150 meters long and 257.5 meters wide -- a hangar four times as large as Hamburg's main train station. .... Salisezki's men are assembling 18,000 tons of steel, more than was used for the Eiffel Tower in Paris, for the frame alone.

Peugeot Unveils Petrol Hybrid Using Compressed Air

French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen unveiled Tuesday a petrol hybrid engine that stores energy using compressed air which it hopes will be a game-changing technology to improve energy efficiency.

The engine, which allows up to 80 percent driving on compressed air in cities, offers fuel economy of 2.9 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres (81 miles per gallon) and emits just 69 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

PSA Peugeot Citroën debuts Hybrid Air powertrain, set to enter production in 2016 [video]

The motor and a pump are positioned in the engine bay, fed by a compressed air tank underneath the car, running parallel to the exhaust. Using regenerative braking to generate energy, the motor and pump can refill the tank with air.

The system adds about 100kg to the weight of a traditional ICE powered small car, which is around half that of a conventional hybrid system. PSA claims it uses very simple, serviceable parts, with no rare metals like lithium-ion.

Despite sounding overly complex, PSA Peugeot Citroën has plans to offer the system on B-segment vehicles in 2016.

Peugeot-Citroen unveils compressed air hybrid tech

About time a compressed air system was commercialized. Great way to capture some of the waste heat in the exhaust as well as regenerative braking and optimizing engine performance.

All is not well in northern Iraq's oilfields

In northern Iraq, ethnic Kurdish security forces called peshmerga patrol the poorly defined border of the country's Kurdish region, with clear orders to keep Iraqi army troops out.

"Everyone here is on alert," Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh reported from near the internal border on January 17. With both sides fully armed, he said, "any mistake could lead to a violent conflict".

As in so many other conflicts around the world, the presence of oil is raising the stakes and the tensions. Iraq's ethnic Kurdish region is so oil-rich that in some places, the stuff literally oozes out of the ground.

The KRG is using this oil to flex its political muscle and its growing independence from Baghdad: Earlier this month, a truck laden with crude oil from Iraq's Kurdish region delivered its wares to the Turkish port of Mersin, on the Mediterranean Sea - marking the first time that the KRG has exported oil directly to world markets.

No, Actually, This Is What a Fascist Looks Like

... Imagine if the House of Representatives was dissolved and replaced by a Council of America’s most powerful CEOs – the Kochs, the Waltons, the Blankfeins, the Dimons, the Mackeys, you get the picture.

Actually, that’s not too difficult to imagine, huh? But, that’d be similar to what Mussolini defined as fascism.

As we know, fascism was eventually defeated in World War 2. But just before the end of the war, with the fascists on the ropes, the Vice President of the United States at the time, Henry Wallace, penned an op-ed for the New York Times warning Americans about the creeping dangers of fascism – or corporate government.

He defined a fascist as, “those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.”

... Wallace goes on to write, “The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism.”

Seems that certain people were paying attention, and turning Wallace's warning into a blueprint.

Natural gas well fire in Roosevelt forces evacuations

Crews working on a drilling rig owned by Frontier Drilling notified authorities shortly after midnight that the well they were working on had experienced a gas blowout, according to Duchesne County Undersheriff David Boren.

Sheriff's deputies and Roosevelt firefighters spent several hours at the scene while workers tried to regain control of the well, which is operated by Devon Energy.

But just before 7 a.m., something ignited the fumes, setting off a blaze that sent towers of smoke and flame into the sky.

Devon Energy spokesman Chip Minty said company well-fire capping experts arrived Tuesday afternoon to inspect the site and determine a strategy for "regaining control of the well and extinguish the fire."

S - Difficult to tell but it looks like they have a lot of drill pipe stacked in the derrick. Which isn't good: typically easier to kill when you have pipe in the hole. Again hard to be sure but it looks like it looks like it's blowing from the side of the BOP stack and not the drill floor. Also very bad if that's the case.

Researchers debate oil-spill remedy

This week, researchers at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, are assessing the outcome — and sometimes drawing markedly different conclusions from the scant data. Industry scientists argue that the nearly three million litres of subsea dispersant worked as expected and caused minimal ecological damage. Dispersant, they say, should be a standard option for fighting future sea-floor blowouts. But other researchers say that applying dispersants at depth has not yet been proved to be effective, let alone safe.

Wind or nuclear - which is worse?

... No one disputes that radiation exposure can be a killer, but it is interesting that the same sort of interaction between fear and impacts may also be occurring in relation to wind turbines- which are usually seen as pretty benign in terms of heath impact. Wind projects have been around for 20 years or more, but recently noise issues have emerged, with anti-wind groups claiming that (inaudible) low frequency infra sound can lead to significant health problems. The media has taken up this issue, with some claiming that thousands of people are being affected adversely. See for example: www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9653429/Wind-farm-noise-does-... and : www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2199284/Wind-farms-Are-wind-far...

As I have reported before, the validity of some of the data, and of the analysis if it, has been disputed, given its reliance on small samples and the use of anecdotal evidence : http://environmentalresearchweb.org/blog/2009/08/sounding-off-on-wind-tu... and http://environmentalresearchweb.org/blog/2010/02/wind-turbine-noise-impa... See also. http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2012/10/wind-turbine-syndrome-whos-doing...

More subtly, it has been argued that the ‘wind turbine syndrome’, as its now been labeled, is a ‘communicatable disease’, spread by exposure to anti-wind propaganda, and/or only affecting people who don’t like wind farms. For example Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at the University of Sydney, says that studies have concluded that “pre-existing negative attitudes to wind farms are generally stronger predictors of annoyance than residential distance to the turbines or recorded levels of noise.” See http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/10/23/are-wind-turb...

Does this also open the possibilities for having 'Miscommunicable Diseases'?

"Oooh, not feeling well now, dear, I'm afraid my Rhetormatism is acting up again. I can feel it right in my knees every time the utility rates go negative, like clockwork!"

Michael T. Klare ... The Next War? - Powder Keg in the Pacific: Will China-Japan-U.S. Tensions in the Pacific Ignite a Conflict and Sink the Global Economy?

In Washington, it is widely assumed that a showdown with Iran over its nuclear ambitions will be the first major crisis to engulf the next secretary of defense -- whether it be former Senator Chuck Hagel, as President Obama desires, or someone else if he fails to win Senate confirmation. With few signs of an imminent breakthrough in talks aimed at peacefully resolving the Iranian nuclear issue, many analysts believe that military action -- if not by Israel, than by the United States -- could be on this year’s agenda.

Lurking just behind the Iranian imbroglio, however, is a potential crisis of far greater magnitude, and potentially far more imminent than most of us imagine. China’s determination to assert control over disputed islands in the potentially energy-rich waters of the East and South China Seas, in the face of stiffening resistance from Japan and the Philippines along with greater regional assertiveness by the United States, spells trouble not just regionally, but potentially globally.

China doesn't have the navy and the US doesn't have the money for a war. Not that this will neccessarily stop one, but really? Japan has a navy as formidable as China, despite it be a "self defense force", complete with helicopter carriers and submarines. With that being the case, China will probably push over states like Vietnam that have much more limited US support first, if it does come to war.

That said, all new powers try their hand at imperialism. It's human nature. Unless we really are at the "end of history", then China will almost certainly invade or conquer someplace at some point. Even if they do a US style empire they will end up in a war.

Is Dallas done for? And what about the rest of the country?

This future Dallas actually looks like Death Valley does today (Death Valley is the dashed lines):

With temperatures this hot, major changes would be required to continue civilization in the city and surrounding area. If Dallas daily life becomes like it is in Death Valley today (with a population about 500), then just about all typically-modern activities will come to a halt during the day, for at least 3 or 4 months each year. Business, travel, and leisure activity would mostly have to happen at night, and a whole lot slower during the hottest months. Would the city survive?

Outdoor water reservoirs would dry up - drinking water would either need to be piped in from a distance (like an oil pipeline) or very carefully recycled (i.e. sewer water carefully reprocessed into drinking water). The city would become like a space colony

The Onion: 2012 Was Once Considered Hottest Year On Record, Man In 2024 Remembers Wistfully

... “Today, you wouldn’t think twice about a 96-degree day in the middle of February, but a mere decade ago you would look up at the skies waiting for snow. Christ, those were the days, man”….

from comments ... Old man to surfers on boardwalk, “I remember when all this was once frozen wasteland.”

The temperature for Phoenix, Arizona should be included in that chart.

Solar Panel Prices Continue ‘Seemingly Inexorable Decline’

US imports of crystalline silicon solar cells and channels from China fell to their lowest level in at least two years even amid the peak, year-end selling season based on federal government data, the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) yesterday announced in a press release.

Prices for solar PV modules and panels have been falling fast from 2008 right on through 2012, according to industry data. The marginal weekly spot price of silicon solar modules (panels) was $0.654 per Watt, with a low price of $0.54 and a high of $1.00 per Watt as of January 16, 2013, according to PV Insights data.

Overall, installed costs for home solar PV panels for all of 2012 ranged between $1750 and $2500 per kilowatt (kW), or $1.75–$2.50 per watt, according to Renewable Green Energy Power data.

Silicon PV cell and module imports from China are expected to be about one-third lower in 2012 than they were in 2011.

Common sense tells me that this should halt, and even reverse, the price decline, but other factors are in play here. I locked in $.65/watt four weeks ago rather than gamble on another few cents drop; grade A poly-crystalline panels, and they've already gone back up 15% (from this vendor/same product line).

Got PV?

Higher demand (Japan, China, USA) has already driven the price for Si up, so your scenario is very likely, will be 2013 the first time that the price of modules is not determined by German FITs but by Japan, China and the USA.

Awww Yeah. Solar City finally finished installing my new 200 Amp main panel. (Well, it is not totally done but I can use now at least.) So I now I have no excuse to get started on my PV project. I've pretty much decided to go with microinverters (Enphase . . . help the local biz) since that simplifies things and shading affects the system less. I wonder how much I should put up? I want to be able to cover my full net electricity needs for both the house & an EV.

If grid-tie, may as well get more than you think you need. At worst, you're helping offset CO2 from your neighbors. And it usually takes more than you think it will.

This continues to follow Swanson's law, which states that crystalline silicon solar prices drop 20% with each doubling of manufacturing capacity:

Current world primary energy consumption rate is about 15TW. Efficiency gains and electrification will reduce that by about 2/3, and everyone in the world consuming at European levels will multiply by 5; so 25 TW / 20% capacity factor makes 125 TW required installed capacity, as a rough guess. If peak production capacity is 5 TW/year (i.e.. 25 years to transition) that is roughly 250 times the 20 GW/year current manufacturing capacity, and requires 8 doublings. If Swanson's law holds the price will be 11 cents per watt.

This kind of scaling is subject to an increasing time lag however. The energy investment for a panel probably converges to a minimum, and only the most recently manufactured panels will be able to deliver that energy cheaply enough to manufacture the next panel at a lower cost. The past installed base cannot contribute to incremental decrease in cost, so cannot contribute to exponential rollout. To understand this sounds like a good application for Stella.

Anyway, the article griping about China subsidizing solar when the rest of us subsidize nuclear and conquered oil is a bit hard to accept. Solar manufacturing has a long, long way to go toward automation of the process. Eventually there will be almost no human labour input, and the process will be energy self-sufficient. It can happen here as well as anywhere.

The 240 watt panels I ordered cost $156/ea (plus shipping). For comparison a quality vinyl window, roughly the same size costs about the same, locally ($154). I don't expect framed crystalline panels could go much lower due to material and other costs limiting the bottom. Of course, I've bought similar windows for much less in bulk, at clearance.

Where did you order from?

See "Suntech Deals", but you have to buy the whole pallet. At these prices you could resell what you don't need pretty easily, unless prices keep dropping :-0

OTOH, you could buy 3/4 particle board or plywood for a fraction of that price per unit of area. I think there is still scope. I'd love to see $.25/watt. But we must be getting close to the time Swanson's law breaks down.

Well, careful with those price drop projections. Just like we know the Bakken tight oil production won't keep growing, we also know there are limits on how cheap PV can become. Although where is exactly the limit is (in either case) is not always clear.

Oil and solar are not a valid comparison. Bakken oil EROEI will eventually approach 1, and then even fraccing and CO2 flooding can't prevent price rise. Solar EROEI could reach the 5 to 10 range, and as the elements (silicon oxygen aluminum iron copper) are abundant, there is no theoretical lower price limit. Thats not an intuitive conclusion, there it is.

I think the more important reason that they are different is that solar panels and wind turbines don't deplete their energy sources. The expected lifespan of solar PV modules is in excess of 25 years after which much of the modules components can be recycled, assuming the energy and the industrial infrastructure to do so still exist. With a little digging I was able to find this article:
How long do solar electric PV panels last?

Overall, the picture is very encouraging: Both our own experience at CAT and the research by LEE-TISO suggest that PV panel power output decreases by less than 1% per year. Panels do experience a significant amount of physical decay (yellowing, laminate peeling off) if they are exposed to the elements for 10 or 20 years, but the effect on their performance is limited. This suggests a PV installation should produce electricity for 30 years or longer.

and this one:
Solar Photovoltaic module tested after 30 years of use

PV manufacturers have made several improvements since I bought my first module three decades ago. While my old Arco panel has simple electrical lugs on the back side for wiring, newer modules have sturdier junction boxes. Manufacturers have also improved the encapsulants and the lamination material. (Early modules used polyvinyl butyral, or PVB; manufacturers have since switched to ethylene vinyl acetate, or EVA).

My old module shows no signs of browning, electrical corrosion, or water intrusion. It certainly looks as if it’s ready to perform for another decade or two.

So after 30 years we will still have the modules which can theoretically be recycled, if the economics warrant it. There is no need to wait millions of years mother nature to recycle the carbon in the atmosphere so we can burn it again.

Alan from the islands

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Surveillance Streetlights Request for Participants

The following request for participants (RFP) was issued by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on June 8, 2012. The RFP concerns the construction of a wireless control and communications system for managing the city’s future network of dimmable LED streetlights. The RFP states that future uses for the secure wireless network may include street surveillance, gunshot monitoring, public information broadcasts, electric meter reading and pollution monitoring.

Tim Morgan (Tullet) has an interesting article in the FT about the downtrend in EROEI for FF production.(subscription required)
It's starting to make it to the mainstream.

I think this counts as hubris?

The tangled tale of Petrobank’s THAI extraction technology

Mr. Bloomer admits the company did encounter problems such as sand production and its liner design and its slow reaction time hampered the company.

He argues that other oil sands technologies have also struggled and THAI deserves similar patience. “SAGD is still a difficult, marginal technology. There’s a lot of people out there that are having trouble with it. And it is not all rosy,” he said. “And the microwave technology has been done before. The electric heating has been done before. There’s a whole bunch of these solvents that have been done before and people are hanging their hats on solvents for SAGD.”

With Conklin mothballed, Petrobank is now focusing on its properties in Kerrobert, Sask. The company started with two pilot wells and has since drilled 10 more. The project is ramping up slower than the company anticipated, and again, Petrobank is adapting as it learns from its errors. It has a better handle on well design and has more efficient air compressors, for example.

“We really haven’t encountered what I would say is a fatal flaw,” Mr. Bloomer said. “We can manage everything that this process throws at us. What we’re working on now is the optimization to get the fastest ramp up on production and to get the biggest volume.”

THAI technology, he argues, is proven and now the company is striving for commercial success. Kerrobert churns out around 350 to 500 barrels a day and Petrobank has spent about $300-million to $400-million there, including land leases. Mr. Bloomer says the company could break even at 800 to 1,000 barrels a day.

aws – Yes…a little fact checking is called for.

“First steam is pumped down the vertical well to heat the bitumen beneath the surface. When the reservoir hits a certain temperature, air is injected down the vertical well and the bitumen or heavy oil auto ignites.” This is not some newly discovered technique. The common term is ‘fire flood” but better called ISC…in situ combustion. And it was applied to fields in CA, La and Texas over 50 years ago. I’ve studied the process extensively. The THAI design is just one of the configurations used. They are correct that ISC could produce greater recovery than steam injection. I won’t go into the very complex details but ISC is just that: very complex. IMHO the most complex and difficult oil patch methodology. But very profitable in the right circumstance.

“However, Petrobank argues THAI did not fail and the company is trying to keep the technology alive in other slices of the oil patch.” I suppose that depends on how one defines “success”. If it means just producing oil then they have succeeded. If you mean commercial success then they may have not succeeded. “THAI technology, he argues, is proven and now the company is striving for commercial success”. Well, da! In general ISC was a proven technical and commercial success a half century ago. What they appear to have been unable to do so far is to prove that their flavor of ISC is worthwhile in these particular reservoirs. “It takes decades to perfect technology in the energy industry”. Not typically but can. And such advances are as much a function of oil price as technology. If oil were selling for $50/bbl I doubt Petrobank would be trying it. Just like all the "new" horizontal and frac techonology being applied in the shales today.

“Mr. Bloomer argues that Petrobank did not yank THAI out of the oil sands because of technical problems. Instead, he said, red tape made Alberta an unfriendly place to do business. The company, he said, made a conscious decision to move out of Alberta because it could move much faster in Saskatchewan.” From what RMG has posted about Alberta’s attitude towards the oil patch that sounds very unlikely. Hopefully RMG will chime in soon. As far as 'red tape' making efforts unbearable I challenge anyone to show a more difficult place to work than Lousisana. And we've poked a lot of holes there and continue to do so today. On my well near the sinkhole I just signed an invoice for $40,000 for hauling rain water of my location while we were drilling. RAIN WATER!!! No, I couldn't pump it into a drainage ditch that was only 30 yards away. La. red tape doesn't allow me to do that. FREAKING RAIN WATER!!! LOL. And a couple of years ago local municipal water treatment plants in PA were dumping nasty and untreated frac fluids into streams? Give me a break.

I doubt that they will find any less red tape in Saskatchewan than Alberta. For the most part, Saskatchewan tends to just copy Alberta regulations.

We had some oil fields that crossed the provincial border, so when we printed out the production reports, we just did a sort on province, did a page eject on province change, and sent half of the report to each province. The format and data were the same. It was much simpler than reporting to different US states, and of course there are a lot more oil producing states (20-odd) than oil producing provinces (5).

The main difference is that in SK they will be dealing with heavy oil instead of bitumen, so it's not as viscous, and the fields in SK are not as large or proliferate, so the government doesn't worry as much about you screwing up the reservoir. In the Alberta oil sands you often have multiple oil and gas formations stacked vertically like a layer cake, with maybe some coal seams and a potential salt mine thrown in for good measure, and they often lease the different formations to different companies, so they don't want one company screwing up everyone else's minerals.

I was involved in SCADA software development for a fire flood pilot in the oil sands some 30 years ago - rather close to Petrobank's THAI pilot in fact - and while it was very successful in producing great new software, it wasn't so good on the oil side. The biggest problem was that we kept losing control of the combustion process, and in fact we blew up a couple of the producing wells when the fire front hit them. They blew the tubing string 100 feet or so in the air and scared the wits out of the operators.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Petrobank was having similar problems,

A year later, Petrobank pulled THAI from its Conklin demonstration project. “We recently encountered evidence of combustion gas possibly migrating up into the McMurray A formation,” the company said in a statement at the time.

It sounds like they may have set fire to the wrong formation, which would have gone over badly with the government. They may have more success in Saskatchewan but I wouldn't hold my breath. We tried a fire flood on a heavy oil field in Alberta quite near the SK border and only succeeded in permanently wrecking the reservoir. Come to think of it, we may be partly responsible for Petrobank's problems with the Alberta regulators. We may have soured them on the whole fire flood concept.

Rocky – I’m a big believer in ISC…if applied to the right reservoir and done properly. Most folks think of CA when it comes to thermal recovery but the most successful efforts I found were in N. La and S Texas. I know a trend in S Texas where a 500 million recoverable oil potential via ISC is possible. Especially with current oil prices. But almost no one left in Texas has any experience with ISC…they’re dead. LOL. Texas A&M has an ISC research lab that almost no working geologist/engineer knows about other than me. Years ago one of bank engineers didn’t want to hear my proposal: when a young buck at Getty he almost “blew his field up one night” while doing an ISC. That was enough for him.

But my economics worked when oil was $40/bbl but I gave up pitching the idea. If no one was doing it in S Texas then it wasn’t worth doing. Which meant no one would try it. And if no one tried then we were stuck in the chicken and egg paradox.

Rockman, I know you're a big fan of ISC. Having participated in a couple of unsuccessful projects, I'm just not as keen.

SAGD, OTOH, works really well. They're getting better and better at it, and it will probably give Canada a 100+ year supply of oil. Other parts of the world - good luck, you're on your own. Find your own oil and develop it if you can. If you can't, be prepared to outbid the Chinese and other interested folks.

Rocky - "I'm just not as keen." But that's the great advantage of working at the theoretical level...one isn't constrained by their experiences. Heck, with you're messed up attitude how did you ever get a wildcat drilled? LOL.

Drilling wildcat wells requires a whole different mindset, which I possibly do not have. An old story, possibly apocryphal, says that H.L. Hunt used to find oil by driving around Texas with a retarded son sitting next to him. Anytime his son got excited, he'd stop, mark the spot, and drill an oil well there. He became a billionaire that way.

Old H.L. had 15 children by three different wives in a somewhat bigamous fashion, and it is questionable how many of them were normal. Possibly none.

H.L. Hunt

He married Lyda Bunker of Lake Village, Arkansas in November 1914, and remained married to her until her death in 1955.[4] His seven children by her were: Margaret (born 1915), Haroldson (“Hassie,” 1917), Caroline (1923), Lyda (1925), Nelson Bunker (1926), William Herbert (1929), and Lamar (1932). Their home to the north of White Rock Lake in Dallas was an exact model of Mount Vernon.

His first son, Hassie, who was expected to succeed him in control of the family business, was lobotomized in response to increasingly erratic behavior. He outlived his father, and was known, for decades following the procedure, to wander the shores of White Rock Lake cloaked in white sheets, as a ghost. Lamar, founded the American Football League; with the input of his children as to the name, created the Super Bowl. Two other children, William and Bunker, are famous for having purchased much of the world's silver, in an attempt to corner the market. They ultimately owned more silver than any government in the world, before their scheme was discovered and undone. Bunker Hunt was briefly one of the wealthiest men in the world, having discovered and taken title to the Libyan oil fields, before Muammar Gaddafi nationalized the properties.

While still married to Lyda, H. L. Hunt is said to have married Frania Tye of Tampa, Florida in November 1925, using the name Franklin Hunt. Frania claimed to have discovered the bigamous nature of her marriage in 1934, and in a legal settlement in 1941, Hunt created trust funds for each of their four children and she signed a document stipulating that no legal marriage between them had ever existed. About the same time she briefly married then divorced Hunt’s employee John Lee, taking the last name Lee for herself and her four children. Her four children by Hunt were: Howard (born 1926), Haroldina (1928), Helen (1930), and Hugh (“Hue,” 1934). Frania Tye Lee died in 2002.

Hunt supported and had children by Ruth Ray of Shreveport, Louisiana, whom he met when she was a secretary in his Shreveport office. They married in 1957 after the death of Hunt’s wife Lyda. His four children by her were: Ray (born 1943), June (1944), Helen (1949), and Swanee (1950). His youngest son, Ray Lee, ultimately inherited the business, and was a major supporter of President George W. Bush.

Rocky - Great story...thanks. Yep, just not the same these days. Instead of wildmen like HL and Mike Halbouty we've got the great "oil men" of today like G. Bush, Tony Hayward and Rick Perry. And the Rockman, of course

It looks like Petrobank stock has fallen from over $30 (Canadian) per share about 4-5 years ago, back when an investor in the company was assisting in Oil Drum posts on the THAI technology, to less than one dollar now:


Suicide of Minister Turns Focus on Crash Taking Toll in Ireland

In Spain, the government said on Nov. 9 it would speed measures aimed at ending evictions after a woman committed suicide as officials tried to remove her from her home for defaulting on the mortgage.

A Greek former deputy interior minister was found dead in a suspected suicide in October, while in April a retired pharmacist shot himself in the head near the parliament in Athens. A note he left blamed economic hardship.

In the U.K., suicides per 100,000 people jumped to 11.8 in 2011 from 11.1 a year before, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday. It was the highest rate for males since 2002.

In Ireland at least, the pattern looks similar to that seen in Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Young men are the most vulnerable, with alcohol abuse being a big factor.

Why the Bank of Canada is keeping close tabs on the oil price gap

There is no more galling weakness than the gap between the world price of oil and the much lower price Western Canadian oil fetches in the United States. It’s the opportunity cost of all opportunity costs.

If Canadian Western Select traded at a more normal level, which Mr. St-Arnaud estimates to be about $10-15 lower than the Brent crude price set in London, Canada would be earning about $2.5-billion more a month from oil exports. The country would be running a trade surplus instead of a small deficit. Mr. St-Arnaud’s estimate implies lost revenue of $30-billion a year, or 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product.

Alberta producers have no easy way to get their oil west or east. Canada now is paying the price for that lack of foresight. Canada imports more than 40 per cent of all the oil it consumes. That’s primarily Central Canada, and consumers and businesses there are paying the world price, not the cheaper Canadian price.

“Our challenge is to develop our commodities intelligently and sustainably and to ensure that the whole country benefits,” Tiff Macklem, the Bank of Canada’s senior deputy governor, said in a speech earlier this month in Kingston, Ont. “Infrastructure investments in pipelines and refineries to get Western heavy oil…to Central Canada and to foreign markets would bring more of the benefits of the commodity boom to more of the country.”