Drumbeat: February 1, 2013

Reshaping Panama Canal Trade Means Boom in U.S. Gas to Asia

Six years after the Panama Canal began a $5.25 billion expansion to capture shipments of Asian-made goods to the U.S. East Coast, the flow of liquefied natural gas in the opposite direction promises to be a better bet.

Shipments of the fuel, along with rising commodity and energy cargoes between the U.S., Latin America and Asia, are likely to provide the largest sources of demand growth when the project is complete in June 2015, Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano said in an interview. Shipping containerized goods, which generate most business for the 50-mile link, has yet to return to the same level as 2007, two years before the global economy had its worst recession since World War II.

The shift shows how rising U.S. shale-gas output is reshaping global energy markets. The Panama Canal enlargement is central to the change because the route cuts voyages by more than 7,500 nautical miles (8,500 miles) to Asia, where fuel demand is growing fastest. The waterway, handling 5 percent of world trade and shipping 333 million metric tons in the year to Sept. 30, is used by as many as 14,000 ships a year, connecting 160 countries and 1,700 ports, according to its website.

Oil Heads for Longest Run of Weekly Gains Since 2004

Oil headed for the longest run of weekly gains in more than eight years in New York before a report that may show the U.S. added jobs last month, signaling economic recovery in the world’s biggest crude consumer.

West Texas Intermediate, little changed today, is poised for an eighth weekly advance, the longest since August 2004. U.S. employers probably added 165,000 workers last month after a 155,000 increase in December, according to a Bloomberg News survey before Labor Department data. Israeli jets hit Syrian trucks carrying anti-aircraft missiles for the Islamic militant group Hezbollah Jan. 29, according to an official who asked not to be named.

Saudi Arabia must shoulder blame for high oil prices: Kemp

Saudi officials will blame speculators for the renewed rise. In a narrow sense they are right. But the fundamental cause is the kingdom's decision to slash production at the end of 2012. The kingdom cut output and exports much too quickly and deeply.

By removing the threat of oversupply, the production cuts removed much of the downside price risk, and encouraged speculators to bet on further rises as the economy recovers and in the event of an upsurge in violence in the Middle East.

Brent Oil Rally May Stall Near $118 a Barrel: Technical Analysis

Brent crude, which gained the most in five months in January, may slow its advance in London as prices reach technical resistance starting at $118 a barrel, according to Societe Generale SA.

The North Sea oil, a benchmark grade for more than half the world’s crude, is approaching a downward-sloping trend line that halted rallies in 2011 and 2012, the bank said in its first- quarter outlook. Beyond that resistance level, further price increases may stall around $127, along the top of a range within which futures have traded since mid-2010.

Chevron profit rises on refining gains, asset swap

(Reuters) - Chevron Corp posted a larger-than-expected rise in quarterly profit on Friday as its refining arm managed to improve earnings despite a fire that crippled the company's oldest refinery last August.

The second-largest U.S. oil producer said fourth-quarter net income rose to $7.2 billion, or $3.70 per share, from $5.1 billion, or $2.58 per share, a year earlier.

Exxon Profit Rises as Cheap U.S. Oil Lifts Refining

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s biggest energy company by market value, said fourth-quarter profit rose to a five-year high as growing supplies of cheap U.S. oil boosted margins from refining crude into fuels.

Net income increased to $9.95 billion, or $2.20 a share, from $9.45 billion, or $1.97 a share, the Irving, Texas-based company said in a statement today. Per-share profit was 20 cents higher than the average of 20 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

SK Innovation Profit Misses Estimate as Refinery Margin Wanes

SK Innovation Co., which owns South Korea’s biggest oil refiner, reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly profit as earnings from cracking crude into fuel products narrowed on weak demand.

Net income was 228 billion won ($209 million) in the three months ended Dec. 31, from 151.2 billion won a year earlier, the Seoul-based company said today in a regulatory filing. That was less than the 392.9 billion won average of 18 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg News

Rosneft 2012 profit below forecasts, cash flow halved

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rosneft, Russia's No.1 oil producer, reported on Friday a forecast-missing 7 percent increase in 2012 net profit, while free cash flow halved ahead of its $55 billion takeover of TNK-BP, sending its shares down.

Rosneft's shares fell 2.3 percent, underperforming a 0.1 percent decline in the Moscow market as the state oil major joined gas export monopoly Gazprom in delivering weak cash flow numbers symptomatic of heavy investment.

North Dakota Went Boom

North Dakota’s last oil boom, 30 years ago, collapsed so quickly when prices crashed that workers in the small city of Dickinson left the coffee in their cups when they quit their trailers. Apostles of “Bakken gold” insist that what’s different this time is that this time is different, the history of frontier avarice notwithstanding. This is the boom that is going to change everything without the remorse and misgivings that have marked the aftermath of so many past orgies of resource extraction. This is the boom that won’t leave the land trashed, won’t destroy communities, won’t afflict the state with the so-called Dutch Disease in which natural-resource development and the sugar rush of fast cash paradoxically make other parts of the economy less competitive and more difficult to sustain. This is the boom being managed by local people certain they know how to look after their interests and safeguard the land they live on. This is the Big One that North Dakota has been waiting for for more than a century.

S. Korea Approves Private Coal Power Plants to Spread Investment

South Korea granted approval for Samsung C&T Corp. and three other private companies to build eight coal-fired power plants as part of an energy plan that spreads investment among state and private power generators.

The companies, including Tongyang Power Co., SK Engineering & Construction Co. and a Dongbu Group unit, will build the plants by 2027, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in an e-mailed statement. Combined, the plants will generate 8,000 megawatts. Investment amounts weren’t revealed.

The winners and losers from the Syria conflict

All roads lead to Damascus…and back out again. Financial and military aid flowing into Syria from Iran, Russia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and other Arabian Gulf states aims to influence the outcome of the conflict between a loose confederation of rebel factions and the Bashar al-Assad regime. But this outside support could merely perpetuate the existing civil war and ignite larger regional hostilities between Sunni and Shia areas, reshaping the political geography of the Middle East.

In many ways, this is a continuation of the historical struggle between Sunni against Shia for dominance in the Islamic world, with Israel as another nearby target. Historical hatred between extremists on both sides of the conflict has already begun to spread fear and influence political sentiment north and east into Turkey and Iraq, west into Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine, and south into Jordan and the Arab Gulf. To understand these trends, it is important to ask: Who benefits from the conflict in Syria, and who loses?

Suicide bombing kills one outside U.S. Embassy in Turkey

(CNN) -- One person died Friday in an apparent suicide bombing outside the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, police said.

Ankara police and health officials said two others were injured in the blast, while Ankara Gov. Aladdin Yuksel said one person was wounded in addition to the one fatality. The suicide bomber also died, authorities said.

Mexico explosion: How will the Pemex blast affect the country's race for oil?

Mexico City - The deadly explosion that shook a national symbol of Mexico – its giant state-owned oil company – threatens to shake public confidence in an oil industry at a crossroads.

Pemex Blast Triggers Security Boost at Oil Plants

Mexico is increasing security at units of Petroleos Mexicanos, power plants and airports as it probes a blast at the headquarters of the state-owned oil company that killed at least 26 people and injured 101.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who had an emergency meeting with Pemex Chief Executive Officer Emilio Lozoya Austin yesterday, plans to visit hospitalized victims today, Pemex said on its Twitter page. The government is increasing security at Pemex storage and production plants, radio Noticias MVX said on its website. The inquiry into the blast is continuing and no cause has been determined, Deputy Interior Minister Eduardo Sanchez said in a telephone interview from the nation’s capital. The Attorney General’s office is probing the explosion.

Algerian army to deploy around energy sites

ALGIERS, Algeria -- Algerian soldiers will start protecting sensitive hydrocarbon sites and electrical plants in this energy-rich country, officials told journalists touring a gas complex where a recent standoff between militants and the army left dozens of foreign hostages dead.

The military also is investigating if an insider helped the militants whose attack led to the four-day hostage crisis at the Ain Amenas complex, the officials said. That probe comes amid unconfirmed reports that BP energy executives were holding a meeting at the site when the attackers arrived, and that the militants sought them out.

Colombia rebels free seized oil workers, kill four soldiers

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's FARC rebels on Thursday freed three oil contractors kidnapped a day earlier, military sources said, though the guerrillas killed four soldiers in the south as they step up pressure during peace talks.

The kidnappings and other violent incidents came days after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, made clear during peace negotiations in Cuba that it would continue to capture armed forces, possibly hampering the talks.

China's narrow focus on oil in South Sudan won't work: US envoy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China needs to move beyond a narrow focus on oil issues in South Sudan and help tackle that country's larger political disputes with Sudan, the outgoing U.S. special envoy to the two African states said on Wednesday.

Nigeria Spill Fines on Shell, Chevron, Not Backed by Law

Fines amounting to $8 billion sought by Nigeria from Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp. for oil spills are not backed by law, said Bukola Saraki, chairman of the country’s Senate Committee on Environment.

“Under the existing law, there is no penalty for oil spills apart from just to clean it up,” Saraki, a senator representing the ruling People’s Democratic Party from central Kwara state, said in an interview in Abuja on Jan. 29. “You only pay 1 million naira ($6,362) for late reporting.”

Ex-BP Trader Accuses Company of Manipulating Gas Prices

The former head of natural gas liquids trading at BP Plc’s BP Energy Co. in Texas accused the company in a lawsuit of wrongfully firing him in order to manipulate the market and gouge Americans with inflated prices.

Drew Sickinger, in a complaint filed Jan. 30 in state court in Houston, said his removal leaves BP positioned to engage in price manipulation by establishing a dominant and controlling position in the market. Details of the plan aren’t revealed in the complaint. BP didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment, sent to its U.S. press office after regular business hours.

Balance oil and gas with deer's best interest

Fortunately, there's an additional option out there dedicated to shedding light on the proposal to potentially drill more than 16,000 new oil and gas wells in the Piceance Basin region surrounding Meeker some refer to as the "mule deer factory." Sportsmen have found interpretive assistance through groups such as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Colorado Wildlife Federation and Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, who spell it out in plain English.

"The proposed management plan allows for a 30 percent decline in mule deer and elk numbers compared to Colorado Parks and Wildlife's long-term population objectives," CBHA co-chairman David Lien told members last week via e-mail.

Equal Pay For Women Has Most Support In New York, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Back Minimum Wage 5-1, Split On Gas Drilling

Voters, however, remain divided on the issue of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale as 43 percent support drilling because of the economic benefits while 42 percent oppose drilling because of environmental concerns.

Support is 48 - 40 percent upstate and 48 - 36 percent in the suburbs while New York City voters are opposed 48 - 36 percent.

Could Scientists Have Prevented the Fukushima Meltdown?

What is the responsibility of Japan’s scientists? To overcome the safety myth, scientists and policymakers need to strike a delicate balance of proximity and distance. This balance was lost in the case of Fukushima, said John Crowley, leader of UNESCO’s Social Dimensions of Global Environmental Change team.

“The experts were far too close to the decision makers … the expertise was not independent enough,” said Crowley. “If scientists are too far from the policy process, then science cannot meaningfully contribute to it, but if they are too close, then it distorts and perverts the science.”

America’s Nuclear Dumpsters

While the rest of America spent January debating new gun control laws, one government agency announced its plans to expand the use of high-capacity magazines, assault weapons, and even fully automatic machine guns. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees the nation's nuclear plants, is seeking the firepower not for securing the plants themselves, but to defend their nuclear waste.

Tough sell for a nuclear energy radical

Takashi Kamei criss-crosses the globe with a packed briefcase, spreading his creed like an evangelist.

His dream is straightforward: raise US$300 million (Dh1.1 billion), build the world's first commercial thorium-fuelled reactor and then convince the world to copy it en masse.

Scam-Ridden U.S. Biofuel Program Targeted for Fix by EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing rules to expand the use of renewable fuels and thwart scams in a program hit by fraud and facing increasing criticisms from U.S. refiners.

The EPA yesterday called for a mandate of 16.55 billion gallons for renewable fuels such as ethanol for this year, up 8.9 percent from 2012 and in line with a target set by Congress. Parties have 45 days to comment before a final mandate is set. The agency also issued rules aimed at preventing scams, after the EPA determined that three separate companies sold fraudulent Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, for fuel they never produced.

Texan-sized battery aims to green up the grid

In a remote corner of west Texas, in the shadow of a sprawling wind farm, one of the world's largest batteries was switched on last week. Deep in oil country, the battery is at the vanguard of efforts to help renewable energy sources realise their potential and, ultimately, oust fossil fuels in the US.

Built for energy giant Duke Energy by local start-up Xtreme Power, the array is the biggest and fastest battery in the world. It can store 36 megawatts of wind power and feed it to the grid over a period of just 15 minutes.

Saudi Arabia Completes Its Biggest Solar Power Plant

Saudi Arabia completed its biggest ground-mounted photovoltaic plant as the world’s largest crude oil exporter seeks to generate a third of its electricity with energy from the sun by 2032.

Officials Back Deep Cuts in Atlantic Cod Harvest to Save Industry

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Fishery management officials meeting here on Wednesday voted to impose drastic new cuts to the commercial harvest of cod along the Atlantic coast, arguing that the only way to save the centuries-old cod fishing industry was to sharply limit it.

EU proposes to ban insecticides linked to bee decline

Insecticides linked to serious harm in bees could be banned from use on flowering crops in Europe as early as July, under proposals set out by the European commission on Thursday, branded "hugely significant" by environmentalists. The move marks remarkably rapid action after evidence has mounted in recent months that the pesticides are contributing to the decline in insects that pollinate a third of all food.

Three neonicotinoids, the world's most widely used insecticides, which earn billions of pounds a year for their manufacturers, would be forbidden from use on corn, oil seed rape, sunflowers and other crops across the continent for two years.

That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer

Traditional New Guineans have to think clearly about dangers because they have no doctors, police officers or 911 dispatchers to bail them out. In contrast, Americans’ thinking about dangers is confused. We obsess about the wrong things, and we fail to watch for real dangers.

Studies have compared Americans’ perceived ranking of dangers with the rankings of real dangers, measured either by actual accident figures or by estimated numbers of averted accidents. It turns out that we exaggerate the risks of events that are beyond our control, that cause many deaths at once or that kill in spectacular ways — crazy gunmen, terrorists, plane crashes, nuclear radiation, genetically modified crops. At the same time, we underestimate the risks of events that we can control (“That would never happen to me — I’m careful”) and of events that kill just one person in a mundane way.

Progress or Collapse? New Book Explains Why Market Greed Fails Us All

DAVIS, Calif. /PRNewswire/ -- Economic progress is heading towards collapse: climate change, peak oil, overpopulation, excessive consumption of natural resources, global financial instability, startling economic inequalities, widespread political inertia, civic disengagement and psychosocial degradation. The global economy is like a train, without a driver, approaching a precipice. How can we change its direction?

A One-Stop Shop for Water Worries

Water, or the lack thereof, is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. As temperatures rise and droughts become more frequent, the threat of dwindling water resources worries not just environmentalists and governments but companies and their investors, too.

Nearly every industrial sector, from food and beverages to mining to pharmaceuticals, depends on water for its operations. Figuring out which places are likely to be hit hardest can help a company either steer clear of a certain region or plan ahead to minimize damage to its business or supply chain.

Now, a new interactive tool is at hand to help clarify those risks.

Why Climate Scientists Have Consistently UNDERestimated Key Global Warming Impacts

A paper recently published in Global Environmental Change by Brysse et al. (2012) examined a number of past predictions made by climate scientists, and found that that they have tended to be too conservative in their projections of the impacts of climate change. The authors thus suggest that climate scientists are biased toward overly cautious estimates, erring on the side of less rather than more alarming predictions, which they call “erring on the side of least drama” (ESLD).

Humans Have Already Set in Motion 69 Feet of Sea Level Rise

Last week, a much-discussed new paper in the journal Nature seemed to suggest to some that we needn't worry too much about the melting of Greenland, the mile-thick mass of ice at the top of the globe. The research found that the Greenland ice sheet seems to have survived a previous warm period in Earth's history—the Eemian period, some 126,000 years ago—without vanishing (although it did melt considerably).

But Ohio State University glaciologist Jason Box isn't buying it.

At Monday's Climate Desk Live briefing in Washington, DC, Box, who has visited Greenland 23 times to track its changing climate, explained that we've already pushed atmospheric carbon dioxide 40 percent beyond Eemian levels. What's more, levels of atmospheric methane are a dramatic 240 percent higher—both with no signs of stopping. "There is no analogue for that in the ice record," Box said.

Al Gore attacks George Osborne's 'short-sighted' approach to climate

Al Gore, the former US Vice President, has accused Chancellor George Osborne of taking a "short-sighted" approach to climate change and green economic growth, warning that businesses increasingly want to see ambitious action on global warming.

Speaking to tonight's Channel 4 News, Gore, who won a Nobel Prize for his role as climate campaigner, said the UK government was making "a terrible mistake" by diluting its commitment to environmental issues.

Carbon Swings Hit Year High Amid Supply Concern

European Union emission permit prices are swinging in the widest range since January 2012, encouraging speculation that may be exacerbating losses amid a supply glut.

Thirty-day historical volatility for December carbon allowances rose to 78 percent yesterday on ICE Futures Europe in London, the highest in a year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The benchmark contract has fallen in 18 of the past 22 sessions and slid 20 percent last week, its biggest drop since the five days through June 24.

'Environment-growth balance not a zero-sum game'

New Delhi -- Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that balancing environment and growth was not a "zero sum" game and there was a need for "transparent, accountable and subject to oversight and monitoring" regulatory framework to purse the two goals in tandem.

The PM made these observations while inaugurating the annual Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) amid the Prime Minister's Office pressing for diluting environmental norms for faster project clearance without an adequate and transparent monitoring mechanism.

India to meet domestic mitigation goal of reducing emissions by 2020: PM

New Delhi (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Thursday said India is committed to meeting its domestic mitigation goal of reducing the emissions intensity of our GDP by 20-25 percent by 2020.

Addressing at the Inaugural Session of Delhi Sustainable Development Summit here, Dr. Singh said: "Our country is committed to meeting its domestic mitigation goal of reducing the emissions intensity of our GDP by 20-25 percent by year 2020 compared with 2005 levels. We have already taken several major steps on the path of low carbon growth. Now is the time for the richer industrialized countries to show that they too are willing to move decisively along this path."

US carbon emissions fall to lowest levels since 1994

America's carbon dioxide emissions last year fell to their lowest levels since 1994, according to a new report.

Carbon dioxide emissions fell by 13% in the past five years, because of new energy-saving technologies and a doubling in the take-up of renewable energy, the report compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) said.

The reduction in climate pollution – even as Congress failed to act on climate change – brings America more than halfway towards Barack Obama's target of cutting emissions by 17% from 2005 levels over the next decade, the Bloomberg analysts said.

$15B Enbridge pipeline network aims to move one million barrels of oil to market

While Alberta worries about the huge gap between Canadian and U.S. oil prices caused by pipeline bottlenecks, Enbridge is working on a series of projects that aim to move more than one million barrels per day to markets.

The combination of line expansions and new construction represents more capacity than TransCanada’s 830,000 bpd Keystone XL pipeline that has dominated the news for over a year as it faced opposition and delays in the U.S.

The biggest new crude highway will be the Gulf Coast Access, a $6.4 billion initiative that is already in partial operation. It involves an expansion of the Enbridge Mainline System to the Chicago area, then the construction of the Flanagan South line connecting that oil with the hub in Cushing, Oklahoma.

Construction of the 600,000 bpd Flanagan South is expected to begin this summer and be open the following year. It follows the existing, and much smaller, right of way used by the Spearhead pipeline. From Cushing, the existing Seaway Pipeline to Houston has been reversed and began carrying 400,000 bpd in January.

By the middle of 2014, a new parallel line with a link to Port Arthur, Texas will be in operation carrying an additional 450,000 bpd to the refineries on the coast.

A second initiative, the $6.2 billion Light Oil Market Access project, will feature the new 375,000 bpd Sandpiper line bringing oil from North Dakota and southern Saskatchewan down to the Chicago area, where several other expansions and additional links will tie-in lines and allow oil to flow south or east.

The third initiative, the $2.7 billion Eastern Access project, will include line upgrades to the current line to Sarnia — including replacement of much of the infamous Line 6B which leaked in Michigan in 2010.

By 2014, Enbridge expects to have 300,000 bpd moving east from Sarnia through a reversed Line 9 to refineries in the Toronto area and Montreal, replacing current imports from the North Sea, West Africa and the Middle East which arrive via a pipeline from Portland, Maine.

Well it is ironic that the oil companies may wind up fostering the building of
more freight Rail. After the Shale Oil bubble bursts hopefully these Rails could
be useful for moving from trucks to freight Rail. I guess it depends on the endpoints.

So a positive for Suncor and all in the 2014/15 time frame.

OPEC crude production drops to 15-month low

Output in the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries slipped 525,000 barrels, or 1.7 percent, to an average 30.479 million barrels a day this month from a revised 31.004 million in December, the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts showed. The December total was revised 430,000 barrels a day lower mostly because of the change to the Saudi number.

Opec oil output falls in January

Opec output is now down by 1.22m b/d from its April 2012 peak of 31.75m before the European Union implemented an oil embargo on Iran and as Saudi Arabia lifted output to bring prices down from a year-high $128 a barrel. The survey indicates Saudi Arabia has not reopened the taps after trimming output in the last two months of 2012 in response to a lull in international demand and a seasonally lower requirement for crude in domestic power plants.

“I would not think that Saudi Arabia has increased output with customers cutting nominations and its own crude burning lower in January,” said Paul Tossetti, senior energy adviser at PFC Energy...

Saudi Arabia trimmed supply by a further 100,000 b/d in January, according to the survey. Its reduction in December supported the market, although a senior Saudi oil ministry adviser said the move was not aimed at lifting prices.

Saudi Arabia continues to cut production, either that or their production continues to decline. I have no doubt that Saudi was producing flat out back in June when they produced about 10 million barrels per day. Then I suspect that production began to decline. How much it has declined by today is anyone's guess. But they may be deliberately cutting production somewhat in order to raise production later. That way they can say "See, we can increase production if we desire to do so."

But the fact that their production is going down at a time when oil prices are going up should tell us something. And the fact that they are adding drilling rigs as never before is also an indication that something is going on. They will have from 160 to 170 rigs in operation by years end, the highest in their history by a long shot. Just a few years ago they were getting by with just 20 or so rigs.

Ron P.

Annual Saudi net oil exports for 2002 through 2011 (BP, total petroleum liquids, mbpd):

2002: 7.2
2003: 8.3
2004: 8.7
2005: 9.1
2006: 8.7
2007: 8.3
2008: 8.4
2009: 7.3
2010: 7.2
2011: 8.3

Annual Global (Brent) crude oil prices showed three straight year over year increases from 2002 to 2005, with annual Brent prices doubling from $25 in 2002 to $55 in 2005. The cumulative increase between what the Saudis would have net exported at their 2002 net export rate of 7.2 mbpd and what they actually net exported for 2003 to 2005 inclusive was 1.6 Gb, an average increase of about 1.5 mbpd per year over the 2002 rate.

Annual Global (Brent) crude oil prices showed year over year increases for five of the six years from 2005 to 2011, with annual Brent prices doubling from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011. The cumulative decline between what the Saudis would have net exported at their 2005 net export rate of 9.1 mbpd and what actually net exported for 2006 to 2011 inclusive was 2.3 Gb, an average decline of about 1.1 mbpd per year relative to the 2005 annual rate.

Westexas... I thought I would take a stab at the decline of Net Oil Exports from the Middle East. I assume a conservative 1% annual decline rate with an increased consumption based on past trends.

Of course this is a conservative estimate, with the actual outcome that could show a much lower Middle East net oil exports by 2025.

Just a thought (and I'm not trying to troll here), what if Armaco *still* only has 170 or so rigs (vs. the U.S.'s 2,000+) because they haven't even begun to tap into their smaller more marginal fields --unlike the U.S. Even at significantly higher production costs and lower EROEI, is it possible untapped reserves in these fields could make up the difference from the ongoing decline of the supergiants? I know Aramco is notorious for giving vague unreliable numbers on its reserves, but just wondering.

If they increase the number of rigs to around 2000+ they decrease the problem with unemployment. The basic problem is the dinosaurs are dead the best piece is gone even if they could increase production for a while. So how long is a while? It could be a few years, 10 years or 30 years but it is only a matter of time anyway.

Yeah, the big question is how much of this cut-back is intentional? I suspect most of it. I think they'll stabilize and if prices keep going up too much then they'll increase production. But I'm just guessing. Only the Saudi's know.

But I sure think all those people who yammered on about the great American oil empire in recent months sure have egg on their faces right now.

Yeah, the big question is how much of this cut-back is intentional? I suspect most of it.

I'm not sure about that. With Brent above $110/barrel and a young, restless population, the Saudi princes have strong motivation to extract as much as they can.

A few months ago, someone posted a link to an article, in wich some other guy in KSA said the addition of more rigs was to maintain, not increase, production levels.

Anyone remember that article?

There have been lots of them so I don't know which one you are referring to. But:

Saudi Aramco drilling-rigs count to jump 12% in 2012

The oil drilling is mainly to “replace capacity declines that result from ongoing production” and “will not add new capacity, except for the Manifa drilling,” al-Husseini said.

That, or something to that effect, is what they always say when they are adding new rigs, injecting CO2 in Ghawar or looking for oil in the Red Sea under a 7,000 foot salt layer.

Ron P.

Any news regarding Chesapeake CEO resigning/getting fired (and possible shale gas industry financial bubble in general) ?

I news-googled every thing I could think of and came up with nothing. There was this from January 11 which was posted on TOD back then. A Contrarian View on the Shale Oil and Gas Revolution.

The data out of North Dakota for December will be out in 10 to 12 days. That should give us some idea of what is happening there.

Ron P.

Last I read: Embattled Chesapeake CEO McClendon to step down:

Chesapeake Energy announced Tuesday that embattled CEO and co-founder Aubrey McClendon will retire from the company in April.

The Oklahoma-based firm faced scrutiny last year after Reuters reported that McClendon had taken out more than $1 billion in loans against his personal stakes in the company's wells. Chesapeake subsequently revealed that it was the subject of an inquiry from the Securities and Exchange Commission, and announced that the program through which McClendon acquired his stakes would be ended early.

In a statement released after the closing bell Tuesday, Chesapeake's board praised McClendon's "strong leadership" and said an "extensive review" of his alleged conflicts of interest had yet to uncover any improper conduct.

Uh huh... The article goes on:

"[A]s the company moves towards more fully developing the value of its outstanding assets, Chesapeake is at an important transition in its history and Aubrey and the Board of Directors have agreed that the time has come for the company to select a new leader," Chesapeake chairman Archie Dunham said in the company's statement Tuesday.

Investors bought up CHK stock after the news was announced that the CEO was stepping down. I found it somewhat interesting that they think CHK has a management issue more than they have a profitability issue. They lost $2,000,000,000 in the last quarter reported. I do hope shale gas continues for another couple of decades since I don't want to end up choking on smog from wood-burning stoves.

Chesapeake gains $1.4 billion in market cap on McClendon exit

Link up top: Saudi Arabia must shoulder blame for high oil prices

And Saudi is blaming the high prices on speculators. That's a laugh. What would they do if there were no speculators around to blame everything on?

Saudi Arabia has more than 3 million barrels per day of unused production capacity, according to its own estimates, and can push prices lower at any time by discounting its crude to sell more, build inventory and force the market into contango.

But speculators have concluded (correctly) the kingdom has no intention of using its spare capacity to force prices lower at present.

Speculators may have concluded that Saudi has no spare capacity whatsoever. But the Saudi spare capacity meme is so set into the mind of most of MSM that they cannot imagine that Saudi may be producing flat out, and their production is just naturally in decline. But something may pop... and soon.

Edit: Brent just hit $117 a barrel. They are blaming it on the suicide bombing at the US Embassy in Turkey.

Ron P.

Oh, I think they have spare capacity. But most of that 'spare capacity' is useless because it is heavy sour oil that few can refine. And there may be some spare capacity of lighter oil production that they don't want to use such that the speculators are correct. The speculators are a great frenemy for the Saudis . . . the Saudis can publicly chastise them for increasing oil prices while simultaneously privately praising them for increasing oil prices. Win-win!

Well, it looks like everyone blames everyone besides themselves. If only we would start using less then prices should come down too, unless there really is no cheap easy oil left at all. But I guess it's easier to blame others then to drive a bicycle for once.

The Panama Canal and LNG: “Six years after the Panama Canal began a $5.25 billion expansion to capture shipments of Asian-made goods to the U.S. East Coast, the flow of liquefied natural gas in the opposite direction promises to be a better bet…. The shift shows how rising U.S. shale-gas output is reshaping global energy markets.”

Time tell how much this impacts exports of US LNG. There are trillions of cu ft of proven NG in offshore areas off the northern coast of South America including Venezuela. There’s been little market for it. And given the high cost of LNG trains that outlet hasn’t developed to any great degree. But some years ago China contracted long term heavy crude deals with Vz that required China to build special tankers and refineries to handle the stuff. Might not be too much of a push to see China do something similar with the locked up NG in the region. Vz can sell it cheap because they aren’t getting anything for it now and China would always rather own production then buy it from someone. And no doubt they can build LNG trains cheaper than anyone else.

I went on a tour of the canal about a year ago. And the guide mentioned just that, Rock, as partial rationale for the expansion. The existing canal is too small for most oil tankers, and the China-Venezuela links were stressed.

Balboa has grown to something beyond gargantuan.

On the N Dakota “perpetual” boom: “Apostles of “Bakken gold” insist that what’s different this time is that this time is different, the history of frontier avarice notwithstanding.” A very funny statement IMHO and also very sad if some folks believe it. The “history” they refer to is that every boom there has ever been in the oil patch has eventually busted. Not a lot of them…not the majority of them…but every one of them.

“This is the boom being managed by local people certain they know how to look after their interests and safeguard the land they live on.” And thus the implication that the folks managing the E Texas shale boom in the ’08 didn’t know how to deal with a boom. A play managed by locals in an area that once saw one of the great oil booms on the planet when the east Texas Oil Filed was discovered. And in an area with other booms that followed which also eventually busted. Managed by some of the most sophisticated and experienced companies in the business. None of which mattered when NG drop for almost $13/mcf to eventually less than $3/mcf. A boom that led Devon to contract 18 drilling rigs themselves in mid ’08 followed by a bust less than 8 months later that led Devon to pay a $40 million penalty by termination 14 of those rig contracts. Devon: a company considered by many to be one of the savviest players in the game.

As far as I can tell the dynamics that are driving the boon in ND are to a very large degree no different than the dynamics that have driven every boom in the past. And yet they want to sell the idea the system has undergone major structural changes and history won’t repeat itself. The only question IMHO is what audience are they trying to mislead.

Jared Diamond's article has some strange logic in it, it seems to me.

When he tosses in GMOs and Radiation as hazards that perhaps 'we're too obsessed about', I have to say it comes across as that man who wanted to tell the New Guineans that their worry about whether a dead tree would fall on the tent was similarly overobsessive to what seemed to be a remote danger. (That was an example in his article)

We've now set up just such a spread of 'dead trees' across our society, and have 'heard some spectacular treefalls at night' more than a few times now.

Are the New Guineans really just counting out the statistical Tree Hit Percentages, or are they instead being cautious and vigilant about the serious Downside Risks inherent in ignoring the warnings they were shown before?

Again, how much of the public monies in Ukraine and in Japan are going solely into dealing with Chernobyl and Fukushima management, and how else could these societies be helping its people every day without such a burden?

It occurs to me that if the New Guineans were smart, like us, they would build big fences around their dead trees and post guards armed with high-capacity automatic spear launchers. Just sayin'...

"I have to say it comes across as that man who wanted to tell the New Guineans that their worry about whether a dead tree would fall on the tent was similarly overobsessive to what seemed to be a remote danger."

I think you misread the article. He was actually praising the New Guineans for paying attention to such low-level hazards, encountered frequently - if something is a one in a thousand chance, if you give it 10 thousand chances, there's a good chance for it to happen.

That said, I'm not a big JD fan. As far as his radiation and GMO examples, I don't think he understands the difference between something happening at low probabilities that takes some people out, and things that poison the commons forever.

But he will say whatever he wants - he's a star now, is ol' JD.

It was a nice essay. And he's absolutely right, at least for the average person - GMOs or radiation are much less likely to kill you than, say, a falling tree. Or a shower. But applying the same risk analysis to nuclear power plants or genetically modified organisms as a whole, asking what the risk across society is, leads to much worse than 1/1000 odds. What are the odds that putting herbicide resistance and Bt production in plants will end up leading to herbicide resistant weeds and Bt resistant insects? It's a near certainty, and in fact both things have already occured! What are the odds of a nuclear power plant blowing up? Well, 2 have blown up, and the total operating is about 390 (there are more than 400 but many are not in operation). So, it's 2/390 = 1/195. A lot worse than 1/1000.

So yes, paying attention to relatively small risks is very important.

"much less likely to kill you than, say, a falling tree."? Statistically forest work is among the most dangerous ... I got your point and most ordinary people do not work in forest.

It is not just the 1/195 risc of an accident if it last for a few hundred years it is approximately equal to 1/2 which last for a few years.

There may also be positive effects on the wildfile if it does not kill to many of the animals and keep people away.

Among may things I also do forestry work and can confirm it is dangerous. But also simply living a rural life is dangerous. I'm always surprised by the death toll among the animals, they rarely die of old age. The advantage we humans have is that we're intelligently aware of potential dangers and its usually carelessness that leads us into trouble. Every time I leave my house I know that if I'm not careful I won't be coming back. And that's whether I'm going to the forest or just going out to check on the chickens. When you live with nature you become acutely aware of its random lethality (sometimes when people from Paris come to see us they can't even get from the gate to the front door without mishap).

Strangely, I also see the dangers of GMO's, nuclear power and climate change. I guess the difference is the scale, I can avoid straight forward risks relatively easily by being careful, on the other hand, to avoid the risks of say climate change I need to do far more to avoid the risk (ie. its inherently a bigger prolem).

The probability of breaking your neck in the woods is one thing. As someone who has been doing woods work for decades, I fully understand how dangerous it can be. And didn't I slip on the ice and bedazzle myself for a few moments just this afternoon while going out to the barn to check on the chickens - funny you should mention that. If you are careless, you can get yourself killed. This is obviously not a good outcome, but...

If a nuclear power plant goes haywire, people may or may not be killed immediately, but the stuff accumulates down the years in ways that are not fully understood, polluting the genome in ways nobody knows. It is a hugely bigger problem, for a lot of reasons. Ditto potential issues with GMO's.

If you decide to live a certain, let us say, dangerous lifestyle, and you meet with disaster, it is too bad for you and your family. But when nuclear power plants run amok, or GMO crops tinker with ecosystems both large and small (one's own microbiota), it is a different class of problem. It's not just quantity, i.e. scale, it's quality. Also in duration.

That's why I think that Jared Diamond was very wrong to casually lump GMO's and radiation with the other risks. It betrays a lack of understanding of risk assessment at best, and is disingenous at worst. Who knows which, I don't. But he's supposed to be a smart guy.

He seems to have confused the risk to a single individual with the risk presented to a civilization.

Risk that a Nuke-ya-Ler plant explosion will kill an individual is extraordinarily low, but the risk that there will be a meltdown or explosion is currently looking pretty effin' high. Someone mentioned 2 in 390 above, which doesn't count 3 mile's mild meltdown - pushing the number to 3 in 390 or 1 in 130. It's just a matter of time, literally, until the next one goes - it's a non-zero probability which means that given enough time it will occur.

Risk that any one person is deadly-allergic to GMO foods is, as far as I know, low but the risk that a GMO will be made which almost everyone is allergic to and that it will be wind-spread and propagate destroying the viability of say, wheat, as a human food across the globe...non-zero.

the risk that a GMO will be made which almost everyone is ...

You are right this issue should be handled a lot more careful. If it is applied to a large portion of our food everywhere around the globe it should be handled very careful or simply limit the use for quite a long time.

I agree some staples should be sacrosanct and not manipulated this way. And anything they cross with easily. With the crops that are already manipulated, let the companies keep proving they can add value and make things better in a good cost/benefit sense. However, I'm not an expert, and if it the food system blows up really severely, we're all in the same boat anyway. And I think that will mean each person for themselves but I could be wrong.

In my opinion, a lot of people have a strange attitude towards nuclear power. There seems to be a general inability to understand the risk in proportion to other risks. Why would a person be willing to accept a 1/200 risk of dying in a car accident and then unwilling to accept a 1 in 1 million risk of dying due to a nuclear accident? Why is one particular hazard more acceptable than another? Would it be sensible to stop using cars all over the world, if there were a major car accident killing 100 people in Japan? Would any sensible person suggest such a thing everytime there was a car crash somewhere in the world?

A nuclear meltdown is a pollution hazard. Exposure to the radioactive pollution will increase a person's future risk of cancer and shorten their life expectancy. Big dose = big risk. Small dose = small risk. The actual consequence to a person is the same as being exposed to carcinogenic exhaust fumes from a car or smoke from a chimney stack - an increase in the future risk of cancer. The risk is smaller, because exhaust fumes are all around us all of the time, but the meltdown is unlikely to happen within 10 miles of you within your lifetime.

Why would the risk need to be zero in order to be acceptable? How many other human technologies are seriously judged in this way and why would we expect it to be any different?

People need to get real about this in a big hurry. Over the next 30 years, the western world needs to build something like 1000 large nuclear reactors for the simple reason that the risk of starving to death will otherwise be much higher. There may be occasional meltdowns in the future. We will need to live alongside radioactive pollution and deal with the problem, in the same way we do exhaust fumes. But reducing millions to poverty on the off-chance that there might be a nuclear meltdown somewhere in the next 100 years, makes no sense at all to me.

"a lot of people have a strange attitude towards nuclear power"

Strange attitudes like seeing them as a multi-thousand year source of cancer and mutagen production...

"But reducing millions to poverty on the off-chance that there might be a nuclear meltdown somewhere in the next 100 years, makes no sense at all to me."

The OFF chance A meltdown in 100 years? We've already had THREE within 30 years! Do you know how many of those things are within a stone's throw of major population centers?

"a lot of people have a strange attitude towards nuclear power"

Strange attitudes like seeing them as a multi-thousand year source of cancer and mutagen production...

"But reducing millions to poverty on the off-chance that there might be a nuclear meltdown somewhere in the next 100 years, makes no sense at all to me."

The OFF chance A meltdown in 100 years? We've already had THREE within 30 years! Do you know how many of those things are within a stone's throw of major population centers?

There are lots of things all around us that are causing cancer/mutagens all of the time. Radium in our water supply, Fungus in our grain, Air pollution, obesity, cigarretes...the list is almost endless. Even by completely abandoning the modern world we would not get away from all of them and we would be driving up other risks (starvation, disease) by attempting to do so. You can only really make a sensible judgement on each by comparing actual risks and that is exactly what you are not doing.

Also, it is worth noting that neither the Fukushima nor Chernobyl accidents present multi-thousand year cancer or mutagen risks. The half-life of ceasium-137 (the only significant pollutant remaining at either site) is only 30 years. Practically all other fission products (I-131, Cs-134) are much shorter lived. This means that most of the cancer risk has already gone from Chernobyl. At Fukushima, even if one assumes normal occupancy of contaminated areas and LNT assumptions on dose response, the result would be a few thousand early deaths from cancer. For most people this would mean a slightly higher change that otherwise of dying from cancer. Total life years lost would be equivelent to perhaps a big air accident. Not inconsequential to be sure, but not really off the scale compared to other threats that human beings have to face.

Do people not understand what Half life Means. In 30 years you are correct Caesium 137 will have halfed. Half of a huge amount is still a lot. 10 halfings to return to base level ie 300 Years.
Question,How long untill it is safe to eat the fish caught 250,000 leagal limit of Caesium.

A multiple car accident in Japan killing even 1000 people doesn't represent the same hazards as the Spent Fuel pools and Tottering Reactor Buildings at Fukushima, which are now and will be for many, many years threatening to put HIGH DOSES of pollution into Air and Waterborne Vectors around MILLIONS of people and productive (and once-productive) Farmland, Fishing areas, Towns and Cities.

To propose 1000 new reactors putting other lands and populations under the same threats.. you'll have to find a real comparison to the risks and the costs.

How you suggest that a Thousand new reactors will keep people from starving is another connection that you need to spell out.. since I don't believe it would add up. There are farms and farmers around Fukushima which will NEVER produce food again, same as Chernobyl. These regional budgets are now getting crushed trying to deal with these disasters, and will be for a generation at least, and so social service money is eroded with every Ruble or Yen that goes into cleaning up radiation-tained water and soil.

And so YES, you provide a fine example of how Diamond's way of painting our perception of dangers can be very wily and skewed by some completely unclear (not Nuclear) associations and assumptions. Just not the ones he was necessarily pointing towards.

To your first question, the risks to me of having a Car Accident aren't just a flat statistic. I can do a great many things to affect my odds, either with personal behavior and the ways, times and places I travel, and in my role as a citizen, working with local gov't, for example, to improve hazardous situations.. so the answer is largely that we DON'T just accept those odds. We know life has dangers, and we work to make things as well-structured as possible.

I will try to answer one point at a time.

A multiple car accident in Japan killing even 1000 people doesn't represent the same hazards as the Spent Fuel pools and Tottering Reactor Buildings at Fukushima, which are now and will be for many, many years threatening to put HIGH DOSES of pollution into Air and Waterborne Vectors around MILLIONS of people and productive (and once-productive) Farmland, Fishing areas, Towns and Cities.

Actually it does. In both cases we are talking about people being injured or killed. That is why we are concerned with radiation and other pollution in the first place. A large air accident could kill hundreds if not thousands of people. By your reasoning, should we not abandon air travel?

There is indeed a threat of additional radiation release from spent fuel at Fukushima. The threat depends on the fuel inventory, decay heat level and mobility of any reduced activity. To use an analogy, there is enough cadmium, lead and other heavy metals in US waste dumps to kill millions. Why are we not running for the hills?

To propose 1000 new reactors putting other lands and populations under the same threats.. you'll have to find a real comparison to the risks and the costs.

Agreed, such a comparison should always be carried out and I suppose that is a big part of my point. It would clearly take a lot more time than I have to present such a comparison (though I have done so before). I merely wish to point out that you need to employ a sensible risk analysis in decisions over future energy. Otherwise you end up talking nonsense, rather like equating the risk from an aeroplane flight to its worst possible consequence, like flying into a crowded football stadium. It could theoretically happen and probably will one day, but it isn't representative of the day to day risk that people take in allowing aeroplanes to fly above them.

How you suggest that a Thousand new reactors will keep people from starving is another connection that you need to spell out.. since I don't believe it would add up.

Agreed. Nuclear reactors provide bulk electricity. In series production their actual affordability as a wholesale replacement for fossil fuels depends strongly on the specifics of the nuclear technology, such as capital costs, power density and whole site EROI. How to use bulk electricty to replace fossil fuels deserves the attention of a full professional study, as we are heading towards that outcome whatever energy sources we use in the future.

There are farms and farmers around Fukushima which will NEVER produce food again, same as Chernobyl. These regional budgets are now getting crushed trying to deal with these disasters, and will be for a generation at least, and so social service money is eroded with every Ruble or Yen that goes into cleaning up radiation-tained water and soil.

I personally think that the response to these accidents is likely to be inappropriate and disproportionate, precisely because people are not properly weighing up real risks and costs. Large areas of land around Fukushima and Chernobyl were contaminated with volatile fission products. The half-life of radiologically significant products like I-131 and Cs-134 are 8 days and 2 years respectively. These account for most of the initial activity. Ceasium-137 accounts for practically all of the longer term contamination (half-life = 30 years).

There is no simple answer as to how long an individual farm must wait before returning to production. It partly depends upon how much risk from radioactivity in food you are prepared to tolerate. Would you exclude 1000 km2 of land from food production to prevent 100 theoretical cancers over the next 100 years? You can’t really answer that question without risk analysis. Quite a lot radioactivity is present in food naturally, but radioactive fallout adds some more on top of that. If the added risk is small, then you may conclude it to be tolerable, maybe not. Clearly the amount of time depends upon the dose limit and the soil contamination level. If you conclude that the required residual risk must be absolutely zero, then you will indeed be waiting forever. We can gain some insight from the half-life of the soil contaminants. For farms with marginal contamination levels at the time of the accident, it is probably safe to return to production now, as Cs-134 has gone through 1 half-life already and I-131 over 70 half-lives. For farms heavily contaminated with Cs-137, it may be decades before they can start producing edible foods again. For very heavily contaminated areas close to the reactor, maybe even centuries. But from contamination maps that I have seen, this would only appear to apply to quite a small area of land.

And so YES, you provide a fine example of how Diamond's way of painting our perception of dangers can be very wily and skewed by some completely unclear (not Nuclear) associations and assumptions. Just not the ones he was necessarily pointing towards.

In which case I have failed to convey a proper understanding of the situation.

To your first question, the risks to me of having a Car Accident aren't just a flat statistic. I can do a great many things to affect my odds, either with personal behavior and the ways, times and places I travel, and in my role as a citizen, working with local gov't, for example, to improve hazardous situations.. so the answer is largely that we DON'T just accept those odds. We know life has dangers, and we work to make things as well-structured as possible.

And you may succeed to a limited extent. But by doing anything in life you take risks. Car travel is one of the biggest you will ever take no matter how careful you think you are. So how do you decide if the risk is worth taking?

A few statistics relevant to my own neck of the woods:

1. In the late 1980s, it was estimated that fossil fuel burning in UK towns and cities was responsible for 10,000 additional cancer deaths (relative to the countryside) every year;

2. A large coal burning plant (500MWe) discharges enough benzo-pyrene into the air per year to cause 2 million theoretical cancers, though little is directly inhaled. But how much rains out over farmland?

3. Some 4000 people die every year on UK roads and many times more are seriously injured, many of them children.

These are routine risks taht we all take every day. If nuclear power presents unacceptable risks, how do these risks stack up in comparison?

Your last statistic seems incorrect ("some 4000 people die every year on UK roads"). The latest number is 1,901:


I've not checked your other statistics.

People need to get real about this in a big hurry. Over the next 30 years, the western world needs to build something like 1000 large nuclear reactors for the simple reason that the risk of starving to death will otherwise be much higher.

Would you mind backing up your simple reason by providing some actual facts and numbers that anyone can look at?

We will need to live alongside radioactive pollution and deal with the problem, in the same way we do exhaust fumes.

Interesting point of view. Perhaps you might want to re-examine what your needs really are. In my case, I've already invested some considerable time and effort in doing a triage of my needs and have found them to be fewer by far and quite different than what most seem to believe. Granted, your own mileage may vary.

But reducing millions to poverty on the off-chance that there might be a nuclear meltdown somewhere in the next 100 years, makes no sense at all to me.

Again, do you have some data that backs up your conclusion or is this just a hunch on your part?

People need to get real about this in a big hurry. Over the next 30 years, the western world needs to build something like 1000 large nuclear reactors for the simple reason that the risk of starving to death will otherwise be much higher.

Would you mind backing up your simple reason by providing some actual facts and numbers that anyone can look at?

There are a lot of unemployed and poorly nourished people in the western world right now as a direct consequence of fossil fuel depletion and the economic problems that have resulted. As oil and natural gas production continue to deplete and economic activity is constrained, life will only get worse for the majority of people. The number of hungry will increase, living standards will go down and life expectancy will slip further, eventually to third world conditions.

We can substitute fossil fuel energy with renewable energy, but generally at a much greater cost than we have traditionally paid, much like shale gas and tight oil, too expensive to make any practical difference. Nuclear (PWR) powerplants built under series production can generate at $0.03/Kwh (this is the bulk electricity price in France, where 75% of electricity is nuclear and large hydro makes up the balance). Cheaper energy means improved living standards. What more proof is needed?

I know that a glut in energy helps to alleviate poverty but even during the boom years of fossil fuels the western world still suffered quite significantly from poverty - not third world level poverty but there were substantial sectors of society living on quite a lot less than others.

Personally I don't think a switch to nuclear power would do a great deal to reverse the lack of growth in the western world as the factors which are causing it are not entirely based on energy.

More energy won't be the solution to the problems we're suffering - it will at best be a palliative to keep us going a little bit longer without actually addressing the fundamental flaws built in to today's societies. One of those fundamental flaws in my opinion is an ever increasing dependence on a glut of energy.

Why would a person be willing to accept a 1/200 risk of dying in a car accident and then unwilling to accept a 1 in 1 million risk of dying due to a nuclear accident?

We fear the risks we have no personal control over. We think our auto-accident risk can be controlled (I'm a careful driver -it doesn't apply to me). Also our emotional brains don't do statistics, rather the salience of the emotional experience of thinking about what the experience would be like living (or dying) through is what affects our perception.

Of course we could dispute your one in a million number, but thats an entirely different discussion. I don't think historical experience with old designs and sloppy operations tells us the risk for new plants either. Presumably we've learned a thing or three.

Frankly, while there is a risk that people will die from nuclear power, there is a greater risk that billions of people will die or at least suffer greatly from the existence of industrial civilization as we know it. There are so many things threatening life on this planet that I see the risks from nuclear power low on the totem pole.

The meltdown in Japan was a tragedy. However, what we are doing to this planet is an ongoing tragedy. Whether it makes sense to spend billions on nuclear power is another issue as some believe that we can avoid both nuclear and coal and still be able to adequately meet our needs. That might very well be possible but not if billions of dollars are spent investing in coal and other fossil fuels.

You're mixing up reactor counts verses plants(Fukushima is three meltdown/core breaches).

We now have a total of 4 complete meltdowns(out of ~437 NPR's), or just about 1 out of 110 have suffered total meltdown. A another nine partial meltdowns(1 in 50 or so), just in the industrial electrical power production sector.

Tack on the weekly radionuclide releases from each operational reactor.
Add in all the spent fuel rods to the problem...

We'll be better off if we just shut them all down(like Germany, Japan).
Human society is not mature enough to deal with these issues intelligently.

Who knows which, I don't. But he's supposed to be a smart guy.

Well, I've known some pretty smart guys and gals who upon occasion have said and done some incredibly stupid things. Myself included!

Odds are a bit off
Seven Nuclear plants that I know off have blown up Winscale UK,Three Mile Isl 1, Chernobyl 3, Fukushima 1,2,3,&4 7/390 55:1
Not very good

Not really a useable comparison. Windscale was a 1950s air-cooled military reactor. Chernobyl was a graphite moderated, water cooled reactor developed by the Soviets in the 1950s. How much do these two events tell us about the safety of a modern pressurised water reactor? It's like comparing the risk from a 19th century steam engine explosion to a modern gas turbine. In both cases the risks are not zero, but one cannot gain a meaningful comparison of one risk by looking at the other.

And the Fukushima and Three Mile Island plants were Gen2 power plants built when nuclear engineering was in its infancy, to a very different design basis and level of understanding of natural hazards than we have available today. The Fukushima plant was located on the coast, a few miles from one of the largest fault lines on Earth. Do you think we can seriously assume that risks from this plant are typical of what we can expect from a Gen3 or Gen4 reactor, built in the US or Europe today?

Each plant must be examined on an individual basis. The large release frequency will depend upon its design basis, the fault tolerance of the design, geological conditions (and other external threats), operator training and plant maintenance. To work out the core damage frequency one would would need to carry out a detailed PSA (probabilistic safety analysis) for a specific plant in a specific location. The same plant design may have a low CDF in one location, but a much higher CDF in another.

Think of it like this: 1000 nuclear power plants of different design are constructed in various locations.

Some 900 power plants have a CDF of 1 in 1000,000 years;
Some 90 have a CDF of 1 in 100,000 years;
Some 9 have a CDF of 1 in 10,000 years;
And 1 has a CDF of 1 in 100 years.

What is the overall CDF? 1 in 79 years. The global frequency is absolutely dominated by a single plant. What would the meltdown of that plant tell me about the nuclear power plant 10 miles away from me?

The argument is always the same: Those accidents/meltdowns/etc. were caused by the old/poor/whatever reactor designs. The ones we have now are safe. We've heard this same argument for decades. Yet there continue to be many, many unsafe reactors built throughout the world.

This is just like the forecasts for Fusion power where it's always 30 years in the future, the safe reactor designs are always the ones we have now. Why does now never arrive?

The argument is always the same: Those accidents/meltdowns/etc. were caused by the old/poor/whatever reactor designs.

Well, that's perfectly reasonable. Accidents reveal design flaws and/or regulatory policy flaws, which can then be taken into account in the future.

The ones we have now are safe.

Safety is a relative thing, and should be compared to benefits too. They are relatively quite safe (as were the less safe ones before) but it seems like for some ideological reason or because of some superstition some people demand unreasonable levels of safety. Also, it's more like "the ones that will be built from now on" are safer than "the ones we have now".

Why does now never arrive?

Widespread anti-nuclear nuttiness seems to be a big reason why new, even safer reactors are hard to build. It needs government approval to be built, after all, as well as otherwise friendly policies to succeed in the market just like all other energy technologies do. The uninformed opposition seems like a bad thing for the climate and environment from a human point of view, as well as bad for the non-human nature of this planet that has to suffer from more fossil fuel production and use than it otherwise would.

I've said before his take on the Bitterroot Valley in "Collapse" was out to lunch. Still think that, but not having been to Greenland, Easter Island, etc, it's hard to draw a personal bead on the rest of the book. But I have to agree with his overall thesis in Guns, Germs and Steel. Maybe he's like a bunch of us...don't use beyond the expiration date.

Thanks for giving your point of view. A quick observation by someone on TOD on this guy is appreciated. I searched Bitterroot and "bitter root" on TOD but ended up empty handed. I enjoyed GGS. I like the idea behind publishing a book like Collapse also but never got around to reading that one entirely. Not sure if I will, there are too many good books. Probably better ones on that subject, like the one I believe Gail used in an article, can't remember exactly. May find if needed.

Rock, I was a kid in Houma, La. in the late 1970's and the early 1980's. I should have been too young to remember that, but I remember all too well. In the early eighties everyone was told that the oil boom would last 20 to 40 years. Local government built elaborate buildings and schools, service companies grew based off of irrational promises from oil companies of the future, banks loaned money based off of these same projections. Then it all went away, people lost homes, businesses went bankrupt and local government had to downsize quickly.

In New Roads, Louisiana there were those same promises after the early 1980's bust and many people (although on a smaller scale) fell for the same promises, then it went away. When I heard the same type of propaganda in Pennsylvania and North Dakota it's unbelievable. Local people and governments are building and spending because they think the golden goose will live forever, if past is prologue the goose is getting sicker as we speak.

Hey Rock,
Sorry about hanging my comment onto yours.. I didn't notice I'd done that till too late.


No problamo Bob. It was an interesting thread.

Regarding Leanan's link Texas mega-battery aims to green up the grid , above:

The Notrees battery is the first in a wave of new grid-connected storage systems funded in 2009 by power companies and the US Department of Energy (DOE) that are expected to come online this year. Notrees has bus-sized, lead-acid battery modules with high surface area electrodes and multiple terminals, so electricity flows in and out quickly.

Lead-acid,, imagine that. One reason I went with large 2 volt cells was that each cell has large cell plates, and that there are fewer cells to maintain. I went from 60 cells to just 12 while increasing total storage. That said, these 'Texas-sized' cells are HUGE. I wonder what the expected lifespan is. The PDF link from Xtreme Power for this project gets a "404 Not Found" message. Looks like Xtreme is doing a lot of work in Hawaii installing storage for wind. The Duke Energy site's coverage was expectedly weak on stats but has a bit more info:

In late 2009, Duke Energy announced plans to match a $22 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to install large-scale batteries capable of storing electricity produced by the company’s 153-MW Notrees wind farm, located in Ector and Winkler counties. The grant was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“Completion of this project represents a singular success for Duke Energy, for the DOE, and for the entire energy storage community in the U.S.” said Dr. Imre Gyuk, program manager for energy storage at the U.S. Department of Energy. “It will demonstrate the capability of energy storage to mitigate the variability of wind energy and to contribute to the stability of the grid”...

...The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will collect performance data from the battery storage system and help assess the potential for broader adoption of energy storage solutions throughout the industry. Technical and economic data will also be analyzed for DOE by Sandia National Laboratory. Results from the storage project at Notrees wind farm will be shared publically through the DOE’s Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse.

Utility scale lead-acid storage dates back to 1988 with the Chino 10 MW (40 MWh) battery. It operated for about 8 years to 1966. It worked well, but maintaining thousands of two volt cells in high voltage series strings proved challenging.

I'd love to be proven wrong, but I can't see Electro-Chemical Storage scaling to under $.20/kWh when non-toxic compressed air and pumped hydro provides kWh storage ~ for 1/2 that. An elevator must be many times better than any battery.

Pumped hydro isn't too useful in the flatter parts of the country. Compressed air is not trivial to manage either when dealing with thousands of psi in giant pressure tanks. The 4500 psi compressors on the boat were not painless to maintain, and neither were the valves. ASME requires pressure vessels to inspected every other year, and this is more than a visual inspection.

And you need to heat the expanding air up somehow unless you want to liquify it. At least some compressed air energy storage systems also burn natural gas just for that purpose.

Big lead-acid batteries have been used a long time and are therefore well understood. With electrolyte recirculation they do pretty well dealing with surges in demand.

Efficiency wise, pumps are rarely better than 70 percent, and the turbines going the other way are about 80 percent efficient. The batteries are about 90% each way, though less under high draw or charge rates.

But pumped storage does not eat the pants off of you. Electricians on submarines got an extra clothing allowance due to dissolving clothing. There are always tradeoffs.

McDonald's has added a "Sustainable" label to their fish products, certified by The Marine Stewardship Council.
I like fish. Like to fish. I practice catch and release but you can't beat grilled Halibut.
I viewed a documentary that featured an Industrial Size fishing vessel that searched for Pollock, once considered junk fish but now that Atlantic Cod is nearly gone, that's what you get. One of many species that are sold as Cod. You have a DNA lab, right?
The ship processed many tons of fish that resulted in a 3X3 inch flash frozen log about about two feet long that the program happily boasted would become your Filet O'Fish sandwich.

At one point largest fishing vessel in the world MFV Atlantic Dawn 144m~ 14500 tons 6000Hp Built Norway for irish owners sold to Canada Now fishing off Canada


"The world's largest freezing trawler by gross tonnage is the 144-metre-long Annelies Ilena ex Atlantic Dawn, presently fishing off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. She is able to process 350 tonnes of fish a day, can carry 3,000 tons of fuel, and store 7,000 tons of graded and frozen catch. She uses on board forklift trucks to aid discharging."
Main Freezer motor compressors were from memory was 2500hp



Historic cod fishing cuts threaten centuries-old industry in New England
By David Ariosto, CNN
updated 11:39 PM EST, Thu January 31, 2013

Talk about bassackwards thinking!

I wonder if at some point it will start to dawn on people that it is the centuries of unsustainable overfishing by the New England fishing industry that threatens their cod fisheries and has brought the cod to the brink of extinction.

Do these oh so brilliant people, really not get, that once the cod are gone, their precious industry's raison d'être, also ceases to exist?

It ain't the historic cut's that threaten the fishing industry. It's infinite human greed and stupidity!

So let's see if we can send those factory boats out to catch as many Pollock as fast as we can so the fishing industry can continue to pay off their boat loans to the banks and the economy can continue to grow. Morons! >:-( /rant

First Solar’s New Mexico Project May Get Less Than Coal

First Solar bought the Macho Springs project from Element Power Solar, according to a statement today. El Paso Electric Co. (EE) agreed to buy the electricity for 5.79 cents a kilowatt- hour, according to a Jan. 22 procedural order from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.
That’s less than half the 12.8 cents per kilowatt-hour average price for new coal plants, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

I am not sure if this has been posted before, but I don't remember seeing it.

5.79 cents/kWh for PV vs 12.8 cents/kWh for new coal. It looks like PV really is starting to become a viable solution for clean electricity! I wonder if we are going to see a real boom in PV in the sun belt countries now. PV is probably also the generation form which can be installed and scaled up most rapidly.

apmom - It may be a very good sign but it would be nice to know what the project cost initially to build out and what sort of rate of return such an investment might yield at 5.79 cents/kWh. The oil patch analogy is a well that's netting me $100,000/month in positive cash flow but will never return 100% of the money I spent to drill it. IOW a very profitable well to operate but a money loser to drill. I just wonder if this was a solar plant that cost too much to build and thus wouldn't be able to compete with coal but can do so now since those sunk costs aren't an issue with the current sales price for the electricity. IOW the operating costs are low enough to allow a positive cash flow yet not a profitable investment. Hopefully that's not the case.

Those are very good questions, and unfortunately I don't know the answer.

Given that First Solar had heavily invested into production capacity and if I am not mistaken had to recently downsize some of its production capacity, the perspective of generating positive cash flow to service debt at an overall loss for the project might be a real issue.

I have seen other PV projects that supposedly sell at < 8Eurct/kWh (which is however quite a bit higher than 5.8 USct/kWh) e.g. in Cypress, which if new coal truly costs > 12 ct/kWh would still be cost competitive with coal. As those are new projects, cash flow vs overall profitability is likely much less of a question there. So profitable projects in sunny countries likely lie somewhere in between those numbers.

Apmom – That always seems to be the problem when we try to judge the potential of such projects without the details. Like I described the profitability of PRODUCING a well can be very good such as it costing just $10/bbl to produce oil selling for $90/bbl. But if you take into account the total cost to drill the well it costs $180/bbl to get the ultimate recovery.

And the decision to make any investment of private money it’s not just the per unit cost and the profit margin per unit. Again an economic model I’m use to: I can drill a well that ultimately gets me a profit of $200k: the well costs $800k and I net $1 million in income. But I can’t make a decision based on those numbers alone: how long does it take me to recover the $1 million: 1 year…heck of a good investment. But 10 years…not a very attractive rate of return given the risks involved.

In the end the value (to a private investors with no govt subsidy) of an alt investment will be based upon a cash flow model over time which determines the ROR. An acceptable ROR: the alt gets built. Unacceptable: it doesn’t. We can’t even judge that an alt investment (or a drilled well) produces a n adequate ROR just because it’s done. There systems of all sorts that are built every day that don’t deliver anticipated returns. For instance I’m not entirely opposed to the govt giving incentives to folks to by EV’s. But that only makes it a better investment to the buyer…not to society. The EV cost the same whether the buyer gets the financial break or not.

And that’s the analysis that never seems to be offered. But that analysis is done on every investment made by private enterprise. The folks that have all the numbers on the system we’re talking about know exactly what ROR that plant will get based on its initial cost, the operating overhead , the price paid per produced energy unit as well as the even more important total number of units produced, and the time frame involved. That would provide to economic value (and thus incentive) to build another plant like the one under discussion.

Again back to analysis I know better: many times I’ve bought wells from other companies that will never return the monies spent to drill them. I’ll buy a package of wells for $10 million that will produce $15 million of net income to me in an acceptable time. The fact that the original company spent $18 million to drill those wells doesn’t make my buying them a bad investment. But my producing those wells profitable doesn’t make the investment by the original company a good one. Color me a tad suspicious but given the hints how the plant has changed hands makes me wonder if it’s not a similar situation: the plant can compete very well against a coal plant when it comes to producing electricity but still wasn’t a profitable investment and thus doesn’t represent an advancement in the creation of alt energy.

Rockman, the same thought crossed my mind with the plant changing hands. Hard to tell what the real numbers might be in this situation.

Use sun for hot water is simpler, cheaper and more efficient than electricity generation. There are two common methods for hot water flat and more efficient vacuum tubes. They are both manufactured and sold nowadays.

Regarding economics I have seen a rather new solar panel production plant for sale from bankcrupt company with only ridicolous small bids.

I got your point. If I know I will have use of a machine I will do the math and maybe go out by a brand new of the best kind. There is the other case then a machine is available for a very low price I could buy it and look for profitable work. If I go for the brand new machine I have to pay interest and if I go for the cheap option I only work if I could earn money.

5.79 cents/kWh for PV vs 12.8 cents/kWh for new coal. It looks like PV really is starting to become a viable solution for clean electricity! I wonder if we are going to see a real boom in PV in the sun belt countries now. PV is probably also the generation form which can be installed and scaled up most rapidly.

apmon, it would be interesting to know more of the financial details behind the deal.

Best hopes for lower-priced solar electricity.

Once certain infrastructure is in place, the costs drop. I don't have time to show the math, but adding 3Kw to my system, if the new addition produces at our historical rate, will cost about 3.4 cents/KwH produced over a 20 year lifespan. This doesn't include battery replacement, but does include all other new balance of system costs. Since I was an early adopter, much of my system cost significantly more than this, so calculating total costs will skew the numbers up.

Now I need to find a use for all of this added power. Bringing the grid in at this point seems unthinkable. Careful, PV can be addictive ;-/

Well you are missing the time value of money, apply some sort of discount rate and the LCOE (Levelized Cost Of Electricity) will go up. Also I presume you are paying yourself nothing for your labor (a labor of love I'm sure), but if you accounted for the value of your time, and added it to the accounted cost of the system, the LCOE would come out a lot higher.

Now, I like to do energy projects, and dream of the great savings I get by not counting my own time too. In some ways I am jealous, I'd love to be able to add a few more panels at the cost of the panels-wiring-inverter. It would be a labor of love. But having a grid tied system, any upgrade requires permits inspections new inverter etc. I figure I'm stuck with the undersized system I have, not what I'd buy if I were to acquire one today.

I'll have to settle for crowd funding of other projects, which I will probably never see in person. I'm waiting for the one I pledged some money to be fully funded, $40,000 still to do, but it was $10,000 more just a day ago, so it could be any day now.

Actually the pricing should be the other way around. PV delivers peaking power when it's needed the most at the time the pricing (wjithout PV) is at it's highest: midday/afternoon. And that's not even taking into account the external costs of coal burning: permanent destruction of landscapes through mining, health issues, pollution (mercury, dioxin, uranium and thorium) and climate change. The pricing should be the other way around.

Thanks, Styno, for making this very important point.

It always bothers me to see heavyweight remarks about costs made here without a single reference to by far the most important cost of all- destruction of the environment our grandkids will have to live in.

How can any society expect to survive if it ignores the effects of what it does on its next generation?

First Solar may lose money at that rate. They are doing large projects to sell panels to pay off capital investment, hoping for better days.

Well hopefully they didn't paint themselves into a corner with the initial contract.. since their asset should be able to produce power reliably for decades, they at least should get a chance to renegotiate the terms when the value of their product is better appreciated..

It could be they bought the project to deliver their panels, or the project gets cancelled and they lose the revenue. If you have capacity and are about to lose a project, you might do that. However, the power company knows this and negotiates accordingly.

FSLR pretty much strictly does largish utility plants, some in the hundreds of megawatts. Until cSi dropped below a dollar a watt, they were the darling of the PV industry. Now their cost per watt is comparable to the cheapest cSi panels. In one sense I think a watt of FSLR panels probably delivers more juice than a watt of cSi. This is because they are suposedly better in low light conditions, and certainly better at high temperatures. But, given that their cost/price is no longer compellingly cheaper will concerns over the potential toxicity of Cadmium overcome their former advantage?

I'm not convinced. Does PPA price have anything to do with the cost (to the original investor) of the plant? Or does the utility know the new owner has no choice but to sell at whatever price they are offered. Perhaps they are willing to pay more for the coal plants power because it is (almost) always available?
BTW. that is quite a high price to pay for coal, and quite a low price to pay for PV power.

The price for solar is probably wholesale and the price for coal is probably retail. Anyway, since FSLR is purchasing a previously built system, they probably got a deal which does not fully reflect the costs of the original system.

I don't think this is a finished system, I think it is a project that was to use First Solar panels. I hope the power contract can be renegotiated, because at that price they will lose money.

RE: Progress or Collapse? New Book Explains Why Market Greed Fails Us All

Economic progress is heading towards collapse: climate change, peak oil, overpopulation, excessive consumption of natural resources, global financial instability, startling economic inequalities, widespread political inertia, civic disengagement and psychosocial degradation. The global economy is like a train, without a driver, approaching a precipice. How can we change its direction?

The fallacy of unending growth in part led to the book "The Peak of Everything."

What is generally not known is that the aquisition of resources around the globe is an ongoing imperialistic endeavor with an unseemly religious background.

‘Roasted, toasted, fried and grilled’: climate-change talk from an unlikely source

... “Increasing vulnerability from resource scarcity and climate change, with the potential for major social and economic disruption: This is the real wild card in the pack.” Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF and a former finance minister in the conservative government of Nicolas Sarkozy, went on to call climate change “the greatest economic challenge of the 21st century.”

In response to a question from the audience, she said: “Unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.”

... upon futher contemplation the headline kinda strikes me like a 'Waffle House' menu item. [... It's Friday ;-)]

"Scattered; Smothered; Covered; Chunked; Diced..." Funny that. I have a collection of Waffle House menus I let the grandkids order from when they visit, though I haven't been able to top their hashbrowns. That was one of the things I didn't like about Seattle: No Waffle House (another of Atlanta's contributions to society).

Seems we're well on our way... extra crispy to boot...

Nanex ~ 31-Jan-2013 ~ Natural Gas News Leak

On January 31, 2013, approximately 400 milliseconds before the official release of the EIA Natural Gas Report, trading activity exploded in Natural Gas Futures and ETFs such as UGZ, UNG and BOIL. Now that the Feds have stated (as claimed by a recent WSJ article) that they don't think there is merit in prosecuting people who get news information earlier than others by milliseconds, is it any wonder?


Chinese millionaire fights pollution with thin air

China's foulest fortnight for air pollution in memory has rekindled a tongue-in-cheek campaign by a multimillionaire with a streak of showmanship who is selling canned fresh air.

... see also Aloysius O'Hare, the mayor of Thneedville and head of the "O'Hare Air" company that supplies fresh air to Thneedville residents in the Lorax

Whenever I see pictures of China it looks like what nuclear winter is said to be like. Has anyone done any studies on the stunting of growth of plants caused by this republican wet dream of environmental non-regulation? Not to mention the sulfur which must be making rain so acidic it burns.

All that smog must have a cooling effect on the climate. What if they get their act together and start to clean their gas emissions from particles?

We hosted some visitors from Seoul last year. The kids just loved to play outside in the rain, because they could never do that in Seoul. They would get skin rashes and burns from the high acidity.

Makes you grateful to live in a less polluted part of the world, for sure.

On a related note: our local coal-burning generating plants all installed sulfur scrubbers in the last decade. Not out of concern for the environment, exactly, but so that they could burn local (high-sulfur) coal instead of importing it from Wyoming. One example of environmental regulation that resulted in a win-win for the utilities and the population.

PT in PA

"Makes you grateful to live in a less polluted part of the world, for sure."

...and greatful we've been so successful at exporting so much of our industry. They should be greatful to have 'our' jobs ;-/

For every win/win there's a lose/lose, it seems.

Except in Nuclear winter (or volcanic, or asteroid impact), the particulates are high in the atmosphere (stratosphere, tropospheric aerosols get washed out fairly quickly). The NW scenario is global, and has a halflife of a year or more. The stuff China is doing to herself is localized (although maybe regional), but can go away with the next weather system.

The Republican wet dream, "smells like money".

Pale Blue Blobs Invade, Freeze, Then Vanish

It's a lake, yes. But it's also a bomb. Those pale blue blobs, stacked like floating pancakes down at the bottom of this photograph? They're astonishingly beautiful, yes, but they can be dangerous.

They are gas bubbles, little hiccups of methane that look magical when they're trapped in winter ice, but come the spring, those bubbles will loosen, get free, and like an armada of deep-water flying saucers, they will make their way to the surface. When the ice breaks they will pop and fizz into the air — and disappear.

Except they don't really disappear.

Interesting and important story - and that photo is amazing. Video is well worth a look too.

Our media, and hence our thinking, is so image driven that these largely invisible gases (CO2, CH4, etc.) usually just don't get the attention they deserve. (There are many other reasons too).

Positive feedback loops being setting in motion... Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Someone should chuck a stick of dynamite on the lake. Break the ice and hopefully start a chain reaction of explosions.

But get the video camera all set up first!

Oil company begins clearing Whittier nature preserve

The city of Whittier and a Santa Barbara oil company prompted outrage Thursday as they began clearing trees and brush from a nature preserve that was bought with Los Angeles County tax dollars to protect it from development.

"It's outrageous that public funds meant for park creation were used to purchase some of Los Angeles County's last pristine open space not for environmental preservation but for oil drilling," county Supervisor Gloria Molina said. "That's exactly the opposite of what voters had in mind when they passed Proposition A in 1992."

S - reading thru the entire article it appears to a be a case of folks not understanding what they were doing...maybe. Good intentions for sure but didn't do it properly. The bond money was used to buy the surface rights only and not the mineral rights. In almost all states the minerals and surface are two separate entities and are treated legally as such. In they wanted to prevent drilling on that land they should have bought the mineral rights as well as the surface rights. Essentially a surface owner cannot prevent a mineral owner from developing their asset. The folks who bought the surface may have understood this fact of law but didn't want to pay the price: depending on where you are minerals rights can sell for 10X what the surface sells for.

This still doesn't mean the city and oil company can treat the land anyway they want...there are rules. If those folks don't want wells drilled on that land all they have to do is buy the mineral rights from the city and then never sign a lease. Their argument might be that the value of the minerals right are way too expensive for them to purchase. Which actually defeats their position IMHO: if the mineral rights are that expensive why are they inhibiting Whittier from benefiting from that value.? Can't have it both ways: want to prevent the mineral rights from being developed then pay the city of Whittier what they're worth.

No difference then someone buying a piece of property next to you to build a house. You don’t want them to ruin your view. Fine…buy that property and don’t let anyone build on it. Don’t want someone drilling for oil. Fine…buy the rights and don’t let anyone drill.

Same situation in PA with the Marcellus drilling. folks who own minerals right want to benefit from that ownership. Many folks that won't get any of that money because they down't own the minerals don't want any drilling. Same answer: buy the mineral rigths and then don't lease. I suspect the problem will be that many of those folks who buy the mineral rights will suddenly want them leased and drilled.

"If those folks don't want wells drilled on that land all they have to do is buy the mineral rights from the city and then never sign a lease."

Actually, in many states, even this may not work. If a certain pecentage of the land in the area has been leased, the State, and the potential leasee, can implement forced pooling on your land even if you own the mineral rights. IIRC, the reverse situation can be enforced. If a majority of surrounding land/mineral rights owners have refused to lease their mineral rights, they can prevent you from leasing yours. Varies by State. It goes back to common law, and generally applies to timber and water rights as well, though many folks don't have water rights. In my area, TVA has first dibs on our surface water.

It usually comes down to who has the larger legal/financial war chest.

Especially true in La. They also have that odd law that even if the surface is seperated from the minerals rights the MR revert to the surface owner if they aren't produced for 10 years. Lots of laws based on Napoleonic rather than British common law

The search for better ways of storing electricity is hotting up


Produce the right battery at the right price, these engineers think, and you could make the internal-combustion engine redundant and usher in a world in which free fuel, in the form of wind and solar energy, was the norm. That really would be a revolution.

People are already doing that today. I will be joining them soon.

Granted, it is not super cheap. However, it is now well within the reach of ordinary people if they are willing to put in some sweat equity. Base price of the Leaf S is being cut to $28,800 and the Smart ED is only $25K. There is a $7500 Federal tax-credit for those cars. And you can build a PV system for less than $10K in parts. You also get a 30% tax-credit for that. So you can drive on sunshine for around $30K after tax credits if you install yourself. That would have cost well over $100K just a few short years ago. $30K is the price of an average car these days.

The future is here, it is just not well distributed.

This chart is fascinating.

Some comments:
-It highlights what I have called European EV mystery. If you plot the box for European gas prices today ($8 to $10 per gallon), it would in the PHEV territory. So why hasn't Europe adopted PHEVs & EVs? I have a long list of rationalizations:
1) They live in 'flats' with street parking instead of single family homes such that it is not easy for people to have their own personal parking & a place for personal charger.
2) They commute a lot by tube, bus, train, bike, walk, etc. such that a car is more for weekend trips where you want long range.
3) They haven't been available until now.
4) Now that they are available, they have a terrible economic situation such that people can't afford any cars much less expensive electric cars.
5) Most households only have 1 car so you won't have households with 1 EV and 1 conventional/hybrid for long trips.
Some Europeans have told me that #1 is a big issue.

-I think the current battery price is a little bit lower than they indicate. Less than $500/KWH. It certainly is for raw cells but even in a pack they may be a little cheaper than indicated. But it is always hard to apples to apples comparisons because you don't know if people are considering just cells, cells in pack, cells in pack with a BMS, cells in pack with EMS and thermal management, etc.

-I disagree with a distinction between a pure EV and PHEV zones. The choice between those is more dependent on the driving you do, whether you have another car, how far is your commute, etc.

-The chart is very interesting but it probably still is a bit of a WAG.

-It illustrates well how EVs will make sense eventually whether by cheaper batteries (left movement of the box), more expensive gasoline (upward movement of the box), or most likely a combo of the two (diagonal toward the upper left).

-It shows just how close we are to have a cost-effective alternative for oil for light-duty cars. (This does not work for big trucks, airplanes, ships, etc.)

Thanks for this. I have an electric bike so I'm very interested in battery tech. The chart is obviously a major simplification, but that doesn't make it less powerful. What I was thinking was they should add another dimension - electricity prices. I think we can safely say they're more than double what you pay in NA.

If I might speculate along with you about a your question and answers:

I think the initial price is still a bit of a turn off. Though it shouldn't be according to the chart. You've also got to look at km/year. Plus we are in a crisis in which "the decline is slowing" according to the BBC. Uncertainty is actually increasing rapidly (though the MSM tries to reassure us), in the eurozone core. You need fast chargers everywhere. Germany is ending this effort (it seems). Maybe they'll shift the effort but there are serious problems implementing it apparently.


What also baffles me today is the strength of the euro. Something funny is going on probably. When the dollar goes down it usually means their economy is going up. Or something like that. You know, fill in the blanks. It is really strong and if that continues, which I doubt, it is going to have a lot of ramifications, increasing imports and decreasing exports for one. Two, sorry.

batteries make most sense on bikes but its going to be on the fringe in USA.
During a real energy crisis people line up for hrs (even pushing cars!)
when it comes to that I'll be buying elec bike motor, scooter or motorcycle.

I think they are starting to get some. The USA has some generous PHEV/EV tax rebates, which cut the premium considerably.
Presumably they are using some estimate of total cost of ownership. EV and PHEVs are expected to have lower service costs, ICE and brakes etc, but this may take a while to verify and optimize. For the time being they are for early adopters.

So it seems like a zip car model would be a good business in europe.

Article doesn't explain chart which is a bit cryptic to me. Does it mean at < $400 kwh (lined up w/ $4 gal. ) batteries are competive?

Scientists Are Preparing For Change from Fossil-Fuel to Bio-Based Economy

Increasingly, many of the plastic products we use every day are no longer based on petroleum raw material. Instead, they are made from biomass such as starch, sugar, corn and other sources that also happen to be food products. These compete directly with the food supply. They also push food prices up. Scientists at the EU funded BioConSept project are now seeking alternatives sources of plastics’ raw material based on biomass.

This is very "ecotechnic" as JMG would say. Of course, nearly everything was once made of plant material - which is why cannabis is a sacred plant in Shinto, as you can make just about everything from it. Making plastics from plants is just a new twist.

I think in the past, a lot of things were either made from non-edible parts of the plant (such as straw, used as flooring, bedding, constuction material, etc.) or otherwise were made from non-agricultural plants (thatch was often made from reeds). Tatami is an example of both, as traditionally it had a rice straw core overlaid with a rush covering.

The article does a good job, and points out that they are trying to move to using the non-edible parts. Very old idea expressed in a new way.

Steven Chu stepping down as Obama’s Energy secretary

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who oversaw expanded federal support for low-carbon energy and defended it against GOP attacks, announced Friday that he is stepping down.

Chu, in a letter to Energy Department employees, said he would remain with the department at least until the end of February, and perhaps beyond "so that I can leave the Department in the hands of the new Secretary."

... Chu on Thursday acknowledged that the administration may not meet its goal of having one million electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015.

The outgoing secretary has been especially enthusiastic about solar technologies that he likes to point out are marching toward cost competitiveness with fossil fuels.

In 2011, Chu joked that addressing pressing energy and climate-change problems led to his “downward spiral from professor to administrator to government bureaucrat.”

If people want to buy electric cars fine.

But the $7.5 Billion budgeted for personal electric subsidies would have gotten 5 to 10 times
carbon reductions for the buck by going to operating subsidies for existing Green Transit systems which have been gutted since 2008. This would have resulted in IMMEDIATE oil savings, greenhouse emissions savings and increased mobility for the 30% of the population that cannot drive as well as preventing more Green space from being paved over.

It was another half-baked Obama tactic instead of real change.

Don't just blame Obama. The states are doing it too. I heard this week that in Georgia, GDOT has finalised plans to add two more lanes (toll lanes) to the I-75/I-575 NW corridor, which is already 12-14 lanes. This is in conservative Cobb County (Newt's old district) which has rejected plans to tie into the metro area rail system many times. Virtually no functional rapid transit in this entire NW sector of the metropolis. Cost currently estimated around $1.3 billion, a real bargain at around $50 million per mile.


This is where 350.org should be protesting if they want to stop Oil Addiction at its root in Auto Addiction! $1.3 Billion is a lot of money to waste on more lanes which will not resolve the traffic issues, cost a fortune to maintain until it suddenly becomes less congested when even more people cannot afford to drive.

As noted earlier here on this Drumbeat highest gasoline prices every for this time of year!

As mentioned many times one of the reasons for Atlanta's suburbs to reject Green Transit is just good ole fashioned good ole boy racism. Self-destructive behavior which will increasingly split what is left of the Republican Southern Strategy coalition...

Mass transit projects such as light rail and high speed rail have been massive fiscal boondoggles and generally wholly unprofitable. How has California's new train project been going? Might as well build what people want to use, Gas can be $10/gallon, if vehicles were getting 50 mpg it wouldn't be an issue.

Sure, Flo, much of the time on this stretch of road even a Prius is getting 0 MPG. So they add more lanes, add more cars and trucks, add more lanes, add more cars and trucks... Makes sense to me :-0

In the early 1990s I was involved in a study to convert a rarely used rail line to passenger rail. This and another rail line follow this same corridor, north out of Atlanta. Here it is, burried in suburbs now. The study determined that this section of rail could be put into commuter rail service for 60 - 80 million dollars, including related infrastructure, all the way into Atlanta.

One freight train makes one round trip on this line to the Tate Marble quarry on weekends (I know because my apartment at the time was 100 feet from the track). It's the same today (I know because my step daughter now lives about 200 feet from the track). Several of the old train stations were (and still are) along this route, historical stations now converted to retail space.

The State determined the costs were too high, but shortly after appropriated over $280 million for interstate expansion along this corridor. Billions have been spent since "giving people what they want", sitting in their cars.

Yet another tragedy of the commons, IMO.

Maybe they can convert expensive new roads into bike paths cheap when needed.

Is it racist to not want to get mugged or raped or shot at?

Is it racist to want to live amongst people like yourself?

Sorry, orbit7er, but nobody believes the recycled talking points anymore. Demographics are indeed a reason why mass transmit will not work well in many places in America. And this will always be the case.

It is racist to assume that connecting a poorer neighborhood to yours with a transit line will get you mugged. Or raped. Or shot at.

It's also malicious towards people in that poorer neighborhood who might want to get jobs at your local mall but can't reach it.

It's also mind bogglingly stupid. If the criminals in your area rely on public transit for making getaways, then the police in your area are utterly incompetent.

And in my neck of the woods, it's also sufficiently beyond the pale that even those who believe that nonsense, dare not say it.

Love that Georgia DOT - NOT! I-75 in NW Atlanta was built on top of my parents' front yard in the mid-1960's. It started as a 4 lane road, then was widened to 8 lanes in the mid-80's, then HOV lanes added to give 10 and when I left in 1998 it was 12 lanes wide. The traffic count was up to around 140,000 vehicles a day when I got out of town. I've been something of a radical ever since they cleared the land and destroyed my childhood playground...

E. Swanson

The contrast with Massachusetts is astonishing. We've had a moratorium on new highways within the 128 beltway since 1975, and this year we just declared the end of highway expansion in the whole commonwealth.

Gosh, after the Big Dig debacle there likely isn't much political will (or money) for these projects.

We also woke up and realized that we had just spent half a gigabuck (IIRC) to make it easier for people to drive to NH and dodge the gas & sales tax we need to, um, maintain our roads.


And thus came the no more highways policy.

That said, MA is working on a light rail expansion, with clamor for more. And we just got a bikeshare system for Boston. And by not increasing the gas tax, we made it easy for the Commonwealth to decide to stop maintaining particular roads and let them be torn down.


...Center to learn more about a proposal to widen a 22.2-mile stretch of the interstate in Henderson and Buncombe counties.

The estimated cost is $259 million for construction and $5 million for right of way.


Traffic counts show traffic volume ranges from 43,600 to 80,000 vehicles per day, depending on the section of road. Those numbers are projected to grow to 58,900 to 90,500 vehicles per day in 2040, according to DOT traffic projections.

50 berjillion dollars so people can commute from the city where they live to the other city where they work. How much is a bus these days - $250,000? They could literally purchase 1,000 buses.

It was another half-baked Obama tactic instead of real change.

The original electric vehicle tax-credit system was passed under Bush, not Obama.

And the point of the program is NOT to just get a few EVs on the road. The point is to kickstart the EV market so there is more R&D and to reach mass manufacturing scales such that the price of the equipment comes down such that subsidies are no longer needed (or are reduced to levels that just cover the externality damage done by competing technology)>

If you want to get EV's going where they make the most sense for Green Transit then instead of subsidizing affluent individuals for electric personal cars then we would subsidize EV van's and buses so people are not chained to their cars to get anywhere. Beyond that you could go even further and seriously investigate or actually deploy overhead GCEV trolleys.

Again this would help public transit systems which have been under enormous pressure since the financial crash, ironically enough, due to the banksters costing them billions of dollars for foolish interest rate swaps while Bernanke shovels almost free money to the banks.

This would also help our lumbering battleship Auto companies, bailed out at our expense, to transition to the Green Transit of the future. If they are not forced GM etc will just keep selling SUVs until they go bankrupt again. Actually they are BACK to selling SUVs and trucks again incredibly enough!

(With 0% subprime Auto loans exempted from the still to be implemented Dodd-Frank financial reforms ......hmmm where have we heard that story before in another market??)

The price of asphalt, following the price of oil, has quadrupled in the last few years.

Why is the pull of Auto Addiction so strong that no alternatives can ever be considered?

I like your comments but you are basically answering your own questions and you can't seem to admit it.

Public transit isn't going to "save America", nothing can. I don't want to say this, but facts suggest this is the case.

A country which shovels trillions of fake money into banks and automobiles and wars without end is a country going bankrupt, a country without a future, a Titanic. Yes?

So...why is the pull of auto addiction so strong. Because automobiles = freedom = America. automobiles = freedom = America. You know this is the case.

This equation cannot be changed unless the culture radically changes, and the culture isn't going to radically change without collapse.

Where I live, buses are frequent, clean, and free for most of the resident population and the population is considered green. But the auto still dominates. Build it and they won't necessarily come. This is mostly a middle class, upper middle class area so I don't think fear is an issue. People would still rather drive their cars regardless.

Awwww. . . crap. :-( I hope they appoint another scientist. I don't want an oilman or an environmentalist in the position. I want a scientist that follows the science where ever it may lead. I thought Chu did a great job despite some dubious stimulus program loans.

New from CRS ...

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Recent Activities and Ongoing Developments

The 112th Congress enacted two oil spill-related legislative proposals, including the following:

The RESTORE Act: enacted on July 6, 2012, as a subtitle in P.L. 112-141 (MAP- 21), it directs 80% of any administrative and civil Clean Water Act Section 311 penalty revenue into a newly created trust fund, which supports environmental and economic restoration projects in the Gulf states.

The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011: enacted on January 3, 2012 (P.L. 112-90), the act increases civil penalties for pipeline violations and requires a study of leak detection systems, a review of the regulations that apply to pipeline transport of “diluted bitumen” (i.e., oil sands), and an analysis whether such oil presents an increased risk of release.

US petrol prices have never been higher at this time of year:


Heck must be due to all that shale oil you good old boys are producing. At this rate by the time the much heralded US energy independence has arrived yall all be paying $6/gallon.

Scientists Link Excess Sugar to Cancer

Sugars are needed to provide us with energy and in moderate amounts contribute to our well-being. Sustained high levels of sugars, as is found in diabetics, damages our cells and now is shown that can also increase our chance to get cancer: The dose makes the poison as Paracelsus said.

Sugars in the intestine trigger cells to release a hormone called GIP that enhances insulin release by the pancreas.

In a study published in Molecular Cell, Dr Garcia Jimenez's team showed that the ability of the intestinal cells to secrete GIP is controlled by a protein called β-catenin, and that the activity of β-catenin is strictly dependent on sugar levels.

Increased activity of β-catenin is known to be a major factor in the development of many cancers and can make normal cells immortal, a key step in early stages of cancer progression. The study demonstrates that high (but not normal) sugar levels induce nuclear accumulation of β-catenin and leads to cell proliferation.

At least 1 in 3 of the main cancers (27–39%) can be prevented by improving diet, physical activity and body composition.

At least 1 in 3 of the main cancers (27–39%) can be prevented by improving diet, physical activity and body composition.

Seraph, a good incentive to lose weight and get in better shape.

Best hopes for making lifestyle changes to prevent cancer.

There is a LOT we don't know about cancer. I'm still trying to figure this one out (this is not a BS article)...

'Psychic cells': Scientists discover cells can communicate through physical barriers

Scientists at UCLA and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science have discovered a possible method by which cancer cells and dying cells communicate with nearby normal nerve cells without being physically connected to them.

For the study, Norris and his colleagues reported on how normal nerve cells isolated in an enclosed chamber behave during a function known calcium signal processing. The team found that when these isolated nerve cells were surrounded by other normal nerve cells outside the barrier, they had the same calcium signaling properties.

However, when the normal isolated nerve cells were surrounded by cancer cells or dying cells, they processed the calcium signals differently, suggesting there was communication from the surrounding cells. The physical barrier between the cells prevented hormonal, ligand-receptor and other traditional forms of cell-to-cell communication.

Co-authors ... noted that this novel finding may represent a potentially higher form of cell communication.

Physically disconnected non-diffusible cell-to-cell communication between neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y and DRG primary sensory neurons


I wonder if it is tied in to common coding theory....


Agree with Seraph...there's a lot we don't know.

One curious thing that has come up in many well-designed studies...low cholesterol is linked with cancer.

The studies were generally meant to show a link between heart disease and high cholesterol, but they didn't. Instead, they showed that people with low cholesterol were more likely to die. Not of heart disease, but of cancer.

Correlation is not causation, of course. Maybe people who have undiagnosed cancer have lower LDL cholesterol for years before showing other symptoms.

Increases in Extreme Rainfall Linked To Global Warming

A worldwide review of global rainfall data led by the University of Adelaide has found that the intensity of the most extreme rainfall events is increasing across the globe as temperatures rise.

... Lead author Dr Seth Westra said, "The results are that rainfall extremes are increasing on average globally. They show that there is a 7% increase in extreme rainfall intensity for every degree increase in global atmospheric temperature.

"Assuming an increase in global average temperature by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century, this could mean very substantial increases in rainfall intensity as a result of climate change."

"If extreme rainfall events continue to intensify, we can expect to see floods occurring more frequently around the world," Dr Westra said.


Georgia Nuclear Power Plant Could Be Solyndra Redux, Report Says

... The two-reactor $14 billion Vogtle plant being built in Georgia is seen as a test of the US nuclear industry's planned "renaissance" with a new nuclear reactor design and updated construction processes all aimed at cutting time and costs.

But two Massachusetts-based energy-consulting firms, Earth Track and Synapse Synapse Energy Economics, say the $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees backing the project were crafted with excessively favorable financial terms for the recipient companies, weak federal oversight, and possible political interference in the loan-guarantee process.

In their report, Earth Track and Synapse Energy Economics say the documents reveal:

- "Potentially troubling" conversations between political appointees and borrowers over loan terms and getting the deal done.

- Credit subsidy payments, the amount that companies pay in compensation for the government loan guarantees, that appear far too low to offer adequate protection to taxpayers in the event of a default.

- An "over-reliance on external contractors" for key risk evaluations.

- Continued tinkering with credit subsidy assessment tools even after credit subsidy estimate letters were sent to borrowers, leaving taxpayers with more risk than necessary.


Fairewinds: Website is under verified DDS attack — Another nuclear expert’s site had similar problems — Both involved with San Onofre issue — “What is the nuke industry hiding?”

Interesting day to day – Fairewinds Energy Eduction 501c3 non-profit under attack called DDS – Distributed Denial of Service by hackers. Especially interesting because co-expert witness John Large (Large Associates) website under similar attack 2 weeks ago. All experts in Fairewinds Associates current expert witness cases have had to sign onerous non-disclosure documents for all current case load. Amazing to me that nuke plant owners can deny the public its right to know. What happened to an open & transparent process?

Fukushima Rescue Mission Lasting Legacy: Radioactive Contamination of Americans

The Department of Defense has decided to walk away from an unprecedented medical registry of nearly 70,000 American service members, civilian workers, and their families caught in the radioactive clouds blowing from the destroyed nuclear power plants at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan.

The decision to cease updating the registry means there will be no way to determine if patterns of health problems emerge among the members of the Marines, Army, Air Force, Corps of Engineers, and Navy stationed at 63 installations in Japan with their families. In addition, it leaves thousands of sailors and Marines in the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group 7 on their own when it comes to determining if any of them are developing problems caused by radiation exposure.

If the Space Shuttle Is Doomed, Do You Tell the Crew?

Hale in his blog tells for the first time the story of his late boss who seemingly suggested doing just that. The boss, mission operations chief Jon Harpold, asked the now-retired Hale a what-if question after a meeting that determined—wrongly—that Columbia was safe to land despite some damage after takeoff.

"You know there is nothing we can do about damage to the (thermal protection system)," Hale quotes Harpold a decade later. "If it has been damaged, it's probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know. Don't you think it would be better for them to have a happy successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing that there was nothing to be done until the air ran out."

... If the Space Shuttle Economy [or Environment] Is Doomed, Do You Tell the Crew?

It strikes me that they could have done SOMETHING. Apollo 13 nearly ended very badly, but they jury-rigged a solution. Perhaps it would have been impossible to jury-rig a solution to the Columbia shuttle. They could have tried, if they had know for certain that it would be a problem. And if nothing could be done, at least they could face it.

Perhaps I have a viking view of it, I would rather face death knowingly than die in ignorance.

The shuttle was a failure in any case, a design that was actually much more fragile than what it replaced. Very stupid. High tech, though! The tiles were quite the innovation.

And if nothing could be done, at least they could face it.

Agreed. I've heard people, including my own mother, say they were glad they were dying of cancer and not just "poof" gone one day, because it gave them a chance to do some things that needed to be done and say some things to people that needed to be said. Maybe the astronauts couldn't have done much, but I think it would be wrong to deny them the opportunity to try for some sort of closure with their loved ones.

I have had 2 family members die unexpectedly (dad aged 56, brother aged 19). Other died slowly. The way grandmother died took 10 years. I would not wish for that death mode for my worst enemy. Hard to pick a winner here, but I guess if I could chose, I'd do a "few weeks" death process.

But we don't get to decide, do we?

Yes do we tell the crew. I wonder if tomorrow, political leaders around the world spoke to their people and said, "there is nothing we can do to prevent an economic collapse and an environmental catastrophe which will likely result in the annihilation of life on Earth, so we recommend BAU..........."

I'm positive that "there is nothing we can do" would be accepted. Honesty would really begin the process of "at least we should try".
That's all we have now but we can't have BAU and try.

... If the Space Shuttle Economy [or Environment] Is Doomed, Do You Tell the Crew?

Perhaps. But you sure as hell don't tell the passengers...

".. err, the Captain has asked me to come back and find out if anyone here knows how to fly a planet?"

Loosely remembered, from 'The Right Stuff' ..

"Tell the pilot the condition of his craft!"

Alan Sheppard at Ground Control during John Glenn's first Orbital Flights, when the heat shield was thought to be separated.

Space Shuttle Columbia disaster remembered 10 years on

Descent proposals

Had the peril been recognised, NASA had several options to explore – it would have been entirely possible to rescue the crew, if not Columbia itself. Since the incident, experts have suggested that an alternate re-entry trajectory may have been able to at least get the crew below 40,000 feet at which they could parachute to safety. Such a plan involves a “crabbing” entry, shuffling the Shuttle sideways, exposing the right wing to higher heat loads but preserving the damaged left.

Other options included performing repairs on-orbit and waiting for a rendezvous rescue by Space Shuttle Atlantis, which was on the launch pad at the time. These two options would have required a resupply to keep the crew alive, but this would be entirely feasible with one of many available launch vehicles. While these options would have been incredibly costly, such a rescue would have brought NASA much needed positive publicity in a similar manner to Apollo 13.

Had appropriate action been taken, STS-107 could have been remembered as a triumph, rather than a tragedy.

ISTR, there were ideas for patching the wing with materials on board.


Peatland Forest Destruction Raises Climate Concern

... Typically, estimates of carbon emissions from deforestation have focussed on the carbon lost from the trees themselves. The loss of carbon from the soil has been largely neglected until now.

'The effect of land use change has been underestimated,' says Gauci. 'The living trees are only a small component of the carbon held in these ecosystems.'

As the forest is cut down to make way for agriculture, often oil palms for use in biofuels, rainfall that would normally be used by the trees can drain through the peat, washing carbon away into streams and rivers.

'What's alarming is the radiocarbon dates. The stuff we measured that had drained through the peat column was thousands of years old, so it had been in storage for a long time', explains Gauci.

Even Adaptable Viruses Have Trouble Surviving Erratic Temperatures

"Our study shows, that in the time allowed, (the viruses) weren't able to cope," said Yale's Turner, whose lab housed the study. "They could not rely enough on the mutations that were being generated in that population for anything to emerge and dominate that could deal with this highly unpredictable environmental change."

Turner said the findings came as a surprise, because viruses are among the most adaptable organisms on the planet.

"That suggests that indeed we should be worried under certain climate models, that there's probably no way that certain long-lived, lower-mutation species would be able to cope with radical environmental change," ...

After The Flood: Harnessing the Power of Mud

... The CCRU are currently researching the effectiveness of the natural flood defences offered by coastal ecosystems such as salt marshes and mud flats. They suggest a 'hybrid engineering' approach, combining sea walls with natural ecosystems. Such ecosystems not only provide flood protection but store carbon, filter pollutants and increase biodiversity. Over recent years, these important habitats have become "squeezed out" by rising sea levels and hard sea defences.

"Hard defences are expensive and doomed to fail or incur ever-increasing costs. A key priority is the need to restore a natural coastal 'buffer' zone, free from human occupation and compatible with the 'inbuilt' ability of the coast to respond dynamically to environmental change – such as sea level rise or more frequent storms."

The researchers say they now have the technology to accurately measure wave depth and energy across marshes and mud flats, providing engineers and policy makers with the information they need to show the effectiveness of ecosystem-inclusive sea defence systems.

Add this to the articles on crashing educational standards, stupidity and the idiocracy ...

'Up-Goer Five' text editor restricts writers to 1000 most commonly used words

Geneticist Theo Sanderson has written a simple text editor that allows a writer to use only words from a list of the 1000 ("ten hundred" since "thousand" isn't on the list) most commonly used words in the English language, to describe things.

The Up-Goer Five editor challenges such [scientific and technical] thinking, however, by causing those who use it to think about what they wish to convey in ways they likely never thought of before. It forces expression to come from a word driven approach, to one that is idea driven, which, when put down in words, often sounds like the way ideas are expressed to children. That's not coincidental – children have a very limited perspective and background, so new information has to be given in a context that they are capable of understanding, and that generally means using a reasonably small vocabulary

Basic English is a fad that comes up like crabgrass or norovirus and sweeps the globe for a brief period.

Even Winston Churchill liked it for a while.

It's an interesting little social experiment in linguistics, but it sure sounds a lot like Orwell's Newspeak. Double-plus un-good!

Kite Powers EV Across Australia for $15 of Electricity

... Drivers Dirk Gion and Stefan Slimmerer set three world records during the drive: The first time a continent had been crossed by a vehicle powered by wind and lithium-ion batteries, the longest overall distance covered by an exclusively wind-powered automobile, and the longest distance covered in 36 hours by an electric and wind-powered vehicle. If you want to check it out, the car is currently on display at Evonik’s offices in Troy Hill, New Jersey.

Some of you techno-materials junkies may find this interesting:

Superomniphobic Material Vigorously Repels All Fluids

Dr. Anish Tuteja has developed a coating that will repel just about any liquid.

You may have heard of oleophobic coatings (which reduce smudges on your touchscreen) or hydrophobic coatings (which repel water). Working with a team at the University of Michigan, he’s developed a new coating for material that will repel both Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids of just about any kind. They’re calling it superomniphobic.

I can think of a number of energy saving uses for this stuff; ship hulls, coating the interiors of pipelines... I wonder how it scales up,, how durable,, cost?

Gas is going up again. Here in NW California (Arcata) the price has gone up ten cents a days for three days in a row, from $3.79 to $4.09.

Going up here in Napa county too, which reminds me of a conversation I had with a guy in a hardware store about a year ago. He was animated and all smiles about how the Bakken oil play was going to make the US energy independent. He said, "I wonder what the Saudi's will do then, ha!" I didn't have the heart to talk him down from his fantasy. My position now when I hear people cornucopia fantasizing is let them find out for themselves. That way it sinks in like a dead weight instead of causing them to stand firmer on their false position.


FALMOUTH— Standing in the shadow of Falmouth’s two town-owned wind turbines on Wednesday, Selectmen Vice Chairman Brent Putnam said he felt a squeeze in the air pressure and heard the loud mechanical noise akin to a jet engine.

“You can feel it,” Putnam said.

That sealed his decision about Falmouth’s two 1.65-megawatt turbines at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.

He then drove about five miles to a special selectmen’s meeting where, for the first time, he and all four other selectmen voted in support of removing the town-owned Wind 1 and Wind 2 turbines, the cause of a bitter three-year controversy in town that began when neighbors complained of adverse health effects they say were from the turbines.

I wonder if he had ever been near a jet engine.


Build a coal burning plant there instead then.

My cousin lives here, on Hull Isle, Mass, where they've had a community Turbine right over their heads for 12 years now (plus a second one for 6 I think..) ..

It sounds like there is some discussion and debate about it, but from what Jen says, it's been a big success.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8cLgpK7RVI - someone shot some video to bear witness to the sounds from it.. but his comment of 'It's BS!' could be taken from either position, I guess. I didn't sound that bad when I saw it, or under the twittering birdies here.

The problem with the sounds from a wind turbine might be the result of the fact that low frequency sound will penetrate a wall, whereas higher frequencies are reflected away. The lowest frequency sound has a wave length which is greater than the typical wall height, so the sound resonates thru the wall. Thus, the impact on people inside a structure will be different than what is experienced outside, since the higher frequencies are "filtered" out by the structure. We used to have trouble with highway noise, especially at night, as the trucks rolled by. Only a few trucks per hour at night would disrupt one's sleep and the resulting sleep deprivation has a cumulative effect on one's health and psychological state. We had some sound measurements taken at our property, which gave some data to compare with Federal noise standards, but that was not at night.

Humans can't actually hear very low frequency sound, even though it's there and is likely to be "felt" in some way. Furthermore, measuring the sound level is also difficult and recording is also problematic, both the result of the electronic limits of the microphones and recording devices used. Sad to say, the YouTube video doesn't give the correct impression of the sound from that wind generator on the houses nearby...

E. Swanson

One wonders how these low frequencies affect elephants and whales :-0

Here's a more in-depth article: http://mjoecool.wordpress.com/the-falmouth-experience-life-under-the-bla...

Seems there was overwhelming support for these things, until they were actually put into operation:

When it was installed last spring, Anderson didn’t think Wind One would cause a problem. For 35 years, he’s owned and operated a passive solar company on Cape Cod.

The energy conservationist in Anderson considered wind power a good principle. He wasn’t alone — before the turbine switched on, Falmouth residents almost universally welcomed Wind One as a symbol of renewable energy and a way to keep taxes down.

“I was proud looking at it from this viewpoint — until it started turning,” Anderson said.

Of course the exact resonances makes a great deal of difference, and I have no doubt that among the many varied freq's that have been employed, there will be a number of them that will prove unacceptable..

Brings to mind an old trick that Nicola Tesla was wont to give during his demonstrations, by exposing a volunteer, standing on a resonant floorpad, I believe, to a 77 hz rhythm, whereupon they would immediately and frantically need to find a bathroom..

Good Times!

Glad to see they're testing these things.. but in my turn, I've become increasingly skeptical of the MythBusters and their ilk, because they have such a stake in getting 'Gotcha Debunkings', which has become the defacto Imperious Sneer of the internet age.

Did I get the reference right, that they tried this on 'Adam' .. are they getting their study results after testing ONE person?

Very disappointing. Cape Cod's electricity comes from a bunker fuel burning plant that keeps the Cape enveloped in a sulfurous haze.

North Dakota Owns Mineral Rights Near Water, Court Says

North Dakota defeated a bid for control of mineral deposits along navigable waterways by landowners who claimed the rights are worth millions of dollars in the second-biggest oil-producing U.S. state.

While the oil in question is about two miles below the surface of what the parties called the “shore zone,” its extraction is performed by horizontal drilling, or fracking, plaintiffs’ lawyer Jan Conlin told the court then.

Conlin contended that the state relinquished title to the strata when it set the boundary for its own riparian rights at the low water mark when it entered the union in 1889.

Assistant Attorney General Charles Carvell disputed that argument. State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office had previously argued in court papers the land had public value beyond that found in its resources.

"I thought you put the plug in"

Iranian gas platform sinks.


Apologies if already posted.

Video of the rig sinking- http://gcaptain.com/watch-irans-40-million-platform/

Also anybody want to buy a cruise ship? Price is right, Free - http://gcaptain.com/derelict-cruise-ship-abandoned/