Drumbeat: February 27, 2013

Gas price spikes don't leave lasting economic damage

The recent run-up in gasoline prices has some economists – including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke – worried about the impact on consumer spending and the economy.

It’s a perennial concern. When gas prices spike, as they have done in the past few weeks, the extra money you pay at the pump forces you to cut spending on other things. That takes a bite out of overall consumer spending, which fuels roughly 70 percent of the U.S. economy. Slower spending means slower growth.

But the longer-term impact is not as great as some forecasters would have you believe. Here’s why...

After two-day break, gas prices up again

That temporary reprieve in rising gasoline prices? It's over.

Gas prices inched up to $3.78 a gallon Tuesday after holding steady at about $3.77 the previous two days. The respite ended 36 days of price gains that had pushed pump prices nearly 50 cents a gallon since Jan. 1.

WTI Rebounds From 2013 Low; Iran Talks End Without Deal

West Texas Intermediate rose from its lowest level this year. World powers and Iran ended two days of talks without agreement on the country’s nuclear program.

Futures gained as much as 0.5 percent. Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said negotiations with the U.S. and its partners will resume next month in Istanbul after discussions in Almaty, Kazakhstan, concluded. Americans and others made no offer to ease oil or financial sanctions on Iran, said a U.S. official, asking not to be identified. Crude inventories climbed by 904,000 barrels last week to 373.4 million, the highest level since December, the American Petroleum Institute said yesterday.

Shell suspends refinery production in Argentina for 4 days

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc has halted production at its only refinery in Argentina for about four days due to electrical problems, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.

Nigeria Oil Licenses to Await Passage of New Industry Law

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, won’t award new oil exploration licenses until lawmakers pass a reform bill now being considered, Department of Petroleum Resources Director Osten Olorunsola said.

“You need firm commitment and firm predictability of the law,” he said in a Feb. 21 interview in Abuja, the capital. “We have to wait for the bill to be passed.”

The shaky logic of US natural gas exports

With U.S. natural gas production having risen more than 25 percent from its nadir in 2005, natural gas producers are pushing for an end to limits on U.S. natural gas exports. The growth in supplies comes primarily from previously inaccessible shale deposits deep in the Earth, a development that has convinced many people that the country is now entering a new era of natural gas abundance.

Trouble is, the United States remains an importer of natural gas. Through November 2012 the country imported 12.5 percent of its natural gas consumption for the year, mostly from Canada. That's down from an average of 15.7 percent for the previous 20-year period. But it's not exactly energy independence.

The Peak Oil Crisis: The State of the Union

When peak oil first came to widespread public attention some 10 or 15 years ago, there was some debate about whether peak oil was the solution to climate change caused by carbon emissions. After all, if we are forced by geology and economics to burn decreasing amounts of oil, won’t carbon emissions and global warming take care of themselves? In the last 10 years, however, much has happened. Bad economic times have reduced consumption of oil in most of the OECD countries. This demand has been replaced by increased demand from China, India and other developing or oil-rich countries, which are rapidly turning themselves into “motorized societies” where nearly everybody owns a car or some form of oil-powered transport.

The other side of the peak oil/global warming issue is what has happened to our climate in recent years. Lower Manhattan under water; New England under feet of snow; Texas and the upper mid-west burned dry; the Mississippi flooding; and the South torn up by tornadoes is rather hard to ignore. Indeed, the respected Pew Research Center says the number of Americans saying they believe the earth is warming has increased from 57 percent to 67 percent in the last five years. Those believing that climate change is caused by manmade emissions are up from 36 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012. The rather low percentage of those who believe that global warming comes from carbon emissions is a tribute to the power of the massive public relations campaign that fossil fuel companies and their political allies have been waging for many years.

The impending threat of peak oil

My final words of wisdom: you may be content to sit in a windowless room and play video games for the rest of your life, but if you don’t join the cadre of voices calling for sustainability, the lights might go off. Then you’ll be sitting in a dark room with no Internet connection and no friends. That’ll be awkward.

Don’t Let Peak Oil Sneak up on You

Discussions about peak oil usually degrade into a shouting match between environmentalists and energy companies. It may be entertaining, but what is most helpful is to take the facts and then act accordingly. A combination of these facts show that the energy is getting more difficult to discover and investors need to find forward looking companies that are willing to think outside the box.

Sinopec’s U.S. Shale Deal Struck at Two-Thirds’ Discount

China Petrochemical Corp.’s $1.02 billion deal with Chesapeake Energy Corp. gives the second- largest Chinese energy producer a stake in a shale oilfield for less than one-third of its estimated value.

Sinopec, as the Beijing-based explorer is known, will take a 50 percent interest in 850,000 acres Chesapeake controls in the Mississippi Lime formation, the companies said yesterday in separate statements. The price equates to $2,400 an acre, less than the $7,000 to $8,000 at which Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake valued the asset in a July presentation.

US shale puts questions on Canada’s own industry

Calgary: The US shale oil revolution is forcing Canada’s oil sands industry to question whether there is a future in processing its crude into lighter oil, a tried-and-true way of wringing the most money out of a resource considered crucial to the country’s prosperity.

Suncor Energy Inc, which nearly 50 years ago pioneered the practice in Canada of mining and then upgrading the oil sands bitumen into refinery-ready light crude at the same site, served notice this month that the era of the integrated project may be ending.

Shell Buys Repsol LNG Assets in Americas for $4.4 Billion

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the world’s largest supplier of liquefied natural gas, agreed to buy LNG assets from Repsol SA for $4.4 billion in cash to expand in Latin America and Spain.

The deal, which helps the Spanish oil company avoid a credit-rating downgrade to junk, gets Shell export capacity in Peru as well as in Trinidad and Tobago, The Hague-based company said yesterday. Shell will take over financial leases and assume debt, bringing the transaction’s total value to $6.7 billion. Repsol’s Canaport terminal in Canada, which imports gas into North America, was not sold.

Pakistani leader visits Iran in hopes of finalizing gas pipeline deal that’s opposed by US

TEHRAN, Iran — Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is visiting Tehran where he is expected to finalize a gas pipeline deal with Iran that is being opposed by the United States.

The U.S. opposes the project because it is trying to isolate Iran economically over fears that the country might ultimately be able to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran denies the charge.

Russia Stocks Rise From Lowest This Year as Rosneft Gains

Russia’s benchmark stock index swung between gains and losses as OAO Gazprom surged on plans to sign a gas-supply deal with China, while OAO Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port tumbled.

Gazprom banks on floating terminal for Israeli LNG

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The latest floating terminal technology could be the key to unlocking gas exports from Israel's Tamar field and the larger related gas riches of the eastern Mediterranean.

Russian energy group Gazprom said on Tuesday it is in exclusive talks to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Tamar, located about 90 km off Israel's coast.

AGL Says Rules May Stop A$2 Billion in Coal-Seam Gas Plans

AGL Energy Ltd., Australia’s second- biggest electricity retailer, may drop plans to invest about A$2 billion ($2.1 billion) on coal-seam gas in New South Wales after the state moved to restrict access to some areas.

“This is an arbitrary announcement,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Fraser said today in a phone interview after the Sydney-based company reported that it may need to write down the value of two proposed coal-seam gas projects in the state. “You’ve got to work out ways to develop those resources in a way that addresses community concerns and avoids what is going to be a huge cost to the New South Wales economy.”

Centrica faces flak over profits

British Gas parent Centrica has come under public and political fire after it revealed it made nearly £50 per household last year just months after hiking customer bills.

A £606 million profit haul at British Gas residential was slammed as "staggering" amid calls for the firm to use some of the cash towards reducing energy bills for its 8.4 million customers.

Ernest Moniz, possible energy secretary pick, already drawing criticism

Moniz, a scientist and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the most-mentioned pick to replace Steven Chu, who plans to return to Stanford. As was the case with Chu, Moniz’s academic background — and his lack of political baggage — is thought to be a plus.

But before Moniz has gotten the President’s nod, environmental groups are already crying foul, expressing concern about his support for natural gas and nuclear power as energy sources.

Power Companies Lose Court Bid on Telecom Pole-Wiring Fee

American Electric Power Co., Southern Co. and seven other power companies lost a court challenge to U.S. rules setting rates telephone and cable providers must pay to attach lines to electric utility poles.

The Political Minefield of Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State

The alternative to carefully regulated hydraulic fracturing is the "wild west" version we see in Ohio and Pennsylvania. While New York could and should provide a model of best practices, in the long run, the federal government must regulate fracking. Of course, if scientific study indicates that there is no safe way to extract this gas from the ground, the practice should be banned. A more likely outcome is that a carefully managed fracking process can be designed, but will cost more than the current version. Given the need for energy and the cost of other energy sources, fracking can probably be profitable, even if it is rigorously regulated.

Chevron Reaped $1.49 Billion After U.S. Botched Leases

Chevron Corp. reaped the most among the five largest oil companies drilling on U.S. deep water leases that mistakenly omitted drilling-fee provisions, according to a report produced by a Democratic lawmaker.

Exxon Wins Reversal of Gas-Leak Punitive Damages Award

Exxon Mobil Corp. won the reversal of more than $1 billion in punitive damages over a 2006 gasoline leak that Maryland residents claimed fouled their drinking water.

A Maryland appeals court yesterday reversed the punitive damages and returned the case to a new trial in Baltimore County Circuit court in Towson, Maryland, for a new trial. Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil had argued that the award, handed down in 2011 to 160 homeowners and businesses as part of a $1.5 billion jury verdict, was excessive.

BP Profit Push ‘Root Cause’ of Gulf Spill, Witness Says

BP Plc’s push to maximize profits and cut costs at the Macondo well was a “root cause” of the explosion that led to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a safety expert who studied the disaster said.

BP executives pressured supervisors of the Deepwater Horizon rig to speed up drilling operations and hold down expenses as part of a corporate culture that put profit ahead of safety, Robert Bea, a retired engineering professor from the University of California, yesterday told the judge who is hearing claims over the spill.

BP Executive Testifies That a Rig Explosion in the Gulf Was a Known Risk

NEW ORLEANS — On the first day of testimony in the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial, BP’s top executive for North American operations at the time of the disaster acknowledged on Tuesday that a well explosion had been identified as a risk before it happened.

Was BP too efficient?

It's easy and tempting to focus on BP and its cost cutting. But you could argue that the company was only doing what every business has been doing relentlessly since 2008: Cutting, cutting and cutting again. Reducing headcount, shortening timescales, cutting margins. This is called efficiency but there is always a point beyond which it isn't efficient but starts to get dangerous.

Post-Fukushima, Arguments for Nuclear Safety Bog Down

Ever since the nuclear accident in Japan released radiation into the atmosphere, regulators in the United States have been studying whether to require filters, costing as much as $45 million, on the vents of each of the country’s 31 boiling water reactors.

The filters, which have been recommended by the staff of the regulatory commission, are supposed to prevent radioactive particles from escaping into the atmosphere. They are required in Japan and much of Europe, but the American utilities say they are unnecessary and expensive.

The Alternative Energy religion is based on a false premise

Beaufort County has a habit of chasing pink elephants. That is essentially the strategy upon which our economic development programs has been based for over a decade and it has resulted in colossal failures. In fact, arguably, there have been no winners, and certainly no bonanzas.

Now our county fathers are chasing "alternative energy." They are junketing to Washington to cozy up to Federal officials in attempts to get a wind farm going near Pantego. The only way that project can make a go of it is to be heavily subsidized by the taxpayers. It's a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. But then, that's exactly what all these economic development schemes Al Klemm and Jay McRoy sold to us. Take from other businesses and give it to a few. But wind energy is much more of a boondoggle than anything our leaders have chased, except perhaps ethanol.

My Heart-Stopping Ride Aboard the Navy's Great Green Fleet

You can't live off the land at sea, which is why the Navy has always looked far into the future to fuel its supply lines; the job description of admirals requires them to assess risk and solve intractable problems that stymie the rest of us. Peak oil, foreign oil, greenhouse emissions, climate change? Just another bunch of enemies. So when the Department of Defense set a goal to meet 25 percent of its energy needs with renewables by 2025, the Navy found itself fighting on familiar ground. Four times in history it has overhauled old transportation paradigms—from sail to coal to gasoline to diesel to nuclear—carrying commercial shipping with it in the process. "We are a better Navy and a better Marine Corps for innovation," Mabus says. "We have led the world in the adoption of new energy strategies in the past. This is our legacy."

French wind power spun into knots

A storm in Europe threatens to leave the green energy sector of the continent's second-largest economy stuck in the doldrums.

A legal battle with anti-wind energy activists has frozen investment in France's onshore wind sector, threatening a "sea change" in energy pledged by the Socialist president François Hollande and his coalition partner Greens.

Germany's clean-energy supporters sound alarm over subsidy cuts

Germany's clean-energy lobbies say government plans to reduce support for the industry will stall any energy transformation and proposed three alternative measures to stabilise power prices.

US utilities face growing rivalry from unsubsidised roof-top solar power

Roof-top solar power is increasingly cost-competitive with retail power prices, with far-reaching implications for solar manufacturers, utilities and rival generation technologies.

Data gathered from installations in the United States by the department of energy suggest it is cheaper to generate electricity from roof-top solar panels than to buy power from electric utilities, if applied to European retail power prices.

Why Are Teen Pregnancy Rates So Low in North Dakota? Fracking.

It’s not prophylactics. But it could be petroleum. The explosion of fracking has created thousands of North Dakota jobs and imported single young men by the truckload to fill them. That’s helped the state perform better on two major indicators of teen pregnancy: Rates go down in places with low economic inequality and a high ratio of men to women. You might think there would be higher rates of teen pregnancy with more seed floating around, but research suggests that women are more likely to delay pregnancy when they perceive future opportunities to climb the social and economic ranks—to get an education, a job, and a committed partner who benefits from the same. By the numbers, the prospects for North Dakota's women look good: North Dakota now has the third-highest ratio of men to women in the U.S. and the oil boom has pushed North Dakota’s overall unemployment rate down to 3.2 percent.

Radioactive tuna from Fukushima? Scientists eat it up

For most people, the thought of radioactive sushi tuna is nightmarish, but for Madigan it represented an opportunity.

If radiation from Fukushima was detectable, scientists might look for traces of the contamination in all sorts of amazing creatures that make epic journeys across the open seas, from tuna to sharks to turtles to birds. They might learn more about where the animals came from, when they made their journeys, and why.

They might learn how a single, man-made event — the plant failure in Fukushima — could be linked to the lives and fates of animals making homes over half the globe.

A Report Card for Global Food Giants

The antipoverty group Oxfam has come up with a scorecard that evaluates the impact that the supply chains of behemoth food companies have on water consumption, labor and wages, greenhouse gas emissions and nutrition.

The goal of the scorecard, called “Behind the Brands,” is to motivate consumers to pressure companies like Nestlé, Kellogg and Mars to improve their policies on land and water use and the treatment of small farmers, among other things, and to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Oyster Farm in California Gets a Reprieve

SAN FRANCISCO — An oyster farm can continue operating at Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California for at least a few more months after a federal appeals court decision on Monday.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District, in San Francisco, ruled that the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which was scheduled to shut down in mid-March, could remain open until the court decided whether the company’s lawsuit challenging its eviction from the park could move forward.

Seen as Nature Lovers’ Paradise, Utah Struggles With Air Quality

Federal safe air standards are set at 35 micrograms of particles per cubic meter of air — about the weight of a single crystal of table salt — averaged over a 24-hour period. During inversions last month, Salt Lake County reached 69 micrograms per cubic meter, while nearby Utah County got to 125 micrograms, Mr. Bird said.

“If the 40,000 women in Utah who are pregnant suddenly started smoking, that would constitute a genuine health emergency,” said Dr. Brian Moench, an anesthesiologist who leads Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, a group that has urged Gov. Gary R. Herbert, a Republican, to declare a public health emergency. “But our levels of air pollution are causing the exact same consequences as if all these women were smoking.”

Rystad Energy analyst Lars Eirik Nicolaisen thinks Norway has to continue exploration activities today even though resources in the Arctic will not be as important before 2030. He says that Norway will have a lead role as the oil industry moves northwards.

EU Carbon Drops to Two-Week Low as Glut-Fix Shortcut Abandoned

European Union carbon permits closed at their lowest level since Feb. 7 a day after Matthias Groote, chairman of the EU parliament’s environment panel, scrapped fast-track talks on a plan to cut a surplus of allowances.

US Generals warn of climate change dangers

A leading group of US security experts has warned of the imminent threat of climate change in an open letter to US policymakers.

Signatories include former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, General Wesley Clark, Richard Armitage, George W. Bush’s Deputy Secretary of State and Anthony Zinni, a retired four star general in the Marine Corps.

“We, the undersigned Republicans, Democrats and Independents, implore US policymakers to support American security and global stability by addressing the risks of climate change in vulnerable nations. Their plight is our fight; their problems are our problems,” it says.

Nebraska lawmakers warm to climate change study

LINCOLN — The issue of climate change was discussed Tuesday in the Nebraska Legislature, perhaps for the first time.

And a legislative panel reacted warmly to the idea of having an existing state climate committee conduct a long-range study on how the state's largest industry, agriculture, can deal with rising temperatures and wild swings in the weather.

A climate-change plan Republicans could love

Rather than wage a futile battle with Obama over EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases – for which the Supreme Court has already ruled in favor – the GOP could answer the president's climate challenge with a free-market solution, embraced by a number of conservative economists like Art Laffer and Greg Mankiw: A revenue-neutral tax on carbon that gives proceeds back to consumers.

China’s rising sea level threatens economic interests

Beijing: The sea level around China has witnessed an average 2.9 mm annual rise from 1980 to 2012, leading to more marine disasters and the country nearly $2.5 billion in economic interests, the government said today.

Local warming: U.S. cities in front line as sea levels rise

NORFOLK, Virginia (Reuters) - The signs of rising water are everywhere in this seaport city: yellow "Streets May Flood" notices are common at highway underpasses, in low-lying neighborhoods and along the sprawling waterfront.

Built at sea level on reclaimed wetland, Norfolk has faced floods throughout its 400-year history. But as the Atlantic Ocean warms and expands, and parts of the city subside, higher tides and fiercer storms seem to hit harder than they used to.

How Things Got This Way

Just a quick personal musing. We got buried in about eight inches of snow up here north of Chicago last night. With diligence and awareness of the energy meme, I hefted my shovel and went to work.

Tough work that. I managed to get through about three quarters of my driveway when my neighbor, who I am good friends with, fired up his massive snowblower and went to work on his.

When he offered to take care of the final part of mine, I didn't object. He then went on to take care of our other neighbors driveway in short order.

It's just hard to argue with a little bit of gasoline and a lot of industry. Just sayin'.

Yeah, Myst, my back loves my log slitter. Three gallons of fuel splits about 4-5 cords of wood. That would be three trips to the doctor with a splitting maul. Just small examples of how high the bar has been set by an endowment of cheap liquid hydro-carbons. That said, my splitting maul and axes still hang in my shop.

Perhaps I'll aquire an electric motor for the log splitter...

If your splitter has a 2-stage pump, a 1-1/2 to 2 HP electric motor ought to substitute well for the 5-6 HP gas motor. More sunny day PV usage!

Here's a commercially made electric 16 ton splitter.

I've never quite figured out why anyone buys a horizontal log splitter where you have to hump the wood up there and the pieces don't stay in place. Maybe they only have little stuff.

I have a 30 ton vertical or horizontal splitter with an 8 hp motor. It's nice to be able to just drop those rounds on the ground split them in half and then split each section into "firewood" and not have to bend down again.

Yea, I've still got my mauls and wedges. I used to like the "monster" all steel, 16# or so maul but not since I hurt my back years ago.


Yeah, Todd, I luv that mine does both. In verticle use, I just pile the rounds up around me, sit on a five gallon bucket, and roll the rounds into place. Toss the finished product into the trailer. These things mean alot when the body begins to wear out.

The manual verticle splitters I've seen (pounders we call'em) are tough on the joints, and I can't see using one to produce an entire season's pile of wood. Maybe 20 years ago. Splitting with those or a maul/axe means rejecting the big knots that are great fuel; too much time and trouble. We have a lot of knotty hardwood in these parts.

I've never quite figured out why anyone buys a horizontal log splitter

A vertical one can be harder on the back than a horizontal one.

Horizontal you can properly lift the log into place keeping your back straight and using your knees. Don't let it fall back to the ground on the first split, just spin 90 and split into 4.

A vertical one you are pushing shoving at all kinds of odd angles bad for your back. I have never personally used a vertical one, but while I was building mine and seeking advice, I decided not to make it convertible as I had originally planned.

An electric motor driver by inverter would be the ticket. I don't even have a big enough generator to run mine.

That's a Monster! What's that, a 5HP electric motor?

Yes, it's a 5HP 3-phase, picked up at a garage sale for $20. I'm using a static 3Ø converter.

The electric/hyraulic splitters (as in your link) work much better than the electric screw drive models being marketed, which are weak and slow. A couple of years ago I took an old Yardman 6.75/25 ton splitter and replaced the 11 gpm pump with a 16 gpm. Replaced the engine with a 13 HP scrounged from an old Generac (alternator burned up). It'll now cruise through giant oak knots without breaking idle.

I guess I've set the bar higher than I needed to. Anyway, it would be easy to replace the engine with an electric motor. Add an accumulator and it should work nicely.

Best hopes that some fuel will be available for these high value/high return applications. Just sayin'. A jetski uses more fuel in an afternoon than my splitter uses in an entire season. I may electrify, if only on principle ;-/

Thinking of "screw drives" - does anyone besides me remember the old "Woodpecker" splitters that you bolted onto your rear wheel (replacing the wheel)? I had one 30+ years ago and it did a pretty good job. I wonder what I did with it? Mother Earth News had continual ads for them back then.


I saw one in use a couple of years ago in some Alpine village, can't remember which country. The old guy made it look effortless. I had never seen one before.

I had one of those, also about 30 years ago. It worked pretty good but I remember one particular oak crotch piece that jammed and drove the pickup off of its jackstand. Had to hit the kill switch real quick and wrestle for a while to get the log off the screw.

I burn a lot of doug fir now and it is so easy to split a splitter isn't worth dealing with. Same with the big-leaf maple we have here in Orygun.

Statistically working wood is among the most dangerous.

Now this seem dangerous to me.Redneck Log SplitterRedneck utube I will stick with my axes.
yours Madax

My neighbor recently acquired a small John Deere tractor with all the needful attachments. The pto driven log splitter gave him a lot of grief. With the 27 gpm pump running at 540 rpm there was so much back pressure from the splitter that the chains holding the pump broke. Solution: Replace all hoses with larger arctic grade hoses. Replace valve with bigger valve. Replace hydraulic oil with arctic grade oil. Install larger filter. Conclusion: upsizing the pump may be harder than you think.

Here in Alaska I pay $1700 for ten cords of birch logs. I burn maybe 2-1/2 cords per year. Instead of burning oil for heat it makes more sense to use it to harvest wood and use that for heating and cooking too.


Hi Douglas,

I'm curious how you manage to get away with so little wood use in AK even while using it for cooking as well as heating. Can you share a little about your place, is it very small or especially well-insulated, etc? How mild are your temperatures? I'm also curious about birch -- I think of it as a low-btu wood, but I know it's frequently used as firewood in Alaska -- is it just the predominant wood available?



Heavy maul for when I'm feeling fine.

Lightweight maul for the days I don't feel my best.

No need to tax the back by splitting a winter's worth at once -- I start in the early fall when a wheelbarrow of wood lasts a week in the barely-chill weather.

In the depths of winter, spend maybe 15 minutes a day splitting a barrow or two -- don't we all need that exercise anyway?

Starting in the autumn, I split a little more than I need each day, until I have a two-weeks-worth-or-so reserve stacked up near the house -- that's in case I get sick, or injured, or happen to be away all day with no time to split, or it gets to 20-below and I just can't keep up.

Most of that reserve sits untouched until May or June, just serving as my peace of mind.


That's pretty much how I approach it, Auntie.

I also have a couple of different weight sledgehammers, and a good set of wedges.

I heat exclusively with wood, other than a couple of intermittent use space heaters. I split everything by hand, and only use a maul when I have to. There are better tools. I can split the majority of wood far, far faster by hand than you could with a powered splitter. I find that the only time I injure myself splitting wood is in trying to move too-large rounds, so now I just quarter them in place before trying to move them.

As a side benefit, after winding up a season of splitting wood before heating season I'm in the best shape of the year. Hand splitting done correctly (with an axe) is some of the best exercise.

I used to do it axe -and maul when needed. Most of the struggle was the few recalitrant logs, with knots or other things that don't wanna split. I am agreed, that the average piece goes quite easily. But it sure would have been nice to have had a fallback for the uncooperative logs.

When I'm splitting wood, and I get a recalcitrant log (absolutely the right word for it!) I just throw it into a separate stack in my woodshed. Sometimes they come right apart the next year, sometimes they come apart after some extreme heat cold cycling. Splitting in the morning when it's around zero degrees F sometimes things fly right apart.

I split some stuff this winter that's been sitting around for several years. Also, the splitter (me) has good days and bad. In any case, after several years, the stuff is so seasoned that if you can physically fit it into your stove on a bed of coals, it'll burn. Good for just keeping things going when you don't need lots of heat.

I burn oak/beech/maple/birch/ash for the most part. Typical New England wood pile.

Wait until it is about -10 and then those hard logs are split a lot easier but we don't get those temps too much anymore here in Mt...

Hello All
I agree, Twilight, a 4-5 lb double bit axe, an old scoring axe, is my preferonce for splitting in the bush. I sometimes open 3' across and up with a wedge. I use short handeled 4 lb single bit at the block/pile.
I have cut and split firewood for a living and still handsplit cedar fence rails.
If one misses with an eight lb maul one with a 4 lb axe gets a free sceond try. Reading the grain and accuracy save energy!
sorry can't figure spellcheck am logger not comp wizz

Yup, big ones often get the wedges to quarter. Cutting a 2" deep kerf with the chainsaw first helps to start the wedges. And I agree with reading the grain. I really enjoy splitting wood - it is wonderful exercise and good for the head too.

Also, really nasty stuff can be easily be cut into stackable logs with the chainsaw if you accept wasting the fuel to do it. It is still a huge reduction in energy use compared to other heating forms.

But I often let the nasty pieces lay. Something will make use of it.

There is no way you split the wood I'm dealing with using an axe. You have got to use a maul or sledge/wedge. I don't know what you're splitting, but I can't beleive it's gnarly oak and sugar maple.

People do amazing things with a small axe, embedding it into a round and in a smooth followthrough swinging and reversing it onto whatever so the full weight of the round becomes much more than a puny maul. Personally I like the puny maul approach.

Another trick is to not go plumb straight into your log, but have the axe/maul head at a slight angle. When it bites inot the wood, it snaps into the vertical, exerting a nice bit of torque.

Gosh, I love splitting wood...

Me too! ;)

I use the twist on the axe head approach sometimes, it can be effective. I also have one of those "Chopper 1" lever axes that came out in the 1970's I believe, and in some wood it is very effective. I was simply crushing large red oak rounds with it last summer. Wood is varied in characteristics and this is why I have a variety of different splitting tools - one might be great for some wood and useless for the next.

Reading the wood, being outside, getting exercise and being productive - the combination makes it one of my favorite things.


One can't have enough tools/toys. Like splitting, call it taking apart. stacking not so much.
Nothing like wood splitting topic to get all we wood butchers going
guilty as charged Madax (crazy about axes)

I have 3 axes of various caliber, 2 mauls, 2 sledges, 3 wedges, and I think (at last count) about 4 hatchets. It is fun to talk about and compare notes, for sure.

I'm not a big fan of stacking either. You need to find a pilot (as in pile-it).

I like stacking the best. It's like counting your gold, or finally putting all of those jars on the shelf after canning the harvest. I used to love 'bustin rounds' with an axe and maul, but gave it up; too hard on my right wrist and shoulder which have both suffered fairly major damage in the past. I think it's the repeated impacts. Last time I hand split a bunch of wood, my wrist swelled up and I couldn't work (grooming dogs) for days. I'm trying to wind that job down now as well; carpal tunnel issues. Better to adapt rather than choose drugs and surgery.

I probably shouldn't be lugging big rounds out of the woods since the doc said I was looking at back surgery followed by months of rehab. Said if I take it easy, I'll muddle through ok. Actually, some 'back breaking labor' seems to help. Just need to honor my bodies limitations. It makes more sense to use a bull rope, snatch blocks, all that, cut and split on site, get it to the shed.

While wood heat is partly a choice for us these days, we treat it like it isn't. Best to get used to that sort of thing now.

Hey, you can come stack mine! Actually, it is hauling it that I like least, stacking can be sort of soothing.

When our old oil tank got too nasty to ignore, we decided to simply take it out and disconnect the system. Wood heat is not optional for us now.

Yea, these comments of splitting, now stacking, are sounding like Tom Sawyer and fence painting.

My medical issues are such that I can split wood fine, but 5 minutes of bending over to pick it up and stack it and I'm ready to be sick.

Yes, we need to honor our bodies' limitations...

"I don't know what you're splitting"

Buckskin tamarack? Not that much of it around anymore, but where they are, you can split a 30" round by looking at it cross-eyed. They were big old trees, standing dead in the old timber sales. After falling, the bark just slipped off, leaving a honey yellow, straight grain wood.

Douglas fir is what I split, doug fir, usually "seed trees,cull trees and snags left by first loggers and felled for compo reasons when taking off the second cut. some of this is sold to woodcutters the rest is burned onsite.

Splits pretty nice, eh?

Specially the old ones, the red fir. And burns great, specially the ones that collect a pool of resin. Maybe the hardest firewood you can get in the northwest, at least in quantity. Most will call it red fir, a few will call it doug fir. Pseudotsuga menziesii. A premium wood, and over much of the interior northwest, one of the early ones to be displaced by climate change.

Vancouver Island, that's some big trees left, cheers back.

Around here red fir is Abies magnifica, although your red fir is Abies amabilis. A very different critter than Douglas-fir.

No, our red fir is Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga...hmm that means false fir.

I've never heard Douglas-fir called red fir. It is not a true fir hence the "pseudo" in Pseudotsuga menziesii

Red fir is Abies magnifica, a species found at high elevation in California and Oregon, but overlooked by David Douglas.

That's what I said, that you responded to, Pseudotsuga means false fir....

I thought that was evident, I guess I need smiley critters or sarc tags.

As for never hearing it called red fir, that's odd. Cut it across, and that heartwood will be deep, deep red. Same with the lumber, most all red, and one of the few species in the west along with Tamarack, or Larch, with the strength for framing 2x4 studs. Another quick id for when you've come on it dead in the forest, no needles or its distinctive cone, is in the cross section of the bark. Only bark you'll find with flecks of red within the bark tissue. Young or old, still those red flecks.

Abies concolor, a true fir, is often in association with it in the moister ends of its stand. As most true firs, it's quite soft. Called white fir here (again due to its cross-sectional color) or Grand fir by the more academic, or another vernacular starting with "p" for it's distinctive odor when burned green in a fire.

Actually, tsuga means hemlock. So, it's a "false hemlock".

Douglas-fir is not a true fir, hence the hyphen in the common name.

I was just trying to make doubly clear that Douglas-fir is not a true fir - it has its own genus, and in fact Pseudotsuga means "false hemlock". It's a heck of a big, strong tree and great for making strong floor joists and beams. It's kind of a waste using it for firewood.

We don't have many Douglas-firs here in Alberta. They are mostly found in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and don't grow as big as the coastal Douglas-firs.

At least people where you are seem to be consistent in misusing species names. Your "red fir" is actually Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii and your "white fir" is actually Grand fir, Abies grandis

The true white fir is Abies concolor found in the American Rockies from Idaho south to Mexico, and the true red fir is Abies magnifica found in California and Oregon.

In Scandinavia we only have a few species of all those trees. The re-occuring ice ages kills off everything that can't survive the real tough cold climates and leaves only a few species standing.

Say, pretty nice handle you go by! Maybe I need to change mine... let's see, how about red oak (I have red hair, or did) ;-)

Thanks, neat tree, but it's having a rough time here anymore. Orubra? Querubra?

I had a tree die and had it cut down. I burned the small logs and threw the big logs that needed splitting into the lawn trimmings recycle bin. LOL.

(I'm in Northern California so heating is much of an issue.)

I have a 10-ton hydraulic splitter which operates with a pair of handles that you manually pump to build up the pressure for splitting. My problem is that with local ash and oak logs, 10 tons is not enough force to split them. I am not really interested in another gasoline powered device. Has anyone seen a larger capacity manual hydraulic splitter? Like maybe 20 tons? Maybe I should make one, then go into business selling them. Naturally the one I have was made in China. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Try Google: 20-ton hydraulic splitter -> Shopping

Hydraulic splitters work well. These with one handle are easy to handle but I also heard stories of hand in between.

I'll split my own wood with an axe. It's when I start up the chainsaw that I really appreciate the amount of energy I'm holding. Just the thought of sawing up logs with a handsaw makes me shudder. I don't even use that much wood, but to have to cut it by hand and then split it by hand sounds like too much hard work.

I'll end up with a rocket mass heater, and just use branches, skinny logs etc. Thats a few years away though.


Those snowblowers came along just as I was reaching teenagerdoom. I had looked forward to making big bucks shoveling peoples driveway's. But they would rather spend $600 on a snowblower, than pay a kid $10 a few times per year.

Leter on, I discovered a device called a show-shoe for about $25. A largish scoop that you push/slide along the ground. Almost as fast as a blower, and no back stress. But they never sold well, more satisfying to use brute force fossil fuel overkill.

I've always done our driveway by the "Armstrong Method" (so called because it makes your arms strong). We often get a lot of snow, but our driveway is relatively short, so most years I just chalk it up to a good upper body workout. However, I have to admit that last winter, when we had record snow fall, those snow blowers were starting to look mighty good.

This year we have an exchange student living with us, a big strong young man, so we usually just send him out and he makes short work of it. ;-)

A lot of people in this area just hire someone with a plow mounted on a pickup to do their driveway. There are lots of small businesses that do lawn care in the summer and snow plowing in the winter. You just set up a contract with them, and they come plow whenever we get a significant snow fall. Seems like a waste of money and gas to me, but then like I say, I have a short driveway.

A largish scoop that you push/slide along the ground. Almost as fast as a blower, and no back stress.

By the way, you can still buy these. Just google "snow scoop".

"But they would rather spend $600 on a snowblower, than pay a kid $10 a few times per year."

That seems right, and sad, but the real sad comment is hardly a conscientious kid anymore who will get out and do the work, and not 3 days later. Or try to find a couple to buck bales in the summer. They want more than it's worth, and they are only moving it to a trailer and stacking. Trouble is, you got give them a premium over Mickey D's, or they'd just flip burgers. So you end up having to pay big bucks for a bale stacker and maybe the loan, when all that money, and flexibility, is lost to the local economy.

Those kids are behaving fairly rationally. I'm not sure how much you can afford to pay those kids. $10 p/h or less? But $10 doesn't go far at all nowadays. Its reasonable to expect more for what is fairly strenuous work probably in some out of the way place. Blame the high cost of living (related indirectly to the high cost of fuel).

After the big Noreaster a few weeks ago, my son and his friend shoveled all day and part of the next; each made about a hundred bucks. They were pretty happy. (I also saw several other kids walking around the neighborhood with shovels on their shoulders.)

I don't think it's that the work is hard, so much as it's intermittent. A job flipping burgers is steady work. A farm job, or a job shoveling snow, generally isn't. Kids too young to work at McDonald's might be interested, but most others would prefer steady work.

IME, a fruit picker can make a lot more than you'd make at McDonald's. But...it's seasonal work. You pick a crop a few weeks, then it's over, or you have to follow the jobs elsewhere.

Intermittent is an attraction. Most I hire are on the football team, and with morning and night practice, they like having work that fits that schedule. And kids younger than 16 usually don't have the body mass yet. Kids wanted $12/hr last year. With fruit picking, it's usually piecemeal, by the unit picked, meaning you better be good to make money.

One of the big factors is most hay is now big round bales, about a 1/2 ton. All machine. Yet still a good deal of the small square bales, 50-80 lbs, being put up, alot of us do both. Some of my best workers were 2 kids who worked by the bale, a quarter a bale, field to barn/storage. They were pretty tough, tie a rope around the wheel of the truck, put it in low, and they were off, one pitching onto the trailer, the other balanced on the trailer stacking. Both on the football team too. It's hard, hot work. Interesting, when they graduated high school, they became technicians to work on the nacelle of wind turbines. Stayed with energy.

Interview: Citibank's Morse with Great News!

"It was high prices that drove three revolutions in finding a developing hydrocarbons." So, the revolution in production was brought on by high prices and that, in turn, will lead to lower prices. How can that be? "I believe that costs are going down." say Morse. So his view is that high prices spurred the development of new technology but that those technologies will now lower costs.

BTW, those three revolutions are tight oil, deep water, and oil sands.

But as Rockman has so often pointed out, the fracking and horizontal drilling used in tight oil is nothing new. In the deep water, newer technology is being used, but nothing that will lower costs. And the oil sands, cost what they may, will never reach a level that will offset world depletion.

Depletion? Never mentioned. But, get this, "Venezuela should be producing 7 million, not 2 million barrels a day."

Citibank, right. What a great track record they have. And this is the stuff people are hearing and, I fear, believing.

A million dollars invested in Citigroup stock in February, 2007 would have yielded a return of -42%/year, and a remaining balance, as of February, 2013, of about $82,000 (excluding any dividend payments).

Over the same time frame, 2/7 to 2/13, the average rate of increase in the Brent crude oil price was about 12%/year.

ROFL -- The thing that gets me is that Morse didn't just fall off the back of a truck, he's been around the block, in an institutional insider sense.

Edward L. Morse is Managing Director and Head of Global Commodities Research at Credit Suisse in New York and previously held similar positions at Lehman Brothers and Louis Capital Markets. Widely cited in the media, Dr. Morse is a contributor to such journals as Foreign Affairs, Financial Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Dr. Morse worked at the U.S. State Department and later was an advisor to the United Nations Compensation Commission on Iraq as well as to the U.S. Departments of State, Energy, and Defense and to the International Energy Agency on issues related to oil, natural gas and the impact of financial flows on prices.

A former Princeton professor and author of a numerous books and articles on energy, economics and international affairs, Dr. Morse has been published in Petroleum Intelligence Weekly and other trade periodicals and worked at Hess Energy Trading Co. (HETCO).


How does someone with those credentials display such utter ignorance about fundamental energy issues? Another quote from Morse:

For the keenest consumers of EIA data, there can always be more. Morse, who said his office at Citi already uses all of EIA?s oil and gas data, said EIA should start collecting so-called "tertiary inventory" information, which includes home heating stocks and the diesel that large delivery operations such as FedEx and UPS store onsite. That data is crucial to understanding the overall picture of supply and demand in the US, Morse said.


So it's crucial to know how much oil is in home oil tanks and at FedEx/UPS stocks? Is this a joke? CRUCIAL!?!? You can't make this stuff up.

If we include the monetary metals we have the following:

2/7-2/13 annual increase

Brent = 12% per year
Silver = 26% per year
Gold = 28% per year

"Venezuela should be producing 7 million, not 2 million barrels a day."

He is obviously looking at Venezuela's new declared reserves and saying something to the effect; If they have that many barrels of oil in the ground then they should be producing 7 million barrels of oil per day. But the stuff in the ground is basically bitumen with an average API gravity of 8 degrees. It also contains large amounts of vanadium, nickel, and sulfur. This makes it very hard to refine.

They can produce some of the bitumen with ordinary wells but they are much more successful when using stem injection. The bitumen is found at an average depth of 3,000 feet, making it way too deep to surface mine like they do in Canada.

And once they get it to the surface they must mix it with naptha in order to get the viscosity low enough to pump it through a pipeline. Obviously the more oil they produce the more naptha they need. And the only place to get naptha is from the refinery. This becomes a very expensive operation and a very slow operation. That is the amount of oil they can produce and ship this way is limited.


Ron P.

Great link, Ron, thanks!

I like Naptha. Great solvent.

"It was high prices that drove three revolutions in finding a developing hydrocarbons." So, the revolution in production was brought on by high prices and that, in turn, will lead to lower prices. How can that be? "I believe that costs are going down." say Morse. So his view is that high prices spurred the development of new technology but that those technologies will now lower costs.

Yeah . . . how? We can't offshore the fracking to low-paid factory workers in China. The steel certainly isn't getting cheaper. The limited number of skilled oil workers ensures that their pay remains high.

Exactly how do they think prices are going to go down? Computers get cheaper because we jam more transistors into the same amount of space. TVs get cheaper because they open big factories in China where they pay the people little, work them hard, and improve the technology.

I think US-based oil drilling will be more like US higher education and medical industries . . . high-paid skilled workers doing a highly demanded job and thus costs may even go up. I'm sure they will learn a few tricks to improve the process a little bit but those tricks will probably be eaten up by skilled workers demanding higher pay to live man-camps in North Dakota.

Am I missing something? Is there some logical reason to believe that the costs of fracking will come down other than blind faith?

Speaking of Steel. Seems like a lot going into the ground with little chance of recovery/recycling. Is it significant to the worlds supply?

To be honest, the claim is that a few years of high enough oil prices to support largescale fraking, and the industry advanced fraking tech. I don't know whether its true, but just because fraking has been around for fourty or more years, doesn't mean it can't/couldn't be improved or made more economical. Thats what these cornucopian folks are claiming. To confirm/refute you have to get some data on the effectiveness versus time of the technique.

Thats similar to people arguing the PV takes more energy to produce than it ever creates. That was true fourty or fifty years ago (and PV was already decades old), but it aint true anymore.

But there needs to be a roadmap to lower prices. For example, with PV panels it was the price of silicon ingot's dropping, using lower quality silicon for PV, and (mostly) opening up huge PV fabs in China that caused prices to drop. With fracking . . . well, I don't think steel they use will get much cheaper. I don't think the diesel they use will get much cheaper. I don't think the labor will get much cheaper (maybe some . . maybe more people will enter the field).

But I'm not all that familiar with the inputs to a fracturing operation. Are there some that will cause the price to drop? I suspect the 3D seismic imaging will get cheaper & better and thus help them determine where to drill with a little less cost. Perhaps some of the equipment will start being built in China such that equipment costs drop? Any of the drilling pros want to step in and suggest where prices may drop?

spec - "But I'm not all that familiar with the inputs to a fracturing operation.” It’s actually very simple: water, some chemicals, propant (sand or ceramic beads) and a SH*T LOAD of horsepower. Figure out how to get all those horses down that 6” hole a lot cheaper and the oil patch will make you a multi-multi millionaire. Even taking inflation into account it has not gotten cheaper. And never will IMHO. The biggest reason why frac’s cost so much more (say on a per pound of propant) is demand. When frac’ng became very active the price more than doubled. Frac’ng could get much cheaper in the future: just drop the well count 70%+. The technology used to frac a well today has not changed significantly for 25+ years. In fact more than a few of the frac trucks running today are that old. Just like drill rigs: a DW floater that goes for $700k per day can be had for $300k per day when demand drops.

The only aspect that has reduced in price is the cost of locations and the vertical sections of the wells. Build one location and drill one vertical section for a 6,000’ lateral instead of two wells with 3,000’ laterals. OTOH 4 years ago they would have pumped 2 or 3 frac stages into the shorter laterals but now will pump 20+ frac stages in the longer lateral. In fact some of the frac jobs on Eagle Ford wells are costing more than it cost to drill the well. So the net effect is that the 6,000’ lateral is costing more than the two 3,000’ laterals combined. They are pumping more frac stages because they need them to make the wells as profitable as possible.

“I suspect the 3D seismic imaging will get cheaper & better and thus help them determine where to drill with a little less cost.” Nope. The cost per square mile of 3d has consistently gone up over time. Again for a similar reason as the increased number of frac stages has driven up those costs. Too long a tech explanation but the quality of the data and the level of processing had to increase as we chased deeper and smaller targets. But there is an odd savings produced by 3d seis: it has greatly reduced the number of wells drilled. The development of 3d seis has caused more wells to not be drilled than it has caused to be drilled. There are many companies that won’t even evaluate a prospect if there’s no 3d. The good news is that 3d has increased the success rate. As I’ve said before finding oil/NG has never been easier. The problem is that there just aren’t that many conventional prospects left to drill especially in the US. Which s why the shale plays are so hot: without them at least half of the companies in the US would go out of business.

Remember regardless of any tech developed you're still performing the work through a hole less than 12" in diameter that may stretch down more than 2 miles. And you do it all without being able to see what you're doing. If folks realized how much is actually being accomplished under these conditions they would be very impressed.

Thanks, Rock.

It’s actually very simple: water, some chemicals, propant (sand or ceramic beads) and a SH*T LOAD of horsepower. Figure out how to get all those horses down that 6” hole a lot cheaper and the oil patch will make you a multi-multi millionaire. Even taking inflation into account it has not gotten cheaper. And never will IMHO.

So basically CitiGroup is just assuming that costs will go down because that is the mainstream economic thinking . . . competition and innovation always drive costs down. And I'm sure that will happen a little bit but I suspect not much in view of my own limited understanding and what Rock said.

BTW, the CitiGroup people need to read up on Jeremy Grantham's findings on how that was true for like a century but it stopped around 2002. I just don't see the commodity inputs such as water, steel, propants, and horsepower (which I assume is diesel) going down in price much if at all. Perhaps some of the fracturing chemical inputs will go down a little in price as they produce more in volume.

I know Rock knows this, but it takes more time to do fracks than it does to drill too. Today in some areas a 6 or 8kft vertical with a 6 or 8kft lateral can be drilled amazingly quickly -- like 2000+ft/day. In less than a week the well can be drilled, and if it's on a pad the rig can "walk" a few feet down and drill another. Probably today you can get a 6-well pad drilled in not much longer than single well took a generation go - like a month or 6 weeks.

But the fracking will cost more than the rest of the well drilling operation put together, and 20 stages will generally take many days to place, frack, and remove. There are multiple ways to seal the sections, and ways to clear the packers out (none of which are really easy).

All of this is hard. It's hard to truck in water (many dozens or the better part of a hundred), hard to prep space to store all the equipment and supplies, hard to pump the fluids in, hard to manage the frack mix and design the sections, hard to image and control the fracking, and hard to dispose of the flowback. It's even hard to estimate the expense, since a broadening market was necessary to make the whole process efficient and vastly scalable to thousands of well per month, yet now that everybody is fracking the operations costs (labor and lease expenses) have doubled in the past few years. Just another reason why the oil patch is forever cyclical. It would be brutal for suppliers if the patch had to survive only on $3 gas, and it would be brutal for operators if gas were as expensive as oil.

The prices have instead nicely offset for a couple of years now, with a steady move of rigs and operators from gas to oil; who knows, maybe it'll shift back, or maybe both markets will align into a super-spike....or maybe both will crash at once. It's not for the faint of heart.

"Venezuela should be producing 7 million, not 2 million barrels a day."

Should is an odd choice of words. Why "should" they? They are not starving. They could certainly produce more with a huge effort but "should" they? Why not save it for future generations? Why "should" they produce much more if that would drive down oil prices such that they would get less for their oil?

I certainly think they "could" but I don't think I or he is in position to tell them what they "should" do.

Spec, you are giving Venezuela far more foresight and concern for future generations than they deserve. Venezuela is producing every barrel they can and would very much like to produce a lot more.

EIA Report - Venezuela

While crude oil production for 2011 increased 100,000 bbl/d (and equaled 2009 levels), overall production levels have declined by roughly one-quarter since 2001. Natural decline at older fields, maintenance issues, and the need for increasing foreign investment are behind this trend. In addition, net oil exports have also declined since domestic consumption has increased 39% since 2001.

They are between a rock and a hard place. Oil and gas prices are greatly subsidized in Venezuela and this has caused local consumption to skyrocket. But they can't cut back for fear of unrest among the populace. This leaves them little to invest in oil production.

Yet it would take a massive investment if Venezuela is to substantially increase production. They would need to build a refinery to refine the very heavy and contaminated oil. And remember they have to mix naptha with the oil to make it light enough to ship via pipeline. Then they refine the naptha back out and pipe it back to the field to be mixed with the bitumen again.

All this would take massive amounts of cash and they ain't got none. And foreign firms are reluctant to invest in Venezuela due to their nationalizing practices in the past. Exxon had all their assets nationalized and Chavez paid them ten cents on the dollar for it.

Bottom line, Venezuela is producing every barrel of oil they possibly can with not much hope of greatly increasing that very much in the future.

Ron P.

Well I did say that I am not in a position to say what they 'should' do.

I think it is clear that Venezuela would like to improve production but lacks the expertise to improve production much and the oil sector workers don't have much desire to get better at it since any profits just go to the government. Capitalism does produce better results at getting work done . . . people will work harder for more money. But at the same time, Venezuela has decided through the ballot box to stick with Chavez and thus they don't have much right to complain about the decreasing production.

But as I've said before, maybe it is not intentional but this may work out better for them in the long run. The oil not produced today will be much more valuable later. So as long as they are not starving, getting less oil today may mean more money later for Venezuela.

Edit: Speak of the Diablo . . . Apparently Chavez may be dead. (Or not. This is not confirmed.)

RE: The Peak Oil Crisis: The State of the Union

Why not call it what it is:

The rather low percentage of those who believe that global warming comes from carbon emissions is a tribute to the power of the massive public relations campaign [PROPAGANDA] that fossil fuel companies and their political allies have been waging for many years.

And the propaganda is paid for by government subsidies.

The sickness is even promoted by government officials who are corrupted (The Germ Theory - of Government - 5) by power to the point they do not mind the coming mass death, disease, and collapse.

"Mommas, don't let your cowboys grow up to be babies." - Willie Nelson

From Up-Top: Gas price spikes don't leave lasting economic damage

For reasons that most economists believe are temporary, the U.S. gross domestic product ground to a screeching halt in the last three months of last year. Bernanke and his Fed policy colleagues have been doing everything they can to get the economy moving ahead.

It seems like Ben's magic has not been working. What new medicine does he have for us?

Just that phrase "For reasons that most economists believe are temporary..." seems ominous to me.
See also "What's the worst that can happen?" or "We should split up, we can cover more ground that way".

U.S. gross domestic product ground to a screeching halt in the last three months of last year. Bernanke and his Fed policy colleagues have been doing everything they can to get the economy moving ahead.

If rock bottom interest rates, trillion dollar deficits and an ongoing QE of 85 billion a month are not sufficient to spur growth, then I would say Bernanke has gone as far out on a limb as he can and that's all she wrote because there really isn't anything else the feds can do.

At the same time congress is pressing for a more balanced budget with sequestration which begins Mar. 1st with lots of layoffs to come. In my opinion we are headed for another recession, possibly even another major step down. Once people realize the super slow recovery since 08/09 has been due to primarily to fancy fiscal footwork of the cheating kind and nothing else, a deep realization should set in as to just how screwed we are at these higher oil prices. Please tell me people can get it on a 2nd step down.

Sorry - what they will get is that it is time to find someone to blame. Who will it be?

Oh so true, and that tells us consciousness is not maturing fast enough to even notice the warning sign posts along the way.

Rich people, obviously.

"The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the last three months of 2012, according to the second estimate released by the Commerce Department on Thursday, a reverse from the 0.1 percent decline reported in the advance estimate last month."


The number that was reported to the Press is the annualized 4th quarter growth AFTER being adjusted for inflation AND seasonality. However the actual (nominal) numbers actually show a decrease in GDP. So not sure how they get an increase in growth when the actual numbers went down, unless there were some adjustments to the CPA and seasonality.

For instance, the 3rd quarter GDP was $15.811 trillion and the initial estimate of 4th qtr. GDP was $15.829 trillion, making for nominal annualized growth of .46%. However, today they report that GDP was only $15.815 trillion, for just .11% growth.


In any case, the bottom line still is that there was essentially zero economic growth last quarter. Yet with steadily higher oil and gasoline prices, everyone (at least the stock market) now expects good growth in the next couple quarters? Why do I feel skeptical?

I think what they are doing is gaming the numbers to keep us statistically out of a recession. [when, in fact, we would probably be in a depression if the numbers were reported consistently]

At least this is what I am seeing... but, maybe I'm wrong. I sure hope I am.


Want to find his hidden treasure worth millions? Head outdoors

A New Mexico multimillionaire wants you to get off the couch and go searching for hidden treasure.

Forrest Fenn, 82, believes too many Americans spend their free time watching TV or playing video games. He hopes the bounty he hid — a chest filled with millions of dollars in gold coins, diamonds and emeralds, among other gems — will prompt some to explore the outdoors. "Get your kids out in the countryside, take them fishing and get them away from their little hand-held machines," he told TODAY.

He considers this his legacy. He's been working on it for years. (He was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer and told he had only a 20% chance of surviving three years...25 years ago.)

Sounds like "geo-caching" on steroids. It's a big thing around here. The club buys some goody (usually something electronic) and someone hides it deep in the mountains, recording the GPS coordinates. Members then use their GPS to find the quickest route (on foot), trying to be the first to the prize. Kind of like having their cake and eating it; play with their gadget while treking through the wilderness.

A few months ago, my nephew's club unknowingly cached the goody a bit too close to some guy's still. Whoops! Rock salt, arses and elbows...

It reminds me more of Masquerade.

Kind of a neat idea, though I'd be worried about encouraging people to dig holes everywhere.

A couple of miles from where I work, the city of Livermore has a hill openspace. You aren't allowed to go to the top of the hill, because for decades there has been a rumour that an outlaw buried his treasure up there, and they don't want the place dug up.

Used to live near where that was set. Must have passed the treasure a few times without knowing it.


Hide nothing, and watch the fools search forever.

A couple of clarifications about the Sinopec/Chesapeake trade.

“The reason Chinese oil companies have gone after Chesapeake in the past year was also because they wanted to apply the technology to tap the world’s No. 1 shale gas reserves in China.” The frac’ng technology doesn’t belong to CHK. It belongs to the contractors, like Halliburton, that actually own the equipment and are the boots on the ground when a well is frac’d. Halliburton et al will do fracs for anyone anywhere in the world just like they do them for CHK. All you have to do is write them a check.

“Chesapeake is not getting a very competitive price for its assets in this transaction,” James Sullivan, an analyst at Alembic Global Advisors in New York, said in a note to clients.” The reality: CHK shopped this deal to every company that would listen to them. I've gotten the flyer myself. That includes all the other companies that have been drilling in this trend for some time. Sinopec gave CHK the best offer they received. IOW CHK got exactly what the deal was worth. And maybe even more than that if the acreage doesn’t drill up as well as Sinopec believes it will. After all Sinopec paid more than companies who already have experience in the play. Companies that weren’t willing to pay as much as Sinopec.

Re: NY going forward with frac’ng in the state:

“While New York could and should provide a model of best practices, in the long run, the federal government must regulate fracking.” No…the feds don’t need to regulate frac’ng if the state handles it properly. Both Texas and La. already have regulations that would serve as the best practices model of any state. If NY/PA has just copied the TRRC regulations, including severance taxes, they would have avoided many, if not most, of the negatives they have encountered. An example: in Texas a municipal water treatment facility can’t take in those nasty frac fluids (for a fee) and then discharge them untreated back into the environment. Which is exactly what was happening in NY/PA until they changed the law a year or two ago.

“Of course, if scientific study indicates that there is no safe way to extract this gas from the ground, the practice should be banned. A more likely outcome is that a carefully managed fracking process can be designed, but will cost more than the current version. Given the need for energy and the cost of other energy sources, fracking can probably be profitable, even if it is rigorously regulated.” “...frac’ng can PROBABLY be profitable…”? If you believe the reports of the companies that are drilling and frac’ng many hundreds of shale wells in other trends “probably” is a safe bet. And as I keep trying to pound into my Yankee cousins they cannot only increase the regulatory cost of frac’ng but also add on a bigger cost factor via severance taxes and the companies will still drill. Yes: I find it personally irritating that I give the state of La. 12.5% of all the oil I produce in the form of severance tax while not one company has ever paid one penny of severance tax in PA since the beginning of the oil industry.

Hi Rockman,

If there were Federal Regulations and they were essentially a best combination of the regulations of Texas and Louisiana (with taxes left to the states to decide) and with the provision that if a State wanted to make the regs tighter than the Federal regulations they would be free to do so, wouldn't that make sense? It would sure make it easier for oil companies if there was one set of regulations rather than 50 different sets.


Dc - I think what they are referring to is when a state ops out of its regulatory responsibility. I discovered this when I drilled wells in KY. The state had no environmental regulations for drilling or production. Very bizarre compared to Texas. For instance I did not have to report to the state or anyone else how much my wells produced. There were wells offsetting my lease that I couldn’t know what they produced unless the operator volunteered the info. They turned the entire responsibility over to the EPA. I filed all my environmental regulatory paper work with the EPA office in Atlanta. To the best of my knowledge there was not a single EPA inspector in KY watching over drilling activity. I never spoke to a single person with the EPA. I would send paper work to the Atlanta office stating that I was complying with the regs but no one with the EPA ever checked to see if I was telling the truth. And unlike Texas there was no third party certification of anything I submitted. As long as a landowner didn’t catch me doing something wrong I was free to operator however I chose to. I could have dumped frac fluid into the creek all day long and no one would know. Of course, I didn’t.

It would be one thing for the feds to model any of the regs after Texas but would it matter if they never bothered to inspect drilling activity to verify? There’s a good reason operators in Texas have a fairly good record of following the rules these days: between TRRC inspectors, landowners and third party certification it’s very difficult to break the rules and not get caught. And getting caught can be very expensive. It would be like getting a $5,000 fine for being clocked 15 mph over the speed limit. And getting caught every few times you broke the speed limit. We would have a lot of very safe drivers, wouldn’t we? LOL.

BTW other than dealing with the Corps of Engineers in wetlands areas there's never any fed involvement in drilling activities in Texas or La.

"There were wells offsetting my lease that I couldn’t know what they produced..."
Meaning they where drawing from the same reservoir?
And third party certification? If not the TRRC then who? The C of E?

Tom – I was drilling the New Albany Shale in KY. There might be 10 wells that have been producing from the NAS for 30 years on the lease adjacent to mine and I would have no idea if those wells produced a total of 1 billion cu ft of NG or 50 billion cu ft. Not only did I not know but neither did the state regulators know.

Third party certification: in Texas and La there are a number of activities, such as fluid disposal, directional drilling and cementing a well during abandonment, that are done by independent contractors that have to certify, under penalty of the law, that I’ve complied with the regulations. The sole income for most of these companies comes from doing this sort of work. If they get caught falsifying their records they get the crap fined out of them and probably lose their license to operate in the state. And if the lie is really bad someone could end up in the state pen for a few years. IOW they don’t tend to stick their neck out for the operators they are doing work for. Have they ever cheated? Sure…human nature when the price is right. But there have been companies shut down and some folks have gone to prison,

If a competitor's well is just across the lease line from your lease, then it is probably producing oil from under your lease. In fact, some lease agreements have an "offset well" clause in them. If somebody drills a well just across the lease line from your lease, you HAVE to drill an offsetting well or lose the lease. The landowner doesn't want to lose his royalty payments on that oil just because you don't want to drill.

I used to run computer programs to analyze the production rates of wells offsetting our undrilled leases so we could identify which ones we wanted to drill ASAP. Of course, doing so required getting the production rates of our competitors wells from the government databases. The government provided the info because it wanted to encourage companies to drill wells - mostly because it was collecting a lot of taxes from them.

This is the meaning of the milkshake analogy.

Rocky - Not sure what the rules are now but by the time I was finished drilling the state was asking operators to VOLUNTARIALLY share that info. Yes...asked. The entire state O&G commision of KY was less than 10 folks...including the secretaries and techs. Even the state geologic survey was of little help.

hi rockman,

Clearly the regs need to be enforced, either by the Feds or by the states, do you agree that a single set of regs would be better for oil companies?


DC – It may sound strange but it wouldn’t make a lot of difference to the oil patch IMHO. I adapt to the specifics of every state I drill in with no difficulty at all. For instance the rules governing well spacing and unitization of producing wells vary greatly between La. and Texas. No problem: I just follow the rules in each state. I’m about to drill my first wells ever in Alabama. A different set of rules from Texas and La. No problem: I have a copy of their rule book and will follow it religiously. What’s difficult is when we aren’t sure what future regs will be. That’s the big problem they are having in the NE. They just need to tell the companies that these are the detailed regs you have to follow to operate in our state...or you can’t play in our back yard. As I said the oil companies are very good about following the rules if you fine the crap out of them for violations.

Perhaps it is about time that some influential voters started suing their states for losing income due to poor regulation of the industry.


NAOM - It’s not as though the absurdity of the situation isn’t well know. From the National Conference of State Legislatures (http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/energyhome/oil-and-gas-severance-tax...):

“Pennsylvania remains the largest natural gas-producing state without a severance tax. At least 36 states impose some sort of severance tax, and 31 states specifically levy taxes on the extraction of oil and gas. In 2010, more than $11 billion was generated in the United States from severance taxes alone. Between 10.5 percent and 74.3 percent of total state tax revenue came from severance taxes in at least six states—Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.”

It has been estimated that had PA used the same severance tax rate as Texas (which is significantly less than the rates used by La.) it would have collected a minimum of $246 million in just 2010 alone. Why folks up there aren’t raising hell is a mystery to me. More than a year ago when I first learned about no ST in Pa I went through the irritation of signing up on the chat sites of several PA newspapers. Said what I just said and got almost no feedback. I half expected to be contacted by the MSM but nothing happened. It’s not like PA has a huge budget surplus…like N Dakota just posted.

I really can’t understand it. In the minds of many folks the Texas/La oil patch controls our politicians. Yet those politicians have sucked many $billions from us over the decades in severance tax alone. Even the counties get a slice directly from us: an ad valorum tax of about 1 – 2%. Those monies don’t include the fees and corporate income tax revenue. Just makes no sense.

Rock man,

As a famous French finance minister once said, "Taxation is the art of plucking the most feathers from the goose with the least squawk" or words to that effect in French. It's amazing how politicians in oil producing places like Texas and Alberta are good at plucking the goose, whereas ones in places like Pennsylvania and California don't have a clue.

A particularly good goose plucker was former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed. His grandfather, Senator Sir James Lougheed, had once owned half of Calgary (literally), but the family took a hard hit during the Depression and his father drank away most of the family fortune. However, Peter got a law degree and an MBA from Harvard, worked as a lawyer for oil companies, and was determined to restore the family reputation.

When he was elected Premier of Alberta (1971-1985) and the oil crises of the 1970s hit, he saw that there were considerable opportunities for revenue enhancement and cranked up taxes and royalties to the point that the oil companies almost but not quite squawked. The federal government got upset that Alberta was making so much money, and tried to get what they considered their "fair share" of it by, in effect, taxing the provincial government, but that idea blew up in the courts because, under the Canadian constitution, the federal government cannot tax the provincial governments. The squawking hit maximum volume, revenues went down in flames, the governing federal party (Liberal) was nearly wiped out in Western Canada, and the federal government ended up with a huge deficit which took decades to pay off.

Eastern Canadians have a completely different perspective on this, of course, but that's just their opinion. They think Alberta somehow ripped off the rest of Canada. The net result is the same - Alberta made huge amounts of money, and the federal government had to make very painful spending cutbacks.

Eastern Canadians still think that Alberta politicians are in bed with the oil companies, but as in Texas the basic principle is clear: more oil company revenues = more government tax revenues. But governments do have to tax the oil companies to make that happen.

Rocky - Yep...folks get upset when they see any company or govt making a nice revenue. Unless, of course, they're getting a slice of it. A story popped up recently about how the US govt is “being cheated” because some companies had gotten reduced royalties if they developed certain DW GOM leases. But they didn’t have a rider stipulating that if oil prices reached a certain level the royalties would increase. Nothing wrong with doing that…companies would have just altered their economic analysis some. And they would have drilled, or not drilled, based on that analysis. Or maybe not changed their analysis at all since many probably weren’t using $100/bbl in their projections. So the incentive program worked and a lot of oil was developed relatively quickly. OTOH some think about how much more revenue the govt would be getting if that incentive hadn’t been offered. OTOOH they don’t want to focus on much less revenue the govt might not be getting if the incentives had not been offered and leases weren’t developed as they were. All the “what ifs” are just theoretical. No way to prove what might or might not have happened.

RE: US Generals warn of climate change dangers


... a swindle, deception, or trick... - Dictionary

Global warming induced climate change denial is hype by that definition.

So is the two decades of underreporting the damage so as not to scare people who should be scared because it is their right to know. So they can fix it.


The graph linked to has this text following it:

Your brain will fight it, even with the numbers on the page staring back at you, because the collapse of civilization is simply beyond human comprehension. To really internalize this information means you would need to accept things like:

- You are among the last people that will ever walk the Earth
- Your children won’t survive to middle age
- All of the beauty, culture, and scientific discoveries we’ve unlocked will return to the ether from whence they came.

Forgive my French, but that is some heavy sh*t. Yet our ability to understand and feel threatened by this information is hindered by the fact that things don’t seem that bad right now. Sure things feel a little “off”, but how can we be so close to oblivion when life is (generally speaking) so good, modern and happy?

The answer is exponentials. Climate change does not follow a linear path (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc…), it follow an exponential path (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc…).

(Hullabaloo). Truth is not hype, it is just not what you can handle.

Pessimism about the Future May Lead To Longer, Healthier Life, Research Finds

"Our findings revealed that being overly optimistic in predicting a better future was associated with a greater risk of disability and death within the following decade," said lead author Frieder R. Lang, PhD, of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. "Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions." The study was published online in the journal Psychology and Aging.

Because a darker outlook on the future is often more realistic, older adults' predictions of their future satisfaction may be more accurate, according to the study. In contrast, the youngest group had the sunniest outlook while the middle-aged adults made the most accurate predictions, but became more pessimistic over time.

Ha, does this mean that us doomers will outlive the cornucopians.

As long as the fat they have built up doesnt keep them alive longer than us skinny veggie types during the actual crisis months ;)

So we now know that

a) Optimists are rewarded by evolution to have their genes passed on more efficiently and

b) pessemists live longer.

So the choise stand between long life for you as an individual, or your lineage. Okey. Noted.

Whole Grains, Rather Than Dietary Fibre, Found To Be Fundamental To the Prevention of Chronic Disease

The apparent links between various food types and the prevention of chronic diseases - such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD) and hypertension - are well established. In particular, dietary fibre has long been regarded as a powerful means of reducing health risks. However, this study finds that it is not fibre, but whole grain cereals specifically, which prevent chronic disease.

German city to test viability of inductive charging system on two real bus lines

Canadian company Bombardier, Inc's rail division based in Berlin Germany, has announced the approval of a test run of an all electric bus recharging system in the city of Mannheim. The power systems are based on the company's PRIMOVE Technology, whereby vehicles are charged inductively while pausing to load and unload passengers. The primary purpose of the test-run is to determine whether such a system is viable in a real-world environment.

During an initial period of 12 months, two completely electrically powered and inductively charged electric buses will be trialled in daily passenger operation on the existing RNV bus route. Both e-buses, built by the Swiss manufacturer Carrosserie HESS AG, are also equipped with the new BOMBARDIER MITRAC e-bus powertrain for city buses. In addition, an electric van equipped with wireless PRIMOVE technology will be tested as a RNV service vehicle.

The German government has stated its intent to pursue electric technology for busses in the country and has backed up that pledge by offering funds to various projects. For this test, the country's Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development will be footing the bill to the tune of €3.3 million (US$4.35 million).

Bombardier Electric Technology to Be Tested On STM Buses

Every lifeboat needs its own airline ...

Larry Ellison buys Hawaiian airline to go with island

Tech billionaire Larry Ellison, who bought his own Hawaiian island last year, now has an airline to go with it.

Ellison last year purchased 98 percent of the 141 square mile (365 square kilometer) island of Lanai.

... Ze Plane! Ze Plane!

For PV buffs: A few months ago I mentioned PV and the "edge-of-cloud" effect, a transient event caused by sunlight being focussed around the edge of clouds as they pass. Some can cause quite dramatic spikes in PV output, well above the panels' ratings. I posted some numbers, though I got a comment or two suggesting there may have been other factors involved. These effects were evident this morning for several hours, off and on, and I managed to snap a photo of my logging screen:


Please excuse the quality; had to act quickly. At the top of the photo, partially obscured by glare, one can see the wattage in and out of the four charge controllers, 6500 watts. Problem is, I have the scales set to max out at 6500 watts; have since adjusted them to 7500. Adding up the individual charge controller inputs (blue fields on the left, scales set to 2500W) gives a total reading of 7043 watts, which wasn't the highest output I witnessed (about 7300 watts). The total combined rating of all of the panels is 5840 watts. 1960 watts are currently laying flat, facing straight up waiting to be mounted. The top controller field showing 2380 watts is my new Suntech panels; eight 240 watters (1960 total), four of which are laying flat on our flat roof; collectively producing nearly 20% above their combined ratings... warm feeling indeed ;-/ The other arrays are over-producing by a similar amount. Some of these panels are nearly 13 years in service.

The blue fields on the right indicate output to the battery set, reflecting about 95% efficiency through the charge controllers. The amp numbers, on the right turned red, indicate that the contoller is near or above it's maximum amp rating. There are four controllers, the top rated at 80 amps, the other three are 60 amp controllers. None have errored off and shut down.

I'm not sure how a grid tied inverter would handle these spikes, but it's a good thing to consider when designing a system. Me, I'm not complaining since this was supposed to be a mostly cloudy day. It's a little past our local solar midday, 15 KWH so far, and the skys are now only getting mostly clear. What's not to like?

Just like a MPPT inverter can find the maximum power point. I would think it could also move slightly off MPPT if it exceeded it's safe rating.

Am I reading that right? 6500 watts=270 amps going into your 24V battery bank.

Adding up the output side (on the right), output to the batteries is 236 amps (note the voltage: 28.1) Subtract from that ongoing usage in the house = actual charge rate on the battery. I noted about 215 amps net to the battery on my old Tri-Metric meter. I've been doing stuff like laundry and running the dishwasher, chop saw, table saw, this PC, etc.. Nice charge rate though. I have the main bus split into two 250 amp breakers; 4/0 welding cable for battery mains from each breaker. 2200 amp hour battery likes a hard charge, has automatic watering. Normal charge rate during peak on a good day is 120-180 amps, depending on conditions and loads. I'm reworking my dump load to the hot water tank, directly from the battery. I think I'm gonna need it ;-/

I wish I had a 48 volt system, but I'm still dancing with the one that brung me...

I plan to get a Bogart Penta-Metric, which will log battery-specific data to the PC, as soon as accounting approves my request. Someday I'll import all of my data logs into a database and graph everything; really not my joy though. Maybe I'll send it to Ron ;-)

At least my inverter (PV Powered brand) chops off at the rated output. So I lose a bit of output which I would get it I had a higher rated inverter. Buts its only a few minutes every now and then, i doubt it would pay to overspec the inverter.

Remember temperature effects. The nameplate capacity of your panels is at STC (Standard Test Conditions), that is 1000W/m2 at 25°C. The temperature coefficient of your panels is an indication of how much the temperature will affect your output. A rough estimate would be that you loose 10% for every 30°C rise in temperature.

In bright sunshine, your modules will reach an equilibrium temperature that is somewhere above the ambient temperature. When shaded by a cloud, the module temperature can very quickly drop to ambient. If your ambient temperature is -5°C, you can very easily experience 10% above nameplate until the direct sunshine warms the panels back up.

Here in the tropics my problem is that the mid day ambient temperature can vary between 27°C and 34°C depending on the season so, my panels will almost always be producing below nameplate. I have measured module temperatures of about 70°C meaning that panel output cannot be expected to be more than 85% of nameplate. However on a cool "winter" day, during cloud cover, the module temperature could drop close to 25°C with the result that the module output will be close to 100% when the clouds move away.

My challenge is to find the optimum rating for inverters. If I use an inverter who's rating matches the nameplate rating of my module/array, It will only produce it's rated power for very brief periods and spend most of the time running 15% below rated output.

Your issue is that you have probably configured your system based on the nameplate specifications and because of the low ambient temperatures that prevail in the North American winter, you are experiencing periods of output in excess off nameplate.

Your panels may also be getting in excess of 1000W/m2.

Alan from the islands

The temps during this period were 8-10 C, mid to upper 40s F, light breeze with gusts. This effect can be observed when clouds are coming and going, so there's definitely an edge of cloud effect happening. Most PV BOS equipment is better at handling high amp events than overvolt events, so I've decided to rewire my new arrays at ~60 volts rather than the ~120 volt I've been testing. I oversized the wiring for this contingency. Outback concurs; said I'm pushing the limit of the controller's open circuit rating. While today's periods of around 118% output from the array didn't cause particularly high voltage, I've had one previous occasion when the controller errored off at 151 volts.

I've seen these issues discussed on the various inverter manufacturers' forums, along with recommendations for various environments.

Reflection from Cu's can raise the incidence in any given area above the "maximum" since you'd have the direct rays from the Sun in addition to that which is reflected from the clouds.

If it were refraction causing it, there should be fun colors involved - my guess is there aren't.

Cloud Bow: http://www.flickr.com/photos/harold_davis/106981559/

If you think about light going through a sherical raindrop, mostly it is refracted, like a lense. Its not designed to have a quality focus, but a lot of the light hitting it is only bent by under twenty degrees. So a thin water cloud near the sun, will look quite bright.

I've also noticed that looking down from above (a hill), with the sun behind you, fog looks grey, whereas, looking towards the sun it is very bright. If the cloud is thick, after a few reflections/refractions the sense of direction is lost.

Now this refracted light, is only slightly affected by the frequency of the light, the rainbows are some fraction of the refracted light, whose angle depends somewhat on frequency.


It's reflection from the cloud...if it has anything to do with the cloud being in-line with the sun and panel then it's the angle of incidence of the reflection onto the panel.

The 250W grid tied inverters that I have been using up to now do not do MPPT. The POS inverters have never produced a steady out put of more than about 140W even with Suntech 270W panels. What I did observe, is the inverters repeatedly going into error states immediately after a cloud had passed, I will definitely look out for this edge of cloud effect when I get my MPPT micro-inverters.

Alan from the islands

How did you measure panel temps?
I have an IR spot thermometer, but I'd have to climb on the roof to use it. For the same reason I haven't measured roof tile temps. But, measuring temps of glass with IR seems to be pretty inaccurate. But I am pretty sure, under full sunlight, the difference between cell temps and ambient is gonna be a few to several tens of C.

I was just thinking about this today. Someone should add some temp sensors to panels and make 'smart panels' that can provide some data like that. Or perhaps it is something that could be added to microinverters. (Or it is probably already there.)

IR spot thermometer. My panels are not yet on my roof so, I can get really close to them for measuring. I am not taking the measurement from the back like I was taught at the FSEC course I attended in Florida but, I just want a ball park figure so I can know what sort of de-rating I will need to do for modules in my neck of the woods. Come to think of it, I seem to remember easing a panel off the surface it was resting on to get a reading from the back of the laminate and deciding that the difference wasn't worth ever having to do it again. 70°C is about 40 above ambient so I guess you could call that "several tens of °C". Once I verify the MPPT performance of the micro-inverters I'm getting for evaluation, I'll be getting more inverters and the panels will be going on the roof.

Alan from the islands

Thanks for showing us your telemetry, I'm impressed.
For all things sky and cloud see Les Cowley's Atmospheric Optics, a good place to spend some time.


New Milestone for Floating Nuclear Plant

The installation of two 300-tonne tanks has taken the project to build Russia's first floating nuclear power plant a step further towards completion.

The tanks, which provide a shielded housing for the reactor vessels and their cooling circuits, were manufactured by Baltiysky Zavod shipyard, which is constructing the plant for Rosenergoatom. They were lowered into the reactor compartment of the Akademik Lomonosov over two days in an operation made complicated by ice on the Neva river. Baltiysky Zavod general director Alexander Voznesensky described the installation of the tanks as a milestone in the project.

Akademik Lomonosov is Rosenergoatom's first-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant and will contain two 35 MWe KLT-40S nuclear reactors.

The American Plan to Build Nuclear Power Plants in the Ocean [Historical Perspective]

... Physically, the plants consume enormous amounts of water for cooling and steam production and emit low-level radiation. With reference to the “once-through” cooling water necessary for the plants’ operation, one study has projected that the demand for such coolant will encompass over fifty percent of the entire runoff from the continental United States in only twenty-five years unless the plants are moved offshore. The possibile ecological impact of running half our river water through nuclear power pants has led many to conclude that such plants would be better built in the coastal zone.

... The stated reason for building the offshore power plant was to minimize its impact on the environment, but officials privately admitted that the move to the sea was motivated by the fact that New Jersey may be the first state in the United State to run out of riverfront property for power plants.

“This is the only reason for putting this plant in the ocean,” said Edward C. Raney, a Cornell University biologist and a public service consultant. “It’s the only way to justify the expense of locating at sea.”

Hmmm.... lemme see now whether I understand this correctly.

Cool sea water in; radioactive warm water out.


What could possibly go wrong??


But the weather on the surface may be too dynamic for a nuclear reactor. Perhaps it can be sunk in 30 m. of water.

NASA: Climate change thins forests in eastern U.S.

Years of drought and high temperatures are thinning forests in the upper Great Lakes and the eastern United States, NASA satellites show.

Nearly 40% of the Mid-Atlantic's forests lost tree canopy cover, ranging from 10% to 15% between 2000 and 2010, according to a NASA study released this week. Other afflicted areas include southern Appalachia, the southeastern coast and to a lesser extent, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.

I've certainly noticed this locally in the mid-atlantic in the past 3-4 years. With the drought and extreme heat, we've had a large number of mature trees locally start to thin and die. The major large flora here consist of Tulip trees, Sweetgum, Hickories, and various oaks. By far it's the oaks that are suffering the most. Many 100+ year old trees have been dying. The Tulips and Sweetgum don't seem as affected at all. Luckily this winter has been pretty normal in terms of temp and precip which I think will really help things for the summer. Last winter we didn't get a drop of rain the entire winter and then transitioned right into the severe heat and drought last summer. If this winter is any sign, the summer shouldn't be as extreme this year. We'll see...

Possible explanation of oak dieoff ... http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/olympia/silv/oak-studies/oak-roots.shtml

... Most of the oaks had a central taproot, but the size, taper, and orientation of the taproot varied widely among trees. The majority of the lateral roots were located within 40 cm of the surface where the soil contained fewer rocks, was finer in texture, and thus, had greater water-holding capacity than deeper soil layers. The vertical penetration of roots was partially to totally restricted by an extremely gravelly soil horizon that began at a depth of approximately 70 to 80 cm. Very few roots penetrated beyond a depth of 150 cm. Thus, the oaks we studied were competing for water with shallow-rooted trees, shrubs, and herbaceous vegetation. They were likely drawing little water from deeper soil horizons.

Oaks are high-land/dry land. Hickory (taproot), Tulip (taproot) and Sweetgum (shallow) are bottom-land species that may have an inherent location advantage

Climate Change Series: The Role Of Transportation

... what’s scary about transportation greenhouse gas emissions is not how big they are, but how fast they rise. In Massachusetts, an urbanized state with good energy efficiency programs for our buildings, transportation accounts for 36 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions — and it’s the fastest growing share. In fact, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector offset the entire savings from all of the commercial and industrial building improvements Massachusetts has made over the last two decades.

If, like most transportation planners, you think the purpose of the transportation system is to move people from one place to another, then you’re going to measure mobility, and you’re going to consider an increase in vehicle miles traveled a positive social good.

But there’s growing school of thought that suggests accessibility, the ability to get the things we need, is what people really want. If the social utility of the transportation system is redefined as such, then mobility becomes a smaller piece of the puzzle.

If the nearest supermarket is 20 miles away, I have to drive (mobility) to buy groceries. But if the nearest supermarket is a few blocks away (proximity), I could walk or ride a bus to buy groceries. ... It is the ability to change land use patterns by anchoring them with transit that reshapes a region to allow radically different transportation behaviors (i.e. walking, biking, car sharing, mass transit) and therefore a much smaller carbon footprint.

Wet Computer Server Could Cut Internet Waste

... the significance of the new Iceotope server lies less in the novelty of its design than in the bite it could take out of the huge electricity demands of the internet servers that form the fabric of our online lives.

Its designers calculate that the server cuts energy consumption for cooling by between 80 percent and 97 percent.

— The world's data centres use 31 gigawatts of power, more than seven times the capacity of UK's largest coal-fired power station, Drax in North Yorkshire.
— Data centre carbon emissions are projected to quadruple between 2008 and 2020.
— The UK has 7.6 million square metres of data centre floor space.
— 1 in 3 of the world's population use data centres. The number is growing at around 15 per cent annually

Or you can drop the servers into a tank of non-conducting mineral oil.

Introduction to Fluid Submersion

Fluid submersion cooling is made possible by GreenDEF™ coolant, a specific but not proprietary formulation of dielectric (nonconductive) white mineral oil that has 1,200x more heat capacity by volume than air. OEM servers are placed vertically in coolant-filled tanks and the coolant dissipates server heat as it circulates through the system.

Press Release PDF: Green Revolution Cooling Partners with Supermicro to Provide New Levels of Efficiency and Performance for Large-Scale Geophysical Processing Cluster at CGGVeritas

Computer techs wanted. Must be certified divers.

How Beijing is shaping the Amazon

The Amazon basin is now China’s No.1 supplier of natural resources, replacing its Asian neighbours as their resources have become depleted. In a relatively short time, China has become Brazil’s major trading partner, overtaking the US and Europe.

But China’s voracious demand for iron ore and timber, as well as soy and beef, is not only fuelling deforestation but negatively influencing Brazil’s environmental protection laws, in the view of researchers.

In a 2012 paper entitled Amazonian forest loss and the long reach of China’s Influence¹, the authors found that “the rapid rise in exports of soy and beef products to China are two of the major drivers of Amazonian deforestation in Brazil”.

Sounds like the last gasp of the Monroe Doctrine to me.

Shell Says It Will Not Drill In Alaska Arctic In 2013

Plagued with problems with both its drilling rigs and its oil spill containment vessel, Shell Alaska announced Wednesday that it will not conduct offshore drilling operations in the Alaska Arctic this year.

The decision to “pause” Arctic drilling during the upcoming ice-free months of summer will allow the company to repair and retool its troubled rigs and prepare for future operations in a program that has already cost the company nearly $5 billion.

... Smith said the Kulluk grounding triggered a “re-evaluation” of the Arctic drilling program and a decision was made to suspend operations or the coming season.

Smith said the Kulluk left Kodiak Island on Tuesday on what is expected to be a nine-day journey to Alaska’s Dutch Harbor, where it will be linked with a larger towing vessel for a trip to shipyards in Asia, where it will be repaired.

The Discoverer is also scheduled to set sail for Asia soon.

Coast Guard Responds to Oil Spill Off Louisiana Shore

According to the Coast Guard the accident occurred Tuesday around 8 p.m. when a 42-foot crew boat named Sea Raider came into contact with the wellhead nine miles south of Port Sulphur, La., and compromised the dormant geyser. The wellhead is owned by Swift Energy and has been inactive since December of 2007.

Vessel strikes inactive wellhead, causing oil spill

Prison officer shortage highest in oil boom regions

When high paying jobs are plentiful, hiring at Texas prisons inevitably suffers. And times apparently are good in south and west Texas, where a shortage of prison guards is most acute.

... Many officers “see the earning potential in the oil industry and are going there,” said Lance Lowry, president of the local union in Huntsville in a press release. “When it comes to correctional officer pay, the grass is definitely greener outside the prison system—and the grass within the prison walls is rapidly dying.”

Bob The Businessman — A Fable

This is the story of Bob The businessman. It is not meant to make you think about how today’s American corporations and political system operate. Don’t think about how today’s American corporations and political system operate as you read this.

Great Story Seraph. That's exactly how American corporations and political systems work. And I just loved the name of that blog: The Smirking Chimp - News and commentary from the vast left-wing conspiracy. That is my kind of blog. I am going to be reading it a lot in the future.

Ron P.

Whether Greece, Spain, the U.S. or elsewhere, the money/power people screw up and the regular person suffers.

Gas Boom Projected to Grow for Decades

A report on the Texas field, to be released Thursday, was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Link above behind paywall but I got the full article through a Google search.

An excerpt (emphasis added): ...the study concludes that 44 trillion cubic feet of natural gas will be recovered from the Barnett—more than three times what has been produced so far and about two years' worth of U.S. consumption at current rates.

So "boom" and "grow" versus only 2 years worth. It's got to be that headline writers aren't actually expected to read the whole article.

In today's post Greer has pointed out a new Shale and Wall Street (PDF warning) study that is quite interesting. The author claims that shale is another bubble. From the executive summary: "In addition, the banks were instrumental in crafting convoluted financial products such as VPP's (volumetric production payments); and despite of the obvious lack of sophisticated knowledge by many of these investors about the intricacies and risks of shale production, these products were subsequently sold to investors such as pension funds. Further, leases were bundled and flipped on unproved shale fields in much the same way as mortgage-backed securities had been bundled and sold on questionable underlying mortgage assets prior to the economic downturn of 2007."

I admit this is the first time I've ever actually read an entire Greer article. I came away expecting that the economy is going to tank at any moment and that the shale bubble is doomed. I must admit he's a very persuasive writer, though the article was light on actual numbers.

The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan

This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.

Note the term hybrid as applied to cars currently on the road is a misnomer. They are really just gasoline powered cars with a little battery assistance and, unless you are one of the handful who have an aftermarket hack, the little battery has to be charged from the gasoline engine. Therefore, they can be considered simply as slightly more efficient gasoline powered cars. If the EPA certified mileage is 55 mpg, then it is indistinguishable from a non-hybrid that achieves 55 mpg. As a friend of mine says, a world 100% full of Prius drivers is still 100% addicted to oil.

So, in short, the master plan is:

1.Build sports car
2.Use that money to build an affordable car
3.Use that money to build an even more affordable car
4.While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options

Don't tell anyone.

Stumbled across this interesting little blog-post thing from Elon Musk dated August 2006. I made a bit of a rambly-jumbled post over in the "Investment Sinkhole" thread pondering over the levels of battery pack vs capability. Only when you reach the level of a Plug-in Prius size of battery pack do things start changing - adding the ability to supplement gasoline power with outside electric power. There've been mentions here and there on TOD about "Coal to Liquids" - well "Coal to Electricity" already exists. It's so old hat that calling it coal to electric sounds funny. The ultimate goal there, though, IMO is PV and wind electric generation.

The real game changer seems to be Volt levels of battery. GM likes to call the Volt an "EREV" for extended-range electric vehicle. In day to day operation as long as the battery is charged there's no need for the ICE to come on. The PiP is still at the root a gasoline car - it just stretches it a lot with the addition of outside electric power...the Volt, if necessary, would remain viable local transport even if only a couple of gallons of gasoline were available every year.

With BEV's there's a range/infrastructure convergence that needs to happen for truly widespread adoption. Not much is needed at the local level but clarification and access: http://www.aprs.org/EV-charging-everywhere.html for longer distances they'll need to have enough range to get between rapid charging stations. For Tesla and their mega-range cars, they expect to cover most of the nation with only about 100 "Supercharger" locations.


Tesla Superchargers are placed along well-traveled routes in North America. Nine stations are currently active, expanding to over 100 stations in 2015. They’re designed to give road trippers half a charge in about half an hour. That’s 150 miles of range with our 85 kWh battery.

Plus, Superchargers are located at places you’ll actually want to stop, like roadside diners, cafes, and shopping centers. So pull in, plug in, and grab a bite to eat. Model S will be ready when you get back.

I would think it fairly efficient for the US to utilize existing interstate rest areas to begin the expansion of public long-range infrastructure. There's often less than 100 miles between them and they're located on the major thoroughfares: http://www.interstaterestareas.com/ At the early stage only a few actual stations would be needed at each, except in areas found to have a higher density of EVs. The basic cabling could be installed initially with expansion in the number of actual stations as needed.

The Florida Turnpike is adding charging stations right now.

But apparently Florida could not afford to build Rail from Tampa to Orlando even when the Feds were providing a major part of the funding. And where is the electricity for these to come from? Nuclear power? Already Crystal River nuclear plant is finally being shutdown due to a major crack in the containment wall...

Tesla charging stations are solar powered.

Rail from Tampa to Orlando was a white elephant in its final form. Yes it was a jobs bill that would have employed many in a tough time. But Florida, particularly central Florida would not use the train because public transportation within those cities would slow down the point to point elapsed time compared to autos. Better to use the money in the areas of the Country that have a rail market and integrated public transportation like the Washington-New York corridor. Let us be careful with spending taxpayer money.

That train would have been a huge waste of money. People are not commuting from Tampa to Orlando on any significant and regular basis.

I'm gonna disagree with you guys here. It's a waste because there is no "there" there. Tampa and Orlando are cities without a center, and have public transit that is outright rudimentary. But the strip mall build-up is the worst culprit, as even in the University area of Tampa things are far enough apart and separated by 6 lane+ roads, so you will need a car anyway. Areas of town that have lots of businesses and restaurants are separated too widely.

So, you build a high speed rail, and what happens? Get to the end and you need a car. Heck, getting to the station you need a car!

This is doubly a problem in Florida, as during the summer it is very hot. For places to be walkable they have to be small and have shade, or they have to be used mostly after sunset. Clearwater Beach and Downtown Dunedin are two areas in Tampa bay I can name that were fairly walkable, but they were oases in a desert. There are a few areas in Tampa as well, but what you have in Tampa Bay is vast tracts of suburban development with the remains of old town and city centers lingering on as entertainment districts. Try getting from East Lake to anywhere. Or for that matter, from any suburban development.

So that means each charging station draws about 85 kW. (half of 85 kWh in half an hour).

It takes about 5 minutes to charge a car with 20 gallons of fuel for a range of 450 miles - so
each pump adds 450/150 * 30 / 5 = 18 miles range/minute for each mile range/minute of a charge station. You would need to replace each pump with 18 charge stations if all cars were electric, at
busy stations. That is a large area of concrete. and replacing a 20 pump station with 360 charge points would draw 30 MW from the grid if all occupied. That is a lot in remote areas of interstate...

BAU is so yesterday.

BAU is so yesterday indeed. That is why it doesn't work that way. With an EV you generally charge up at your house overnight for 95% of your driving. The Super-chargers are only for those occasional trips between cities. So, no, you don't build that many super-chargers.

Nor would there need to be extra "concrete"...the spaces are already there.

SAE Standard extension- J1772 - NEW AC-DC Combo plug - Level 2 - upto 100kW - Level 3 - TBD - Saw one proposal 500V @ 500Amp for the connector. Nice... 1/4 Megawatt DC connector. Olympic size pool into a hot tub QuickTime
http://www.sae.org/smartgrid/chargingspeeds.pdf But wait... a gas nozzle feed is Megawatts++ As my utility colleagues say, comparable with the output of a Commercial Nuke.

Why waste the money on personal cars of any stripe?
We should target investments to electrification of existing Green Rail Transit not
wasting billions upon billions on extending Auto Addiction.

Auto Addiction still uses 12 x the Green space, kills 30,000 people per year,
requires huge amounts of asphalt, causes hundreds of thousands of injuries,
and requires huge subsidization via traffic cops, traffic courts, private insurance etc.
It also consumes huge portions of metal resources, rubber or rubber substitutes and asphalt derived from petroleum which has quadrupled in price.

It is a waste of money...

Because you can't run trains everywhere.

That point seems so obvious, I wonder why some don't get it. You have to get from point A to the train and from the train to point B. They left out the points A and B parts.

So then a rail based transportation system cannot work?

It is fine and it will and does work, but the U.S. has not made the investment the past 60 years, we are broke now from tax breaks and wars we could not afford.

Agreed, but we do not have an EV/electric based automotive transportation system either, nor is it clear such a thing can work. Why should we try to create one? The attempt to build that infrastructure will require a massive investment.

We have light rail in cities that serves more as a bus substitute. We will probably not get high speed rail worth much in the short term.

Ever since the interstate highway system declared that vehicles were the way and rail was for freight, we went down a path. Right or wrong we went down that path and now we have to live with that decision.

Massive investment? How so? The vast majority of charging is done at home by home-chargers paid for by the EV buyer. Adding some more public chargers to make people feel a bit more secure is relatively cheap. And a lot of chargers can be added privately. Private companies can add chargers to their own parking lots. And frankly, just adding a few 120V ordinary outlets is very cheap and a huge help at work places.

Light rail is a much larger investment than public chargers. I have seen bond measures totalling billions of dollars for light rail in just one city. You could put in thousands of chargers for 1/100th that much money.

The vast majority of charging isn't done at all because we have not yet created an EV or non-fossil fuel powered automotive transportation system. You are completely ignoring the investment that will be required to the electric grid to handle having a significant portion of the present fossil fuel energy that powers automobile transferred to it. A couple of wall sockets? Please.

The power grid infrastructure is old and neglected, coming off a period of privatizing and wealth-stripping euphemistically called deregulation. The highway system is also old and neglected. Repairing, maintaining and upgrading those systems to create an electric powered automotive transportation system is the investment I was referring to.

Most of the charging will be done at home at night. The EPRI says we have more than enough spare capacity at night to handle millions of charging vehicles with no new power plants nor upgrades to the grid.

The public chargers are range extenders for people that have or are about to exceed their range for the day. The sales person needs a charge to get home, they stop by a Starbucks for a latte and a quick charge. No problem, we will not have a million people doing that at the same time in the same city.

Right, something for nothing usually works out so well. We take a neglected old system and get rid of the "waste" and "inefficiency". In other words, we use it a greater percentage of its maximum capacity a larger amount of the time, or increase the duty cycle - what do you think results from that? The energy passing through these components creates stress on the components, often not linearly either. Let's drive the hell out of the old grid, what could go wrong?

Meh, continue with the dream (nightmare to me), it doesn't matter anyway. 2009 never really ended and will likely be returning in a few months. All of these plans will amount to nothing.

Not something from nothing. Additional EVs added to the system are paying customers for the electric utilities. The money from the rate-payers can be used to upgrade, expand, and maintain the grid system. And the fact that we can get more utility from the existing grid is nice. It is not like more usage of a wire makes it wear out faster (unless you go beyond its intended capacity). I'm sure the wiring in your house has been working for many years and could easily work for another hundred plus years with pretty much no changes.

You can wallow in self-despair or you can do something about the situation. The latter seems to be a better plan.

And the electric grid is only wires, after all. I learn something every day!

I am not wallowing in self-despair at all. I find it revealing that you equate the end of the personal automobile with despair. I welcome it. Positive change is difficult for those stuck in the past.

That was an analogy, not literal. If you are predicting or hoping for the demise of the personal car, don't hold your breath. Cars mean freedom and people will not give them up...period.

...people will not give them up...period.

You should add, "willingly." When personal cars become impossible, people will and do give them up. Not all people, and certainly not all at once. However, people give up their cars every day. Some times they are repossessed; sometimes they are sold;, and sometimes it is done willingly!

I suppose there will always be a few cars running, transporting VIP types to their very important meetings and the like. If there is no business, though, those meetings will not be held very often, and it is possible, if unlikely, that all cars could disappear - if by personal car you mean a vehicle powered by some means other than animal power (electrical, chemical, nuclear (?!), etc. vs bio-mechanical).


Edit: As long as there are people, there could always be rickshaws.

CalGuy, this comment is not directed only at you - many others resort to the same lazy flourish ...

Please people, can we steer clear of using the "...period" rhetorical device? Just say what you mean: "I am not open to any other possibility - discussion is over, and I'm right, so forget about any further discussion". Because that's what you're saying.

It is obnoxious and absurd, and is no substitute for developing a case or position. It is lazy.

Thank you.

The "period" comment means the vast majority would agree, so if you took a vote it would pass. Look at 2 million cars becoming 20 million, soon to be 200 million cars in China. People there probably wanted the freedom of a car for a long time, now they can actually have one.

When one says "willingly" it connotes that one day we will have a drab system where everyone will ride the bus and subway because their cars have been taken from them one way or another. That does not mean that they don't want them anymore, that is why I say "period". People will still want freedom and I don't think there is much legitimate debate to the contrary.

Bus and subway transportation does not need to be, nor is it always, drab. You reflect, correctly, a bias towards status quo. Other societies have well fitted, comfortable and pleasant mass transit. I resent that I do not have the freedom to walk a short distance to a bus stop. I am forced to use a vehicle, and rickshaws are not an option.


Then say what you mean, instead of "period". Which does not mean what you were trying to say.

one day we will have a drab system where everyone will ride the bus and subway ...

This is very debateable indeed. I would argue that the very best cities I have visited in a number of countries are those with an extensive and well-run public transport system. And in even in large sprawling cities, the best parts of those are where the public transport operates best. Disneyland and a thousand other 'heritage' sites actually re-create the pre-car urban spaces that have been lost to history - and the mall.

There are other benefits too - urban landscapes are much more human scale, aesthetic, and efficient, where the roads are narrow, and built for pedestrian use and buses / trams / light rail. They were often built prior to the rise of the automobile ... in Melbourne here, there is a not-so-subtle boundary between all those neighbourhoods that were built before about 1920, and the large-scale suburbs that are planned for the car, with wide (and often ugly) roads, limited pedestrian facility, and a gas station on just about every major corner.

Visit any urban place that does have the right scale, and decent PT, and you can immediately appreciate how much our of "modern" cities has been given over to the car - highways and major roads, gas stations, parking lots, tyre places, spare parts places ... the list goes on and on. And of course miles of low-density suburban development.

The other serious downside is that the "freedom" derived from private car travel has been defined so tightly that it has come to mean (for many people) the capacity to drive ten miles to buy a pizza, and park right outside the door - walking limited to a few yards. This is sloth on a grand scale, and clearly unsustainable in the longer term. Cars have their place, but as a means of commuting in larger cities, is not (or should not be) one of their uses.

It was not analogy, it was hooey and handwaving as are all these gross oversimplifications of what would be needed to build such a system. I was discussing the actual equipment in the actual grid that is actually old and decrepit and would actually have to pass the energy to the cars (that won't be built).

Cars mean freedom and people will not give them up...period.

It is sad that you feel this way.

I would not trust the insulation of the wiring in my house for anything like 100 years.

most house built in the last 30 won't last 60 without major rebuild.

Every large industrial parking lot and building roof could be covered by PV and the power could then be used to feed the grid or to charge EV's while people are working. WalMart and other big box stores would also be a great opportunity, with their customer's EV's charging while shipping or the electricity used to offset HVAC loads. With the rapid decline in the cost of PV panels, I'd say it's gonna happen...

E. Swanson

Google in Mountain View, California has a parking lot covered with PV and available chargers. Every big box store could have lots of PV on the flat roofs powering all those air conditioners.

There is nothing to it but to do it, we just don't because it costs money, the bean counters can only see dollars for themselves and the heck with the country. The self interests of companies do not add up to the greater good for the country all the time.



Walgreens plans to offer electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at approximately 800 locations across the country by the end of 2011, making it the nation's largest retail host. The company's neighborhood stores will provide convenient locations for EV drivers to recharge near home or work.

I think one thing Twilight and myself could probably find agreement on is that there should be a moratorium on new roads. I would certainly like to see the US become more European in layout...with more actual compact towns, with actual countryside between them, and viable public transportation options. But even Europe has a poopload (scientific term) of cars...


According to Ward's, Italy had the second highest (after the U.S.) vehicle ownership per capita in 2010, with 690 vehicles per 1000 people.[4] Germany had a rate of motorization of 534 vehicles per 1000 people and the UK of 525 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants, both in 2008. France had a rate of 575 vehicles per 1000 people and Spain 608 vehicles per 1000 people in 2007.[13]

After World War Two came the Citroen 2CV, Austin Mini Cooper, VW beetle, Fiat 500 and the minicars - Bond bugs, KR Messerschmidts, Isetta, Peel P50, etc...

Whoever doubts that personal motorized transportation will magically disappear should watch this video to see to what lengths people once went and will go again for it...

"Almost cheaper than walking..."

Hell, people used to ride horses. The people who wax poetically about horses are probably horse nutters or they haven't been around them or had to take care of them.

Going beyond building near-luxury sedans at the NUMMI joint venture with Toyota would require new production capacity. The planned capacity at NUMMI is 20,000 vehicles per year, but that is probably using only part of the facility.

Most likely, Tesla could get up to maybe 100,000 cars in the $60 to $80K MSRP range in a couple of years. Going beyond that would require a new brand for a lower-priced vehicle.

An alternative is to sell Tesla to partner Toyota for a handsome price, let Toyota grow the business, and go on to the next startup.

For those who follow the Arctic sea ice development.


I just discovered a large crack in the ice north of Alaska. This is all first year ice. I have never seen something like this before. The ice realy is thin this winter. I predict a fast thinning once it start melting this summer.

Interesting animated .gif at http://genomewiki.ucsc.edu/images/4/4a/BeaufortIcyBlueMiniYellowText3.gif
of the sea ice breakup in the comments at the bottom of http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2013/02/cryosat-2-reveals-major-arctic-se...

This is happening 4-6 weeks early http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=02&fd=26&fy=2013&sm... [breakup in Feb. is unheard of] and the 1 year sea ice drift is 2-3X faster than prior to 2000.

It looks like most of this will melt or be flushed out of the Fram Strait this year. Climate [Weather] should be getting very interesting going forward. This appears to be a state change.

Holy cow, it is falling apart.

Judging from the material posted in tthat comment thread, it is crumbling all togther. Interesting - and scary - melt season to come.

What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic
- A freeway poster

I guess all the big oil companies must be rubbing their hands in glee. All that oil under the arctic !! Let's get to it before others.

Ethanol RIN Values Jump to Record 53 Cents, Blue Ocean Says

Ethanol production has dropped 16 percent to an annualized rate of 12.4 billion gallons last week from a record in December 2011, a government report showed today. That’s short of the 13.8 billion refiners are required to use this year. Falling gasoline demand plus higher ethanol consumption targets is known as the “blend wall.”

“There is some concern that the combination of low ethanol production this year with the potential to hit the blend wall next year could result” in a shortage of RINs, said Michael Breitenbach, an analyst and trader at Blue Ocean.

UK's 2012 oil, gas output falls 14% on field declines, outages: agency

UK oil and natural gas production each fell by more than 14% last year as natural field declines in the North Sea and a number of outages continued to shrink output, UK government figures showed Thursday.

Production of crude and natural gas liquids totalled 44.52 million mt (922,196 b/d) in 2012, 14.3% below 51.97 million mt in 2011, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said citing provisional data...

As a result, the UK's oil imports in 2011 exceeded domestic production for the first time since 1978.

14% is rather steep but some of that was due to outages. Outages happen every year but I suppose they had more than usual in 2012. Anyway the decline rate in all the North Sea seems to average around 9 to 10 percent every year.

Ron P.

Ron - Not sure if this was a significant factor in the size of that decline but it's very common for fields to suffere more frequesnt and longer shut downs late in their lives. And not just because of aging infrastructure. Increasing water cuts and lower pressures tend to upset a system's balance. Modifications and adjustments can be made but it all takes time. About two months ago I had a well stop producing because of some blockage in the tubing...an old age symptom. It took almost 3 weeks to get the equipment needed to fix it plus the 3 days to take of the problem. The well came back producing as it had been. But losing 3 weeks would add more than an apparent 5% decline by itself. If my natural decline rate were 8% then at the end of the year it would calculate to be more than 13%.

Maybe a stupid question.

But then, when I read decline rates, are they usually only reporting the geophysical decline (the 8%)? Or are they including contributions from the infrastructure problems too (the 13%)?

Most media reports are only reporting on end-of-month or end-of-year stats, so they will be typically reporting the gross decline % (ie what you might call the natural decline plus any additional loss due to production time outs).

Is the loss due to production time outs stable? Or can we expect, over the next decade or more, for these time-outs and infrastructure issues to also increase?

I seem to recall Matt Simmons talking about the whole system "rusting" (i.e., old people, old pipes, old valves).

A - As pointed out the reports just note the change in rates from Time A to Time B and then calc the rate of change. How jumpy the stat will be depends on the size of the population. For just a single well the DR could change dramatically over time. I have a well in La that looks like it suffered a 50% decline in one year because I choked it back due to low NG prices. For a field it could also drop fast if a major pipeline is damaged and then look like a big gain when the p/l is fixed. A countrywide stat would be more stable but let’s say the KSA decided to reduce their imports to get prices back up it…might look like geologic decline. Even globally if demand goes down and many exporters might cut back.

As a result, the UK's oil imports in 2011 exceeded domestic production for the first time since 1978.

Not unexpectedly, the UK is now in serious trouble, and the trouble is only going to get worse. I suppose most people in the UK are unaware of this, particularly the UK government.

My relatives in the UK will do okay since they are working in the global oil industry and are just there for a good time, not a long time. They are renting, not buying. I'll have my wife (she was born in London) put her relatives on notice of what is going down and explain the details to them the next time I'm there. The rest of the British population is on their own, and good luck to them. Canada is always willing to accept British immigrants with the right qualifications (must speak English and/or French, university degree preferred, relatives in Canada score bonus points).

Some puzzling items in the article:

As a result, the UK's oil imports in 2011 exceeded domestic production for the first time since 1978. . .

The country became a net importer of crude oil on an annual basis in 2005 and a net importer of oil and products in the following year.

I guess that they may be figuring refinery gains into the "domestic production" number in the first paragraph.

In any case, if we look at BP's numbers (total petroleum liquids production less liquids consumption), the numbers are as follows:

UK Net Exports/Imports:

2005: Zero
2006: -0.15 mbpd
2007: -0.08
2008: -0.16
2009: -0.16
2010: -0.25
2011: -0.44

On a net energy basis, wouldn't refinery gains (in terms of volume) be classified as a net energy loss, if we look at BTU inputs into the refinery versus BTU outputs?

One of my Six Country Case History* charts, showing normalized combined total petroleum liquids production (1992 rate = 100%) versus combined remaining post-1992 CNE (Cumulative Net Exports), by year:


*Indonesia, UK, Egypt, Vietnam, Argentina, Malaysia

The reporting is by weight, so refinery gains don't appear.

But yes, refinery gains should count as zero to negative overall BTUs depending on the cracking process.

The UK industry expects there to be some reduction in the decline rate as a result of recent additional investment in the North Sea sector. Whether or not that means a return to single figure decline rates (5-9%) compared to the last two years of double-digit declines remains to be seen.

Last year was affected by more shutdowns than normal - some of which was a result of extra industry caution following on from the Macondo disaster. A recent relaxing of the tax regime has seen an upsurge in interest and investment in the UK North Sea sector.


Correction - Listening to the video clip in that report the spokesperson predicts an increase in UK average daily production from 1.55boe in 2012 to 2boe in 2017.... beers all round then.

Bioliq Pilot Plant: Successful Operation of High-Pressure Entrained Flow Gasification

... The complete bioliq Process (Biomass to Liquid Karlsruhe) comprises four stages. In Stage I, the dry residual biomass which occurs widespread regionally and possesses low energy content is converted decentralized into a substance similar to crude oil of high energy density by fast pyrolysis. The so-called bioliqSyncrude can be transported cost-effectively over long distances and is processed further centrally.

In the second process stage, a high-pressure entrained flow gasifier converts the bioliqSyncrude to a tar-free syngas at temperatures above 1,200 degrees centigrade and pressures of up to 80 bar. The synthesis gas is mainly composed of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. In this Stage II, the high temperatures, high pressure and the reactive products make exacting demands on the process, the instrumentation and the safety technology of the plant.

The downstream hot-gas cleaning unit – Stage III – has the function to separate impurities like particulate matter, chlorine and nitrogen compounds from the syngas.

In the fourth and last process step, the gas molecules are selectively composed to obtain customized motor fuels.

Climate Change Threatens Corn Crops

If climate-change projections are right, we'll need to improve yields per acre by as much as 12 per cent between 2016 and 2035 just to maintain today's total production.

The results reveal a real threat to our food supply in the coming decades. It turns out that maize yields drop significantly for every day when temperatures climb over around 32°C, and that heat stress has been as important an influence on maize yield as variation in rainfall since the turn of the century.

Reminds me of a quote I read last year that stuck with me...

"There’s only so much you can do,” said Renee Lafitte, a research fellow at Pioneer’s Woodland research facility who has studied drought tolerance for almost three decades. “This is not cactus.”

Tuna Collapse Fears Fail To Curb Japan's Appetite

It is the king of sushi, one of the most expensive fish in the world—and dwindling so rapidly that some fear it could vanish from restaurant menus within a generation.

Yet there is little alarm in Japan, the country that consumes about 80 percent of the world's bluefin tuna. Japanese fisheries experts blame cozy ties between regulators and fishermen and a complacent media for failing to raise public awareness.

"Nobody really knows the bad state bluefin tuna is in," veteran sushi chef Kazuo Nagayama said ... Sushi bars and supermarkets still readily sell the fish, which is considered a special treat that families might splurge on once every month or two. There's no government campaign to encourage people to rein in their appetites for the iconic Japanese food.

"I have seen some reports on TV about their numbers falling, but I really haven't thought about cutting back on eating hon-maguro," said Sumire Baba, a Tokyo homemaker. "I guess I'm optimistic they'll recover."

dwindling so rapidly that some fear it could vanish from restaurant menus within a generation.

With such a self involved perspective and so much money involved, is it any wonder they are disappearing? Sounds like a recipe for extinction.

They're just gonna have to fish harder until they're gone. (Sorry, someone had to say it.)

"...dwindling so rapidly that some fear it could vanish from restaurant menus all of existence experiencing extinction within a generation."


A Hard Tap to Turn

An export boom needs more than just reserves

ON MAPS and spreadsheets, Iraq’s abundant oil reserves—143 billion barrels, 9% of the global total—seem to offer the world its best hope for boosting oil supplies and keeping prices stable. The country is already the world’s third-largest exporter, after Saudi Arabia and Russia. Its oil is easy to get at and test wells rarely come up dry. And there could be plenty more, as much of the west of the country has hardly been explored.

In 2012 Iraq produced over 3m barrels a day (b/d) for the first time since 1990, and it can undoubtedly produce more. But opinions as to how much more, and how soon, vary wildly. Last year the government downgraded its official estimates from 12m b/d by 2017 to 10m b/d by 2020. That remains unprecedented (see chart) and accordingly implausible. The International Energy Agency, a rich-world club, reckons that in the most favourable circumstances production might triple to just over 9m b/d by 2020, but that doubling to 6.1m b/d is more plausible—and that if things go wrong, output might only reach 4m b/d.

Some going wrong seems pretty likely.

yeah, I know the place is no longer filled with foreign troops but it is still a difficult place to expand production. I don't think the Kurds in the North and the central government have yet resolved their issues. And bombs still periodically go off in the place. If I had to guess, I'd say the might hit a number between the 4mbpd and 6mpbd number. But that is just my WAG.

Loss of Wild Insects Hurts Crops around the World

Researchers studying data from 600 fields in 20 countries have found that managed honey bees are not as successful at pollinating crops as wild insects, primarily wild bees, suggesting the continuing loss of wild insects in many agricultural landscapes has negative consequences for crop harvests.

"Our study demonstrates that production of many fruit and seed crops that make diets interesting, such as tomatoes, coffee and watermelon, is limited because their flowers are not adequately pollinated," says Harder. "We also show that adding more honey bees often does not fix this problem, but that increased service by wild insects would help."

The study found that the proportion of flowers producing fruits was considerably lower in sites with fewer wild insects visiting crop flowers. Therefore, the reduction of wild insects in agricultural landscapes will likely impact both our natural heritage and agricultural harvest.

"Paradoxically, most common approaches to increase agricultural efficiency, such as cultivation of all available land and the use of pesticides, reduce the abundance and variety of wild insects that could increase production of these crops," says Harder. "Our study highlights the benefits of considering this paradox in designing and implementing agricultural systems."

Walking In the Footsteps of 19th and 20th Century Naturalists

Are plant-pollinator networks holding together as the insects and plants in the network are jostled by climate change and habitat loss?

"The network is still there and still functioning, despite major perturbations," Knight said. "The bees still have food, plants are still getting pollinator service. But the service has declined, the network's structure is weaker, and its response to future perturbations much less certain," she said.

Years ago, living in CA, we had several bing cherry trees. Since they needed to be cross pollinated, and there was a dearth of insects and birds available in our nect of the valley, we did the thing ourselves, wrapping panty hose on brooms, and moving them around in the flowers, going from tree to tree. I believe we also said, "buzzzzz,' though I doubt it was necessary. Just made it more fun.

As long as I had at least 2 trees, I had cherries. When two of them died, so did the crop. Sad at the time; still sad today.

Good times, though. Hope we can revisit them later.


We have a cherry-plum tree that is currently chalk full of white blossums. The whole tree is engulfed with bees. The cacophany of buzzing is quite pleasant. I presume the pollination will support plum growth later. The racoons will then climb around in the tree at night and eat the plums, and in the day the deer will get the ones that have fallen. Isn't nature wonderful when it works without our interference?

+10 Earl. Also, when there are a few plums left for your consumption, that is a bonus!

In years to come we may want to take a few of the deer for food as well?

At which point, we are part of nature, and it is not really interference, now, is it?


I personally find them a little too tangy, but of course in the event of a post collapse they will probably taste incredible (due to hunger pangs) and provide much needed nutrition. As for the deer, guess if there are few sources of food available we'll go from vegan to adding meat. We're all part of nature, true. By interference, what was meant was use of pesticides that in some cases have been implicated in killing bee colonies, in reply to the prior post that mentioned human induced pollination. Nice when it all works naturally.

Bees must rest/sleep cause the buzz is silent at night.

Hunger is the best sauce!

Bees have all but disappeared from my neighborhood in South California. I have flowering plants in my yard but only see a few bees in a week. I used to have some succulents that attracted Bumblebees but haven't seen those insects in a long time.
I'm going to get some Moss Roses today to see if I can attract the missing Bumblebees.


I came across this shorty last week...

Regulators Want Updated Vogtle Schedule

Thu., February 21, 2013 10:12am (EST): ATLANTA —
State regulators have approved Georgia Power's costs so far to build two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro. The Georgia Public Service Commission gave the approval at a meeting Tuesday, but also asked for new projections for when the work will be finished....

...In its most recent report to the PSC, the utility said the cost of the project has risen to $6.2 billion from $6.1 billion, but the company has not asked to collect any more money from customers at this time.

...figured it wouldn't be long. Today:

Southern Co. says Plant Vogtle is over budget

ATLANTA — Southern Co. said Thursday it will exceed its original budget to build a first-of-its-kind nuclear plant, a troubling development for an industry long plagued by cost overruns.

The Atlanta-based utility formally asked regulators to raise its budget to build two more nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle (VOH'-gohl) by about $737 million to roughly $6.85 billion. Additional costs are possible. Companies designing and building the plant have sued the utility seeking $425 million for unexpected project costs, though the utility has filed its own suit and denies responsibility for those expenses.

The plant features a reactor design never before built in the United States, including new safety systems.

I ran into an old associate last week at the big home store, who is now a 'Company' man involved with the Vogtle project (he was shopping for LED bulbs for his second home here in the mountains). He hinted that this budget thing will be an ongoing issue. He blames Obama; couldn't understand why I laughed at that.

‘Muzzling’ of federal scientists called a threat to democracy

By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News February 20, 2013

Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault has been asked to investigate the way the Harper government has been “muzzling” federal scientists.

The request, accompanied by a report on the government’s “systematic efforts” to obstruct access to researchers, was made jointly on Wednesday by the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria and Democracy Watch, a national non-profit group.

“There are few issues more fundamental to democracy than the ability of the public to access scientific information produced by government scientists – information that their tax dollars have paid for,” they say. “We as a society cannot make informed choices about critical issues if we are not fully informed about the facts.”

-- snip --

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has adopted “particularly strict rules restricting the ability of scientists to talk to the media about ‘climate change’ and ‘oil sands,’ ” the report says.

And Environment Canada “specifically forbids scientists from speaking to the public on identified issues such as climate change or protection of polar bear and caribou until the Privy Council Office gives approval,” it says.

Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the UVIC’s Environmental Law Centre, says “the name George Orwell comes to mind.”

This article and the release last week of David Hughes report "Drill, Baby, Drill" reminded me that if Hughes was still working for the Geological Survey of Canada, which is part of NRCan, we would not now be reading his report.

You do have to find a way to laugh it would be kind of depressing otherwise...

Rick Mercer's Rant this week. Here's the video (1:46).

Silence Science

Well another week, another story about scientists in Canada being muzzled. This time it's eggheads up in the arctic studying climate change – a joint project between the Canadians and the Americans. And of course our government told them they had to sign a piece of paper saying they could never discuss their findings in public unless a political staffer in Ottawa said it was okay which is never going to happen.

Now of course the Canadians did what they were told, they signed on the dotted line because, well, they want to eat. But the American scientists went ballistic because, well, they’re Americans and you know what the Americans are like. It’s freedom of speech this and freedom of speech that. And the way they were carrying on you'd swear that they had been transported back in time and dropped behind the Berlin wall at the height of the cold war. Nope, you're in Canada in 2013. You want to do science in these parts you better get used to it. And get over yourselves. It's not like scientists are the only ones being told to shut up in this country. No, it's everyone.

I have spent my whole life either being neutral or positive towards Canada. My impression is that they are a rather mild group of people and some of us used to pretend to be Canadians when we visited Europe in order not to be hated as Americans. Now I am beginning to hate the Government at least. Just pretend that AGW doesn't exist and it will go away. Simply amazing as Canada has become the U.S. South.

The article headline could have just as easily been,
'Not Muzzling Scientists would be a Threat to Greed'.

Not sure if anything on this had been posted and I realize it's getting pretty late into this particular Drumbeat - but thought it was worth posting as a follow up to the discussion a few days ago with Leanan et al. regarding the fate of the the big box stores.


Disaster may be too strong of a term but something is certainly going on at Wally World (or as one commenter called it: ChinaMart). Do we buy Wal-Mart's explanations regarding their problems or might this be something more serious and reflecting a deep rooted flaw in the business model ?

When I was at a Wal-Mart in early February, the parking lot was unusually empty and the store shelves were stocked. There were fewer shortages than has become usual over the last 4 years.

Maybe the slowdown in sales created a cash flow problem that is affecting their supply chain.

Curious. It links to this article.

Why would Wal-Mart, the supposed master of logistics, be having so much trouble keeping their shelves stocked?

Cruz, 41, who has worked at Wal-Mart for nine years and oversees the photo and wireless sections at her store, said it can take weeks or months for merchandise to be replaced after it sells out.

“My camera bar hasn’t had cameras since early January,” she said. “They let the merchandise phase out but nothing new comes in to replace them. We’re supposed to have 72 cameras but we maybe have 12. What are customers supposed to buy?”

She says the number of employees she overseas has dropped from 13 to 7. Wal-Mart says they have not reduced staff, just "shifted" them. Where?

It seems like this is being touted everywhere as proof that the economy is tanking, but I don't get the connection at all. If the shelves are all bare then I don't see that as a sign that demand has dropped, just th eopposite if you ask me. Of course it does indicate some sort of internal supply chain management issues within walmart, but to me that's a separate issue from a generally poor economy.

Yeah, I don't think you can blame it on a bad economy. Other retailers are doing okay. Not great, but okay.

Something's going on, specific to Wal-Mart.

There was some discussion that this may be a case of suppliers finally reaching the breaking point with Wal-Mart's heavy handed approach to controlling every aspect of how the goods are manufactured, priced, etc. Others have pointed out that it may be that factor coupled with Wal-Mart paying their suppliers on a NET 120 basis - so that cash starved manufacturers are having to wait into the following quarter to get paid by a company worth $$$ billions.

When things were going great the suppliers were able to overlook those factors and just join in the fun. But it's hard to believe that there wouldn't be some serious resentment built up amongst some suppliers and they were just waiting for the chance to give back what they had been gettin' for so long - they're just doing it in the form of keeping the shelves empty.

One thing is for sure - Wal Mart is going to find it VERY difficult to portray itself as an entity worthy of any kind of sympathy.

I noticed several years ago that, if the shelves are fully stocked, it's often with more of the same items or varieties. Where they used to have 12 varieties of, say, Campbells Chunky Soups, they now have the six most popular varieties in the same space. They've also been pushing "site-to-store' alot; order online and and pick up at the store. More items seem to be going that way, especially tires and electronics.

They seem to be over-optimising their logistics; stock only the items they know will sell; avoid the risk of stocking stuff that may become stranded due to poorer sales. Makes stocking shelves less complicated as well. "Put all of these cans of chowder on isle seven"... "But isle seven is all chowder already"..."Yeah, should be easy to find".

I recall reading an article that talked about how ***mart concentrates on specific high-selling items to the exclusion of variety, but I can't seem to recall enough key words to find it. It was even pervasive within brands - like, (made up example) if a certain flavor of yogurt wasn't as popular they'd carry the rest of that brand's yogurt but not that flavor.

I chime in because it just struck me - my dad was drinking this fluid called "Cherry Limeade" and one day he said the spot for it was there, asked one of the people if they had any in the back - and when they came back they told him that there wasn't any in the back and they didn't expect for it to be restocked until June. This was like a month ago. I remember because it was mysterious how long they expected it to take. Not like "we'll have more in a week" but literally like months. That's just a single item, but curious in light of that article.

Interestingly I had a discussion about just this thing with a co worker today. Conclusion was that they are cutting purchases and labor in order to shore up profits... basically there is not enough money out there to buy all the plastic crap the Chinese are making any more.

News on JC Penny is even worse! Predictions? I would hazard to guess we can expect Ch.11 for one or the other or both of those two corporations this year. Depending on where the biggest Federal cuts are made.

Wild times are coming... interesting times from that Chinese perspective.


Curious about Penny's. They traditionally were a more upscale retailer, like the Buick of clothiers compared to the Kmart or WalMart's bottom line Chevy. With both ends of the middle class being cut away, it's like it be all DeLoreans in the future, maybe a Mercedes.

I've been noticing this going on for a while...all of the stores which typically cater to the "middle class" are crashing fast...because there's increasingly no middle class left to cater to. Like other 3rd world nations the US is polarizing into haves and have-nots...so it's Bentley GT's or cheap Chevy/walking. The stages in-between are vanishing.

She says the number of employees she overseas has dropped from 13 to 7. Wal-Mart says they have not reduced staff, just "shifted" them. Where?

Maybe shifted means they all have to work less shifts. Or it's a typo, and should have been an "a" not an "i".

I just had a great idea...

Add electrical heaters to the boilers of coal-fired power plants.

That way the plants which can't ramp up and down easily can absorb surplus low cost alternative energy, ramp coal burning up and down to compensate, and continue producing an even stream of power, which is what they are designed to do.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

... and waste all the heat that doesn't get used? Why use renewable electricity to boil water to generate electricity?

Benefit of the doubt, I'll assume you were being snarky

It turns out voting might actually matter...at least at the state and local level...

Raleigh on wrong track on future of NC energy

Unfortunately, while folks in WNC are promoting clean energy, the General Assembly seems bent on sabotaging it. A Rutherfordton Republican wants to weaken or eliminate the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard.

Newer mind that the standards are credited with helping maintain more than 15,000 clean energy jobs and producing a 3 percent industry growth over the past year. Rep. Mike Hager thinks they should go and believes he has the votes to prevail. We hope he is wrong.

And that’s not all. A bill in the state Senate would wipe out all health and human services rules by 2016 and all environmental and natural resources rules the following year. The Senate has passed a bill that would gut various state commissions, among other things removing environmental experts from relevant panels.

Clarification on the flagging system...

"...they are limited to 5 flags..."

Is that five flags per article? The "The Price of Solar Power" post looks like a couple of monkeys went in and started throwing feces around. I rather expect such nonsense from time to time on the drumbeat but that one is key-posted.

You can go over five flags, but when you do, your earlier flags are removed. But comments that have been hidden due to multiple flags do not become un-hidden.

Basically, this is meant to keep people from flagging everything they disagree with. Actually has not been a problem recently, but at one point there was someone who flagged every comment that was not optimistic/cornucopian.

In another thread "DeadButDreaming" wrote:

"How about not funding the other side in the war on terror?"

This would make an awesome EV bumper sticker.

EVs are built on oil.

while looking at Catskill's link above, I stumbled across this posting on the fuel source for new Texas 'coal' plants which was interesting...


"So why are refineries suddenly producing enough petcoke to supply large power plants? Back in the old days of conventional oil, the amount of coke produced in refining process was relatively small. The refineries in nearby Texas City handle "heavy oil." The tar sands glop produces petcoke in copious quantities. Remind me again where the Keystone XL pipeline is supposed to take all that glorious tar sands bitumen.

We are on the cusp of new dirty energy revolution in America. Importing large quantities of tar sands bitumen will create a very large petcoke waste stream. Thanks to the miracle of advanced media disinformation technology, petcoke can be sold to public as new, improved synthetic coal for power plants across the nation. Utility companies can swap out coal for cheaper petcoke, while coal companies can export domestic coal to more profitable foreign markets".