Drumbeat: March 6, 2013

US oil and gas boom takes many by surprise

The rapid growth in U.S. oil production has surprised even industry insiders.

Forecasts that once sounded far-fetched are becoming reality. The oil production boom had been expected, but the magnitude of change in such a short period of time is a surprise. U.S. oil production is at its highest level in 20 years, while at the same time U.S. oil demand is at a 17-year low.

The International Energy Agency projects the U.S. could even leap frog Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world's biggest oil producer by 2020.

"The view I have is the U.S. will be a lot less dependent with Canada. That will really reduce imports, combined with more fuel-efficient cars, from outside North America. We'll still be importing some, but it's certainly a rebalancing of global oil. That oil that was coming to the United States will go somewhere else and that somewhere else would be Asia," said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS. "The other place where oil demand is really growing happens to be the Middle East."

Is the Theory of ‘Peak Oil’ Dead?

Yet another voice has questioned the theory of “peak oil,” which posits future scarcity, rising prices, and economic collapse due to the lack of precious fuels that drive the global economy. Under this theory the rate of petroleum extraction will crest and then commence “an immutable decline…as demand for this finite resource permanently exceeds supply.”

This latest critic of the theory is the Boston Company Asset Management LLC, which released a white paper entitled, “End of an Era: The Death of Peak Oil. An Energy Revolution, American-Style.”

Peak oil

Mr Hubbert’s curve, which neatly fitted American oil production and rightly predicted a peak in 1970, may need to be redrawn according to analysis by BP, a British oil company. The technology that has unlocked huge volumes of gas from American shale beds can also been used to extract oil. As drilling for oil from shale intensifies America looks set for another peak in the next couple of decades. Mr Hubbert’s curve and the peak-oil brigade look out of date.

An alternative to fracking?

Fracking — the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock deep within the earth — comes with some issues: noise, 24/7 flame flares, possible groundwater pollution, mysterious chemicals, enormous push back from some newly gas-rich states like New York.

But now veteran San Diego biotech entrepreneur Jay Short has a possible alternative — a novel technology to produce and capture methane or natural gas directly from porous coal, a process in the final stages of commercial testing in Wyoming by his newest company, Ciris Energy.

Will Colombia Become Latin America’s Poster Child for Peak Oil

The two most hotly debated scientific concepts associated with energy are “global warming” and “peak oil,” both with myriad proponents and detractors around the world.

In the latter case however, what is indisputable is that the last several decades have seen major fields in significant oil exporting nations decline. From Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar superfield through the Russian Federation’s vast west Siberian field to Indonesia, oil output has spiked, and, in the case of Indonesia, it left the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2009 because it ceased to be a net exporter of oil. For those with a sense of history Indonesia, then the Dutch East Indies, was a major factor in the outbreak of world War Two in the Pacific, as the Japanese in late 1941 determined to seize the oil-rich archipelago in response to a U.S. oil embargo imposed earlier that year.

The coming energy crunch and transition from fossil fuels to renewables

Fears of imminent peak oil may have subsided but demand for fossil fuels from emerging economies is growing at an exponential rate. The environmental alarmists, who predict war and systemic collapse, may yet have their day. For, the rise of renewables is just too slow to keep pace with the spiralling energy demands from future superpowers like China and India.

On the day that Hugo Chavez, the president of oil-rich Venezuela, died the World Economic Forum has published a report on the future of energy transition. It suggests that while oil demand has ratcheted up another level, the thirst for coal is also a major factor. In fact, in the last decade demand for coal grew at 10 times the rate of demand for renewables, twice that of oil and three times more than gas.

Peak What? Ask Barbie and Mickey Mouse

Asia Pulp & Paper Company, one of the world's largest, announced last month that it will no longer use wood from Indonesia's forests for any of its $4 billion per year worth of products. Why? Because APP's customers realized we are running out of natural forests from which to harvest lumber and have demanded suppliers to develop sustainable sources. The Walt Disney Company, Mattel, and Harper Collins are among many corporations setting sustainability standards for things like paper and packaging, so you could say that Mickey Mouse, Barbie, and J.R.R. Tolkien persuaded the paper giant to make such a bold move.

Brent Crude Trades Near Four-Day High on Pipeline Halt

Brent crude was little changed near its highest in four days as a North Sea pipeline system remained shut. Venezuela, OPEC’s fourth-biggest producer, announced the death of President Hugo Chavez.

Futures fluctuated, having climbed by the most in a month yesterday. Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on state television that Chavez died at 4:25 p.m. at a military hospital in Caracas. The Brent pipeline system has been shut since an oil leak was discovered March 2 on the Cormorant Alpha platform. U.S. crude stockpiles rose 5.6 million barrels last week, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed.

Saudi Aramco Committed to Oil Exports to U.S., Al-Falih Says

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest oil exporter, is “committed” to exports to the U.S. market, Khalid Al-Falih, the company’s chief executive officer, said today at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston.

Saudi Aramco, as the company is known, will supply crude to the U.S. market because many of the refineries on the Gulf Coast are set up to process the kingdom’s sour crudes, Al-Falih said in the speech.

Drivers may soon find some relief at the gas pump

It may not be fast enough for some consumers, but the drop in pump prices is accelerating.

Retail gasoline prices are down a penny overnight to $3.74 a gallon for the national average on Tuesday, which is down 3 cents from a year ago. Last month, pump prices on average were the highest on record for February.

Analysts said the gasoline price slide could continue.

China Considering Faster Response to Crude Costs for Fuel Prices

China is considering ways to respond faster to changes in international crude costs when setting domestic gasoline and diesel prices, the chairman of the nation’s top economic planner said.

Under the current pricing mechanism, which measures the change in the 22-day moving average cost of a basket of crude grades, the adjustment period is too long and the 4 percent threshold for revisions is too high, Zhang Ping, the chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a press conference in Beijing today.

North Sea Aasgard, Grane, Statfjord April Crude Exports Stable

Exports of North Sea Aasgard, Grane and Statfjord crudes will be stable in April while shipments of Gullfaks will drop by one cargo to six lots, according to separate loading programs obtained by Bloomberg News.

ExxonMobil admits output 'to fall 1% in 2013'

The explorer put the drop down to its switch away from natural gas with output expected to drop 5% in 2013, while higher-priced oil and liquids are expected to grow 2%.

Last year, ExxonMobil's oil and gas production fell 6% to average 4.2 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day.

Oil Output on U.S. Land Lagging Amid Boom, Report Finds

Oil and gas production in federal areas is lagging behind the boom on private lands, a report by non-partisan congressional researchers found, bolstering complaints made by Republicans and energy-industry lobbyists.

The Congressional Research Service cited Department of Interior data showing a decline in oil output on federal lands and waters from 2009 through 2012, while production on private lands jumped more than 31 percent over that same period. Statistics for natural gas production showed a similar trend.

Petrobras Jumps Most Since May on Surprise Diesel Increase

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the state- controlled company that is required to supply Brazil’s fuel needs, rose the most since May after a surprise 5 percent increase in diesel prices.

UAE banks follow oil to the East

Banks in the Emirates are finding lucrative opportunities in the shift in the oil trade towards Asia as the US shale gas revolution diminishes the importance of the world's largest economy to the Middle East.

With the US predicted by the International Energy Agency to become the world's largest oil producer within the decade, UAE banks are looking to forge new links with the Asian oil-importing nations that are expected to pick up the slack.

China Joining U.S. Shale Renaissance With $40 Billion

China National Petroleum Corp., the country’s biggest oil company, is seeking its first stake in the U.S. as Chinese explorers with $40 billion of cash try to join an energy renaissance unlocking billions of barrels of crude.

“We are currently studying” investing in U.S. oil, Jiang Jiemin, chairman of the state-run company, said yesterday at the National People’s Congress meetings in Beijing. Domestic rival China Petrochemical Corp. last month agreed to buy stakes in an Oklahoma field from Chesapeake Energy Corp. for $1.02 billion.

BHP Studies Shale in Australia, Europe as It Focuses on U.S.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, is studying shale formations in Australia, Europe and South America as it remains focused on developing onshore assets in the U.S.

“We’re clearly going to be very studious in Australia and we’re going to be very studious in Europe,” BHP Billiton Petroleum Chief Executive Officer Michael Yeager said in an interview at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston today.

Saudi Next Generation Has U.S. Imprint as King Picks Leaders

As he opens Saudi Arabia’s top government jobs to a new generation of princes, King Abdullah may also be rebooting the kingdom’s ties with the west.

Abdullah, who turns 89 this year, has picked younger royals with international and security experience, often involving the U.S. Bandar bin Sultan, named head of intelligence last year, was ambassador in Washington for more than two decades. Mohammed bin Nayef, the recently appointed interior minister, worked with the Americans on measures to fight al-Qaeda, while Khaled bin Bandar, the new Riyadh governor, is a graduate of the British Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

IMF says Jordan's energy crisis poses toughest reform challenge

AMMAN, March 6 (Reuters) - Jordan must tackle a soaring energy import bill by reducing power subsidies to get its economy back on track, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

IMF deputy head Nemat Shafik said Jordan's aid-dependent economy was hit hard by "several external shocks at the same time" when the Arab Spring revolts against autocratic rule spread across the Middle East, but the major challenge now was energy imports.

Dabhol plant shuts due to lack of fuel

Mumbai: Hit severely by the decline in production of gas at Reliance Industries’ KG-D6 Blocks, the 1,967-MW power plant at Dabhol has completely shut operations since February 21 due to non-availability of gas.

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s Anti-U.S. Socialist Leader, Dies at 58

Hugo Chavez, the self-declared socialist who transformed Venezuelan politics by channeling record oil revenue to the poor, nationalizing corporations and vilifying foes as U.S. imperialist puppets, has died. He was 58.

PDVSA vows to continue on Chavez path

Venezuelan oil company PDVSA is “on bended knee” after the death of long-time national president Hugo Chavez.

The state-owned player said it stood with oil workers across the nation as the South American oil powerhouse entered seven days of official mourning after Chavez lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday.

Chavez successors likely to continue to use oil as political tool

“He’s a charmer. He’s a liar,” one oil industry executive who knew Chavez said on condition of anonymity to protect business relationships. “He’s done a lot to improve the lot of his people. He ruined the oil industry.”

Few analysts expect much change from his successor, Nicolas Maduro, who will need to bolster his domestic base.

Energy will not create tension between Greece and Turkey, says Turkish minister

Energy issues will not become a source of friction between Greece and Turkey, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told the English-language Hurriyet Daily News on Wednesday.

“We have the intention of using energy issues not as a reason to create tension but as a reason for growth and opening,” Yildiz told the Turkish daily. “We will see whether other countries will follow this principle.”

Medvedev ‘gave away’ oil wealth to Norway

Dimitry Medvedev donated Russian oil deposits to a value of EUR 30 billion when he was the country’s president, several Russian media write.

The Oil War

The Iraq war was about oil. Recently declassified US government documents confirm this, however much US president George W Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their ally, the British prime minister Tony Blair, denied it at the time.

When Bush moved into the White House in January 2001, he faced the familiar problem of the imbalance between oil supply and demand. Supply was unable to keep up with demand, which was increasing rapidly because of the growth of emerging economies such as China and India. The only possible solution lay in the Gulf, where the giant oil-producing countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, and the lesser producing states of Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, commanded 60% of the world’s reserves.

Iraq to supply Egypt with 4 million barrels of oil a month

Iraq has agreed to supply Egypt with 4 million barrels of oil a month, during a visit by Egyptian prime minister Hesham Kandil to Baghdad on Monday, Iraqi government spokesman Ali Mussawi said on Tuesday.

Economic turmoil since a popular uprising unseated Hosni Mubarak last year has stretched Egypt's finances and inflated the premiums the state petroleum company pays for fuel.

Exxon Mobil Witness Says MTBE Benefits Outweighed Risks

An Exxon Mobil Corp. witness told a New Hampshire jury that will decide whether the company is liable for contaminating groundwater with MTBE that the gasoline additive was extensively researched and its benefits outweighed risks.

Transocean Worker Misinterpreted Well Test, Witness Says

A Transocean Ltd. supervisor on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that blew up in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 testified that a worker misinterpreted a key test before the incident.

Randy Ezell, a Transocean drilling supervisor on the rig, said in federal court in New Orleans that he wasn’t informed about problems with the negative pressure test before the explosion by his assistant, Jason Anderson, who died in the blast.

BP Faces 2014 Trial Over Investors’ Gulf Spill Claims

BP Plc will face a jury trial Aug. 25, 2014, in federal court in Houston on investors’ multibillion-dollar allegations that the company hid the true size of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to limit the effect on its stock price.

The investors, led by Ohio and New York pension plans, sued BP and certain officers in 2010, alleging violations of U.S. securities law. The investors also claim the company publicly claimed a commitment to and implementation of expanded safety measures while internally cutting budgets and rejecting employees’ safety warnings.

Statoil Says It Can Walk Away From Arctic

The head of Statoil ASA's (STO, STL.OS) international-exploration business said his company would have no problem walking away from drilling in the U.S. Arctic Ocean if it proved to be too risky.

Ferrari's first-ever hybrid looks terrific: Ratan Tata

GENEVA/DETROIT (Reuters) - Industrialist Ratan Tata pored over every inch of the new million-euro LaFerrari on the Italian supercar maker's stand at the Geneva auto show.

Ferrari's first-ever hybrid "looks terrific", said Tata, one of India's wealthiest businessmen and a close friend of Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.

Report Casts Doubt on Britain’s Nuclear Electricity Strategy

LONDON — Britain’s plans to build a fleet of nuclear power plants by 2025 are “ambitious” at best and “unrealistic” at worst, according to a report to be released Monday by a committee of the House of Commons.

“It is worrying that the government does not have any contingency plans in place for the event that little or no nuclear is forthcoming,” the Energy and Climate Change Committee wrote in its report.

Solar Panels Rare Amid the Steeples

AUSTIN, TEXAS — In the early 1980s, after an energy crisis that gripped the world, a Catholic priest in the Texas city of Lubbock took a stand for the environment. His congregation needed a new church. So the priest, the Rev. Joe James, anchored the building deep in the earth to optimize insulation. He also ordered five wind turbines for the church grounds. The largest was called Big Bird, because it stood 80 feet tall.

“I don’t feel as though we are free to waste,” Father James told a videographer at the time. Staring earnestly into the camera, he argued that saving money was not the only reason for energy conservation.

Cabinet Picks Could Take On Climate Policy

Even with Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Moniz in place, Mr. Obama would have to confront major hurdles in trying to refashion the American way of producing and consuming energy, the same hurdles that stymied climate and energy policy in his first term.

Green Groups Decry Sequester’s Effects

Weeks after President Obama promised to develop sustainable energy and green jobs and to fight climate change — first in his second Inaugural Address, and then in his State of the Union Message — the realities of American politics have set in.

How your fuel bills are subsidising deforestation

On Monday DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) launched ”If They’re Gone.......”, a new year-long campaign to raise awareness about the threats facing four iconic endangered species – orangutans, elephants, tigers and rhinos.

Yet today (6th March), MPs will debate DECC (Department for Energy and Climate Change) proposals which could see our fuel bills being used to subsidise the burning of palm oil in power stations to generate electricity – a move which would lead to the destruction of these species’ habitats.

Fossil-Fuel Divestment — Part 3

The fossil-fuel divestment campaign now sweeping America’s college campuses is a window onto much that is wrong with our culture and our politics. The fate of America’s free-enterprise system — long the engine of our prosperity and security — now hangs on a generation increasingly skeptical of the system’s premises.

For Times Environmental Reporting, Intentions May Be Good but the Signs Are Not

Judging by appearances, things are not looking good for environmental reporting at The Times.

In January, The Times dismantled its environmental reporting “pod” – a group of reporters and editors solely devoted to that subject who worked with one another to develop stories and projects.

Then, on Friday, The Times’s “Green” blog ended after more than four years (initially as Green Inc.).

Construction That Focuses on Health of Residents

Doctors, social agencies and community groups that have long been frustrated by the inability to alleviate environmental conditions that contribute to ailments like heart disease and obesity are promoting the idea that a shift in land-use planning and design can stanch some of the harmful influences.

The concept is being put to one of its earliest and biggest tests in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood near downtown Denver. That’s where the city’s housing authority used a relatively new decision-making tool known as a health impact assessment to draft a redevelopment plan that encourages physical activity and environmental sustainability.

How a drought in China may have helped spark the Arab Spring

Drought in eastern China. A shortage of wheat. An uprising in Egypt.

On the face of it, the three don’t seem related. But two years after revolutions swept through the Arab world, a new study argues that climate change played a significant role in the Arab Spring.

Why food riots are likely to become the new normal

Just over two years since Egypt's dictator President Hosni Mubarak resigned , little has changed. Cairo's infamous Tahrir Square has remained a continual site of clashes between demonstrators and security forces, despite a newly elected president. It's the same story in Tunisia, and Libya where protests and civil unrest have persisted under now ostensibly democratic governments.

The problem is that the political changes brought about by the Arab spring were largely cosmetic. Scratch beneath the surface, and one finds the same deadly combination of environmental, energy and economic crises.

Almost one-third of Nile Delta to sink by 2030, say experts

Environmental experts have predicted that 30% of the Nile Delta will be submerged under water by 2030 because of the rise in land temperatures due to climate change. They added that this may threaten agriculture in Egypt.

Energy shortages depriving one billion from healthcare access

Energy shortages are depriving an estimated one billion people from access to healthcare, according to a report by NGO Practical Action.

The Poor People’s Energy Outlook 2013 says access to a reliable electricity supply is lowest in South Asia.

In India 46% of health facilities, serving an estimated 580 million people, are without electricity.

Governor, senators disagree on terms of climate-change bill

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday insisted Washington state is poised to lead the fight against climate change and urged lawmakers to help him move quickly on the issue.

The governor advocated for his inaugural climate-change bill in the House Environment Committee in the wake of changes to the measure made in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

A Scientist’s Misguided Crusade

As a private citizen, Hansen, 71, has the same First Amendment rights as everyone else. He can publicly oppose the Keystone XL pipeline if he so chooses, just as he can be as politically active as he wants to be in the anti-Keystone movement, and even be arrested during protests, something he managed to do recently in front of the White House.

But the blast e-mail didn’t come from James Hansen, private citizen. It specifically identified Hansen as the head of the Goddard Institute, and went on to describe him as someone who “has drawn attention to the danger of passing climate tipping points, producing irreversible climate impacts that would yield a different planet from the one on which civilization developed.” All of which made me wonder whether such apocalyptic pronouncements were the sort of statements a government scientist should be making — and whether they were really helping the cause of reversing climate change.

Will Arctic oil and gas be commercially viable?

As the ice melts in the Arctic, opening up the possibility of exploiting new oil and gas reserves, there are conflicting views on whether that will be commercially viable.

The future of this pristine environment apparently depends not so much on whether it is good or bad for the planet that more fossil fuels are burnt, but on the price of gas.

Tropical nations to see above average sea-level rises

Coastal areas in the tropics may see some of the largest sea-level rises due to take place this century because of climate change, according to a study.

This would particularly affect the Indian Oceanand Western Pacific, which include many small island states, such as the Maldives, and vulnerable coastal deltas, including the Bay of Bengal.

Map Plots Rising Seas Street by Jersey Street

SURF CITY, N.J.—While superstorm Sandy revealed the Northeast's vulnerability, a new map by New Jersey scientists suggests how rising seas could make future storms even worse.

The map shows ocean waters surging more than a mile into communities along Raritan Bay, engulfing nearly all of New Jersey's barrier islands and covering northern sections of the New Jersey Turnpike and land surrounding the Port Newark Container Terminal.

Arctic ice loss amplified Superstorm Sandy violence

Cornell and Rutgers researchers report in the March issue of Oceanography that the severe loss of summertime Arctic sea ice -- attributed to greenhouse warming -- appears to enhance Northern Hemisphere jet stream meandering, intensify Arctic air mass invasions toward middle latitudes, and increase the frequency of atmospheric blocking events like the one that steered Hurricane Sandy west into the densely populated New York City area.

Indonesia to miss 2013 oil output target of 900,000 bpd - state regulator

Indonesia's state budget for 2013 sets an oil output target of 900,000 bpd, up from 2012 output of crude and condensate at 860,000 bpd. The 2012 target had been set at 930,000 bpd.

"As of March we had already reached around 830 (thousand barrels per day).

That target for the year would be just over the output seen in December at 826,000 bpd.

The country plans to stop the 10-15 percent natural decline in output at existing wells with new drilling and well workovers, he said, labelling 2013 "the year of drilling."

They don't have any new fields to bring on line so they plan to stop their decline by sucking harder on their old fields.

By the way Leonardo Maugeri, of the Harvard Kennedy Center, says the world's existing fields are declining at only 2% to 3% per year and says Indonesia will be producing 1 million barrels per day in 2020, a 0% decline from their 2011 (all liquids) level.

Ron P.

The country plans to stop the 10-15 percent natural decline in output at existing wells with new drilling and well workovers...

Didn't the Saudis do that in 2005? And, doesn't that simply delay the inevitible (and make the subsequent decline rates much higher)?


As Ron has pointed out before, an increase in the production rate also means an increase in the depletion rate. The conventional wisdom is that the "solution" to high oil prices is to increase the depletion rate.

Not just Saudi but almost everybody has already started doing that but Saudi was one of the first. And, on average, Saudi fields were the largest so it will perhaps take longer for the subsequent decline rates to set in.

Most of the big Persian Gulf producers have been doing that for several years now, and so has Russia in their old Western Siberian fields. I think we are already starting to see those higher decline rates set in in Saudi as well as Russia.

However Indonesian fields are much smaller but they have a lot of them. Indonesian Oil and Gas Infrastructure Map Decline rates are just naturally much higher from small fields. And if they are successful with infill drilling in these small fields, the decline rate, after a very short time, will be astronomical. Well, that is my opinion anyway.

Ron P.

This combines with some sobering news from the EIA, which notes in its country field on Saudi Arabia, “One challenge the Saudis face in achieving their strategic vision to add production capacity is that their existing fields experience 6 to 8 percent annual decline rates on average in existing fields, meaning that the country needs around 700,000 bpd in additional capacity each year just to compensate for natural decline. Decline estimates for Saudi Arabia vary widely, however. The Ministry of Petroleum maintains that decline rates in Saudi Arabia are around 2 percent annually. Saudi Aramco has stated that it will also conduct additional drilling at currently producing fields in order to help compensate for the natural declines from the mature fields.


Other Saudi estimates of total depletion in the article.

We need to keep in mind that decline refers to extraction rates; depletion to the volume remaining to extract. Increased extraction means no decline, yet higher depletion. Eventually it is going to catch up with them, with the result a catastrophic decline in production! At least that would seem to me to be the most likely scenario.


wasn't isn't Canterall the poster child for that kind of "production"

brings to mind eating as much as possible to prevent starvation in the coming famine.....

perhaps we're not smarter than yeast ......


It is like knowing that your glass is just about half empty, and figuring the solution to your depletion problem is to stick in a few more straws. Somehow folks seem to think that will create more oil.



Jam today, but less jam tomorrow.

The approach to maintain production makes (no) sense depending on one's horizon of analysis.
If all one cares about is QoQ / YoY numbers of whatever it is one is extracting the strategy of sticking more straws into the ground is perfectly logical. If one has a longer horizon, say a generation or two it is insanity.


The Ministry of Petroleum maintains that decline rates in Saudi Arabia are around 2 percent annually. Saudi Aramco has stated that it will also conduct additional drilling at currently producing fields in order to help compensate for the natural declines from the mature fields.

This is a little misleading. It reads like the Saudis are claiming their fields have a natural decline rate of around 2 percent but they hope to compensate for that with infill drilling. That is not what the Saudis are claiming. I have posted this link many times before but the above statement needs to be cleared up.

Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Energy Initiative: PDF, Scroll down to "Saudi Oil Field Depletion Rates".

• Without “maintain potential” drilling to make up for production, Saudi oil fields would have a natural decline rate of a hypothetical 8%. As Saudi Aramco has an extensive drilling program with a budget running in the billions of dollars, this decline is mitigated to a number close to 2%.

This file also says, (in 2006) "The Kingdom's average state of reserve depletion for all its fields is approximately 29%." And this would be true if the Kingdom actually had 264 billion barrels of reserves as they claim to have. However they actually have less than 100 billion barrels of reserves and their reserve depletion for all its fields is well over 60%.

Ron P.

The problem as I see it is the terminology. "Natural decline" is completely misleading, inferring that if nothing- no extraction, no drilling, nothing is done, then it would have a decline of whatever stated percent.

It is interesting that your pdf above is from 2006. The article I referenced above is from Jan 2013, and yet uses the the exact same total reserve depletion of 29%.

"Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, estimates that the average total depletion for Saudi oil fields is 29 percent, with Abqaiq (the oldest) 74 percent depleted, the giant Ghawar field having produced 48 percent of its proven reserves and the younger Shaybah, just 5 percent depleted. Saudi Arabia seems to be in the process of becoming a victim of “peak oil.”

I would imagine the more recent mining article uses your info for its story. Which indicates we really don't have anything more up to date since prior to the big crash.

Yes there is a problem with terminology. And they are correct, 8% is purely a hypothetical figure. It is the figure the fields would be declining at without infill drilling. But the new wells are all horizontal wells with the majority of them at the top of the anticline. So you can see how this would decrease that 8% decline rate.

But to really understand what they, the Saudis, are trying to say you need to understand how they arrived at that 29% figure in 2006. At that time they had cumulative production of about 110 billion barrels. So if they had 260 (in 2006) billion barrels of reserves that would mean that they originally had around 370 billion barrels of reserves. That would mean 110 billion barrels of reserves would be only about 29% of that figure. (Actually closer to 30% but close enough.)

Of course that figure of 264 billion barrels never declines, it only grows. In 2006 it was 260 billion barrels, today it is 265.4 billion barrels.

My best guess is they really have about 80 billion barrels of reserves. That would mean they are just over 60% depleted. With this infill drilling they have avoided the bell curve of depletion profile. It will now look like a shark fin.

Ron P.

Barnett shale assessment study.

The production outlook considers key variables of:

  • The parameters of future wells (RF & length, attrition, lifetime, interfracture interference), resulting in an inventory of future wells
  • Natural gas price
  • The economic limit of each well
  • Technology and well cost improvements
  • OGIPfree
  • Decline rate is the function of permeability, porosity and well depth and is proportional to

All these decline rates are converging to diffusion-limited flow:

WebHubbleTelescope (or anyone), any thoughts on why the "oil" output from these shale formations are of such low molecular weight? I mean, EOG now says most of what is coming out of the Eagel Ford is basically just near-gasoline, and while the oil from the Bakken may be a little higher in MW, maybe not much.

Is it because the formations are so tight that only the lowest molecular weight material can migrate? Or is it that these formations just don't hold higher MW oil? Just wondering.

Elmo, I am not really an oil man but I will take a stab at it. The oil guys can correct me if I am wrong.

No, it is not because the lighter polymers have migrated here, leaving the heaver polymers in the source rock. This is the source rock and it is too tight for even the methane to migrate out.

The reason, I think, is that the longer molecules have all been cracked into shorter ones. It was a process that would have cracked everything to natural gas if it had been buried deep enough for a long enough period.

All pure natural gas fields started out as kerogen, which was cooked into mostly oil. Then if it was hot enough for long enough the long molecules gradually got cracked into shorter ones, then still shorter ones until eventually they were all so short that only gas remained.

This Eagle Ford Shale almost made it to that point, but not quite.

Ron P.

Ron has a good explanation for the materials properties.
As for the square root of time dependence, that is a characteristic of processes showing a random walk.
The flow travels in random directions as it follows the fractures and a fractional amount gets collected along the drain path.

The most intriguing part of the square root of time is that it does allow for fat tails, which means that the flow decline starts to decelerate after time. This is good only if the rate of flow in the tail is worth the maintenance costs. In other words, do these have stripper well potential?

Realistic random walks can also show faster declines after a period of time, due to the inability of material to travel more than an effective distance. This is a reversion-to-the-mean diffusion which essentially will kill off the flow after a time.

There is really not much of a mystery to physical processes, no matter how much the guild of artisans want to build up the unique nature of their craft. Puncture and deflate the projections just like we did to the quants of Wall Street.

An inverse square root function integrates to infinity as time approaches infinity. So clearly it can't keep up up forever. Most likely as the length from which stuff has diffused gets large enough to exit the formation, the rate of dropoff will accelerate.

Absolutely, EOS.
For a finite collection volume, the inverse square law is more apparent for the initial transient.
Thereafter it will have an exponent that integrates to a finite value.

The other strong dampening effect is if there is the reversion to the mean, ala the Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process. This places a drag on the diffusing material so it can't migrate too far.

Most of the Bakken curves fit the finite collection volume adequately, and with a tuning using the O-U drag, the fit can become very accurate.

This is one of those cases of using the statistics of a large number of independent particles to accurately project a profile. Works much better here than on Wall Street :)

OK, that makes sense. But I guess I was imagining rock so tight that some of the heavier molecules might not be able to diffuse/migrate through it, in which case only the lighter molecules would make it to the well bore. In other words, that the tight rock would filter out the heavier API stuff. For instance, if there were any bitumen molecules, I can't imagine that they could diffuse very far or very fast in tight shale. Of course, if there was that much condensate, that would probably preclude any bitumen being there to begin with.

Which then does lead to an interesting question for WebHubbleTelescope: does his equation for diffusion through tight shale take into account molecular weight?

In any case, it is interesting that just a few years ago, people were trying to spot Peak Oil by looking for an increase in the API of imports, on the theory that as world oil production peaked, we would have to go to heavier and heavier crude. Now it looks like a sign of Peak Oil might be production of lighter and lighter crudes.

Pardon me, I meant to say that "people were trying to spot Peak Oil by looking for a DECREASE in the API of imports. . ."

Elmo, if no one has replied to your post, then the "edit" button will still be there. You can just click on "edit" and change your post in any manner you see fit. You do not need to reply to your own post to explain an error.

However to your surmise that as we get closer to peak oil we might see an increase in lighter oil rather than heavier oil. No, that is just flat wrong. We will see, and indeed have already seen, an increase, around the world, in heavier oil production. Only the Eagle Ford is showing an increase in the production of lighter oil. For virtually every where else in the world, except other shale, it is the opposite.

The Bakken is quite light, about 42 API as I understand. But the Orinoco Bitumen averages an 8, which is like molasses. And the Canadian oil sands are about the same.

The new Saudi field coming on line late this year or early next year is extremely heavy. And the further south you get in Ghawar the heavier the oil gets. Ain Dar and Shedgum has an API of 34 but Hawiyah and Haradh have an API of 32. Not much heavier but heavier nevertheless. They pumped the lighter stuff first. Manifa is about 27. As they get closer to the bottom of the barrel the heavier the oil gets.

Ron P.

Darwinian, that makes sense (more Heavy crude than condensate), and I agree with that. And thanks to WebHubbleTelescope below for the explanation.

"Which then does lead to an interesting question for WebHubbleTelescope: does his equation for diffusion through tight shale take into account molecular weight? "

I do an analysis where I assume a mean value for diffusivity and allow the uncertainty to vary to the maximum extent. This essentially admits the possibility of fast diffusers and slow diffusers. The effective mean diffusion time is what is used to fit to the data.

So you find a typical plot like that shown on page 29 of this report for a typical Bakken well production:

Here is a diffusive cumulative production for a typical Bakken field. Hard to tell them apart but the blue curve is the model and the green curve is the "data" supplied by the NoDak DMR report.

This fits a median effective diffusion time of 7.6 years, which is the time it takes to reach half the EUR cumulative.

More than lighter or heavier, the criteria is more more difficult, expensive, with lower EROEI

ah - somebody looked at the link from yesterday! I thought it was quite interesting and sobering.

Link up top: The Oil War http://www.zcommunications.org/the-oil-war-by-jean-pierre-s-r-ni

The Iraq war was about oil. Recently declassified US government documents confirm this (1) [...]

The link to the source for the declassified US govt docs is to Le Monde Diplomatique (http://mondediplo.com/2013/03/03oil#nb1) and is behind a paywall. Anyone know where I can find those declassified docs?


Newsflash! Umm...was there ever any doubt?

Haha! No of course not. At least for people like you and me. I just would like to have some evidence or proof "from the horse's mouth". That's all.

Revealed: Pentagon's link to Iraqi torture centres
Exclusive: General David Petraeus and 'dirty wars' veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse

It just gets better and better.


OK - I guess it's fun to revisit past crimes, but you know this stuff is a continuum rather than an event, and far from slowing down it will continue to increase.

Not sure where Le Monde Diplomatique got their 'recently declassified' docs from but last July I posted links to these ..

U.S. Pre-War Plans to Privatize Iraq's Oil, 2002-3

These documents revealed the role of the Energy Infrastructure Planning Group, whose purpose was to plan for the running of Iraq’s oil industry during the period of direct U.S. occupation and administration of Iraq (under the CPA of Paul Bremer, as it became).

EIPG was established in summer 2002 by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith. It was led by Michael Mobbs, a political appointee in the Department of Defense. The other members were Michael Makovsy of the Department of Defense, Seneca Johnson of the Department of State, Clark Turner of the Department of Energy (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) and a CIA analyst.

This is the first clear evidence that Bush administration officials were planning before the war to open the way to multinational oil companies, an assertion consistently denied by the government.

Doc 17 ... See especially page 10, where weighing up whether to repair war-damaged Iraqi oil infrastructure, one of the cons is that it “could deter private sector involvement [Haliburton?]”. Note also on the contents page (2) the EIPG planned to consider later that month “whether to use control of Iraqi oil to advance important U.S. foreign policy objectives”

DOCUMENT 18: a briefing to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on January 11, 2003, incorporating comments and decisions from earlier Deputies meetings.

Here the option of leaving war damage unrepaired so as to make room for Big Oil has been rejected, in favor of appointing Halliburton subsidiary KBR to carry out repairs (page 5).

Priorities are set of restoring crude oil production (which the USA needed) over electricity and fuel (which Iraqis needed - page 6).

Increasing Iraqi production to 5 million barrels per day (from 2.5m bpd) is favored as it "helps consumers" and "puts long-term downward pressure on the oil price"

Strikingly, "pubic diplomacy" (page 4) means the message that would be given to the public, including saying that "we will act... so as not to prejudice Iraq's future decisions" - even though the opposite is proposed as substantive policy. In other words, the briefing recommends that the Bush administration mislead the public on how it would approach Iraqi oil.

... scroll up and down for other revealing documents

see also http://www.fuelonthefire.com/?page=reviews#1635

and Over $8B of the Money You Spent Rebuilding Iraq Was Wasted Outright

Thanks Seraph. I'll check them out. Do you have a blog or anything where you post all these links? Other than TOD Drumbeats?

No, 'fraid not, it's just serendipity, but I can usually remember most of the links. I back them up on a memory stick - it's up to 11 Gig, so far.

Being fully aware of peak oil, they chose oil and lies, deception, torture, murder, culturecide, genocide, terrorism, ethnic-cleansing, etc., over, say, wind and solar?

Alan Greenspan came out of the closet in 2007

Although "this is not about oil" was uttered at one time or another by most of those rushing to war, oddly I can find no evidence that Vice President Cheney ever made that claim.

I miss Darth Cheney.

You can kill with the best of them
But your smile remains so sweet
When someone comes to eat me alive
Well I like, I like to see their teeth

-New Model Army
Stupid Questions Lyrics

It's chilling how every single song by these guys is becoming more and more relevant now.

Today, as you listen to this song
Another 394,000 children were born into this world
They break like waves of hunger and desire upon these eroded shores
Carrying the curses of history and a history yet unwritten
The oil burns in thick black columns, the buzz saws echo through the forest floor
They shout give us our fair share, give us justice
Here comes the war

Yeah, I re-discoverd them a while ago and had the same feeling.

I'm reminded of the words of Molly Ivins (RIP) on the eve of the invasion:

"It seems to me each side in the debate over this war has an unacknowledged elephant in the living room. And, oddly enough, it's the same elephant: oil. The hawks — rightly, I think — dismiss the slogan, "No Blood for Oil," as, at least, an overdramatic overstatement of what's at stake here. On the other hand, as somebody else observed, if the Middle East's primary export were kumquats, this wouldn't be happening. It seems to me oil is not the primary cause for this war, but it's equally stupid to pretend it has nothing to do with what gives."

Molly was fantastic, but in this case I think she was wrong. It was only ever about oil. The confusion is in thinking it was only about Iraqi oil. Rather, it was about controlling all the oil in the region, as the empire cannot exist if it does not.

"The Oil War"

Iraq was first invaded for oil by the british in 1914 (The Mesopotamian Mess)

The bush war of 2003 is not chapter one, not "the" oil war.



The list is available on the French version of Le Monde Diplomatique, here:

Hugo Chavez's death won't bring back oil drilling anytime soon

FORTUNE -- The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is no panacea for the nation's dysfunctional energy industry. Political and economic uncertainty will likely continue to deter foreign investors from fully committing the necessary cash, resources and expertise that are desperately needed to effectively tap the nation's oil wealth. Whoever takes over the reins of the nation will need to dismantle the policies, structures and rhetoric that have made investing in Venezuela a fool's errand.

It is not hyperbole to say that Hugo Chavez's death Tuesday rocked the energy industry. The "Bolivarian" strongman has been the oil industry's biggest villain for over a decade....


...To lure the right talent Venezuela needs to make some serious changes to its ownership and tax laws. Companies must feel safe to make their investments so security and legal protections will need to be iron clad. But even if Venezuela's new leaders give in to all of the oil companies' demands, it will probably be a while before you see any real drilling. Chavez obliterated the nation's credibility and it will take some time for Venezuela to earn back that trust. So when Venezuelans go to the polls in a month to choose their new leader they would be wise to choose someone who knows how to eat a big helping of humble pie.

Bow down to the Oil Giants, oh thee of Nationalist vanity.

So when Venezuelans go to the polls in a month to choose their new leader they would be wise to choose someone who knows how to eat a big helping of humble pie.

Good ol' Yanqui Imperialist speak.

It is going to be fascinating to watch how things play out in Venezuela.

Sadly, no only Yankee speak. In Europe they sing the same arrogant song (here known as the eurocentric ballade). Chavez government was far from perfect but looking at history it makes a lot of sense that he came to power and the things he did.

I just saw it as ironic, if not hypocritical, coming from a 'Prince of the Free Market', in a country that essentially forbids the exportation of its own oil (but not the profits of course).

The fact that we forbid the export of our own oil is hypocritical but it is also merely old dead letter law. I don't think such a law would pass today and the law is meaningless considering that we are net importers not exporters.

Great point about the profits though! Why do we allow the profits to be exported? That is much more important than the oil these days. I guess that also points out how the law is pointless.

Why do we allow the profits to be exported?

Simple, because it is a really good deal for the ponzi scheming money makers, 'profits' are only money, (not real wealth) and they can be exported at the click of a mouse. Real wealth, on the other hand, is embodied in physical assets.

When you find a way to put physical barrels of oil in a bank vault and come back six months later and find there are now more barrels of oil in the vault because of compunding interest, get back to me >;-)

They need to cast out those 'socialist' ways and embrace 'capitalism'. Look how swell it's worked for us (/sarc - just in case there's a doubt)...

Video: Wealth Inequality in America

Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.

Yeah, what an a-hole he is to halve poverty and eradicate analphabetism. The Venezuelans will truly desire a return to the old American-friendly strongmen.

I think this will prove to be an unintended masterstroke in the years to come, when KSA and Russia decline everyone will be willing to pay through their nose for Venezuelan Oil, same with Iran.

And with the venezuelan heavy oil there will be a slow but steady flow for decades. But that oil will or at least should be consumed in the growing latin american economies. One more reason for the developed northern belt to demonize the bolivarian government.

I am watching the documentary "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". It's fascinating stuff, if one were to make an opinion on this guy after watching TV news channels you'd think that he's some version of Stalin or Mao, the reality couldn't be more different.

It's quite clear that a narrative exists outside the one in western MSM that was never covered in the English media until the Internet arrived.

Yes - I saw that documentary some years ago... Couldn't watch, listen to, or read a story / comment re: Chavez and Venezuala after that without everytime thinking "you have no clue..." A great indicator of how utterly brainwashed this country is. Was Chavez a saint ? Hell no... But the U.S. consumers gobbled up what they were spoonfed about him and have no idea what happened in that country (even if only half of that movie is true).

Yes, exactly. No one in politics, esp anyone who is at the very top is a saint, this binary outlook is a mental handicap that we have and the MSM uses it to the hilt. The documentary may be biased towards Chavez but a lot of that footage is real and when I put the footage from MSM and the documentary together I can make a much better picture in my head.

Well it depends on what TV news channel you watch.

Chavez was a complex character. He certainly did help the poor. But also certainly did abridge free speech and abused the political process. He did provide health care to people. But he also worsened the economic output of the country. Chavez was not a good man nor a bad man. He was very much both.

He abridged free speech

From the video...Chavez : "Those of you who oppose me, fine oppose me. I wish I could change your minds, but you cannot oppose this constitution, this is the people's book". I don't know, he was an authoritarian no doubt but no more than many of the elected representatives in other parts of the world, yet they aren't accused of abridging free speech, to me it looks like the media has a special book for him.

He was very much both.

Who isn't ? But at least he was an elected 'both' and we should respect the choices that people make, democracy can't be applied only when it's convenient. People have as much right to choose poverty as they have to choose riches.

In Sweden we had Gustav Wasa 500 years ago. Was he a brutal SOAB dictator? Machiavelli was his disciple. Or something. Did he build this country? He is our founding father as much as anyone. He and Birger Jarl 300 years before him has the credits for that. Today most people loath Gustav Wasa but we can not deny what he did. We have mixed feelings for the guy. You realy can be both.

Is that the guy from the crackers? ;-)


If you refer to the knäckebröd, then yes.

You realy can be both

And we in the US have Andrew Jackson; our seventh president, whose portrait is on the twenty dollar bill. We refer to democracy of the people as a Jacksonian Democracy. Yet his most favorite quote was "The only good indian is a dead indian". Thats certainly not something we can be proud of. And he was largely responsible for evicting most of the native Americans from the US. south. He also supported slavery. Put me in the loathing column.

Happening times Jackson's term:
--the Tom Thumb race and the start of railroad rapid expansion
--Morse and many less remembered just about moved the telegraph to prime time

(the totally unforeseen changes these two distance annihilators brought eliminated some of the most important checks to centralized power thoughtful constitution framers like Madison had counted upon)

--phosphorous matches finally made fire truly portable
--McCormick radically speeded grain harvesting with the mechanical reaper
--and of course Sam Colt greatly eased the act of homicide with a reliable revolver

heady times with change proceeding a break neck pace considering movable type on a press and getting gunpowder to blast a projectile out of a tube accounted for the lion's share of the tech progress from Roman times to Jackson's (I exaggerate but not so very much).

I'm pretty far removed to come down heavy in either the like or loathe camp, but there were eight presidents between the end of Jackson's term on March 4, 1837 and the beginning of Lincoln's exactly 24 years later ...that little fact is food for some thought...

Jackson, Lincoln, the two Roosevelts (well at least the latter one) and Reagan are the only presidents to have had enough impact to rate an either like or loathe rating since Andy was inaugurated

James K. Polk (1845-49) has been called the "least known consequential president" of the United States." We remember him out here in Oregon country.

Without what went down under Polk you Oregonians might have cradle to grave health care and lively trade with Mexico just south of your current state line. Your young men might not have been drafted and sent to Vietnam and your national anthem might be much easier to remember and sing?-)

Of course it may be that the biggest border changes Polk oversaw mostly went down in a less than historically defensible manner that has kept him out of the big light. I read Grant's autobiography a few years back and even though the Mexican American War helped make his career (though he did all he could when stationed in Oregon Territory and California to counteract that effect) he had little good to say about that US land grab.

Interesting set of volumes those. Ulysses was president for eight years but he blows by that period with a few paragraphs. I always figured him to be our least effective remembered president. Right now GW has nudged him away from that spot but likely George's dog paintings won't immortalize him and he'll join the ranks of the forgotten ones letting Grant 'climb' back to his position. Likely Polk will remain the least remembered effective president as well--maybe Sam Houston saw the real reason for that, he is said to have observed that Polk was "a victim of the use of water as a beverage." Grant of course didn't always 'suffer' from that debility ?-)

"In Sweden we had Gustav Wasa 500 years ago. Was he a brutal SOAB dictator? Machiavelli was his disciple."

Actually, no.
Niccolò Machiavelli, 1469 - 1527.
Gustav Wasa, 1496 - 1560.

To put Swedish history in a European perspective, Gustav Wasa and Karl (Charles, Carlos) V both wore berets, and their sons Johan III and Philip II wore high hats. Fashion changes.

That is right, and I was joking. But I have a faint memory of that Gustav should have read Machi's book once.

The media definitely had a special set of rules for talking about him. I do think he was more heavy-handed with dissent than his champions make out - he shut down TV stations that opposed him, etc. - but as you say, hardly as bad as Castro, Gaddafi, or Ahmadinejad. They sure tried to put him in the same category, though, and his tendency to hang out with Castro didn't help.

I still remember the attempted coup in 2002 and how the US media cheered like crazy. After it fell over, it was like, "whoops, looks like those guys weren't the good guys after all, let's forget this whole thing ever happened". It stunk to high heaven. There is no question in my mind that it was assisted by (if not engineered by) the US government in some way, and the US media effectively acted as a propoganda arm of government and business interests. The leaders of the coup were, not surprisingly, a bunch of businessmen, and the guy they put in as president ended up in Miami after he fled.

There are problems, apparenly crime is very severe. But the poor in Venezuela ARE doing better (something that can't be said about the US). In the end, his legacy is a Rorschach test.

I'd say a mixed record. His foreign policy (mostly) sucked. He would mistake not being popular with the Americans for "being a fine social-revolutionary government). Supported Qaddafi, Ahmadinejad, and Assad, none of who gave more than lip service to helping the poor. Fortunately his foreign policy adventures had little real effect, but they sure smacked of superficial revolutionary zeal.

I have felt, fourteen years of any leader is too much, time for a change. Especially if he is constructing a cult of personality. Sad he couldn't have retired and become an elder statesman instead of dying young.

I agree, in general, about the time spent in office and the cultish style he exhibited more recently. But we may have had a friend post-9-11, more than one actually, had things gone differently in the immediate aftermath.

I found this blog entry rather entertaining:


Venezuelan President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, who died March 5 while still in office, long has been known as a strident and vocal opponent of U.S. policies. But there was a time when he actively sought the support of the U.S. government and — in the post-9/11 days when few were challenging America’s with-us-or-against-us approach — Chávez attempted to pointedly ally himself with President George W. Bush.

I think hard right and hard left need each other politically. "Look over there, at the madness you will get if the other side ever wins!" Chavez needed to be a highly visable enemy of the US, just as the leaders of the US needed to be seen as enemies of Chavez (and Castro, Ahmedinehad etc.).

Yeah, he committed the age-old fallacy in foreign policy of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Yeah, he had a beef with the USA (and quite a legitimate one if our agents were at all involved in that coup attempt). But that doesn't make Mugabe, Assad, Ahmedhinejad, Saddam, or other authoritarian clowns good people that you should be friends with.

There was a landslide in Caracas, there was no availlable emergency housing. The "authoritarian" government led by Chavez looked around and realized that the offices and meeting rooms of the ministry of sport were relatively large and nice. Very soon after several families were living in the previous offices of the federation of aquatic sports, and even the office of competitive rollerblading had people in it. That offended a lot of people who thought that they were vitally important and had a right to air conditioning and a view, but convinced me that Chavez's administration had their priorities in the right place. (Yes, there are problems, but where aren't there?)

I don't think that the voting population in Venezuela chose poverty, I think that they chose to elect someone interested in reducing inequality. Maintaining the priveledged in elevated conditions compared to the rest is no longer a priority, and of course those people complain. In 30 days time we will see if this trend continues or if Chavez was at the head of a personality cult. My feeling is that unless Maduro and Cabello (two possible "heirs" of Chavez) fall into petty politics and split the vote, the population will vote left again, and will be just as willing to continue on the path they have started. Chavez was the heart (orhead?) of the revolution, but there was a body too.

When you live in a rich nation, there is a wider range of choices that can be made. The authorities can choose to fund a modern military, and asphalt the roads, let the market set the price of basic foodstuffs, and have some cash left overfor electoral campaigns. But that requires lots of resources.

I suggest that it is interesting and beneficial to look at poorer countries and see what sorts of devil's bargains they have to make. It is unlikely that europe/north america will be able too continue BAU forever, and one of the most worrying things IMO is that hubris and a habit of being pampered will prevent people from making smart choices.

He did provide health care to people. But he also worsened the economic output of the country. Chavez was not a good man nor a bad man. He was very much both.

What's bad about lowering the economic output of the country? That's exactly what every industrialized country should be doing right now- lowering economic output (and input, for that matter, but of course that is already happening by itself).

A small clarification. Combined net exports from Saudi Arabia and Russia were 15.9 mbpd in 2005, and down to 15.6 mbpd in 2011 (BP, total petroleum liquids). However, their combined net exports in 2012 were probably right around 15.9 mbpd.

I've done a preliminary 2012 estimate for the (2005) top five net exporters (Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE). 2005 combined net exports were 23.6 mbpd, and I am estimating 2012 net exports were about 21.7 mbpd (extrapolating 2005 to 2011 rate of increase in consumption and using EIA preliminary production numbers). Of course, Iran's production in 2012 was presumably influenced by sanctions.

“He’s done a lot to improve the lot of his people. He ruined the oil industry.”

Now, there's a recipe for action.

Viva Hugo!

I don't want to beat around too much on political issues here but that he ruined the oil industry is certainly a piece of propaganda. There were difficulties after the failed coup, the ousting of the former oil industry workers (wo supported the coup) and the privatization of the oil industry - but they adapted gradually.

Oh come on. With the massive reserves that Venezuela has, they could be producing MUCH MORE oil. And I suspect they would like to be producing much more oil. But he nationalized foreign investment and thus lost access to technology and expertise. And the remain oil workforce just doesn't have the incentives nor capital to invest & work hard to raise production.

Now in the long run, that may end up working out Venezuela's benefit but I don't think that was intentional.

It may be that producing oil at maximum output rate was not the only priority he had. I know we are used to applying that yardstick to everything, but it is possible to have other priorities.

With the massive reserves that Venezuela has, they could be producing MUCH MORE oil.

Those massive reserves are almost all heavy thick bitumen buried 3,000 feet down. Steam injection is used to get it hot enough to pump out. Then in order to push it through the pipeline it must be mixed with naptha. The naptha then must be removed at their refinery and piped back to the wellhead and mixed again. That is an extremely slow and expensive process.

Venezuela will likely increase production of the Orinoco Bitumen... somewhat, but not by very much.

Venezuela's old conventional fields are in steep decline. It will be an overwhelming task to ramp up the Orinoco Bitumen production to keep pace with the conventional decline and keep production flat.

Venezuela production of C+C according to the EIA. The arrow marks the point, 1999, where Chavez came to power.

Venezuela photo Venezuela-2_zps8abef15a.jpg

Ron P.

Oh, I fully agree that much of Venezuela's oil is in forms that are tough to extract from. But if those same resources were in Canada or the USA, they certainly would be producing MUCH more oil than Venezuela has been. Those Canadians up in Albterta have much the same situation yet they've been able to grow production so much that we all sit around discussing what kind of pipelines then need to transport it all.

Those Canadians up in Albterta have much the same situation yet they've been able to grow production so much that we all sit around discussing what kind of pipelines then need to transport it all.

Well no, those Canadians do not have anything like the same situation. The Alberta oil sands are on or very near the surface. They surface mine the stuff. If the Alberta oil sands were buried under 3,000 feet of overburden then they would have the same situation that Venezuela has.

Ron P.

But it is not all under 3000 feet. And they do still have conventional oil as well.

We'll see what happens in the years to come. If Venezuela changes their policies, like Iraq freed from Saddam, the oil extraction will probably turn around and grow. It won't grow as much as the cornucopians project but the place is not in terminal decline like some doomster seem to think.

If the Venezuelan oil situation was so dire then the western IOCs would not have wanted to invest there would they? I think Exxon is pretty good at determining where to invest.

But it is not all under 3000 feet.

Right, some of it is under only 2,500 feet of overburden: Orinoco Belt

Northern reservoirs are 3,450 feet deep, sand thickness is 275 feet thick, initial reservoir temperature and pressure is 130°F and 1,126 psia respectively. Southern reservoirs are 2,500 feet deep, their thickness is 300 feet, reservoir temperature is 120°F and initial pressure is 979 psia.

And you completely ignored my point. The Orinoco Bitumen is nothing like the Alberta Tar Sands.

All the tar sands oil that is being currently produced is produced with surface strip mines. None of the Orinoco Bitumen can ever be produced in this manner.

And they do still have conventional oil as well.

Yes, that was my other point. Their conventional oil fields are in steep decline. And no one said the situation was dire. Conventional fields always decline, just like Cantarell, Prudhoe Bay, The Brent Field and everywhere else. Old people always die and old oil fields always decline. That is just the way things are and there is nothing we can do about it.

Exxon was there in the heyday of Venezuela production. Sure they were very good in knowing where to invest.

Ron P.

The Orinoco Bitumen is nothing like the Alberta Tar Sands.

All the tar sands oil that is being currently produced is produced with surface strip mines.

Really? I must have hallucinated something called SAGD. My bad.

No, my bad. I completely forgot about the in situ production and I did not realize it had gotten that far off the ground.

However not one barrel of surface mining can ever be done in Venezuela.

Ron P.

One does not just march into Mor... sorry. One does not just surface mine under 1000 meters of overhead. It is quite self explanatory.

90% of the Canadian oil sands area containing 80% of the oil is too deep to mine. That is why SAGD was developed, to access those deeper resources. Cyclic steam stimulation is also used in some areas - it also works, although not as well. Around half of oil sands production now comes from in-situ operations, the other half comes from mines.

The Orinoco oil sands are quite similar to the deeper portions of the Canadian oil sands and could easily be developed using Canadian SAGD techniques. However, the only method which the Venezuelans are using is what we would call "cold flow" in Canada - just pump the stuff straight out of the ground. The disadvantage of this is that in only works for the more fluid portions of the resource, and the recovery factor is very poor - only about 10% of the Original Oil in Place. SAGD typically recovers 60%+ of the OOIP, and mining over 99%.

It is technically much more difficult to produce oil sands than producing conventional light oil. Venezuela's real problem is that PDVSA fired most of its technical experts early in Chavez's reign, and replaced them with politically motivated yes-men who don't know how to produce heavy oil. Venezuelan heavy oil experts are now working everywhere in the global oil industry except in Venezuela.

An important difference between Alberta and Venezuela is location...

Venezuela sits just north of the Equator and thus has reasonably steady weather on a year round basis, along with plenty of sunshine (and some good heavy rain). It would make a good location to install Concentrated Solar Thermal plant and duct the heat underground. With CST output temperature can reach up to 400C, which is substantially higher than the ~250C used for SAGD.

I therefore assume recovery factors using CST would improve on the ~60% experienced with SAGD and would have the benefit of using less fossil energy to extract the bitumen.

Production flow rates might vary with solar input, but I'd assume the Orinoco formations would retain heat pretty well and continue to flow "oil" overnight once they'd got up to temperature.

On a side note, couldn't solar thermal energy be used to heat pipelines to reduce the viscosity of bitumen/other liquids in places where solar is abundant on a year round basis? It may not reduce the naphtha/diluent requirement entirely, but it could offset it somewhat.

The Venezuelan oil sands are in some ways easier to develop than the Canadian oil sands. The oil is less biodegraded and less viscous, and the reservoirs are hotter so the oil flows easier. However, without tertiary recovery techniques they can still only get about a 10% recovery of the oil in place. SAGD produces closer to 60% recovery. Solar thermal wouldn't change that.

Any source of heat including solar thermal will work for the steam generators to produce steam. In the Canadian oil sands companies use natural gas by default because it is 1) locally available (there are NG reservoirs directly underneath the oil sands) and 2) cheap (there are not a lot of other local markets for the gas.) Coal, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro are all possibilities that have been evaluated and would work. Bitumen gasification (converting the heavy ends of the bitumen to syngas) is also being done. However, at this point in time, NG is by far the easiest and cheapest option.

Venezuela could possibly use solar heating for SAGD steam generators. There are two problems with that: 1) they don't have the technological expertise to do it because PDVSA fired almost all its heavy oil experts for political reasons, and 2) they don't have the capital because the government bleeds PDVSA for all its spare money. In truth, almost all their problems are political in nature, although the technical ones are surmountable. So, I would look for it to happen when pigs fly or there is a huge change in government policy.

In Canada, heated pipelines are currently used to move bitumen from the oil sands to the big refineries at nearby Edmonton- which gives them a major competitive advantage over other refineries. The distances to refineries in the US are far too long to make heating economic - the energy consumption would eat up all the benefits. Diluent or heated rail cars are the easiest way to go for long distance shipment at this point in time, except that one company is piloting a "partial upgrader" that just reduces the viscosity of the oil without affecting the other characteristics much. It's relatively cheap and allows the bitumen to flow in pipelines without the use of diluent or heating.

The Venezuelan oil sands are in some ways easier to develop than the Canadian oil sands. The oil is less biodegraded and less viscous,

Not to nitpick but I searched at least half a dozen sites for each, Orinoco Bitumen API gravity and Alberta tar sands API gravity and I get the same figure for both, an average of 8.

Ron P.

The Orinoco bitumen (which the Venezuelans call "extra-heavy oil") and the Alberta bitumen do indeed have the same API gravity (which is actually just an inverted density scale). Any refinery which can process one can probably process other with a few minor adjustments. This would include many of the refineries on the US Gulf Coast.

Density and viscosity are different properties, albeit related. Two oils can have the same density but vastly different viscosity, which means one oil will flow toward a well and through a pipeline, and another one with the same density will not.

The Orinoco bitumen is significantly less viscous, which means it is easier to produce using what we Canadians call "cold flow" techniques. The Venezuelans are using cold flow almost exclusively, with only a few steam stimulation projects, whereas Canadians are mostly using steam stimulation or mining, with just the odd cold flow project. Cold flow is pretty simple, steam stimulation techniques such as SAGD are very complex and sophisticated. Canadian engineers are highly trained and can handle complex and sophisticated methods, Venezuelan engineers (particularly the ones working for PDVSA), not so much.


Thanks for the response; couple of comments:

1. CST is producing temps of ~400C, why convert to steam with comensurate efficiency loss, when you could simply pipe the heated fluid underground through the bitumen reservoir and back to the CST system in a closed loop (not hugely different to the heat conveyance technology in geothermal power stations)? The reason NG is converted to steam is simply because it's not very hot until burnt!! Unless I'm missing something?

2. Capital availability. The great thing about solar technologies of all types is their scalability. It would take a relatively small amount of capital to build a demonstration plant of maybe only a couple of MWs thermal capacity and a smallish pipe loop in a "corner" of one of the bitumen fields. If proven to work, it would be very simple for VZ to raise finance for the capital required - the Chinese would throw money at in return for a percentageof the output.

3. Technological expertise / heavy oil experts. This seems to me to be a relatively simple concept(as a non-engineer) more akin to geothermal power generation in a number of ways. Experts can always be outsourced at a price...

i) Start heating at the "floor" of the "reservoir".
ii) As you "melt" and extract the bitumen above the heat duct, move it higher to track the "roof" which is constantly melting away. Could be accomplished by reducing the length of the flow and return vertical sections of the heat duct
iii) Inject water to maintain fluid levels and to act as heat insulation in the reservoir - water levels to be maintained just beneath the heat duct.

If the melted bitumen floats, it could be skimmed from the water surface. If not, then perhaps the entire water/bitumen mix would have to be constantly circulated to separate the bitumen from the water at surface works - this would lead to inefficiencies in the thermal process (unwanted cooling), greater capital required for large scale bitumen/water separation plant, and an increasing water cut as the water percentage of the reservoir increased. All in, it would be better if the melted bitumen would float...

There was a concept (THAI - Toe to Heel Air Injection) discussed a few years back on TOD, whereby in-situ burning of Tar Sands was proposed. This would have ivolved melting bitumen by burning a portion of it along a fire-front. Resulting production would have been "side to side". My idea would be FRoSTI "Floor to Roof Solar Thermal Injection".

I'm a total layman in these respects, and would appreciate input from those far more qualified from me to comment on the technical difficulties involved in what seems to me to be a relatively simple idea.

NFE, this technology is not as simple as you might think. It took $1 billion in research money to develop the SAGD process, and they are spending billions more improving it and developing other technology to improve the recovery rates and reduce costs.

The oil sands region is something of a worst-case location for concentrated solar thermal systems. They are at 57-58 degrees north lattitude, and the sun rises only to a maximum of 10 degrees off the horizon at mid-winter. The days are very short - the sun comes up during your morning coffee break, and goes back down during your afternoon coffee break. You have about 18 hours of darkness in which your solar system is generating no heat. And, the temperature falls to -40 to -50°C in winter. Costs would be an order of magnitude higher than NG, even in a more favorable climate.

It's not a closed-loop system. The injection wells lose steam into the formation that never comes back. OTOH, the producing wells produce water originating in the formation along with the oil. Water comes back, but it was not the water that was injected.

The reason for using steam is 1) it is cheap, and 2) it contains latent heat of vaporization. You inject steam at well above the boiling point, it condenses to water in the formation and releases its latent heat of vaporization, and then the water comes back (maybe) with the hot oil at something below the boiling point. Companies have experimented with putting solvents into the steam to improve the recovery, but solvents are expensive compared to water and the results not that impressive.

Conceptually, your idea is quite different from SAGD. In SAGD, a horizontal steam injection well is drilled immediately ABOVE a production well, the steam melts the bitumen around the injection well, and the oil flows DOWN into the producing well, where it is pumped out. Bitumen is heavier than water and sinks to the bottom rather than rising to the top.

You can't just raise the horizontal injection well, because it is a well drilled in sandstone, not a duct - it doesn't move. Injecting water would defeat the purpose of injecting steam, which is to heat the reservoir up as much as possible (within limits - the equipment can only survive high temperatures to a certain level, which usually limts them to 300;°C or so.)

I haven't heard much about THAI in recent years, from which I assume the pilot project didn't go that well. Having been involved in a not-terribly successful pilot project involving in-situ combustion in the oil sands some years ago, I can relate to that. SAGD has been demonstrated to work very well, which is why everyone is starting to use it.

To be clear, I wasn't suggesting CST for Albertan tar sands for all the rather obvious reason you have pointed out, I was thinking about Venezuela.

Thanks for the clarifications on how SAGD works.... I was not aware that these bitumen formations were encased in sandstone, I was under the impression that they were essentially large reservoirs of tar-contaminated sand encased by rock overburden and floor, or something along those lines.

Since they are more conventional sandstone reservoirs (simply with very low API "oil"), why could you not simply use a closed loop system of sufficient length to ensure substantial heat transfer? Over time the formation would surely get hot enough to melt a good part of the bitumen in place - closed loop system would mean not as much water was produced along with the bitumen as in SAGD. Again, I'm talking about Venezuela here, not Alberta.

As a last benefit, once (if??) all the bitumen has been recovered which can be recovered, Venezuela could simply reconfigure the CST to be a power generator....

With regards THAI, I agree, it was a hot topic for a few weeks then completely disappeared off the radar screen.

The reservoirs in the Canadian oil sands are not very conventional. They have no cap rock, and so the oil is continually escaping to the surface. The formation itself is sandstone of varying degrees of compaction, in many cases not very compacted at all. The porosity, permeability, and oil saturation is very high, but the oil is very viscous and will not flow without stimulation.

They are injecting steam into the formation to heat as much of it as far around the wellbore as possible. That means they want to drive the steam as far into the formation from the wellbore as they can, where it will condense to hot water, and the heat of condensation will melt the bitumen, which will then flow toward the producing well.

The Venezuelan reservoirs are hotter and the oil is less viscous, so it will flow toward a producing well, albeit reluctantly. However, without stimulation the recovery factor is very poor, around 10%. Venezuela has neither the technical expertise nor the investment capital to do SAGD, so I wouldn't expect them to add CST to an already complicated technique.

Apparently most of the oil sand potential in Alberta is also buried well beneath the surface. From: http://oilsands.infomine.com/commodities/

“In-situ methods involve processing the oil sand deposit so that the bitumen is removed while the sand remains in place. These methods are used for oil sands that are too deep to support surface mining operations to an economical degree. 80% of the resource in Northern Alberta lies deep below the surface.”

The SAGD has been used for 17 years to get the buried reserves out. From:

“We currently have two major producing SAGD projects in the oil sands – Foster Creek and Christina Lake – as well as several projects that are in various stages of development. Foster Creek, our largest project, is considered among the best commercial and technical SAGD projects in the industry. It has the distinction of being the first commercial SAGD oil operation in Alberta. It was first initiated in 1996 and began full commercial operation in the fall of 2001. Our Christina Lake project began in 2000.”

But I think the majority of current production is still coming from surface mining ops. Hopefully RMG can add some flesh to these bones. It appears both countries will have to do extensive drilling to get the bulk of their heavy resources out of the ground. Which means someone is going to have to write some very big checks down in Venezuela as well as Alberta.

Yes, I made some comments somewhere further up about this. About 80% of the Alberta oil sands are too deep to mine and will be developed using in-situ techniques such as SAGD. However, I think the proportion of oil which is produced using in-situ methods is now about 50% and rising. One advantage of using in-situ is that the projects can be much smaller than a mine, and so small companies can get a foot into the oil sands that way. There are a lot more small companies than big companies, and they tend to be much more aggressive in developing prospects.

A few years ago I was talking to a geologist who was working for a small 20-employee company doing SAGD. He was having great fun shooting 4D seismic on his wells (the heck with your old-fashioned 3D) and watching the steam clouds develop in semi-real time. One of his SAGD wells had produced a million barrels of oil, and he was trying to get his other wells up to that level. Exxon, using CSS on the other side of the lease line, was complaining he was stealing their oil. He had to concede they were right, but felt that was their fault - they should just be more efficient about getting the oil out. About six weeks after our conversation, Shell bought the little 20-person company for $2 billion and change. I hope he had stock options. It's all about the technology and the brain power, man.

Rocky - Thanks. I knew SAGD was catching on but didn't realize they were getting that much out of the ground already. Makes sense about small company expansions given what I assume are rather high infrastructure costs for mining vs. drilling a couple of wells. If the reservoir and oil characters are similar I would imagine there's a significant potential to increase Vz production via SAGD. But will take a lot of capex and quit a few tech savvy folks. I can't imagine that happening until there is a major change in political attitudes by the Vz govt. Maybe if they could borrow enough from the IMF and hire enough skilled consultants they could pull it off by themselves. But I'm not sure how feasible that might be. The Chinese have done some big trades with Vz already so that may be the most likely plan forward. But the Chinese will take a good bit of the oil for themselves in return so Vz wouldn't be selling 100% with this approach either.

RMG, I wonder if you could elucidate a bit more on the use of natural gas in the oil sands. How much lies under the oil resource and / or is readily available to tap to create steam? Could its supply or price act as a limitation to oil sands production in future? I read once (news article on a Pembina Institute report) that the NG used in oil sands production was heavily subsidized -- up to 50% by volume. That seems very high to me, but that's not to say subsidies on oil sands production don't exist from senior Canadian governments.

If we play out the energy constraint idea a bit more, then one idea already floated is that oil sands production may have to eventually rely on nuclear power. Should that actually be seriously discussed in future, then it seems very strange that an emissions-free source of power would be used to extract bitumen and its inherent emissions for export (currently the oil sands do not meet demand in Canada because of a concentrated focus on exports).

In that light it's ironic that oil companies wouldn't consider (even at present) diversifying into multi-faceted energy companies and give nuclear and other renewables capable of making base load power (e.g. geothermal) a try via serious R&D, maybe team up with GE, Hitachi and other companies striving for some real energy breakthroughs (e.g. fast breeder reators) and ensuring the health of share prices for decades to come.

Also, another constraint on oil sands production I read about is the available water supplies of the Athabasca River. A water diversion scheme on Alberta's reach of the Peace River is already out there in the ideas stage (sorry, newpaper link long forgotten).

Just wondering, though, whether water along with NG could become serious constraints.

If we play out the energy constraint idea a bit more, then one idea already floated is that oil sands production may have to eventually rely on nuclear power. Should that actually be seriously discussed in future, then it seems very strange that an emissions-free source of power would be used to extract bitumen and its inherent emissions for export

It is very strange indeed because you could feed that nuclear power straight into EVs. Actually, as is, some calculations indicate that the whole tar sands operation is kind of a crazy rube goldberg machine because if you took all the diesel, natural gas, electricity, and other energy used to extract tar sands oil and refine it into gasoline and put directly and indirectly into EVs you'd go just as far.

So much of the operation depends on energy price arbitrage (cheap natural gas and cheap industrial electricity used as inputs to create expensive gasoline) and the inertia of a massive gasoline/diesel powered fleet of vehicles.

There is more than enough natural gas in Alberta to develop the oil sands, and the oil sands plants have first dibs on it. The Alberta government can and is curtailing exports to the US to keep the domestic market supplied. Alberta also is known to have vast shale gas formations which are only beginning to be investigated - but they are likely similar in size to those in the US.

Despite what the Pembina Institute thinks, there are no government subsidies for NG supply to the oil sands. The plants get their NG at market price, but market price in Alberta is currently $3/mcf because of the shale gas glut in the US. On an energy equivalent basis, that's equivalent to oil selling at $18 per barrel, a real bargain in comparison, and there are lots of companies desperate to sell at that price.

Nuclear power is completely uncompetitive with NG power with NG available at $3/mcf, and would be an order of magnitude more expensive. It is not competitive with coal, hydro, or wind in Alberta, either. The idea of using nukes in the oil sands was brought up by the nuclear reactor sellers, but nobody else but the press paid much attention to it.

Most people are unaware of the fact, but the oil sands plants generate their own electric power, and in fact generate a large surplus of it, which they are selling into the provincial electricity grid. They are not a net consumer but a net producer of electricity. In fact, they are unbalancing the grid because the new major sources of power are the oil sands in the north and the wind farms in the south, while the major loads are the cities of Calgary and Edmonton which are in the center. Utilities are having a real problem with the transmission lines overheating as electricity flows back and forth across the province.

Water is also not a problem. The Athabasca river is bigger than the Colorado, and does not have big cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles drawing water from it. Currently, only 5% of its flow is allocated to any purpose, including oil sands, urban users, and irrigation. I really think the environmentalists who bring these things up are looking at documents referencing the US "oil shales" in Utah, because in Utah shortages of NG and water would be a real problem. Not in Northern Alberta.

The main constraint is a shortage of condensate for diluent for the pipelines, and the US "shale oil" boom is solving that because developments like Texas' Eagle Ford play are producing more condensate and NGLs than US refineries can use. The surplus is going to Canada to dilute bitumen.

"Oh come on. With the massive reserves that Venezuela has, they could be producing MUCH MORE oil."

IMO, this borders on an assumption that a sovereign Venezuela is somehow obligated to exploit its resources, in a manner and at a rate dictated by world markets,, and to export them. I certainly don't believe the author of the article has some deeply held concern for the welfare of the people in that country. Whether or not they can, or choose to increase production is their business. I don't buy into the "Father-America-knows-best-because-we-have-the-highest-per-capita-energy-consumption-on-the-planet" meme. Not at all.

Not poking fingers at you, spec. Just sayin'...

Ghung - I agree with you in general. But if I understand the situation the general population isn't doing very well. I haven't looked for numbers but many survive on govt support. Which is fine but the govt's help is limited by its income. So there's the balance needed: allowing outside capital to increase production to not only better support the population but also fund the country's own development efforts. Saving resources for future generations is fine but not at the cost of the current generations living substandard IMHO. Again, that may be an overstatement of conditions down there. But if it's not then there should be some sort of a compromise position.

Similar situation to Mexico. Some folks blame PEMEX for not taking care of business. But from what I've always read the govt takes most of the PEMEX income leaving them very little to develop reserves. So again the need for foreign investments. Investors that either get a satisfactory return or they won't invest.

Personally I hope no one ever invests a penny in developing Vz ff’s. I don’t need the competition

spec – no one has to bow down to anyone. Just cut a fair trade and don’t steal the production and a country can see its net oil revenue increase via the investments of outsiders. If they want to keep it all for themselves that fine. All they have to do is pay for it.


“Benton Oil was also asked in 1991 by Venezuela's national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, to bid on the right to work nine mature oil fields in that country. A failed coup attempt in February 1992 scared away other companies, and Benton Oil was able to secure oil concessions on very favorable terms. Aside from its technology, Benton Oil was now established as a company willing to work in politically risky areas of the world.”

I recall one conventional oil field that was doing less than 300 bopd. Through horizontal drilling Benton increased the field’s production to 40,000 bopd. They could have increased it further but the terms of the concession required that 100% of all production above 40,000 bopd went to the Vz govt. But it’s a risky game dealing with govt that don’t feel obligated to honor contracts:

“Benton Oil's financial condition was complicated in 1993 when the new Russian government imposed a $5.50 per barrel excise tax on exported oil, only three months after the completion of a pipeline that would connect the Siberian field to the Soviet pipeline…The tax, which virtually eliminated a profit for Benton Oil, completely violated the promise made to the company when it originally agreed to fund the project.. Because of the tax burden, instead of producing 100,000 barrels a day, the field pumped little more than 3,500 barrels. Yeltsin soon lifted the tax, but considerable time would elapse before entrenched bureaucrats would acknowledge the change. Benton Oil cut back its capital spending on the project and waited for tax relief.”

Back to Vz: “Accepting political complications was simply the price a company like Benton Oil had to be willing to pay in order to gain access to potentially high-yield reserves of oil and gas. It also encountered obstacles in Venezuela when local politicians, whose behavior the company characterized as "grandstanding," called for an investigation of how the oil concession had been granted. Despite such difficulties, Benton Oil increased its commitment to the country, acquiring additional rights in 1994 and 1996…With Venezuelan interests providing the bulk of the earnings, revenues for Benton Oil totaled $165.1 million in 1996, growing to $179 million in 1997. The company posted net earnings of $28.3 million in 1996 and $18 million in 1997. In 1997, the company borrowed $240 million through junk bonds in order to finance further growth, but a short time later, world crude oil prices collapsed. Coupled with declining revenues, which fell to $112 million in 1998, Benton's was now carrying a heavy debt load.”

On the verge of bankruptcy and liquidating the company a new leader arrives…Mr. Hill:

“Under Hill's direction, Benton Oil opted to impose cost-cutting measures and to restructure its debt. To lower its general and administrative expenses, the company moved its headquarters in June 2001 from California to Houston, Texas. It received some good news a short time later when one of its Russian ventures struck oil. In February 2002, Benton Oil took a major step in its financial recovery when it sold some of its Russian interests for $190 million. This infusion of cash allowed the company to retire $108 million in debt while allowing it to better exploit its remaining Russian assets and Venezuelan interests.”

Under Mr. Benton the company took wild chances with govts known to cheat on agreements. Notice it took junk bond financing to stay in the game. A high stakes/high risk game. Few corporations run by conservative boards would ever allow such gambles.

Interesting. I actually did some acid jobs for Benton back in 1996 and later did some works on their abandoned fields in Russia.

s - I'm guessing Mr. Benton was an adrenalin junkie, addicted to gambling or greedy. And maybe a combination of all three. LOL. He took chances that 99% of the CEO’s wouldn’t. Worked for him for a while. And then they took the presidency away from him but did leave him on the board. His replacement got lucky with that Russian oil strike. Otherwise he might have been the next ex-president of Benton.

Well, that "ruin" comment has got to be mostly sour grapes over the Chivistian demotion of private money-making in Venezuela, right? But, it remains true that any decent future for the species does require helping the little people at the expense of the cars-and-oil overclass.

BTW, I think the question of slowed extraction is highly interesting, and would love to see an analysis of its costs and benefits by one of our field experts. Iran and Venezuela are not selling max output at current prices. Won't this wind up providing them with even better cash flows down the road?

Re: Arctic ice loss amplified Superstorm Sandy violence

Charles Greene from Cornell is the author. He has apparently written another report, discussing the possible changes in ocean circulation resulting from AGW. His work is new to me and I find it interesting that he apparently thinks a shutdown of the THC in the sub-polar North Atlantic might result in the return of Ice Age conditions. I've had similar thoughts, so I will need to track down what he wrote to learn more...

EDIT: The article in NATURE was written by Spanish investigators:

Reversed flow of Atlantic deep water during the Last Glacial Maximum

E. Swanson


Here's an article by Charles Greene from back in June. I tried searching for the Oceanography journal article mentioned in the link above, but it doesn't appear to be available online yet.

The article is available in PDF from the Oceanography site:

An Arctic Wild Card in the Weather

E. Swanson

A recent NOVA, Earth From Space, did a good job of tying all of this together. The chapter, "Polar Paradox", explains how the poles drive the main ocean currents. I was unaware of how critical the saline cycle is, especially the "undersea waterfall" resulting from the freeze cycle in Antarctica, forcing salt out of seawater, which cascades off of the continental shelf; a massive driver of currents. The section starts about 35 minutes in. The determination is that this process is at least as important as tropical warming for maintaining ocean circulation.

What happens when the freezing of seawater is dramatically reduced?

"I was unaware of how critical the saline cycle is..."

Hence the "thermohaline" circulation.


What happens when the freezing of seawater is dramatically reduced?

Not sure that is on anyone's radar right now considering the current land mass configuration. Burn enough coal and thaw enough permafrost...maybe but it seems so much else will have crashed on our heads before winter antarctic freeze up ceased to be significant as to make that one of the least of our worries. How much heat has to be trapped to stop arctic seas winter freeze up from happening?

That was a do not miss Nova for me. Expand it out just a tad and you have a great one semester survey course 'Intro to earth climate system interaction' or some such.

"How much heat has to be trapped to stop arctic seas winter freeze up from happening?"

A lot. That this is phase change involving latent heat driving salt out of solution on a massive scale shows just how much heating/cooling is (or isn't) going on. My main point is that reducing the immense outflow of heavy salty water, which is a major driver of other currents will have unexpected, non-linear knock-on effects that may occur more rapidly than the models account for. The cycle of this deep sea river of salt took thousands of years to get established, but could shut down relatively suddenly. What then?

Haven't heard what it takes to eliminate the ice formation/melt in the Antarctic--and that briny waterfall is the main ocean current driver. The closed Isthmus of Panama and polar centered southern continent should keep the southern cycle more or less intact until things are fully cooked just about everywhere else the way I understand it, then its long past worry time for most of today's species.

On the Arctic end it might be interesting to find whether the extensive seasonal melts that will before too awful long include the whole sea will release more or less super salty water than what has been going down the last few tens of thousands of years. It certainly seems the briny release will move farther north. Lots of good stuff for the modelers to play with--it certainly doesn't look like the rest of us are going to quit playing with fire before really big changes do come down.

Thx for that link. Excellent images and useful information, in spite of the ubiquitous overly dramatic background music and narrative tone. But those seem unavoidable on MSM docs these day. Still, excellent program. Thanks again. Can't help but be reminded of the similar irony in Greer's 'Star's Reach' - just when we've got the technology to grok the Earth system we depend on (or to make contact, in his story) we #$%# it up and go down the tubes.

Admittedly a shutdown of the THC would have dire effects, but its all about timing. Shutdown today, serious, shutdown in 20 years, we might not even notice it.

Appendix – “Life in 2032”

One of the questions raised at our hearing on 21st February concerned what life would be like in 20 years’ time, i.e. by 2032. We have considered this in respect of different scenarios, depending on methane emissions. We estimate that the Arctic is warming at about 1 degree per decade, around five times faster than the rest of the planet, and this is mainly because of sea ice retreat and more open water to absorb solar energy. In 10 years, i.e. by 2022, PIOMAS volume data suggests that the Arctic Ocean will be essentially free of ice for 6 months of the year, and the Arctic will then be warming at about 4 degrees per decade. The Arctic temperature will be 5 or 6 degrees hotter than today. The disruptive effect on Northern Hemisphere weather systems will be traumatic, leading to severe food shortages for all and starvation for millions if not billions of people.

If in addition there were an early release of the 50 Gt of methane that Shakhova and Semiletov say could be released from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf “at any time” (due to seabed warming and the instability of methane-holding structures), then we could expect over 3 degrees of global warming by 2032, liable to start runaway methane feedback. Not only would we be facing world-wide starvation but probably global conflict as well.

These guys give a fairly straightforward explanation as to why the warming of the Arctic is so important to our immediate future. They also go into why Sandy hit NY too.

AMEG Strategic Plan

A key factor is the Arctic sea ice, whose reflection of sunshine keeps the planet cool. Remove the sea ice, and not only does the planet start to overheat, but the whole climate is suddenly changed. The global weather systems, on whose predictability farmers rely, are dependent for their stability on there being a temperature gradient between tropics and the poles. Remove the snow and ice at one pole, and the weather systems go awry and we have “global weirding”. Furthermore, the weather systems get stuck in one place, and we get weather extremes: long spells of hot/dry weather with drought, or long spells of cold/wet weather with floods.

This global weirding has started with a vengeance. The sea ice is rapidly disappearing. The behaviour of the polar jet stream is disrupted. Extreme weather events occur more often and with greater ferocity. And the food price index climbs and climbs.

>> And the food price index climbs and climbs. <<

2009/10, yes.

2011/12, no (both end at less than 2010 peak)


I think you'll find their argument is that oil/energy price spikes cause food price index spikes (due to the link between energy costs and food costs) and that the underlying trend excluding energy related spikes in the food index is up.

Sure, depends on your time frame:
- 2011 average to Jan 2013: down 8%
- 2000 average to Jan 2013: up 55% (ie 3.5% per year, inflation adjusted)

Same link: http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/wfs-home/foodpricesindex/en/

NB: nominal prices:
- 2000 average to Jan 2013: up 232% (ie 6.5% per year, non-inflation adjusted)

Thanks Burgundy. Good reading from that group. I can only hope their calculations are wrong, but sadly, I assume they are correct and the feedbacks and ecosystem reactions from a multi-month, ice-free artic will make adaptation difficult.

When I read these studies and gage general public reaction, I'm reminded of the statements made by Albert Allen Bartlett about our failure to understand the exponential function.

... I find it interesting that he apparently thinks a shutdown of the THC in the sub-polar North Atlantic might result in the return of Ice Age conditions.

This sounds similar to a study by James Hansen and Makiko Sato: Update of Greenland Ice Sheet Mass Loss: Exponential? (see pg 6). What Greene may have meant was a regional [N.Atlantic] cooling - not global. It also means the substantial melting of Greenland and a 7 foot sea level rise.

Iceberg cooling effect. Exponential change cannot continue indefinitely. The negative feedback terminating exponential growth of ice loss is probably regional cooling due to the thermal and fresh-water effects of melting icebergs. Temporary cooling occurs as icebergs and cold fresh glacial melt-water are added to the Southern Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean.

By 2065, when the sea level rise (from ice melt) is 60 cm relative to 2010, the cold fresh-water reduces global mean warming (relative to 1880) from 1.86°C to 1.47°C. By 2080, when sea level rise is 1.4 m, global warming is reduced from 2.19°C to 0.89°C. These experiments are described in a paper in preparation (Hansen, Ruedy and Sato, 2011), which includes other GHG scenarios, cases with ice melt in one hemisphere but not the other, and investigation of the individual effects of freshening and cooling by icebergs (the freshening is more responsible for the reduction of global warming). Note that the magnitude of the regional cooling is comparable to that in 'Heinrich' events in the paleoclimate record (Bond et al., 1992), these events involving massive iceberg discharge at a rate comparable to that in our simulations. Given that the possibility of sea level rise of the order of a meter is now widely accepted, it is important that simulations of climate for the 21st century and beyond include the iceberg cooling effect.

It is believed that this natural negative feedback was responsible for bringing the Medieval Warm Period to an end and ushering in the Little Ice Age. But of course that was before the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of AGW.

But I've been wondering whether this version of events is correct. The onset of The Little Ice Age is not dissimilar to what has been happening in Europe recently. So I've been wondering whether the same mechanisms are at work and whether AGW will overwhelm the negative feedbacks that kicked in last time. Or whether the Greenland ice melt will go exponential to keep up with the rapid warming of the Arctic?

Either way, the outcome doesn't seem good. Although if cooling can offset the warming, Europe might benefit. But its doubtful that it would halt the chaotic weather unless it could re-establish a sufficient temperature gradient between the tropics and the poles. Given the anthropogenic and natural forcing relentlessly pushing up global temperatures, will that be possible?

The article which appeared in NATURE in 2010 reported on findings from a sediment core in the South Atlantic off the coast of South Africa. The authors suggest that the results indicate that the formation of the deepest bottom waters in the Atlantic with more water originating from the Antarctic between the LGM and the beginning of the Holocene (~10k BP) than appears to be the case during the past 10k years. During this warm Interglacial after the Younger Dryas event, this study suggests that the sinking of waters in the higher latitudes of the North Atlantic has been much larger than that from Antarctic sources. This leads to a conclusion that the THC in the North Atlantic was much weaker or shutdown during this period.

The authors don't offer a possible cause, although the melting of the ice sheets would be the likely candidate, including the release of waters from glacial lake(s) thought to be the cause of the Younger Dryas. One should be aware that the low sedimentation rate in the area of the core limits the analytical resolution to "multi-centennial" time periods, thus shorter period variations would not be apparent...

E. Swanson

Iraq to supply Egypt with 4 million barrels of oil a month
Why food riots are likely to become the new normal
Almost one-third of Nile Delta to sink by 2030, say experts

Ugh. Egypt is a disaster in the making. Running low on oil, running low on natural gas, Nile Delta sinking, lots of fundamentalist religion, world-wide tourism down in general due to economic malaise and high oil prices, tourism to Egypt down specifically due to unrest and poor treatment of foreigners, and the Suez Canal that provides some guaranteed income will have to compete with the NorthEast passage opening up over Russia.

In retrospect, it would have been surprising if a revolution did not happen. Man, you could not pay me enough to take the job as Egypt's leader. It is a hopeless situation and any move that I would take would probably be so hated that I would get assassinated.

You forgot to mention de demographic development. One million more egyptians each year. Time for a holy war to bring all those suffering souls to a better life in heaven?

That kind of goes under the subject of fundamentalist religion . . . but you are right, it deserves to be explicitly mentioned. Egypt has many unemployed young men and that is a well-known prime ingredient for revolution, protests, riots, etc.

Regarding holy war, I pity the Coptic Christians of Egypt . . . I wouldn't be surprised if they suffer ethnic cleansing (at best) or genocide at worst. I suspect much of the Coptic Christian population will flee Egypt.

Egypt will certainly be - or maybe already is - an "interesting" case study of peak everything, everything but, thanks to the Nile, peak water, I suppose.

The up river development projects should cut off water from Egypt. So also peak water.

This should calm them down ...

Court suspends Egypt's parliament election

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian administrative court has ordered the suspension of parliamentary elections scheduled to begin next month, throwing the country's politics deeper into confusion.

Of course it will. Just remember; things are never so bad that they cannot be made worse by stupidity.


Almost one-third of Nile Delta to sink by 2030, say experts

Environmental experts have predicted that 30% of the Nile Delta will be submerged under water by 2030 because of the rise in land temperatures due to climate change. They added that this may threaten agriculture in Egypt.

This is also largely due to the even more rapid urbanisation witnessed as a result of the lack of security after the revolution, said Head of the Environmental Committee at the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association (EBA) Ali El-Koraiey, according to MENA.

“The increase of salts in underground water is a crisis and real challenge,” said El-Koraiey. “Moreover, it also threatens agricultural land”.

It also hasn't helped that the Aswan dam cut off the flow of sediment to the delta.

Like most (all?) of the Arab Spring countries, it has exposed the fissure between the fundamentalist leaning part of the population, and the secular leaning part of the population. I don't think the percentage of fundies differs all that much from other Muslim lands, there are quite a few secularists (most still believers, but they want to separate religion and politics). I think this struggle will be playing out for a long time. In a way, in some parts of the USA we have a similar political struggle going on, some areas where the politics strongly disfavors teaching evolution. But at least in the US your chance of being killed is pretty low.

Although we've had a friendly relationship with Egypt for decades, it actually has a pretty conservative fundamentalist religious base. It has one of the highest rates of female genital mutilation. Most of the people want a government based on Koranic law. I just hope the people and government realize that going heavily religious is a bad path. It never ends well. You show me a heavily religious government country and I'll show a country with problems.

It is an odd quirk of history the way the USA ended up allies with the Sunni dominated countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia instead of the less fundamentalist Shiite Iran.

"You show me a heavily religious government country and I'll show a country with problems."

You show me a country and I'll show you a country with problems. :-)

I agree that fundamentalistic Islam is a renewable source of problems. My arab girlfriend has things to say on the matter I could not utter and not be labeled a racist... But as I told my co-worker Fred: 95% of all car accidents are caused by religieous people.

It's not racism - most people aren't against "arabs" they're against "muslims" - so they're bigots...but is it really bigotry when they're actually out to get you? It's like black people being bigoted against the KKK...uncalled for? Probably not.

Although we've had a friendly relationship with Egypt for decades, it actually has a pretty conservative fundamentalist religious base. It has one of the highest rates of female genital mutilation. Most of the people want a government based on Koranic law.


You're blowing a little smoke here. The vote was split between secular, moderate, and lunatic Morsi.

Morsi: 24.8%
Shafiq: 23.7%
Sabahi: 20.7%

Sabahi ran as an independent and not as the Dignity Party's candidate. One of the few secular figures without any ties to the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Sabahi has attracted the support of several leading Nasserists.

If you add Shafiq and Sabahi you get 44.4% to Morsi's 24.8%. Because Sabahi was eliminated from the final runoff it was only Shafiq and Morsi, and Morsi only won 51.7% to 48.3% and there's a LOT of controversy over strong-arming at the polls on the behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.

So the country is actually more balanced than you would think, but Morsi being president will probably screw them over and plunge them into a new dark age despite the support for a secular government.

If you haven't seen Neil DeGrasse-Tyson's talk on "Naming Rights" and the Erosion of Progress by Religion you should give it a watch: http://youtu.be/6oxTMUTOz0w

He talks about how a 300 year period in the middle east (800 - 1,100AD) produced Algebra, Arabic Numerals (these things: 1234567890), named a gazillion stars, advances in biology, astronomy, engineering, mathematics...then came a guy - Imam Hamid al-Ghazali who basically said that math was the work of the devil and against Islam...and then things went to crap and they haven't recovered since.

It is a complicated situation. But what I did say is true. They have more extreme views than many other Muslim nations.

But, between moderate Muslims, Coptic Christians, and a smattering of other minority groups, there is some moderation.


Fortunately, the FGM situation is turning around (hopefully).

In Egypt, the Health Ministry banned FGM in 2007 despite pressure from some (though not all) Islamic groups. Two issues in particular forced the government's hand. A 10-year-old girl was photographed undergoing FGM in a barber's shop in Cairo in 1995 and the images were broadcast by CNN; this triggered a ban on the practice everywhere except in hospitals. Then, in 2007, 12-year-old Badour Shaker died of an overdose of anaesthesia during or after an FGM procedure for which her mother had paid a physician in an illegal clinic the equivalent of $9.00. The Al-Azhar Supreme Council of Islamic Research, the highest religious authority in Egypt, issued a statement that FGM had no basis in core Islamic law, and this enabled the government to outlaw it entirely.

Off course it has no basis in islamic law. It is a pre-islam procedure partially absorbed by islam once it was imported from Arabia. If I was a mullah, I would preach against it every other friday.

Upon Egypt's crude oil exports reaching zero, they lost their export revenue and the oil importing countries, Europe and the U.S., did not care if the population removed their man in Cairo, Mubarak. I expect this situation to reoccur in other oil exporting countries where the leader is disliked by the population and supported by western countries.

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] …

U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production in Federal and Non-Federal Areas

In 2012, oil prices ranged from $80 to $110 per barrel (West Texas Intermediate spot price) and remain high in early 2013. Congress is faced with proposals designed to increase domestic energy supply, enhance security, and/or amend the requirements of environmental statutes.

A key question in this discussion is how much oil and gas is produced each year and how much of that comes from federal and non-federal areas. On non-federal lands, there were modest fluctuations in oil production from fiscal years (FY) 2008-2010, then a significant increase from FY2010 to FY2012 increasing total U.S. oil production by about 1.1 million barrels per day over FY2007 production levels. All of the increase from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands, and the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production fell by about seven percentage points.

... Overall, U.S. natural gas production rose by four trillion cubic feet (tcf) or 20% since 2007, while production on federal lands (onshore and offshore) fell by about 33% and production on non-federal lands grew by 40%. The big shale gas plays are primarily on non-federal lands and are attracting a significant portion of investment for natural gas development.

Inflation and the Real Minimum Wage: A Fact Sheet

The minimum wage is not indexed to the price level.

The peak value of the minimum wage in real terms was reached in 1968. To equal the purchasing power of the minimum wage in 1968 ($10.57), the current minimum wage’s real value ($7.80) would have to be $2.77 (or 26%) higher.

Although the nominal value of the minimum wage was increased by $5.65 (from $1.60 to $7.25) between 1968 and 2009, these legislated adjustments did not enable the minimum wage to keep pace with the increase in consumer prices, so the real minimum wage fell.

China’s Economic Conditions

China’s economic rise has significant implications for the United States and hence is of major interest to Congress. On the one hand, China is a large (and potentially huge) export market for the United States. Many U.S. firms use China as the final point of assembly in their global supply chain networks. China’s large holdings of U.S. Treasury securities help the federal government finance its budget deficits.

However, some analysts contend that China maintains a number of distortive economic policies (such as an undervalued currency and protectionist industrial policies) that undermine U.S. economic interests. They warn that efforts by the Chinese government to promote innovation, often through the use of subsidies and other distortive measures, could negatively affect many leading U.S. industries.

This report surveys the rise of China’s economy, describes major economic challenges facing China, and discusses the implications of China’s economic rise for the United States.

Securing America’s Borders: The Role of the Military

… Reported escalations in criminal activity and illegal immigration have prompted some lawmakers to reevaluate the extent and type of military support that occurs in the border region. On May 25, 2010, President Obama announced that up to 1,200 National Guard troops would be sent to the border to support the Border Patrol.

Addressing domestic laws and activities with the military, however, might run afoul of the Posse Comitatus Act (PCA), which prohibits use of the Armed Forces to perform the tasks of civilian law enforcement unless explicitly authorized. There are alternative legal authorities for deploying the National Guard, and the precise scope of permitted activities and funds may vary with the authority exercised.

Southwest Border Violence: Issues in Identifying and Measuring Spillover Violence

Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources

Despite Industry Efforts To Blame Administration, There’s A Geologic Reason Most Drilling Occurs On Nonfederal Lands

... a new report released today by the Denver-based Center for Western Priorities called “Follow the Oil” shows that putting the blame on the president and his administration is nothing more than conservative messaging. Much of today’s boom in oil and natural gas is from unconventional shale “plays,” areas that have only recently been opened through new technology. And, as the report notes:

Nationwide, 90 percent of all current shale gas plays exist on nonfederal lands, with only 10 percent located on federal lands. Even starker, almost all shale oil resources exist on non-federal lands. Only 7 percent of current shale oil and mixed plays are found on federally-owned lands with the remaining 93 percent on nonfederal lands.

This map shows what those findings look like across the country, and where the industry is “following the oil”:

Consuming Our Way to Prosperity is Macro Folly

The American people are repeatedly told by financial pundits and politicians that consumption is an "engine" that "drives" economic growth, because it makes up 70 percent of GDP.

The systematic failure by Keynesian economists and like-minded pundits to distinguish between consuming and producing value remains the single most damaging fallacy in popular economic thinking.

It's of course true, self-evident even, that the goal of economic activity for each of us is to live a better life. This often, though not always, means consuming more goods and services from holiday gifts to houses to healthcare. But consumption is our goal, not the means to achieve it. Confusing our ends with the means has trapped popular economic discourse in a veritable dark age.

This doctrine of underconsumptionism is wrong for a number of reasons:

1. The historical record on economic growth and recession is marked by a clear pattern of investment-led booms and busts, rather than changes in consumption. Investment leads, consumption follows.

2. The design of GDP statistics has a Keynesian bias that creates a misleading picture of what composes our economy, where value is actually added and thus what activity actually creates real income and enables our consumption.

3. By the very nature of consumption, it is logically impossible, absurd even, to consume our way to plenty.

In a sense we've been consuming our way to prosperity since the onset of the industrial revolution. However production always outpaced consumption because there were more fuels to find.

We've probably been underwater since the early 80s.

Here is a link to the response to this essay:


It is titled "The Nonsense of Austerity".

I responded a month ago to the first iteration of Mr. Papola's "libertarian" ideas about how economic growth happens. Since then he has revised several times, smoothing out the more jagged edges of the argument by covering his tracks. I am now responding to the fourth or fifth iteration. But nothing has changed in his argument except the subtraction of empirical detail.

Nothing can change, because Mr. Papola believes so fervently in Say's "classical law of markets" that no amount of empirical evidence will convince him that, like the labor theory of value, it needs reconsideration in light of new historical circumstances: he cites it three times as a self-evident proposition in eight pages of urgent prose. It is a proposition similar to that found in George Gilder's "Wealth and Poverty," a treatise for supply-side, tax-cutting, trickle-down "Reaganomics."

Say's Law becomes an incantation, not a hypothesis to be tested by the available evidence, not something that might have stopped making sense. It becomes a purely ceremonial pronouncement, a categorical imperative with no actual purchase on the world as it exists -- that is, as it can be measured and observed.

It is true that goods must be produced, this is self-evident. Those who think supply creates its own demand (essentially this follows from Say's Law) do not believe that recessions are possible. What Keynes pointed out is that if there is a lack of aggregate demand, businesses will not invest, the obvious solution is for governments to invest (in infrastructure for example) to create demand and get the economy moving. This results in government deficits during a recession, which in theory could be paid back when the economy is doing well (the problem is that governments rarely do so, if they have a surplus of revenue, they lower taxes to buy votes.)


"supply creates its own demand" leaves out price. And endless supply of BMWs at $100,000 each will not move me to buy. Same car at $10,000 will get a different response.

The "lack of aggregate demand" argument fails to consider what happens if demand is at replacement because pretty much everyone has everything they need, and are only replacing things that wear out. That wasn't the case in the 1930's but we are getting pretty close now. Frankly when I look around the house, what more do I need? And yet Krugman et. al. would have me spending every dime and tossing the products in the dumpster on the way in the house just to keep GDP up.

If I lived in an apartment my material needs would be several notches lower yet. No lawn mower, no tools to repair the house, no irrigation system to maintain, no gardening tools, and I would probably video game instead of building a boat. Krugman would be shrieking even louder about my "excessive savings." Why do you think politicians are so keen on home ownership?

Study Intends To Determine Methane Leakage Associated With A Growing Natural Gas Transportation Sector

The use of natural gas to power our nation’s freight fleet vehicles is a hot topic in these days of rising diesel and falling natural gas prices. There are several reasons to be excited about this opportunity, including operating cost savings, use of a domestic fuel source, and the potential for a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to diesel heavy-duty trucks. However, significant concerns remain with the development of new gas supplies, including the threat of fugitive methane emissions from natural gas vehicles and the fuel supply chain.

In a paper published last year, EDF scientists and other leading researchers examined the impact of potential fugitive emissions on the climate benefits of a switch from diesel to natural gas heavy-duty trucks. The study found that, according to the best available data, methane leak rates would need to be below 1% of gas produced in order to ensure that switching from diesel to natural gas produces climate benefits at all points in time. They also found that – using the EPA leakage rate estimates at that time – converting a fleet of heavy duty diesel vehicles to natural gas would result in increased climate warming for more than 250 years before any climate benefits were achieved.

... This study on natural gas vehicles is timely. The U.S. trucking industry could be on the verge of a significant migration to natural gas vehicles. By 2020, 40 percent of new class 7 and 8 trucks sold could run on natural gas. This would be a marked increase from today’s market, which is dominated by diesel vehicles.

Fuel Economy up, but Consumption up Even More

... Using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation from 1970 to 2010, Michael Sivak of the U-M Transportation Research Institute examined the impact of changes in vehicle fuel economy, distance traveled and vehicle load (number of occupants) on fuel consumption and the potential effects of future changes on reductions of fuel used for personal transportation.

Sivak found that during the 40-year period, vehicle distance traveled increased 155 percent overall, but because vehicle load fell 27 percent, occupant distance traveled rose only 84 percent.

Vehicle fuel economy (of the entire fleet of light-duty vehicles) improved from 7.7 gallons/100 miles to 4.6 gallons/100 miles. However, because of the decrease in vehicle load, occupant fuel economy improved by just 17 percent.

"As a consequence of the changes in vehicle fuel economy, vehicle distance traveled and vehicle load, the total amount of fuel used increased by 53 percent," Sivak said.

Full Study: Effects of Vehicle Fuel Economy, Distance Travelled, and Vehicle Load on the Amount of Fuel Used For Personal Transportation in the U.S.: 1970-2010

"Importantly, however, changes in fuel economy of new vehicles take a long time to substantially influence the fuel economy of the entire fleet," he said. "This is the case because it takes a long time to turn over the fleet. Consequently, an 18 percent reduction in fuel used by vehicles purchased in a given year—due to a 20 percent improvement in their fuel economy—would result in only about a 1 percent reduction of the fuel used by the entire fleet.

"The required long lead time to substantially influence the fuel economy of the entire fleet has been used to argue that policy emphasis should be on reducing vehicle distance traveled through an increased fuel tax—which would have an immediate fleet-wide effect."

Neither, really. The Toyota thing will probably never be produced. The Mercedes will be a niche vehicle that will probably mainly be sold in Gulf oil nations.

Yair . . . That AMG looks horrible. Nothing new in the concept. This is one of probably half a dozen Oz/NZ manufacturers who build a decent looking RELIABLE truck at probably half the price



The take-home for i-Road viewers will be that Toyota has designed a three-wheel, two-seater, all-electric vehicle specially purposed for city traveling at short distances. The i-Road can do about 30 miles on a single charge.
The i-Road's two front wheels are each powered by their own two-kilowatt electric motor. A lithium ion battery provides the power. The owner would need to anticipate about three hours of charging time, from a household power outlet.

5 horsepower, weird (not even good) looking, tilting which few will trust, and a pitiful "about 30" miles range. Could anything be more doomed for failure?

US Power Grid Costs Rise, But Service Slips

An Associated Press analysis of utility spending and reliability nationwide found that electric customers are spending 43 percent more than they did in 2002 to build and maintain local electric infrastructure. Since then, power outages have remained infrequent; but when the lights do go out, it now takes longer to get them back on. ... "The electric system is the critical linchpin of our society, and we are operating the overall system closer to the edge,"

... The diminishing returns on investment reflect several trends: The grid is getting old, making it more expensive to maintain service at current levels of reliability; day-to-day weather and major storms have become more extreme, meaning wires, poles and transformers have to be replaced more frequently; and when utilities replace aging or broken equipment, they are not always upgrading to modern technologies common in other industrialized nations. ... "From the utility's perspective, the safest thing they can do to get their money is to do what they've always done,"

When utilities spend on equipment, regulators allow the companies to pass those expenses on to customers.

Despite the higher levels of spending over the past decade, service is getting no better, and evidence is mounting that it may be getting worse. Experts say this is a sign that the grid is less stable and in need of significantly more—and smarter—investment.

Remember, this is the grid that is to start transferring a significant portion of the energy that powers our automotive transportation system if we are to keep such a system. Additionally it will begin to carry an increasing amount of asynchronous distributed local generation, for which it was never designed.

It's not your father's power grid. It's your grandfathers.

Yes - reading/responding via battery power as grid is down here in aftermath of heavy/wet snow in central VA...

Agreement Will Lead To Grid-Friendly Electric Vehicle Charging

A technology that will allow widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles without negatively impacting the electrical grid is the subject of a commercial license agreement between Battelle and AeroVironment, Inc., of Monrovia, Calif. The technology may also ultimately result in lower costs for plug-in electric vehicle owners.

AeroVironment's new prototype EV charging station, incorporating the PNNL technology, will help stabilize the electrical grid by continuously monitoring the grid's alternating current, or AC, frequency and varying the vehicle charging rate in response. If an unexpected event on the grid causes a rapid drop in the AC frequency, the charging system will stop charging, providing a grid "shock absorber." Under normal conditions, this stabilizing technology will be particularly important as the power grid is expected to rely more and more on variable renewable resources such as wind and solar technologies.

An earlier PNNL study found America's existing power grid could meet the needs of about 70 percent of all U.S. light-duty vehicles if battery charging was managed to avoid new peaks in electricity demand.

"If a million owners plug in their vehicles to recharge after work, it could cause a major strain on the grid," ...

"...and varying the vehicle charging rate in response. If an unexpected event on the grid causes a rapid drop in the AC frequency, the charging system will stop charging, providing a grid "shock absorber."

This does need to happen - Grid-Interactive Smart Charging - for EV's to properly interface with the grid...but also underscores the need for reserve battery capacity. If you have a super-short battery range that you need every mile of to get back and forth to work and your charger chokes on you and strands you - you're going to be miffed. There would also have to be priority ranking such as high-rate chargers on highway routes > store chargers > home chargers. Priority based on inconvenience of getting stranded.

It's a good idea to provide that kind of protection, but it does not increase the capacity or make an electric powered automotive transportation system more viable. It just prioritizes keeping the grid working over charging the car. If the grid wasn't going to have a problem doing this then it would be superfluous. If it is going to be a problem then it still will, but we'll shut the cars off first.

In other words, a protection scheme doesn't improve capacity.

a protection scheme doesn't improve capacity.

It decreases the need for overcapacity. It also allows a greater amount of variable generation on the grid -which on average increases capacity.

So people complain about EVs being hard on the grid.

So they fix it so that they are not as hard on the grid and people complain about that fix.

Obviously, some people just complain about about the existence of EVs and will complain no matter what.

(BTW, these EVers shouldn't really be charging at peak times. Just program the EV to start charging when the off-peak rates begin.)

Effect of CO2 on the Integrity of Well Cement Examined

Long-term storage of CO2 pre-supposes very low or no leakage from the formation. The majority of locations that are being considered for CO2 injection are in areas that have a history of oil, natural gas, and/or coalbed methane production, and are typically penetrated by a significant number of wells from exploration and production. The ability to effectively store large quantities of CO2 may be compromised by the presence of these active or abandoned wells, which represent potential leakage paths.

Walk It Out: Urban Design Plays Key Role in Creating Healthy Cities

The study examined the impact of urban planning on active living in metropolitan Perth, Western Australia. More than 1,400 participants building homes in new housing developments were surveyed before relocation to new homes and approximately 12 months later.

The study found that for every local shop, residents' physical activity increased an extra 5-6 minutes of walking per week. For every recreational facility available such as a park or beach, residents' physical activity increased by an extra 21 minutes per week.

"This means that where there is an environment that supports walking with access to multiple facilities residents walked much more," Professor Giles-Corti said.

These findings could inform public health and urban design policy demonstrating that people respond to an environment that is supportive of physical activity.

Google says FBI watching the Web

Google says the FBI is monitoring the Web for potential terrorist activity. But it can't say how extensive the surveillance is.

Hackers target Czech banks, affect online banking

Hackers are targeting major commercial banks in the Czech Republic, bringing down their website and affecting their online banking.

The websites of the country's central bank and the Prague's Stock Exchange were also not accessible Wednesday morning.

U.S. military “unprepared” for cyberattacks by “top-tier,” cyber-capable adversary: Pentagon

A new Pentagon study concludes that the U.S. military is unprepared for a full-scale cyber-conflict with a top-tier, cyber-capable adversary. The report says the United States must increase its offensive cyberwarfare capabilities, and that the U.S. intelligence agencies must invest more resources in obtaining information about other countries’ cyberwar capabilities and plans.

The report says that the United States must maintain the threat of a nuclear strike as a deterrent to a major cyberattack by other countries.

The report warns that the Pentagon cannot be confident its military computer systems and communication networks are not compromised because many of the components of these systems and networks are made in countries which pose the main cyberthreat to U.S. national security.

That's US parity: you hack us (no casualties other than economic losses), we will nuke you (entire cities, nations, and perhaps the world are casualties).

When you have a hammer (nukes) every problem tends to look like a nail, eh?


"He pulls a knife you pull a gun, he sends one of yours to the hospital you send one of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way."
- The Untouchable Sean Connery

Cyber Attacks by thier nature are usually orchestrated through proxies. "General we think the attack came from this country, or it may have come from one of these other two as well, there is also a small 2 bedroom in Palo Alto that we are looking at." "Well then, guess we need to nuke'em all, only way to be sure."

There are less and less reasons to still maintain a large nuclear arsenal, when faced with this fact those whose best intrests are served by having a large number of nukes (U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, the military industrial complex in general) will do what EVERYONE else does, invent a need out of thin air.

Details Revealed on Secret U.S. “Ragtime” Domestic Surveillance Program

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled that Americans didn’t have standing to challenge secret surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency. Now, new details about the eavesdropping have surfaced—which will likely fuel fresh concerns about the scale and accountability of the agency’s spy programs.

According to a detailed summary by Shane Harris at the Washingtonian yesterday, the book discloses that a codename for a controversial NSA surveillance program is “Ragtime”—and that as many as 50 companies have apparently participated, by providing data as part of a domestic collection initiative.

The Scary Hidden Stressor

This Thomas Friedman editorial (with links to the underlying report) notes that the top 9 importers of wheat are in the Middle East. Climate change has led to decreasing wheat production and sharply higher prices; that plus population pressure are a stressor that helped foment the Arab Spring revolutions.

As Sarah Johnstone and Jeffrey Mazo of the International Institute for Strategic Studies conclude in their essay, “fledgling democracies with weak institutions might find it even harder to deal with the root problems than the regimes they replace, and they may be more vulnerable to further unrest as a result.” Yikes.

World Bank To Raise $500 mn For Geothermal Energy

The World Bank launched a fund in Reykjavik on Wednesday to come up with $500 million for developing geothermal energy in developing countries.

"At least forty countries have enough geothermal potential to meet a significant proportion of their electricity demand," the bank said, citing Kenya and Indonesia as pioneers in developing geothermal resources.

Fantastic and chart rich article on how disruptive distributed PV has been in Austrlia this summer. Is completely ruining the plans for endless supply growth by the big FF base load generators:


"Catering for two off-peak periods would make for a big change to our current thinking about how we supply affordable poles and wires electricity to meet the needs of just a few hours of high demand at the beginning and end of each day." (my emphasis)

Looks like that thinking is already starting to happen.

It might be a big change but it's a change to something flatly obvious:

Charge people for the specific service you offer them. I.e. a connection fee for the service of finding them juice when they need more than they have, and finding them buyers when they have more than they need.

In the meantime, your costs shift, since you're no longer buying as much fossil fuels to keep running. And you're not paying as much on depreciation on your turbines and cooling stack. And your wear and tear for transmission change characteristics, in some ways to your benefit.

So the solar revolution is really happening, right now and right there.

NowHow come not more talk here about that instead of this endless chatter about oil, thin oil, thick oil, deep oil, cold oil, future oil and oil.

Everybody knows that oil = extinction.

So why not some more chatter about solar= survival?

--- Yea, I know. This is the OIL drum.

And Wimbi, you saw that Solar Post from last week, right? Boy did that get mired in disputes over phantoms. Maybe those ARE the debates to be had, but they seem to be endlessly drawn back to points that aren't even worth mentioning any more.

I try not to waste TOO much energy answering what I think are fairly hollow charges, as I did over there, but then again, at least I'm having a discussion about those sources I and a few of you also feel are really useful and are clearly showing us so.. and not just about depleting wells and so on. (While I'm glad to see there are those who DO keep an eye on them..)

Anyway, I did take some action on real projects today as well.. even if the communications end seems mired in the same old slog as in years past...

Hallo jokuhl,

Okay, I tried to wade through the solar discussion you mentioned. It was a bit confused, to be sure. At the end of the day I was left with a sense of a conflict between value and price.

Mebbe you can clarify this for me. I get the idea that solar can provide a significant amount of energy which, if stored appropriately, can be used to provide great value. Value as in value to we humans. What I'm not quite getting yet, and which poor smeagle got dragged over the coals for, is how this is translated into a price which would allow the entire paradigm to function in our current market system?

If the efficiency of solar is such that, at peak, it is virtually free, how do you generate the revenue to maintain the extensive grid that seems to be necessary to a modern society? And indeed to the efficient transmission of the electricity solar generated? (Not to mention the wind component of a renewable future). If you can't sell your power when it is being generated at it's best, how do you make any money at it?

If I missed that in all the muddled discussion, and you could state it succinctly, it'd sure help me grok this. Is there some new business model that is being contemplated here that I missed? And don't get me wrong. I'll probably pop a couple of panels on my house in the summer. We have a fairly high electricity use in the summer, so I have few illusions I'll be feeding back into the grid. I'm hoping to offset a percentage of my use, at most.

I'm just not understanding how the infrastructure that transmits and shares the electricity gets maintained if there's no profit to be made.

As I see it, I think the point in contention is this idea that when it's in abundance, it will be sold ultimately and only for 0.0$/kwh. It happens from time to time right now, but as a function of the shifting roles between these competing generators. The effect of this, however, will probably do more permanent harm to the Fuel Burners, who have to keep paying for new supplies of fuel, plus all the system costs that accompany that, while PV production will be (and is) getting slammed on their one key cost, which is debt service.. but even after a bankruptcy and a few changes of hands, a 5MW site is still a 5MW site, and as long as there are customers who need to make Tea and Toast, etc.. they will be able to sell their power, and they'll have power whenever the sun shines without having to fire up or hire up a whole supply line in order to flip that switch.

They will NOT sell it all for Zero, not only because they couldn't and wouldn't but because they don't have to. The fact that the utility price in this new competition of forces moves sometimes into zero and negative territory hardly means that this is it's final destination, any more than assuming that once you've overeaten, you'll clearly get to the point where 'food has no value' and you'll starve because you're too full.

The market BUYS electricity, and knows that generators will charge what they can for supplying it. With their enviable running costs, PV and Wind suppliers would seem to have a growing advantage as providers in the coming years/decades. Similarly, customers and suppliers that need the grid connection know that it must be maintained and refreshed.. if the old pricing approach doesn't pay enough, and it can't keep wires in the air, people will adjust the program. Maybe it means a much different, maybe smaller and more fractured grid, maybe it gets Nationalized and tied into electric rail ROW's, but doesn't have the ubiquitous reach we've enjoyed up to now.. who knows?

We're in for changes.. but the argument from that Post that concluded that PV doesn't work because it can't support the grid and the pricing schemes we use today is, in my mind simply backwards. If the grid and the utility are unsupportable.. then THEY have failed, not PV, not wind. Your roof array and your desk solar calculator will still be working, (Tho' I won't speak for your inverter..) and you can light your office and do some math problems, if those things have value for you.

As far as ... "how this is translated into a price which would allow the entire paradigm to function in our current market system?" .. well, that's where we usually all hit an open field around here and start running in countless directions. To me, I ask "Who at this site would have the gall to assume that ANYTHING will allow that, considering our predicament?" **

We are in a DIRE PINCH, or at least it seems to be coming at us fast along one of the side roads.. I'm not looking for ways to keep it all going the way it has been.. I'm looking for tools that can work under the broadest possible range of conditions, since we really don't know what is going to happen to MONEY, to WEATHER, to POLITICS .. it may bumble along just fine, at which point PV panels large and small will keep producing useful DC current; or one or many of these elements may just explode in our faces, at which point any unbroken PV panels, large and small, will keep producing useful DC current. I suggest it will be valuable in either case, no matter what is being charged for it.

** And one more thought, since that question does have an answer hanging, ringing in most of our ears.. Nuclear.. and it's remaining, loyal advocates want us to think that this would be the Superman who could have a prayer of holding it all together on his mighty fingertip. Clearly, you should know that I'm not one of those that has any confidence in this. I'll just pop in the first few reasons that convince me that it won't, couldn't and shouldn't be the path we seek.

COST. It's not getting cheaper, and we still have to pay for old and new waste mgmt and site remediation. Plus, Each new 'hiccup' becomes a phenomenal sucking hole for money and resources.. and there are a lot of steadily aging sites now, sitting next to water.

CLIMATE. (Political, Grid and Environmental) It requires a nice stable place to live, with enough water, but Not Too Much! A stable Grid to try to keep it together during nightmares.. Ready cashflow to keep the absolutely essential crew and equipment on hand at all times, and service the phenomenal debt, and save for decommissioning, and keep the fences tight. No wars, no insurrections, no quick hand movements..


Okay, thanks for the reply. Here's my follow up thoughts.

One of the things I think that bothers me in many of the discussions here is the idea that we will go down an energy slide, and that certain aspects of the energy and biological systems are non-renewable. I certainly get that with the fossil fuels - we inherited a big glass, but we just keep adding more straws. Eventually, you hit the bottom of the glass and, as every good drunk knows, that's a serious bummer.

Got that. No problem. My problem is with the other ideas - that energy and biological systems are non-renewable. If that were really true, we wouldn't be here - the Earth woulda shucked us off ages before we ever ventured outta the trees. The sun is a renewable energy source, and biological systems are inherently self-renewing. Unless, of course, we smash them into oblivion. Which, I grant you, we seem quite good at.

So my perspective is how do you re-establish a renewable environment which meets, at least, current needs. Because if you can't meet current needs it seems, to me at any rate, one is taking an inherently immoral perspective - we can meet the current needs if we only kill off x number of humans. I say this because the elimination of the grid would, in my opinion, do just that. The mass starvations of the world don't happen in grid-enabled locales. They happen in places where there is no grid, and no access to the life-sustaining qualities the grid provides. If there is mass death in a grid-enabled environment, it is because the grid failed, for one reason or another (technical or human).

I'm open to the idea that renewables can provide the energy needed to power, maintain, and extend, the grid. I'm open to the idea of an interconnected series of micro grids. What I'm not open to is the idea that we should pursue any path which deliberately contemplates mass starvation and death.

And I suppose I should clarify an aspect of my concern which is not explicitly stated. I view the development of human civilization to date in the context of wealth generation. No, not the knuckle-headed wealth that reserve banks and derivatives markets seem to think of. The kind of wealth where average folk see benefit - heat, shelter, food, clothing, medical care. Where the very young and the very old are neither expendable sources of revenue nor excess baggage.

Within the context of the type of wealth generation I'm speaking of, there seems to be a noticeable sociological trend. Provide the wealth, and the size of families, on average, decreases. This seems to happen best where two things happen. One, women are empowered, and two, there is sufficient technical expertise to provide widespread access to birth control.

Which ties me back to the grid. Without the grid things like research facilities, hospitals, day care centers, schools, gyms, and countless other aspects of modern life, become compromised and hobbled.

So let's consider how renewables can power the grid. We need a new business model*. I'll toss my nuclear ambitions if you can drive a series of ideas that give me the grid.

Fair enough?

* Doesn't have to be the current model, either. Don't like capitalism? No problem. Give me your alternative.

Afraid I'm running out the door this morning.. your larger question.. well, keep it coming in bits and pieces and I'll try to give you my thoughts on it. In part however, I would question your conclusions about research labs, hospitals and so on that somehow would have no alternative but the complete 24/7 grid in order to be part of our world. Such assumptions, I feel, are keeping us from reaching outside the box of inordinate ('cheap energy') needs that has pushed us to the cliff's edge.

Apart from that, I'd also take up this statement..
"What I'm not open to is the idea that we should pursue any path which deliberately contemplates mass starvation and death."

I think we're at triage.. we're not starting the battle.. we're waiting for casualties, and those choices that have pointed us towards a great die-off were cemented in place with the Cotton Gin, Green Revolution etc. Now, the plans we're making are based around trying to best handle the overshoot which we've created. I personally feel that the coming population graph is going to ultimately mirror our primary energy graph, and that it is simply intellectually honest to appreciate that we will end up in balance, but we don't have to get there blindly.. we have the chance to set things up for the coming generations, and for our own graceful exits from the veil of tears.

Don't fear the reaper.. live well and meet her as an old friend, finally united.

I had to run out myself. Been working a lot lately. Don't have as much time to read TOD as I'd like.

Interesting perspective, but certainly not unique around these parts. I'm sure there'll be more to say on it all - by both of us, and everybody else ;-). There's already another DB up, so I'll pop over there to take a look and see what the issues du jour are.

It's kinda funny, in an odd sorta way. I don't have any kids, and I'm not likely too. I don't really have a stake in the game, so far as future generations go (other than my interest in seeing my sister's kids, and those of my friends, do well). So why in the heck do I keep coming back to this place?

Not sure who it was, but it was one of the regulars. ROCKMAN, perhaps. It's like watching that train wreck. Ya just can't keep yer eyes off the thing...

Best hopes for a minimally dystopian future.

"So my perspective is how do you re-establish a renewable environment which meets, at least, current needs. Because if you can't meet current needs it seems, to me at any rate, one is taking an inherently immoral perspective - we can meet the current needs if we only kill off x number of humans."

I would suggest we better define "need" and maybe recalibrate our expectations. Do we "need" a 5,000lb vehicle for individual commuting? Do we "need" to travel by jet aircraft for weekend getaways or 2-hour business meetings? Do we "need" a 3,000 sq ft house for a family of four? Do we "need" a new IPod (embodied energy)every time Apple changes the model number? etc, etc, etc.

I see lots of potential for renewables with little real cost to our standard of living. Just a shift away from hyper-consumerism, high velocities, and unsustainable expectations. Certainly not the sacrifice of x number of humans; that's the path BAU is taking us.



" but even after a bankruptcy and a few changes of hands, a 5MW site is still a 5MW site, and as long as there are customers who need to make Tea and Toast, etc.. they will be able to sell their power,"

I've seen the same thing in other industries. If things go badly, but the plant still covers it's operating costs, then bankruptcy can erase the debt, or even part of, or rewrite it so that the cash flow can keep the plant running. Sucks to be a bond-holder, shareholder, or even a bank, but if the cash flow covers variable costs, the plant will run under some ownership.

If the efficiency of solar is such that, at peak, it is virtually free

The solar just happened to have zero retail value in one country at certain times in certain days. Germany has built out so much solar that on some sunny days, there is so much power available that everyone has extra. But it doesn't happen all the time.

But to look at that and say 'solar us useless' is to say well I can't sell ice cubes in Alaska in winter time thus Ice has no value. In reality, my local super market sells ice for a good price.

I'm not saying solar is useless. See my response above. I'm looking at how to, conceptually, move solar/wind/whatever renewable you like, to the next level. I get disruptive technologies that have benefit. I'm okay with old technologies dying and new ones replacing them. I'm not okay with a technology that destroys it's host. I don't think renewables will do that, but I also don't think we have a good grip on how to incorporate them into our current systems.

That $0.0/KWH price is nothing but a market signal saying "It is not a good idea to build a PV array with the intent of selling the electricity to others in Germany". But if you are not in Germany, it does not apply to you. If you are doing wind, it does not apply (since wind tends to produce at different times). Even if you are in Germany, it does not apply to you if you just want to generate your own power.

Germany is heavily built out with solar. The rest of the world is still largely virgin territory.

"The rest of the world is still virgin territory"

So they said in 1870 Pennsylvania.

But sunlight does not deplete. At least not for 5 billion years or so.

Until the peak of the red giant phase (in maybe 5 billion years), it just keeps getting more and more luminous. At the peak of the red giant phase it will be five to ten thousand times as bright as today! High concentration PV without the need for any optics. {Of course our planet wouldn't even have solid floating islands on top of the global magma ocean. No place to mount those panels!}

Figure out a way to use that solar power for transportation and you are onto something.

Easy: use PV solar to charge your electric car. We have the PV and a Leaf and a Volt. It works.

For the cost of 3 years' gasoline, you can buy PV that will power an electric car for the same number of miles per year for the rest of your life.

A few drumbeats ago I introduced "Gallon of Gas Equivalent Utility" to try to better explain the efficiency differences between ICE and EVs

2002 Rav4 ICE – 22cty/28hwy with user-reported 30mpg with manual version.
2002 Rav4 EV – 270wh/mi city and 340 wh/mi hwy

Worst case using 30mpg and 340wh/mi – 30*340 = 10,200 watt-hour GGEU

10,200 watt-hours of electricity will carry you the same distance as a gallon of gas will in the ICE version. A gallon of gasoline contains approximately 34,000 watt-hours of energy. So 10,200/34,000 = .3 meaning this EV uses about 1/3 the energy to go the same distance. This is obviously just the efficiency at point of use and so it matters how the electricity is generated (though it also matters how the gasoline is "generated" as well).

A watt of PV in an area with a 4.5 hour/day insolation will gather 1W*4.5hr/day*365days/yr = 1,643 watt-hours of electricity in a year.

So to get a gallon's worth of utility (Rav4 ICE vs EV) out of each watt takes 10,200/1,643 = 6.2 years

You can take whatever your installed cost is say $3/watt, the expected array life (which I usually say 25 years) and work out that, for the example above, each watt over its lifetime will produce the equivalent utility of ~4 gallons of gas for the Rav4 ICE, which is essentially like having $0.75/gallon gasoline.


I had a conversation with a friend recently about EV's and he made the same old argument about the batteries not "being there" yet and they "wouldn't last." So I punched a few buttons using the Tesla Model S as an example - Tesla's least expensive model has a 40kWhr battery with a 160 mile range. If the range is downgraded to 140 miles to compensate for cycle use and time, and a figure of 2,000 cycles is used (I think they expect 3,000) one could expect 2,000*140mi = 280,000 miles out of the battery pack. It's not really even "dead" at that point but stores less range. Work does need to be done on cell monitoring and diagnosis though. I don't think many people would worry about cells dying, but about cells dying unexpectedly.

Following my philosophy of "Just do it", I have bought some more PV and am planning to use it to charge an electric car for the short trips (most of them).

Which one? I suppose I won't have much choice. My granddaughter has announced that she thinks the Smart electric is "cute".

I agree with your granddaughter, all Smarts are cute. Make me smile. Also the Fiat 500...

EVs are still expensive but there are deals to be had. The Mitsubishi-i has been a big flop. It looks weird, is pretty small, and has a small battery for a short range. But if its limited range is enough for you, you can probably get a good deal on it because they've been slashing the price on it.

The Smart ED is a pretty low cost EV but it is just a 2-seater. This is their 3rd generation of Smart EV (and first available for general sale) and they've improved quite a bit.

If a 2-seater is good enough, you may want to look around for a Think City. They went bankrupt but there are still some around for sale and can be had for a pretty low price. It has a pretty big 23KWH battery in it.

The base model Leaf S has a reasonably cheap MSRP of $28,800. However, it just came out so dealers will be scalping until inventory gets larger (which probably won't take long).

GM's Chevy Spark EV is supposed to come out this year. $32,500 MSRP.

All the pure EVs get a $7500 tax-credit (not a tax-deduction, a tax-credit!)

Beyond those, the EVs start getting pretty expensive (Ford Focus Electric, GM Volt, Tesla Model S, compliance Toyota RAV4, compliance Honda Fit EV, etc.)

I guess the Italians have just released something called the twist. At least in has four (not three) wheels. Something like that just might be affordable as an around town type vehicle.


Twizy. It was on the news tonight. Anne Thompson barely fit. As useful as a scooter, but with four wheels.

But those are not street legal in the USA unless you put in governor which limits their speed to 25 mph.

And 25 mph is annoyingly slow.

compliance Toyota RAV4

MSRP $50,000
EPA-rated driving range of 103 miles (41.8 kWh Lithium-ion battery)

41,800Wh/103mi = 406 Wh/mi

OUCH! Did they include a complimentary parachute which deploys when driving?

If you put that battery in the Leaf it would go 155 miles!

The secondary market is already getting inventory - I'd like to know why but here are some samples from Autotrader:

2011 Nissan Leaf SL, 18,125 miles, $17,970
2011 Chevy Volt Premium, 13,750 miles, $26,953
2012 Misubishi i, 10,038 miles, $19,893

Have you had any time to take some pictures of your Stirling? That's something that I'm sure interests others here too, not just me.

Some cities are encouraging fuel-efficient vehicles by building special lots for them. If you're driving a regular car, you have to park a block or two away and walk to a stadium for a concert or game. If you drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, you can park right in front, next to the handicapped spaces.

Of course, I'd rather park blocks away, so I can walk out and avoid the crazy traffic jam of everyone pouring out at the same time.

What's to figure?

Make tracks while the Sun shines.. (..the water falls, the wind blows)

My back of the envelop calculations suggest that the solar energy falling on just the roadway portion of the US interstate (excluding the additional area in the unpaved center and right of way), if collected in fixed PV of current efficiency, would provide about FIVE times the amount of energy consumed by all the vehicles traveling on the interstate. So, in the longer term future, this might provide an option to electrify the interstate, sidestepping the limited range of battery electrics (and yes, I have both a Leaf and a Volt, but not yet PV to power them). We would need a lot of infrastructure development to create the connections, the wires and the intelligent vehicles that would travel on an electrified interstate, so it will take decades. But, since we like to speculate about 2050 and later in this forum, I think it is useful to discuss how to envision a future vehicular system that incorporates our 21st century technologies. Intelligent self driving vehicles are apparently only 10-20 years away. PV cells are now nearing parity with FF generation. Seems to me that it isn't a huge leap to integrate these technologies into our legacy highway systems to eliminate the need for petroleum for ground transport, in 30-50 years. About the same time as petroleum will be eliminated anyway.

Keep it simple by putting the cars on electric rail. You would need cars that can transition from pavement to rail easier than a current hi-rail vehicle.

Maybe embed rail into the exiting lanes. Regular cars can drive over them without a problem and hi-rail vehicles can align to them and take power from an overhead trolly wire.

At least one Sandpoint, ID outfit has been playing with photovoltaic paving material. No idea how practical the designs are.

Good! Thanks for that number. I shall now quote it to all my friends as god's truth. Is it? Dunno, let them figure it out, good for their souls.

I wonder how well a solar panel full of buckshot works.

We routinely use solar panels along highways now in the U.S. They are very commonly used to power those changeable message boards, flashing beacons, road monitoring cameras, etc. I have never heard that there's a problem with them being shot.

There is a problem with them being stolen.

Saudi Gazzette says Saudi production to decline in 2013.

Saudi real GDP, oil output to moderate in ’13

“We project real GDP growth of 3 percent for 2013 due mainly to the projected contraction in oil production, which will decline by nearly 400,000 b/d. However, this contraction in the oil sector will largely be offset by the non-oil sector, which is expected to grow by 7.6 percent, the second highest on record, driven by the private sector, mainly manufacturing and construction as well as the public sector that is projected to register around 6 percent this year.”

Actually Saudi crude only production in January was down 640 thousand barrels below their 2012 average according to the OPEC MOMR. But you can never take these newspaper articles at face value. Saudi will almost certainly be down in 2013 from their 2012 average but by how much is anybody's guess.

Ron P.

Since Saudi Arabia always has the unknown amount of "spare capacity" such that we never fully know their real situation, I wonder if there are other things we can look at to determine when they start having real decline problems. Other factors like:
-A change to their subsidy policies such that consumer gasoline prices go up
-A rapid escalation in the number of active rigs (is this happening right now?)
-A huge effort to install PV solar (and thus lessen oil burned at generators).
-A reduction in their foreign affair entanglements that cost them money


-A rapid escalation in the number of active rigs (is this happening right now?)

Yes that is definitely happening right now, but how much they are increasing is a puzzle. One source gives you one number and another source gives you another number. It is just like production data, you never know who to believe.

International Drill Rig Count Rises in January

Month over month the largest increase came in Saudi Arabia, up from 78 rigs in December to 87 in January. The largest decrease came in Indonesia, down from 43 in December to 39 in January.

And the very first post today, posted by me, has a link where Indonesia says 2013 will be "the year of drilling". Go figure. Anyway:

Saudi Aramco plans record rig count this year

The world's biggest oil producer is to deploy an additional 30 rigs this year, taking its total to over 170, the sources said, to search for gas to meet rapidly rising demand at home while maintaining its oil production capacity at 12.5 million barrels per day (bpd) as flows from some older fields decline.

So Baker Hughes says the Saudi rig count increased by 9, from 78 to 87 in January while Reuters says the Saudi rig count will be increasing by 30 to over 170 rigs in 2013. That means they must have been at about 140 at the end of 2012. I think perhaps there are two sources of rigs in Saudi, Baker Hughes and somewhere else. But at any rate Saudi is increasing its rig count in a desperate search for new oil, or more old oil.

Ron P.

A few years ago news like this would have been considered shocking. We would have expected the price of oil to shoot up by $10-$20 in one day. Yet today with news like this everyone just yawns. Since Saudi Arabia has now effectively admitted that they have peaked, why isn't oil up $20 today? Why is there no panic in the oil market? Now everyone knows that availability of imported oil will continue to decrease in the future.

The main reason such news no longer moves the market is that almost everyone in the market now believes there is no problems coming down the road with oil production. The great tight oil boom in the USA has insured, in their minds anyway, that we will have abundant supplies of oil for as far as we can see in the future.

But no, everyone doesn't know that the availability of imported oil will continue to decrease in the future. In fact they think the exact opposite. Though they believe that the US will have no need to depend on imported oil, they believe Leonardo Maugeri when he says:

Contrary to what most people believe, oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level that it might outpace consumption. This could lead to a glut of overproduction and a steep dip in oil prices.

And he is predicting that glut to hit by 2015 and that by 2020 the oil supply will increase by almost 18 million barrels per day.

Lotsa luck with either of those happening.

Ron P.

But shouldn't the reality on the ground (importers getting into a bidding war for scarce exports) trump perception? Looks like Saudi and Iraqi exports have declined significantly (around 1 mbpd) in the last couple of months. I would have thought that would push the price up significantly. The Brent has not exceeded $119 (except for a brief foray couple of years ago) for several years now.

One would think that Brent, averaging above $111 a barrel for over two years now, would counteract all those "oil glut" arguments. But it hasn't. Every cornucopian believes that cheap oil is just around the corner, just as soon as all those nations start ramping up production like Leonardo Maugeri and all those other pundits said they would.

And besides, we have almost oil in the Bakken alone, 250 billion barrels of recoverable oil, as Saudi Arabia has. And there are more than 20 other such formations in the US. So do the math, 20 times 250 billion... lets see... that comes to..

This development seems consistent with the best study ever conducted on the geological features and potential productivity of Bakken (Price, 1999), which estimated the maximum Original Oil in Place of the whole formation at more than 500 billion barrels, with a probable recovery rate of about 50 percent. If confirmed, those figures would make Bakken a “game-changer” of the oil business, and one of the largest oil basins ever discovered. And Bakken is only one out of more than twenty shale/tight oil formations in the U.S., that so far have been virtually untouched.
Oil: The Next Revolution (Large PDF file)

Ron P.

The mess seems best described by the headline below from your link:

June 2011, Since 2009, 88 Percent Of Income Growth Went To Corporate Profits, Just One Percent Went To Wages

The theme in those headlines over an over again is corporate profits up, wages flat or down. On Rachel Maddow's show last evening were two men (sorry can't recall their names) but they were saying the same thing. If you look at corporate profits the economy is doing well, but if you look at real wages and employment the economy is doing poorly. They blamed pro-corporation policies on DC, even from dems, due to politicians need for corporate campaign contributions.

Again this goes back to our forefathers concern for 'We the People' maintaining power into the future, which failed. The way we can get it back in my opinion is for campaign finance reform in which politicians do not take money from corporations, but instead tax dollars in equal amounts for each candidate are provided. If the tax payer funds the elections we will get our power back. Otherwise do not be surprised by more policies that help corporations.

Trickle-down economics is a joke. The veiled urination reference gives a good flavor of it though. But I like the older term for it . . . Horse & Sparrow economics. The theory that if you feed a horse enough oats, some of it manages to come out the other end which the Sparrows can enjoy. Now there is a visual for you.

I have been considering all of the postings lately having to do with AGW, Climate Change and the like. All very well thought out. Only thing is, we all (myself included) are forgetting for the most part that all of our reasonings are based on how things played out in the past. We are entering an entirely new era in our climate on this small rock... where what happened before may not be what happens now.

For example, shut down of THC... happened before the upper thermal limits were destroyed by our present regime of carbon burning. It may do what it did in the past, and Europe is in for some cold, cloudy days, years, decades, centuries (eons?). It may also be that shutting down the THC will just allow warm water on the surface to pond over cold in the Arctic, creating tropical conditions far north of anything considered in the past.

What I am saying is that we are speculating; the problem that we need address is that deniers are also speculating. None of the informed science community sees anything good ahead. Playing to particular predictions will play into the hands of deniers who would allow things to go unchecked. If, for instance, it were to be documented that THC did shut down in whole or in part, and then Europe did not go into Ice Age conditions as predicted, the deniers would be whooping and hollering, even while our climate continued to change in ways potentially worse, but unpredicted and unpredictable.

Just as predicting that Peak Oil will cause this or that calamity may be wrong, some calamity will no doubt be right. We need to perhaps be a bit less specific, and make sure that those to whom we speak know that our aprehensions are well founded, and that part of the difficulty is that we cannot prepare adequately for what we cannot see coming, even if we know "something" is on the way.

Maybe the 'doomers' who say we should simply prepare for the worst of human nature are right...

The theme that I stress is not to prepare for the worst, but to do what we can to prevent foreseeable problems... even and especially when we cannot say with particularity what they will be.


"Maybe the 'doomers' who say we should simply prepare for the worst of human nature are right... "

I wouldn't even call it "the worst". It's just what we do. Expecting humanity to behave, collectively, in ways other than how they've behaved in the past isn't realistic, IMO. It's just another case of longage of expectations. I just fear it'll be harder to muddle through this time, for 7+ billion people on a planet that needs a long vacation.

Just ignore the deniers, they're irrelevant. Nothing is going to change until a societal tipping point is reached and that isn't going to come about by people debating the facts. Society is going to react to its own imminent demise as unequivocal real world events and accompanying realisation of our immediate predicament triggers uncontrolled fear in populations. Of course we will be enveloped in climate chaos by then so it will be too late.

We do however, as individuals, need to know what we face so that we have some chance of preparing for it. This, IMO, is where scientific reticence is failing us, as the understating of the true situation and a reluctance to stick their necks out is denying individuals a chance to prepare. I mean look at the IPCC, what a crock, completely useless. Governments are back peddling as they fear damaging economic growth. Elites are trying to preserve BAU as it is the only way they can preserve their wealth. Lets face it, nothing is going to change until it has to and nobody is going to tell us what to expect until after it has happened.

I believe that we are going to be in deep trouble by 2020, if not sooner, in ways that we're not expecting. Everyone is waiting for the global temperature to rise before we experience the effects of AGW. I am now beginning to believe that we're going to get a major weather reset, where existing weather patterns are going to be completely altered and thrown into chaos (in fact they already are). All this without the global climate necessarily changing that much during the interim period.

The ramifications of this if it happens are huge. Not existential as would be the case with a 6c degree temperature rise (although that will arrive much later), but still severe enough to cause systems to fail, social upheaval and probably financial collapse (if it hasn't already managed to accomplish it by itself).

Something big is already in the works and it's unfolding right now as we speak.

The cracks of dawn

I was hesitating whether I should write about this (besides my personal combination of busy/lazy) for a couple of days, because the Arctic is such an amazing place that it's easy to get carried away. When you see something for the first time, it's tempting to go: "Oh my Gawd, that haz got to be the first time!" That happens to me a lot, especially during winter. It's only logical as we are seeing a lot of things for the first time, or for the first time since a very long time. But there still remains a very fine line between 'unique' and 'unusual, but not unique'. A line that can sometimes be difficult to tread.

An Ice free Arctic would be one of those wake up calls you are talking about. My own gut feel says that the Arctic is absorbing a lot of the excess heat (latent heat of fusion) from the atmosphere, once it's gone the climate will suddenly shift into overdrive, like flipping a light switch.

wiseindian, yes that's my gut feel too. Plus there seems to be a number of positive feedbacks accelerating Arctic warming. But what happens to the global heat redistribution mechanisms when the polar heat deficit declines and the equatorial heat surplus increases? We know the polar jet stream meanders more affecting the weather dramatically in the Northern Hemisphere. But as the temperature gradient between the tropics and the poles diminishes what happens to the atmospheric circulation and all that latent heat? It does seem as though its getting dumped at the poles for now or at least until the mechanism fails.

Does everything stay the same but on steroids, or does the existing mechanisms fall apart to be replaced with alternate ones?

Burgundy, your scenario is similar to that of Jennifer Francis and others. Trouble is, that supposedly large feedback from the albedo difference between open ocean and sea-ice isn't as large as claimed. And, the energy subsidy in the form of mass flows between the tropics and the poles includes the energy carried by the THC circulation toward higher latitudes in the North Atlantic. It's not clear to me that the flow of atmospheric energy after shutdown of the THC would be less intense than that we have historically experienced, even with higher average global temperature. There's evidence of increased storm intensity during glacial periods, as evidenced by greater deposition of dust in the ice cores from Greenland. And, the snow/ice albedo feedback has no effect during the long Winter months when there's no sunlight above the Arctic Circle...

E. Swanson

it's hard to say, as most of the predictions in terms of THC or atmospheric circulation have been speculative.

the Hadley cell (from the equator to roughly 30N) has been growing as a side effect of warming, and reconstructive studies of the pliocene (a time when temperatures were as warm as we may be seeing by 2100) show the same effect.

likewise, the number of atmospheric cells is roughly proportional to the strength of the temperature gradient from the pole to the equator, so the warmer the pole gets the weaker the boundaries between cells get and you get loosey-goosey jet streams like we're seeing now.

speculating, there may even be a chance that the subtropical and polar jet streams may merge and we end up with two atmospheric cells in the northern hemisphere. that would be a real hoot.

The suggestion is much more lifting, and more rainfall, etc. as a result :


chopper, the study you offered is interesting, but likely has little to add to the discussion. That's because the study uses proscribed SST's from proxy data, which ignores any differences in ocean circulation other than that captured in the SST data.

The authors do show the differences in topography, including the opening in the Isthmus of Panama, which allowed waters from the Caribbean Sea to flow into the Pacific. This flow could explain the warmer SSTs found in the Northern Pacific and high latitudes of the North Atlantic. It's been suggested that the present pattern of repeated Ice Ages is the result of the closure of the Isthmus of Panama, which shifted the THC to the high latitudes of the North Atlantic. As they say, "This Time is Different"...

E. Swanson

as i said, it's most all speculative. models haven't really coalesced around any real predictions of the effects of warming on things like atmospheric circulation. the pliocene is, as you point out, different, but it's the closest record we have to what 2100 is likely to look like.

overall, however, it still does hold that the main pattern of circulation correlates to the gradient from pole to equator. how much polar warming will cause a wholesale change, remains to be seen.

The study is just another modeling experiment. As I noted previously, because the model does not include ocean circulation, the results should not be seen as a good analog for mankind's changes to the Earth as we knew it. Other modeling studies using both atmospheric and ocean circulation with present geography and topographic relief would provide much more accurate projections, IMHO. Such efforts have shown a weakening of the THC in the high latitudes of the North Atlantic, resulting in cooling temperatures over that region. The claims that this region will be warmer, as indicated from the Pliocene data, are not credible to me...

EDIT: HERE is a reference from the study above which includes a discussion of the Pliocene climate which specifically mentions a reduction in the MOC as an outcome of AGW. The authors of this study claim that the opening across the Isthmus of Panama had closed by around 3 million yr BP, while the sea level was some 25 meters higher than today...

E. Swanson

The Isthmus of Panama closed about 3 million years ago, in the middle of the Pliocene. Before it closed completely, it would have been too shallow and restricted to allow a major current through.

Serious cooling did begin not long afterwards.

"But what happens to the global heat redistribution mechanisms when the polar heat deficit declines and the equatorial heat surplus increases?"

Last time the poles were much warmer (mid-Pliocene, 3 million years ago) there was noticeably more rain. Admittedly past behavior does not predict future performance.

A lot of that excess heat may go into melting the Greenland ice sheet, which will result in a large acceleration of glaciers flowing into the Atlantic, as meltwater lubricates them. This ironically could lead to an increase of ice (by volume) in the ocean, and in melting it could cool the ocean water to the point of affecting climate in the area towards a mini ice age. (as in medieval mini ice age, not polar bears in London).

Written by Burgundy:
Everyone is waiting for the global temperature to rise before we experience the effects of AGW.

I am watching the Arctic ice melt, struggling with weather extremes and expecting methane to bubble into the atmosphere sooner than scientists have expected. The effects of AGW will come upon humanity gradually enough that most people will always be waiting.

What are the people in the Aldbrough Caravan Park, UK, (switch to satellite view and slide photo left) thinking as the sea encroaches closer and closer?

1. enjoy our sea side view while it lasts?
2. move the caravan now?
3. pray there will never again be a storm that erodes the cliff?
4. beg for charity?

For humans it is number 4: council has renewed calls for a national fund to help residents along the east coast affected by coastal erosion. January 28, 2013

Follow the erosion coast line NW just a while, and you will see a farm literally on the edge.

This just go on and on.

80% of Indian sewage 'flows untreated into rivers'

Indian cities produce nearly 40,000 million litres of sewage every day and barely 20 percent of it is treated, according to "Excreta Does Matter", a new report released by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

"The untreated waste dumped into rivers seeps into groundwater, thereby creating a ticking health bomb in India," concludes the report.

Laboratory tests by the team revealed that almost the entire country has nitrate levels higher than the prescribed levels—a result of sewage leaching into groundwater supplies.

*Thinks about all those people bathing in the Ganges*


While here in the land of the ubiquitous Hand Sanitizers, we've come around and aimed at a potentially equivalent disaster by way of the back door..

" — they are more dangerous, said Frieden, who described them as a “triple threat.”

" First, the bacteria are resistant to all or nearly all antibiotics, even those of last resort, he said. Second, they kill up to half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them. And third, the bacteria can transfer their antibiotic resistance to other bacteria within the family, potentially making other bacteria untreatable, as well."

Here's the 50 million dollar question; would these super-bug strains have evolved if not challenged by anti-biotics? I know from a previous drumbeat Seraph, you suggest they are good, but I contend that it's another scenario in which we benefit in the short term by allowing more people to survive, but in the long term we alter something that will make life more challenging in the future than it would have been had we never used them in the first place.

Much like we enjoy using FF in the short term, developing a very complex civilization with an exploding population, yet in the long term we will probably live on a planet that has radically undergone massive climate changes, in effect making for a world that is harsher than if we had never used FF in the first place.

In a sense, we sacrifice long term security for short term reward.

The problem will fix itself when fertilizer is no longer subsidized. Using human waste as a manure has a long history down here, unfortunately somewhere along the path to modernization we lost that art.

I agree that humanure will be essential to any sustainable society. Those nutrients that are flushed out to sea, are as gone as the oil we've burnt.

I think any reduction in the use of fertilisers nowdays will see a proportionate reduction in yeilds.

It seems even the Ladakh have lost their way.


Yep, the greatest cause of problems is solutions, case in point, try and find the original problem.

The biggest problem with "Humanure" on a large scale is that the effluent of our industrial operations is often combined with that of commercial and residential...meaning it's all laced with heavy metals and other nasty stuff which can't really be taken out. Applied to fields this would eventually load them with the heavy metals. Then there's the issue of persistent pharmaceuticals...

Makes me wonder if people would start replacing other, arcane appliances with things like centrifuges and chelating tanks..

I suggested to a grower/seller at the farmer's market last year that we start to create the 'Compost-Tea Party' .. He was into that.

Millions of Indians Facing Worst Drought in Decades

Millions of people in western India are suffering their worst drought in more than four decades, with critics blaming official ineptitude and corruption for exacerbating the natural water shortage.

"In recorded history the reservoirs have never been so low in central Maharashtra," he said. "With every passing day the reservoirs are drying up." Chavan blamed the crisis on two successive poor monsoons, although others say a public policy failure is also responsible.

Nearly 2,000 tanker trucks are being used to transport drinking water to the needy, while hundreds of cattle camps have been set up to keep livestock alive until the monsoon, which usually arrives in June. "With every passing day, the tankers have to travel a greater distance. It's a huge logistical issue," Chavan said.

The chief minister's office could not put an exact figure on the population in the 10,000 villages affected, but said it ran into millions.

Should we expect a new wave of small farmer suicides? :-(

This is likely to affect more than just the farmers. Collapse of the monsoon and overdraft of the aquifers in the 2015-2020 window is likely to place 100-200 million in a grave situation in the area between India and Pakistan. Response is not forthcoming ...

Governments Falling Short In Drought Fight, UN Says

... "Drought, as opposed to any other natural disaster like floods or frost or whatever, is a very slow, creeping phenomenon," said Mannava Sivakumar, who runs the WMO's climate prediction and adaptation division.

"People think, let's wait and see what happens. But that's the danger in drought. If you keep on saying let's wait and see what happens, before you realise it, you see crops dying, orchards dying, millions of dollars in damage," he told reporters.

"Often governments don't have any plan in place and then after droughts come, it's a reactive approach, the reaction starts, a lot of donor money pours in," ...

Here is an excellent example of one of the worst problems we have, and of the reason that our vision is so obscured. BAU and MSM see a drought, and say "millions of dollars in damage." We say, "millions of people dead." Which of these is the more serious effect? How we view that is what shapes our choice of remedies. Hence, the BAU reaction is: "a lot of donor money pours in..."



I missed the part where millions died. India has been getting food aid for decades, feeding an exponentially growing population. As the population grows, it gets harder to feed so many people, and the aquifers are lowered every year thanks to technology, wheat production in Punjab is in what seems to be a terminal decline because of depleted aquifers, this is before the drought. India is a country in overshoot, though it still seems to have the money to suport it's population for now.

Saving millions of people may seem like the ethical thing to do, but as a farmer, unless you take measures to reduce the population, or at least stabalise the population, I can tell you that the future will be even worse then the present. Thats the discussion thats missing, and instead what we hear is that the rising prosperity will take care of population growth. Completely blind to the obvious implications of a supposed rise in prospertiy, namely the even faster degradation of resources, and consumption of resources. Simply meaning that the 'footprint' of the population grows even more, and it heads even further into overshoot, making the snapback even more viscous. It's impossible to help India without addressing the population size, and waiting for prosperity to save the day is a false hope fantasy. Just imagine if India was consuming resources at the same rate as the US. India is not alone, pleanty of other countries in the same boat, are they all going to have western lifestyles to, with a comensurate fertility rate?

I think it's been rather obvious to anyone who has looked at the demographics and the problems with environmental impacts that limiting population is an absolute necessity. Both China and India have attempted to limit family size, but only the program in China has been moderately successful. That may be doe to their strict central government control. The more democratic political system which the Indians inherited from the British appears to have failed in this regard. India's population was about 350 million in 1948 and has grown to about 1,200 million since. The so-called "Green Revolution" using fertilizers derived from fossil fuels made that growth possible and once the fossil fuels peak out, things are likely to shift into reverse, IMHO. India is a special case, since their agriculture depends on monsoon rains, which have a history of failing, thus causing starvation...

E. Swanson

Yep the solution to starvation was the green revolution. Though I think the high yeilding grains, made available without copyright played an equal part with irrigation, pesticides and fertilisers in lifting yields. It's criminal that so little is being done to limit population growth, it's going to end badly, yet people refuse to listen.

Extended drought implies death by starvation for those who depend on the farm produce that has turned brown, etc. It is not the death that is the problem, it is the way of death.

Eventually there will be a drawdown of human population... there is no way to continue on present population levels, much less on projected growth trends. The real quesiton is how we manage that draw down... how we get from here (high energy use, industrial societies) to there (low energy, agrarian societies) without engaging in devastating wars, unimaginable suffering (the death by starvation e.g.), and loss of our technological base of information.

To, instead of considering the important factors, dwell on economic losses to investors, bankruptcy of corporations and the like is a travesty. We face the practical need to, not only reduce our level of consumption, but to prepare a world for the reality that what we have today is the fantasy, and that it cannot continue.

There is absolutely no hope that politicans (in general) will ever do that. EVER.

And thus the source for the doomer label on TOD. And, my friends and my family all say I am an optimist!


"To, instead of considering the important factors, dwell on economic losses to investors, bankruptcy of corporations and the like is a travesty."

The economic effect is pretty much all they're equipped to assess things by. As the world gets ever more complex, equating everything to a monetary figure seems to be the primary way to communicate these things; the primary metric. It's what everyone understands, especially politicians. No need to muck things up with alternate realities ;-/

Hey! Great! I just saw the DJIA was at a new record today!!!

And so, as you can see my dear Pangloss, all is well in this, the best of all possible worlds!


Not if there is food aid, and water trucks. It means hungry people, and impovershment, but I think you'll find that a headline of millions dead would be way off the mark. If I am a farmer, the drought effects my income, thats the bottom line. Now a headline saying; India's population:- too large for its resource base, a lesson for all of us. That would make quite an accurate, headline and interesting article.

Assuming there is food aid, the deaths will be around the margins. Increased suicide rate, and increases of other stress related deaths. The sort of things that go along with poverty. But the vast bulk of the population will survive is food is brought in.

Suicides don't spike with drought, at least not with one drought, it's partly connected yes. The suicide cases are usually the long term debt/loan cases. Drought means increased migration to the city, increase in highway robberies and cheap labor.

Texas Oil Production May Hit Record by 2020, Regulator Says

Texas is poised to more than double daily oil production by 2020, surpassing a 1972 record with surging output from the Eagle Ford shale and Permian Basin, the state’s petroleum regulator said.

Oil production may rise to as much as 1.75 million barrels a day in 2013 from about 1.5 million barrels a day last year, Barry Smitherman, chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas, said in an interview at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston today. The commission oversees oil and gas drilling and production in the state.

By 2020, Texas’ crude output may exceed the 3.45 million barrels a day seen in 1972 if prices stay high enough to make drilling economic, he said.

Isn't Eagle Ford mostly NGL?

What... NGLs aren't enough of an oil equivalent for you? /sarc

By 2020, Texas’ crude output may exceed the 3.45 million barrels a day seen in 1972

Double the production in just 7 years in a region that has already been drilled to pieces?? How are they coming up with these numbers, extrapolating current trends to infinity?

Bad Energy Policy and its Effects in the Oil and Gas World

... In modern times we can trace a great deal of bad energy policy back to President Jimmy Carter, who made a practice of demonizing the oil industry, and largely justified his creation of the Department of Energy on a popular belief that the world would soon run out of oil, along with the national security implications of the U.S., at that time, having to import about 1/3rd of its daily oil use from overseas sources. That was in 1977.

... goes downhill from there

"... goes downhill from there"

Considering it started at the bottom of the hill I think it's safe to say that went subterranean. Carter's energy policies got arse-raped the millisecond he left office and the rest of the article is smoke and mirrors at best.

... goes downhill from there

Then perhaps a little tit for tat from the Onion might be in order.
Though a bit dated...


Olive Oil Shortage: Prices Soar As Effects Of Devastating Drought Hit Marketplaces

A global olive oil shortage looms as the effects of last year's drought, which affected Spain and areas in Southern Europe, begin to hit the marketplace.

In 2013, Spain may see as much as a 60 percent drop in olive harvest yields from last year, from 1.6 million to 700,000 tons. This will have global consequences -- Spain is the world's top producer and exporter of olive oil and table olives, as recognized by the International Olive Council.

... The rising costs and decreased availability of quality olive oil may inflame the already troubling issue of olive oil fraud. Olive oil is a commonly adulterated product, often cut with deodorants and other non-olive oils and passed off as the real deal.

Just wondering how many past-peak olive trees are being burned for heat this winter in Spain and Greece... and if peak olive oil contributed to Rome's collapse.

Ottawa pitches the oil sands as ‘green’

PAUL KORING, WASHINGTON — The Globe and Mail, Published Tuesday, Mar. 05 2013, 2:11 PM EST

Adding green to the attributes of Alberta’s oil sands is the latest twist in Ottawa’s concerted effort to push for U.S. approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline designed to funnel more than 800,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude to Texas Gulf oil refineries next to deep-water export terminals.

“The oil sands are a greener alternative than some other sources from around the world,” the [natural resources] minister [Joe Oliver] said in news conference from Chicago after delivering a speech touting Keystone merit’s to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Made me recall that definition of chutzpah that Krugman likes to use to make a point...

"Chutzpah, according to the old definition, is when you murder your parents, then plead for mercy because you’re an orphan."

aws - “The oil sands are a greener alternative than some other sources from around the world,” Amigo, I suspect you're going to get a lot of practice gritting your teeth and taking it with regards to such pitches. If coal continues to expand as I expect it will every promoter of every other FF extraction project will make the same point: what would you rather have my Project X or another coal-fired plant? You may say neither but that won't be one of your options. OTOH let’s assume China gets its paws on a big chunk of the Alberta production: would that reduce their rapid expansion of coal-fired plants? Being theoretical another answer no one can prove. My guess would be it wouldn't slow them up. They need motor fuel and electricity to continue their growth plan.

Wait until they start developing that Green River formation with those trillions of barrels of oil. That's gonna make the tarsands look like greenpeace. Still pleanty of burnable stuff left, and heading for 10 billion people who NEED an external energy source.

It will never happen in my opinion. The economic and financial systems that support industry are failing now on the plateau of crude oil. When crude oil production actually starts to fall industrial economic systems will fail.

As long as the energy economics can support it, it will be done. With kerogan, it should be possible to burn kerogan, to extract kerogan, or some such process.

That just the problem, energy economics cannot support it. Never has and never will. Therefore it will not be done.

Ron P.

Not true, many countries have or still do consume energy from shale oil or kerogen.


Ironic link. Last paragraph of wiki link:

" The production of shale oil has been hindered because of technical difficulties and costs.[42] In March 2011, the United States Bureau of Land Management called into question proposals in the U.S. for commercial operations, stating that "There are no economically viable ways yet known to extract and process oil shale for commercial purposes."[43]"

In other words there is no market for it at present. On the downslope of gaussian curve there will be a market for it. Provided people still exist.

No Smeagle, that is not what it means at all. Of course there is a market, the world crude oil price is $110 a barrel. Read it again:

"There are no economically viable ways yet known to extract and process oil shale for commercial purposes."

That means there is no known way to viable way to extract the oil and still make a profit. And it was that way when oil was $10 a barrel, when it was $50 a barrel and it will still be that way when oil in $200 a barrel. It is called the "receding horizon principle". As the price of oil rises so does the cost to extract it.

Ron P.

Pretty eloquent and funny summary by Randy Udall:


Let's try a redneck experiment.

Winter's coming, and I'm willing to pay $1,000 to the first Coloradan who decides to heat their house with oil shale. I'll deliver it in October, free of charge.

Such an experiment would teach you a lot. First, you'd learn that there's three times more energy in a pound of split pine or recycled phone books or cattle manure or Cap'n Crunch than in a pound of oil shale.

Next, you'd learn that 85 percent of oil shale is inert mineral matter. This means that on a cold winter day you'd have to shovel about 700 pounds of rocks into your oil shale furnace and remove 600 pounds of ash.

If, during the course of the winter, you burned 40 tons (about what you'd need), come spring you'd have 36 tons of hazardous waste, enough to fill three dump trucks.

I'll pay for the dump trucks, you deal with the EPA.

That's very good. But when the public hears anything about oil shale or shale oil or any of this, what they hear is:

Blah blah blah oil blah blah blah oil blah blah. And they know gasoline comes from oil and so they'll be able to keep driving. Now, on to more important stuff - what's on TV tonight?

Another way of humorizing about oil shales, is that to use them is like reverse alchemy-start with gold and diamonds (natural gas and fresh water)- and turn it into lead and halite (ash heaps and contaminated water).

Critical Part of Keystone Report Done by Firms with Deep Oil Industry Ties

Two consulting firms provided State Department with key analysis of whether the pipeline would speed development of Canada's oil sands.

By Lisa Song, InsideClimate News, Mar 6, 2013

The State Department's recent conclusion that the Keystone XL pipeline "is unlikely to have a substantial impact" on the rate of Canada's oil sands development was based on analysis provided by two consulting firms with ties to oil and pipeline companies that could benefit from the proposed project.

EnSys Energy has worked with ExxonMobil, BP and Koch Industries, which own oil sands production facilities and refineries in the Midwest that process heavy Canadian crude oil. Imperial Oil, one of Canada's largest oil sands producers, is a subsidiary of Exxon.

ICF International works with pipeline and oil companies but doesn't list specific clients on its website. It declined to comment on the Keystone, referring questions to the State Department.

FOR ALL: The delay of the Keystone Pipeline border crossing permit may produce an acceleration of the development of the Canadian oil sands. IMHO, of course.

aws - But let’s be honest: if a group with no oil industry background had come to the same conclusion would that have made the anti KPL folks any happier? And take it one step further: perhaps I'm not remembering correctly but the study doesn't address the effects of burning the Canadian oil but whether the non-approval of the border crossing section will significantly slow the development of the oil sands. Given that Canada exported more oil to the US than ever before in 2012 (without the border crossing section) it would seem that their conclusion is probably correct. The lack of the permit approval has caused the expansion of non-pipeline transport systems to increase even more than what was in place when the record import level was reached. Perhaps if the permit had been improved there might not have been as strong an economic incentive to build out non-p/l transport systems since they would not have had as long to recover their capex investments. And we might not have imported as much Canadian oil in 2012 as we did. And consider this: once the border crossing section is completed, as I'm very sure it will be, the non-p/l transport systems will have to be more competitive in their pricing which could well cause the KPL to be more competitive. IOW transport costs will be reduced which increases to some degree the economic viability of developing the oil sands.

Perhaps just another unintended consequence: by delaying the permit the potential for a larger amount of Canadian oil to be developed and exported to the US has occurred than had the permit been issued a couple of years ago.

BTW: Again, IMHO, the results of the study were very predictable regardless of what consultants they used. We've seen record high fuel prices for this time of the year. Soon, when peak driving season kicks, in it's easy to expect all time price records. And when that happens the R's will blame the POTUS. Despite the fact that he's been great for the oil industry IMHO. This report intends to take him off the hook for any potential delay in importing Canadian oil and thus eliminating one weapon for the R tool box.

Keystone Pipeline Decision May Influence Oil-Sands Development

By Brad Olson & Jeremy van Loon - Bloomberg - Mar 7, 2013 12:00 AM ET

Current discounts of almost $30 a barrel are “unsustainable,” Enbridge Inc. (ENB)’s Chief Executive Officer Al Monaco said yesterday in a presentation at the IHS CeraWeek energy conference in Houston. “If we can’t attract world prices, then we will ultimately curb energy development.”

-- snip --

“It’s fair to say that development has already slowed because of the discount,” said Robert Schulz, a business professor at the University of Calgary who specializes in the Canadian oil and natural gas industry. “Companies are certainly going to wait and see what the decision on Keystone is before moving ahead with development,” he said in an interview.

-- snip --

Shipping oil by rail is two to three times more costly than by pipeline and can reach as high as $15 a barrel for some distances, said Monaco of Calgary-based Enbridge.

"I believe anyone investing in tar sands is very likely to end up with stranded assets in the next decade or two. Solar is getting cheaper by the minute, whereas petroleum is getting more expensive. It is only a matter of time before their expenses cross." - Jeremy Grantham


Whether it is coal or oil it's the same issue. China needs both, for the moment, the higher the price they have to pay for coal and oil the faster they'll switch to solar and wind.

After too many more years of drought and freaky weather, I have a hard time believing, and it may be misplaced faith, that Canada and the U.S., both democratic countries, will in the coming decade continue to ship coal and oil to an authoritarian communist state (a state that parades those it is about to execute on TV). The outrage at the obvious economic impacts of climate change that we can expect it is hard for me to imagine a politician not shutting down the coal and bitumen trains. And if they don't do it there will be people willing to remind them what needs to be done.

One of the things that occurs to me when it comes to discussing the idea of the fossil fuel industry's stranded assets and what companies have real value in the future is the place of the railroad industry. It's clear that coal and tar sands corporations have many assets that we should be considering as stranded. But big railroad companies proportionally move a lot of cars filled with coal, and now bitumen, and for a little while longer light oil from places like the Bakken. You take those car loads away from them and the industry starts to look a good deal less valuable. Maybe Buffet's investment in BNSF was a mistake?



aws – “I have a hard time believing…that Canada and the U.S…will in the coming decade continue to ship coal and oil to an authoritarian communist state…”

And that, my friend, is where you and I live in two different universes. LOL. I have absolute faith “we” will burn ever more polluting ff’s to supply our needs as well as destroy whatever portions of the environment as well as native people to get what societies requires to carry on BAU as close as possible. I am, after all, a child of the 70’s with Watergate, Vietnam, Nixon, etc. firmly attached to my DNA. It really is impossible for me to expect otherwise from our fellow citizens. Dont trust anyone over 30? Heck, there are very few over 3 yo that would have absolute trust in. LOL.

Also: "I believe anyone investing in tar sands is very likely to end up with stranded assets in the next decade or two. Solar is getting cheaper by the minute, whereas petroleum is getting more expensive. It is only a matter of time before their expenses cross.". I’ll remind him that the companies developing the oil sands are more focused on the economics a few quarters out then in 20 years. Remember with discounted cash flow analysis those in ground assets have much beyond 10 years have virtually no value in Net Present Value calculations. Add that I don’t expect the alts and voluntary conservation to have any significant impact as far as reducing ff consumption for at least 10 to 15 years and probably a good bit longer.

Or put more bluntly: If I’m a 55 yo CEO of a company developing the oil sands I don’t give rat’s *ss what happens to those reserves more than 15 years out. And depending on how his stock options are scheduled maybe not more than 5 years. LOL.

As far as investing in railroads I think the key is with any stock: the trick IMHO isn't so much when you buy in but when you cash out. No one ever lost money on a stock by selling it for more than the paid for it. The trick, of course, is the timing.

"Remember with discounted cash flow analysis those in ground assets have much beyond 10 years have virtually no value in Net Present Value calculations."

It's seven years where I work. Anything that might happen more than seven years from now is completely irrelevant. Actually right now 2015 is pretty hypothetical. But we are thinking a great deal about 2014, if that makes you feel better.

PVguy - Yep...7 years is common. I used 10 so not to stir debate over small numbers. Yoou might be thinking about 2014. My boss just did his quarterly reserve update...and he wasn't smiling. Our big problem hasn't been what we've found but that we haven't been drilling very much since NG prices cratered. We've redone our program and are going after Alabama oil now instead of S La NG.

Jeremy Grantham is my new hero. I don't agree with all that he says and does but man, it is interesting to see this Wall Street multi-millionaire turn against BAU. And it is not because he had some big change of heart and suddenly became a bleeding-heart commie pinko environmental extremist.

No, his views have come about from a hard look at the financial data and the scientific data.

Grantham, whose investment-management firm GMO invests approximately $2 billion in natural resources, says he's been advising his clients to stay away from high-cost, low-quality energy investments, such as coal and tar sands. "By a happy coincidence, my investment view sits perfectly with my environmental views," he says. "I believe anyone investing in tar sands is very likely to end up with stranded assets in the next decade or two. Solar is getting cheaper by the minute, whereas petroleum is getting more expensive. It is only a matter of time before their expenses cross."

Part of the reason for this quote of avoiding coal and tar sands is that he thinks attitudes will eventually change and we may begin to have some climate change regulation. I'd like to believe that but I'm skeptical. Never underestimate the power of human denial.

While much of the focus is on the pipeline opposition's naivete, not enough attention is paid to the fact that the industry is still saying that the pipeline is critical for prices and, therefore, further development. It is almost as if the industry does not want this pipeline as they cannot stop giving the opposition ammunition. Is this a version of three card monte or what? Count Enbridge as another critic of the State Department's environmental impact statement.

No doubt that the pipeline is not the end all and be all of the tar sands industry. But I think that slowing down oil development anywhere and everywhere is a good idea. And I would say this even if the environment or global warming were not an issue. Precious, valuable, and limited resources should be conserved and this rush to pursue the elusive goal of energy independence does not serve the long term interests of the U.S., Canada, or the world as a whole.

ts – Remember the “oil industry” neither supports nor opposes the KPL. There are segments of the industry that would like to see it and the rest of the p/l system NEVER BUILT. And segments just licking their chops in anticipation.

Likewise landowners in the NE neither oppose nor support frac’ng. Those with royalty income support it. Those that get no money and have to deal with the extra truck traffic oppose it. Politicians in NY that will collect severance tax from frac’ng are warming up to it. Those that won’t get tax money aren’t very interested.

The folks in S La. neither oppose nor support Deep Water drilling in the GOM. Those that make a good living out there drilling support it. Politicians getting a cut of the fed royalty payment support it. Those who make their living from fishing and tourism are happy about it. The POTUS likes the idea so much he has approved over 400 new drilling permits since the Macondo blow out.

As they say you need a score card to figure out who is one whose team.

By industry, I meant those who are directly involved in the tar sands extraction. And I presume that you think those directly involved and are saying the pipeline is critical, are wrong. I am saying that maybe they should quit pushing back so hard because the louder they proclaim its necessity, the harder the opponents fight to stop it. I do not understand how those directly involved in the industry could be so wrong. I tend to defer to your opinion because of your sound reasoning here and possession of the facts. But this situation is still confusing. So maybe there is some deep,dark, devilish conspiracy going on. Secretly, Buffett is funding these people to protect his investment in the railroads. Or the Martians are in charge.

ts - Yes...I did misread you. But you're correct IMHO about the forked tongueness of those oil sand operators. The KPL is critical not to the development of the oil sands. The undeniable fact that Canada shipped more oil to the US in 2012 than ever before proves production was viable without the KPL. What is important for those operators is to develop the lowest cost transport for their oil. Presumably the KPL will do that as well as possibly lead to a reduction in cost by the other existing transport systems. How critical? Move 800,000 bopd and save $2/bbl (just my WAG) and the operators save almost $600 million per year. Even in my affluent neighborhood (across the road for the refinery. LOL) that’s a lot of money.

OTOH I agree they may seem to be adding fuel to the anti-oil sands fire (pun so obviously intended LOL). OTOOH I view their statements as just a diversionary tactic (assuming they are really that clever). The vast majority of the chatter is the KPL border crossing permit debate. A lack of a permit that never has and never will stop the development of the oil sands. Everything else, such as local pollution, potential increased US oil consumption thanks to a massive amount of oil from a "friendly" neighbor, etc., has been shoved out of the spot light. As I’ve said before IMHO the anti-KPL folks are engaged in a battle they’ve already lost. In every war there are times when you evac your dead and wounded. At that point you save your ammo for the next fire fight after you regroup.

Well, there are certainly some dissenters. But the industry mouthpiece API is on board so the majority view is that the oil industry supports the KPL.

But of course, to figure out who lines up where . . . just follow the money.

a state that parades those it is about to execute on TV

And the US differs from China in this regard how?

Most countries, including Canada but not the US, have abolished capital punishment and in most of them the use of the traditional American "perp walk" of defendants in orange uniforms in front of the TV cameras is considered highly demeaning and possibly a violation of their right to be presumed innocent in advance of a fair trial.

It's just the pot calling the kettle black again.

Scramble For Arctic Resources 'Bad' For South

An increase in mineral and oil exploration in the Arctic north could prove ominous for the future preservation of the southern polar region of Antarctica, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Antarctica is currently protected by an international agreement that bans mining and drilling...

Rob Downie, Antarctica expert for the WWF, has told Sky News that he fears increased mineral extraction activities in the Arctic could lead to the development of new technologies that would make exploitation of Antarctica's natural resources more achievable.

He said: "What really concerns me is that because of this Wild West style scramble for Arctic resources, we might see developing technology, developing operational procedures and that combined with the reckless attitude to risk and towards insurance by the oil and gas industry, doesn't set a good precedent for Antarctica."...

The Environmental Protocols... have placed a 50-year moratorium on all mining and drilling in the continent.

That moratorium can begin to be reviewed and potentially removed from 2041.

"...28 years from now, if we are stupid enough we could destroy the last great wilderness on earth," said Mr Swan.

Bjorn Lomborg... said: "Having a moratorium in beautiful, unique places like Antarctica sounds like a good idea, but likewise Wales is beautiful and unique... Why don't we have a moratorium everywhere?

...Let's be honest and talk about how much it would cost us to have some mining in Antarctica. That would be a bad thing in the sense of destroying the uniqueness, but at the same time that it would also have a lot of benefits..."

China is boosting its presence in resource-rich Antarctica

...China has doubled its spending on Antarctic research in the past decade...

The Polar Research Institute of China’s website used to feature a series of maps outlining Antarctic resources, including oil reserves off the coast of Antarctica, but they have recently been taken down.

Anne-Marie Brady, a political science professor at New Zealand’s Canterbury University and editor of The Polar Journal, wrote in a recently published research paper that China is clearly interested in Antarctic resources, which range from minerals to meteorites, intellectual property from bio-prospecting, locations for scientific bases, fisheries and tourism access.

"As an energy-hungry nation, China is extremely interested in the resources of Antarctica (and the Arctic) and any possibilities for their exploitation", Brady wrote.

Chinese-language polar social science discussions are dominated by debates about Antarctic resources and how China might gain its share, she wrote.

Numerous newspaper reports in Chinese have alleged that some countries are already prospecting in Antarctica under the cover of scientific research, Brady said.

In Chinese-language debates, scholars, government officials and journalists appear to agree that the exploitation of Antarctica is only a matter of time and that China be ready, she said.

...it would be expensive to recover oil and gas from Antarctica but... a spike in oil prices could make it economically viable.

Fishing and tourism also offer great economic potential, he said.

In 2005 the Antarctic had 12,000 to 15,000 tourists. Five years later there were 38,000 and, this season, officials predict the number will reach 40,000...

There’s no international regime for regulating Antarctic tourism...

Kennicutt said the Chinese efforts are part of a broader dynamic that has seen several other nations, such as India, Brazil and South Korea, become major players on the ice in recent years.

The Chinese are gearing up for a much larger presence in both the Antarctic and the Arctic, he said, adding they are no longer dependent on established Antarctic nations such as the U.S. or Britain for support.

Trash Threatens Fragile Antarctic Environment

Antarctica, particularly the ice-free areas that serve as research hubs, have a darker, dirtier side.

A report released Friday (PDF) called "Current Ecological Situation of the Fildes Peninsula Region and Management Suggestions", authored by scientists at Germany’s Jena University, shows that decaying field huts, piles of trash and oil-slicked shorelines mar Antarctica’s King George Island, a logistical hub for international Antarctic research.

Tire treads from vehicles that veer off specifically designated tracks have gouged up sparse vegetation, including fragile native mosses. Toxic chemicals, oil cans and broken down car batteries lie exposed in open pits. Fuel leaks from research stations infiltrate in streams. "We have a genuine waste problem in the Antarctic.", said Hans-Ulrich Peter of the University Jena...

"Many people's thinking is permeated by state perspectives. One manifestation of this is the unstated identification of states or governments with the people in a country which is embodied in the words 'we' or 'us.' ...Those who make such statements implicitly identify with the state or government in question. It is important to avoid this identification, and to carefully distinguish states from people..."
~ Brian Martin, 'Uprooting War'

Wars against people; wars against nature. That's "your" governments. What are you going to do about it? Nothing. No, you're going to keep wage-slaving and paying your taxes in support for the activities of "your" governments.

Maybe we'll fail. Things aren't looking good. But my two cents' worth is this: take personal responsibility on the largest scales. If you think Bill McKibben is on the right track, sell your house, send him the proceeds, and live on the dole. If you think he's on the wrong track, try to do it better. Just step away from your current existence and safety margins and try coming up with something that will work. Sure, you may fail. So what? You were planning to live forever? You think your kids are better served by being put through college than having a world for their kids to live in? Worried about wasting valuable time doing whatever you're doing now?

This isn't addressed to anyone in particular. I'm just pointing out that yes, it's true governments won't deal with it adequately or in time. Corporations certainly won't. Most people won't. OK, that defines that part of the problem. So let's get creative and see ten thousand Frodo's (or Gandhi's, or pick your favorite superhero) give it their best as though the earth mattered. Cleverly, inspiringly, modestly, sneakily, or whatever way seems best. Treat it as personal, because it surely is. You are one of very few conscious, educated, enfranchised hands of life's multi-billion year journey on earth, and you have many options humans have never had before and probably never will again. You know it's true, that's why it feels uncomfortable to hear.

And if any of this sounds even a trace unreasonable, get yourself to a forest under a starry sky, or to a coral reef, or just to somewhere you can look inward to and past your own personal fears.

And then do what seems right to do, something commensurate with the potential loss of a world, your relatives, your history and future, your species.

as I say, my 2 cents' worth on a Saturday night. ~ greenish

@greenish: I've gone on the dole. Not a bad idea, but... as for Bill McKibben and the house, I might turn it into a Transition hub/Permaculture centre/anarchist collective/teahouse instead, on top of a food forest garden aroundabout... And look into alternative currencies/trade/etc. of course. ;)
I figure that's a better way to spend my time than, say, how the military or banksters spend theirs on their far greater cut from the proceeds of governgang thievery on the backs of the wage slaves.

Hey Tribe;
Whew.. Lomborg sure knows how to be a greazy one, doesn't he?

To paraphrase, 'I agree that we should really protect the environment.. buut, let's make sure we're not overlooking any juicy opportunities, either. There's no need to be a hero or anything, I mean, let's not KILL ourselves over this, heh- heh! Noone's gonna miss a couple of penguins, are they?'

Yes, I, too, marveled at that. Nice paraphrase. The greazy needs a little more slick, though, like a nice light sweet crude on the water.

Incidentally, check this out:

Bouvet Island

... is an uninhabited subantarctic volcanic island and dependency of Norway located in the South Atlantic Ocean... It... is the most remote island in the world... The dependency status entails that the island is not part of the Kingdom of Norway, but is still under Norwegian sovereignty. Specifically, this implies that the island can be ceded without violating the first article of the Constitution of Norway... The temperature 30 centimetres (12 in) below the surface is 25 °C (77 °F)...

...So what do you think?

Take over the island and contract for a Chinese-built geothermal hi-rise condo multiplex with running glacial water? A McDonalds, Wing-Wong's, Starbucks and KFP (Kentucky Fried Penguin) at the intersection of a plus-shaped subway, and a hotel, government/admin office complex, sewage treatment facility and Minimega-mall (that Bouvet Island makes famous), respectively, at each end? A park where parents and the kids can go and watch and feed what's left of the penguins and seals that aren't picking in and around the trashbins and landfills, leftover fillet-o-fish sandwiches and biscotti and get real close to nature? Create a zoo made to look like a real habitat for endangered Bouvet Island seals that pays for itself from tourism revenue generated via multinational ad campaign, with kickbacks to politicians? Bouvet Island Wine and Water exports? Glass-bottomed boat cruises? It's all possible, and more!

Best hopes for Lomborg.

Sounds like the 'Restaurant at the end of the Universe'..
Or as they say up North here.. 'It ain't at the end of the world, but you can see if from there!'

(Thanks for all the Fish!)

Hey Tribe, where do I sign up? On the other hand is there anything in the water there that might accidentally swallow Lomborg...

Another Lomborg would pop up in any case.

I'm slightly more pessimistic then greenish. Those who give up stuff 'for the greater good' or whatever are just redistrubuting resources to those poorer. The whole world isn't going to stop burning FF, polluting rivers and oceans, cutting down the forests, destroying the soils or digging up the metals. Thats what we do, we are humans and we are a destructive animal. A small minority may change their behaviour, but there is no way to change human instincts in any time frame that matters, ie less then 100 years. Given the option of having a better life today, vs the possibility of a better life in the distant future at the cost of a worse life today, it's an obvious choice for most people.

It's just a joke, going on the dole and giving away all your money won't achieve a heck of lot. If we were to have some hope we actually need to stop burning all FF, and relying on things made with FF, and sit back as 80-90% of the population dies. Governments wont do that, coorporations wont do that, and dare I say it, neither will greenish.

I think Nicole Foss has the right idea, settle down in sub artic Canada, try and get a bit more self usfficient, and ride it out. No way is anything going to change, in a way that will make much difference to the endgame. Fast or slow, the Limits to Growth showed what happens, even the 'techie' scenario resulted in collapse. Yes starving people, mass migration, depravation and death, so an inhospitable climate is just the place to be

"I think Nicole Foss has the right idea, settle down in sub artic Canada, try and get a bit more self usfficient, and ride it out."

Stoneleigh hasn't exactly settled down. She's been globe-treking, trying to plant seeds of awareness. Many of us who do a little prepping for self-sufficiency realise that a bottom-up approach may be the most affective path to mitigating the mess where in, and at least are trying to get the neighbors in the same chapter, if not on the same page. I think greenish is just suggesting that more folks need to walk the walk rather than watching it on TV or over a keyboard,, or sending a check to your favorite advocacy group.

True, much easier said then done. My own conflicted lifestyle choices is how I know, we are actually stuffed. Thats why I'm doing a little prepping. I know Stoneleigh for now is doing tours, but I was more agreeing with the remote, inhospitable location, in Canada part.

There is a weird hypocritical aspect of all these peak oil authors (Foss, Heinberg, Kunstler, etc.) who write books and then fly all over the world to do talks. Uh . . . if things are so dire then why are you flying all over the place?

I'm sure they feel that any good they do may outweigh the bad. A calling;-/ There may be some merit to that, and being penny wise, pound foolish at this point may not make sense. Individual efforts can have a positive effect, and some people are motivated to at least try.

I'm slightly more pessimistic then greenish. Those who give up stuff 'for the greater good' or whatever are just redistrubuting resources to those poorer. The whole world isn't going to stop burning FF, polluting rivers and oceans, cutting down the forests, destroying the soils or digging up the metals. Thats what we do, we are humans and we are a destructive animal. A small minority may change their behaviour, but there is no way to change human instincts in any time frame that matters, ie less then 100 years. Given the option of having a better life today, vs the possibility of a better life in the distant future at the cost of a worse life today, it's an obvious choice for most people.

It's just a joke, going on the dole and giving away all your money won't achieve a heck of lot. If we were to have some hope we actually need to stop burning all FF, and relying on things made with FF, and sit back as 80-90% of the population dies. Governments wont do that, coorporations wont do that, and dare I say it, neither will greenish.

Actually, I'm not suggesting giving up everything for the greater good, I'm suggesting that life and the living world are worth fighting for in any way you can. Be a steerer of events if you can. If you can't, pick the best, ballsiest strategist you can find and support his or her efforts.

You're right, most people will rationalize staying in their comfort zones, make a separate peace with Mordor. It's so easy, just just have to follow the crowd. But so what? There have always been pacifists, collaborators and profiteers in any war.

I'll probably fail. Has to happen some day, and this is the biggest predicament in this part of the galaxy. But my odds of steering the world to better outcomes which still suck are actually pretty good. And my odds of saving the whole shebang somehow are probably no worse than the odds of your being born in the first place. Why hide out in passivity when you're guaranteed to die anyhow? Rhetorical questions, I guess... I simply don't see the down side of trying. The world isn't the narratives on this website. It's real, granular, gritty, and path-dependent, nonlinear as hell. There are huge degrees of freedom left in how things roll out. The part of our minds which understands words and uses them to rationalize is a relatively small part of each of us, and not the most important part. Surrendering to an abstract narrative of the world ending is no honorable surrender. Just saying.

and this is the biggest predicament in this part of the galaxy.

Just how big a sector are you talking? Well I guess you covered yourself by using 'predicament' ?-) But then that runs smack into your reasoning a couple lines down

The part of our minds which understands words and uses them to rationalize is a relatively small part of each of us, and not the most important part.

Don't see there is such a think as a predicament without that part of the human brain in gear.

Luke -

I do use words and narrative for remote electronic communication with humans. Nothing wrong with letting the "press agent" module of the brain spin its narratives, and there is some power there. However, such models don't actually capture the outside world perfectly. Actually, I don't think the verbal module or the rationalizing neocortex can perceive predicaments as well as the analog modeling of the visual cortex; but since that part of my mind can't talk, it isn't represented in the 'greenish' persona.

Certainly this predicament is the biggest threat to life we know of in the galaxy. If multicellular complex life is as rare as it is now seeming to be, this is likely the biggest life-crisis in the entire galaxy. And "life crisis" is redundant because without life, there are no predicaments or crises, just phenomena. Certainly it's the biggest here since we and the whales shared common parents.

Interacting on a site like this is fun, and good for some kinds of info sharing. A lot of it is important and powerful. It isn't reality, though.


It isn't reality, though

lots of lives spent working on that can of worms. Me thinks we are always destined to be 'blind men describing the elephant' but that is half the fun of it. Years back I asked a guy here who was into deep meditation if the states he achieved could have been attained by a human whose brain had not been shaped by the learning of language...as you might have guessed he never replied.

In a very pedestrian take--assuming the pedestrian is wearing tire tread sandals?-)--I'll just go with 'where the rubber meets the road' for the 'reality' definition a call it good. No doubt, typing replies on a blog page is about as far removed from that as you get, so we are in full agreement there.

I do find it helpful to keep a Bobby McFarrin subprogram always running in the background. It is good for the immune system...

...life is short...

...and that is good reason to go tilting at windmills...they could actually be giants!!!

Well of course the odd analog world we experience - the only one we can experience - is a very rough and filtered version of what goes on outside. Various arbitrary qualia are applied - fer'instance there are no "colors" in the world outside our skulls - as well as our senses taking in data over wide ranges and doing sort of a logarithmic collapse on it. We are fine-tuned for selective blindness based on past fitness salience. And the part of our minds which is analytically "self aware" is not the most powerful part of the brain, it's a relatively recent add-on which in normal people has no decision-making authority. Our little "spin artist" modules work on self-deception for social purposes, and are quite good at it.

Which is a roundabout way of getting to the point that that stuff that hasn't happened yet, hasn't happened yet... even though it may seem that way.

As a career activist, I am probably hugely optimistic, since most normal humans would never do the stuff I have done, knowing it to be dangerous or impossible. However, my assessment of the predicament of humans and the earth is so dire that most would call me a pessimist doomer. Not so. I try to understand exactly how bad the predicament is, and not fall prey to despair and inaction from having done that.

There's no way I will fix the world, but many ways in which I might make the future suck less badly. That has to be good enough.

I don't think I've done any tilting at windmills. I have slain giants, metaphorically speaking. It had less to do with any super powers than just not talking myself into a self-fulfilling impotence.

There's a big difference between mulling stuff in circles in your brain, and practicing the perturbation of systems in the real world. Most people "play it safe", which is an odd concept to me. And I'm no ascetic sleeping with my head on a brick, I haven't given up anything worth having.

Life is short. I advise people not to waste it feeling like weenies. They should engage. If they fail, at least they won't fail knowing they were too weenie to try something.

It's all about choosing battles and shades of grey can cover every position. Anecdotally in my quarter on our planet a seemingly black and white decision of up or down for the Pebble mine is hardly that. Only someone blinded by ego or with a very narrow perspective could see it that way. The risks to the salmon are real, though I await a better look at the science to weight them the best I can. No doubt a mine will be less aesthetically pleasing than what is there now.

But once I've made the leap and given my own weighting to the habitat risks the choices still aren't that obvious. It's not mine or not mine. It's will copper be even more in demand in the future than now making an ore body that size as likely to be left undisturbed as the sands of the middle east were likely to be left alone in 20th century quest for oil--or not? Then there is the corollary, our tech will be better able to manage a clean job of extracting it in the future than now but will we have the wealth to do that cleaner job then than now. Of course there is the chance everything will fall apart and the resource will remain out of reach of the failed civilization but that eventuality does not play into the decision making as it is not a scenario we as a society plan for.

These are the choices I see everywhere I turn in my resource harvesting/extraction state, hard to say just how much weight the analytical part of me has in the choices I finally make, but it does seem to put them in a framework. I sort things out the best I can and make myself heard where it appears my efforts will bear most fruit. We do what we can and hope our filtered perception has moved us in the best direction available.

Who needs dystopian fiction?

Say, I thought that text looked sorta familiar.

Best of luck, and feel free to drop me an email about it at the address listed with my screen name.... cheers!

Thanks, will do!

Brazil to get its first nuclear subs
“Brazil already has the uranium enrichment technology required for producing nuclear fuel”
“…to protect the country’s 8,500-kilometer (5,280-mile) coastline and huge deep-water oil reserves.”


I just ordered an older book, The Parable of The Tribes (brief video of concept), from our local library.

Makes me think of this episode, that's older than the book. If only the agonizers in our universe were so obvious and less subversive.

Peak Prosecution

The Attorney General of the most powerful military nation on Earth testified before the Senate Judiciary committe that we have reached peak prosecution.

He said some of the banks are too big to prosecute for crimes.

Your blog said the U.S. is too feeble. That is not the issue. They are afraid of the economic impacts on the nation as a while.

Why not prosecute the bankers, and give the banks time to sort out the mess with new executives?


edit: The idea of the bankers who commit the acts hiding behind the bank is idiotic! It is individual behavior that needs to be modified; corporations can only act on the direction of people. And, corporations, never mind what CJ Roberts says, are NOT people!

Sounds like the same thing to me. They are too weak to nationalize or take other drastic measures to deal with lawbreaking on an absolutely astonishing scale, lawbreaking that crashed the economy once already. Straight out, they are too feeble, the power of the banks literally eclipses the power of the government to enforce law. The financiers are so rich and connected, their banks are so large, and the system is so unstable that nothing gets done without their OK.

This can only end badly. Rule of law has been undermined and the financiers are setting us all up for a fall. A strong government would not hesitate to break up or nationalize banks after a crisis caused at least partly by overly large institutions. Instead, the surviving large banks were literally paid to buy up those that failed (Wells Fargo eating Wachovia, etc), which increased the vulnerability of the system.

At the very least, individuals who committed crimes within the banks should be prosecuted. HSBC literally laundered money for cartels and terrorists - and not in a subtle way either. Yet nobody has stood trial for it. To be honest, though, I strongly oppose prosecution of individuals without reform of the institution as a whole, because we all know how this works - the powerful and rich set up a fall guy, he goes to jail, and then everyone pretends the problem has been dealt with while those who masterminded it walk away with tens of millions of dollars or more.

Russia is often called a mafia state, but the US is the one the that has a government completely beholden to organized crime. It's as simple as that.

The thought has crossed my mind more than once recently that perhaps we are witnessing a very slow-motion genesis of the US government from what it's been for the past century into a new form, where ultimately the banks control anything and everything. And of course they're not elected. I'm only an engineer, and not eloquent enough to get my thoughts all down into writing, but there certainly seems to be some sort of shift going on.

My only hope is that once the politicians really realize that they're losing all their power, maybe they will turn back from the dark side and get rid of their masters - like Vader and Palpatine at the end of Star Wars ROTJ? They do still hold the military afterall.

Sorry. But this is not a movie.

My only hope is that once the politicians really realize that they're losing all their power, maybe they will turn back from the dark side and get rid of their masters

But those bankers and others in the FIRE sector are the ones that fund their campaigns. How can they turn their backs on their funders?

Public financing of elections is needed. But of course, the politicians in office who got elected under the current regime are the ones that need to do the change . . . and why would they change the system that helped them get elected into office?


Yeah but politicians ultimately want power for if it was just money they were after then they'd be in the private sector making more. And once it becomes obvious to more and more people that the politicians really aren't in power at all, they'll get embarressed and pissed. Then they'll do whatever they need to do to stay in power, which I would be turning on the banks.

But they do have power, even when working for the banks. "Power" does not necessarily imply "power to enforce what you want". Simply "power to enforce" is in itself a strong motivator, regardless of the fact that you are enforcing someone else's wishes. Feudalism thrived for centuries based on this principle. And feudalism (or neo-feudalism) is exactly where this is heading.

More power leads to more dehumanization, says study

People assigned to positions of power tend to dehumanize those in less powerful positions even when the roles are randomly assigned, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.

The study found that participants given more powerful roles in two experiments attributed fewer uniquely human traits—characteristics that distinguish people from other animals—to their peers who were given less powerful roles.

And then there are the politicians in countries with public financing of elections that choose to eliminate that financing, such as the Harper government in Canada.

The problem of corporations and unions donating large sums to political campaigns had already been fixed in Canada by restricting donations to individuals for no more than $1000 per year.


Good points.

"They do still hold the military afterall."

Not any longer.

That is another illusion we were warned about by Eisenhower and Madison. But we don't do warnings because it is "doomerism."

No, it is reality.


"Your blog said the U.S. is too feeble."

According to Holder, he means the economy, the nation, is too feeble to be able to prosecute banksters.

It is like a person who gets cancer and is made too feeble to have chimotherapy.

It is quite real, and quite the issue.

Your statement is a mischaracterization of the post, cherry picking one sentence, ignoring this:

Eric Holder expects us to believe that The United States which has the world divided up into sections, with over a thousand military bases in 192 nations, and secret ones added on to that (The Virgin MOMCOM - 8), can't handle geeks in banks.

(my blog post)

RE US oil and gas boom takes many by surprise

Is there any way oil from the mid-east [Iraq, Lybia, etc.] could reach our pipelines after being hauled here by tankers, then be "purposely confused" as new fracked oil?

Like as in classified?

Just to cover up peak oil's reality?

I suppose there is always a way. Having said that, it would be quite difficult, imo.

First, all shipments of oil come in to a few ports that have facilities for that purpose. Since the incoming ships are all listed and scheduled (otherwise there would be chaos in the port area), and since ports are largely subsidized and need to justify their existence, it is unlikely that any cargo would be received without making a record.

So, you would need agreement of all of the people involved in the port facility, plus the Coast Guard to hide the shipment records and records of receipts. That for any port being used for suriptitious incoming oil.

Next, you would need to get the oil out of the port. Since the ports have pipelines to local refineries (otherwise, no port needed), and other pipelines are outgoing, it would be difficult to move it onto other ships or rail cars. And, more people involved.

In short, the possibility is always there, but human nature would almost certainly result in a leak (of information, not of oil).

Besides, MSN is doing a fine job of covering up alread, don't you think?



It would not be the first time:

Moreover, recently declassified documents show that Saudi Arabia made secret oil shipments to the US military, to ensure that its operations in Vietnam would not be compromised.

(The Emperor Has No Clothes - Princeton University, emphasis added). That involved a lot of oil.

If the BAU folk panicked sometime back, because they knew the public would be scared about PO, it could happen again.

Just sayin ...

Dredd – Oil, at least in the US and perhaps much of the rest of the world, has a title attached to it just like the title on your car. In the US a crude oil buyer won’t take your oil unless you have a clear title designating what leases it was produced from as well as all the royalty and working interest owners documented. And it is a very rigorous process done typically by legal firms that specialize in the process. We actually call them “title companies" that create “division orders” that break down all the ownership in exacting legal detail. Production is also closely monitored by the TRRC and the counties to make sure they get their required cut of severance taxes. Everyone involved in the movement of oil from the well head to the refinery certifies under oath what transpires in great detail.

Of course once any oil hits a refiner’s tank farm it only exists uniquely on paper. But it’s a clear paper trail up to that point. But could someone cheat on the origin of some oil? Sure…just like someone does when the steal a car and sell it under the table to someone else. Some oil (typically stolen) gets sold that way. We actually call it “hot oil”. But the total volume of oil that falls into that category is very tiny compared to US production. And we do occasionally catch them and send them to state prison. I've been involved in two situations when that's exactly what happened.

So if a tanker of oil from Iraq should up in Port Arthur, Texas, and the refiner post it on its books as “Eagle Ford Oil” it wouldn’t show up on any state or company records as anything other than Eagle Ford oil. Such documentation is done long before the oil gets to the end users.

What may be in the back of your mind is “daisy chaining”. Back in the late 70’s during the price run up the US limited how much an imported bbl of oil could be resold for to a US refinery. But there was an out: each buyer of the oil could add X% to the price. So a tanker would leave the ME and during transit it might get sold a half dozen times and thus the final cost to a US refinery would be significantly greater than the original purchase price in the ME. Also, oil and products shipped from US territories weren’t subject to such rules. Which is how Amerada Hess ended up with what at the time the largest refinery in the the western hemisphere on one of the US territorial islands in the Caribbean. In those days tracking the title of an oil shipment was critical. Eventually the govt came down on the daisy chainers. I knew of one oil trader the feds threatened to prosecute if he didn’t pay a big fine. So he wrote the feds a check for $49 million and walked away free with obviously a lot of money left in the bank.

This is back to that unintended consequence issue. If you caught my post about the delay in the border crossing section of Keystone I think I make a reasonable argument that the delay in the permit may have actually increased the rate of the Canadian oil sand development in the future by developing more (and potentially cheaper) transportation capacity then if the KPL had been completed sooner. I know it sounds contradictory but read my post up top and tell me what you think.

the delay in the permit may have actually increased the rate of the Canadian oil sand development in the future by developing more (and potentially cheaper) transportation capacity then if the KPL had been completed sooner

Interesting comment on title to oil; I didn't realize it was quite that complex.

As for Keystone, if your purpose was to avoid the danger of spills the unintended consquences was acceptable. If it was to retard propagation of oil from the Athabaska sands, maybe not so much. As usual, you need to be careful what you wish for... you may not like what you end up with.


Zap – Probably good to remind folks exactly what we’re talking about. The Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed 1,200 mile pipeline beginning in Hardisty, Alberta, and extending south to Steele City, Nebraska.

The US section is being designed and being built without fed approval. Safe to assume Alberta will push their section as fast as possible. The only thing the feds have held up is the few miles of pipe that will physically cross the border. So the only spill protection by not approving the permit is just a few miles out of 1,200 miles of the KPL.

And then there’s increase in p/l capacity that been done (and continuing to increase) from OK to the Texas coast. None of which requires fed approval. So when you add that section to the KPL there will be almost 1,700 miles of p/l that has a potential to leak with the feds controlling less than 0.5% of the system. IOW by not granting the permit there’s virtually no meaningful reduction in the risk of a p/l spill.

IMHO all just more smoke and mirrors to make environmentalist feel the POTUS is working on their behalf.

Complexity – I don’t think the average person understands just how complex the entire oil/NG production system really is. Especially the documentation that goes into following the regs. Which is why those foolish regulations (lack of, actually) regarding frac’ng in some states and the lack of severance taxes in PA stand out so much. I’ve mentioned the severance tax absurdity to many oil patch hands down here in Texas and without exception everyone was shocked. Same with their poor regulations/monitoring of frac fluid disposal.

Can the pipeline work without that critical section that crosses the border?


"Dredd – Oil, at least in the US and perhaps much of the rest of the world, has a title attached to it ..."


So does torture (Petraeus Torture Teams) -- but when it is classified ... well you know ... the title gets lost.

Budget money has things attached too -- but when it is classified ... well you know ... it gets invisible:

The classified budget of the Defense Department, concealed from the public in all but outline, has nearly doubled in the Bush years ... to ... more than the combined budgets of the Food and Drug Administration, the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

(Inside The Black Budget). There is no law in growing portions of reality that has been classified. Classified reality.

Even the top lawman of the most powerful military nation on Earth says some banks are beyond the law, above the law, and cannot be prosecuted. CANNOT be prosecuted.

And that is not even classified.

So, spare me from the boy scout view of the world, it only covers softball fields these daze, yes, the criminal epoch is hard upon us.

And it is driving many people over the edge, into dangerous ideologies.

But I will say I wish you were correct in your world view, because it should indeed be that way.

But I would not be surprised in the least to find Oil-Qaeda doing nasty things like hiding things about oil traffic from the public.

As to:

This is back to that unintended consequence issue. If you caught my post about the delay in the border crossing section of Keystone I think I make a reasonable argument that the delay in the permit may have actually increased the rate of the Canadian oil sand development in the future by developing more (and potentially cheaper) transportation capacity then if the KPL had been completed sooner. I know it sounds contradictory but read my post up top and tell me what you think.

I don't doubt you in the slightest, because it is contrary to what might appear on the surface.

The surface these daze is the last place I look for reality, so your eyes that pierce deeper into the murky waters matches my expectations on that issue.

Just like subterfuge of the sort I mentioned in my little conspiracy theory for the day.

But keep an ear to the ground ... carefully ... and if anything of that nature shows up let us know in a safe manner.

BTW, I also know well that I could be wrong about this hypothesis.

The military is the number one consumer of oil.

They have about 1,200 bases in about 192 countries around the globe.

They could, as they have massively done before, keep their sources secret but report it coming from "U.S. sources" which would look like a huge increase.

That would change some graphs for sure.

Another large draw in US natural gas (NG) storage:


Since US dry NG gas production (processed gas from gas and oil wells) has basically been flat since March, 2011 through the end of 2012 (last data point available), roughly between 1.9 and 2.0 TCF per month, I wonder if we may already have a decline in monthly NG production?

Here is a question I asked some shale gas panelists at the ASPO-USA conference:

Let's assume, because of the decline in NG well drilling, that we see a decline in US NG production, and let's assume that in the fourth quarter of 2013 that US NG prices are in the $6 to $8 range. Given that the underlying decline rate from existing wells is so much higher now than at the start of the shale gas boom, will it be possible for the industry to offset the decline and build dry NG production back to the 2 TCF per month range?

Gas data:


Locomotives May Shake Up the Transportation Fuels Market

Nothing like getting to the party late.

Scientists Calculate the Carbon Footprint of Grid-Scale Battery Technologies

"We calculated how much energy it will cost society to build storage on future power grids that are heavily supplied by renewable resources,"

... To quantify the long-term energetic costs, Barnhart and Benson came up with a new mathematical formula they dubbed ESOI, or energy stored on investment. "ESOI is the amount of energy that can be stored by a technology, divided by the amount of energy required to build that technology," Barnhart said. "The higher the ESOI value, the better the storage technology is energetically."

When Barnhart crunched the numbers, the results were clear. "We determined that a pumped hydro facility has an ESOI value of 210," he said. "That means it can store 210 times more energy over its lifetime than the amount of energy that was required to build it."

The five battery technologies fared much worse. Lithium-ion batteries were the best performers, with an ESOI value of 10. Lead-acid batteries had an ESOI value of 2, the lowest in the study. "That means a conventional lead-acid battery can only store twice as much energy as was needed to build it," Barnhart said. "So using the kind of lead-acid batteries available today to provide storage for the worldwide power grid is impractical."

... "Most battery research today focuses on improving the storage or power capacity. These qualities are very important for electric vehicles and portable electronics, but not for storing energy on the grid. Based on our ESOI calculations, grid-scale battery research should focus on extending cycle life by a factor of 3 to 10."

The study also assessed a promising technology called CAES, or compressed air energy storage. CAES works by pumping air at very high pressure into a massive cavern or aquifer, then releasing the compressed air through a turbine to generate electricity on demand. The Stanford team discovered that CAES has the fewest material constraints of all the technologies studied, as well as the highest ESOI value: 240. Two CAES facilities are operating today in Alabama and Germany.

also Solve for X: Danielle Fong on Economical Compressed Air Energy Storage

and LightSail Gets $5.5M From Total, Thiel, Khosla, Gates for Compressed Air Energy Storage

... wonder how flow batteries fared?

The CAES storage idea is intresting. As gas and oil fields deplete to the point where they are no longer economically viable to produce, would some of these fields have the potential to be used for CAES? i.e. Put a windfarm or PV farm and generator facility atop a depleted natural gas field.

Well, they need to compete with disposal of frack fluids as a use of the old field.

And the funny thing is that eventually those old oil fields will probably become oil fields again once prices rise to allow more expensive oil extraction technology to be supplied.

They're also thinking of using them for Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS), though, I think residual H2S dissolved in liquid CO2 will dissolve the seals over time.

You wouldn't be able to use a gas field without containing all the gas coming out. Methane is 26 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. You also couldn't use air for compression without at some point dropping the methane concentration into the explosive range either underground or in the surface containment system.
Maybe you could pump CO2 into a gas field and put the gases right back into a NG pipeline, after they pass the generator, at least as long as the methane concentration is high enough to make the mix flammable.

FYI as far as injecting anything into any rock underground:

First, most of the reservoirs on the planet (producing or abandoned) were water drive. IOW the pore spaces formerly occupied by hydrocarbons are filled with salt water. More important the reservoir pressure is about the same as any of the reservoirs in the area that have only ever contained salt water. All the disposal wells I know of in Texas are injecting into reservoirs that have never produced oil/NG. It’s a much easier regulatory process to inject into one of these than one that has produced oil/NG. It would take the same amount of horse power to inject into a water drive reservoir whether it ever contain oil/NG.

Almost as all fields used for NG storage are pressure depletion. Inject NG into a water drive reservoir you‘ll lose a lot that can’t be produced. That why such depleted fields have always sold for a premium price and why the odds of getting on for dumping CO2 are slim to none IMHO. OTOH there no significant risk of CO2 injected into any salt water reservoir ever escaping AS LONG AS THE INJECTION WELLS MAINTAIN INTEGRITY. And if plugged according to the regs no real chance of it ever getting out.

But it will take a good bit of horse power to inject any gas into any salt water reservoir. That and the cost of the injector well and the p/l to get it there will always make the economics difficult.

The one big potential win-win I injecting CO2 into a pressure depleted oil reservoir. Beside aiding recover by making the oil more mobile the increased reservoir pressure will allow better recovery. But the CO2 will be produced with the oil so it needs to be separated and re-injected into the reservoir.

Rockman - thanks for the info. I just spent the better part of two hours reading up on water drive reservoirs thanks to you.

Mark et al - One final point about disposing of CO2 underground: we have all the tech knowledge do it as efficiently as possible and have known for decades. Many billions of bbls of salt water and trillions of cu ft of gas (mostly NG but same dynamics as for CO2) have been injected into a variety of reservoirs. You tell me you're going to deliver X cu ft of CO2 to my injector well and I'll know exactly what I have to charge you to make it a viable operation for me.

That side of the equation is readily solved. The other side isn't that difficult either: capture the CO2 at the source and transport is to my injector well. I don't know much about the recovery process but the pipelining portion is easily calculated. Companies lay thousands of miles of p/l in this country every year. And we know exactly what the specs need be to move something corrosive like CO2. I'm sure who ever designs CO2 recovery systems know what that component costs.

So pick any CO2 source in the country and the total cost to bury it deep and forever in Mother Earth is easily calculated. Thus I assume the main reason we don’t see more of it happening is that no one wants to pay the freight. Adding a punitive tax on CO2 production might add incentive to get rid of the CO2 in an environmentally friendly way. Or it may make more sense for the CO2 producer to shut down and close up the shop.

Rockman and friends, I can happily report that several large-scale integrated CO2 capture, transport and storage/EOR projects are currently being built and will start operations in 2013-2015 thanks to generous support from the US DOE and/or income from selling CO2 to CO2-EOR projects. The potential viability of CCS will soon be clear for all.

decarb - Yes...just like: http://www.nrgenergy.com/pdf/factsheets/factsheet_westranch.pdf
This will happen in the same trend I'll be trying EOR with my horizontal wells.

I wish I could find out more details. The line will cost $160 million with the feds paying $120 million. But I haven't been able to find out if the operator of the oil field will be paying for the delivered CO2 or not. He is paying $40 million of the line cost as I read the reports. But we're back to the basic question: can a significant amount of CO2 seq. be done without the public paying for the bulk of the cost. The obvious best case scenario would be at least break even with the oil patch paying for the benefit of EOR.

But if the public, through the feds, is paying for the majority of the effort it's difficult to see this happening on a large scale unless the govt make CO2 seq. the law. Which means in most cases the utilities are going to have to pay the freight which will certainly fall back on their customers. At that's where the resistance will likely be great IMHO.

It's never been a question of CO2 seq. being possible or necessary. The question has always been who'll pay for it.

Batteries do not store all of the energy produced by renewable sources, and if the batteries are manufactured during sane daylight hours, then they will not be built using power extracted from batteries.

SimCity Rebuilt For Modern Life

A 10-year wait ends Tuesday with the arrival of 'SimCity,' a computer game that challenges players to build thriving cities in the face of conditions such as limited funds and climate change. The sequel to the city-building computer game that factors in real-world consequences of energy choices, urban plans, and policy decisions debuts in the US

"I love the game," said "Inconvenient Truth" director Davis Guggenheim, who played an early version with his son last year.

"Climate change is the biggest crisis of our time, but there is a disconnect because it is not in front of us," he added.

"When you play 'SimCity' it is in your face; if you build a coal power plant you feel the consequences—smog in the city, water table getting dirty, and your people getting angry."

"If you have a super-dirty coal burning town and a neighbor is green, when the wind is blowing in their direction they will reap what you've sown," ...

also Using The New Sim City, 6 Urban Planners Battle For Bragging Rights

... Urbanists playing SimCity is hardly new. The first edition of SimCity was released in 1989, and the franchise has been credited with inspiring an entire generation of urban theorists. SimCity is “arguably the single most influential work of urban-design theory ever created,” said a 2006 New Yorker profile of Will Wright, designer of the original SimCity.

... Nearly every team planned to create a city independent of finite energy resources and the help of other cities. How each city planned to achieve sustainability and economic prowess differed:

... cities abandoned their plans for measured growth the moment they discovered they were blessed with fossil fuels. MIT drilled its oil, Open Plan’s city mined its coal and Studio X extracted its oil and ore with impunity.

... The positive feedback players receive from drilling oil--in the form of taxable income, jobs, population increases--are purposefully addictive.

It’s designed to make players make unsustainable decisions. We want people to understand why it happens in the real world,” Librande said. “If the game pulls you into this path that you know is bad and you know is wrong, you start to understand why we do things like mountaintop removal to get coal.”

and Despite Server Issues, SimCity Already Has Over 38 Million Buildings

Cool. I've waited for a game like this. Gaming is the only reason I regret using Linux over Windows.

This seems to be a health effect redux like after the USSR breakup and economic collapse. Expect mortality rates to increase ...

Heart Attack Rates Rise with Plunging GDP in Greece's Financial Crisis

Heart attack rates have spiked in Greece since the start of the country's financial crisis, especially among women and residents older than 45, according to a study of patient records being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 62nd Annual Scientific Session.

Heart attack incidence rose across the board: 20.8 percent for patients age 45 or younger (64 vs. 53), 25.7 percent for men (807 vs. 642), 29.4 percent for those older than 45 (1,020 vs. 788), and 39.2 percent for women (64 vs. 52).

"Unemployment is a stressful event and stress is connected with heart disease, but other issues also come with financial difficulties," Dr. Makaris said. "In these times a lot of people do not have money to buy medications or to go to their primary care doctor. There's a great increase in cardiovascular diseases across the country. The cost to the society is very high."

also Higher Heart Attack Rates Continue Six Years after Katrina

New Orleans residents continue to face a three-fold increased risk of heart attack post-Katrina—a trend that has remained unchanged since the storm hit in 2005, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 62nd Annual Scientific Session.

"Overwhelmingly, the main differences in the pre- and post-Katrina populations involve psychosocial risk factors as opposed to shifts in traditional cardiovascular risk factors like hypertension, obesity and diabetes,"

Is this the 'New Economy'? ...

'I sold my kidney... to repay the loans'

Selling a kidney or part of one's liver to pay off loans is becoming increasingly common in Bangladesh, where desperate villagers are being exploited by human organ traffickers, a Michigan State University researcher has found.

Twelve years ago, when Moniruzzaman started researching human organ trafficking in his native Bangladesh, it was relatively rare from village to village, an underground phenomenon. Today, the illegal sale of organs from living donors is so pervasive in the impoverished country that entire families have been exploited, transplant centers are much easier to find and husbands commonly pressure their wives to sell an organ, Moniruzzaman said.

... can't get the image of Repo Men out of my head

Not new. It's been happening for decades, people sell their blood, kidneys, liver, kids and themselves to eke out a living. For people in rich countries it can come as a bit of a shock, most people here are desensitized.

Dirty Pretty Things is a good movie about human organ trafficing and many other social ills.


As Brazil Ramps Up Sugarcane Production Researchers Foresee Regional Climate Effects

The team found that anticipated conversion to sugarcane plantations could lead to a 1°C decrease in temperature during the growing season, to be followed by a 1°C increase after harvest.

"When averaged over the entire year, there appears to be little effect on temperature," said Matei Georgescu, an assistant professor in ASU's School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, a senior sustainability scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability and lead author of the paper. "However, the temperature fluctuation between the peak of the growing season, when cooling occurs relative to the prior landscape, and crop harvest, when warming occurs compared to the previous landscape, of about 2°C (3.6°F) is considerable."

Reconstruction of Earth Climate History Shows Significance of Recent Temperature Rise

... "We already knew that on a global scale, Earth is warmer today than it was over much of the past 2,000 years," Marcott said. "Now we know that it is warmer than most of the past 11,300 years. This is of particular interest because the Holocene spans the entire period of human civilization."

US Scientists Report Big Jump in Heat-Trapping CO2

The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped, new federal figures show.

Glaciers Will Melt Faster Than Ever and Loss Could Be Irreversible, Warn Scientists

The researchers show that the model correctly "predicted" the ice mass loss measured over the last ten years and then used the same model to project the effect of future climate change on Canada's Arctic Archipelago glaciers.

The most important result of the research is it shows the probable irreversibility of the melting process, according to lead author Dr Jan Lenaerts of Utrecht University who says, "Even if we assume that global warming is not happening quite so fast, it is still highly likely that the ice is going to melt at an alarming rate. The chances of it growing back are very slim."

I just do not see the amount of green house gasses the WORLD puts into the atmosphere going down anytime soon. At best the U.S. will be able to hold at current levels. If you just look at Germany they are making a huge effort toward sustainables and reducing thier Carbon output, but if you say add Germany and China together, Germanys efforts are swallowed many times over by Chinas increased output. Even China is adding renewables as fast they can, but that effort is comepletly dwarfed by thier demand to expand, so coal power is still king.

It might be worth taking say 10% of what we budget trying to get renewables online, and use that money to start a serious look at mitigation efforts on the effects of 2 degrees C in as little as 20 years or even 4 degrees C in 100 or less, it is going to happen we need to deal with the consequences. I think it may also be time to stop the fight about Human caused Global Warming or Climate Chnage, nobody wants to admit Global Warming is thier fault, so drop it from the argument. Simply make the conversation, the world is getting hotter, nothing we do now can stop that, how do we deal with the effects.

There is an legally binding EU wide effort of which Germany is a part to reduce CO2 20% on 1990 levels by 2020 and it looks like it will be reached... suggestions for 30% target are being put forward.

e.g. see this -which is though a little out of date:


That's got to be a step in the right direction...

The EU reduces its emissions by exporting them to China. If you count emissions due to product manufacture by where the products are consumed, rather than where the products are made, EU emissions have gone up just as much as everywhere else.

This is why I've concluded that what needs to be done is put a carbon tax on imported goods that is proportional to the carbon used to manufacture the goods. Of course this will never happen because it would be hard to figure the tax level, it might violate free trade agreements, and it would annoy business people that would lobby to prevent it.

From the article link "US Scientists Report Big Jump in Heat-Trapping CO2":

Scientists say the rise in CO2 reflects the world's economy revving up and burning more fossil fuels, especially in China.

Revving back up after 08/09, but will that cause commodity prices to rise again with oil leading the way to another step down?

Carbon dioxide levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million since 2011 to total just under 395 parts per million. That's the second highest rise in carbon emissions since record-keeping began in 1959.

More coal-burning power plants, especially in the developing world, are the main reason emissions keep going up — even as they have declined in the U.S. and other places, in part through conservation and cleaner energy.

At the same time, plants and the world's oceans which normally absorb some carbon dioxide, last year took in less than they do on average.

Well folks, if we are going to turn around these trends we better get busy, because somehow we need to get CO2 levels back to the 1980 (blast from the past) 350 ppm level and not exceed 2C world temp. rise. Hmm, now how are we going to accomplish these lofty tasks while steamrolling the economy into such a frenzied state that growth allows for the paying off of all old debts, replaces old infrastructure and spurs employment for all, including the tens of millions worldwide coming into the workforce?

GDP predicts auto sales worldwide

Personal income, interest rates and the price of gas all influence auto sales, but a country's gross domestic product alone is a good indicator of new sales, says a researcher at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

... facepalm ;-/

Train pulling 15 full oil tankers derails near Penobscot River, Mattawamkeag, Maine

MATTAWAMKEAG, Maine — An oil train pulling 15 full 33,000-gallon crude oil tankers apparently spilled only 3 gallons of oil when it derailed Thursday yards from the Penobscot River.

Further spillage can occur, Powers said. “Once the crews get here, we don’t know what will happen once they start trying to upright” them, Powers added.

The tankers were filled in Bakken, S.D., and were heading to Canada. “It’s crude. It goes up there to be refined [at Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick],” Scarano said.

Trains pulling tankers northbound to Canada have become a much more common sight along this rail line in the past year as oil drilling operations in the Northwest increase shipments into Canada and overseas.

3 gallons, Uh Huh, there was proably more than three gallons of overspill on the outside of the 15 cars combined already.

Sinkhole update ...

Jindal sidesteps questions about sinkhole visit

... Asked when he might visit the sinkhole that was found Aug. 3 in northern Assumption Parish, [Gov. Bobby] Jindal did not give a direct answer. Instead, the governor listed the state agencies tasked with monitoring the sinkhole and vowed to hold someone responsible for damage to homes.

... The question was posed a second and third time about when residents can expect to see him. The governor repeated the same response without addressing when or if he might visit the sinkhole evacuees.

... The governor’s press secretary, Sean Lansing, then changed the topic of the questioning by calling on a reporter who had not raised his hand. When the reporter expressed puzzlement at his name being called, Lansing called on a different reporter.

... While not visiting the sinkhole, the governor has traveled the country for political events. He was out of state almost one day of every four in 2012, but never made it to the sinkhole site in Assumption Parish, less than 40 miles from the Governor’s Mansion. He recently was in Washington, D.C., for a White House dinner and other events. While there, he blasted the president for campaigning instead of tackling problems.

see also Dance a Little Sidestep - Charles Durning - The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Russia finds 'new bacteria' in Antarctic lake

The samples obtained from the underground lake in May 2012 contained a bacteria which bore no resemblance to existing types, said Sergei Bulat of the genetics laboratory at the Saint Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics. "After putting aside all possible elements of contamination, DNA was found that did not coincide with any of the well-known types in the global database," he said. "We are calling this life form unclassified and unidentified," he added...

...Bulat said that the interest surrounded one particular form of bacteria whose DNA was less than 86 percent similar to previously existing forms. "In terms of work with DNA this is basically zero. A level of 90 percent usually means that the organism is unknown."

I suppose someone holds a patent by now, just in case. This is one bacteria not likely to be resistant to antibiotics yet. May be worth something.

How many horror movies does not start with people drilling a deep hole only to find a completely new life form, and kaBAM, apocalypse.

In fact, in the last decade demand for coal grew at 10 times the rate of demand for renewables, twice that of oil and three times more than gas.

Apologies if these numbers have already been debunked. Due to lack of time to read the comments atm.

World wide incremental energy demand over the last decade:

MTOE Coal Oil NatGas Nuclear Renewables
00-10 1159 400 670 40 482
10-12 113 76 145 -70 170

Renewables contain non-commercial biomass and wastes.
The second row provides a rough indication.
& as always, BP statistical review conventions have been used.