Drumbeat: March 20, 2013

Big energy goals get a push

A new National Research Council report says the U.S. may be able to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 in light-duty cars and trucks.

The highly ambitious goal could be reached, the report says, through a combination of more efficient vehicles and the use of gasoline and diesel alternatives such as bio-fuels, electricity and hydrogen.

A Model for Reducing Emissions

Carbon emissions from the United States have never fallen this much, not after the first oil price shock following the Arab oil embargo of 1973, nor after the Iranian revolution of 1979, when American drivers suddenly discovered the virtues of Japanese small cars and President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House to heat the water.

What stands out most in this shift, however, is not environmental regulation or public concern about global warming but the price of energy and market-driven technological advancements. “It wasn’t so much a policy shift that brought carbon emissions down,” said James Hamilton, an energy economist at the University of California, San Diego. “It was irresistible market forces.”

The United States consumes 9 percent less energy for each $1 of G.D.P. than it did five years ago. Total energy use has fallen about 5 percent in the last five years.

WTI Crude Oil Rebounds in New York After Biggest Drop in a Month

West Texas Intermediate oil rose after its steepest plunge in a month, while Brent futures rebounded from their lowest level since December, as policy makers weighed bailout options for Cyprus.

WTI climbed as much as 0.8 percent, and Brent gained as much as 0.7 percent. Luxembourg’s Luc Frieden called for his fellow euro-area finance ministers to reconvene “as soon as possible” to assemble a new rescue package for Cyprus after the island nation rejected a levy on bank deposits. U.S. crude stockpiles declined by 413,000 barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute said yesterday. Government data on supply will be released today.

Shell endorses Platts changes to Brent oil market

(Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell has endorsed changes announced by oil pricing agency Platts to the way it assesses the Brent market, avoiding a damaging split.

Brent, based on four types of crude from the North Sea, sets the price of billions of dollars of daily oil trade. Since these are in dwindling supply, critics say the smaller market is prone to manipulation and can lead to higher global prices.

Cyprus seeks Russian bailout aid, EU threatens cutoff

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus pleaded for a new loan from Russia on Wednesday to avert a financial meltdown, but won no immediate relief after the island's parliament rejected the terms of a European bailout, raising the risk of default and a bank crash.

Finance Minister Michael Sarris said in Moscow he had reached no deal with his Russian counterpart Anton Siluanov, but talks would continue.

Oil majors are whistling past the graveyard

The world’s “supermajor” independent oil companies — BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, and Total — project a rosy future, assuring us that oil will be abundant for decades to come. But in fact they’re spending record amounts to keep oil flowing, while their production is actually falling.

The BP Energy Outlook 2030, released in January 2013, confidently asserts that oil production will keep pace with demand. Through 2030, it projects, “More than half of the growth will come from non-OPEC sources, with rising production from U.S. tight oil, Canadian oil sands, Brazilian deepwater and biofuels more than offsetting mature declines elsewhere.” Indeed, BP says, the “once-accepted wisdom has been turned on its head. Fears over oil running out –- to which BP has never subscribed –- appear increasingly groundless.”

Peak oil was never about “running out.” That’s a strawman argument. The word “peak” in peak oil simply refers to the maximum production rate of oil, as I have explained ad nauseam. While oil producers constantly trumpet new discoveries and rising reserves, they tend to avoid talking about production rates.

But reserves are meaningless if they don’t amount to an increasing rate of production. If you had a billion dollars to your name, but could only withdraw $1,000 a year, would you be worried about running out of money or paying your bills?

So Much For 'Peak Oil'

A decade ago we were running out of oil. Now, new discoveries and technologies has left us brimming with fossil fuels. Have we gone from too little energy, to too much?

Anadarko, Partners Rise on Gulf of Mexico Oil Find

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. rose the most in four months after announcing an oil discovery in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that may produce more than half a billion barrels of crude.

Anadarko rose 3 percent to $85.80 at 8:41 a.m. in New York, the biggest increase since Nov. 6. Partners in the Shenandoah-2 deep-water well also gained, including Cobalt International Energy Inc., up 7.3 percent, ConocoPhillips up 1.6 percent and Marathon Oil Corp. up 1.4 percent.

Gazprom Said to Seek Stake in Eni’s Mozambique Gas Assets

OAO Gazprom is seeking a stake in Eni SpA’s Mozambique assets as Russia’s gas export monopoly strengthens its partnership with Italy’s largest oil company, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Gazprom has been discussing the acquisition of a stake in Mozambique’s Area 4, where Eni has discovered 75 trillion cubic feet of gas in offshore fields, said the people, asking not to be identified because talks are private. The size of the stake has yet to be agreed on in negotiations that may not end in a deal, they said.

Xi's Russia visit to prompt oil, gas deals

BEIJING - China and Russia are expected to strike deals on boosting oil trade and building a natural gas pipeline during President Xi Jinping's forthcoming state visit to Russia, Vice-Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said.

Schlumberger says Q1 North America activity weaker than expected

(Reuters) - Schlumberger Ltd, the world's largest oilfield services company, warned on Monday that North American activity was coming in lower than expected in the first quarter, as fewer rigs were going back to work than it had expected.

O' Canada! 3 Reasons to Avoid Investing in the Great White North

Canadian oil isn't reaching the highest bidder.

Canadian Western Select sells for a $35/brl discount to the world benchmark price. Why has this happened? Massive production growth from the Bakken and Eagle Ford formations have overloaded pipeline capacity. For most of the industry's history, pipeline shipped crude inland from the coast. Today, energy economics have completely reversed and there's no capacity to access higher prices in premium international markets.

Phillips 66 Signs Domestic Crude Logistics Agreements To Increase Access to Secure, Advantaged Crude

HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE) - As an energy manufacturing company, Phillips 66 is helping to shape the energy revolution in the U.S. by increasing supplies of cost-advantaged North American crude oil to its U.S. refineries. Phillips 66 has reached agreements with several logistics providers for rail loading and terminaling services and a pipeline project, all of which support a rapidly changing domestic energy landscape and energy security.

Iran resumes heavy oil project abandoned by India's ONGC

Tehran (Platts) - Iran is re-appraising an offshore oil field that India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) had abandoned as commercially non-viable, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported Wednesday.

Oil Minister to move EGoM on changing priority of gas supply

NEW DELHI: With power plants, involving investments of Rs 100,000 crore, facing closure due to natural gas shortage, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily on Wednesday said he will move a note for the consideration of high powered ministerial group to change priority of allocation of the fuel as well as pooling price of imported and domestic gas.

Finding Iraq’s Economic Miracle

Can anything compel Maliki to forge an accommodation with Sunnis, his Shiite rivals and the increasingly independent Kurds? Certainly not the U.S., which despite giving billions of dollars in aid ($57 billion from 2003 to 2012, and about $2 billion this year) has virtually no influence in the country it tried to remake.

It’s possible, however, that market forces have a shot. Maliki’s government is sustained by oil-fed graft -- Iraq surpassed Iran as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ second-largest exporter last year. If the flow of oil revenue dries up, so will the government’s political support. Thus it may be good news that when the government took bids on a fourth round of oil licenses last year, none of the major Western companies bothered to show up.

Iraq’s people yet to feel benefit of oil boom

Iraq’s economy is expanding and government coffers are swelling, but Sabah Nuri, like many Iraqis who still struggle with poverty and poor services, has yet to see the benefits of rising oil exports.

Nuri is lucky: he has a job, albeit a relatively menial one, and a roof over his head. But he barely manages to cover the costs of rent, food and the regular payments for the neighbourhood generator used to meet the vast power shortfall.

Iraq says fifth oil licensing round will be in next few months

RAVENNA, Italy (Reuters) - OPEC member Iraq's fifth licensing round for oil exploration will be held in the next few months and will come from 10 oil blocks, its oil minister said on Wednesday.

Iraq, which has some of the world's largest oil reserves is pushing hard to develop the industry, shattered by years of war and instability.

'Heavyweights weigh in' for Lebanon round

Major multinationals are among 97 oil companies that are looking to submit bids in Lebanon’s inaugural offshore licensing round, an Energy Ministry official was reported as saying on Wednesday.

"Almost all the international oil companies have shown interest. It is a good sign how many companies are interested in the bidding process," the official told Reuters.

Gazprom, MND Group to build underground gas storage facility in Czech Republic

Moscow (Platts) - Russia's Gazprom Wednesday signed a deal with Czech oil and gas producer MND Group to build a new underground gas storage facility in Damborice, in the South Moravian region of the Czech Republic.

"The underground gas storage facility will have an active capacity of 448 million cubic meters and will be one of the largest facilities of its kind in the Czech Republic," Gazprom said in a statement.

Households warned of new fuel bills squeeze as energy giants predicted to treble profit margins this year

Energy companies are on track to more than triple their margins in the next 12 months, bumping up the average profit up to £110 per customer each year, according to industry regulator Ofgem.

State and Federal Inquiry Asks Whether Heating Oil Companies Cheated Customers

State and federal authorities are investigating whether several New York heating oil businesses cheated tens of thousands of customers for years, selling fuel diluted with waste or recycled oil, according to law enforcement and city officials. Two related civil lawsuits make similar accusations against two other companies that in recent years have sold tens of millions of gallons of oil to New York City and New York State for schools, housing complexes, universities, hospitals and other buildings.

Transocean Icahn Defense Seen With Deal Focus: Real M&A

Transocean Ltd., the offshore oil driller under pressure from billionaire Carl Icahn to boost its dividend, would be better off using some of its extra cash on acquisitions to shore up lagging growth.

Green groups accused of gas 'alarmist propaganda'

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) has been visiting the mid-west to gather support for the developments.

The association's chief operating officer, Stedman Ellis, says people's confidence is often shattered by alarmist and incorrect propaganda about the industry.

He says onshore developments can provide many benefits, including jobs for rural communities.

UK Budget: shale gas industry says it doesn’t need subsidies

The shale gas industry does not need any subsidies to succeed in the UK, a lobbyist for the sector has told RTCC.

Wednesday’s UK Budget could include support for firms looking to frack for shale gas in Britain, but Nick Grealy, a pro-shale gas activist stressed that the industry is not asking for financial support.

German scientists quit oilsands research over public concern

EDMONTON - Environmental concerns have forced Germany's largest scientific organization to pull out of a joint research program with Alberta on better ways to upgrade oilsands bitumen.

A spokesman for the Helmholtz Association says criticism in the European country led the pullout.

NRC Delays Action on Vent Plan While to Study Options

U.S. nuclear regulators delayed action on a recommendation that utilities install radiation filters at 31 U.S. reactors, a victory for the industry that estimated the proposal may cost as much as $20 million per unit.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday said its staff should consider other approaches that would block release of radiation during an accident. The standards, developed in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, must be in place by March 2017, according to a commission statement.

Robots have failed Fukushima Daiichi and Japan

FORTUNE -- Two years since a shudder in the Earth's crust devastated Japan, the country's scientists and engineers are still attempting to develop technologies to make Fukushima safe from radiation. But progress has been slow and—because of institutional failings—more advanced technologies have not been available to workers at the sire.

A country known as a technological superpower ultimately had to rely on low-tech methods during the disaster, including dumping water from the air to cool the raging reactors. High radiation levels prevented engineers from approaching critically damaged areas at the plant two years ago—and still does so today. Robots that some expected to be on call were conspicuously absent. The country faces a bill of between $1 billion and $2.5 billion dollars to dismantle the Fukushima plant, and 40 years until it is safely decommissioned.

Britain Approves Construction of New Nuclear Power Plant

LONDON — The British government on Tuesday cleared away the last big regulatory hurdle for building the country’s first new nuclear power plant in nearly 20 years. But whether construction will proceed remains uncertain, because the government has not finalized financial terms with the builder, EDF Energy.

Japan Steel May Forge Ventures to Make Nuclear Parts in Asia

Japan Steel Works Ltd., a nuclear parts supplier for customers from Areva SA to Hitachi Ltd., is considering tieups in Southeast Asia and India after the Fukushima disaster squeezed demand at home and in the U.S. 

The company will have a tough time generating orders in the next two years, President Ikuo Sato said in an interview in Tokyo. Forging ventures to make valves, tubes and other smaller parts involved in nuclear reactor construction will help open export markets for key products, he said.

Los Angeles Halts Using Electricity From Coal Plants

Los Angeles will become the biggest U.S. city to abandon coal-fueled electricity after the taxpayer- owned utility said it will support renewable sources, boost energy efficiency and build a new natural-gas fired plant.

The city’s Department of Water and Power, the nation’s largest municipal-owned utility, will phase out the electricity it imports from the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona and Intermountain Power in Utah, according to a statement yesterday. The two coal plants provide 39 percent of the city’s power.

US wind and biofuels potential exceed oil reserves

The USA’s onshore wind and biofuel resources are larger than the country’s proven oil reserves, according to a new study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

It estimates commercial and potentially commercial projects could generate 46 billion barrels of oil equivalent (bboe), compared to the USA’s 31 bboe proven oil reserves.

China Seen Cutting Subsidy for Largest Solar Projects

China, forecast to become the biggest solar market this year, may restructure its subsidies to favor smaller projects over larger ones to promote new plants in in areas with power shortages, an industry official said.

A new policy may abolish one-time subsidies, Meng Xiangan, vice chairman of the China Renewable Energy Society in Beijing, said in an interview. At the same time, a separate subsidy based on power production would be extended to low-voltage plants that don’t typically supply utilities, he said. Meng’s organization acts as a liaison between the government and industry.

Suntech Says Chinese Banks Seek Insolvency for Main Unit

Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. said eight Chinese banks are seeking a restructuring of its main solar manufacturing unit under a court insolvency process that would be the biggest renewable energy bankruptcy to date.

The company, which was the largest solar panel maker in 2010 and 2011, said it will not object to the filing in the Wuxi Municipal People’s Court in the Jiangsu province where it is based, according to a statement today on PR Newswire. Suntech last week defauled on $541 million of bonds as excess capacity cut the cost of solar technology in half since 2010.

Another Milestone For Cape Wind, The First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm

The U.K., China, Belgium and Denmark have been leading the world in offshore wind power production, and if you’re wondering where the U.S. has been, join the club. Despite our tantalizingly long coastlines, the U.S. has no offshore wind farms, at least not yet. That’s one reason why we’ve been following the ambitious Cape Wind project so closely as it navigates a long and torturous route through the approval process and into the financing stage. At a whopping 468 megawatts, Cape Wind will be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. and it is destined to be just the first in a string of utility-scale offshore wind farms all up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

Spinning Sewage into Gold

The Inland Empire Utilities Agency’s Regional Water Recycling Plant No. 1 sits next to a golf course 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. It’s been treating wastewater from the small city of Ontario and other nearby exurbs since 1948. The plant scoops up large objects and screens out sand and gravel for disposal in a landfill, then adds and removes chemicals and nutrients before the de-poopified water is used for irrigation or discharged into nearby Cucamonga Creek. It’s an unremarkable facility, like thousands of similar ones across the United States, doing the grunt work of modern life that most people would rather not think about.

It was unremarkable, that is, until last October. On a blustery Friday, the wastewater treatment facility hooked up to a new 2.8-megawatt stationary fuel cell power plant. That’s not a great deal of electricity—enough to supply about 2,000 homes—but it’s the largest fuel-cell plant making electricity from biogas in the United States, and it now provides 60 percent of the power that Plant No. 1 had been getting from the grid.

Soccer as an Energy Source

The world’s most popular sport is also its newest energy source. The “for-profit social enterprise” Uncharted Play has developed a soccer ball that can power an electric lamp. Aimed at helping impoverished communities with no access to generated power, the Soccket uses a “pendulum-like mechanism” to build up and store kinetic energy created by the rolling motion of the ball. According to Uncharted Play, 30 minutes of kicking the ball can keep an LED light on for three hours.

Unwanted Electronic Gear Rising in Toxic Piles

As recently as a few years ago, broken monitors and televisions like those piled in the warehouse were being recycled profitably. The big, glassy funnels inside these machines — known as cathode ray tubes, or CRTs — were melted down and turned into new ones.

But flat-screen technology has made those monitors and televisions obsolete, decimating the demand for the recycled tube glass used in them and creating what industry experts call a “glass tsunami” as stockpiles of the useless material accumulate across the country.

At inauguration, Pope Francis appeals for protection of poor, environment

Pope Francis issued an appeal for the protection of the weak, the poor and the world environment Tuesday at a special Mass marking his inauguration as the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

During the homily, he told a crowd of up to 200,000 gathered in front of the Vatican: “I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”

U.S. Out of Vermont!

Last September, about 60 Vermonters met in the chambers of the house of representatives in Montpelier to celebrate the state’s “independence spirit” and to discuss the goals of “environmental sustainability, economic justice, and Vermont self--determination.” The speaker of the house had given up the space free of charge for the one-day conference. First at the podium was a Princeton-educated yak farmer and professor of journalism named Rob Williams, one of the organizers of the event, who at 9 A.M. opened the proceedings by acknowledging what he called “some unpleasant and hard truths.” Amid the twin global crises of peak oil and climate change, the United States was “an out-of-control empire.” It was “unresponsive to the needs, concerns, and desires of ordinary citizens.”

Quest for Illegal Gain at the Sea Bottom Divides Fishing Communities

DZILAM DE BRAVO, Mexico — Whispers of high-speed boat chases, harpoon battles on the open sea and divers who dived deep and never re-emerged come and go around here like an afternoon gale.

The fishermen eye strangers — and one another — with deep suspicion. “We’ll tear them apart,” said one, Jorge Luis Palma, squinting into the horizon at a boat he did not recognize.

What has wrapped this village in such hostility?

Sea cucumbers.

The spiky, sluglike marine animals are bottom feeders that are not even consumed in Mexico, but they are a highly prized delicacy half a world away, in China, setting off a maritime gold rush up and down the Yucatán Peninsula.

Grocers Won’t Sell Altered Fish, Groups Say

Several supermarket chains have pledged not to sell what could become the first genetically modified animal to reach the nation’s dinner plates — a salmon engineered to grow about twice as fast as normal.

America's infrastructure is finally getting a bit better

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - America's recent wave of infrastructure spending is beginning to pay off.

The condition of the nation's roads, bridges, ports, railways and other critical infrastructure got a bit better over the last four years, according to a "report card" released Tuesday by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The trade group rated America's infrastructure a D+, compared to a D in 2009, the last time it was graded.

A D+ is the highest the country has ever scored in the 15 years ASCE has issued its report. It ties the grade America got in 2001.

Ogallala Aquifer In Focus As Drought Ravages High Plains States

Threatened by another summer of crop-shriveling drought, Kansans are watching a bold experiment unfold in Sheridan County, population 2,556, a sliver of the state’s northwest corner. On lands dominated by agriculture, locals have agreed to across-the-board cuts to water use.

The state of Kansas didn’t order the cuts, nor did a regional entity. Rather, at a time when states and locals are jockeying for water, stakeholders in the 100 square-mile “high priority” (meaning particularly parched) zone of Northwest Kansas Groundwater District 4 reached a consensus to reduce groundwater pumping by 20 percent over the next five years. They are gambling on short-term wants for a longer-term need — to preserve the aquifer their lives depend upon.

“We’re doing it because we think it’s right,” said Wayne Bossert, the district’s manager. “We have high hopes for it.”

Fears of Arctic conflict are 'overblown'

BRUSSELS - The Arctic has become a new frontier in international relations, but fear of potential conflict in the resource-rich region is overblown, say experts.

For long a mystery because of its general impenetrability, melting ice caps are revealing more and more of the Arctic region to scientists, researchers and industry.

Rethinking coastal retreat

Retreat is the option of last resort, and it’s only natural that property owners will exhaust all other remedies before moving away from the shoreline. Yet, in some cases, that may be the less costly response. The real rub will come when accelerated physical change meets economic reality. In this new environment, how much are we willing to expend in state taxpayer dollars to stabilize retreating beaches, and how are we to prioritize those expenditures?

A vision of floating cities: To cope with rising sea levels, African architect suggests building on the water

Houses and roads in Lagos are built on sponge-like terrain that was once sandbars, lagoons, and mangrove swamps. Lagos is also riven with a confluence of inland rivers, adding to its vulnerability to flooding. In 2011, intense rainfall flooded homes, overwhelmed sewers, and turned streets into rivers. Hardest hit in such events are the poor. Slums already hold 70 percent of people in Lagos, a city that draws 3,000 more residents every day.

In the face of that watery future, Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi, founder of the firm NLÉ and a recent visitor to Harvard, proposes a solution: Build houses that float. His African Water Cities Project envisions a future in which modular coastal dwellings are built on platforms stacked with flotation devices.

Katrina-Like Storm Surges Could Become Norm

Last year's devastating flooding in New York City from Hurricane Sandy was the city's largest storm surge on record. Though Hurricane Sandy was considered a 100-year-event — a storm that lashes a region only once a century — a new study finds global warming could bring similar destructive storm surges to the Gulf and East Coasts of the United States every other year before 2100.

National Geographic's cover story in their March issue was on North Dakota oil production and the Bakken. An abbreviated version can be found here:
America Strikes Oil: The Promise and risk of FRACKING

There is a map of the Bakken at this link. Clicking on it will enlarge the map to full screen and clicking a second time will make it even larger.

The stark, simple presentation of the map with the rural landscape along the Missouri River overwhelmed by the massive pattern of black dots amplifies the shocking nature of this transformation. Overall, there are about 8,000 wells in North Dakota, a number that is projected to grow to about 50,000.

Now that will never happen because as far as North Dakota is concerned the Bakken is it. North Dakota oil production outside the bakken has fallen from over 106,000 bp/d in 2006 to about 65,000 bp/d today… and is still declining. But more importantly non-Bakken oil has fallen from about 97% of North Dakota oil in 2000 to less than 9% today.

But the big news is the map. Click on it, then click again to enlarge it even further, then try to make out the little yellow dots. These are wells that are "inactive, dry or abandoned". You will have to squint to make out these dots because yellow on white don't show up very well. But after looking at it for several minutes I could tell that there are almost as many of these abandoned wells as there are active wells.

This is very important because previously most people, including myself, had been counting new wells by simply subtracting last months "wells producing" from this months "wells producing" and calling that number "new wells drilled this month". Now we know that is not the case. To know the actual number of new wells brought on line every month we would have to know the number of wells shut in this month. Because the "wells producing" number represents the number of new wells minus the wells shut in this month.

A better guide to new wells can perhaps be found here: North Dakota's Bakken Oil Play Then on that page click on ND drilling permits issued week ending March 15

Here you will find that there were 2,552 drilling permits issued in 2012. But subtracting "wells producing" in December 2011 from "wells producing" in December 2012 we get only 1,786 more wells producing in 2012 than in 2011. That means that if all drilling permits issued were drilled, then 766 wells were shut down in 2012.

This is important because it means that a lot more wells have been drilled than we thought there were. This means that it takes a lot more wells just to keep even than we originally thought, about 30 to 40 percent more.

Ron P.

On the map I'm assuming the black "tails" are the horizontal laterals? Surprised to see so many wells with just 1 lateral.

I have yet to find any yellow dots with laterals. Many of the yellow abandoned are clustered very close together, like they were done before horizontal drilling became prominent.

Yes, the black tails are horizontal laterals. Almost all the wells have only one lateral and all wells currently being drilled are horizontal wells.

Once a well is shut down they don't show any lateral. That's why the yellow dots don't show any laterals.

The yellow dots are scattered all over the map but there are many clustered very close together. This is because these were once a "sweet spots" that have now petered out.

We know that wells are shut down every month because the non-Bakken "wells producing" often declines. This could only happen if they are shutting down.

    Non Bkn Wls	Change from previous month
Apr-12	2,944	   -27
May-12	2,979	    35
Jun-12	2,994	    15
Jul-12	2,990	    -4
Aug-12	3,028	    38
Sep-12	3,034	     6
Oct-12	3,005	   -29
Nov-12	2,961	   -44
Dec-12	2,956	    -5
Jan-13	2,914	   -42

Of course as the yellow dots shown most of the wells shut down were in the Bakken. And the discrepancy between Bakken "producing wells" and Bakken Drilling Permits issued shows that there are perhaps an average of 64 wells per month are shut down in the Bakken.

Ron P.

Aloha Ron,

All the information you could ever want about individual ND wells is on the GIS Map Server on the ND Oil and Gas website (here). Every well in the state is shown, even those that are just being drilled. One can select one or more wells to see data about the well, including who drilled it and when, its current status, dimensions and more. I don't think production data is available though, but I am not absolutely sure.

This is crazy. I realize every day a bit more that data communication is not clear at all.

Looking for how you got the 1,786 new wells, it took me a little while to find this page,
https://www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas/stats/statisticsvw.asp, which I didn't know about.

Then looking at all the stats here, it took me again a little while to find 1,786 wells. With one dataset you can find 1,773 wells...but then you realize it's only ND's Bakken (plus a few other) fields.

With ND's dataset, you actually find the 1,786 wells.

But with the "Monthly statistical update" (which actually include gas) you find 1,748 wells...

How about the ND's drilling permits? are they only for oil wells? gas wells? I don't even know if there is a difference...

The 1,786 wells are for all North Dakota because they don't publish drilling permits for the Bakken only. However since the number of non Bakken wells are decreasing almost every month, we can be reasonably sure that the vast majority of new wells are in the Bakken.

I am not sure but I don't think there are any gas wells in the Bakken, or even in North Dakota for that matter. They flare most of the associated gas though they are making attempts to capture some of it. So it is highly probable that all, or certainly almost all, the drilling permits are for oil wells.

Bakken at Night This is Bakken gas being flared as seen from space.

Ron P.

Thanks but still I don't understand the 1,748 obtained with the Monthly statistical update from "the Industrial Commission of North Dakota - Oil and Gas Division" 2012 and 2011.

Why are the documents so vague. Is it that hard to be clear on what you're talking about when publishing numbers?

Okay, the 1,786 wells were the difference between the North Dakota "Wells Producing" "6218" in December 2011 (The end of 2011) and North Dakota "Wells producing" "8004" in December 2012 or (The end of 2012). I could have used January to January and got even less, 1728 extra "Wells Producing" but I thought the end of 2011 to the end of 2012 would be December to December.

That means that there were 1786 more wells producing at the end of 2012 than there were at the end of 2011. This is the case even though 2,552 drilling permits were issued during 2012. So this means that 766 old wells were either shut down or were dry holes. That is of course assuming that all the 2552 drilling permits issued were exercised.

Ron P.

I'm probably not expressing myself right, because I had understood that.
It still doesn't explain why with one document you can find 1,786 and 1,748 with another one when nothing in the documents seems to explain why those numbers are not the same, and that both documents come from the same source...

This is what is puzzling me really.

But maybe something is obvious and I don't get it (all this is quite new to me).
Thanks anyway.

Okay, I was using Monthly data to glean annual data from. I suspect that the annual they give is more correct. So I expect 1,748 is the actual figure, or a lot closer to it anyway.

But government documents often do give different data. Below I asked Rockman the same question you asked me. How can two different ND.gov sites give totally different figures. T

Ron P.

From: https://www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas/stats/statisticsvw.asp

NG production has boomed in ND since the Bakken got hot. In Jan 2013 16.6 bcf were sold (24.6 bcf produced so 8 bcf flared). Ten years earlier the numbers were 4.3 bcf sold of 4.8 bcf produced. So about a 400% increase in NG sales. And 2.5 million bbls of oil were sold in Jan 2003 and 22.9 million bbls sold in Jan 2013…about a 900% increase.

In 2003 less than 2% (0.5 million bbls) of ND oil came from the 195 Bakken completions. The dominant reservoir, the Madison, produced 40% (11.8 million bbls) of the oil in the state from 2,062 wells. The latest number from 2011: Bakken produced 83% of the oil (126 million bbls) from 3,345 wells with the number 2 spot going to the Madison with 5% (8.3 million bbls) from 2,051 wells. So the Madison hasn’t declined so much…the Bakken has boomed.

There were 3,260 wells producing oil in ND in Jan 2003 with 9 rigs drilling. In Jan 2012 there were 8,227 wells producing oil in ND with 200 rigs drilling. From 1990 to about 2003 there were on average about 200 NG producing wells in the state. In 2006 that number doubled to 200. Since 2010 the number is over 250 wells. Despite the stories about flaring it appears most of the 400% increase in NG sales in the state in the last 10 years has come from Bakken wells.

As been pointed out before in 2003 we had all the current tech to horizontally develop the oil we knew was in the Bakken. What we didn't have were the current high oil prices and pubcos desperate to keep booking reserves.

Thanks Rockman. I don't understand how one ND.gov site can give different figures than another ND.gov site but...

In Jan 2012 there were 8,227 wells producing oil in ND with 200 rigs drilling.

ND Monthly Oil Production Statistics says there were 6,347 wells in North Dakota producing in January 2012.

The latest number from 2011: Bakken produced 83% of the oil

By January 2013 that number has changed considerably. (In barrels per day)

        Bakken  North D. Non-Bakken %Non-Bkn %Bakken
Jan-13	673,015	738,033  65,018      8.81%    91.19%

What does this mean? I think it means that virtually all the action in North Dakota is in the Bakken.

I stand corrected on ND gas wells. So out of over 8,000 wells in North Dakota, about 250 of them are gas wells.

Ron P.

Ron - I see such variations all the time. Can't usually explain them but I can guess the common sources. One, not all agencies are getting the data from the operator at the same time. Sometimes it's a simple as one agency compiling a stat for Month A with the data in hand on the last day of the month and another waiting to account for data for Month A received a couple of weeks after the end of Month A. And then there's the question of when revised numbers are calculated and when they are published.

As frustrating as it may be for a detail guy like you those agencies don't lose any sleep over such discrepancies IMHO.

Yair . . . Does anyone know if it is possible to get a map and summary of wells drilled, rig counts and so on in the Australian coal seam gas context . . . I see those two 42 or 48 inch pipes heading into Gladstone and it looks like an awful lot of gas.

What pressure do those large pipes run at?


I don't know the number of wells but they reckon one third of east Australian gas will be liquefied for export from Gladstone. There's no way now that east coast coal plants will be replaced by gas, carbon tax or not.

Thanks---much appreciated.

Looking again at the map. The area marked #3 in the Bakken is the Parshall Field. The first wells in this field were drilled in 2006 and it is already in Decline". The graph below was produced by ASPO and emailed to me by Jim Hansen who often discussed the Bakken on his blog: The Master Resource Report

 photo SpanishParshallField_zps48eaa03a.jpg

You can see that at least part of the Bakken is already in decline and drilling more wells is not helping much.

Ron P.

That's a typical oil field production curve - they are normally bell-shaped like that.

As the field matures, the decline rates on the old wells exceed the production on the new wells, so production peaks and goes into decline. Later on, they run out of places to drill new wells, and the decline becomes steeper.

I think the MSM is quite unaware how development of oil field production typically plays out. It starts out looking like an exponential curve going to infinity, but then peaks and turns into a bell-shaped curve going down. The Bakken is going to be no different.

It looks like the entire map area is pretty thoroughly drilled out - not many places left to drill new wells. This is also typical of oil fields - they are only so big, and once you hit the edges, you're done.

RMG, the difference with conventional fields is that the bell takes much longer to peak and then decline. This Bakken curve shows a decline only after three years...

Austin – Lots of variations in production profiles of conventional fields. If the field isn’t too large (say less than 20 total wells eventually) the it can reach its peak in a couple of years…or less. And then if it’s a water drive reservoir it might decline very slowly for several years. But if most of the completions are about the same distance above the oil/water contact the field could go into a steep decline as the water level gets to many of the wells in a short amount of time. Or if some of the wells are close and others aren’t then a slower decline “when the water hits”. But usually after the water cut increases significantly the decline rate can become very low…less than 5%. But by then the absolute amount of oil has decreased significantly.

Then there are fields that can take 5+ years to fully develop for a variety of reasons. The early wells make peak in a couple of years or 4 or 5 years. If they peak early and the development wells are drilled over an extended time then the decline of the early wells might be masked by the addition of the newer better wells and the fields appears to have little or no decline for a while. In reality many of the individual wells may be in steep decline.

And then there are pressure depletion drives where decline is proportional to the amount of oil/NG produced. But this can get complicated if they do injection to stabilize the reservoir pressure and hold production at a very slow decline rate. This is what PEMEX did with Cantrell Field. But there have been many hundreds of conventional fields produced like this. And some fields actually have water injected into them to slow the decline rate of the oil.

I think you get the idea: there is no such thing as a “typical” decline curve for a conventional field because there isn’t a “typical” conventional field. Which brings us to another important fact about most of the shale “fields”…they aren’t fields in a technical sense. A “field is a distinct continuous reservoir or a series of continuous reservoirs in close proximity. There is no such thing as the Eagle Ford Field…never has been despite what you read in the MSM. There are more than a dozen areas in Texas that are classified by the Rail Road Commission as Eagle Ford fields. Each with a unique name that produces from the EFS formation: De Witt Field, Cherokee Field, Eagle Ridge Field, Quitman Field, etc., etc. But even this clustering doesn’t represent individual fields. The wells are being drilled in the Eagle Ford TREND. The Eagle Ford trend runs from Mexico to Alabama and to make it a little more confusing can change names when crossing state lines. Unless two wells are drilled very close to each other you can think of each as a one-well field: that well will produce, decline and eventually deplete independent upon what the other wells do in the trend and even independent of wells drilled just a few thousand feet away.

Which is why you can talk about the decline or increase in the production of the trend as a function of not just how quickly existing wells decline but have to include the rate at which new wells are drilled and how they decline. If not one more EFS were drilled starting tomorrow you would not see the decline of the “Eagle Ford Field” but the cumulative effect of the decline of each individual wells. Wells drilled 3 o4 years ago would exhibit a relative low decline rate because they are well past their peak. But well drilled less than 6 months ago would show the typical very high decline rate.

The Bakken is a bit different because it does have some matrix rock that contributes to production in addition to the volume contained in the fractures. So it’s like the EFS et al but not quite as bad.

It looks like the entire map area is pretty thoroughly drilled out - not many places left to drill new wells. This is also typical of oil fields - they are only so big, and once you hit the edges, you're done.

But how can that be? The article in National Geographic said:

Overall, there are about 8,000 wells in North Dakota, a number that is projected to grow to about 50,000.

That means they have almost 42,000 wells left to drill. Where are they going to put them?

Ron P.

Ron - First, when did you start taking geologic advice from a magazine? LOL. Remember a well was recently drilled in a lightly explored area and not only did they not find the Bakken productive but the formation didn’t even exist in that area. Maybe NG hasn’t taken that area off their map yet. I suspect what they’ve done is taking the area where the Bakken is known to be present and assumed every possible location that could be drilled will be drilled. And that would be despite the fact that this has never happened in any oil trend on the planet…ever.

But seriously, though I'm not an expert on the Williston Basin expert, I offer a few generic answers. Just because there’s a well symbol it doesn’t mean it drilled as deep as the Bakken be it a producer or not. And even if it did drill thru the Bakken it might not have been completed in the Bakken. Apparently the vast majority of wells completed in ND before 2003 were not completed in the Bakken. And that probably includes wells that had oil shows while drilling thru the Bakken but weren't consider a commercial viability due to the price of oil or low expectations or both. Over the years I’ve seen many vertical wells drilled through the Eagle Ford that, even though they had set casing over the EFS for other reasons, it wasn't deemed perspective enough to even spend money perforating and testing it.

And when oil prices get higher enough? Every geologist goes to his files to find those old reports of oil shows that weren’t deemed viable at the time but might work at current prices. I can assure you that when the EFS started to take off companies focused on those areas where early EFS completions were made even if they weren’t very commercial. One can have some very fancy seismic models about where the EFS might be a good candidate to drill horizontally. But at the end of the day management always prefers the science of closology: you snug up against an old well with some hint of potential. This is especially true in the resource plays where mapping productivity can be almost impossible until long after the wells are drilled and produced for a while. Often the earliest horizontal EFS were drilled right next to older vertical wells that may or may not have produced EFS oil.

I suspect the same dynamic is true for the Bakken as well as all the other shale plays.

The state of North Dakota is only 70,000 square miles, so if they are drilling horizontal wells on 2 square mile leases across the entire state, they could only drill 35,000 of them. If they drilled on a mix of 2 sq mi and 1 sq mi leases, then they might be able to fit 50,000 wells into the state.

In reality, not everywhere in ND will have oil under it. The Bakken formation only occupies the northwest corner of the state, and not everywhere in the Bakken will be a viable prospect, so they will only be able to drill a fraction of that number. This sounds like a typical MSM WAG. I can't call it a SWAG because there's nothing scientific about it.

The National Geographic map looks like almost the whole map area has been drilled with horizontal wells on 1 and 2 sq mi spacing. It's not necessarily the end of the play, but you can see that most of the prospects have already been tested.

Over 80 percent of Bakken production is coming from four counties, Williams, Mountrail, Mckenzie and Dunn. They comprise 8,913 square miles or about 5,700,000 acres. Using one well for every 320 acres they can drill 17,825 wells in these four counties assuming all 5.7 million acres could be drilled. Production from the other North Dakota counties is nothing to write home about.

Wonder if Nat Geographic has deteriorated since bought out by Murdoch.

Please tell me Nat Geo was not bought out by Murdoch...

According to Wikipedia, Murdoch owns the National Geographic Channel. National Geographic is not in the list.

Update: Again according to Wikipedia the National Geographic Channel in the US is a joint venture of National Geographic Television & Film and Fox Cable Networks. National Geographic provides programming expertise and the Fox Networks Group provides its expertise on distribution, marketing, and ad sales.

Correction; I stated above the chart"The area marked #3 in the Bakken is the Parshall Field. The first wells in this field were drilled in 2006 and it is already in Decline". This is not exactly correct. I should have stated: The areas marked #2 AND #3 on the map, the Sanish field and the Parhaall fields are both already in decline.

Ron P.

Ron – You may aware but others may not: Not all the boom is in the Bakken. There are other formations, the Three forks and Sanish, which are also contributing significantly with their hz wells. There may be confusion when some reports include those wells as Bakken producers while others don’t. As I understand it the big increase in production in the Sanish Field is not from the Bakken Formation but the Sanish Formation.


Rockman, my chart above, which I at first mistakenly called the Parshall field, is clearly labeled, on the chart, as the Sanish-Parshaill field. They are both in decline. Your linked story is dated July 2009 when both fields were still booming.

The Sanish field is a field inside the Bakken and is labeled 2 on the National Geographic map. The Parshall field is another separate field in the Bakken and is labeled 3 on the NG map. At least that's the way I read the map but I could be wrong.

But you are correct, some people may be confused about all this. So let's fix it. North Dakota posts production figures for all North Dakota and separate for the Bakken. The Bakken data page includes Three Forks, Sanish and Parshall fields. The Sanish and Parshall fields are just seperate areas of the Bakken, just like the Nesson and Antelope anticlines. The anticlines are old conventional fields where vertical conventional wells were originally drilled. They are now almost all decommissioned.

Three Forks is a different animal altogether. It is another layer of shale, or tight limestone, that lies beneath the Bakken. Of course it does not cover the exact same area as the Bakken and as I understand it, it is slightly smaller. But it is found in the same general area as the Bakken, only deeper.

But the Bakken production numbers include Three Forks, Sanish and Parshall fields as well as any oil that might still be pumped from the anticlines within the Bakken area. Then North Dakota publishes a second set of figures that include All North Dakota These figures include everythin within and outside the Bakken.

Okay, that is the way I understand it but I could be mistaken. Your 2009 article lumps the Sanish and Three Forks together as one field. Now I am not sure who is confused. But if anyone can shed further light on the situation it would be appreciated. But clearly North Dakota, in their reporting of production numbers, list everything within the Bakken area including Three Forks and everything else as just "Bakken". And then adds the Bakken numbers to everything outside the Bakken and just calls that North Dakota production.

Ron P.

Ron – Well done…I think that will help the TODsters follow the story. But there’s still some room for misinformation especially by reporting agencies and the MSM that might confuse the issue even more. For instance I believe the fields you’ve mentioned produced from multiple zones including the Bakken, Three forks and Sanish formations. So when someone says that the Bakken Field X is producing Y bopd do the mean just from the Bakken reservoir or all the other reservoirs in Field X? I suspect that many of the MSM reports about how much oil is being produced from the Bakken they are actually using production numbers from all reservoirs and including fields that have no Bakken production. They may just pick up some state reported number for the Williston Basin or perhaps the entire state and unknowingly assume it’s all Bakken. I wish we had more folks here who are working the Williston full time. I can try to keep up on the subtleties of Eagle Ford Shale production but can’t begin to do it with the Bakken.

Which is why I greatly appreciate the efforts of you and others.

Looking at all those wells, it is hard to get my mind around the fact that each and every one is being fracked, usually multiple times, with millions of gallons of toxic stuff. It seems to me that there must be an extremely high probability of fracking fluid working its way into the aquifer that feeds the farms in the area and ultimately ends up in the Missouri River.

Mind boggling.

The fracturing is occurring two miles underground and there are several impermeable rock layers between the frac zone and the surface, so the frac fluids will never escape to the surface - 0% chance of that occurring.

Also, if you look at the National Geographic map, you will see blue dots labelled, "fracture fluid disposal wells". They inject the recovered frac fluids into deep underground formations, typically old salt water reservoirs left over from a time when North Dakota was covered by sea water, which are known to be sealed.

Okay, perhaps the fracking itself isn't likely to contaminate aquifers (but the chance is certainly not 0%) but I would look at the whole process of fracking. Presumably, the following elements are necessary for the process to take place:
1. The fracking fluid must be manufactured or formulated somewhere. I presume there are plants set up to mix the stuff.
2. The fluid must be transported to the well sites
3. The fluid is pumped into the well at the high pressures necessary for fracturing the shale.
4. The fluid that returns to the surface must be pumped or hauled to a disposal well or other type of disposal facility.
5. The wells (presumably both production and disposal. Correct me if I'm wrong) must be sealed against leaks around the well casing.
6. The fluid is disposed of, when it is no longer usable.

Are you going to claim 0% chance of any aquifer or surface contamination through this whole process? This would entail perfect seals on production and disposal wells that would essentially last forever, as well as perfect handling of the stuff while it is going to and fro from one place to another.

On top of this, there is the danger of gas migration as well, whether the thermogenic gas actually works its way up to the aquifer or biogenic gas is disturbed as a knock-on effect of the process.

And I'm really not comfortable with the excuse that any pollution is the fault of state governments having lax rules or unenforced rules on how to handle the disposal of the stuff. My guess is that if the process was studied in detail, a lot more problems would be found than the oil industry would own up to.

The most common causes of groundwater contamination from oil wells are casing failures and bad cement jobs, and those are risks you take regardless of whether you frac the well or not. The whole media hysteria over "fracking" is just that - media hysteria with no basis in real oil industry operations. As I said, the frac'ng process and the fluid disposal are occurring about 2 miles underground and are unlikely to affect shallow formations.

If you drill a well, you take a risk. If you prohibit drilling, you do not take that risk, but you also won't get any oil. You might have to walk to work rather than drive, and you might not have a job when you get there. The land owner also doesn't get any oil royalties from production, so under common law and the US constitutional protections for private property, you really should compensate him for his losses, too.

I think there is an element of truth in ET's observations. Yes, the fracking (and subsequent disposal of waste) occurs at depth and is thus out of harms way for your typical aquifer. However, the addition of fracking to the equation includes variables that might justifiably be reviewed as not necessarily present previously:

a) the frequency of the operation (does the density of wells per square mile increase? How about the number of 'frac' jobs per square mile? Or the perforation lengths per frac? etc)

b) The volumes (and types)of fluid injected, circulated and disposed of (does this differ from earlier production well processes)?

If the frequency and volume of this type of operation increases then presumably so does the incidence of number of 'accidents', where an accident is a failure in the system; such as a traffic accident, spills, failed casing, cementing or any other of the myriad of engineering and logistics operations that are undertaken every hour of every day. So we are not taking 'greater' risks, but we are taking the same risks more frequently...

This is all FUD (expressions of fear, uncertainty, and doubt). In my experience, and that of Rockman, nobody has had any major problems with the process since it was introduced over 60 years ago. Anybody else with experience, speak up.

This kind of controversy has a simple (if not inexpensive) solution. Before drilling and fracking is allowed in a given area, the aquifer should be tested to get a baseline. The composition of the fracking fluid should be made public info. Then, if anyone claims their well was contaminated, the baseline test should tell the story. I'm not a chemist, but I suspect it would be easy to add some sort of taggant to the fluid to make it easier to identify if it goes astray.

This kind of process makes a lot of sense to me, but would have virtually no chance of happening, largely because the drilling companies would fight it tooth and nail. If the process is so safe, the oil drilling industry should embrace this kind of transparency but polluting industries have a history of obfuscating on these issues.

The point is not to prohibit drilling or to rob the landowner of his royalties, the point is to lay bare the real risks so that all parties can figure a way of compromising with everyone having access to the information they need.

We are already sampling and testing (having a reputable lab do it) water wells in any area we plan to frack. It's even the law in some states like Pennsyvania and Ohio (basically refuse the test, you cannot sue later).

Frack fluid is water, starch (guar) with borax added to make it crosslink and get thicker, just like making your own silly putty with elmers glue and borax. Muratic acid (pool shock chemical) is spearheaded ahead of the gel and is almost intantly neutralized by the minerals in the formation. Some NaOH (draino) or acid may be added to adjust the pH of the water because it won't gel at a low pH. Since the water starch mixture is edible we have to add a bacteriacide (our receptionist sprayed us down 2 days ago with Lysol). The worst part of the fluid is it often must be made frome a salt brine where we have reactive clays in the formation. This will make your water taste bad and isn't good for plant life. We also add a little surfacant (soap). Oh yeah, and a lot of sand, it's mostly sand.

I think it's the large scale of the fracks that has people so wound up. We show up with a lot of trucks, use a bunch of water and make a lot of noise for a few days. If successful, we do it frequently and all over the place. If we have a leak, we clean it up. We carry insurance and are heavily regulated. We know we will be blamed and sued for the slightest bad behavior or off tasting water (even though we are piping everything literally 2 miles underground, both the frac and subsequent wastewater produced back.)

The good news it that increasing our own oil production instead of importing it reduces the annual trade deficit. Imprts are directly subtracted from exports, consumer income, business investment and government spending to calculate GDP. This is has been a valuable kick start to the US economy, but all I hear is talk about "toxic chemicals" (see the list above). Also, we don't continue to spend one third of our national income trading with countries that don't especially like us much, indirectly funding terrorism.

I'd like to see folks go just one day without touching plastic or driving. I have a horse, when he isn't in the mood, we don't go anywhere. This is most of the time.

These guys always neglect to mention the radioactive tracers they add to the proppant. And forget to mention that not all of the wastewater has been injected. A lot of it has been dumped into rivers and down drains (legally). Your local municipal treatment plant can't deal with radioactive fracking brine. But water is way overrated anyway.

Robert – “A lot of it has been dumped into rivers and down drains (legally)”. Shame on you: not in Texas, La or Ohio. And probably most other states. In fact, in La. I can’t legally pump rain water off one of my drill sites into the ditch. Yes…RAIN WATER. I have to pay someone to bring a pump truck out, suck the water up and then haul it to a disposal company. Pump trucks = $175/hour plus mileage. Disposal = $3 to $7 per bbl.

BTW in which states could I legally dump such oil
field wastes? I might want to go drill there.

Until recently most fracking waste in PA was going back into public water supplies with minimal treatment. And the treated water wasn't even tested for the radioactivity which the public treatment plants were not equipped to remove. Either that or just store it in an open pit until it evaporates, then truck the radioactive solid waste to a public waste site, all perfectly legal.

Fracking is like burning the house to heat the furniture.

Robert - Quite true. If you were hanging around TOD when the frac'ng subject became hot you would have seen me blasting my Yankee cousins for not having better regs. I also took shots at their politicians for claiming they didn’t know how to react to the situation and needed time to develop the proper regs. Those claims were either BS or made out of ignorance IMHO. I repeated referred them to such regs in Texas and La. From Day 1 all they had to do, for instance, was copy the Texas Rail Road Commission web site, put there state seal on it and they would be good to go. That site is not a fluff piece: one can download all the detailed regs…hundreds of thousands of words that cover everything from frac fluids, injection wells, air quality issues, etc.

It was similar to the situation of the folks in PA complaining about the increased regulatory costs and the wear on their roads. Besides having inadequate regs are you aware that PA has never collected $1 in production tax from the oil patch while Texas and La. have received $trillions over the decades? Yes…$trillions with a T. This is where my patience runs thin with my Yankee cousins when they begin comparing. The solution to potential problems are staring them in the face and they apparent refuse to see them. And understand it isn’t like Texas and La. have always had good policies well enforced. Long ago we had our bad old days also when there was little concern for the environment. But we changed over time. States like NY and OPA had no need to start from scratch.

Tracers? I’m not an expert but have seen them used in a variety of application besides frac’ng. I’m not a nuclear physicist but I’ll stick my neck out and say that the level of radiations in any of those tracers is so small not to be of concern. Maybe someone who knows the numbers better than me can add to the discussion.

And I wasn't making that up: It's illegal for me to dump rain water from my drill site into a ditch or sewer system in La. And it doesn't matter if I show them a certified analysis that there's noting dangerous in the water. The rule is very simple: you can't do it.

What are the regulations on dumping fracking waste water in Louisiana and Texas? Typically states have all sorts of regulations about protecting water at the well site but not much at all about dumping fracking wastewater.

People need to realize that frac waste and all other oily substances related to exploration for and production of petroleum are exempted from regulation by the feds. A nice little nugget they carved out for themselves.

Colorado has 50,000 oil and gas wells and 15 inspectors.

What are the regulations on dumping fracking waste water in Louisiana and Texas?


Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Occasionally, the fracking fluids and tracer material can be released back out of the well during a "sandout" and is returned to the surface. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Railroad Commission have authorized the disposal of the returned material in on-site earthen pits covered with at least two feet of clean soil or in Class II injection wells. Both the earthen pits and the Class II injection wells are required to be permitted by the Railroad Commission.

An analysis by DSHS and the NRC determined that the disposal of the radioactive tracers would not result in a significant risk to public health and safety or to the environment. The radioactive tracers have a half-life less than 120 days and are in a form that will not leach into and migrate with the groundwater. The on-site disposal pits must be covered with at least two feet of clean soil.

The executive director’s staff reviewed various pit disposal dose models, including worst-case scenarios, which show that the total effective dose equivalent to individual members of the public from the closed pit is well below the 0.1 rem per year dose limit. Class II injection wells are permitted by the Railroad Commission after a determination that groundwater and surface water are protected from pollution.

So the "returned material" here seems to refer to the fracking sand alone? Or does that include the fluid with the dissolved solids including radioactive leachate from the bedrock? Can that be trucked to a commercial or public waste facility? Or does it all go into the pit?

The radioactive tracers have a half-life less than 120 days and are in a form that will not leach into and migrate with the groundwater.

That's not true of the radioactive materials picked up from the fracked rock. Obviously it would migrate very well with the groundwater. How many tons of solids are carried in the flowback from a single frac operation?

Robert - The returns are mostly those nasty frac fluids. There may be a little sand but not much if the frac is done right. The object is to keep the proppant in the induced fractures. I'm not sure how they clean the produced sand or what they do with it. I'll guess it's washed and that water hauled off with the rest of the nasties.

"That's not true of the radioactive materials picked up from the fracked rock" That's actually a potential problem that been long recognized. It's called "NORM": naturally occurring radioactive material. But it's not a health issue with normally produced fluids because the concentration is so low. Many folks have more radioactive particles in their drinking water than NORM produced from a well. The big problem is when casing and equipment is removed for an old well. The NORMs can consolidate on the metal and reach rather high levels. But again I'm not taking about getting radiation sickness by standing next to a piece of pipe. But the accumulated NORM isn't something you would want washed off the metal and dumped into the environment. That's why there are oil service companies that specialize in leaning up NORM and properly disposing of it.

Tons of solid material? I would imagine the more like metric would be pounds. When you read such reports see if you can dig out the amounts of those materials they are talking about. same with the fluid components. Not that benzene et al aren't really nasty and dangerous but 95%+ of what's pumped down a well is harmless water. That still amounts to thousands of gallons of nasties...but not millions.

So, to be clear, you put the used frac fluid including all the NORM and benzene and whatnot in open pits to evaporate. Then the solids which are left in the pit are buried under two feet of dirt.

This is considered to be extremely stringent regulation.

Robert - Maybe you thought I was kidding. In La. I have to have rain water from my location hauled off and pay a certified disposal company to get rid of it. That's rain water. What do you think the state's attitude is towards proven toxic frac fluids or salt water? About 6 months ago I had to have about 1,600 bbls of rain water hauled off and disposed of. Been a rainy winter in that part of the state. There was a drainage ditch running along the side of the location. But instead of spending a few hundred $’s to pump it into the ditch I paid $5.50/bbl to get rid of it. That’s bill was almost $9,000. So why didn’t I have one of the rig hands pump it into the ditch at 2 AM (some companies might do that)? Because if caught the penalties can be really severe. Imagine what the state would do to you if they caught you getting rid of frac fluids like that. BTW: when we building our locations we really try to do so where the natural slope will let it drain off. Unfortunately if drilling in an officially designated “wet lands area” I have to build a small dike completely around the drill site. Thus there’s no natural drainage except for percolation into the ground. And water doesn’t tend to percolate down very well in a wet area.

I produce about 200 bbls of salt water from some wells in Texas. I have a certified transport company haul it off and deliver it to a company with a certified deep injection well. Fortunately I’m in an area where disposal is relatively cheap…about $3/bbl. And that isn’t a lot of water but that’s still over $200,000 per year.

If you have never seen the post: twice in my career I’ve helped bust illegal dumpers (we call them “midnight haulers” since they like to do their dirty work after dark. Besides casting a black mark against all of us why do I dislike those folks so much? My 13 yo daughter has drunk water from a shallow well on the property her whole life. Yep…I take illegal dumping personally.

Also we're not over run with TRRC inspectors either. But I would say about 99% of all the operators that have been busted for such violations was the result of a land owner reporting them. And we have hundreds of thousands of landowner watching what we do. And a lot of lawyers more than glad to take their cases on a commission basis. If you dump nasties on the ground (accidently or intentionally) they don't just disappear. Evidence can linger for weeks.

I didn't think you were kidding. In fact it didn't surprise me at all. The states have all kinds of regulations for protecting water at drill sites, but very little regulation concerning used frac fluid and what you can do with it..

Sometimes it feels like the resident o & g experts on this site are being deliberately coy about the environmental problems associated with petroleum production.

Also we're not over run with TRRC inspectors either. But I would say about 99% of all the operators that have been busted for such violations was the result of a land owner reporting them. And we have hundreds of thousands of landowner watching what we do. And a lot of lawyers more than glad to take their cases on a commission basis. If you dump nasties on the ground (accidently or intentionally) they don't just disappear. Evidence can linger for weeks.

If you dump nasties into a river or stream, however, you won't be caught especially if there is no testing of the water. Maybe if somebody sees you doing it, or there is a big fish kill or something...

To keep this in perspective, Colorado has 14 inspectors for 50,000 or so o & g wells. Wells average four years between inspections! And if the inspectors catch a violation, the operator is fined...$1000. So, the fine which is extremely unlikely to be levied is far less than the cost of proper disposal of hazardous waste.

WAter is important, so I've been told, especially here in the west. And this is not even close to a legitimate regulatory regime. The industry should be ashamed of this charade, and of working so hard to actually keep it this way or make it even worse. As you said, you have human offspring who drink water too.

So no comment on the tracers? Isn't it one of the most interesting aspects of the process?

I don't think tracers are that much of a concern. Consider a mainstream medical imaging technique, positron emission tomography. With this technique, a radioactive tracer is injected straight into the bloodstream. The resulting radiation is then used to image where the injected molecules end up.

I would like to know however what these tracers are used for.

Radioactive tracers are used to identify fractured and propped intervals to determine if the materials were pumped away from the wellbore and into the formation as planned. It's rather similar to the use of radioactive tracers injected into the human body.

A friend of mine had an amusing (to me) incident when he drove his oil company truck across the border from Canada into the US. Homeland security identified radioactive materials in his truck and wouldn't let him get out of it without careful scanning, which took hours. This was something of a concern to him because he had been carrying radioactive materials to well sites in his truck.

Eventually it turned out that his truck was fine and it was him who was radioactive. He had been in the hospital for tests, and they had injected radioactive materials into his bloodstream.

Of course that does suggest that maybe the border security people could turn down the sensitivity on their radiation detectors a bit.

I believe Kentucky, where I am now, lets the EPA in Atlanta do the oil field regulation.

Of course, KY also allows mountaintop removal coal strip mining - and has black license plates with "Coal keeps the Lights On" (optional vanity plate).

Best Hopes ?


ET – I always recommend to worried landowners to do just that. And not just collect some in a jelly jar: have a valid company certify the multiple samples over time. A far as the “secret fluids” Halliburton et al use that story has been severely overhyped by the MSM. The companies don’t want to publish their specific formulations but the basic components are well known and have been known for decades. In addition anyone can buy the liquids and have them analyzed. And the states can require a sample of anything any company puts down any well. And many components are easily ID’d and typically don’t occur naturally. There is nothing for the oil patch to fight tooth and nail over. The NY Times and the Sierra Club can pony up some pocket change have samples analyzed and publish the results. Given how utterly available the info is do you wonder why you don’t see the details in the media. Those details have been posted on TOD several times.

Tagging the fluid won’t do much good. The different components migrate in ground water at different rates so they’ll tend to segregate. But, like I said, the worst of the nasties don’t tend to occur naturally and are easy to test for. Given those facts if there were a lot of frac fluids contaminating aquifers I would expect to hear about a lot more lawsuits.

To heck with the aquifers.

Frac industry works overtime keeping the public focused on aquifers and the well water of distant rural folk, but it seems like people are starting to realize that it's more about rivers and lakes and the water that comes out of everybody else's tap.

Providing petroleum for those Taco Bell runs is noble to be sure, but working to distract people from the fact that radioactive frac waste has been dumped into public drinking water supplies, not an honest day's work.

Perhaps, in your indignation, you could provide us with some verifiable facts to support your assertions. For example some active lawsuits or technical data taken by a reputable scientist from a river or lake that has been contaminated.

Then we can get indignant too.


Frac industry wants you to keep arguing about what they're putting into the ground. That way you might forget about what they're taking out of the ground and what they're doing with it.

Frac industry has major issues with wastewater disposal and consumption of fresh water. Contamination of aquifers and well water is a relatively tiny issue.

No, I am not going to look at that. Please supply the sources requested by jjhman above.


That is a naive non-answer.

From the link:

"This is an E.P.A. briefing, presented by officials from several regional offices to Robert M. Sussman, E.P.A. senior policy counsel, that highlights concerns and research priorities related to hydrofracking, a relatively new drilling method."

That does not constitute a lawsuit, nor a scientific finding.

Did you read any of it?

Fascinating and frightening material. Massive amounts of frac fluid dumped into public drinking water supplies.

I am not going to enter this argument on either side but simply to state that the major question is not what has been contaminated but what might be contaminated. Here is a good overview from The New York Times in 2011.

Documents: Natural Gas's Toxic Waste

Over the past nine months, The Times reviewed more than 30,000 pages of documents obtained through open records requests of state and federal agencies and by visiting various regional offices that oversee drilling in Pennsylvania. Some of the documents were leaked by state or federal officials. Here, the most significant documents are made available with annotations from The Times.

This is not an editorial or an opinion from the Times. It is a basic index and explanation of data obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal and state agencies.

The right sidebar is a clickable index of the rest of the document. For instance you can click on:

ExpandStudy on Radiation in Aquatic Systems p. 417
Human Health Impacts Analyzed
Radium Levels Would Increase Cancer Risk

And bring up that section of the document.

Ron P.

That's the same link I provided.

Well, as I said, I don't have a dog in this fight but if a person simply refuses to look at the evidence then I suspect they know their argument is weak. Evidence will either make your case, if you are right, or break your case if you are wrong. The New York Times article is all about evidence.

Ron P.

I read the NY Times series when it was first published (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/us/DRILLING_DOWN_SERIES.html), and was fairly impressed by Ian Urbina's reporting. If you take the time to read it all, the biggest problems he identified was the (then) LEGAL disposal of frac water at municipal waste-water treatment plants, and illegal dumping.

"The fracturing is occurring two miles underground and there are several impermeable rock layers between the frac zone and the surface, so the frac fluids will never escape to the surface - 0% chance of that occurring."

Wrong. Well casings fail at a 6% to 7% rate so there will be thousands of well failures with the risk of thousands of possibly polluted aquifers.

"Operator-wide statistics in Pennsylvania show that about 6-7% of new wells drilled in each of the past three years have compromised structural integrity. This apparently low failure rate should be seen in the context of a full buildout in the Pennsylvania Marcellus of at least 100,000 wells, and in the entire Marcellus, including New York, of twice that number. Therefore, based on recent statistical evidence, one could expect at least 10,000 new wells with compromised structural integrity."

Link to Dr. Anthony Ingraffea's paper in article.


This where we need to be very careful how we read statements and not assume they are saying what they aren’t. The chance of a fracture migrating upwards thru the earth from that depth is zero and easily proven if we wanted to spend a week going over overburden and pore pressure analysis. OTOH if a tanker carrying frac fluid breaks a valve off there’s 100% probability of frac fluid getting into the aquifer system. If frac fluids are injected into a deep disposal zone by a properly maintained disposal well there’s a very small chance of frac fluid getting into the aquifer. If a disposal company intentionally dumps the frac fluid into the sewer system (as that jerk did in Ohio) there’s a 100% chance of that frac fluid getting into the aquifer. If an operator runs the appropriate casing, gets a good cement job (and proves it with a valid test) and doesn’t exceed the specs of the casing then there’s very small chance of frac fluids getting into the aquifer. If an operator runs premium casing but doesn’t get a good cement job they could easily lose frac fluid up the annulus into the aquifer.

As far as X% of wells losing structural integrity I’ve had that happen numerous times in the last 38 years. But not in even one incident did that situation induce any risk to the aquifer system. Assumptions that such integrity lose poses any meaningful risk to an aquifer has to be documented. I've had casing failures in perhaps a couple of dozen wells and not in one instance has the aquifer been in any danger. Just three months ago I had a catastrophic casing failure on a well and spent $2 million unsuccessfully trying to fix it. And there was never a risk to the aquifer at anytime. BTW: I then spent $7 million redrilling that well with the failed casing. Needless to say we tend to try real hard not to let that happen.

There will always be the possibility that any oil/NG development operation can contaminate the environment. But I know of no other commercial activity in the country which involves toxic chemicals where that isn’t true. There are horrible Super Funds sights that were created long before the first well was frac’d. But that doesn’t mean frac wells should be allowed. It’s a question of what risks one finds acceptable. Of course, there’s no set answer to that question. Just this morning I listened to a rancher in NY that was losing his business and complained that had he been able to accept the lease offering he could have same the family property. But NY has been banned frac’ng for the moment. OTOH a land owner with no mineral rights gets no financial benefit from a well being drilled on his property so no matter how low the risk might be why would he ever be satisfied to see that well get drilled? This is where the state has to step in and set the rules for everyone involved. But no matter the decision someone will feel betrayed. Just like you can’t be a little pregnant: either allow frac’ng or don’t. And then everyone has to deal with the results…positive and negative.

Nice comments Rockman. I have been in the business for 15 plus years, since I graduated from college. I have been reading the drum for a couple months and it has turned into daily reading. Outside of my day to day dealings in the business, I do not get to read many comments or posts about our business. Especially in a setting using a critical eye on the industry and our use of energy.

I hear you Rock, and I agree with you mainly. I just want to see more studies on failed wells before I will accept that there is a 0% chance that fracking can't contaminate an aquifer. There are possible pathways for contaminates on a failed casing...

Do I think the public companies are staffed with caring workers like Rockman? NO I do not. The public companies only care about short term profit; right now I believe the public companies are fighting to survive. The nature of a corporation is to maximize short term profit. It is not to worry about aquifers that the sheeple drink out of. I know how big coal treats us West Virginians so I am not buying it that out of state public gas companies will do better. All the big money flows to Oklahoma City and New York City; we get our land trashed and turned into an industrial waste; banks will no longer loan for properties with well sites in West Virginia...

Industrial civilization will collapse because economic growth can not be sustained. Industrialism is dependent on growth because it is built on credit. The world is finite and ponzi schemes such as industrial civilization are always done in by entropy and physical limits. How much of the natural world we destroy between then and now is what is at stake in my opinion. Fracking will not save industrial civilization. It will make some people rich, give others jobs, destroy other peoples real estate values/wealth and health. It is not worth it. Environmental damage being suffered right now for a failed cause (industrial civilization) is like soldiers killed in the last days of a war while a truce is being negotiated.

Any product or service that involves the destruction of the ecosystem to produce it is folly. The world will soon get a detailed lesson in the consequences of our industrial folly...

Mark – “before I will accept that there is a 0% chance that fracking can't contaminate an aquifer.” Whoa there, cowboy…there will never be a day when there’s 0 risk for frac fluids to contaminate water supplies. Not as long as honest men make mistakes and dishonest men cheat to make a little more money. It’s all about the trade off. A number of young children will die in school bus accidents in the next year but we accept that fact. But I still don’t understand why seatbelts aren’t required in most states. Thousands of lives, tens of thousands of injuries and tens of $millions in damages could be avoided if the highway speed limits were significantly reduced. But what’s the trade off?

Easy for you and me to say it’s a fair trade off to make our trips faster. You ever want to explain that logic to the mother of a 16 yo girl killed in a highway traffic accident? Likewise I wouldn’t want to explain to a man the value of increasing domestic energy production after he’s lost the farm that’s been in his family for three generations because his water supply was poisoned by drilling activity. Easy to make generalities… more difficult when there’s a face attached to the problem.

Is everyone in the oil patch like me? Hope like hell not…we would be doomed. LOL. It’s a lot easier for me to behave properly when drilling since I know if I get caught screwing up (accidentally or intentionally) both Texas and La would fine the hell out of me. And if a really bad violation never let me operate in the state again. Lack of proper regs was a big problem in the Marcellus initially IMHO. Did you know that until the passed a law prohibiting it in both NY and PA publicly owned municipal treatment plants were taking in (for a fee) those nasty frac fluids and them dumping them untreated into local streams? One would think there wouldn’t be the need to pass such a law, would you?


I've been trying to find the right place to put this question so maybe this is as good as any:

When a well is fracked isn't the pressurization initiated above ground? If so, it seems to me that either the casing, the cement or both have to pass through the aquifer if the oil is below same. Then the high pressure would exist through the area of the aquifer. In that case a failure of the cement is as likely in the area of the aquifer as anywhere else. So with a 6 or 7% failure of cement jobs (is that right?) there is a pretty credible likelyhood of some fraction of those occuring at the aquifer. Right? Am I missing soemthing?

Not answering you, just testing if I've listened to ROCKMAN and the others right. First the pressure. The pressure in the formation being fracked will not show up in the shallow aquifers as the pressure will be several thousands of feet of fluid column less but still high compared to local pressure. As for the failure rate of cement jobs, that is why a good test and re-work, if required, is done. 6%-7% failure of cement jobs may not be the same as the failure rate of the final cement work. Am I understanding this right?


jj – Very good question. In general I avoid trying to give complete technical answers on many of the subjects we discuss…just too much detail and background knowledge required. But here are some details…still a simplification but may sufficiently answer your questions.

On a frac’d well there are at least two sets of csg covering the fresh water aquifer…some times 3 or 4. When I drill a well the state tells me how deep I have to set the first string (surface casing) and how to cement it in order to protect the aquifer. Subsequent string(s) of csg are run inside of the surface csg. When I frac a zone at say 8,000’ I typically go in hole (GIH) with a “work string”…tubing that’s often less than 3” in diameter. I’ll pump the high pressure frac down the work string but I’ve also placed “packers” (think of a big rubber cork with a hole in it for the work string to go through). This isolates the high pressures from the shallow sections of the well.

Even if there were no rules about damaging the aquifer the companies would still do all they can to prevent those pressures (let alone the frac fluids) from rupturing the shallow casing. I might spend $5 million drilling the well and another $2 million frac’ng it. And maybe I expect to make a $10 million profit from the production. How much chance would you be willing to take by causing a casing failure up shallow? You’ve just lost $7 million of capex and another $17 million in future revenue. Trust me: companies try very hard to not damage their wells and it doesn’t have to have anything to do with following the regs or protecting the environment.

Cement failure. Again an area where we have to be very careful to express ourselves fully. A 6% or 7% failure rate? I would guess over the years the failure rate on my cement jobs ran more like 10% to 15%. Cement jobs fail all the time. A cmt failure just means that when you pressured up on it leaked at a lower pressure than you require. It doesn't mean anything was dumped into an aquifer or any other damage has occurred. Failure means the cement just didn't test to the required pressure. Just like checking the pressure in your tire and finding out its 25 psi when it should be 32 psi. You tire pressure test "failed" so you put some more air in. Your car didn't blow up or crash into a wall because your tire failed to test properly.

So cmt fails so often we keep the equipment to fix failed it on the drill rig 24/7. But details: the vast majority of those failures happened in the deeper sections of those wells and not near the aquifer. And in every case while drilling a well I recemented until I got a good test. Cmt failures are always fixed simply because they have to be. About 8 years ago I saw a company try 23 times to unsuccessfully fix a failed cmt job on an offshore well. So what did they do? Plugged and abandoned the well...a $48 million loss. And the prime reason wasn't to protect the environment but to avaoid a blowout. The cmt failure on the Macondo wasn't a one in a million incident. A company would assume a high probability of cmt failure and test to confirm the cmt job was good. And even if the test said it would good a company shouldn’t turn their back on it. They should continue to monitor for failure. The crew on the Macondo well didn’t and paid a high price. During my 38 years I have had dozens of wells come in on me like the Macondo well. But a blowout was prevented because we saw the situation developing and prevented the loss of control. There’s probably a well or two (or 5 or 6) every month experiencing a kick like they had on the Macondo disaster. But the wells don’t blowout.

So when someone throws out some cmt failure rate are they talking about during the drill phase, the frac phase or the production phase? Makes a huge difference. Let’s jump to the frac’ng phase. We have pressure gauges on every possible conduit to the surface when we do a frac. Each annular area between every csg string is monitored. The last string of csg that the work string runs down and is isolated by the packer assembly is very closely monitored…packers do fail from time to time. And if the frac pressure is seen in those gauges there’s an emergency shutdown procedure. And that safety system has little to do with protecting the aquifer. It’s there to save lives and protect $50 or $60 million of frac trucks.

I’m not trying to be melodramatic but I suspect you know how many bombs kills: a sudden and catastrophic increase in air pressure. When you’ve got 60,000 horse power pumping pressures up to 10,000+ psi what you basically have is a contained and focused explosion. You want that explosion to happen thousands of feet down and not in your shallow csg. And certainly not in your face. LOL.

When you see pressure during a frac job or production phase where there shouldn’t be you shut down and fix it. But the biggest cause of shallow aquifer contamination happens during the production phase and it’s almost always salt water. Cmt and packer can take years to fail. But again there’s a great deal of financial incentive to fix those problems when they are discovered. Remember not only is salt water lost to the aquifer but some of the oil/NG being produced. IOW losing money. This is why most of the worst examples of contamination involve disposal wells. Here there’s now loss in revenue if the well is leaking into the aquifer. If an injector operator doesn’t get caught he can just keep on doing business making money. Which is just one more example of my Yankee cousins initially being focused in the wrong areas.

Believe it or not I’ve left out a good bit of useful info about the process. And referring folks to tech references doesn’t do a lot of good because most require some base knowledge many don’t possess.

Thank you Rockman. I learned more about fracing from your post that I have from all other sources in the last 5 years.

My thanks, too (again). I think I've learned more about all aspects of drilling from ROCKMAN than any other source.

Apparently lawyers are investing in "teaching their story." See Hydraulic Fracturing 3D Animation.

I don't believe the hype that there is little or no chance that aquifers can be impacted by these activities. Witness the "out of sight out of mind" deep injection well disposal of any old toxic soup that one wanted to get rid of... Well it seems that the "disposal for eternity" option in reality has an "eternity" consisting of a few decades. This stuff was disposed of DEEP and had NO chance of contaminating aquifers or getting to the surface - until it did...


There is no certainty at all in any of this, and whoever tells you the opposite is not telling you the truth," said Stefan Finsterle, a leading hydrogeologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who specializes in understanding the properties of rock layers and modeling how fluid flows through them. "You have changed the system with pressure and temperature and fracturing, so you don't know how it will behave."

We don't know how it will behave and unfortunately, once there is that "oops !" moment, there is no getting that genie back in the bottle...

Cat – “I don't believe the hype that there is little or no chance that aquifers can be impacted by these activities.” And you never should IMHO. But that hydrologist is wrong:”You have changed the system with pressure and temperature and fracturing, so you don't know how it will behave." No…we have a pretty good idea of how the system would behave. Especially hydrologists…that’s what they do. Again, we have to very careful how we read statements. There is virtually no chance of a deep frac job propagating fractures up into the fresh water aquifers and contaminating them. There is an absolute certainty that some contamination will come from waste disposal via injection wells or illegal dumping and, to a much lesser degree, from producing wells.

For instance in the article he refers to an example in Texas: “Yet the precautions failed. Salt water brine migrated from the injection site and shot back to the surface through three old well holes nearby.” Which is exactly what any hydrologist or oil patch geologist would tell you would happen if waste were injected into a reservoir which had abandoned wells nearby that weren’t properly plugged. It’s a simple pressure transient analysis and can be done by a second year hydrology major. Very predictable and almost certain to happen. In this case there was no failure by the injection process but by those wells not being properly plugged. This is by far the most common circumstance of such incidents in Texas. Not from a frac job or an injector well being improperly operated. BTW the TRRC does not now issue permits for proposed injector wells if the plan is to inject into reservoirs in which nearby abandoned wells have ever been completed in that reservoir. A rather simple solution to that potential proplem.

This where we have to be careful about talking past each other and mixing apples and oranges. Both side of the debate have valid points but you have to keep the different issues separated. There is virtually no chance of frac fluids migrating up through the earth into the aquifer from where it has been injected. There is a 100% certainty that some frac fluid will contaminate aquifers via illegal dumping or poorly done injection operations. Those are not contradictory statements but sometimes the discussion seems to lose sight of these facts.

" No…we have a pretty good idea of how the system would behave. Especially hydrologists…that’s what they do. Again, we have to very careful how we read statements. There is virtually no chance of a deep frac job propagating fractures up into the fresh water aquifers and contaminating them. There is an absolute certainty that some contamination will come from waste disposal via injection wells or illegal dumping and, to a much lesser degree, from producing wells."

Not all hydrologist agree with that statement. The following statement is from Paul Rubin an independent New York hydrologist.

"He says this is important because of the unique geology of the shale. According to the gas industry, there's no way for this gas to escape because it lies so deep underground. However, he says that doesn't take into account naturally occurring fractures in the formations that could be vertical pathways for these deep gases to get to the surface. He cites studies done by structural geologists to back this up.

"They've looked at satellite imagery, and done ground mapping," he says. "What they found is anomalies where very high gas methane, natural gas concentrations along certain dense fracture areas. What that means is that some of these vertical fractures that we see through this area are open from whatever gas rich horizon to the ground surface. The concept that some of these fractures can't go deep doesn't really hold water."

Carr, a self-avowed promoter of developing the Marcellus shale play, says drilling can be done safely if it's done right. Again, Rubin disagrees with this premise. He says a fresh water aquifer under normal environmental conditions should be expected to last up to one million years. But he says the life expectancy of the steel and concrete used to drill through the aquifer is considerably less.

Rubin says under the best of circumstances, the concrete could last about 100 years, assuming it doesn't develop cracks, shrink or debond, all circumstances he says could allow gas to escape. He says the life expectancy of the steel is even less, about 80 years, due to rust and other environmental degradation. He also dismisses the industry practice of triple casing cement between layers of steel as any better protection for a well.

He showed several pictures from various homes in Dimock, Pennsylvania, currently a hotbed of litigation involving water sources allegedly poisoned by fracing processes. One picture shows a man holding a glass of water from his home the color and consistency of diluted chocolate milk. When asked if he has had the sample tested, Rubin declined to answer as it is part of a case under litigation."



This fracking is just the latest round of industrial civilizations ongoing wholesale destruction of the earths ecosystems. At least the bacteria in the petri dish get a little more growth...

Mark – Sorry if I sound like I’m lecturing but it pretty much boils down to it now. Stop comparing apples to oranges. I don’t know if you’re deliberate being obtuse or if the subject matter is too difficult. First: “According to the gas industry, there's no way for this gas to escape because it lies so deep underground.” That’s so categorically untrue to be laughable. There are companies that do nothing but search out such NG and oil leaks. In fact the very first discoveries were keyed to surface leaks. No one…absolute no one…in the oil industry would agree with that statement. I have drilled prospects that were generated by finding such surface leaks. You have offer the Mother of All Straw Man arguments IMHO.

"They've looked at satellite imagery, and done ground mapping," he says. "What they found is anomalies where very high gas methane, natural gas concentrations along certain dense fracture areas. What that means is that some of these vertical fractures that we see through this area are open from whatever gas rich horizon to the ground surface. The concept that some of these fractures can't go deep doesn't really hold water." Well…da! Who do you think generates most of those images and ground mapping: the oil industry? And why…to find hydrocarbons. And again I’ll be point out your describing faults that reach from depth all the way up to ground level which lea hydrocarbons to the surface. A phenomenon know for at least 100 years and documented primarily by oil companies. Those are naturally occuring conduits that reach the surface. No one has even documented an deep man induced fracture reaching the surface. Again, another silly straw man gambit.

Did I say deep NG/oil accumulations can’t reach the surface or shallow aquifers? NO!!! I’m not even going to be courteous enough to repeat myself…reread my posts. And obviously you and Rubin don’t know anything about how to properly plug and abandon a well especially when of comes to the stability of concrete. BTW ask any construction engineer: concrete is typically stronger after 100 years. And cracks? I think neither of you have any idea about subsurface conditions. And finally:” One picture shows a man holding a glass of water from his home the color and consistency of diluted chocolate milk.” And I can hold up a glass full of butterflies. Does that prove the nearby well is leaking butterflies to the surface? I would offer that if this is the level of proof you’re down to our conversation is probably beyond the point of diminishing returns.

And I don’t know if you’ve ever read my personal feelings about frac’ng, the shale plays and Canadian oil sands: nothing would make me happier than if there is never another shale well completed or if we never imported another a bbl of Canadian oil. Can you figure out why? Hint: it has nothing to do one way or the other with protecting the environment. I don't offer my insights to convince anyone to be for or against frac'ng. Like Ron I don't have a dog in that fight.

"There is virtually no chance of a deep frac job propagating fractures up into the fresh water aquifers and contaminating them."

I was trying to point out that some hydrologists think that there can be upward migration of fluids under the right circumstances into aquifers. The fractures would have to be natural and I was wrong to lump in "deep man induced fractures" with natural occurring fractures, I am sorry about that. If there are natural fractures and a well is fracked there the pressure could cause problems in aquifers where where previously there were none. But of course you were right all along and I jumped the gun and posted links of natural fractures/faults being affected by fracking. Hopefully that will be the last time I come bumbling into your area of expertise like an idiot...

I will try to email Paul Rubin and see where he gets his hundred year estimate on concrete around casings.

You will have to squint to make out these dots because yellow on white don't show up very well.

An idea to make the yellow dots show up better:

Copy the image to your workstation.
Use a graphics editing program (GIMP perhaps) and
create a new layer, set to orange, set underneath current image
use 'color to alpha' to change yellow dots to transparent, now the background orange color will show through, making the dots 'darker'

Probably not worth the effort, unless you want to keep a copy for longer-term research.

Easier ways to do it than that. Here is the image, with the dead wells in red, the active in green and the unsure in orange.


It's only 154KB, but I won't embed it.

Gary – Well done…thanks. The linear concentrations of the wells should be obvious to all. Been a while since we talked about the details of the geology. We can always frac the Bakken that has little or no naturally occurring fractures. But those wells would be relatively poor wells. In the pure shale trends they wouldn’t produce at all: the rock itself has too low a permeability to flow into the induced factures. Those fractures are created to reach out to natural fractures where the oil has had millions of years to migrate into.

And obviously natural fractures are not evenly distributed across the Bakken trend. Thus the well clusters. Not surprisingly the horizontal drilling phase focused on those areas where the earlier vertical wells indicated good local fracture patterns. Which is why anticipating future hz wells will produce like the early hz wells is likely a very poor assumption. This would also explain why operators are drilling longer laterals with more frac stages. Done to compensate for the reduced quality of the remaining locations.

My reading is that in the initial stages they stuck straight vertical wells into the areas with the best natural fractures (there seems to be no room to do anything horizontal in that central portion.

Then when they were forced elsewhere for lack of targets, they started phase II and carpet bombed laterals across the entire area in a nice regular, space filling pattern. Note how sometimes the walked along lines of latitude, and sometimes lines of longitude - and at different frequencies. I'd guess some people got together (in a bar?) and agreed a plan of attack at a defined date.

I don't really spot many/any of that phase II set of wells being recognised dead, but many are 'unknown'. I'd guess they are being left to splutter out, and that many of those green dots are already way down their decline curves.

And there is exactly zero chance of finding a spot on that area that hasn't been done over already - so it will decline, die and ghost town in fairly short order. Don't buy property here people!

Heh, how many plans have been made by people getting together in a bar in many types of endeavour? From the original map, I noticed that there were a lot of the dead wells with horizontal wells nearly on top, outside of the main drag. As if old vertical wells were being done over with a horizontal leg.


Gary et al – Fractured reservoir plays have some unique aspects not seen in the conventional plays. First, it’s not unlikely for a new hz well to be drilled on a lease where a vert well has been drilled, produced and abandoned. That vert well might not have cut many of the fractures on the lease and may not have been heavily frac’d. But it may have indicated a certain amount of potential not realized by the vert well. Again, management just loves the closology aspect.

Orientation of laterals. The viability of any fracture play is proportional to the amount of naturally occurring fractures. Ade typically that orientation is not random but controlled by the local tectonic history. Locations near faults are often deemed better although Mother Earth can still mess with you and make such areas the least profitable. So various interpretations leading to different opinions on fracture orientation. Ideally you want your hz well to drill at a right angle to the fractures: a better chance of cutting more fractures. Thus at least over a small area you’ll see wells drilled on similar azimuths.

And again a reminder: see an abandoned producing well symbol doesn’t necessarily mean that well was completed in the Bakken. Given that before 2003 most of the completions in the Williston Basin were in the Madison formation then very few of those producing/abandoned wells were ever produced in the Bakken or even penetrated that reservoir. Ideally you would like a data base where you can filter the production by reservoir, date of completion, depth, etc. I can do that with my Texas data base so it’s easy to break out trend changes over time. Unfortunately I don’t have access to the ND data base.

Thanks, but you are obviously not red green colour blind :/

For additional entertainment .... Can U.S. Shale Oil Revolution Doom OPEC's Future? Doom OPEC's Future? Can you say reserve replacement?

An entire blog could be devoted to parsing, analyzing, and debunking these cornucopean fantasies.

I wonder which particular oil production trend (and offset) actually mirrors the frequency of publication? There is good evidence the article-publication graph follows (offset by a year? several years?) early investment activity, thus supporting the Greater Fool Theory. Perhaps the article-publication activity is driven by current drilling intensity, visible from space. You know what? After consideration I've concluded that articles are actually the same as the depleted well bores. Hollow.

"Juliet is the Sun" (a new novel by Gemma Nishiyama) is about the solar energy angle in Shakespeare.

Like "The DaVinci Code", "Juliet is the Sun" reveals that a major artwork has been concealing an important secret for centuries-----in plain sight! (Indeed, the BEST secrets are always the ones hiding in plain sight!)

The name and philosophical importance (to Shakespeare) of a natural philosopher who was executed in Rome by the Catholic Church for heresy in 1600 is unveiled----and his secret identity as a character hiding in one of Shakespeare’s plays is also revealed.

The novel is set in the mountains of Western Japan, a green, wooded and mysterious place with ghosts, legends, ruined castles, Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Japanese folkloric spirits, mythic foxes and Shinto mythology (which has a living Sun Goddess) all appear in the novel. Ninjas and Ninjutsu (the art and philosophy of Ninja) play an important role.

Juliet is the Sun spans one year exactly, in tribute to the sun and our earth’s rotation around our nearest and most useful star. There are also many quotes from Shakespeare’s plays used in many ways---as decoration, as dialogue, and as comic counterpoint. Some of Shakespeare’s famous characters magically appear.

The soul of the novel belongs to manga, (Japanese comic books)— episodic, with a light-hearted, popular style, an earnest heroine, a mysterious quest and visitors from supernatural worlds.

In addition, there are a few “puzzle boxes” hidden in the text of my novel. (Readers may hunt for these (unmarked) puzzles and solve them, hopefully.)

Who knew that Shakespeare could be zen?!

Juliet is the Sun is available now on Amazon as an ebook, maybe around $10 or so.

Very much looking forward to getting an e-copy. Hope I can get it digitally signed!

As an aside, I am often of the mind that the way to get an unwieldy idea out to unwieldy audiences is through the other senses and through other passions.. so I'm eager to see unconventional messages coming in from other angles at the right targets. Who knows?

I sent a Thank You email to Miyazaki for his persistent work putting forward environmentally passionate stories, but not making them as much a plea for altruism as much as stories that showed the Earth and the Natural forces as living spirits that we abuse at our peril.

Best wishes,

Thanks for your kind comments.

I used Gemma Nishiyama as my pen name.

I was wondering what I could do in the way of ELP (economizing, localizing and producing) so I decided that I would write a novel, to produce something. LOL.......

I remark upon this comment at the Amazon page..

"The fascinating aspect was that academics in Japan, the home of Shinto and Buddhism, readily accepted these novel theories. But journals abroad called the theories "complete fantasies". "

..reminds me of Einstein's cautionary about getting stuck in too narrow a level of thinking.. and regarding 'complete fantasies' (what do they make of Romeo & Juliet itself, in that case?) and ever at risk of overbinding the Sacred onto the Profane, will draw a favorite line from Harry Potter..

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

We carry this notion that our notions are somehow completely divorced from the world.

Best hopes for complete fantasies.. at least the ones with the likes of Orcs as opposed to Galts..

( to whit, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/a-is-not-a-it-seems/ )

Pi sama, I see in a lot of manga and manwa ceiling lights that seem to be a circular fluorescent tube in a square box structure. Is this a common type of light fitting. Is it an old style or recent. Any chance of a link to some examples of real life fittings.


Re: Big energy goals get a push

The highly ambitious goal could be reached, the report says, through a combination of more efficient vehicles and the use of gasoline and diesel alternatives such as bio-fuels, electricity and hydrogen.

I think they forgot to mention demand destruction due to a prolonged economic depression...

Yet another article dealing with the single most important question of all: What will our cars be like? I feel so reassured that, even if we have to reduce our energy consumption drastically, we'll still have our precious cars. And look, we'll be so prosperous I might even have a hydrogen powered Mercedes like the one in the picture! How cool is that?

The propaganda is almost clownish, but it still works.

The only legitimately scientific question is, of course, how to make U.S. society and transport infrastructure sustainable. The question addressed in the report is how to continue using cars as we do now. That you can assemble a panel of top "scientists" and get them to dutifully answer the second question and never mention the first speaks tomes about the nature of this society and its ruling power structure.

Meanwhile, take a gander at the cover image. It's an invisible car!

I like the site, thanks for the link. While I used the word propaganda, which is certainly is, I guess I see it less as a meme being forced from above. I'm sure there are many who would like some alternative to the automotive-only transportation system, but then again many many people are fully invested in that system and their cars.

I see it more as just another example of the existing structures no longer being relevant, and being unable to adapt to fundamental changes in their environment. There are many examples of analogs in previous cultures that have collapsed.

The point of view is that of the Carbon Temperance Union. The CTU endeavors to convince the public to eschew fossil fuels voluntarily for their own altruistic and/or enlightend self interest, or, barring that, to implement government policies that constrain the production and use of fossil fuels.

This is different from the Fossil Fuel Futurist point of view. The FFF attempts to predict the future production volume and cost of fossil fuels, taking into account geologic availablity, accessibility, cost of extraction, and competing energy sources, as well as predicting how changes in volume and price will affect society.

FWIW, I'm finishing a book explaining the argument that the push for both cars and "alternative cars" was and is far more elite and top-down than we've been trained to see and believe. "Americans are having a love affair with the automobile" is, IMHO, one of history's most successful pieces of propaganda. Not only do public opinion polls continue to suggest its flaws, but the comparative (elite v. popular) efforts and interests/urgency on the issue are just vastly disproportionate, if you slow down and think it through based on actual empirical evidence.

Meanwhile, is it not rather elite figures and organizations who are pushing all this "alternative car" talk?

It is indeed an attempt to make it appear that the automobile industry is a sunset industry, and the only way it is going to go from here is downhill.

It's also getting dated. The hydrogen car concept was explored and its difficulties discovered at great cost to the developers. The problems with hydrogen should have been obvious at first glance, but amidst the hype they had to have it proven to them. The limits of biofuels are being examined now - the US is turning 40% of its corn crop into fuel ethanol, so it should be obvious that there are limits to it, and second it affects the price of food, and third a drought will negatively effect the fuel supply.

The limits to the electric car have not been evaluated yet since there haven't been very many of them sold, but eventually they will build enough that they will become obvious to everyone.

The bottom line is that we need to reduce our dependence on the car. BAU is not going to be an option, no matter how many exotic technologies are wildly promoted. The gasoline car triumphed because it was cheap and gasoline was available in surplus and growing quantities. The alternatives fail on both points, and gasoline now fails on the latter.

Would be interesting to read what others believe to be indispensable uses of motor vehicles. I can give a few off hand:
1. Food to market
2. Emergency vehicles (first reponders)
3. Disabled/elderly/infants transport to care givers

Secondary (important but not indispensable)
4. Goods to market
5. Workers to place of employment (fixed)

In today's geography/demography, for many it is essential that they have consumer to market transport as well; however, this would better be accomplished by increasing numbers of market locations, making them closer to consumers.

Glancing backward in time, we see that towns sprang up to provide such market locations. They were centralized points where produce was brought for transport to processors, and where growers, etc., came to trade for metalware, leather goods, clothing and the like. They also became places where other trades concentrated, together with banks, lawyers, and the like. Most counties had a central town as its seat of government, and usually there was a courthouse. The judges rode horses to several county seats (hence, circuit riders and circuit court judges), on a schedule for routine matters or for special hearings.

I don't claim this was a better way of life. It was what it was... and it worked for its time. It may not be possible to restructure, and in fact my prediction, were I to be so inclined, would be for a new, organically evolved structure as sustainability becomes the most important adjunct to society. How long we have before that time comes is also conjecture, and I have no insights in that direction.

And yet, thoughts about what is necessary, important and frivolous are important in determining gateways to the future.


I obtained my California driver's license in 1959. I had eagerly anticipated it for at least two years I know because I started saving money to buy a car in 1957 when I was 14. What I wanted was freedom of movement and the excitement of going fast and being "cool". My affection for all things automotive was the primary incentive I had for going to engineering school although I never managed to work in the industry except for a 1 year fling at making race car parts. In spite of that, as often as possible, I either bicycled to work or took public transit. In the parts of California that I have lived that hasn't been very often.

So now, retired, I look at the automobile culture in a rather detached frame of reference. I no longer have a "hobby" car, as I did most of my adult life. Yet when I drive to the store or to a movie or go to visit a friend or relative I am amazed at how difficult some of these activities would be without a car. And I know that in a depressingly short period of time driving itself will become difficult or dangerous due to my age.

I lived in Germany for two years in the sixties. It was relatively easy to live without a car then and there. Yet German cities were laid out long before cars were ubiquitous, they were compact and few people lived in single family homes with any land around them. That is definitly not a description of any parts of the US I have been in.

While I do sympathise with a need to reduce CO2 emissions and deal with the consequences of peak oil I think that a loss of use of the automobile will be a shattering loss of freedom for most people, certainly it would be for me. And the necessary changes in infrastructure and society will be impossible to effect without some preceeding catastrophic event.

re: "I think that a loss of use of the automobile will be a shattering loss of freedom for most people, certainly it would be for me."

Excuse this ramble/rant but it isn't the automobile that's the problem, it's the paradigm.

I agree wholeheartedly with your statement about cars providing freedom for people. Plus, we live so far out of town we need some kind of transport for basic supplies every few weeks or so. Maybe what we'll see is the sheer opulence leaving us so that ff transport can continue, but it might look more third world without all the rules and laws....gizmos like airbags, leather bucket seats, heated seats, ego extender styling etc..

I remember as a kid every two years my folks loaded their 4 kids into their old station wagon for a trip across country to Minnesota to visit relatives. Mattress in the back for naps, no seat belts, my dad putting a damp cloth around his neck when we crossed Neveda for there was no air conditioning beyond the old swamp cooler that plugged into the cigarette lighter. My God, we all lived and had a good time. Hard to imagine. Nowadays I see kids plugged into entertainment centres for a mall run in a mini-van that would rival space travel. I think we counted license plates from a particular state and always played 'punch buggy'. Kids fight in the car, get over it. Learn to parent without the $30,000.00 mini-van.

Sparingly used transport as needed will probably continue, regardless of gas prices. I have never bought a car on time and cannot imagine anyone doing so. When you have to pony up the cash you soon see the benefit of buying used or compact/no frills. This mindset is what allows folks to pay their house off by forty and retire young. It allows time to think, and grow as individuals rather than the old, "I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go"... I know many who have done this simply because they don't buy stupid cars every few years and avoid debt in all purchases.

As for bikes saving the world, I know many people, even kids, who have bikes that cost more than used cars!!! Gotta make that statement anyway you can, I suppose. Sensibly used ff is not what is killing the planet, it is unrestrained consumption for people to have a sense of self worth. This is exhibited by too big houses that must be heated and maintained to zoom zoom cars hawked by commercials that imply you are a chump if you don't have one. Our values simply have to change and it may take terrible events to make this happen, including climate change.

Some will continue to drive but will do so sparingly and as necessary. Gasoline will be treated as something precious as indeed it should be. Our economy will have to be based on something more than consumption of resources. However, I fear the transition and anger that will inevitably unfold without time for adaptation.

My apologies for these ideas are no more than opinions that I see as self-evident. However, over the last few weeks on TOD there has been unrelenting conjecture about nuke storage problems, rising sea levels, if people only rode bikes, and the proposed thorium salvation. I propose that many, if not most of our problems would be solved by a reduction in expectation and consumption. Everything about us is how to consume and use more stuff. Even our art and culture exhibits this in grandiose movies or theatre/music productions. It is an unending crazy race for bigger and better in all things and it seems so dreadful more than anything. Hollow. Wasteful in all ways.


Sensibly used ff (fossil fuel) is not what is killing the planet, it is unrestrained consumption for people to have a sense of self worth.

Paulo, good point.

Best hopes for a reduction in unrestrained consumption.

Get a push? I think a lot of people will be pushed off gasoline by 2050 because they just won't be able to afford it. I think the alternative fuel vehicle subsidies are good for preparing us to get off gasoline/diesel but the real transition won't come from those subsidies, they'll come when we can't afford the gasoline/diesel.

Open question to all about commodities markets:

I fell like I have a pretty good handle on the basic workings of the commodity exchanges, with one question I'll get to at the end. Here's a brief recap of my take:

There are 4 types of actors in the market, real buyer (e.g., refiner), real seller, speculative buyer, and spec. seller. Buyers are typically thought of as taking a "long" position (i.e., they buy now because they think price will go up in the future) and sellers take the "short" position (i.e., a hedge because they think the price will go down and they can get more $ for selling now).

These 4 actors lead to 4 combinations of contracts:

Real buyer, real seller - The commodity market is unnecessary, but maybe it serves as a way of connecting the actors when they wouldn't have found each other otherwise. At the end of the contract, the seller has actual product and the buyer takes physical delivery.

Real buyer, spec. seller - When the contract is up, the buyer wants physical delivery, so the spec. seller must go out and pay the spot price for it. If the spec. seller was right that prices went down as compared to the contract price, he makes money; if they went up, he takes the loss.

Spec. buyer, real seller - The seller has to unload real product, but the spec. buyer can't take physical delivery (ignoring storage), so he has to sell it at the spot price on the open market. If the price went up as the spec. buyer hoped, then he makes money; if they went down, he takes a loss.

Spec. buyer, spec. seller - This is the combination where my question arises. How is this contract resolved? There is no need to buy/sell anything on the spot market, so no physical product needs to be involoved. Is it just a simple monetary exchange based on the difference between the contract price and the spot price (or the next monthly future contract price)? For example, there is a contract that has to be settled at $100/bbl, but the spot price is going for $110/bbl, then the spec. buyer "wins the bet" and the spec. seller has to pay to the spec. buyer $10/bbl for the # of bbls on the contract; is this correct?

Thanks in advance for your input.

Note that only a very small percentage of futures energy contracts are carried to final settlement, and even then many (most?) are cash settled rather than physically settled. I've seen numbers quoted as less than 1% of US futures contracts traded result in physical settlement. In vast majority of cases the contracts are cash settled prior to expiration of the contract - or in my view, over 99% of all futures energy trading is speculative at best (or leveraged gambling at worst).

One reference off google search:

Yeah, generally to close out a position you buy the offsetting position. So a spec long closes out by purchasing the offsetting short, and pocketing or unpocketing the difference. It's only real purchasers/sellers who will stand for delivery.

Note; not all commodity markets allow this, some only allow a physical settlement. Global Dairy Trade is one of these, so in theory you always get the right price. In those markets you have to be registerd to participate.

Re: US Out of Vermont

In Vermont, Bryan says, there is “a commonality of people opposed to large distant bureaucracies telling them how to live their lives. It’s the decentralist commonality of the libertarian right and what I’d call the communitarian left. The right opposes big government, the left opposes big business. It’s really about governing on a human scale.”

Sounds like Vermont just wants to be Antifragile. Can´t say that I blame them.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Antifragile

I guess people are just afraid to call a spade a spade which is to say that large nation states are not viable in the long term and are actually a source of many problems. In most countries it's akin to treason to mention this (it is in mine), Americans are really lucky that they have a strong first amendment.

I guess people are just afraid to call a spade a spade which is to say that large nation states are not viable in the long term and are actually a source of many problems.

As Nassim Taleb says, the nation state´s main purpose is to wage war... of all kinds it seems.

Well, it didn't work out too well for the Southern states when they tried to secede from the union.

At least you can talk about seceding openly, even file petitions.

This is why the European Union and the Eurozone are so anti-historical. I see the EU as an enterprise urged upon the "West" by the US and NATO members so as to create a large West European state able to counterbalance the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Warsaw Pact.

Ironically, the EU really firmed up during the years prior to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. The Maastricht Treaty agreed upon the creation of the Eurozone later in the decade. These things happened by bureacratic and political momentum even while the raison d'être of the USSR and Warsaw Pact disappeared. The momentum also caused the extension of the EU to include a number of former Warsaw Pact nations, fragments of Yugoslavia, and former British posessions like Greek Cyprus and Malta.

The whole thing is today quite illogical. Meanwhile, the historical fault lines in Europe dividing north-south at the Alps and east-west between Catholicism and Orthodoxy are starting to be more important, instead of the old Iron Curtain.

I think you are quite wrong about the creation of the EU. The primary act of union was an agreement between France and Germany to share resources as an incentive to prevent the competition between the two nations that had resulted in three crippling wars in 70 years. Further growth was, I suspect, generated by a wish to become more competitive with the United States. I seem to remember credible assertions that the Euro was created to protect the rest of Europe from domination by a united Germany after the fall of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact.

But I agree the whole thing seems pretty irrational now.

Americans are really lucky that they have a strong first amendment.

It may be less 1st amendment, than the People's Republic if Vermont (as conservatives are fond of labeling it). Sounds like a nice place, can I go there?

I appreciate the predicament of the post-colonial sub-continent and even more Africa & Mesopotamia where drawing straight lines on maps has not worked too well. (The 'model' in 'empty' North America did not seem to create the same problems, but maybe the jury is still out?)
However, nation states, so 19thC, are not the same as some of the old empires? The loosely administered agrarian empires such as Ottoman, Czarist, Austro-Hungarian, (China?), seemed to have done rather better: measured in many centuries. They seem to have served a function stabilising warring statelets: providing various forms of insurance and federal oversight? Trading empires seem by definition to have been more ephemeral. The USA seems a funny mix. Europe actually has experience of more stability, if one discounts the northern and western fringe (since the Romans) and the relatively recent devastating impact of industrialisation and sudden population growth?

I think you will enjoy "why the west rules -- for now." by Ian Morris.

I just finished it.

The point he makes is that much of it comes down to energy capture. The West and East both hit a hard development ceiling about 1750 (a bit earlier in the East) and the early signs of stagnation/collapse were setting in when the industrial revolution took off in the West for mostly geographical reasons. In the East, with different geography, there was no industrial revolution, and they sat there until the British showed up and forcibly "modernized" them.

Interesting book, but not light reading. I kept getting lost in Chinese dynasties, so you might want to keep a cheat sheet of those as you go.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending March 15, 2013

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged over 14.5 million barrels per day during the week ending March 15, 2013, 520 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 83.5 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging just under 8.6 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging about 4.3 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged over 7.3 million barrels per day last week, down by 218 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged over 7.5 million barrels per day, 1.2 million barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 387 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 66 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 1.3 million barrels from the previous week. At 382.7 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.5 million barrels last week but remained in the middle of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.7 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 1.2 million barrels last week, but remained near the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 1.5 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged over 18.3 million barrels per day, up by 0.9 percent from the same period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged 8.5 million barrels per day, up by 1.5 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.6 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 0.1 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 2.3 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

The decline was unexpected: WTI Oil Rebounds After Biggest Drop in a Month on Cyprus

Looking at the report, the ethanol production is running a little high based on available corn supply (it needs to be around a 15% decrease yoy but is currently trending toward 10% which is probably impossible) and the ethanol inventories are falling. This is happening after RIN prices have already exploded.

Ethanol credit 'casino' could cost U.S. drivers $13 billion at gas pump

Fuel processors such as Valero, the world’s largest independent refiner and Exxon Mobil Corp. are pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the amount of ethanol they’re required to add to gasoline to avoid what they say will be a sharp spike in prices at the pump just as the summer driving season begins.

Refiners buy biofuel credits, known as RINs, which are available as an alternative to actually blending ethanol into gasoline. The cost of those credits has ballooned from 7 cents at the start of the year to more than $1 as the 2013 federal mandate for biofuel exceeds 10 percent of gasoline sales, the maximum that refiners say the market can absorb.

I understand that some of this is because of the "blend wall" of 10% ethanol in fuel. I have read that 15% ethanol is bad for many engines but I don't understand why. We have many E85 vehicles in the US fleet that don't seem to be using diferent engines than what is in the same non-E85 vehicle.
I owned 2 early 80's model subaru's in the 90's that I always filled with 15% ethanol fuel because it was the cheapest high octane fuel. I put well over 50,000 miles on each of those and when I got rid of them the engines were still in good shape with almost 200K and well over 200K miles respectively.
So what is the deal here?

I have read that 15% ethanol is bad for many engines but I don't understand why.

The gaskets and hoses that go to the engine will go into solution at the higher alcohol level.

Like you'll note in your local booze store - 80 proof and lower can go in plastic containers but once you get at around 100 proof the alcohol will take the plastic into solution. Hence the TV show "Moonshiners" putting the 160 proof booze in plastic 1 gal milk jugs is a bad idea to consume.

Plastic milk bottles are HDPE, which is perfectly compatible with 100% ethanol. Some rubbers may not be compatible, but I am guessing the issue is certification. Car makers do not want the liability associated with certifying compatibility when there is not enough interest in high ethanol cars to pay for the cost of extensive materials testing.

The real problems come when a little moisture gets into the system and causes separation.

Different plastics and elastomers get damaged by alcohol's as a solvent.

Flex-fuel cars should be okay. It is the non-flex-fuel cars that are a risk.

Ideally flex-fuel cars use materials that are resistant to higher concentrations of alcohol's, otherwise the only way to find out is extreme research on your car(s), or find out by experience (which can be expensive).

For example: most fuel lines and fuel-injectors are coupled using o-rings. Would be bad for them to get damaged and leak high-pressure (30+psi in most fuel-injected cars) into the engine compartment.

(a lot of) the automaker's position in this press release:

The study they reference:

n.b. this study was for E20 (20% ethanol)

The press release said:

The CRC study released today showed adverse results from E15 use in certain popular, high-volume models of cars. Problems included damaged valves and valve seats, which can lead to loss of compression and power, diminished vehicle performance, misfires, engine damage, as well as poor fuel economy and increased emissions.

The report talks of increased fuel use straining the fuel pumps.
They found increased corrosion of some metal parts, and some swelling/discoloration of plastic tubes/seals.
Interesting to me, looks like fuel pumps are cooled/lubricated by the fuel flowing thru the motor, including the electric brushes! They had one fail with E20 due to build-up of excessive deposits on the brushes.
Fuel gauge senders also have wet parts, and they had several failures/degradations in E20.

n.b. The more ethanol, the more water is likely to be in the fuel due to the hygroscopic nature of alcohols. And the more water, the more salts/acids/bases and more bacterial/fungal growth.
Ethanol from fermentation has a lot of strange crap in it (fusel oils, etc.) from the yeast/byproducts, as well as (in this study some had 7656 ppm) a lot of water.

The engine durability study:

The study has shown that two
popular gasoline engines used in light-duty automotive
applications of vehicles from model years
2001 through 2009 failed with mechanical
damage when operated on intermediate-level ethanol blends
(E15 and E20).

The majority of the failures were related to valve seats.

n.b. older engine computers will not know about E15, E20, and during heavy throttle operation
will assume E0 and use enriched combustion to cool down: the catalyst, exhaust valves and oxygen sensor. Since E15, E20 are leaner (less energy), this doesn't work, and those things will run hot.

Before I read this stuff, I was thinking maybe "ethanol will hurt old engines" was just a bunch of hot air from old farts who don't want to change, but now I'm thinking "%!*#@ farm ethanol lobby".

Regarding Leanan's link Robots have failed Fukushima Daiichi and Japan, above:

The country faces a bill of between $1 billion and $2.5 billion dollars to dismantle the Fukushima plant, and 40 years until it is safely decommissioned.

Others beg to differ:

Fukushima cleanup could cost up to $250 billion

A private think tank says the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant could cost Japan up to 250 billion dollars over the next 10 years. The estimate is part of the Nuclear Safety Commission's ongoing survey of opinions on the disaster from nuclear and other experts. Kazumasa Iwata, president of the Japan Center for Economic Research, gave the estimate on Tuesday. He said the costs of the accident could range from nearly 71 to 250 billion dollars. The figure includes 54 billion to buy up all land within 20 kilometers of the plant, 8 billion for compensation payments to local residents, and 9 to 188 billion to scrap the plant's reactors.

Fukushima operator warns clean-up 'may cost $125 bn'

By Kyoko Hasegawa (AFP) – Nov 7, 2012

TOKYO — The cost of the clean-up and compensation after Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster may double to $125 billion, the plant's operator warned Wednesday.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said decontamination of irradiated areas and compensating those whose jobs or home lives have been affected would cost much more than the five trillion yen it estimated in April.

"There is a view that we may need the same amount (again) of additional money for the decontamination of low-level radiation areas and costs of temporary facilities for storing waste," the company said in a statement.

The utility -- one of the world's biggest -- received one trillion yen of public cash in April in exchange for granting the government a controlling stake.

I could go on...

Apples versus Watermelons. The smaller number is just the cost to contain and cleanup the plant site. The larger figure covers the damage to contaiminated areas.

"...and 9 to 188 billion to scrap the plant's reactors."

That ain't 1-2.5 $billion. Apples/watermelons, any way you slice or dice'em, the quoted figures are rediculous. Heck, they've already spent more than that just keeping the spent fuel from burning up.

German NPP operators estimate the cost of decomissioning one of their plants at 0.5 to 1 billion euros (currently 0.6 to 1.3 billion $).
For obvious reasons these costs will most certainly be higher.
Don't forget that the cost to decomission an exploded plant with debris removal, unplanned problems, large scale decontamination will certainly be higher...

We already have at least one NPP site completely returned to green meadow, but I couldn't find the cost for this one yet.

Abandonment and posting signs that say "radiation risk - stay away" shouldn't cost too much.

Then they can recoup the cost of maintaining the signs with tours, like is done in the Chernobyl/Pripriat areas.

Youtube of 2012 Chernobyl area tour, with dosimeters.

The plant itself cannot be abandoned; some sort of mitigation or cleanup must occur. In Chernobyl they took the drastic emergency step of pouring concrete all over the thing, but even that is not working too well and so the New Safe Confinement is going to be built. This is a major, expensive, international effort. Similarly, just cleaning up and maintaining the Fukushima Daiichi site itself for decades is going to cost billions.

As for the contaminated land, realistically abandonment is the only option. There is too much land to remediate and literally everything there - soil, leaves, etc. - is contaminated. Japan doesn't want to admit this yet because they don't have much land area, family land is practically sacred, and like everyone else it's easier to deny a harsh reality than to face it. Large areas of land in Fukushima are going to be off-limits for generations. Period.

This doesn't cost much in one sense - you don't have to pay for remediation once you've given up - but it's a giant negative hole in another. All the farming, industry, fishing, everything that took place in that area is now worth 0. Zero. Additionally, you have the costs of absorbing all the refugees from those abandoned areas.

Nuclear power is a stupid idea.

Offshore wind farm bragging rights

“At a whopping 468 megawatts, Cape Wind will be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. and it is destined to be just the first in a string of utility-scale offshore wind farms all up and down the Eastern Seaboard.” Hmm…no. From May 2010:


“If you picked up a newspaper in the last week, you probably read that—after nine tortuous years of regulatory review—Cape Wind has been officially designated the first offshore wind farm in the United States. Not so fast. The distinction Cape Wind actually earned is the first wind farm to be approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior. That green light is required for every state but Texas, the current force to be reckoned with in installed U.S. wind power.

“I was about to write a press release to congratulate Cape Wind for getting their approval," says Jim Suydam, press secretary of the Texas General Land Office, "and let them know when they're done jumping through hoops up there they can come build off the Texas Coast." The first offshore production wind turbine in the U.S. will likely be erected this summer off the coast of Galveston, Texas, and operational by fall, says Herman Schellstede, the chief technology officer of Coastal Point Energy LLC. …the company holds leases to five tracts of submerged land in the Gulf of Mexico, totaling 84,000 acres. A second company, Baryonyx, holds leases to two more tracts”

The Baryonyx project referenced is a planned 300 turbine project in state waters near Corpus Christi. Just inland from this project is one of the largest onshore wind farms in the country. I suspect it strikes some folks as odd that one of the leading states in alternative production is also one the leading states in oil/NG production. How could the powerful oil patch, with all those politicians in the back pockets, allow all this to happen? Easy IMHO: the state is out to make money. Green money is just as good as black money in the eyes of our politicians. The state received bonus checks years ago when it awarded those wind leases. They'll also collect royalties from the electricity production for decades. It has little to do with how we get energy…it’s all about making money. Oddly the only loud voices against the development of the offshore wind farms in Texas have been some environmental groups worried about our sea birds.

ROCKMAN, it sounds like Texas will be first in the nation in the amount of wind energy installed on-land as well as off-shore.

Best hopes for more wind energy, no matter where it is located.

K – Already there. Texas has more than twice the capacity of #2 CA.

Texas has a total installed nameplate capacity of 12,212 MW from over 40 different projects. The wind boom in Texas was assisted by expansion of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, use of designated Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, expedited transmission construction, and the necessary Public Utility Commission rule-making. Wind power accounted for 9.2% of the electricity generated in Texas during 2012.

I bet if you asked 100 folks whether Texas or Ca had more wind energy generation 90+ would say CA. After all Big Oil calls the shots here. LOL.

As Texans like to say: If it's true it ain't bragging.

In the Midland area electricity prices sometimes drop to $0 off-peak. My company has been asked to help optimize well production with cost of electricity and time-of-use metering as factors.

Ethane in near $0 too, as is methane (NG) in some areas. You'd think some enterprising people would come up with uses for free energy.

Do the TX utilities have any graphs or such of their electricity production from wind/PV?

The only one I know of for a CA utility/organization is CAISO ( http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx ).

ERCOT has all kinds of info online. I don't have links handy, but have found pricing data from quick Googles. Not sure about wind, though.

The Texas PUC approved $4.9 billion in transmission upgrades to help bring more wind to market. From memory, designed to handle 18 GW of installed wind. Just about complete by now (per 5 year schedule when announced).


Can someone scrutinize these calculations regarding the potential of methane hydrates I found on an older TOD Europe page?

"CH4 + H2O -->CO + 3H2: Reformating methane

Yes, there is a penalty in converting natural gas to hydrogen and then also sequestering the CO2(you forgot to mention).

The thermal conversion of natural gas to hydrogen is 65% efficient.

The energy required to capture CO2 from natural gas
is about 300 kwh per ton.


A CCS NG power plant would need 6.3 cubic feet of gas to produce 1 kwh of electricity and would produce .37 kg of CO2 per kwh for sequestration.

So 1 million tons of hydrogen would take 200 billion cubic feet of natural gas

1E6 x 126000/65% = 194 Gcf ~200 Gcf for 1 million tons of hydrogen

which would produce 10.6 million tons of CO2
which would require 4.0 Twh of electric power from a NG CCS power plant,
which in turn would require an additional 25 billion cubic feet of natural gas
bringing it up to 225 Gcf for 1 million tons of hydrogen.

The US uses 120 billion gallons of gasoline which is the energy equivalent of 120 million tons of hydrogen.

Multiplying by 120, we get an additional NG demand of 27 Tcf (120 x 225E9= 27 Tcf or 27 quads)
for zero emission hydrogen reformated from gas hydrate.

The US gas infrastructure transmits 23 Tcf per year now.

By efficiency this would beat petroleum as we currently use 29 quads of oil for transport versus
27 quads of hydrogen described above.


If TENS OF THOUSANDS of Tcfs of gas hydrates are available,
then this seems like a no-brainer with 50 Tcf per year of demand, lasting CENTURIES.

Less energy used 27 Tcf (NG to H2) < 29 Tcf oil.

Greater ultimate resource than oil.

ZERO CO2-emissions."

- Majorian

After 9/11, I was looking for a way to replace fossil fuels in every day transportation. I looked at the hydrogen/fuel cell paradigm being touted at the time. It was basically a scam. The problem with reformatting natural gas is the CO. Minute amounts of CO are left and if fed to a PEM fuel cell, the CO combines with water to form carbolic(?) acid that erodes the PEM fuel cell. This is **one** of the contributors to having to replace the fuel cell engine every 2,000 hours. If your average driving speed is 30 mph, that means replacing your cell every 60,000 miles. The MPGe is about 30 MPGe.

Generating hydrogen via electrolysis to create your hydrogen, drops the MPGe to about 12 MPGe.

Using ethanol presents the fundemental question: "Do you want to eat or do you want to drive?" Crops and even switch grass take acerage to grow on. Nate Lewis (ref: http://online.kitp.ucsb.edu/online/colloq/lewis1/) calculated that if we were to switch all our grain production to ethanol, we would only provide about 12% of our transporation fuels.

Of the technologies that looked the most promising at the time was a combination of solar voltaics (PV) and batteries. The use of batteries instead of gasoline pays off the PV faster. The energy densities are increasing in the batteries with a theoretical maximum of 10 to 20 times current laptop battery energy densities. In other words, instead of a Tesla Model S with an EPA rating of 265 miles per charge, the maximum would be in the 2650 to 5300 mile range per charge. Nothing ever goes to its theoretical maximum but even a quarter of those ranges would be amazing but doable within this decade (ref www.clbattery.com).

In the meantime, I'm keeping my bike (and Prius) tires inflated...

There is always a big argument about fuel cells versus EVs in the green car movement. While there are still fuel cell supporters, their ranks are growing thinner. They are just too expensive, fragile, there is no easy source of hydrogen, there is no hydrogen infrastructure, etc.

A lot of people have wishful thinking . . . they would be nice because they offer long range and can be filled up quickly. But they just can't build them cost effectively. They are trying to get them down to $50K and release them in the next 2 to 7 years. Of course they've been saying that for the last 10+ years. And even if they managed to do that, why get that when you can get Chevy Volt for $38K (without any subsidy) that will drive 38 miles on electricity and on gasoline after that?

The over-used joke . . . hydrogen, the fuel of the future . . . and always will be.

"Green Car" - I always get a derisive snort out of that one. The automobile, arguably the most destructive thing we've ever come up with, attached to the word green.


I think there's a general consensus on this site; that is, it's pretty well understood that "cars" and "car culture" as we have lived it have been extremely wasteful of resources and damaging to the environment. That horse has been beaten to death a long time ago. But to enable an objective conversation on general transportation needs to move forward, we really need to let go of that and be open minded about what a "car" can be and what purpose it can serve. For example, a relatively few solar powered motorized "carts" if you will, deployed to transport goods over modest distances, could conceivably exist as part of a sustainable, or at least less unsustainable, system of some sort. Just sayin'...

And as I have pointed out numerous times, a car, or cart - the individual piece of machinery - is just a small piece of the automobile based transportation system. This is the primary, and all but exclusive transportation system of the US empire.

Preserving this system on different energy inputs is what people talk about when they discuss EVs or fuel cell vehicles. That is what this thread is about too. When I said the automobile was arguably the most destructive thing we've ever come up, I was not talking about a car, or some possible electric utility cart that might be useful in small numbers, but rather that system as a whole. I would maintain that system cannot be made "green", in any reasonable connotation of that word.

It is maybe interesting to discuss how one could make a non-fossil fuel powered vehicle, and what uses it could be put to, but that is another conversation.

"..but that is another conversation"

Well, no, but you and MD keep insisting that it must be.. but if we are to have another and a more acceptable and respectable form of transportation, how to get there is by starting from HERE. Your disgust with the Auto Transp Paradigm is understandable enough, but to keep slamming every conversation that looks at steps of change as if they were betrayals because they don't simply wipe the whole existing framework off the map and introduce one you would accept, or maybe just take it all away and see how we do with suddenly nothing in its place is maybe a proud ideal, but there is simply a rigid demand, but nothing by way of a plan, however imperfect, by which to get there.

It would be very appropriate to discuss the most reasonable ways to move away from this failed system to something else. That might indeed involve producing new vehicles that make sense in that perspective, perhaps electric or hybrid, or simply just really efficient small direct injection ICEs. But the conversation is always about continuing it - to infinity and beyond! - and that is not possible.

This thread starts with some calculations of running the system on methane, not about how we might transition away from it or usefully use a small number of very efficient utility vehicles in a very different way.

And a realistic conversation about moving away from it is not happening anywhere else either. How to maintain the automobile transportation system is the starting place of almost every conversation about our energy future, regardless of the impossibility of achieving that or the costs of trying to.

But it really doesn't matter about my griping or the cheerleading of others - we're gonna run this system into the ground. I expect the economic crisis will return full force before people are done paying off the latest round of trucks and SUVs they bought, with few of these pipe dreams having gone anywhere.

"It would be very appropriate to discuss the most reasonable ways to move away from this failed system to something else"

Agreed, starting with defining the "something else." How many people per land unit, how many story buildings you consider it sane to build, how much living area per person, how to balance the desire to have people close to work with the desire to not have them close to facilities involving hazardous chemicals.

Whining about how evil cars are misses the point that cars solved a need, whether real or perceived. For some reason, living cheek by jowl in tenements did not appeal to people. I found living in the barracks and college dorms to less than ideal even though I had almost no personal goods or time to enjoy the same.

And there are unintended consequences as well. If we don't have a large suburban class of consumers spending to maintain their "investment" what happens to the economy? When living in the barracks most of my associates spent their money in bars and strip clubs. At least that is a sort of consumer/service economy, though it hardly seems optimal. And in college the education/publishing system sucked down all the cash. More virtuous than the strip clubs perhaps, but it still seems like little with which to build an economy.

Your argument appears to be that people really like cars, so we should keep them lest life get too boring. That presumes that we have such a choice, which I don't believe is true. We will find that out, because we're all in for the automobile - we're going to sacrifice everything until we simply cannot to it any more. That will turn out to be sooner than you think, and there won't be enough of the obvious "something else" accomplished, Alan's best efforts notwithstanding.

Or is the argument is that it's cars vs. tenements, or some such false dichotomy? It got a little hard to follow there. I believe people move all around NYC with very few cars.

And how will continuing to pour resources we don't have into maintaining a system that is obviously not providing enough return/benefit to pay for itself going to help the economy?

Instead of defining "tenements" you downsize very quickly to dorm rooms. Isn't there some sort of happy medium between dorm rooms and suburban homes? Have you ever lived in a decent apartment or do you find those to be living cheek by jowl?

"Have you ever lived in a decent apartment or do you find those to be living cheek by jowl?"

LOL; actually having grown up on a farm, I find my current two acres to be cramped.

For definition of tenement, #1 in the dictionary will do. "A room or a set of rooms forming a separate residence within a house or block of apartments."

My question stands; define what system you propose to replace the current one. If suburban living has to go, then what housing density do you propose instead. What size apartments? Are those of us who are single going to be forced to have roommates? Are elevators allowed, or is any building too tall to walk up too tall to be 'sustainable', and therefore banned in the new order?.

I assume, perhaps wrongly, that we will be restricted to hobbies that take up no significant space? So my boat-building project is now prohibited? Is my grill banned too? Details I know, but details do matter.

Not to pick on you personally, but this is a common problem with "the evil current system must be replaced with the glorious new system at once!" (I get this at work too.) My nasty engineer's mind starts plugging in all the design questions, definitions of available technology, risk assessments, budgets and timelines to get from here to there. Usually I find that there is no grasp of what the actual specific end goal is. Vague generalities, sure. Think Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; the answer 42, but no one knows what the question is. The answer is therefore useless.

I don't think people will give up suburbia if they have a choice...but we might not have a choice. In the old days, people lived near where they worked. They lived above their stores or restaurants, or on the farms they worked on, or in housing provided by their employers (which can still be seen today in former northeast milltowns and Hawaiian plantation houses).

As for the design issues...it's not like there aren't plenty of examples out there, past and present. Not all would allow for boat-building, but not all living situations now allow for boat-building.

As the saying goes, to each his own. Count yourselves lucky if you can afford the suburbs in the future.

You also need to think about the farmers in the rural areas. I remember my grandparents talking about market day and how it use to take one day to travel the 25 miles using a wagon. That meant they needed to spend a total 3 days going to market. The auto (truck) allowed to trip to be completed in one day.

I suppose there are as many imagined paths away from the automobile culture as there are imagined endpoints, maybe more as we got where we are without any planning at all. I'm reminded of an old song from my parent's era (or maybe their parents) along the lines of "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?" Everywhere in the world, as people become barely prosperous enough, they buy a car, well maybe not in New York City. Its about freedom of movement. Perhaps if you have never seen someone going from place to place with such speed and ease you would not be tempted. But with mass communication everyone has seen the magic.

I know it has to end, but for those of us who have grown up with it losing the ability to get in a car and drive 5 miles or 500 at the drop of a hat and at up to 70 miles/hr will be a huge loss. The economic consequences of that loss are not trivial either. It was not for nuttin that Chrysler and GM were bailed out after the 2008 debacle. We have allowed the automobile industry to become a major component of the economy. It ain't gonna be replaced by i-Things made in China.

I found living in the barracks and college dorms to less than ideal

Personally I really liked living in a university dorm... lots of facilities and services, no commute, lots of like-minded people, a feeling of community, very little maintenance. If there had been less binge drinking and some way to rent/book a nice kitchen facility it would have been ideal for me. (I had no problem with the late-night partying as the walls reasonably soundproof, it just sucked to have to get up at 5 Am for swim practice and jump over the passed out people and smelly piles of beverage containers).

Every year I have to spend a few weeks at training camp with my athletes, in barracks-like conditions, bunk beds and all. While it's not as nice as a private room in a dorm, one gets used to it fairly quickly. Usually I feel sort of sad when I go back home and have to do my own grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, repairs, etc or realize that the only person around is my DH and he doesn't necessarily want to hang out when I want to.

If we don't have a large suburban class of consumers spending to maintain their "investment" what happens to the economy?

Our dwindling resources get spent on more important things like building out solar energy or making a vaccine for malaria or treating the vast swarms of PTSD'ed veterans or re-creating gopher habitat or whatever we decide is important.

"Our dwindling resources get spent on more important things like building out solar energy or making a vaccine for malaria or treating the vast swarms of PTSD'ed veterans or re-creating gopher habitat or whatever we decide is important."

That would be wonderful. But.

None of those are going to employ all the people that would be unemployed in the very-sketchily proposed new system. With no suburban houses, there will be a lot fewer roofs needing solar arrays. We already have an effective shortage of jobs. So, if we can figure out a way to only employ the people we actually need to provide a subsistence and service economy, the rest can stay home and play videogames? That won't use much power, and they won't need to travel.

A guy named Douglas proposed a system called Social Credit that might be made to work in this case; most people don't see how it would work in practice, (including me) but it does address the problem of distributing spending power when there are not enough jobs to go around. But it is clear that the number of people times 40 hours per week exceeds the amount of work that has to be done even now, and no knock out the suburban (and upscale city) living consumerism, and how much of the economy is left?

I do not dispute the current system is not optimal. But you can't move toward a new one unless you can define it very specifically. We didn't define the current one specifically when we started, and look at the mess ;-) Although I think Leavittown did have a definition. About the last one that did too.

You will be pleased to learn that the commercial release date is now the same from several companies as it has been for several years, 2015, and that they are on track to do so.

While there are still fuel cell supporters, their ranks are growing thinner.


A hydrogen economy is a gigantic energy waste. We cannot afford this in the future. Therefore, three of four renewable energy power plants are needed to balance the losses within a hydrogen economy luxury. Because of the losses, electricity derived from fuel cells and hydrogen must be four times more expensive than power from the grid.

You are using data from early prototypes.
The tests carried out were on stacks which were produced prior to 2009, and hit the then target of around 2,000 hours:

Everyone realises perfectly well that around 5,000 hours are needed for commercial viability, and the report says that the companies were on track to hit their performance targets.

Strangely, companies such as Daimler and Hyundai are not completely nuts, and they are well aware of what they need to produce for their full release in 2015, and are on track to do so.

It is a a gross distortion to use figures from an interim project as though anyone were considering releasing vehicles using that stack.

You will no doubt be pleased to learn that problems of CO2 contamination and durability can be handled just fine - unless of course your aversion to the technology has other root causes.

Thanks for the link. I did not get a chance to read the full article but I wll.

The one graph showed full tanks with a pressure rating of 700 bar. A bar is 1 atmosphere of 14.7 pounds per square inch. 700 bar is 10,290 pounds per square inch or 5 tons per square inch. A ruptured tank accident is the hydrogen fuel cell nightmare scenario. A 5 ton release in a 1.5 ton car is could get the car airborne.

The other two things about a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is its need to have an ICE or battery pack or capacitor system to store energy for passing and climbing hills.

With respect to electricity, I understand your concern with an electric plant providing it and the 33% efficiency. I just think as we have reached peak coal in the eastern US and the utilities are going to natural gas, solar photovoltaics will be part of the scenario where batteries and PV will be substituted for gasoline and diesel on a cost basis. I am seeing the cross over toward the EV side.

What is the range of a CNG car? Rather then reformatting NG into H, then trying to create a hydrogen powered car, why not just keep it simple?

250 miles with a conventional type vehicle.


Heaps then. I missed the bit where we were trying to have our cake and eat it too.

Best hopes for mining the gas hydrates.


Flash isn't supported on the platforms I use like FreeBSD and Android (not to mention security issues of Flash). If they have a compelling story, shouldn't they make it so this story can be seen and told VS just being all flash and no information?

I agree. The hopefuls signs are that: 1) the battery has been tested and achieved a 525 whr/kg rating, 2) 70% less cost, 3) Argonne National Labs developed the anode, and 4) mention of going into production in 2014.

What is not said is usually the killer. That being no data for 1)cycle, calendar, and shelf life, 2) safety, operating temperature range, durability, etc. There is no mention of a factory being built unless it is in China and I think Calib Power is a Chinese company.

I have seen so many of these pronouncements that I generally pass them up with a "We'll see...".

Around 65% or so efficiency for reforming NG refers to the lower heating value:

This makes no allowance for reclaiming the process heat, which is commonly done in Europe at least, and gives an overall efficiency in the ball park of 75-80%.

That is if you are using the hydrogen in cars etc, where using it in a fuel cell is around 2-3 times as efficient as using natural gas in an internal combustion engine, so resulting in substantial efficiency gains however the figures are done.
Ball park the NG ends up being used twice as efficiently after reforming losses.

The bottom line is that EV cars using fuel cells or battery electric cars using electricity at typical US grid efficiency of around 33%, with a staggering 7% transmission losses, both use around 1Mj/mile.

Claims for 2-3 times the efficiency for battery cars are based on ignoring generating losses whilst counting reforming losses, and/or assuming that electrolysis is used for converting electricity to and from hydrogen.
In fact as well as NG reforming and electrolysis there are many other potential pathways to produce hydrogen, and also plans for a heavy grid penetration of renewables invariably rely on storing energy which would otherwise be wasted as hydrogen.

Considerable progress is also being made, notably in Japan, in home fuel cells.
As heat which would otherwise be thrown away at central generating stations is used to heat water the overall efficiency rises to something over 90%.

For those following the EROI evolution there is an article in the April edition of Scientific American about the EROI of fossil fuels. The author interviewed Charlie Hall and references some of his papers (with co-authors). The figures provide a pretty good graphical representation of the problems involved, for example with non-conventional oil and gas. Unfortunately there is no link for the public yet. I get to it via my university library subscription. However I thought you would like to know that some of these concepts are starting to hit more main stream media. The article is "The True Cost of Fossil Fuels" by Mason Inman and is on page 58 of the print edition.

Congrats to Charlie on this recognition!

Not exactly. This appears to be the actual interview (good stuff). The print (and behind paywall) version is a summation with some additional stuff, but mostly its the graphics that help tell the story. Thanks for finding this link though. Adds depth to the subject.

Thanks, George and bado. The interview really cuts through all of the complexity we assign to systems. I was fortunate enough to have instructors early on, mainly in the Navy, who forced me to see that systems are systems are systems, no matter how we use them or flesh them out. From the interview:

...An amazing thing working with Odum was, for him, there are just systems. It doesn't matter if it's a forested system or a stream system or an estuarine system, or whether people are there or not. It's just a system—and systems have many similar patterns and many similar processes of consumption and production, and they often even have similar controls on them.

...and they all have some things in common: Energy in, energy out, and entropy. Everything else is secondary.

What happens when the EROI gets too low? What’s achievable at different EROIs?

If you've got an EROI of 1.1:1, you can pump the oil out of the ground and look at it. If you've got 1.2:1, you can refine it and look at it. At 1.3:1, you can move it to where you want it and look at it. We looked at the minimum EROI you need to drive a truck, and you need at least 3:1 at the wellhead. Now, if you want to put anything in the truck, like grain, you need to have an EROI of 5:1. And that includes the depreciation for the truck. But if you want to include the depreciation for the truck driver and the oil worker and the farmer, then you've got to support the families. And then you need an EROI of 7:1. And if you want education, you need 8:1 or 9:1. And if you want health care, you need 10:1 or 11:1...

Looking around the Net with a few quotes from your post, I came up with this link:

New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Investment), Charles A.S. Hall and Doug Hansen (Eds.) (2011) [PDF warning]

I should add my repeated objection to the use of "EROI", which is easily confused with "Energy Return on Invested DOLLARS". Using "EROEI" is less likely to lead to further confusion.

The big problem with Hall's calculations is that there's a mix of energy sources and types which are combined to give an overall EROEI. For the situation with "Tar" sands, the energy input may be from high EROEI natural gas, while the result is a highly valued liquid fuel. Were that natural gas to be available as supply in other markets and the price increase, extracting tar sands might become a money losing game, which would reflect a low EROEI translated into dollar terms...

E. Swanson


The field of biophysical econ is still very open to ideas. Please do your version of calculations and submit to the conference. No one is claiming absolute authority re: best way to compute EROI. But many very smart people have been working on it for a number of years now. It isn't just Charlie doing the work. These values are indicators of direction of change and some magnitude, not taken as absolute ratios.

Incidentally, Hall and many of us feel that there is a strong relation between money (and what it is meant to accomplish) and energy (or for me, exergy) so those in the field are not quite so hung up on the EROI vs EROEI issue and actually often use them interchangeably. Fact is, decreasing EROI means decreasing ROI in the long run.

Hall and many of us feel that there is a strong relation between money and energy

Too many years ago to count, I sat in on an HT Odum lecture in which he stated that money flows in the opposite direction of energy. As a first order observation, this makes total sense to me (but I would be curious if you agree).

The relationship is almost hopelessly noisy, it would seem. The value of energy for various proximate uses (eating, space conditioning, entertainment) varies dramatically with its abundance or scarcity, and the value of money is subject to its owns stresses as a transaction medium. You might expect this noise to smooth out over longer timescales, say decades.

I've been trying to wrap my head around the Garrett piece (9 mW per dollar of 1990 GDP) to understand if it relates to this question:


Can you elaborate on what "direction" means in this context? Just trying to understand the concept.

See my reply to Steve.


Yes I agree with Odum's basic thesis. But you are right about the noise issue. Monetary denominations are now related to the financialized money supply not the actual underlying work done in the economy. So trying to equate dollars to joules is a hopeless task. GDP is a particularly bad measure of wealth so anything that attempts to set up a ratio of energy units to GDP is bound to fail to capture the real issues.

Here is a graphic from my Autumn presentation at the BPE conference.

You can see the whole presentation here (PDF).

My claim is that money SHOULD be based on exergy (energy available to do useful work) but we are hopelessly far from that condition in the fiat currencies of the world today.

George --

Thank you for the link, definitely food for thought. And it only makes sense that an economy runs on exergy. That money functions as a sort of status token (Cash for Gold!) really messes up what should be an elegant relationship.

Cheers, Steve

The link already provided by BD/ES above http://www.esf.edu/efb/hall/New_Studies_EROI_final4.pdf is to a 2011 special issue of Sustainability. Article by Henshaw, King & Zarnikau, attempts to address this issue of energy/money and EROEI and suggests that in a 'broad brush' back of the envelope way money does capture [edit] energy flows in economic systems (?) surprisingly well. It seems to be to do with the capturing of the multiplicity of untraceable 'overhead costs' within any given societal structure, if I understand the argument (!?). USA different from China perhaps?

That EROI depends on system overhead costs should be an“eye opener”. ...

It clearly shows that using money to measure the real scale of economic energy use can be both less precise and much more accurate, than carefully counting up traceable energy uses. ...

The great majority of economic energy use comes from the delivery of unreported services scattered all over the whole economic system making them untraceable. ...


I'm just a simple country engineer, but it seems to me that the minimum recipe for "money" contains (In some unspecified ratio):

(1) time
(2) raw materials
(3) ideas
(4) energy

Over the years, we've been able to adjust the proportions of the ingredients - some ideas can replace some energy (efficiency) but you simply can't have money without energy. It drives me mental when an economist talks about solving energy shortages with more money. That's like solving a bon-fire fuel shortage with more fire.

After all that I still think it is important for the sake of clarity to distinguish between EROEI, EROI and ROI. Investment is denominated in nominal dollars, which is not a fixed value. Attempts to fix the value using things like the CPI cloud the issue even further. Just because things are increasing in cost doesn't mean they are decreasing EROEI. For an example the price of oil fluctuates, and has nothing to do with EROEI, prices have been nearly this high during previous oil shocks, had nothing to do with EROEI.

Any chance of fixing that graphic? It is messing up all three of my browsers on the save page function. Thanx

I read Howard Odum's early books decades ago when they were published. I too think that money and energy are directly related, except that money moves thru he economy in the opposite direction to energy flows, as Steve_piper mentions in another reply.

I have suggested previously that the energy also include that from plants, resulting in food for humans, etc. Before the fossil fueled Industrial Revolution, the prime movers were humans and animal power on land and sail power on water. I think this limited human activities, as land could only provide so much energy output per unit time in the form of crops and forage for draft animals. The result was that human societies set land value as their metric for wealth, i.e., the more land one controlled, the greater one's wealth. As our perceived wealth grew due to industrial expansion, the value of land (and natural ecosystems) tended to fall, such that land eventually represented the least valued commodity, as captured in the common refrain: "it's dirt cheap".

However, I think that Hall's suggestion that one might calculate EROEI to distinguish a return of 1.1:1 from one of 1.3:1 in a discussion overstates the possible precision in such a calculation. Besides, long before the oil companies are drilling for oil with EROEI values that low, other impacts will likely have killed the industrial economy, IMHO. Climate change, for example, isn't included in an EROEI calculation...

E. Swanson

Reasonable arguments. Odum focused on emergy which would take the food aspect into account. Solar emergy was his unit of value and captured a lot of the energy flow consideration. But once we look at fossil fuel power we have to think in terms of exergy. Ergo the track I am taking.

Re: Hall's overstating the precision of calculation, can you characterize this more? Most of us would certainly agree with the issue of climate change as an element of future EROI. I have written extensively about this issue.


George, as you surely understand, the concept of EROEI is directly related to that of Net Energy. Thus a system with an overall EROEI of 1.1:1 has a net energy gain of 0.1, while the case of an EROEI of 1.3:1 would have a net energy gain of 0.3. One might conceive of the first case as like having 90% of the economic activity associated with energy production, while the other might require 70% of economic activity be associated with energy production. One might conclude that such high levels of activity associated with energy production would leave little useful energy for the rest of civilized society, including energy to heat houses, pump water and cook the food which would also need energy to produce. Surely a society which approached such low levels of EROEI would fail long before those low values were hit.

Of course, calculating EROEI begins by setting a boundary around the system involved. Does one limit analysis to the direct chemical, mechanical and electrical energy input or does one also include the "energy" from the workers efforts? If one includes the workers, does one include just the direct input of muscle energy while working, or does one also include the energy to transport the worker to and from work, the energy to heat the workers' houses, to grow and cook their food and the efforts of the workers' spouses to maintain the living space? Does one include the energy used to educate the workers and to provide for their health care and retirement years? Would there be any allowance for government overhead added in? Obviously, this sort of calculation could quickly balloon to major proportions. Ultimately, the precision depends upon how much is included in the calculations and how accurately each element is measured.

As far as sustainability goes, I think that the low EROEI values to which Hall speaks are already meaningless, as they aren't going to be sustainable, given the associated energy costs such as I've described.

E. Swanson

UH-OH: Global Bellwether FedEx Just Cut Guidance

"Our lower-than-expected results for the quarter and reduced full-year earnings outlook were driven by third quarter international revenues declining approximately $100 million versus our guidance primarily due to accelerating customer preference for lower-yielding international services, lower rate per pound and weight per shipment,” said CFO Alan B. Graf Jr. “We expect these international revenue trends to continue. We have other actions under way beyond those already included in our profit improvement program. Some of these additional actions may involve temporarily or permanently grounding aircraft, which could result in asset impairment or other charges in future periods."

"In response, beginning April 1, FedEx Express will decrease capacity to and from Asia and will aggressively manage traffic flows to place low yielding traffic in lower-cost networks," said Smith.

This may be due to the continued physical shrinking of electronics imports from Asia, e.g. pads instead of notebook computers, or it may be due to innovation being more in software distributed over then net instead of requiring new hardware, e.g. the pad's functionality depends on versions of the OS and apps, not on the pad manufacturer's model. In the latter case, there is less urgency to get new hardware models to market and slower shipping is OK.

But reserves are meaningless if they don’t amount to an increasing rate of production. If you had a billion dollars to your name, but could only withdraw $1,000 a year, would you be worried about running out of money or paying your bills?

It's nice to see a variation of my favorite peak oil analogy in print.

The net export version of a bank balance model. Assume that you deposited $55,000 into a bank account and then immediately withdrew $10,000. One year later, you withdrew $9,000, a year after that you withdrew $8,000, and so on.

I’ve broken the annual withdrawals into thirds:
Index Year: $55,000 = $10,000 = $45,000

Year One: $45,000 - $9,000 = $36,000
Year Two: 36,000 - 8,000 = 28,000
Year Three: 28,000 - 7,000 = 21,000

After Three Years:
Withdrawal Rate of Change (relative to index year): -12%/year
Bank Balance Rate of Change in year end bank balance (Depletion Rate): -25%/year

Year Four: 21,000 - 6,000 = 15,000
Year Five: 15,000 - 5,000 = 10,000
Year Six; 10,000 - 4,000 = 6,000

After Six Years:
Withdrawal Rate of Change (relative to index year): -15%/year
Bank Balance Rate of Change in year end bank balance (Depletion Rate): -34%/year

Year Seven: 6,000 - 3,000 = 3,000
Year Eight: 3,000 - 2,000 = 1,000
Year Nine 1,000 - 1,000 = Zero


"FedEx, the express package delivery operator, plans to cut trans-Pacific capacity and push traffic towards lower-cost transport modes after a “radically changed” international trading situation prompted it to cut full-year forecasts.

“Policy decisions and the cost of fuel have radically changed the international trading situation,” Mr Smith told investors on a conference call.'

It's been mentioned before that farmers who want to fatten their hogs feed them skim milk, not whole. Seems it might work that way with people, too.

Drinking skim milk may not lower child obesity risk

"Our original hypothesis was that children who drank high-fat milk, either whole milk or 2%, would be heavier because they were consuming more saturated fat calories. We were really surprised when we looked at the data and it was very clear that within every ethnicity and every socioeconomic strata, that it was actually the opposite, that children who drank skim milk and 1% were heavier than those who drank 2% and whole," says DeBoer, who is also the chair-elect for the AAP Committee on Nutrition.

DeBoer says when they broke down the data into the different types of milk with increasing fat content, the findings were even more striking. As BMI scores went up among the kids, the amount of fat in the milk they were drinking went down. "So the ones drinking skim were by far the heaviest, and those drinking whole milk were the lightest," he says.

One explanation for the results might be that parents of heavier children may be more likely to switch their youngsters to 1% or skim milk in an effort to lower the amount of calories they drink. But the data on normal-weight 2-year-olds who drank 1% milk and still gained weight contradicts this idea.

IMO, this is an example of how screwed up nutritional "science" is. Maybe this study is an anomaly. Maybe it's really true that skim milk prevents obesity. But...we don't know. It just seemed to make sense that lower fat was better, so the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association recommend that children be given skim milk after age 2. Even though there's no real scientific evidence that it's healthier.

So much of what we believe to be science fact turns out to be simple beliefs, and often completely wrong when someone gets around to examining it scientifically. I wonder how many hog farmers followed the recommendations anyway?

How the components of food affect appetite and psychology in general is poorly understood. While looking for explations why neolithics gave up the gentlemanly pursuit of fish and game and took up the drugery of farming, I came upon the hypothesis that they did so to satisfy a craving for the opiates in wheat.

The origins of agriculture: a biological perspective and a new hypothesis

Drinking skim milk may not lower child obesity risk

This ties in perfectly with a lot of recent research that basically debunks the long-standing 'lipid hypothesis' and shows that the kind of calories matters. The current paradigm of high carb, low fat is just about exactly backwards.

My daughter asked me the other night if I could pack a slab of butter with her lunch so she could add it to the lowfat milk they serve.. I suggested that I would be happy to just send in a little thermos with our Whole, Raw milk in it, instead.. and she reports that this has worked out very well, but I appreciated her interest in 'reconstructing' the milk.

I've told her I am also not entirely wild about the Homog. and Pasteur., and the possible other bits of added chemistry and medicine that are part of today's dairy chain. Glad to know she's listening, too.

FWIW, I don't believe she's had one single sick-day from school in five years.

I was raised on whole raw milk; nothing like it. One of my friend's mother told him to not drink the milk at our house when she found out, and he didn't like our whole grain bread either. Didn't hang with him much. He was too fat to keep up.

Is there more sugar in skim milk than whole?I'll do a little research next time at the store.

Lactose and fats are both in about the same range, about 4% - 5%. Remove the fat, the proportion of sugar goes up a little. Removing the fat also removes omegas 3 and 6.

It's not the quantity of sugars in the skim milk they are drinking as much a the sugars in the soft drinks they are drinking that they are drinking skim milk to offset.


Caught a little news blip the other day that the industry wanted to increase the amount of sugar added.

Sugar isn't added to milk. It naturally contains it: lactose. (The -ose ending hints that it's a sugar.)

71% of milk sold in US is flavored which in a cup has as much as 5 teaspoons of sugar http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/mike-roizen-md/add-sugar-get-milk-down-get-...

Obviously, chocolate milk has sugar added. But milk also contains a surprising amount of sugar naturally.

You're right but lactose from what I've read is not sweet hence the push to add sugar to plain milk to make it more desirable.I drank about a gallon a day from 14-17 and I haven't drank a gallon in the last 40 yrs.It'll be interested to see if they're successful adding it to plain milk.

As vaporlock says, the industry wants to add sugars to make ordinary milk sweeter and more attractive to consumers - urrrgh!!! Bad enough getting the homogenised muck with the maximum amount of fat taken out to meet the minimum standards.


This makes perfect sense actually. Growing kids NEED fat, and carbs, and cholesterol, and sugar to grow up properly. (as long as it not too much) Young kids should never be put on diets like adults, if they are getting overweight it is most likely because they are not outside playing enough.

I don't think that's the mechanism. Rather, it's the same reason farmers who want to fatten their hogs feed them skim milk, not whole. The fat in whole milk is more satiating, and you end up not wanting to eat as much. Low-fat foods sound good in theory, but in practice, they stimulate appetite, and people actually end up eating more.

A calorie is a calorie - for a lab rat, or in a mental institution, where you can strictly control what the subjects eat. But for people eating in the real world, it's a lot more complex.


The reason farmers historically feed skim milk to pigs, to my understanding, was the value of the milk in dollars was the butter fat. The farmer would separate the cream and cart this to the butter factory. He was them paid on the butterfat content.

This meant the cream being a lower volume than the whole milk, the transport costs were lowered. He was also left with a non dollar value waste product, and the perfect disposal method worked out to be, feeding it to pigs, which worked a treat.

I do not believe that if the dairy was paying for whole milk as in the case of a cheese factory, or city milk, rather than cream/butter fat, then the farmer would choose to hold feed his pigs on this valuable cash product.

Pigs in cheese producing areas were feed on the whey, by product of cheese making, but transport was a serious issue, due to the volume, until spray dryers allowed it to be made into a powder.

Dairies continued paying on butter fat only, and was always looked at as the valuable fraction of milk, long after all theses low fat food products were made popular.

From the dairies point of view, the low fat products was the perfect product. Buy milk from the farmer, pay for the butter fat, get the milk solids free, sell high priced low fat products to the consumer = great profit. The only problem is, I am not sure where they use all that butter fat goes, as butter seems to have nearly disappeared from the shelves these days.

PS, my life before the oil field was working in the dairy/food industry, but that was 30 years ago, so my thoughts and knowledge may be a bit dated. lol

IIRC, a mix of ground oats and corn went in each trough, and then a couple of pails of skim milk from a large barrel. The barrel was replenished by each milking's skim from the crean separator. The barrel wasn't emptied and cleaned very often, but the hogs didn't mind. But it was a little fragrant in the warmer months.

The cream was kept in cans in a wood stave tank. This was cooled by evaporation and by having well water pumped through it to fill the stock watering tank after each milking.

Yes, it's true that historically, skim milk was a waste product, and that's why it was fed to pigs. But that's not true now.

Someone posted this link awhile back:

As we walked toward her breeder sow we talked about pastured pork (a delightfully different meat from what you find in most stores and restaurants) and what Stacie feeds her meat pigs. She tells me she never feeds her breeders, who are lean and fit, skim milk. She uses skim milk, which she gleans by removing the cream from milk she gets from her two Jersey milk cows, to fatten her meat pigs.

Curious, I ask, “Why do you give them skim milk? Why not full fat milk to fatten pigs?” to which she replies, “Fat satisfies their appetites. If I give them milk fat my meat pigs won’t eat!”

"The only problem is, I am not sure where they use all that butter fat goes, as butter seems to have nearly disappeared from the shelves these days."

Ice cream.


Imagine all that lovely heat, from spent nuke fuel, going to waste when it could be sent to Alberta to process tarsand.

Environmental impact of nuclear power

Has anyone from here gone into Wikipedia to do any editing of the above page?

When it passed my brain, that of using waste heat from nuke to increase the eroi of Tarsand, I got a near terminal giggle as it seems so delusional, but after looking at the Wiki page I am not so sure.

One drawback could be that of radioactive ducks powering south in the winter.

News caption: Duck Hunters sober up after getting a Glow on.

Federal deficit deepens on higher AECL liability

Costs of nuclear program cleanup surges to $6B

The Canadian Press Posted: Mar 20, 2013 11:59 AM ET

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. quietly announced Tuesday night that the expected long-term cost for cleaning up its nuclear program has surged to a total of $6 billion, up dramatically from the $3.6 billion currently on the books.

AECL said the increased liability will go straight to Ottawa's bottom line, adding to the deficit for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

AECL said previous estimates were out of date and the indirect costs of disposing of radioactive waste over the next 70 years have climbed.

"The main reason for the liability adjustment is an increase in the indirect costs attributed to the decommissioning and waste management over the period of up to 70 years of the program," says the AECL.

My local lefty radio station just put out a call for folks to take part in training in advance of non-violent direct action/civil disobedience against the Keystone XL pipeline.

These folks have very good intentions. They care a lot.

ROCK has made it clear that whatever these folks do really doesn't add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world...

What would?

Their targets are the local Federal Building and the local EPA office.

You know, there's being effective, or not. But there's also such a thing as bearing witness. Whether it adds up to a hill of beans or not isn't always the end of it. And we'll always have Paris (Casablanca reference :-)

I have pretty much concluded that stopping the pipeline won't have much of an impact of the total flow coming from the tar sands areas. On the other hand, we live in a very passive consumer society and I will take a little civil disobedience wherever I can get it. I hope the next step is lying down in front of coal trains.

Richard Rohr Franciscan priest suggest we do not need to fight against evil we need only to turn our back on it and focus our attention on good. Evil will destroy itself.

I like that!

My mother was dismayed when I told her that if she were really so opposed to fracking she should stop driving. That really pi55ed her off.

I do agree strengthening what is good can be as or more effective than fighting and railing against what's bad. Be the change you want, that whole thing.

And tstreet: The last guy who tried to stop a train carrying nuclear weapon stuff by lying down in front of it got run over and lost both his legs. I would choose my civil disobedience targets wisely. Lying in front of trains or bulldozers, maybe not.

Yes, lying down in front of a coal train is not a good idea, because a 10,000 ton train can be traveling at up to 90 mph, and from that speed it would take it about 2 miles to come to an emergency stop.

The train has the right of way because it cannot stop. If it runs over you, it's automatically YOUR fault. The legal precedents for that were established over 130 years ago after the first few people were run over by trains, and it's a little late to change the laws now.

And then there's the other issue of trespassing on railroad property.

Fukushima: Rat linked to outage at Japan nuclear plant

A rat may have caused this week's power outage at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, says the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco).

The company suspects the rodent may have caused a short-circuit in a switchboard, triggering the power cut.

"We have deeply worried the public, but the system has been restored," Tepco spokesman Masayuki Ono was quoted as saying by AFP news agency...

...Correspondents say the incident has highlighted the fragility of the rescue operation at Fukushima two years after the meltdowns caused a major release of radiation.

The Japanese government insists that the reactors are in a "cold shutdown" state and no longer releasing high levels of radiation.

...but the rat went into hot shutdown... and folks here worry about black swans :-0

...not with a bang but a rat-whimper...

Literal ratacobre. RIP.


I wonder if it was a black rat.

It is now. Looking at the picture, it looks like it exploded. Perhaps it did go out with a bang ;-/

I was once working at my home office and suddenly saw a bright blue flash of light at the utility pole across the road, and the power went out. The utility guys came and fixed it, and tossed something down to the ground. It was a squirrel that had decided to become One with the Grid. It wasn't exactly exploded, just a bit charred. But it had no fur any more.

You mean like this one that took out my power in South Florida?


That was the very same scenario, except yours still has a fluffy tail...

I worked at the 3d television station to go on the air in Oklahoma, 1953. Our studios and transmitter were five miles out of town in a cow pasture. Field mice liked the fancy new shelter and would come in and dance on the studio piano at night. They also chewed some wires and cables. Once we discovered a snake living in the cable tunnels, and it seemed to be addressing the mouse problem nicely. But we had an exterminator come in once a month. On the next visit, he got the snake, and the mice returned.

he got the snake, and the mice returned

It was either the snake, or the exterminator that was gonna have to go.

Poor guy. One second it was a perfect day... the next, poof.

Oil spills can benefit economy, panel told

February 27, 2013 Peter JAMES [Prince George] Citizen staff

Some businesses in northern B.C. could benefit from an oil spill, according to testimony this week into the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

Northern Gateway witness John Thompson told the Joint Review Panel that given what happened after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989, clean up crews attending a spill could generate economic spin-offs.

"Part of the evidence in the spill recovery document is, in fact, a lot of those companies in the Alaska communities made more money catering to the clean-up of the spill than they would of under normal circumstances," Thompson said under questioning from the United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union.

-- snip --

Although a spill could have a big impact on the fishery, Thompson said compensation and other opportunities - such as working on clean up crews - will ensure people don't lose any income. He said the compensation packages would not just go to those catching the fish but also people working in processing industries.

"The net result of these whole compensation schemes is the idea that at the end of the day, nobody is any worse off than they were beforehand," he said. "So what you would see is that the income levels would remain the same, the source of the income would differ. Instead of getting it directly from sales of product, it would be through the income compensation."

I suppose if spills are good for employment then they should spill oil, and lots of it, on purpose. Shoot might as well go whole hog and green-light both Northern Gateway and also Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion and open up the valves at the terminus and let the oil flow right into the ocean.

Kinder Morgan could open the valves at it's Westridge Marine Terminal and B.C., especially Vancouver, would have full employment, folks will be so busy B.C. will probably need lots of permanent Temporary Foreign Workers to help with the oil spill clean-up employment boom.

After the Exxon Valdez spill, a lot of people in Alaska made a lot of money during the clean up. The local term was "spillionares". I recall that during that time I needed to have some work done on my house, which was a bit beyond my humble carpentry skills. It was tough finding a carpenter in Anchorage, as all the good ones were over in Prince William Sound making big bucks building temporary camps for the clean up workers. The sad thing is that lots of other folks, fishermen and whatnot, lost their livelihoods during the spill.

One man's disaster is another man's business oportunity I guess. I'm sure folks on the Gulf Coast could tell similar stories after Macondo.

First Nations say they will fight oilsands, pipeline

The Canadian Press Posted: Mar 20, 2013 9:24 AM ET

Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation said natives are determined to block the pipelines.

"It's going to be a long, hot summer," he said at a news conference.

"We have a lot of issues at stake."

Phil Lane Jr. of the American Yankton Sioux, said native groups south of the border will stand with their Canadian cousins.

"We're going to stop these pipelines one way or another," he said.

Chief Martin Louie of the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation in northern B.C., said the pipeline opponents will never back down.

"If we have to keep going to court, we'll keep doing that," he said.

He said the stakes are high and go beyond native issues.

"We're the ones that's going to save whatever we have left of this Earth," he said.

Gotta love the hypocracy of Canada's aboriginal people. On one hand they want lots more money for their communities from the Federal government. On the other hand they want to stop resource development that would generate additional tax revenue for the Federal government.

Maybe they just want a bigger share of what they consider was all theirs in the first place.

People get tired of hearing complaints from aboriginals about things that were stolen from them fair and square.

How about the hypocrisy of the White European "Undocumented Immigrants" both in Canada and the U.S.A.?

I have no idea about Canada but I can speak for Indian aboriginal people. If they are provided with rights to what rightfully belonged to them and the opportunity to barter their chickens and goats and other goods for antibiotics and fuel they will be willing to opt out of the wage and market system that makes them dependent on the Federal government in the first place.

"Gotta love the hypocracy of Canada's aboriginal people."

They would be free to pursue their way of live if not for an ILLEGAL invasion by a savage and warlike people. I can not believe your hypocrisy; but that is just in line with the hypocrisy of Western Civilization...

How is invasion illegal? It's an invaders 'law' trumping a local legality. Power writes the laws.

Sucks to be poor and powerless.

Yeah my bad we were talking about hypocrisy and I got confused because Western Civilization is based on the rule of law...

They would be free to pursue their way of live if not for an ILLEGAL invasion by a savage and warlike people.

You're thinking of the US. In Canada the British were rather civilized about it and actually BOUGHT the land from the native people. It was written into law (now part of the Canadian Constitution) that they had to do so. Buying land from the natives was a commercial transaction - the British and Canadians bought the surplus land the natives didn't need in return for money, food, guns, and blankets. The native people kept the land they did need for their reservations, plus retained hunting, fishing, and fur trapping rights on most of the remainder.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is free to pursue their historical way of life including hunting, fishing, and fur trapping. They also own the mineral rights on their reservation. Their problem is that they are nowhere near the oil sands and have no minerals to exploit. Nobody is going to build a pipeline through their traditional lands either, so that route to increased wealth is also out.

The Indians in Northern BC don't have any oil sands assets either, and while the proposed pipelines go near their reservations, they don't go through them. The "American Yankton Sioux" certainly don't have that much of a direct interest in the Canadian oil sands.

The native people who actually live in the oil sands regions are collecting oil royalties on their reservations, and for the most part working in oil sands mines, living in surburban 3-bedroom houses in towns, and driving brand-new Ford F-150 pickups. It's not as traditional, but it is much more lucrative than hunting and fishing for a living. They are not complaining that much.

The reality is that around 100 years ago the ancestors of the native people in Northern Alberta signed Treaty 8, which gave away the mineral rights on most of the land they occupied (an area larger than France), in return for money, food, supplies, guns and ammunition. They were short of all of those things and weren't willing to wait 100 years to settle in hopes of getting something better. They got the best deal they could at the time.

However, they did retain hunting and fishing rights on all the land they ceded, they got first dibs on the choice of land for their reservations (160 acres per person), they kept the mineral rights under those reservations, and they also negotiated a permanent exemption from taxes. What they did after that was up to them. There are some tribes where the average member is a millionaire. and there are some who are dead broke.

It's the ones that have no minerals and no business sense that are complaining.

Definitely a better deal than the U.S. but what choice did they have but to sell? In many Native American tribes there was no hierarchical power structure and chiefs "selling" the land were one of many chiefs and did not represent the people. It is heart warming to learn that if the Natives had not "sold" their land that the peaceful Canadians would have just packed up and headed home. In America the Natives who would not sell were just killed it is amazing how different the Canadians of Western Civilization differ from the Americans of Western Civilization...

Business sense will see to the deaths of billions of people when overshoot overtakes the earths resources. I do not think the current winners will end up winning the war, just a few battles...

It wasn't quite that simple. The Canadian bureaucrats had to achieve a consensus among the native tribes as to what they were willing to agree to. This involved getting a lot of them together in various groups, explaining the deal to them, and getting a yes or no decision among the majority. It wasn't just the chiefs that were involved.

And the native people did not "sell" their land as such. They traded certain rights that they didn't want (farming rights, mining rights), but retained other rights that they did want (hunting rights, fishing rights, fur trapping rights) in return for clear title to the land they occupied, plus money, food, blankets, guns, ammunition, etc.

Unlike the US, in Canada, nobody really "owns" land outright. People just hold certain rights to land. If a bunch of native people come up to your land with rifles and fishing rods and tell you they want to excise their aboriginal rights on it, well, better read the fine print in their treaty before you try to accuse them of trespassing. It might not be "your" land as far as hunting and fishing are concerned. You might have to share.

A lot of white people have trouble with this concept, especially those hung up on the US concept of "property rights". Even governments sometimes find themselves offside with respite to the law in Canada and have to be straightened out by the courts. I'm thinking of the big native fishing boats exercising their "aboriginal fishing rights" in the Fraser River in Vancouver during times when the white men are prohibited from fishing, in particular. Really P.O.s the white fishermen.

That may be the nicest spin I have ever seen on colonialism.

"The 1857 "Civilization of Indian Tribes Act", enacted by the British colonial government, declared that Indians who were "sufficiency advanced education wise or capable of managing their own affairs" would be enfranchised, i.e. given the vote. That law was the first of many seeking to encourage First Nation's People to relinquish their land, language, culture and existing rights in exchange for full British/Canadian citizenship. The law basically said that if an Indian man learned to read and signed a pledge to "live as a white" he was allowed to vote, own property, and serve on juries. But, he would lose all his Aboriginal rights. Very few First Nations "took advantage" of the act and most saw it as an attempt to strip them of their remaining land base."

Lovely act that one..

"The 1876 Indian Act attempted to consolidate all existing legislation that covered First Nations and their relationship to Canada. The Act was designed to protect the land that First Nations still had left to them. But, under the act, title to the land still belonged to the Crown, which would administer the land on behalf of the First Nations people through the representative of the Minister of Indian Affairs (the Indian agent). A Reserve was deemed "Crown Land set aside for the use of a Band of Indians."

The theme throughout the new Act remained that of assimilation and "civilizing" of the Indians. Their Indian status was regarded as a temporary stage on the road to assimilation. They were expected to settle down and learn to become farmers. (Some cynics thought they would just disappear.)

The Indian Act of 1876 essentially made "Status Indians" wards of the Crown, and regulated their lives. Restrictions ranged from rules about how they would elect leaders to how their children would be educated and how their estates would be dealt with after death. First Nations were allowed virtually no self-governing powers."

Silly Indians they should have had better business sense...

Amendment to the Indian Act 1884

The Indian Advancement Act of 1884 tried to give wider powers over local government and the raising of money. Yet it took away the same powers by appointing the local Indian Agent as chairman of the Council. Over the next hundred years the Indian Act was amended a number of times but each time was aimed at a more efficient means of assimilating First Nations into white society. The Act was amended to ban the "Sun Dance" an important ritual among the Lakota and other Plains aboriginal cultures. On the west coast the "Pot Latch", an elaborate ceremony of feasting and gift giving was also banned. With an eye to forced assimilation, the Act authorized the forced removal of children to Residential Schools and stripped any Indian who obtained a University Education or Ordination of his rights under the Act.

The act vested title to reserve land to the Crown represented by the Minister of Indian Affairs deeming it "Crown Land set aside for the use of a Band of Indians."

The 1876 act also made it illegal for an Indian to sell or produce goods without the written permission of the local Indian Agent, who became the de-facto ruler of Indians on reserve. Indian Agents had to give written permission for Indians who wanted to leave the reserve for any reason.

Status Indians were not allowed to vote until 1961."

I need to tell Idle No More that they have a great deal in Canada and can continue their life the same as before King George took them under his caring wing to be subjects of the crown...

Rocky - very interesting history. Much more civilized then I would have imagined given how we treated our native folks. I also don't think some folks understand how landowners negotiate right of ways. I've yet to deal with one that didn't get just about everything they wanted.

Well, Canada never had any Indian Wars like the United States did. This was a consequence of never having a Revolution like the US did. King George III had passed a Royal Proclamation in 1763 recognizing aboriginal title and rights to land, and this has never been revoked - in fact it is now part of the Canadian Constitution.

Of course when the US had its Revolution in 1776, aboriginal title and rights to land went down the drain and were never seen again, but in Canada it was still law, and in fact still is law. This made relations much more mellow because if the native people had a major complaint, they'd just take it to London and have the King (or Queen) decide. The reigning monarchs didn't view it as a civilized white men vs. wild savages dispute, they viewed it as a "my loyal white subjects vs. my loyal red subjects" dispute and half the time came down on the side of the natives.

By the time Treaty 8 came up for signing, it was #8 in a series, and the native people had a pretty good idea of how the system worked. They mostly wanted to get all their rights to land put down on paper and signed into law so they couldn't be taken away from them like they were in the US. The bureaucracy had orders from Queen Victoria to tidy up all the loose ends and do a fair deal with the natives, so that's what they tried to accomplish. So, the natives negotiated and signed a deal that gave them what they wanted (hunting, fishing, and fur trapping rights on almost all their historical lands, money to buy goods, food, blankets, guns and ammunition). In return, they gave away what they weren't interested in (agricultural land, except for that which they already occupied, mineral rights except under their reservations, etc.). And, oh yes, and exemption from taxation. Not a big deal back in the age of no income tax, but nowadays a huge benefit.

They were much like your Texas landowner. They weren't fools by any stretch of the imagination. They negotiated the best deal they could get at the time, and they got it. It was much better than being a native in the American West.

No Indian wars, (as per the US), but it has been documented in historical records that the main purpose of Indian Residential Schools in western Canada was to facilitate the construction of the Trans Continental railway without disruption. A great NFB supported film describing this is entitled "Fallen Feather". It is specifically about the Kamloops Residential School. I can dig up the citations if required but the jist of the writings indicate parents of children hostage are far less likely to protest over construction and settlement. While I am no fan of the Idle No More movement, and perhaps the welfare ward system will have to change as a way to curb the status gimmes of white haired blued eyed natives with a status card, the benevolence of the Canadian Govt is not exactly as wonderful as some indicate. In BC, where there are just a few signed treaties, Sir James Douglas did have the foresight to set aside traditional lands as reserves, mostly at the mouth of rivers which include some of the finest land in western Canada. In fact, the river that I live on has one such reserve, uninhabited from the die-off from the time of the Spanish flu epidemic. Most of these small bands relocated to more populated areas. Our band relocated to Comox....farther away than Campbell River or Alert Bay.

It does seem bizarre that these bands with no connection to the route or resources are protesting, but there are more than enough coastal bands that do have reason to protest to ensure the Northern Gateway will not be built. The Haida, to name just one, would be enough to get it stopped. Pretty much the entire coast is against Northern Gateway, with almost 70% of BC residents opposed.

Maybe a Stalin could push it through to the coast, but I don't think it will ever happen in Canada.


Paulo – “The Haifa, to name just one, would be enough to get it stopped. “ Maybe…maybe not. I’ve dealt with many landowners regarding right of ways. Rarely have they not given an initial negative response. And rarely have I not gotten the ROW once I met their price. But sometime with certain modifications to the plan. And not so often no amount of compensation swayed them.

Some tribes may be absolute in their objections to a p/l. Others may just be setting the negotiation stage. Either way it’s their right to do so. Seems like the least we owe them.

it has been documented in historical records that the main purpose of Indian Residential Schools in western Canada was to facilitate the construction of the Trans Continental railway without disruption

Ah, yes the modern reinterpretation of an historic system. In reality, the Canadian government had promised free education to the native people in the Numbered Treaties e.g. Treaty 3 (1871) The Canadian government's primary objective was to open up the land for railways and settlers, but free education was one of the native people's requests so they got it:

And further, Her Majesty agrees to maintain schools for instruction in such reserves hereby made as to Her Government of Her Dominion of Canada may seem advisable whenever the Indians of the reserve shall desire it.

This meant the Canadian government was legally required to provide free education for the native peoples wherever they requested it. The implementation left something to be desired because of the pro-British mindset of the colonial bureaucrats. They based it on the English Boarding school system, which the English thought was okay, but other people might have their doubts about. To keep costs down, the government let the Catholic and Protestant churches run the Residential School system on the assumption that good Christians wouldn't allow children to be abused. Events proved otherwise, but that only came out many years later (as many of these church scandals did).

The further reality was that the vast majority of the native children went to day schools and only a minority to residential schools. When the residential schools were eventually shut down due to abuses, a slim majority of the native tribes objected because they liked them, and in some cases they took over operation of the schools and kept them running. It wasn't a totally bad idea, after all it worked for the British aristocracy, it was just a bad implementation.

The Canadian government is still obligated to provide free education to native children, to the MD and PhD level if they desire, and although when I grew up very few were taking advantage of it, nowadays smart native youth have figured out what that means in terms of free tuition. Native people are reading the fine print in these treaties and with a significant number of them now having law degrees, they are taking advantage of them.

In BC, as you noted, the provincial government refused to sign treaties with the native people for over 100 years, and as a result things are now very difficult on both sides, but on the Prairies the land claims issues were settled before the provinces were created, and as a result things are a lot more organized and straightforward. The native tribe down the valley from me has made $300 million in oil and gas royalties on their reservation so far, so I think they are pretty positive on the concept of building more pipelines. Their casino, helicopter touring operation, and corporate retreat and conference center are doing fairly well, too.

Thanks for that post RMG, interesting.

I still want reparations for the land the Saxons stole from my British ancestors.


How far back should this guilt thing go?

On the article about Vermont, how many Vermonters over the age of 65 are willing to give up their social security and medicare checks? How many Vermonters on food stamps are willing to give up their benefits? How many Vermonters on medicaid are willing to give up their benefits, remember Vermont is the third poorest state in the union. How many Vermont dairy farmers are willing to give up their dairy subsidies? How many Vermonters that work for war (defense) companies in Vermont (i.e. Gatling guns in Burlington) are willing to give up their jobs? Sure Vermonter are fiercely independent as long as it does not touch their pay check. Bought and paid for just like the rest of America.

re the "Big energy goals get a push"
I looked at the National Research Council's report a bit.

Some interesting stuff, but one big error in the Charging Station Costs section
while discussing level 2 charging.

"energy flow goes as the square of the voltage"

Noo, sorry, the formula is P = I * E (watts = amps * volts)

The reason level 2 is typically faster charging an EV is that both voltage and current are higher.

So - how careful were they with the rest of their stuff???

P = V^2 / R

Not sure if that's what they were thinking instead. At a given resistance, twice the voltage for the same period will deliver 4x the power. Maybe that's their claim - it's a poorly written section either way.

As the cold snap continues with no end in sight - UK Winter Gas storage is almost empty...

Data from http://marketinformation.natgrid.co.uk/gas/frmPrevalingView.aspx

Current UK bulk Nat Gas price right now has risen to £1/therm = £10/MMbtu = approx $15 per MMbtu.

This is the coldest march since the 80ies. Last year we had an early spring, a week from now the ponds where full of mating frogs. Strong contrast.

I've looked at the long range forecasts and it is looking cold for the foreseeable future. Our gas fired power stations are barely running except at peak times so that's a bit of a help.

If the Langeled pipeline from Norway was to go down (and it is unreliable) now for any length of time then it will be politicians and energy companies being thrown in ponds when the rolling blackouts begin.

We might soon find out how far below nominal "Zero" the Rough storage field can go. We have already breached safety conditions. Nat Grid has responded by deleting the safety level information and days to breach from their storage reports.

Once again the gamble with our, well known to be, inadequate gas storage is close to being lost.

This is interesting because from the NASA GISS data one can see that January has been exceptionally warm (second hottest January ever, tying with 2005) which means that other areas are compensating for European winter and quite strongly. The only conclusion one can draw is that the number of extreme weather events have gone up.

I think thats largely it. With very low sea ice, we have the large jetstream waves, just like we had last year. Only the identidities of who gets the warm and who gets the cold changed. We've been mostly basking in early spring on the west coast.

It's complicated. Here in Europe it has been very wet (cool) interspersed with cold snaps (cold). So the average temperatures may not show what people have been feeling, namely cold due to the wet conditions. And of course people adjust their home heating based on what they feel the temperature is.

I'm still digging up carrots to eat (normally they would have been damaged by the frost). Basically the ground is so saturated that its acting like a body of water and retaining the heat so the cold snaps (freezing temperatures) have not been able to penetrate the ground. Even a -5c I'm trudging around in mud.

A few days ago the weather was rotating between warm sunshine, rain, bitterly cold winds and hail stones. Working outside I was working in a T shirt, then warm clothing, then wet weather gear, then a T shirt. Changing clothing every 15 minutes. The weather is just crazy, the next morning I couldn't get into my car as the doors were frozen solid.

The reason? Rapid warming of the Arctic causing weather disruption in the mid-latitudes. The Jet Stream plunges South we freeze or get wet, the Jet Stream pushes North into the Arctic we bake and suffer drought. If the Jet Stream gets blocked South of us, we're going to be reclassified as being in the Arctic.

Sounds like normal weather in New Hampshire, USA. :-)

back when I lived in Colorado, we had a saying: "Don't like the weather? wait five minutes"

March is always like that around here. There may be average weather in March, but there is no normal weather. Anything goes on any given day.

There are 2 LNG tankers from Qatar due in by the end of the month totalling around 400,000 m3.

I've no idea how long that will last, but given the weather forecast it looks like we have reverted to the standard UK planning of "Ohh, I'm sure it will all work out OK".

Just relax and put the kettle on - but probably wise to turn the heating off whilst it boils if it's on a gas hob, or turn off the fridge if you've got an electric one.

Hmmm, now where did I leave my camping stove?

If the Langeled pipeline from Norway was to go down (and it is unreliable) now for any length of time then it will be politicians and energy companies being thrown in ponds when the rolling blackouts begin.

Here they go

I noticed that cold air flowing toward Britain from the East. Not knowing much about the local weather, I thought that looked rather strange. Given that sea-ice extent is close to the yearly maximum, one wonders whether the open still water over the Barents Sea might be the cause of that flow. There was a report by a Russian analyst a while back which suggested that all that warm water resulted in a high pressure cell overhead, with the result being that easterly flow. If so, expect more such conditions in future as the sea-ice continues to melt away.

In my neighborhood (latitude 36.5N), this morning we had a ~1 inch layer of fresh snow, along with temperatures (17F, -8.3C) which may turn out to be record lows. Some weather prognosticators have claimed that this outbreak is the result of a blocking high over Greenland...

EDIT: HERE's a commentary from Jeff Masters.

E. Swanson

Thanks for the Wunderground link, looks like Jet Stream patterns have gone crazy. This will have dire consequences for the economy. Here's another link about Jet Stream pattern alterations.


Jet Stream patterns control the Monsoons, if these things become regular we'll get a drought in one year and a flood in the next, neither is welcome.

I noticed that cold air flowing toward Britain from the East.

I have relatives in England that say they didn't have a Summer to speak of last year and it has been a lot colder than normal year round. I explained that as weather patterns are changing in the Arctic cold air is now moving their way, but that didn't seem to help them feel better about it. I suppose the question they should be asking is how long will this new weather pattern last?


BBC: 1220:
The Sellafield nuclear site has been shut down as a precaution "in response to the current and predicted adverse weather conditions".

No more news other than these words yet. Watching closely.

EDIT: http://www.sellafieldsites.com/employee-area/

In response to the current and predicted adverse weather conditions on and round the Sellafield site, as a precaution, a Site Incident has been declared and the plants have been moved safely to a controlled, shut down state.

The site emergency control centre has been established and is managing the incident in line with well rehearsed procedures.

We have implemented a phased, early release of staff from the site; this is being carried out in a safe, controlled manner.

There is no reason to believe that there will be any off-site nuclear, environmental or conventional safety issues associated with the incident.

The priority for the team is to protect our workforce, the community and the environment.

Before anyone panics, the UK doesn't do snow, so 2 to 4 inches predicted is enough to shut anywhere down as employees won't be able to get to/from work... no melt downs expected (except, I hope, of the snow).

Yes, I hear you laughing in Canada, Chicago etc.... but between 2000 and December 2008 most of UK didn't have any snow at all and we're still in shock/denial after 3 winters where it did.

Last year we had 20 C in March - then it rained for rest of 'summer' in wettest in some many hundred years.

Persistent easterly winds in UK are unusual and this March is definitely freak weather. box up some warm air and send it over...

Sorry, we don't have any warm weather either here in Ottawa, Canada. Temperatures have been below freezing for the last two weeks. Amazingly, it was warmer in Iqaluit, Nunavut many thousands of kilometers north of us yesterday. They hit 0C whereas their normal high at this time of year is -17C! It does seem that the arctic are getting warmer temperatures than normal while areas in the south are getting unseasonably cold weather.

A weaker jet stream lets the Arctic cold "out" more easily.


no melt downs expected (except, I hope, of the snow).

You have inside information to know what to expect? I'm assuming it has taken something more than snow on the roads to shut the site down. Failure of power (onsite or off) perhaps?

Sounds like bull (giving reassurance without saying what exactly happened) and something severe has occurred which is too alarming to mention. Perhaps the rats have moved into the control room to keep warm with unintended consequences. :)

Nice weather for the time of year, I see Australia has had two tornadoes.

BBC News just reported on BBC 1pm tv News that "A Downing Street Spokesman said Britain's gas supplies are not running out". Hmm. Usually means it is time to panic when the government says the opposite.

The Bacton Interconnect Pipeline carrying gas into the UK appears to have gone down.

Britain's gas price soars to record on pipeline closure

(Reuters) - Britain's wholesale gas prices surged to a record high on Friday after one of its main gas import pipelines shut down unexpectedly, exposing yet again its vulnerability to foreign supplies.

The country is already grappling with a potential gas supply crisis as a late blast of winter depletes stored reserves, coal power plants close and pending maintenance in Norway threatens to further squeeze supply.

Gas prices for within-day delivery spiked at 150 pence per therm, more than 50 percent above Thursday's closing price, following the closure of the pipeline linking Britain and Belgium that facilitates gas imports from Europe.

"I don't think the price has ever been higher. It's certainly super spike territory," a gas trader at a utility said early on Friday.

On sky News they said that Britain may have as little as two days supply left. I think they were quoting from the FT. Others say it is as much as 15 days.

The two days figures is based on the total amount of gas used per day. The 10-15 days figure is how long storage would last if used to top up with all normal supplies available and the weather remaining very cold. If either the Langeled or Bacton pipleine goes out of comission for an extended period then Long Range Storage will be exhausted within a few days. Rolling blackouts would be in place by next week at a guess.

With Bacton back up, immediate prospects of the lights going out have receded again. We should never have been put in this position. It was the arch-moron (IMHO anyway) Tony Blair who originally halted storage expansion plans by saying we didn't need more storage because "The North Sea is our storage."

Interesting discussion of Cyprus & Russia on CNBC.

According to one reporter, Russian business interests, in total, have about 7% of all their cash deposited in Cyprus. An analyst described Cyprus, in financial terms, as part of Russia.

not just Russians who have loads of money in Cyprus.

About 60,000 Britons have retired there too. Apart from the British military staff (who the government has said will be made whole whatever happens).

A lot of the recent boom in Cyprus is due to inward money flows. That will all be reversed in an instant.

Could Cyprus be the straw which broke the European Euro camel's back?

IIRC British deposits are in the region of £1.7 billion in Cyprus.

The thing that seems to be overlooked in all this is that Cyprus is not part of NATO, although its in the process of allowing NATO bases to be established (aka. US naval access). Russia would like to block this and even more so establish Russian naval bases there (unlikely). So as well as financial and political considerations, there is also strategic considerations at play here (plus the energy interests).

So what's Cyprus really worth? Although there's plenty of brinkmanship as the EU, the US (via IMF) and Russia try to acquire a valuable asset on the cheap I'd imagine things will get interesting as the stakes get higher. Unless the Cypriot Parliament buckles, the interested parties are going to have to drop their nonchalant postures. Maybe Cyprus is not in such a weak position after all, it'll be interesting to see what develops.

Eating locusts: The crunchy, kosher snack taking Israel by swarm

Israel is in the grip of a locust invasion. Farmers are seeing their crops gobbled up in minutes - and some people are taking a novel approach to pest control. Eating them.

Rabbi Ari Zivotofsky's children have been busy in the kitchen.

On the menu… breaded locust, and chocolate-covered locust.


...Call it revenge, or just a practical killing of two birds with one stone - whatever the motivation, many Israelis have decided to cook them up, and eat them.

"They taste very nice, I can tell you!” - Arnold van Huis Scientist

Locust is the only insect which is considered kosher. Specific extracts in the Torah state that four types of desert locust - the red, the yellow, the spotted grey, and the white - can be eaten...

...It's relatively rare for locusts to reach as far as Israel. There was an upsurge in 2004, but before that, you have to go back to the 1950s to find a comparable swarm of locusts.

Note the crop duster; adds flavor, but still kosher?

This is the guy who founded Treehugger.com:

Living With Less. A Lot Less.

I LIVE in a 420-square-foot studio. I sleep in a bed that folds down from the wall. I have six dress shirts. I have 10 shallow bowls that I use for salads and main dishes. When people come over for dinner, I pull out my extendable dining room table. I don’t have a single CD or DVD and I have 10 percent of the books I once did.

I have come a long way from the life I had in the late ’90s, when, flush with cash from an Internet start-up sale, I had a giant house crammed with stuff — electronics and cars and appliances and gadgets.

There's a video here that shows his living space.

I have 7 deer that sleep in my backyard. During the day they either sleep, or sit and stare, or get up and nip off a few buds, then go back to laying down and staring or sleeping. Absolutely no mental stimulation whatsoever, except when they get disturbed. Not sure I would want that life either, although looks very peaceful--but very boring.

Not having a lot of stuff doesn't mean no mental stimulation.

One reason he got rid of his stuff is that he likes to travel. He traveled the world with a laptop in his solar-powered backpack and lived in Barcelona, Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Toronto.

He doesn't have any CDs or DVDs...but I'd guess that's true for many people these days. Music and movies are downloaded or streamed now, not bought on plastic disks.

He's a millionaire living in possibly the most exciting city in the world. I seriously doubt he spends his days staring or sleeping.

Well, maybe staring at a computer screen, but that's true of a lot of us...

Boy it's tough to stay stimulated when you're rich and have personal shoppers, a big house, apartment in soho, and can travel the world as you please. I can totally relate to the guy's trials and tribulations.

I posit that it's much easier to live with less "stuff" and stay stimulated when you're rich and don't have to stress about money while traveling the world as you desire, and are able to partake in the finer social events while choosing to "work" by being part of exciting projects that are intellectually stimulating where the risk of failure is just an oh well vs. going bankrupt.

Meanwhile, back in the world, people have to go to work on assembly lines making minimum wages living in small midwestern towns where there's nothing to do other than sit on your ace and watch TV.

I don't doubt that there's a certain level of stuff where the RoI on the happiness factor starts to drop off, but his story is ringing a little hollow to me. What's the resource trade-off in having a small house vs. flying around the world on travel all the time?

He says he limits his travel, even though he loves it, and buys carbon offsets.

But using less resources is not really the main reason he's doing it. He's doing it because the stuff was owning him, rather than him owning stuff. He's happier with less.

He is not saying that this is a solution for the working poor. Quite the opposite, really. His new site seems to be about how to live well with less. Less stuff, not less money. No way could an ordinary person afford his apartment, small as it is, let alone the way he's customized it.

However, I think his basic premise is the same for everyone, rich or poor: it's relationships that matter, not things.

Ya, but the REAL simple life means no TV, no radio, NO COMPUTER, NO INTERNET, no TOD--basically, a return to settler life before 1900.
When people say they long for the simple life, I am not sure they have really thought that through.

PBS had a documentary a while back about a guy who went to live alone in the Canadian mountains. Built his own long cabin, didn't see anyone all winter long. Lived that life for 30 years. I am sure that most of what he did during the winter was sleep.

Well, maybe I am wrong, but I think the human mind needs more stimulation than just eating and sleeping and chopping wood for the stove. In fact, I suspect that a life as simple as that is condusive to depression and suicide. You get a negative thought going, and you can never get rid of it!

There is an old saying, that "variety is the spice of life", and I think that is true. I suspect that the mental stimulation that most posters and lurkers get here at TOD is the reason they are here.

Well, maybe I am wrong, but I think the human mind needs more stimulation than just eating and sleeping and chopping wood for the stove.

I've considered this before in regards to how people will react after a collapse simply from the lack of stimuli they had become accustomed to. Also a lot of people are hooked on prescription meds. There would be a whole lot of adjusting to do in the aftermath. From cutting edge electronic gizmos galore modern western civilization to more of a 19th century American indian type existence connecting with nature. People will probably engage in a lot of inter-personal drama, i.e. manufacture stimuli to fill the void. I am quite certain any commune type living right after a collapse will be hell even if there is enough water and food.

I don't think that will be a problem. If there actually is a collapse, there will be plenty of excitement without Netflix and without manufacturing any drama. Probably enough to last most people a lifetime.

And aside from that, I think people will adjust more easily than you think. Sure, now the Internet, video games, TV, etc. are addictive, but if cut off, most people seem to do well (judging from those who have tried Facebook "diets" and the like).

When I was a young teen, my dad joined a research project that involved moving to a third world country. On paper, it was a nightmare for a 13-year-old. None of the foods were familiar, electricity was unreliable, TV was even more unreliable and mostly not in any language I could understand. I couldn't believe my parents were doing this to me.

Two years later, I didn't want to go back. I still missed TV, reliable electricity, and McDonald's, chocolate, and ice cream. But I had made friends, and for that reason I was happy, despite the lack of "stimulation."

People will probably engage in a lot of inter-personal drama, i.e. manufacture stimuli to fill the void.

Geeze. You guys have no idea! Your void will be filled by trying to stay alive. Your entire days and nights will be filled with the search for food and trying to stay away from those who want to take everything you have, if you are lucky enough to have anything.

It will be literally hell on earth and everyone will be engaged in a desperate fight for survival. Most won't make it. And you are wondering how you are going to keep from being bored.

Ron P.

Ron – So true. There are a few of us here that have spent time overseas especially in poor countries. Very little idle time and thus few voids. Something just like getting sufficient potable water for a couple of days can take an entire afternoon. And obviously much more socialization with your neighbors than we have in the US: hard to avoid when there’s little to keep you indoors. Street life is where it’s at. Might have a radio playing in the background but typically that’s it for media entertainment.

Last year I spent time in The Gambia on the west coast of Africa. Poorer than most counties in the region because they had no natural resources to exploit other than bird watching by Brit tourists. Staggering poverty by US standards but generally a friendly sociable group of folks. Spent many hours hanging out with locals...they love to converse with English speakers. When not doing whatever they needed to do to survive they are interacting with each other. Sitting on the stoop chatting is their Facebook. Even “commuting” is a social event. No public transport and very few cars or even motor cycles. A few cabs. But a lot of car sharing: very common for a private car to pick up someone walking down the road and give them a ride for something like a fraction of a US penny…their “dollar” is equivalent to not much more than one of our pennies. I could buy a big bag of fresh baked bread (best I've had since leaving Nawlins) for less than $.50. Local custom was to give a loaf to folks you passed that didn't appear to be doing to well. So I would buy two bags...I really liked that bread. LOL.

It was just like I recall my less than affluent childhood in Nawlins: spent the day out on the street doing something pretty much from sunrise to bed time…no voids. One of the few times I watched TV as a young child was sitting on the sidewalk watching it thru the front door of one of our “rich” neighbors. Until they closed the door on me. LOL.

Well.. from what I've heard, once you've got the firewood burning IN that stove back in those dusty days, a mighty nice time could be had sitting around it yakking or playing fiddles or card games, or reading..

I don't think our imagining of the rough life before ipods (even as painted by PBS) do very well reminding us that people had OTHER people as a great part of what made life fun, interesting, challenging and worth living.. just like a face to face version of TOD!

PBS's 'Pioneer house' put all these families up as competing neighbors, pulling moderns out onto the land, having each build their own barns and tend livestock, etc .. and then showing which of them was the 'winner and the loser' in being able to do this.. our own current blindspots towards cooperative efforts turned an experiment into a game show. No barn-raisings and community support (that I caught for the episodes I bothered to watch)..

This has nothing to do with the articles I posted. Graham is clearly not advocating for pre=1900 settler life. He's living in an apartment in NYC, when he could afford to live anywhere. Clearly, what you term "the REAL simple life" is not what we are talking about here.

In Eastern Philosophy giving up on worldly pleasures is considered the pinnacle of achievement. Monks were once revered more highly than kings and still are. Even our early leaders used to live a spartan lifestyle. In spite of corruption and the influence of money some of the leaders still do.

He is the Chief Minister (Governor in US parlance) of one of my home states. He gets a total of $92 per month as allowance, his bank balance stands at $200.

Unless I read your comment backwards, it's strange that you seem to equate 'having less stuff' with being in a state of insufficient mental stimulation. I got no impression that this is a guy with an inactive mind, while I HAVE met a lot of people who have all the toys, and notta so much going on upstairs.. often it's seemed, because the toys allowed them to drown out any disturbing thoughts that they'd rather steer clear of..

"Soon I was numb to it all. The new Nokia phone didn’t excite me or satisfy me. It didn’t take long before I started to wonder why my theoretically upgraded life didn’t feel any better and why I felt more anxious than before. "

Agreed! I'm more interested in blocking some of the constant stimulation so that I might be able to think and to get some things done.

Not to mention the obligation to pay attention to/fix/maintain created by all the extra stuff.

Form the article:

Our fondness for stuff affects almost every aspect of our lives. Housing size, for example, has ballooned in the last 60 years. The average size of a new American home in 1950 was 983 square feet; by 2011, the average new home was 2,480 square feet. And those figures don’t provide a full picture. In 1950, an average of 3.37 people lived in each American home; in 2011, that number had shrunk to 2.6 people. This means that we take up more than three times the amount of space per capita than we did 60 years ago.

Well over half of US residential space represents discretionary spending, not spending on essential shelter. Similarly, about half of residential energy represents a discretionary use of energy to light, heat and cool that space.

That is a similar fraction to US driving, where at least half of vehicle miles traveled are also discretionary.

ROCKMAN! Or others

Ever heard of HEI or HEI Partners out of Colorado Springs?

An associate just got a big thick packet Fed Ex overnight priority mail from HEI with a state of Colorado well drilling permit, a glossy map of "DJ Basin" in Colorado, and their very own self-provided 'due diligence' - nice! It even includes seismic surveys from 'consulting geologists'. They are drilling "right next to a well that is producing 261 barrels/day and has produced >320,000 barrels. Another 440,000 BOE."

They are offering: For an initial $62 K investment, you will have a guaranteed $400 K in 6 months -- We are gonna drill baby drill !

Googling them the first thing that came up was this: http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_13682681 Repeated fraud, theft, general nasty slimy scammers. Moving from state to state, avoiding conviction, high powered lawyers...

One well in Logan County and one in Washington Co.

There is also a 100+ page booklet of fine print legalese disclaimers, conditions, terms, etc.

Kipp McIntyre is the scammer, er 'contact' for us to send our money to. The nice man included a phone number - 719 355-3787 HEI Partners

I can scarcely wait to gather up my hard earned cash to give to these nice folks!

Anyone know a DA in CA or CO looking for a project?

g2s – I’ve always given the same advice: throw the brochure away. Even when I know it’s a reputable company with a valid project. Such investments are not investments…you’re forming a partnership. Direct investment is much more complicated than owning stock in an oil company. For one thing you can’t liquidate your position anytime you want. And you can have financial and liability responsibilities to the partnership beyond your initial investment.

It was amazing back in the 70’s boom to see how many folks couldn’t understand why they weren’t getting revenue checks after mailing money to a post office box to fund some drilling program. My experience with an oil investment boiler room. The “company” moved onto our floor. They had 25 phone callers in a bull pen using all the standard reference books: lawyer, doctor, etc. associations. The manager showed me their brochure: 100% scam and it actually was an Austin Chalk horizontal well. Well was never going to be drilled. The manager (I’m dying if I’m lying – a former used car salesman) figured that since we were all oil patch we wouldn’t have a problem with their operation.

So I called the Texas Attorney General’s office. They said they knew of the company and had shut their Dallas office down. They thanked me for informing them that the office had reappeared in Houston. As I’ve said before one on greatest disappointments was not being there when the Texas Rangers (they handle oil patch crimes) hauled to two managers off in hand cuffs. Not that I wouldn’t have rolled over on them anyway but really pissed me off that he thought we were all crooks because we were oil patch hands. Still one of my favorite stories to tell...thanks for giving me the opening. LOL.

Tanker under sail?

Nord Integrity Captain Cut the Power and Drifted for Days to Save Fuel

Kulluk Rig Gets Loaded for Asia

As some of you have noticed, we're being swamped by spam lately. (When I looked at Gail's new key post this morning, there were 22 comments: 20 spam, 2 legitimate comments.) It's gotten so bad Super G has suspended new account creation while he checks out spam-blocking software.

He also purged all the accounts that have never been used. This is not people who lurk and have never posted, it's people who created an account but never logged in with it at all. Likely spammers who created multiple accounts and were keeping them in reserve. There were 70,000 of them!!!!!

None of this should affect legitimate users, except the inability to create a new account.

This shouldn't affect people who have an account and log in to take advantage of the [ new] comment feature. But never comment.

Which is probably most of us, most of the time.

To prevent a mimic, I signed up for AlanfromBigEazy, an account I never used. I see that it is now gone.

Still, I think purging inactive accounts is a good thing.

Best Hopes for Fewer Spammers,


And yet people mimic you all the time. Look at all the people using the "Best Hopes" phrase. Thanks for the new handle.


I'm AlanFromBigEazy and so's my wife!

Best Hopes for a little less Spam Spam Spam Spam Spam


tstreet (aka AlanFromBigEazy),

I like to use Alan's "Best Hopes for ...." line on occasion too.

Well, Super G has installed a spam-blocking module. Let me know if it causes any problems.

New accounts are allowed again.

Re: Continental Resources
I have heard that this company is heavily into the Baaken play, and that they are spending $2 for every $1 in revenue.
This can exist for a short time, but is clearly unsustainable.
Are all companies in the Baaken like this one, I wonder?

canabuck - I’ll answer this way: how many unconventional resources players are public companies vs. privately owned companies? Almost all are public companies. And many of the private companies involved spend little of their own money drilling: they are either buying leases cheap and then flipping them or they are drilling with investor money.

Now look at their books and compare their increase in proved reserve value vs. their stock valuations over time. In many cases their market cap is much greater than their book value. This isn’t to say there aren’t public companies worth buying into. But remember many of the folks who form such companies make a more of their profit from flipping their stock than they make drilling wells. And that’s even true of reputable companies.

I still offer that one of the most profitable Eagle Ford Shale companies was Petrohawk: acquired a lot of acreage cheap early on, drilled a few wells and then sold the company and all its undeveloped leases for $12 billion. Owning some of that stock early on would have been a great investment. But typically such stock is tightly controlled by the founders. Many times I’ve been offered the opportunity to invest “seed money” into such operations. I always pass…not a way I like to do business.

Wasted energy

At a conservative estimate, this North Dakota flaring meant some 3.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted last year, the equivalent of the annual emissions from 750,000 vehicles. Worse, research into flaring has begun to find evidence of potentially widespread methane leakage from shale operations, if not outright venting of the gas (see page 290). Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, so the environmental price is likely to be even higher.