Drumbeat: April 5, 2013

Europe to Shut 10 Refineries as Profits Tumble

Oil refiners in Europe will shut 10 percent of their plants this decade as fuel demand falls to a 19-year low.

Of the region’s 104 facilities, 10 will shut permanently by 2020 from France to Italy to the Czech Republic, a Bloomberg survey of six European refinery executives showed. Oil consumption is headed for a fifth year of declines to the lowest level since 1994, the International Energy Agency estimates. Two-thirds of European refineries lost money in 2011, according to Essar Energy Plc (ESSR), owner of the U.K.’s second-largest plant.

“Purely from the falling European demand point of view, one bigger refinery or two smaller plants would have to shut in Europe every year,” David Wech, who helps advise oil companies and governments as managing director at researcher JBC Energy GmbH, said in a phone interview from Vienna. “And it’s not even assuming any negative impact from more competitive refining markets in other regions.”

Texas Refinery Is Saudi Foothold in U.S. Market

PORT ARTHUR, Tex. — It is hard to imagine the desert sands of the Persian Gulf being any farther away than from this swampy refinery port known for Cajun food, sport fishing and being the birthplace of Janis Joplin.

But right in the middle of town stands a strategic outpost for Saudi Arabia’s global ambitions, although one that the Saudis appear loath to publicize.

The giant Motiva oil refinery, which just completed a $10 billion expansion that makes it the largest processor of gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products in the United States, is owned by Saudi Aramco and Royal Dutch Shell in a 50-50 partnership.

WTI Oil Heading for Weekly Drop Before U.S. Payroll Data

West Texas Intermediate crude traded near a two-week low, headed for its biggest weekly drop since September, before U.S. March payroll data later today.

WTI futures in New York are poised for a 4.5 percent loss from the March 28 close, the most since the week ended Sept. 21. World powers and Iran started two-day talks in Kazakhstan on Iran’s nuclear program. U.S. monthly jobs data will be released at 8:30 a.m. New York time today. Declines in London’s Brent crude may be “overdone,” according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Drivers could see 'significantly lower' gas prices this summer

Drivers can expect "significantly lower" gasoline prices this summer, but only if gas futures drop below the key level of $2.90 a gallon, professional trader Jim Iuorio told CNBC on Wednesday.

Chalk up the decline in gas prices to a divergence between gas and crude oil, Iuorio explained. Over the past month, gas has dropped some 5 percent, while crude oil has gained about 5 percent. In January, gasoline prices skyrocketed following an array of refining and maintenance issues while the price of oil fell. The move was highly unusual, so now the markets are seeing what's called a mean reversion, meaning prices are returning to the mean or average.

UK gas prices jump as cold bites into storage

LONDON (Reuters) - British weekend gas prices rose on Friday after stored gas reserves plummeted this week as looming production outages are expected to squeeze supplies and the country heads into more abnormally cold weather.

Goldman Boosts U.S. Gas Price Forecast After Temperatures Drop

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised its forecast for U.S. natural gas futures for the remainder of this year on a “tightening shift” in market fundamentals after temperatures fell last month.

The Shocking Implications of the Rebuke of Peak Oil Theory

The last time peak oil theory regained widespread popularity was back in the early 2000s. But since then, fears of global supply shortages have all but disappeared, as America's shale oil and gas revolution has radically altered the paradigms of global energy.

And in what is perhaps a sign of the changing times, an entirely different version of peak oil theory has emerged. Unlike the traditional view, which looks at supply side concerns, this new version targets the other side of the equation and forecasts a peak in global oil demand.

North Sea oil output to rise by a third over five years

The North Sea is set to end its seemingly terminal decline over the next few years, with new entrants and better technology set to push production up by about a third to 2 million barrels a day by 2017.

Britain’s oil and gas output is set to dip again this year, putting it between 3 and 6 per cent lower than 2012’s figure of 1.55 million barrels, according to the industry body Oil & Gas UK. However, tax breaks, improving extraction techniques and the sustained high price of oil have made production from the North Sea’s dwindling oil and gas fields more viable. This has prompted record levels of investment, with £40bn set to be ploughed into North Sea production over the next three years by companies such as BP, Total of France and China’s Sinopec.

Norway’s Oil Future Seen With Ice-Free Arctic’s Barrels

In the wake of plummeting oil output, Norway, western Europe’s biggest petroleum producer, may have found its new money spigot: an ice-free expanse of the Arctic Ocean known as the Barents Sea.

Companies will drill a least 12 wells in the Norwegian Barents this year -- a record equal to the number drilled in the past two years combined -- as they increase the effort to unlock an estimated 6 billion barrels of oil equivalent the lightly explored area is thought to hold. If half of that were oil, it would be valued at $330 billion at Brent benchmark prices of $110 a barrel.

New strategy needed to cope with Arctic environmental changes -U.S. report

(Reuters) - With the warming U.S. Arctic region poised for greater oil and mining development, the White House needs to develop a national strategy that can take environmental decisions on a larger scale, a report issued Thursday concluded.

The study recommends greater coordination between federal, state and local agencies to better manage resources in Alaska, said the U.S. Department of Interior's Alaska Interagency Working Group in its report that was presented to President Barack Obama.

Kazakhstan planning to boost oil production output to 120 million tons a year by 2020: PM Serik Akhmetov

Kazakhstan plans to boost oil production output to 120 million tons a year by 2020, Newskaz.ru reports, citing the country’s PM Serik Akhmetov.

“In June this year we are launching production at the giant Kashagan oilfield and plans are there to expand production at Tengiz oil field. These two measures will enable Kazakhstan to boost oil production output up to 120 million tons a year from the current 82 million tons”, Mr. Akhmetov said at the talks with Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich.

Transocean Purchases Cost Shareholders Billions, Icahn Says

Transocean Ltd.’s management “destroyed approximately $11 billion of shareholder value” by buying Global Santa Fe and Aker, billionaire investor Carl Icahn said.

The company’s current plan to pay down debt and invest in building new assets will destroy another $3.6 billion in shareholder value, Icahn wrote in a letter to shareholders today.

International Energy Agency to offer China room in strategic talks

(Reuters) - The International Energy Agency will invite China and other emerging economies to take part in key strategic talks, sources in the IEA said, in a bid to strengthen ties with non-members whose share in global oil demand has rapidly grown.

Gazprom-Europol Gaz deal does not mean gas link will be built: PGNiG

(Reuters) - The agreement signed by Russia's Gazprom and Poland's Europol Gaz regarding the second segment of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline is just a feasibility study and does not mean the investment will be carried out, Europol Gaz said.

Report: Shell to dump firm over its ties to Israel

THE HAGUE (JTA) – Royal Dutch Shell declined to comment on reports that it will divest its stake in an Australian energy firm because of that firm’s investment in Israel’s gas fields.

Iran crude exports to rebound in April from March slump

TOKYO/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Iran's April crude exports will rebound to above 1 million barrels per day (bpd), industry sources said on Friday, after falling in March to the lowest level seen since the West imposed sanctions to reduce the oil flow in 2012.

Violence on Rise in Iraq's Oil-Rich Kirkuk Area

KIRKUK, IRAQ — Over the past year, hostilities have flared between Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region and the central government. Attacks and bombings have increased in the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which both governments claim as their own. With tensions showing no sign of abating, many fear the violence will only get worse.

For Unionists, Iraq’s Oil War Rages On

Many Iraqi oil workers thought the fall of Saddam Hussein would mean they would finally be free to organize unions, and that their nationally owned industry would be devoted to financing the reconstruction of the country. But the reality could not have been more different. Earlier this month, the head of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, Hassan Juma’a (below right), was hauled into a Basra courtroom and accused of organizing strikes, a charge for which he could face prison time. The union he heads is still technically illegal: Saddam’s ban on public-sector unions was the sole Saddam-era dictate kept in place under the U.S. occupation, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki hasn't shown any interest in changing it since most U.S. troops left.

Petronas Raises MISC Buyout Bid to $3 Billion After Protests

Petroliam Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s state oil and gas company, raised its buyout offer for shipping group MISC Bhd. (MISC) by 3.8 percent to $3 billion after minority shareholders complained its initial bid was too low.

Petronas, as the energy group is known, increased its offer for the world’s second-largest liquefied natural gas shipping company to 5.50 ringgit per share from 5.30 ringgit, according to a stock exchange filing by Kuala Lumpur-based MISC today. The offer values the stake Petronas doesn’t already own at 9.16 billion ringgit ($3 billion), up from 8.8 billion ringgit previously, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Ecuador judge rejects bribe claims against him in Chevron case

Reuters) - The Ecuadorean judge who issued an $18.2 billion verdict against Chevron Corp has denied bribery allegations made by another judge who presided over the landmark pollution case in the South American country, according to a court filing on Thursday.

Nicolas Zambrano had been accused in a U.S. court-filed sworn statement by Alberto Guerra, a fellow judge who heard the case in Ecuador in 2003 and 2004, of taking a $500,000 bribe from the plaintiffs.

Lonmin New CEO Shoulders Output Push as Costs Soar

Ben Magara will lead Lonmin Plc in an effort to restore output at the world’s third-largest platinum producer and repair its reputation after a six-week strike at the company’s main mine led to at least 44 deaths.

Instead, he may be forced to close shafts and cut staff. Magara, whose appointment was announced yesterday, will take the helm at Lonmin on July 1 as it grapples with higher wages, inflation-busting power costs and social-spending commitments.

Methane Hydrates: A Second Gas Revolution?

Speculation is rampant that a new gas cornucopia is coming. After a successful Japanese experiment to extract natural gas from methane hydrates 1,000 meters below the surface and 50 miles off its shores, some are beginning to wonder if the “shale revolution” was just the beginning. But don’t hold your breath.

Le Fracking for Geothermal Heat Drawing Ire of French Oil

It’s an existential question in France: When is fracking not fracking?

The country is pushing ahead with plans to harness geothermal energy from smoldering rock deep in the earth’s crust using drilling methods the oil industry says are like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which France outlawed in 2011.

Frackers Are Losing $1.5 Billion Yearly to Leaks

Of all the many and varied consequences of fracking (water contamination, injured workers, earthquakes, the list goes on) one of the least understood is so-called "fugitive" methane emissions. Methane is the primary ingredient of natural gas, and it escapes into the atmosphere at every stage of production: at wells, in processing plants, and in pipes on its way to your house. According to a new study, it could become one of the worst climate impacts of the fracking boom—and yet, it's one of the easiest to tackle right away. Best of all, fixing the leaks is good for the bottom line.

Enron’s Skilling in Talks With U.S. on Possible New Term

Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron Corp. chief executive officer, is in talks with the U.S. Justice Department to possibly reduce his 24-year sentence for helping mastermind the fraud that brought down the world’s biggest energy-trading company.

The U.S. issued a notice April 3 to thousands of former Enron employees and shareholders asking them to alert authorities by April 17 if they wish to express their views in court on a possible new sentence. The notice didn’t provide any details about the basis of the talks, though a person familiar with the matter said a resolution may speed payment of restitution to victims.

Is Living in a Nuclear Evacuation Zone Good for You?

Given these problems, more than a few health experts now believe that mental health problems, not cancer, may turn out to be Fukushima's legacy. A recent report by the World Health Organization suggests that most of Japan will not get sick from radiation released by the Fukushima accident. The most serious consequence will be a predicted 70 percent increase in thyroid cancer risk for female infants who lived near the plant at the time of the accident. Since the baseline rate of thyroid cancer in Japanese women is 0.75 percent, this means that the rate may increase by about 0.5 percent. That rise is probably too small to be detected statistically. Meanwhile, psychiatrists and public health officials are worried about the future of more than 150,000 evacuees who remain displaced.

Reborn Detroit Electric charges into battery-car market

It’s been nearly six decades since the last serious attempt to create a major new Motor City-based auto company, and nearly three-quarters of a century since the last maker to use Detroit in its logo turned off the lights. That may explain why skeptics showed up to the first news conference of the resurrected Detroit Electric this week.

They noted that the maker is targeting the still-uncertain U.S. battery car market – and aiming to launch production by late summer even though it doesn’t yet have a factory site.

Merkel Losing Allies in $700 Billion Shift to Renewables

Chancellor Angela Merkel is losing support from her two biggest allies in the utilities industry as their mounting debt prompts a retreat from renewable-power expansion, undermining her $700 billion program to reshape Germany’s energy market.

EON SE and RWE AG are reducing clean-power spending for the first time since 2009 to cut a combined 69 billion euros ($88 billion) in debt and curb costs. That limits funds for offshore wind energy, the centerpiece of Merkel’s plan to replace all atomic reactors by 2022 and triple renewables’ share by 2050.

Switch to fully renewable energy within reach: report

Australia's main electricity market could source all of its electricity from renewable energy with the help of a carbon price of as low as $50 a tonne, according to research at the University of NSW.

The researchers found currently available renewable energy technologies such as wind and concentrated solar thermal power could displace all fossil-fuelled power plants in the National Electricity Market, according to a peer-reviewed paper published in the international Energy Policy journal.

Linking clean energy sources solves blackout conundrum

Critics of renewables have always claimed that sun and wind are only intermittent producers of electricity and need fossil fuel plants as back-up to make them viable. But German engineers have proved this is not so.

By skilfully combining the output of a number of solar, wind and biogas plants the grid can be provided with stable energy 24 hours a day without fear of blackouts, according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) in Kassel.

Washington Gas Energy Systems Awarded Contract to Build, Own and Operate Solar Project for Bellingham, Mass.

BELLINGHAM, Mass. & MCLEAN, Va.(BUSINESS WIRE) - Washington Gas Energy Systems, Inc. today announced it has signed a contract with the town of Bellingham, Mass. to build, own and operate a 3,802-kilowatt solar array that will provide renewable energy for the town. The ground-mounted installation will consist of 12,672 panels and is expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to the planting of more than 1,600,000 pine trees or avoiding the use of more than 7 million gallons of gasoline over the next two decades.

Paris Employs a Few Black Sheep to Tend, and Eat, a City Field

PARIS — The archivists requested a donkey, but what they got from the mayor’s office were four wary black sheep who, as of Wednesday morning, were chewing away at a lumpy field of grass beside the municipal archives building as the City of Paris’s newest, shaggiest lawn mowers.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoë has made the environment a priority since his election in 2001, with popular bike- and car-sharing programs, an expanded network of designated lanes for bicycles and buses, and an enormous project to pedestrianize the banks along much of the Seine.

The sheep, who are to mow (and, not inconsequentially, fertilize) this airy half-acre patch in the 19th Arrondissement are intended in the same spirit. City Hall refers to the project as “eco-grazing,” and it notes that the four ewes will prevent the use of noisy, gas-guzzling mowers and cut down on the use of herbicides.

Deer Breeding Industry Looks to Lawmakers to Relax Rules

“Deer breeding concerns more of an agricultural enterprise — it is a ranching activity,” Mr. Adams said. The commission’s members, he said, are “the animal husbandry experts in Texas.”

But Gary Joiner, the chief executive of the Texas Wildlife Association, said Parks and Wildlife was better suited to oversee the industry because deer are not like the livestock that the animal health agency has traditionally overseen.

“Deer are a public resource, a native resource that should be protected,” Mr. Joiner said.

Report: Asian carp may have reached Great Lakes

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — At least some Asian carp probably have found their way into the Great Lakes, but there's still time to stop the dreaded invaders from becoming established and unraveling food chains that support a $7 billion fishing industry and sensitive ecosystems, according to a scientific report released Thursday.

Community Determined to Fight Power Plant

The utility says the facility is necessary to meet the needs of the growing city and county. It says it will use the latest technology to extract the cleanest fossil fuel available. But residents fear that a range of air and water contaminants will have an impact on their community.

Hero of the Bronx Is Now Accused of Betraying It

The story of Majora Carter, 46, is one of the best known in the South Bronx. The youngest of 10 children, she grew up in Hunts Point and later emerged as a fierce defender of its residents against urban blights like truck traffic and garbage dumps. Smart and passionate, with a high-wattage smile for the cameras, Ms. Carter was soon touring the Arctic with former President Jimmy Carter, hosting a Peabody-winning public radio show, and commanding tens of thousands of dollars in speaking and consulting fees.

Ms. Carter’s meteoric rise also made her a polarizing figure. Many former allies and neighbors say that Ms. Carter trades on the credibility she built in the Bronx, while no longer representing its interests. They say she has capitalized on past good deeds in the way that politicians parlay their contacts into a lobbying career, or government regulators are hired by the companies they once covered.

“You can’t have it both ways,” said Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “Either you’re an honest broker and accountable to the community, or you’re working for a business interest and accountable to that.”

Is It Possible to Be a Modern-Day Survivalist Without Resorting to a Life of Crime?

This sense of romanticism is misplaced. I don’t know how many legitimate survivalists — self-sufficient, off-the-grid—actually exist. I would guess not many. I would also guess that it is functionally impossible to live entirely off the grid without breaking some laws. The Men’s Journal article makes it clear that even though Knapp was a preternaturally talented survivalist, he couldn’t have made it as long as he did without regularly turning to crime:

He would go from home to home, tapping a quarter-size hole in a windowpane and unfastening the latch. He would eat all the food he could find, burn all the firewood, and then move on. He hit dozens of cabins across the state, riffling through the cupboards, taking batteries, binoculars, canned goods, and camouflaged clothing — anything that would keep him alive, moving, and out of sight. He stole all the shoes he could, too, from boots to sneakers to sandals, so his tracks would be harder to follow.

Sticky-fingered thieves target sap in Maine

Violators often use drill bits that are 7/8 of an inch, nearly triple the industry standard of 5/16 of an inch, to drill holes for the taps, Liba said. They're also using PVC piping that gouges the trees, and putting four taps in trees that should have only two, thereby creating undue stress on the trees.

With gouges and large holes, the trees are more susceptible to decay and disease. And they also carry less value in the marketplace.

The best maple trees are highly sought-after for veneer used in making cabinets and furniture or as logs that are suitable for processing at a sawmill. But when the trees are damaged they're only suitable for less-profitable uses, such as pulpwood for pulp plants or for biomass plants.

Asia’s resource scramble is an obstacle to its rise

NEW DELHI — Competition for strategic natural resources including water, mineral ores and fossil fuels has always played a significant role in shaping the terms of the international economic and political order.

But now that competition has intensified, as it encompasses virtually all of Asia, where growing populations and rapid economic development over the past three decades have generated an insatiable appetite for severely limited supplies of key commodities.

Short on graves, China turns to sea burials

BEIJING — In this country of almost 1.4 billion people, life is an unending struggle for resources — money, property, even spouses. And it doesn’t get easier in death.

Prices for graves are skyrocketing, driven by decades of unbridled development and scarce city land. The government’s answer to this conundrum: sea burials.

2 Major Air Pollutants Increase in Beijing

BEIJING — In the first three months of this year, levels of two major air pollutants increased by almost 30 percent here in the Chinese capital, over the same period in 2012, according to a report on Wednesday by a Chinese news organization.

A visual tour of Beijing's crippling pollution problem

The Chinese government vows to clean up its act, but it has a lot of work to do

In American schools and media, pollution is often discussed in terms of what will happen in the future if we don't clean up our act now. But in China — where wildly overpopulated cities churn out toxic emissions, and hardworking plants produce 95 percent of the world's rare-earths elements — the effects of pollution accumulate like dust in an attic.

Harvard Embracing Fossil Fuel Condemned by Gore on Filthy Lucre

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore broke from his prepared remarks two months ago at a Harvard University event honoring a deceased professor who had sparked his passion for the environment.

Apologizing for “sounding impolite and undiplomatic,” Gore praised a student group, which sought his support in a push to make Harvard sell investments in fossil-fuel companies. Gore equated the effort to a campaign that helped end apartheid after investors were pressed to shun companies linked to South Africa.

Climate legislation to prevent an oil-lubricated collapse

HSBC Securities’ analysis shows that oil companies will lose up to 60 percent of their value if a policy aiming for the internationally-recognised two-degree climate policy objective is implemented.

Statoil creeps nearer climate target

Statoil published its annual report on oil sands operations in Canada on Thursday. The report measures CO2 emissions and water usage, amongst other things. Both levels are very high in oil sands production.

Statoil has committed to reduce emissions from the oil sands facility by 40 percent by 2025. The purpose is to bring emissions on par with those from regular oil production in the US, between 40 and 45 kilogrammes of CO2 per barrel.

Stop Paying the Polluters

According to the IEA, fossil-fuel subsidies rose by almost 30%, to $523 billion, in 2011. Meanwhile,the UN Environment Program reports that global investment in renewable energy totaled only $257 billion in 2011.

In other words, we are doing exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. Support for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources is lagging, while governments around the world spend hundreds of billions of dollars subsidizing an incipient catastrophe. This must change.

EU Carbon Data Signals Airlines May Need to Buy Permits

Airlines in Europe may need to buy carbon permits or pay fines after data showed the carriers’ emissions in 2012 exceeded their allocation of free allowances by about 30 percent, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Poll: Americans Unwilling to Spend Money to Protect Against Rising Sea Levels

A new national survey says 82 percent of Americans want to prepare now for rising seas and stronger storms from climate change. But most are unwilling to spend the money to keep the beach where it is.

The poll by Stanford University found that only 1 in 3 people favored the government spending millions to construct big sea walls, replenish beaches or pay people to leave the coast.

In Sign of Warming, 1,600 Years of Ice in Andes Melted in 25 Years

Glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes that took at least 1,600 years to form has melted in just 25 years, scientists reported Thursday, the latest indication that the recent spike in global temperatures has thrown the natural world out of balance.

The evidence comes from a remarkable find at the margins of the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru, the world’s largest tropical ice sheet. Rapid melting there in the modern era is uncovering plants that were locked in a deep freeze when the glacier advanced many thousands of years ago.

A warming world will further intensify extreme precipitation events, study finds

(Phys.org) — According to a newly-published NOAA-led study in Geophysical Research Letters, as the globe warms from rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, more moisture in a warmer atmosphere will make the most extreme precipitation events more intense.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the North Carolina State University's Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-North Carolina (CICS-NC), NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the Desert Research Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and ERT, Inc., reports that the extra moisture due to a warmer atmosphere dominates all other factors and leads to notable increases in the most intense precipitation rates.


North Sea oil output to rise by a third over five years

The North Sea is set to end its seemingly terminal decline

but this because of

1,tax breaks,
2,sustained high price of oil
3,record levels of investment
4,improving extraction techniques ( but not improved , yet )

maybe its because of the other 3 that item 4 becomes profitable ? for the oilco's ofcourse

wasn't that long ago that the "sustained high price of oil" caused the UK Gov to bump up the tax take... didn't last long did it

I still expect geology to trump though


EDIT: I'm also smelling a rat here? talk about The North Sea oil includes UK, Norway and Denmark, gas the Netherlands

its not actually clear to me from the article that the UK share will be increasing ( or should I say Scottish ? )

"I'm also smelling a rat here? "

Oops. Sorry. I'm heading for the shower, even as we speak.


Geeze Rat,

Here I thought it was my hamburger or fries when we had dinner together Wednesday :-) But, seriously, he and I do actually get together about every other week for a long lunch and dinner once a month before the Grange meeting. I hope other TODers do the same thing. It's really important to be able to spend time discussing issues in depth that you can't do on a forum. We BS for 1-2 hours. Think about it.


On Wed, I told Todd I had gone down to Ukiah for jury duty, and swung by the hospital to visit my old respiratory therapy dept. Very sad. Major downsizing, lost their office, and now have a space about 4x8 feet for the office, and a former patient room for the equipment. My boss went from full time supervisor to part time therapist, my old position has been eliminated, a few others cut from part time to on-call. These were good jobs. I made $80K in 10 months in '08 (before retiring) by working a lot of always available OT. Really good money for our county; in fact, Todd replied, accurately, that $40K is big money here (for anybody not involved with marijuana).

Rat: I used to love staying in Ukiah back in the day. Stayed at the Palace Hotel; they had the BEST clam chowder anywhere. The first time I ordered it I got Petrale with it - and did not have room for the Petrale.

Ah... those were the days.


full disclosure: no involvement in marijuana LOL.

I spend quite a bit of time in Ukiah also.
At first, all the corporate strip malls and the big pickups was a turn off, but the downtown is rather nice, some good restaurants, and music.
But the economy does have a sense of desperation.
I lived in Pt Arena for a period, and really enjoyed the community.
It will be interesting to see what happens in Mendo.

Former Humboldt County guy here. I like Portland (Oregon), but I sure miss Northern California. A beautiful part of the world.

Spend quite a bit of time in Humboldt, especially in Winter.
Steelhead. No place like it.

Owned a lot at Shelter Bay once; never built on it and sold it off.


Thanks for the info...I keep thinking I need to get into health care to keep myself employable..in any type of market but maybe that is not a good idea....

I had to look up Grange. Why, I'd go just for your adorable meetings.

More seriously, good on Grange. We need more. I should do a search like, "Grange Permaculture", and see what hits.

I would love to be able to connect with others but thankfully am able to talk these issues over with my wife. (And TOD, of course). My neighbours and I talk about the current situation occasionally but it isn't positive or helpful. One guy only wants to talk politics and the demise of wages and the other guy is in his middle 80s and has been a doomer since birth. Because he perceives his end is near (every year he has a new five year plan for firewood so he doesn't run out but doesn't leave a bunch when he croaks); he is so negative I think he wants it all to crash so a bunch of folks will be as miserable as he is. But, I like to tease him about his woodsheds and tell him he is planning to live forever if he keeps up with his splitting. This year I roto-tilled his entire garden for him for the first time. Before it was just parts.

I watched the Lehrer news hour last night because I wanted to see what was said about the latest economic news. Not one...NOT ONE mention was made about the high cost of energy having a role in the economic stagnation and slowdown. Automation...education....but not one mention was made about the role of energy in life or growth. And here it is spring and the leaves are forming. You think the analogy would produce an aha moment for even the most obtuse interviewer?


The rat is that Cameron needs the scots to vote for independence next year, but thanks to incompetence by the SNP few will actually vote for it. With a vote for independence, the Tories can throw out the scottish MPs at Westminster and have a hope of getting back in in 2015 - but currently support runs at less than a third.

Therefore both the Tories and the SNP need to sell a better story, and a prime plank of that is that scotland would have oil revenues to turn it into a land of milk and honey. The reality of terminal decline has voters looking a the strategic shortbread industry as their means of support, enough to give anyone the shivers.

Expect more rah-rah for the prospects of North Sea oil between now and 2014 - although if they do too good a job the Orkneys and Shetlands may declare independence themselves, and THEY are actually the ones with the new prospects to explore...

We should stop (1 - tax breaks) because all that does is "bring forward" oil that would have been extracted later when prices rose later. That is really really bad policy. But such tax-breaks are easily rationalized with jobs, reduce imports, and reduce oil prices rhetoric. They may do some of those things but only by stealing from the future. It is a zero sum game.

And worse, it just accelerations depletion of domestic resources. To some degree reducing imports is a double-edge sword .. . yes, you are now keeping the money home . . . but only by burning up your own valuable oil that would have been even more valuable in the future. But as climate change has shown us, people don't give a crap about the distant future . . . I want my money NOW!

its not actually clear to me from the article that the UK share will be increasing

I think you can conclude from that vagueness that the UK share will not be increasing, and that the bulk of the (theoretical) increase in production (if it occurs) will come from the Norwegian sector. I think the UK sector is pretty well tapped out, although the UK government and UK media don't want to admit it.

It's much like all the US MSM articles announcing US oil self sufficiency, and then going to add that "North America is on the verge of becoming a net energy exporter."

Well, that is theoretically possible, but the vast majority of those exports will have to come out of the north half of North America, i.e. Canada, because that is the only part that has enough proven oil reserves left to supply the whole continent... if it wants to... maybe... and Canada could sell the oil to Asia rather than the US without changing the truth of the statement.

It is the old mix and confuse, if your only talking oil than Canada definitely needs to carry the ball but, if all energy sources, natural gas and coal, are included than it is more than a theoretical possibility.


The news article is definitely referring to the UK only. They have combined UK sector North Sea Oil and Gas production into one to give a current production of around 1.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. They are expecting to get back up to about 2 mb/day oil+gas by 2017. Of course this would still be less than half of the UK's combined oil+gas peak production.

The Scottish public is currently being bombarded by Nationalist Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond with the "fact" that there are over 24 billion barrels of oil economically recoverable and still to be produced in the Scottish North Sea area alone. Most folk seem to believe that who are voting for independence. The nationalists claim that Scotland will be rich with oil wealth if split off from the UK. Salmond frequently quotes it as "2.4 Trillion dollars worth of Scottish oil still to come"

Pirates fighting over buried treasure.

It is scary how unsustainable modern civilization is . . . once that buried treasure starts running low, people are going to freak out.

Oh, I know it is referring to the UK only. I was just trying to illustrate that the UK and US governments and media seem to think more or less the same (OK, the crisis is over, go home and don't worry about the impending doom).

In both cases, the crisis is still upon us. In the UK it is more acute because you do not have Canada to backstop you (which you once did in more colonial times). In the US they have Canada, but most Canadians are not really enthusiastic about saving the US from self-inflicted damage.

(I don't know if "backstop" is in the UK lexicon, but here in North America it means, "don't worry, I'll pick up the ball if you don't catch it". It's a baseball term, I don't know if it applies to cricket.

Ah, that would be the "Long stop, who stands behind the wicket-keeper towards the boundary (usually when a wicket-keeper is believed to be inept..."


That's even more appropriate. From The Bluffer's Guide to Cricket, linked to by your Wikipedia article,

Never call anyone 'backstop'. There is no such position in cricket. There is, however, a 'longstop' but this position is only occupied when the fielding side has an appallingly bad wicket keeper. Since it is considered a disgrace to need a longstop, what you do is put someone in the longstop position, but call them 'very fine leg'.

You could call Canada "a very fine leg" with respect to keeping the US supplied with oil, and then Americans would have no idea what you were talking about. Not that they do anyway.

I was wondering how they could increase output without having a faster decline again, even a few years into the future.

Up Top

Is It Possible to Be a Modern-Day Survivalist Without Resorting to a Life of Crime?

I see that the victimization of preppers is well and alive. Seems like according to MSM the only way to be self-sufficient is to steal. Reminds me of Dmitry Orlov's article a few days back where he mentioned how the media and governments hate nomads and stateless people with vengeance. So I guess it's only reasonable to expect people in the 'civilized world' hate self-sufficient 'brutes'.

Is It Possible to Be a Modern-Day Survivalist Wall Street Banker or Politician Without Resorting to a Life of Crime?


Being self-sufficient is very difficult over a period of years. Do you make your own thread, needles, pottery, knives, whetstones, salt, etc.? If you don't, then you need to buy, trade, scavenge, or steal.

But this guy doesn't seem self-sufficient at all. He was more of a roving burglar/squatter.

Unsure there's such a thing as, at least a healthfully, self-sufficient human perpetually alone away from others. Minimal self-sufficiency seems more like a band, tribe or ecovillage.

There's a world of difference between trading and stealing, however.. and 'Self-sufficiency' need not mean that you do everything yourself, just that you can take care of yourself.

I'd say it's also not unreasonable to say that currently, a person who makes enough money to get their needs satisfied is also a very real form of self-sufficiency.. as long as the means of buying and selling the necessities is also stable and durable.

I hardly expect people to stop exchanging labor, foodstuffs, produce and various things they may have a specialty in producing or procuring, even if the current industrial system suffers some setbacks.

This is correct. Humans have never been self sufficient on a one man basis. We do this in bands. Have ever done. I think the most common size of a hunter/gatherer tribe was 150. Survivialism does not mean lone wolf. That will kill you in a few years.

Being self-sufficient is very difficult over a period of years. Do you make your own thread, needles, pottery, knives, whetstones, salt, etc.?

That's exactly the kind of self-sufficiency that MSM wants us to think about. Humans are not snow leopards, we can't live alone but that doesn't mean that we can't change our current state where we don't have a control over what we are eating, what we drink or what we breathe. Let's not think about self-sufficiency in binary terms, it's self defeating.


It has to be kind of mind-bending living in a nation as population dense as yours. A quick look at wiki says India is 373/km2 and the US is 34/km2 (probably skewed a little by Alaska). Our population is more concentrated on the coasts, but there is a lot of open space that give people the false impression that we could go back to hunting and gathering or even somewhat substitute our diet from the wild (which would absolutely destroy all fauna in our massive numbers). Same thing with using wood for heat - fine for a few but if everyone tried it, we'd be Prairie USA from coast to coast in a few short years. Yet if a regular person looks out the window they generally see lots of trees and lots of land and it seems to make sense.

So how many tens of millions of folks heating with wood is a few? A lot of wood could be grown sustainably. You may not like the idea of forests being used as tree farms rather than allowed to revert to some form of old growth as demand for lumber and pulp diminishes but the resource is there and currently isn't being utilized anywhere near it full extent.

The people I know use wood mainly as emergency heating when the power goes out and not as primary heat. I would suspect most people who burn wood do the same, or use it supplementary to offset some cost of oil/gas. If the 350 million people of the US started all heating their homes and offices with wood we'd be doomed. Like most things - works extremely well for a few, but will not scale well.


So the good news is if we were really cold and sans fossil fuels, we could chop down trees for at least 4 years before the US would resemble Easter Island (24,024/5,074= 4.74 years).

It is also commonly used as a peak load fuel. Good since it is easy and cheap to long term store.

Hmmmm . . .

"Fish deformities linked to oil pollution in U.S. and Alberta"

"A renowned Alberta water scientist is urging the federal government to take action after he discovered deformities in fish in the Athabasca River downriver from oil sands developments bear a striking resemblance to ones found in fish after spills in U.S. waters."


On the other hand . . .

"Waste-water leak did not affect fish in Athabasca River: Suncor"

"Suncor Energy Inc. says its tests show an industrial water release at an oil sands site last week didn’t have any effect on aquatic life in the Athabasca River."


Who to believe, who to believe . . .

The water in the Athabasca River downstream of the oil sands has always been somewhat polluted because, of course, it runs right through the oil sands, and oil has been leaking out of the sand into the river for millions of years. The early explorers complained they couldn't even land their canoes in some places because there was so much oil pouring out of the banks into the river.

There is also arsenic and mercury in the river from sources upstream of the oil sands, and there are also half a dozen pulp mills upstream putting effluent into the river. I personally wouldn't eat fish out of the river downstream of the oil sands even before the plants were built, but I guess people had been doing it for generations.

Suncor is just saying they didn't make the situation worse. They didn't say it was good to begin with.

I am not a water quality engineer, but from a quick scan of all the graphs in the link below (over 300 pages of water quality assessment of the Athabasca River) I guess I might agree with you from the stand point that statistical analysis of the water quality sempled over the years doesn't seem to point to a significant change in the amount of the different metals in the river (assuming there would be more metals from tar sand mining), alhtough aluminum does seem up a little, but a couple others seem down a little. On the other hand, apparently things like benzene and just plain oil don't seem to have been tested for. Also a lot of scatter in the data for most items tested for.

Of course, for all I know, a water quality engineer might look at the data and say, "Holy Crap, that looks bad!". On the other hand, the report itself doesn't seem too concerned about anything it found, either. All in all, I guess I expected the tar sand mining to have screwed up the river more than the change in water quality would suggest.

But again, I am not a water quality engineer and havn't spent more than 1/2 hr. going through the report.


There is a difference between correlation and causation. I am willing to put my belief on hold until more research is done into both the US waters invoked and the Athabasca River, as well as perhaps an autopsy of the fish, with detailed chemical analysis.

Meanwhile, I guess we can choose to believe whomever we want. To the truth, it does not matter what I believe.


Fukushima cooling system fails for second time in a month
Cooling system for fuel storage pool fails at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, which was severely damaged by 2011 tsunami


Maybe they should just blow on the damn thing.

Rush Limbaugh Touts 13-Year-Old Who ‘Proved’ Global Warming Is A Hoax


Bravo Rush! Grooming the next generation of the idiocracy; one kid at a time.

Man Eisenhower, Goldwater, and even Nixon must be rolling in their graves to see what has become of the right. When you flat out reject science as a 'hoax', you've really lost it. They just want the good parts and reject (what they view as) the bad parts. They'll take digital technology, communications technology, transportation technology . . . but reject climate science, biological evolution (I ain't no monkey!), the fact that homosexuality has been observed in over 1200 species and thus is natural, etc.

They just want the good parts and reject (what they view as) the bad parts.

That's what I don't get, the apparent ignorance about modern technology being rooted in knowledge gained from scientific analysis. How on the one hand geology or climatology can be rejected while a catscan of a tumor in a human body is accepted as truth is really difficult to understand. If one is going to take a pagan position on certain scientific data, why not stand by that in all aspects in life and reject the finding of a tumor as a hoax as well. And the answer is: Because people want what they want, and reject what they don't want, irrespective of the basis for the analysis. But people wanting it both ways is nothing new.

There are rusting cars in the streets here. About 8-10 that I've spotted. I've noticed supermarket store shelves starting to get a little lower on stuff in general. 2 disintegrating cars in front of a closed big box store right near where I live.

JV that’s interesting, but where do you live exactly?


It sounds like you live in a "Capitalism Sacrifice Zone"


Naw, just a high gasoline/diesel price European country. Gasoline is 1.70 a liter here.

Earl: you used to right word, and it explains most of what is going on: "....the apparent ignorance about modern technology ..." Ignorance. That's the one. They IGNORE facts when they do not like them, and accept them when they do. And, their version of science is a total distortion: they cherry pick facts to prove their "theories," and take them out of context, distort them, or whatever is needed to shoehorn them in to the version of reality they choose to present.

Reality ver. r-2.5 ("r" stands for Rush)


Speaking of ignorance I can tell you your comments are being recorded and scanned in a computer database.

So are mine.

it not the fact you're paranoid - are you paranoid enough ?

generally we look through a load of banter on the 'net but most is filed , when you're tagged to " persons of interest ", shall we say, then .....

you don't have to watch all of the people all of time - just some of people - sift through the snow of data for connections....


Speaking of paranoia - is everybody anonymous ? I mean, I've been to North America and Europe and 99.98% of people don't walk up to you and say : Hi, my name is *insert name here* and *this is what I do*. Of course, one possibility is that 99.98% of people don't remember what their name is or what they do, which makes you wonder if any of the proved oil reserves claims are *actually* true.

Of course, one could just surmise that this place is one big brothel and nobody wants to admit it.

heh, Facts are for people who cant create their own truth


big picture man? no , I just find the correct little picture and go with that - priceless!


Like the universe, they are enormous and can contain contradiction. ;)

We have money, we have guns, and we have media. We will make nature our bitch! It should know better than to mess with our civilization! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHFBqHVyQiQ

Humour aside, one can avoid a lot of nastiness if one has money or power, or at least that's what they're counting on.

Ah, a commercial for a compass manufacturer. Those Silva compasses are real great. I own several of them.

Rush Limbaugh Touts 13-Year-Old Who ‘Proved’ Global Warming Is A Hoax:

What made you doubt the people who believe that there’s global warming

There’s so much evidence that global warming is not man-made.

It's not real AND it's not man-made. Amazing.

Tesla likely Q1 US PEV leader with 4,750+ sales in North America; Nissan surges with LEAF in March in US

With the US sales numbers for the first quarter of 2013 in, Tesla appears to be the leading seller of plug-in vehicles for that period, with more than 4,750 units of the model S sold in North America. (Earlier post.) (Tesla doesn’t break out sales by country at this time, so there are no US-specific figures from the company.)

GM posted sales of 4,244 Volt extended range electric vehicles in the US in the second quarter, representing an 8.4% increase year-on-year. March sales of the Volt in the US were weaker in March, with 1,478 units, compared to 2,289 units in March 2012, a decrease of 35.4%. (In Canada, GM sold 177 Volts in Q1, and 82 in March.)


Plug-in vehicles thus represented about 0.5% of the market.


Juat think, at this rate in only 200 years or so they'll all be piv's.


It is a pretty good rate considering high up-front cost. But as gasoline prices continue to go up over the years, the interest in driving on cheap electricity will surely rise.

We are still in the "gotta have a car" mode.

As the price of petrol together with the cost of solar panels, exotic batteries and the like goes up, interest in electric mass transit will surely rise.


Yeah, and we're still in that mode in some part because these "EVs," which are actually coal, NG, and nuke cars, play the strategic ideological role of keeping us from thinking about how absurd it was and is to think we could sustain the use of personally owned 95 percent idle two-ton heaps of advanced materials as a means of achieving everybody's mundane intra-urban locomotion. The longer we wait to address our need for radical infrastructure reconstruction, the worse our odds of being able to do it. The "EV" pipedream is a major obstacle to realism. Only one in 200 might buy one, but what percentage know they exist and assume they'll eventually turn cheap, usable, and sustainable?

There's a reason all the car corporations continue fiddling with these silly loss leaders.

The "EV" pipedream is a major obstacle to realism.

Depends on how you define an EV... Hint if your talkin Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt, they're both abominations and will never be sustainable for the masses. On the other hand electric bicycles and electric assist velomobiles might still be able to play some niche transportation roles.

I've been riding the Sao Paulo subways recently, daily ridership is approaching the 4 million mark. Yet the streets are still almost impassable due to the automotive traffic. I certainly can't see EVs of the Leaf and Volt type being a solution...

Cheers and best hopes for some sanity!

Electric trains, electric buses, electric bicycles, ordinary bicycles, and ordinary walking are all viable solutions to the transportation problem. EV's are just an attempt to keep the private automobile paradigm alive in the era of high and rising liquid fuel prices. In the long term people will have to adapt to a world in which they will only be able to afford to drive their cars on weekends and special occasions, and the rest of the time they will have to use one of the other means of getting around.

This paradigm works for most of the world. The US is a major exception, and Americans will have a lot of trouble stepping down to the solutions that work for everyone else.

It should seem obvious, or at least we at TOD would think it should, that as energy becomes more expensive it will consume more and more of our collective budgets, leaving less and less of 'other things.' Other things such as automobiles, electric toys, fashionable garmament, housing, and even food. That is when a triage will happen - conducted by individuals, one at a time as they make peronsal decisions as to what is important and what is not.

We would think that basic housing, heating in cold climes and perhaps some a/c in very warm, transportation to work (eventually by the most efficient and least costly means), food, and basic clothing would be what is left in. When cutting gets to those itmes, we see folks living under freeway overpasses, in cardboard cartons and the like; we see children with distended bellies from malnutrition; and we begin to notice a generally shabby look to the masses. I suppose that medical costs will be an early cut, not from desire but from necessity. Already we hear of older citizens cutting down on medications, avoiding doctors (and going to E/R as their primary care), and going without in order to continue to feed themselves. And that is here, in America, where things are pretty good.

The distortions are still there. We have a culture of iPhone addicts, and computer gaming Gen-Xers; a country where poor people have 48" flat screen television sets (doesn't sound like they are deprived, does it?), and are by-in-large obese. Fat, not from plenty but from poor choices and cheap empty calories. Where people are living in their cars, working for minimum wage for 30 hrs/week (because, of course, if they work full time they have to be provided medical car in order to satisfy IRS rules so that the owners/managers can deduct their insurance costs). And a nation where, from all indications, people have quit even looking for work.

RMG, you said

In the long term people will have to adapt to a world in which they will only be able to afford to drive their cars on weekends and special occasions,..

And we, most of us, accept that without even questioning that people will be able to afford to own cars! Or that this should be considered okay... what a terrible thing, though, that they can only drive them on weekends and special occasions. We, of all people, should know better. We, who are relatively speaking steeped in the concept of Peak Oil, Peak resources and the consequences, cannot even (at least not all of the time) cast off our conditioning and speak the truth.

Ah, well. I am as bad as any about that. Best wishes for weekend driving.


I wonder what the Official Car will be for The Venus Project (not to be confused with the current Global Warming Project). Maybe the descendent of the Tesla? Hopefully by then, it will fly, too, be 3D-printable, and powered by kite generators. In any case, like air and water, we will still need cars.

Fisker is not doing so well.

Boy, that red Fisker looks like the Blue Detroit Electric in so many ways.

Best hopes for new electric toys. When will we learn and get with the program of electric mass transit?


Fisker is toast. They made a beautiful car but the engineering is not good. The car ended up much too heavy, little room inside, TERRIBLE gas-only MPG, and with a tendency to ignite. And with at least 3 different fires, they've got a bad reputation now. Even if they could prove they are not at fault for the fires (a difficult proposition), I don't think they could get past the stigma.

The Cadillac ELR can take over the high-end PHEV market. But why not just go for the pure electric Tesla Model S? The Model S really is a great car. But sadly, it is out of reach for most people. However, it is a nice "halo car" for the EV biz.

RANGE!!! and purity.

I'd like to point out that Tesla has decided not to build the 40 kWh version of the Model S due to lack of demand. It was only 4% of their sales and wouldn't have made the effort worth it...oddly, to not screw the customers that ordered it they're going to give them ones with 60 kWh packs but software limit them to 40 kWh (with the option for them or future owners to buy and unlock it).

Nissan, in my opinion, is screwing themselves royally with the pitiful range of the Leaf. They're getting destroyed by Tesla - a new company in a field where new essentially never makes it - and competing against cars costing $70,000 - $100,000. The Teslas are better looking than the Leaf, but more importantly they actually have the range to be useable cars. The Leaf should at least have a $10,000 option to double the range.

Pure electric vs. PHEV...I've mentioned before that though the PHEVs are, for most people, the only thing that makes sense for use as a primary vehicle there's a certain desire to go all electric because it just gets rid of the maintenance, noise, for some the environmental stigma, etc, of the ICE. Why go halfway if you can go all the way and get the benefits of it? But the Leaf is going to remain a niche 2nd or 3rd vehicle until they have the range where someone can look at it and say "I can use that as my only vehicle" and renting for the 0.5% of the time that it won't work. Tesla has the range and it's all electric...and people are willing to pay big bucks for it.

If the US would build an interstate charge system, such that a vehicle with only 100 miles of available range can travel across the country, the range threshold would sizeably decrease bringing down the cost of entry. Hyper-efficient 3 seaters could leverage efficiency into lower cost through a smaller battery (and incentivize smaller families). The cost of implementation would be significantly less than our next oil war.

The Cadillac ELR is going to be interesting to watch - it'll provide an opportunity for "badge snobs" to buy a Volt with a fancy body work and interior.

Any thoughts on this? I'm normally somewhat skeptical of the "alt energy breakthrough of the week" but this does sound intriguing:

Game changer in alternative energy

A team of Virginia Tech researchers has discovered a way to extract large quantities of hydrogen from any plant, a breakthrough that has the potential to bring a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source to the world.

This new environmentally friendly method of producing hydrogen utilizes renewable natural resources, releases almost no zero greenhouse gasses, and does not require costly or heavy metals. Previous methods to produce hydrogen are expensive and create greenhouse gases.


Sounds vastly more efficient than ethanol at any rate.

Sounds legit. BAU is saved forever. LTG is wrong. We are about to enter a new age of abundance and prosperity for all.

I am normally sceptical of everything, but this sounds real, unlike the e-cat or nuclear fusion etc.

Yup. Sounds good.

Now to fill my role as rainmaker (on everyone's parade)...

It seems that in order to release Hydrogen, there must be a source. Either water or some complex hydrocarbon. Let's say it is the hydrocarbon: if so, then it intuitively would be releasinging carbon in some form. In particular, one would think that the carbon thus released would combine with oxygen in that friendly combination of one part carbon and two parts oxygen? Nuff said about that!

Otherwise, it must be using water and liberating oxygen at the same time as it is created. That would be the best case since otherwise if the H2 is created by capturing carbon (see above), then when it is used as fuel it will be taking some of the oxygen from the air that was already present, and creating H2O - water. If the H2 is created by some chemical breakdown of water, then it is simply recombining the H2 and the O from that. Again, intuitively I would say that there is something fraudulent in this process... breaking down H2O into H2 and O; then recombining them. It seems that there would be no better than equivilence in energy, and by the laws of thermodynamics some of the energy would be lost in the process. Otherwise there is another source for the energy used in liberating the Hydrogen. Why not use that energy directly, without going through the Hydrogen to Water part?

As for the H2 into O where there is no Oxygen liberated, that does not sound like a bad deal. Unless you breathe oxygen. Which I do.

Of course, we all know that it would be on a small scale, so what could possibly go wrong?


It seems like the process would produce a large amount of waste product that would need to be utilized in some fashion.

Yup. I have this vision of a landscape denuded of vegetation, and big piles of - What? - carbon rich stuff for sure - all over the place, with lots of highways running between them.

Perhaps the "stuff" could be used in constructing roadways?


It's useful for everything from fertiliser, to housing, to cars and yes even roads. What we are talking about is the ultimate energy source, you can even eat it. Plants are fracturing CO2 everyday (during daylight hours only), so once they start producing hydrogen it's win, win, win.

/s is stuck on ON today.

Just need nat gas prices to be higher otherwise, it will just be another biomass solution waiting in the wings.


I don't see why this can't be useful. How would it be equivalence in energy? Not exactly sure what you're trying to convey here.

The hydrogen theoretically comes from plants, not water or hydrocarbon.

Of course, we have yet to see if this is economical scaled-up, but still.

To reduce water (or a complex hydrocarbon, buthere water) from h2o to h2 + o requires an energy input. The plants are hydrocarbons (as are you and I) for the most part, plus water. Complex hydrocarbons are what make up life on Planet Earth.

Since it takes energy to disassociate water, the amount that it takes is by the laws of thermodynamics greater than the energy recovered by recombining them.

H2O + energy -> 2 H + O
2 H + O -> H2O + energy

Each reaction takes up part of the energy, so that there is less energy available from the second transaction. There is no such thing as free lunch.

The question is where does the energy used in the first part come from. And, once you find that, is there a more direct way to utilize it than the water / h + o / water series?

Another problem is that the gas you produce is the MOST difficult to contain possible. It is also very corrosive. Which is why, though hydrogen fusion is easier, researchers are working with He3 instead.

I am not sanguine about the "Hydrogen Economy"


Thanks for the explanation. I guess I just misunderstood.

Yeah, I think electric cars are more promising than hydrogen cars.

Since it takes energy to disassociate water, the amount that it takes is by the laws of thermodynamics greater than the energy recovered by recombining them.

In the article it states that the reaction is endothermic (requires heat), thus the reaction temp is 50 C (122 F). Sounds like a pretty good use of waste heat from a power or industrial plant, which right now we just reject to the atmosphere/environment.

I'm also worried about the technical issues of handling hydrogen and larger problem of human behavior consuming lots of vegetative matter to feed this process, but the chemistry/biology seems like it could work. Again, the issue is whether yields are still high when scaled up (and of course the economics).

From the comments on another site:

RE: [Vo]:Hydrogen from plant sugar breakthrough reported

...Yes for cellulose waste, an enzyme process for hydrogen could be useful in
many situations. Ken and I were complaining more towards this being "not
exactly a breakthrough". and far from the 'killer app' that is going to make
a dent in the energy problem. For years, Nocera at MIT notably paraded a
litany of fabulous new hydrogen "breakthroughs" that were going to change
the world - yet have gone nowhere. I think his latest one went belly-up

And lest we forget, the great Santilli has preached for even longer that his
"magnegas" reactor will convert bio-waste to hydrogen cheaply, and yet he
has not exactly been overwhelmed with success. There is kind of a disconnect
between vision and reality with H2

Plus, even if you have plentiful free waste, would one not be better off to
let bacteria convert the waste to methane instead of hydrogen?... this is
done all the time - even "over there" in the Bay area.

...so when compared against a semi-mature biotechnology, it is more the
hyperbole of this announcement that is a bit bothersome, not the long-term


...right on in your assesment of the value of this 'breakthrough'.
As an early (reformed) biomass fuel worker, I've seen a lot of 'advances'
heralded. All suffer from the same basic flaws, the worst of which you
correctly noted. On a very small, local scale, I can buy some of these
biomass schemes, but...


This could further evidence of an alarming trend in Sci-News these days.

You can call it U-hype - University hyperbole in the extreme. Universities
need funding and PR helps to get it.

Think about the unsaid part of this story - from the cynic's POV

The good: Xylose is a main building block for cellulose, so one does not
need to use food grain to get it but...
The bad: Most common trees like pine are at most 10% xylose and even then it
is not easy to extract.
The real bad: xylose (HOCH2(CH(OH))3CHO) is composed of hydrogen at a mass
percentage of about 7%.
The ugly: You cut down a 1000 pound tree and you get only 7 pounds of
hydrogen, at most. What happens to the other 993 pounds ? Yup, it does have
burnable carbon, doesn't it, so do you waste that or not?

Oops... business as usual.

Wouldn't we be far better off using wind energy to split water to get the
hydrogen - and not have to burn the 993 pounds of waste timber to get the 7
pounds of hydrogen?

"high quanta of energy degrade social relations just as inevitably as they destroy the physical milieu.
...A low-energy policy allows for a wide choice of life-styles and cultures. If, on the other hand, a society opts for high energy consumption, its social relations must be dictated by technocracy and will be equally degrading whether labeled capitalist or socialist..."
~ Ivan Illich

Embrittlement of metal by liquid hydrogen is a problem as is transfer from one tank to another. So yes, the hydrogen economy is pretty much a joke.

The articles claims that enzymes facilitate and the energy in xylose splits water molecules in an endothermic reaction.

Plants require fertilizer, and photosynthesis is 5 to 10 times less efficient than a photovoltaic panel. The article lacks meaningful data to evaluate its efficiency and ability to scale. More data is needed to evaluate it.

How would it be produced/managed/controlled? Locally? Democratically?

Reckless investors

...are even lobbying, in partnership with investor owned utilities, to monopolize ubiquitous renewable solar and wind energy resources. By speculating on costly and inefficient remote central generation stations, Monopoly Energy is able to maintain the "old energy" business model that keeps energy consumers dependent but continues to undermine communities and the environment.

Until people unite with the understanding that Monopoly Energy's throat-hold on our society and resources must be directly challenged and overridden... we will continue to expect unrealistic outcomes, bend our expectations to the needs of power and fall farther behind...

Here is a site that is promising as well.


Keep an open mind, I always say. Disappointing that we have heard so little and this project looks like it has been going since 2004.



For those you have access to academic journals, here's the link to the paper itself. I'm not a bio- expert, but the process does sound reasonable. It'll all come down to whether the yield remains high once they scale up.

If it is legit, let's hope we can restrain ourselves from trying to convert every bit of plant matter we can get our hands on into hydrogen.

If you know basic chemistry then you know that plants don't contain much hydrogen by mass. Neither does oil.

What percentage of a plant is water? What percentage of water is hydrogen?


1st question I'd ask - how much xylose is in most plants?
(the scienceblog article says "as much as 30%...", and "second most common sugar in plants")
says "30% in birch, far less in others ...".
A 1918 ACS article says 12% in corn cobs.

One of the issues with biomass is the lack of energy density, so if you're moving plant matter around (farm to factory),
but only using 12% of it:
(1) there's a lot of expense/energy use to move "junk"
(2) as zaphod42 suggested, you've got a lot of trash to deal with.

2nd, the abstract of the article details the 13 enzymes needed to do this process.
13 enzymes - really?
The cellulosic ethanol folks are trying to produce one enzyme to break down lignin,
and they're finding that too expensive in reality, in contrast to assumptions that it is/will be cheap.
A nice little paper from LBL

3rd, what's this about adding a polyphosphate?
Sounds like energy inputs, but I'm just a physical chemist, not a bio guys.

4th, they talk about 3x the rate of hydrogen production, because instead of using an organism that respires and reproduces,
they just synthesize the enzymes and provide pure reactants - duh, of course you get a higher yield.
But what's the total EROEI?

re JV's comment on liquid hydrogen embrittlement:
AFAIK, liquid hydrogen isn't an issue with embrittlement caused by dissolution of hydrogen into metals, though cryogenic temps are.
Proper alloy/heat-treatment choice make (gaseous) hydrogen embrittlement a non-issue.
Several hundred miles of hydrogen gas pipeline have been in operation since the 1970s,
all using mild steel carefully welded (and sometimes stress relieved) so it is relatively soft (thus resistant to hydrogen embrittlement),
at 350-1900 psi (24-131 bars).

That being said, I'm still amused by Steve Chu's "hydrogen needs one more miracle than a Catholic saint" remark.
(production, distribution, storage - particularly mobile storage, and cost-effective fuel cells.)
The amount being piped around now is minor compared to what BAU-V2.0 would need if everyone had a hydrogen fueled car.
Technologically, hardness limited mild steel would be perfectly capable of handling vast amounts of hydrogen,
but will the demand be there to make the huge investments needed attractive? IMHO - no.

Exactly. It needs special thermal insulation.

Special tankers and rather heavy at that. Trucking it is very expensive in fuel charges, and imagine when they are delivering to your neighborhood filling station. The would have to block the place from all traffic (very explosive if any leaks during transfer). Then the tanks at the station have to be insulated (big thermos bottles). I wonder if there is any danger in doing the fill of freezing a finger. Special rigs for transfer from the station into your fuel cell, or whatever. Special seals, insulation, etc., again expensive and still allow leaks.

I wish this was a real possibility. Hydrogen is, after all, the most common element. It is just so danged hard to handle, it is so reactive, and it is really not a very good substitute for gasoline in ICE's, so fuel cell use is the best we could expect.

I need to read up on status of fuel cells. I have been hearing about them for at least 40 years, I am sure.

Best hopes in a difficult transition.


Rig count down to 375 today.

European industry flocks to U.S. for cheaper natural gas

As recently as 2007, U.S. natural gas prices were only about 20 percent lower than Europe’s, not enough to fundamentally reshape markets. But with the boom in U.S. shale gas production, driven largely by fracking, U.S. prices last year dropped to a quarter of the European price.

Natural Gas Jumps to 19-Month High as Goldman Boosts Outlook

Spetz sees supplies at the end of October peaking at 3.65 trillion cubic feet, which EIA data shows would be the lowest level for the time of year since 2008.

Storage was closer to 3.5 trillion back in 06, 07, & 08 after that it went to 3.9 each year and IMO I doubt we will see more than 3.6 trillion this year.

I posted this last Saturday but it was after the DB closed. To see the links go to the 29th DB.

Yesterday 3-29 EIA released NG Production Consumption data for Jan. 2013

Jan. 2013 was the first month since Mar. 2010 that year on year monthly Natural Gas production has decreased. Monthly year on year production had increased since Apr. 2010 by an increasing amount each month thru Feb of 2012. The monthly year on year production increases then began to get smaller each month thru Dec. 2012.
Here is the year on year monthly increases.

Apr 2010; 32 billion Cu. Ft.
Feb 2012; 242 billion Cu. Ft.
Dec 2012; 7 billion Cu. Ft.
Jan 2013; -21 billion Cu. Ft.

US 2012 Dry production 24 trillion Cu. Ft.
US 2012 Net consumption 26.4 trillion Cu. Ft. Considering Exports and Imports.

It is my inept opinion that we shall see decreasing monthly NG production thru the balance of the year and if the economy can continue bouncing along at +1%; NG prices will climb at an accelerating rate.

We may even see some NG storage problems next winter if the summer is exceptionally hot and the 13-14 winter is a repeat of this winter. Maximum NG storage is about 4 Trillion Cu Ft.

NG futures may out pace everything else on the investment front for the coming year.

Interesting times ahead for the shale revolution. A little slack in the picture since coal can be substituted easily in generation.

UK Long Range Gas Storage from http://marketinformation.natgrid.co.uk/gas/frmPrevalingView.aspx

Storage Stock Levels (GWh) 	      
	03/04/2013 	04/04/2013
   Short 	45 	44
   Medium 	2,730 	2,301
   Long 	342 	108

Sometime fairly recently they extended the chart above, as can be seen, to allow LRS to go negative. With LNG tankers having arrived and the weather slowly warming and the weekend coming up with reduced demand I'm hopeful we've made it through - just. Still keeping fingers crossed though.

Yeah, they really need to start putting up more wind turbines.

Thems iz just fossul fewel x-tenders!

This is a trick I like to play on people. If they insist that FFs are the only thing that can keep society running...and you can get them to admit or they freely admit that solar/wind/etc is a "fossil fuel extender"...then for the sake of keeping society running shouldn't we extend the hell out of fossil fuels with solar/wind so we have enough time to get to the next best thing?

So the UK needs some fossil fuel extending wind turbines so they can make it longer (and longer...and longer) on less (natural) gas.

The trick is that they'll eventually extend FFs to the point you no longer need FFs.

Link up top: The Shocking Implications of the Rebuke of Peak Oil Theory

Peak Oil denialism aside, what's up with the Motley Fool calling the propaganda "Peak Demand Theory" NEW?? I remember that pathetic head fake excuse being bandied about back in '09-'10. And I had thought it had been thoroughly debunked back then when folks clearly pointed out that supply flat lined first, then prices spiked, then demand dropped.

Am I missing something here? Or are they seriously trying to call Peak Demand Theory brand new again b/c they know the average American can't remember anything that happened more than two weeks ago?

Have a great weekend everybody.

No, you are not missing anything. Only the usual. A few are deliberately lying,the rest are fooled by it an join the quire. They are singining loudly as of lately.

A Journey To China’s Largest Ghost City

Over and over again I would read articles in the international media which claim that China is building cities that are never inhabited only to find something very different upon arrival. The New South China Mall had a lot of empty shops but it turned out to be a thriving entertainment center, Dantu showed that an initially stagnant new city can become populated and come alive, and I found that Xinyang’s new district, a place called a ghost city since 2010, wasn’t even close to being built yet. The 60 Minutes report served as portent that there are really ghost cities out here in China

Read more http://www.vagabondjourney.com/zhengzhou-zhengdong-china-largest-ghost-c...

I enjoyed watching both embedded videos and the entire article.

The question I have that I do not know the answer to is: Why does the gov't forbid their citizens to invest abroad?

China is an interesting place. For one thing, most of China is actually uninhabited, most people there actually live on the far east side of it.

I live in Sweden and there empty shops in the nearby shopping areas. Some of the buildings have been built recently and I actually think there is at least one under construction right now.

They also built several new arenas nearby probably in hope they will be used by the young people although to my experience most young prefere the night clubs. Sport have however become more popular since sport bars become popular.

From Zerohedge:


Have we reached peak workforce? Everyone is giving up? No one WANTS to work?

The second chart says it all... Hubbert's peak of workers.


Thanks for sharing. Great charts. I always love scrolling through the ZH comments. They are almost as bad as the brain dead commentors on a YouTube page. lol

An awful lot of people over there really believe the myth that there are millions upon millions of Americans who don't even look for work and get enough free money from the government that they live the suburban middle class life. Give me a break.

Another from ZH

Through the Looking Glass...

US Secretly Deploys B-1 Strategic Bombers, E-6 "Doomsday" Planes Near North Korea

Finally, and most disturbing, is that another aircraft also in the process of deployment is none other than the E-6 Mercury "Doomsday" plane, which are among the pinnacle in US Airforce nuclear war preparedness, tasked with "providing command and control of U.S. nuclear forces should ground-based control become inoperable" and whose core functions include conveying instructions from the National Command Authority to fleet ballistic missile submarines and also to further command post capabilities and control of land-based missiles and nuclear-armed bombers.

I did have to laugh at this comment though

Sid James

Britain has sent its three remaining rowing boats to the area, along with a box of band-aids just in case.

Getting a job is HARD, and the only way for low skilled workers are to "steal" the job from someone else. People who don't live in reality don't understand this.

Not at all. One can even create jobs if you are extended a line of credit or funding.

So you are one of them. Okey.

Even with some overall growth, there are simply not enough jobs to go around and I think it is likely that this is a fairly permanent condition. They have been shipped overseas or automated and they aren't coming back despite the usual promises by politicians at election time that they have some sort of secret sauce that will change all this. Most of the jobs that are available are complete crap and do not provide a living wage. Part of the decrease in participation would decrease anyway because of the baby boomers retiring and leaving the workforce.

Sure, there are no doubt people who are truly just lazy but do not know what percentage of the non workforce this comprises. On the other hand, the worst the job prospects and the worse the jobs, this would encourage people to give up and leave the work force.

We've been told throughout the developed world we need to boost immigration/birthrate to get more workers to pay for retirees. That kind of assumes they'll be plenty of jobs for those new citizens to have. We've been told by growth spruikers that as baby boomers retire they'll be a huge number of job vacancies, but I see no indication that this has been happening or is going to happen.

Those in power of course have only ever known growth, where increasing population has been associated with increasing wealth and employment, but if we are approaching the limits to growth then this may no longer apply. In this new epoch an increasing population might be be more of a burden than a blessing.

If so then the best way to deal with the "aging population problem" would not be by trying to grow your way out of it, but by allowing the population to stabilize or decline and tightening our collective belts. Which I can't see happening until we absolutely forced into it sadly.

Even with some overall growth, there are simply not enough jobs to go around and I think it is likely that this is a fairly permanent condition

Looks like you are right, seems like the crisis of 2008 has forced or accelerated a structural change in the job market. There is a high demand for managers and very highly skilled personnel who can exploit the outsourcing and automation boom but on the other hand there is enormous destruction of middle level jobs.

Here's an interesting take on this

There's a whole lot more here at Hipcrime blog

Data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics divide the US workforce into 821 jobs from dishwasher to librarian. They show rapid structural shifts – on top of a cyclical unemployment rate of 7.7 per cent – that may increase income inequality.

One probable cause of rising inequality is new computing technologies that destroy some middle-class occupations even as they create jobs for highly skilled workers who can exploit them.

The number of clerical workers such as book-keepers, tellers, data entry keyers, file clerks and typists has been falling, pointing to a structural decline. The number of retail cashiers has also dropped – indicating that internet shopping and self-checkout systems may be eroding another occupation.

Employment growth came from healthcare, management, computing and food service jobs. The number of personal care aides is up 390,000 since 2007. Demand for people who figure out how to replace clerical workers – such as operations managers, management analysts and logisticians – grew substantially.

Ties in with the discussion from last drumbeat about whether the economy is growing or not ? Looks like it's growing or staying stable for now but it's doing so by cannibalizing itself.

The era of mass wealth redistribution through employment is coming to a close. To be replaced by what? Bureaucratic and arbitrary welfare by the State? I'm not sure, those who have the wealth don't wish to distribute it and welfare is anathema to them. As they basically control the Government I'm sure they'll block any policies that threaten to distribute their wealth.

Probably we'll see, at least in the short term, governments self-funding themselves (ie. Central Banks will create the money for them) to finance the burgeoning welfare state. Not unlike what the US has been doing for the last decade albeit with deficits rather than self-financing. It is politically expedient in that it leaves the wealthy retain their wealth and supports the less well-off while the economy is structurally re-jigged. Eventually the currency collapses and dies, but that's replaceable.

That was reported in the MSM, too. NBC, CNN, etc.

I wonder what the age breakdown is. The oldest baby boomers are 67 this year - full retirement age for social security. The bad economy might be encouraging people to retire earlier than they otherwise would.

I sure would retire if I could - there are plenty of boomers with job issues, so I imagine checking out of the system would be a viable alternative starting at 62.

"the number of people not in the labor force which in March soared by a massive 663,000 to a record 90 million Americans who are no longer even looking for work."

I'm one of the 90M; retired in '08. Law of averages says 310K will retire in March; maybe nobody did in Feb. Maybe sequester made some retire early. That's not to say we don't need to create jobs for the kids, tho.

December 29, 2010
Roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 today, and about 10,000 more will cross that threshold every day for the next 19 years.

As the year 2011 began on Jan. 1, the oldest members of the Baby Boom generation celebrated their 65th birthday. In fact, on that day, today, and for every day for the next 19 years, 10,000 baby boomers will reach age 65.


Yes. The economy may be giving them a push, but we could probably expect a soaring non-participation rate anyway, just because of basic demographics.

Heard a piece on NPR about disability. When the factory plant closes, many people have no options for work but can get disability, so they do. In some areas 1/4 of "layoff" people go onto disability.

Apparently most are not terribly disabled, but have a bad back or bad knees or such. They could work a desk job, but there are none. One lady said the only decent desk job she know of was the lady handling the disability forms.

As value of available work lessens (value being a combination of pay, benefits, type of work, location) it is only reasonable to expect substitution from welfare, food stamps, disability, crime, etc.

Moving to find work seems to be less acceptable for today's rural blue-collar and poor, versus urban white-collar. Most people I know have moved for work, many multiple times (once per job).

I think it's much more difficult to move to find work, if you're poor. There's the basic cost of moving. Even the cost of a bus ticket is a burden if you don't have money, never mind the cost of moving all your possessions, or replacing them, paying a deposit on a new apartment, etc.

I'd also guess that, in general, people with less money are more dependent on family and friends, so moving away from them is more of a hardship.

ZH is on a roll:

The 21 Key Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America


A not very entertaining read.


That article makes the TOD thread earlier this week about how the economy had not collapsed as many thought it would in 08/09, seem like it actually never missed a beat, simply changing down into a slower gear, relentlessly squeezing from the bottom up. Using snakes as a metaphor, the initial debacle was a poisonous snake bite, followed by a constrictor.

That recruitment ad mentioned in the article requiring a bachelors degree for a McDonalds' cashier job was a fake. Although its telling that many people believed it to be genuine.

So where is the US corporate oligarchy getting its money?

Uh, from the banks ? It's run off a printing press, now it exists in the form of electronic deposits (Giesecke & Devrient).

It's not just in America.

I like his David Stockman (former director of the Office of Management and
Budget under President Reagan) quote:

Since the S&P 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion). Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the “bottom” 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans


Concerning the story posted up top, Merkel Losing Allies in $700 Billion Shift to Renewables (Bloomburg, Stefan Nicola & Tino Andresen, 2013-04-05) there is no mention of the need to construct a power line to transfer the offshore wind power in the north to southern Germany. Without the power line, it is understandable why the build-out is stalling. Instead there is this disinformation:

“The entire energy switch has derailed,” Marc Nettelbeck, an analyst at DZ Bank AG, said this week by phone from Frankfurt. “The difficulties connecting offshore wind farms to the power grid reduces their profitability and renders the original investment calculations of utilities invalid.”

thats problem is also with india

After the shut down of the nuclear reactors in southern Germany there is a real need for more transmission capacity between northern and southern Germany in ANY scenario as new NG power plants are no real fix due to the limited NG pipeline capacity between the caverns in Lower Saxony and the South. In February 2012 the problems arose because there two or three NG power plants stand idle due to the lack of NG.

There is of course a lot of smoke as some utilities want to get the transmission lines financed by the tax payer and some do not want to discuss the lack of investments on their side in the last twenty years.

Offshore wind is delayed because the connection of the windfarms with onshore grid stalled due to finacial problems of Tenet (Dutch company), this is not bad because onshore is much cheaper and running, 3 GW per year are expected.

This onshore wind capacity is often owned by German farmers (usually in energy cooperatives) and the utilities face a 15% loss of market shares if the repowering of onshore turbines continues. Therefore, we find "interesting" suggestions to limit the ability of small investments into reneables. :-)

To correlate the Energywende with the success of offshore wind farms is stupid or dishonest, onshore wind kills more fossils, however, the utilities can not prevent this as they had underestimated the dynamic around 2000, now all good sites are used and a nice local financial infrastructure is in place.


For those who follow the arcic ice development. This article (swedish) from the swedish meteorological office tells us the winter maximum of sea ice in Scandinavia is this year record late, and 2008 was the previous record late. Now that year the ice extent was record low, but this year it was record high.

It seems to me that whatever the ice extent, winter maximum get delayed and occoures later now than before. This is consistent with the changes in the arctic sea ice, and I guess it is a climate change pattern.

I live on an island just to the south of South Korea. We had a warmer winter and a warmer Spring than usual. But the mainland just to our north was colder than usual. The point being you cannot infer the pattern of the whole from a small piece.

In fact the Arctic Sea Ice Area (SIA) maximum was early this year. On day 59.

from Cryosphere Today 2013 Arctic SIA maximum

Yes but the trend is for later spring maximums. I need more data for the Baltic sea, but for the Arctic ocean, the trend is established.