Drumbeat: May 8, 2013

Shale Oil and Gas: The Contrarian View

No one is questioning the fact that we have either reached or will soon reach “peak oil”; that existing fields are being depleted at the rapid rate of 7 percent a year, and that the search is on for “unconventional oil” as alternative forms of energy are slow to reach critical mass.

There are many kinds of “unconventional oil” – meaning hydrocarbons that are not found in fluid form, but that can be “fluidised” in a straightforward way (unlike coal, for instance). These resources include Venezuelan heavy oil and Canadian tar sands.

But the big change in the last two decades is shale gas and “tight oil” – a liquid, trapped in shale (rock), where it doesn’t flow naturally but can be extracted by horizontal drilling and “fracking”. Fracking uses high-pressure water to fracture the shale and then chemicals that reduce the viscosity of the oil trapped in the interstices of the rock and allow it to flow.

King Coal Losing Crown as U.S. Gains Energy Independence

After working 37 years in the coal mines of West Virginia, Ronny Justice punctuates his sentences with coughs. He lost his job a year ago, leaving him without health insurance just as he’s battling the early stages of black-lung disease.

Justice, 57, had planned to work four more years in a job that paid him about $58,000 a year, enough to eat out anytime he wanted. Now he can’t remember the last time he hit the Park Avenue Restaurant and Motel for a $6.95 steak dinner.

Boone County, where he lives, hosts 91 mines and an annual festival meant to celebrate “coal and its heritage.” Like Justice’s health, that heritage is under siege. In the next three years America will close a record number of coal-fired power plants, enough electricity to power 18.4 million households for a year, government estimates show. Lower-cost gas, new environmental rules and increased use of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are reducing coal usage.

Oil companies target America for investment

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Here's an intriguing switch in the energy market: U.S. oil firms have been selling off their assets overseas and investing the money in America's domestic fields.

Brent Drops for Second Day Amid Rising U.S. Crude Supply

Brent futures dropped for a second day after industry data showed U.S. crude inventories climbed for a second week.

Futures dropped as much as 0.8 percent after declining 1 percent yesterday. U.S. crude supplies increased 680,000 barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute said. An Energy Information Administration report today may show stockpiles gained 2 million barrels, rising from the most in more than 82 years, according to a Bloomberg News survey. The EIA cut its forecasts for West Texas Intermediate and Brent on increasing output and lower global consumption. Bank of America Corp. said WTI will drop to average $90 a barrel this year.

Chesapeake wins bond dispute with Bank of NY Mellon

(Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday ruled in favor of Chesapeake Energy Corp in a dispute with Bank of New York Mellon Corp over the natural gas company's effort to buy back $1.3 billion of notes early.

Shell to develop Stones deepwater oil field in Gulf of Mexico

(Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc said on Wednesday it plans to go forward with the Stones ultra-deepwater oil and natural gas project in the Gulf of Mexico.

Minister: Iran's Oil Industry Moving Ahead Despite Sanctions

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi played down the effectiveness of the US-led western sanctions against Iran, and reiterated that the country's oil and gas industries are moving on the right track of development.

DNO profits slip as output falls in Kurdish region

Profits halved for DNO, the Norwegian oil producer with part-UAE ownership, following pared-back output in Kurdistan.

Profits at Abu Dhabi's Taqa fall on outage at North Sea oil platform

Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) on Wednesday said first-quarter net profit tumbled 80 per cent partly because of an outage at one of its facilities.

Taqa, 75 per cent owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, reported a net profit of Dh106 million for the first quarter compared with Dh534m in the year-ago period.

EON’s First-Quarter Proprietary Energy Trading Returns to Profit

The utility’s profit from trading energy for its own account was 7 million euros ($9.18 million) on an earnings before interest and tax basis in the three months through March, according to the Dusseldorf, Germany-based company’s report published today. That compares with a loss of 4 million euros in the same period last year, the utility said.

Enbridge's adjusted profit rises on higher volumes

(Reuters) - Enbridge Inc , Canada's largest pipeline company, reported a 31 percent rise in first-quarter adjusted profit, driven by higher oil export volumes.

Enbridge, whose pipelines carry the bulk of Canada's crude oil exports to the United States, said adjusted earnings rose to C$488 million, or 62 Canadian cents per share, from C$373 million, or 49 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Taqa Quarterly Net Falls as North Sea Oilfield Halt Hurts Sales

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., the state-owned utility and oil producer, said first-quarter profit fell to about a fifth of last year’s level as a production halt in the North Sea hurt revenue and asset sales weren’t repeated.

CNPC Said in Talks to Buy Brazil’s Barra for $2 Billion

China National Petroleum Corp., China’s largest oil producer, is in talks to acquire Barra Energia Petroleo e Gas, a Brazilian oil startup, for about $2 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The negotiations are under way and a deal could be reached as soon as this month, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. First Reserve Corp. and Riverstone Holdings LLC have invested a combined $1 billion in the Rio de Janeiro-based company, in addition to $200 million in pledged investments from other funds, according to Barra’s website.

Marathon Oil to quit Poland's shale gas operations on poor results

(Reuters) - U.S. oil and gas exploration company Marathon Oil decided it would quit its Polish shale gas operations due to unsatisfactory drilling results, the company said in a statement.

Natural gas no longer just a footnote in nation's hydrocarbon story

Abu Dhabi's recent history, economy and even identity are dominated by oil. From modest beginnings the emirate is now one of the world's largest producers.

Natural gas has been a footnote in the emirate's hydrocarbon story so far. It accounts for only a fraction of export revenues and is rarely mentioned in the same breath as Abu Dhabi abroad.

But the low visibility of gas hides its growing domestic importance, and the fuel has played a central role in energy plans for some time. Abu Dhabi is not without gas. It holds the fourth-largest reserves in the Middle East, and is also the region's fourth-largest producer.

EU leaders to square the circle of cheap energy

EU leaders will grapple with controversial issues including shale gas development and climate change mitigation at an energy summit on 22 May, documents obtained by EurActiv show.

As agreed at the 14-15 March summit (see background), EU leaders will meet to discuss how to lower energy prices and so improve the Union’s industrial competitiveness.

Record $2.25-billion fine urged in deadly San Bruno blast

Utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric should pay a record $2.25-billion penalty for a 2010 natural gas explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people and devastated a neighborhood, regulators recommended Monday.

If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, it would be by far the largest penalty even levied by the agency. The largest fine ever handed out by the PUC was $38 million against PG&E for a 2008 natural gas explosion in Rancho Cordova.

Pipeline Wars Seen Spreading After Fight on Keystone XL

The fight over TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL project probably will be repeated as companies build more conduits to carry oil and gas to U.S. markets, the former chief pipeline safety regulator said.

Brigham McCown, who led the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for President George W. Bush, said the lengthy review for TransCanada’s application to transport a type of heavy crude from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast will embolden opponents of fossil fuels.

‘No such thing as ethical oil,’ Al Gore tells Toronto audience

When Mr. Stackhouse asked whether Alberta oil was more ethical because it came from a democratic nation with a commitment to human rights, Mr. Gore rejected the term.

“There’s no such thing as ethical oil,” he said. “There’s only dirty oil and dirtier oil.” The remark triggered applause from a nearly full house at the Globe-sponsored event at a Ryerson University auditorium.

Japan eyes opportunities in UAE's new nuclear age

ABU DHABI // Shinzo Abe has not been shy about putting Abu Dhabi at the top of his agenda, whether in 2007 when he became the second Japanese prime minister to visit the emirate, or today as he arrives for an official visit just months into his second run as head of state.

But a different set of opportunities today hang in the balance, from an onshore oil concession where Japan's Inpex has emerged as one of an elite set of nine bidders, to potential nuclear service contracts, a lifeline for Japanese companies with little business at home after the Fukushima disaster.

Not to mention the prime set of offshore oilfields where Japan's stake expires in five years.

As Price of Nuclear Energy Drops, a Wisconsin Plant Is Shut

WASHINGTON — The Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Wisconsin shut down for the last time on Tuesday, but it is preparing to break new ground for the American nuclear industry.

It may go to sleep, Snow White-style, for 50 years, to be awakened when its radioactivity has subsided. Or it may be dismantled in the next decade or so. In either case, the responsibility and the expense, probably near $1 billion, will be borne for the first time by a for-profit company, not a regulated utility.

Is China Mining a Rare Earth Monopoly?

What if there were rare minerals so valuable to many of the United States' most advanced weapons systems that their disappearance from the marketplace could threaten America's national security interests? And, what if those rare minerals were, in fact, almost solely in the hands of the country's fiercest global economic competitor — who held a monopoly over them?

Well, guess no more — it's true. Despite years of concern in the United States and around the world, China still holds a monopoly on rare earth elements (REEs) that are critical to a number of advanced weapons systems, mobile devices and emerging green technologies. And the situation isn't likely to change any time soon.

Is Tesla Made of More Than Just Green Credits?

Through these political efforts to bring electric cars to the wider market, Tesla has been endowed with credits worth about $35,000 for each Model S sedan that the company sells. While these ‘subsidies’ are viewed as a wholly positive aspect of helping gasoline-alternative vehicles reach the masses, there is a slight twist to the tale: Tesla can then sell the green energy credits to other car manufacturers, who snap them up as fast as it chooses to put them up for sale. Car makers need a certain number of credits to operate in California, where pollution regulations are especially strict. And Tesla has plenty of credits on hand to pass along.

According to analyst estimates, while these credits have earlier been responsible for Tesla’s survival, this year the system may put an extra $250 million in its pockets. ”At the end of the day, other carmakers are subsidizing Tesla,” said Thilo Koslowski, a Gartner analyst.

How Congress Can Expand Clean Energy Investment

Last year, The Pew Charitable Trusts organized roundtable discussions across the country to gather input from clean energy industry leaders on strategies for enhancing U.S. competitiveness in this key sector of the global economy. Throughout these discussions, we heard from business leaders, investors, and innovators about the importance of eliminating barriers to competition and low-cost capital for clean energy technology development. The Master Limited Partnership Parity Act, or MLP Parity Act, provides an opportunity for U.S. businesses to mobilize private capital and better compete.

Our research indicates that nations with consistent, transparent clean energy policies do better in attracting private investment. This bill, a measure with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, is an important step toward providing the U.S. clean energy sector with a steady, long-term policy that can help leverage private capital and provide financial certainty to investors and companies alike. For investors, it will provide the same tax treatment for certain investments in fossil fuels and, for the first time, clean energy.

German Scientists Use Offshore Wind Farms to Replenish Lobsters

German scientists are betting that offshore wind farms can help replenish the North Sea’s fledgling lobster population.

Scientists from the Alfred-Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven will release 3,000 lobsters next year around the stone field section of the foundations of EWE AG’s 108-megawatt Riffgat project. The gaps between the rocks make for ideal lobster habitat, said Heinz-Dieter Franke, a biologist at the institute.

Scientist: Cassava Disease Spread at Alarming Rate

Scientists say a disease destroying entire crops of cassava has spread out of East Africa into the heart of the continent, is attacking plants as far south as Angola and now threatens to move west into Nigeria, the world's biggest producer of the potato-like root that helps feed 500 million Africans.

"The extremely devastating results are already dramatic today but could be catastrophic tomorrow" if nothing is done to halt the Cassava Brown Streak Disease, or CBSD, scientist Claude Fauquet, co-founder of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century, told The Associated Press.

A Dream of Trees Aglow at Night

Hoping to give new meaning to the term “natural light,” a small group of biotechnology hobbyists and entrepreneurs has started a project to develop plants that glow, potentially leading the way for trees that can replace electric streetlamps and potted flowers luminous enough to read by.

The project, which will use a sophisticated form of genetic engineering called synthetic biology, is attracting attention not only for its audacious goal, but for how it is being carried out.

Rather than being the work of a corporation or an academic laboratory, it will be done by a small group of hobbyist scientists in one of the growing number of communal laboratories springing up around the nation as biotechnology becomes cheap enough to give rise to a do-it-yourself movement.

Giant Swamp Rats Are Literally Eating Louisiana

On the southern edge of Louisiana, there is almost as much water as land. You can't drive to anyone's house, you have to travel by boat, and sometimes there are hours of water between neighbors. It takes a special breed to make a home here, in the swamp, amongst the mosquitos and almost annual hurricanes. But those who do call it home, love it. They see a magical space of strange stillness and subtle rippling greens and grays where time worries no one and the freedom of the water is at your doorstep.

But this Huck Finn way of life is being attacked on multiple fronts. Climate change's stronger storms are beating away at the fragile coastline, and the oil and gas industries are scarring the skyline while luring younger generations away from the local farming and fishing way of life. As if that weren't enough, 20-pound, semi-aquatic rodents, called nutria, which are native to Argentina, are taking over the marshes, devouring the native plants that hold the soil in place, and causing massive coastal erosion.

Coal Mines’ Methane Curbs Fall Victim to EPA Budget Cuts

Methane emissions from coal mines escaped being curbed by the Environmental Protection Agency, which said mandatory U.S. budget cuts didn’t leave it with the resources to determine if the pollution is a significant risk.

The EPA rejected a petition from environmental groups, which three years ago asked the agency to limit the greenhouse gases released from the mines.

Will California fall into the REDD trap?

California is world famous for its visionary environmentalism. So the state's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32), intended to reduce carbon emissions from nearly all sectors of the economy, was welcomed as forward-thinking legislation. Yet good intentions may turn sour if California decides to use rainforests in Mexico and Brazil as sponges to absorb its emissions instead of reducing pollution at source.

How science works: follow the money

There's a growing campaign in the US to get universities to stop investing in fossil fuels. UK science should take note.

US defends plan for countries to set their own climate goals

A global deal on greenhouse gas reductions can be effective even if countries are allowed to set their own targets, the US special envoy for climate change Todd Stern has said. “It is very hard for us to imagine a negotiation with dozens and dozens and dozens of counties actually negotiating everybody else’s targets and timetables,” said Stern from the sidelines of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin.

The main criticism levelled at such a system is that nations would be able to set the bar low.

New emissions plan could energise global climate talks, says US envoy

The United States' proposal to let countries draft their own emissions reduction plans rather than working toward a common target can unlock languishing UN climate negotiations, the US climate change envoy said on Tuesday.

The proposal that a global climate deal by 2015 should be based on national "contributions" gained traction at last week's round of UN talks in Germany, although China, the world's biggest carbon emitter, said it wanted far more binding commitments by wealthy countries.

Seven Reasons Why China May Be the World Leader in Fighting Climate Change

China is an environmental mess. Smog in Beijing is so bad it’s literally broken the air-quality index. In Shanghai, it’s at times turned the city into a scene from Blade Runner. (It almost matches the infamous Cleveland smog of the 1970s.) Meanwhile, thousands of dead pigs—cause of death not yet known—have been floating down a river that cuts through Shanghai and provides part of the region’s drinking water. More than half of China’s water is so polluted, in fact, that even treatment plants can’t make it safe to drink. And China is now responsible for almost half the world’s coal consumption. That coal burning not only contributes to climate change—it’s also saddled China with severe cases of acid rain, something the United States dealt with a generation ago.

All of that makes what I’m about to say sound even crazier: China may one day be the world’s leader in combating climate change. In almost every way you cut it, China is already taking a much more aggressive approach toward climate change than the United States is.

Ed Davey hits out against coalition climate change sceptics

Ed Davey, the energy and climate change secretary, is to use a major speech at Clarence House on Wednesday afternoon to fight back against the increasingly vocal climate change scepticism of other sections of the coalition.

What do taxpayers owe at-risk communities?

Floodwaters or not, it’s still buyer beware in Delaware. Last month, a state advisory panel on sea level rise decided against requiring sellers to tell buyers how vulnerable a house is to future flooding. We suppose no one can blame the panel from backing away from a controversial action like that. But, considering the topic the group is charged with studying, one might think the members would opt for something a little stronger than recommending an education campaign.

Climate Change Makes Life Tougher for Solomon Island Farmers

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (IPS) - Life is difficult enough for communities on the remote southern Weather Coast of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Sustaining a livelihood from the land is a daily struggle on the steep coastal mountain slopes that plunge to the sea, made worse by the absence of adequate roads, transport and government services. And now, climate change is taking its toll on the already precarious food situation here.

“From mid-March to June it is always raining and whatever crops we grow will not go to harvest,” Alice, a member of a farming family on the Weather Coast, told IPS, referring to the period locals here call “time hungry”.

Rising seas in southern Caribbean offer dark preview of future amid climate change

TELESCOPE, Grenada — The old coastal road in this fishing village at the eastern edge of Grenada sits under a couple of feet of murky saltwater, which regularly surges past a hastily-erected breakwater of truck tires and bundles of driftwood intended to hold back the Atlantic Ocean.

For Desmond Augustin and other fishermen living along the shorelines of the southern Caribbean island, there’s nothing theoretical about the threat of rising sea levels.

“The sea will take this whole place down,” Augustin said as he stood on the stump of one of the uprooted palm trees that line the shallows off his village of tin-roofed shacks built on stilts. “There’s not a lot we can do about it except move higher up.”

Link up top: Shale Oil and Gas: The Contrarian View

Really great article. But the author confuses Eagle Ford, in Texas with Three Forks in North Dakota. So don't get too excited when you spot this error, it was a simple mistake and not a sign that the author doesn't know what he is talking about.

Ron P.

The Eagle Forks area of North Texota is one of my favorites. Don't know what you're talking about, Ron.

Refreshing article, for once.

For those speaking French, this "Shale gas and oil Energy boom" "peak oil is dead" little song was also taken as the basis of a recent (april 16) "internal memo" from the Quai d'Orsay (French equivalent of US Department of State) "analysis and strategic group", also managing to qualify peak oil as an "unscientific concept" ... , discussed below :

nice job by Prof Ayres.

"So don't get too excited when you spot this error, it was a simple mistake and not a sign that the author doesn't know what he is talking about."
God forbid. It's clear the author has a deep, first-hand understanding of the subject. His qualifications, expertise and depth of knowledge are un-matched. This is probably the best researched, best documented article ever written by a professor emeritus. The abundance of numbers and solid supporting data is mind-boggling. It's going to take me weeks, if not months, to rummage through the wealth of information presented here. Keep-up the good work professor ! You're the best !

Sorry, I forgot to add "refreshing" to the adjectives describing this article.

I liked it too. With the rate of decline for wells of this type, can the cost of natural gas remain so low for long? Are there good projections that anyone knows of? Thanks.

Also ignore the 4 billion bbl/day typo as well, I guess. Can't say I was quite as impressed with the article, though.

No, that was not a typo, that was exactly what Citi predicted. And I can say that I was quite impressed with the article. Search: Future production from U.S. shale or tight oil

Source: David Hughes, AGU presentation, December 2012.

Ron P.

Perhaps they meant bbl per year?
Reds wp

So it is a typo indeed (or error)

Opps, that was my error. Of course it is the type of error many all make all the time. It was four million barrels per day, not billion barrels per day. If I had never in my life made such an error then you could just call me perfect. But I have made two such errors in my life so I am not quite perfect, just almost. ;-)

Ron P.

It is a typo . . . that graph shows 4 million (4000 thousand bpd = 4M).

BTW, is that graph wrong already? Do we have 2.25 mbpd of tight oil today?

According to this chart we are at about 1.7 mb/d. Click to enlarge. The chart is from my link below:
Growth In United States Oil Production Peaked In 2012.

Ron P.

Are we talking 1.7mbpd of crude oil, or 1.7mbpd of 'all liquids'?

The chart above definitely says "crude oil". But to be realistic we are talking about Crude + Condensate here because the stuff coming from these tight oil plays, especially in Eagle Ford, is much closer to condensate than crude oil. But definitely not all liquids.

Ron P.

Citigroup projects 4 mb/d of tight oil production and about 14 mb/d total US liquids production by 2020. Also, 14 mb/d represents >4 mb/d total liquids production growth from 2012, driven by tight oil, deepwater and NGLs.

According to the EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2013, US tight oil production in 2012 was 2 mb/d (ex NGLs).

I am not sure that Robert U. Ayres is right when he says that "existing fields are being depleted at the rapid rate of 7 percent a year". That may refer only to fields that have already past their peak /plateau production.

I agree...this was a HORRIBLE article. Also, he makes it sound like the Bakken itself is declining when I think he meant individual wells. I couldn't even finish that poor excuse for an article.

I think you are overreacting. I thought it was a pretty good article. But tell me what you think of the Bill Powers article I posted this morning, link below: Peak Oil: Energy Investor Bill Powers Discusses the Looming Shale Gas Bubble?

It is more about gas than oil but basically it is about the whole shale craze, oil and gas. On the Bakken:

I think it will peak out somewhere in the 750,000 range. It may go a little higher, but not too much higher than that.

And on T. Boone Pickens:

SH: He's a promoter, but he's a self-promoter, similar to Aubrey?

BP: Correct. It's a very self-interested promotion of gas, and he uses wrap-yourself-in-the-flag, 'we can't give $700 billion a year to the enemy, we've got to get off foreign oil' appeal to Americans' patriotism to push forward an agenda that will uniquely benefit him.

Ron P.

Hello Ron. I didn't read those articles - only the quotes you posted. The Bakken will peak well above 750 MB/D, I think. 1-2 years ago I would have been in the "750 camp" but not any longer. The infrastructure build-out, etc. leads me to believe that it might plateau in the low 1's (1.2 MMB/D (??). I think the Eagle Ford will plateau in a similar range. However, I'm an "above ground" oil and gas guy (processing), so don't take my views as any great insight. No doubt Pickens is a self-promoter. Anyone who has the courage of their convictions will do the same. I don't have a big problem with that....I imagine Pickens has made a few good calls in his life. 8^)

Kgw, I am not in the 750 camp either, I was just quoting the article. But I am closer to that camp than yours of 1.2 mb/d for the Bakken. I believe the Bakken will peak at aroung 850 or 900 mb/d sometime during 2014. But my position is evolving. A few months ago I was predicting a peak in 2017. Then it went to 2016 and now it is 2014. As we get more and more data the picture becomes clearer.

Ron P.

Ron, February ND Bakken production was 715 kb/d. Montana Bakken production is around 30 kb/d, so US Bakken output is already nearly 750 kb/d. If we include Canada Bakken, it's well above 800 kb/d (probably, some 830-840 kb/d).

Year-on-year growth in North Dakota Bakken has slowed markedly since mid-2012, but was still >40% in January-February 2013. Assuming flat Bakken production in Montana, the 850 kb/d mark for the combined US Bakken production will likely be reached by mid-2013 and 900 kb/d in the second half of the year.

Drilling rig count in NDakota has stabilized, drilling times are declining and operators are reporting slightly lower drilling costs per well since the second half of 2012. My guess is that Bakken production will continue growing and 1.2 mb/d is achievable.

I was speaking only of the North Dakota Bakken. If production increase in the Bakken continues at the same pace it achieved in 2012 then 850 kb/d this year is easily achievable. But that is what the debate is all about, will this rate of growth continue. However production growth rate per year has slipped from 93% in May. (May to May) to 45% in February (February to February).

Of course we both are only stating what we think will happen. And I would bet the farm that Bakken production will never reach 1.2 mb/d. Of course that is only my opinion.

But I think you are missing the point. No matter what level of production is reached in the Bakken, it will only be a blip on the long term trend. The decline rate is atrocious and they will have to keep drilling like mad just to stay even. Right now it takes about 120 additional wells per month just to stay even. If they did succeed in doubling production then it would take 240 additional wells per month just to stay even. Obviously that is not going to happen.

Ron P.

Hi AlexS,

The person with the best insight is Rune Likvern, who has taken a very close look at the data from producing wells in the North Dakota portion of the Bakken. Note that all of the scenarios that I have produced refer to the North Dakota part of the Bakken/Three Forks play.

Mr. Likvern does not like to guess about the future because we cannot predict future prices, drilling costs, and possible financial difficulties due to expanding debt balances at the oil comanies operating in the Bakken.

If one is optimistic and assumes costs will slowly fall, oil prices will gradually rise, the oil companies balance sheets remain healthy, and the sweet spots don't become fully drilled too quickly, so that average well productivity does not decrease rapidly, my prediction would be for a peak between 950 and 1000 kb/d in 2017 at about 13000 wells drilled at a maximum rate of 167 net wells added per month. After this decreases in well productivity will reduce profitability.

If we make the further assumption that real (inflation adjusted) drilling and fracking costs per well decrease to $8.5 million per well (2013 $) and real oil prices rise by 7 % per year, then the breakeven oil price of $247/barrel (2013 $) is reached in April 2025 and net wells added decreases rapidly to zero with total producing wells at 29500 wells in Feb 2026. Total URR from the North Dakota Bakken in this (admittedly optimistic) scenario is 7.2 BBO (billion barrels of oil) from 1953 to 2073.

A more realistic scenario with all of the same assumptions as above except for a more rapid decrease in well productivity which affects the breakeven oil price and the total # of producing wells. The breakeven real oil price of $173/barrel (2013 $) is reached in April 2020. Peak is about 960 kb/d in 2017 at 12500 producing wells and total producing wells reaches 20250 by Sept 2021 and no more wells are added. Total URR for the North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks in this scenario is 5.8 BBO from 1953 to 2073 which matches the recent USGS estimate.

Note that the 18 month, 3 year, 5 year, and 30 year EUR for the average Bakken well are 115 kb, 158 kb, 191 kb, and 311 kb in Feb 2013. In the optimistic scenario well productivity falls to 54.4% of the Feb 2013 level by April 2020 and falls further to 30.4 % of the 2013 level by April 2025 at the breakeven oil price point of $247/barrel (2013 $). The more realistic scenario has well productivity decreasing to 43.5 % of the Feb 2013 level (which is the same in both scenarios) at the breakeven price of $173/barrel in April 2020 by April 2025 well productivity falls to 18.1 % of the 2013 level.

The Arps hyperbolic equation for the average well profile is

q(t)= qi/[(1+b*Di*t)**(1/b)]

where * is multiplication and ** is exponentiation and qi is the initial production rate at t=0, b is a real number between zero and one, Di is the initial decline rate and t is time (usually in months from first output).

In these scenarios I used qi=14925, b=.95, and Di=.19.


Hi dcoyne78,

In fact, I do not see a big difference between 950-1000 and 1200 kb/d, especially as this growth will be spread over a 4-5 period.
One question: how do you calculate future breakeven prices and why they are supposed to rise from current levels?

Hi AlexS,

The breakeven price can be thought of as the revenue needed to pay the cost of the well (it is more complicated than this, but I attempting a simplification).

Lets say the breakeven price is the oil price needed to pay for the drilling and fracking costs with 18 months of output from a well.

The current drilling and fracking cost in the ND Bakken is about $8.5 million per well and the 18 month output (months 1 to 18) is 115 kb so breakeven is 8.5 million/115,000 or about $74/ barrel. (I used $75 in my breakeven calculations.)

Why does the breakeven price rise? As well productivity decreases, the 18 month output of future wells is lower. For example if the 18 month output of a well drilled in 2018 is 68,000 barrels and the real well cost remains $8.5 million (2013 $) then the breakeven rises to $125/barrel (2013 $).

A more realistic calculation considers the discount rate to get the net present value of future output, as well as OPEX (operating expenditures), CAPEX(capital expenditures), taxes, royalties, leasing costs, and other stuff that I am missing.

Anyone who has the details, I would be interested in learning more.


Thank you dcoyne78.

As I understand, they use full cycle costs (CAPEX + OPEX) + rate of return (10-12%). Well drilling cost is the largest part of CAPEX. OPEX includes lifting costs, taxes, roaylties, etc. Leasing costs for some resons are not included in breakeven price calculation.

What I do not understand - why you are using 18 months payback period, given that the life time of a well is presumed to be 25-30 years and a typical Bakken EUR is 350-400 kbbls rather than 115 kbbls?

Also, how do you know that average 18 months production will drop 2 times in the next 5 years? I'm not a technological optimist, but think that drilling technologies still have room to improve. This could at least partly offset expected future decline in natural productivity.

Hi AlexS,

Recent USGS mean estimates for the North Dakota portion of the Bakken/Three Forks play are 5.8 BBO. I was attempting to produce a future scenario where the cumulative output was close to this level.

As Oil fields are developed (and this basin has been producing since 1953) the oil men figure out which areas have the greatest prospects, the so called sweet spots. Eventually the sweet spots become fully drilled and there is no room for more wells in the best areas. As companies move to the less productive areas well productivity declines even if technology improves.

I have no idea what will happen to future well productivity, except that it will decrease, I can only guess at the rate.

If you are the very optimistic sort, I have produced scenarios where there is very slow decline in well productivity (84 % of Feb 2013 well as of Oct 2028) and 42,500 producing wells by the end of 2028. This scenario peaks in Oct 2028 at 1628 kb/d with a total output of 13.7 BBO from 1953 to 2073. It also falls sharply to 500 kb/d by 2036 and the upper estimate (5% probability) of the USGS is 9 BBO for the ND Bakken/TF so this scenario is a total fantasy.

A scenario matching the 9 BBO (F5) USGS high end estimate for ND Bakken/TF peaks at 1000 kb/d in Nov 2018 and it is assumed that breakeven prices are reached by Nov 2028, total producing wells reach their maximum in 2028 at 35,900 wells and well productivity decreases by 6.3 % per year after 2015. The well productivity decreases to 50 % of the Feb 2013 level by Nov 2024.

Check out the spreadsheets and comments at the May 10 drumbeat for more realistic breakeven calculations thanks to Rune Likvern.


Questions arise about shuttering of Kewaunee nuclear power reactor

Residents who live near the Kewaunee Power Station with its 556-megawatt nuclear reactor still are absorbing the recent news that the plant will shut down in May, taking with it 655 jobs and leaving behind — possibly for decades — scores of concrete canisters filled with spent nuclear waste.

The loss of the jobs as well as the hundreds of thousands of dollars Dominion Resources pays locally in lieu of property taxes is unsettling enough, local officials say. More disturbing, they say, are the 42 containers of nuclear waste that will remain sitting just off the shore of Lake Michigan.

"We've been lied to for 35 years," Dave Hardtke, chairman of the town of Carlton, said of the waste. "When they built that plant, the federal government said they were going to move the waste. That was 35 years ago, and look where it is sitting."

Wisconsin State Journal - November 03, 2012 Ron Seely

The loss of the jobs as well as the hundreds of thousands of dollars Dominion Resources pays locally in lieu of property taxes

Yes, what would be the property taxes on an old nuke plant?

If the taxes were unpaid, would the local government foreclose on the land?

"We've been lied to for 35 years," Dave Hardtke, chairman of the town of Carlton, said of the waste. "When they built that plant, the federal government said they were going to move the waste.

"I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further" - D. Vader, government official.

Well to some degree, this is a "careful what you wish for" cautionary tale for the anti-nuke crowd. What is worse than an operating nuclear plant? . . . an abandoned nuclear plant. If you keep a nuclear plant running, at least you can (mostly) depend on the nuclear plant workers to careful maintain things if for no other reason than their own self-interest. When an old privately owned nuclear plant is shut down . . . well, what is there to prevent the private owners from just declaring bankruptcy and abandoning it?

Especially in Michigan, a state government that does not exactly have the best finances due to Detroit looking like it has been hit by a nuke.

And there you have the dilemma foreseen many years ago. Too expensive to shut down, too expensive to replace aging materials, so with a little lobbying and fudging you try to get an extension to the operating license. Promising to be extra careful.

As is apparently happening right now with the Ontario Pickering reactors.

I don't see that having the plant operating has had any positive effect in terms of moving the waste to a safer/more remote permanent location. It seems to only result in making more.

They might not move it to a safer place but at least the workers are not going to let the waste poison themselves so they'll do something to make sure it is at least stored properly while they work there.

The time period represented by "while they work there" is very, very small compared to the length of time that material will be extremely dangerous. So it will make a very big difference for a short while.

Additionally, even if workers attend to the plant diligently, most of these facilities are now old and fragile. The operations and maintenance workers can only do so much when fundamental components reach the end of their operational life. And "stored properly" for fresh waste is in pools with active cooling systems, an arrangement that is vulnerable to many disruptions.

And there it will sit as the casks quietly decay, while the society collapses and the people are overwhelmed with survival. Eventually the material inside, still incredibly dangerous, will be released without any obvious immediate sign.

Exactly, Twilight. Terrifying. Collapse slowly, ever so slowly, happening right in front of our eyes.....

My Nuke Plant in California has been idle for more than one year and will likely never produce electricity again.
The installation of new (failed) steam generators cost $675 million and purchasing replacement energy has added another $550 million to the bill. The companies who own the plant want ratepayers to cover these costs while O&M costs for the non-operating plant are already included in my bill.
Oh, there's 14,000 tons of radioactive waste stored there too.

Southern California Edison officials said in financial statements last week that if federal regulators do not agree to the utility's proposal to restart one of the plant's two units at partial power, they might elect to retire the plant completely by the end of the year.

"There's just a general limit of how much we can continue to rack up these costs without certainty of cost recovery," Edison International Chief Executive Ted Craver told analysts.

From The Los Angeles Times:


There are more issues with system voltage and imported power being vulnerable to cuts due to wildfires.

"When they built that plant, the federal government said they were going to move the waste. That was 35 years ago, and look where it is sitting."

The political history of possible spent fuel disposal sites in the US is kind of fascinating. When Congress set the program up, DOE quickly decided that there would need to be at least two repositories, one for all those Eastern reactors and a smaller one for the stuff in the West. DOE's original list of candidates included several in the East. Eastern politicians quickly attached amendments to various bills and ruled those sites out. When the list was down to three in the West, two of the candidate states happened to have politicians in very powerful positions in the US House, and again by amendment to an unrelated bill, everything but Yucca Mountain was tossed out. Eventually Harry Reid of Nevada was in a position of power and, at least procedurally, took Yucca Mountain out of consideration as well.

So DOE is left in the position that (a) the law requires the federal government to build at least one repository, (b) the law now says that only Yucca Mountain can be studied as a repository site, and (c) the State of Nevada really, really doesn't want a repository. It's hard to blame them for taking that position, since every other state considered as a potential site has also taken it. I suspect that there have been behind-the-scenes conversations with Nevada's Congressional delegation saying something along the lines of, "The current Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that there are things the federal government can't force on the states. We like our chances that they'll agree the perceived risks of transporting and storing other states' spent fuel is one of those things," and the administration has been unwilling to take that chance.

A statement that I hear regularly on the subject is, "It's time for the West to step up and take one for the team." 90-some of the 104 commercial power reactors in the US are east of 100° west longitude; TTBOMK, all of the proposed new reactors that have reached the NRC licensing stage are east of 100° west longitude; put the damned repository there too.

"It's time for the West to step up and take one for the team."

The West already did. Between a third to 3/4 of the West's land, depending on the State, is controlled by the Federal Government for the Public Good. This leaves the West, which has a growing population yet, with the uncomfortably choice of turning good farmland into cities, because the wasteland that is too rocky, alkaline, or whatever for farming is owned by the government, and they will not sell.

The west got the better deal. As an avid outdoorsman, the west is great, 3/4 of the land is available for your exploration and enjoyment. In the rest of the country, it is owned by rich property owners who don't want you on their land.

You are correct to a point. Washington is not bad at about 30% Federal ownership. But in Nevada and Idaho with 86% and 64 % respectively Federal ownership, it's not nearly as nice. As in most things there is a sweet spot.

What really annoys Westerners is that the NY congressional delegation is often voting for even more Federal land takeovers out West, while they have 1 whole percent of their land under Federal control. If Federal land is so great, why aren't they donating theirs to the cause?

Good map on the subject.


And in Nevada a lot of that federal land is off limits, except to highly cleared government employees on business! But in the east and northeast, most of the land was divvied up long before the idea of public land had gained any traction. Its pretty tough to undo that without confiscating large tracts from lots of unhappy folks.

I'm now in California, and it seems to be the worst of the lot. Public land has stiff usage fees, and lots of private grazing land, which requires owner's permission. So I see lots of empty land in the distance, but can visit almost none of it.

There are NO nuclear plants in Nevada. The NIMBY feelings are great all over.

No nuclear plants, but hundreds and hundreds of radioactive cavities from weapons testing. The Nevada test site looks like swiss cheese!

Looks like things in Egypt are sliding downhill rather fast.

Egypt Investment Collapsing as Citizens Turn Into Vigilantes

Egypt may be the next "failed state" on the world scene. Given that the population has been scraping by for years and must import a large fraction of the wheat which is the main staple crop, any disruption in trade would result in a serious food crisis. We are certainly living in interesting times...

E. Swanson

The relentless math:

Population 1960: 27.8 million
Population 2008: 81.7 million
Current population growth rate: 2% per annum (a 35-year doubling rate)
Population in 2046 after another doubling: 164 million

Rainfall average over whole country: ~ 2 inches per year
Highest rainfall region: Alexandria, 7.9 inches per year
Arable land (almost entirely in the Nile Valley): 3%
Arable land per capita: 0.04 Ha (400 m2)
Arable land per capita in 2043: 0.02 Ha
Food imports: 40% of requirements
Grain imports: 60% of requirements

Net oil exports: Began falling in 1997, went negative in 2007
Oil production peaked in 1996
Cost of oil rising steeply
Cost of oil and food tightly linked

-Chris Martenson

That's really scary.

I suspect the Arabs are going to start subsidizing each other just for some stability. They will fail ultimately but it will be tried short term.

It should be remembered by all that the population of the world expanded under the leadership of the United States and its banks and oil companies. Do not think this is merely Muslims breeding without control though this is part of it.

America loves it, because more people = more business = more profits, for big ag, big oil, and big military.

I suspect the Arabs are going to start subsidizing each other just for some stability.

Well if they do that won't help the Egyptians very much because Egyptians are not Arabs, they are Egyptians. But I know what you meant. But I doubt that Middle East and North African Muslim states will subsidize each other. They are all in the same boat. True a few have oil to export but their budgets are already strained from subsidizing their own citizens. And any of them would rather see a revolution in a neighboring state than in their own. So they will keep their money to themselves.

It should be remembered by all that the population of the world expanded under the leadership of the United States and its banks and oil companies.

That is really reaching in an absurd attempt to blame the United States for the population explosion. The US can be blamed for a lot of things but the world population explosion is not one of them.

Ron P.

Politically and legally the official title of Egypt is the "Arab Republic of Egypt" and it is a founder member of the Arab League.

Egyptians are not Arabs, they are Egyptians.Mathilda’s Anthropology Blog.

And dozens of other sites say the same thing including this one:
My friend said that egyptian are not arabs? why would he say that?

Best Answer

Well, here's the thing.
Egyptians aren't originally Arabs. Egyptians are originally believed to be descendants of Pharaohs which later on converted to Christianity and became "Copts". As Muslims came into Egypt, many of those Copts converted to Islam, many migrated and many were wealthy and faithful to Christianity just enough and stayed as they are without converting to Islam. As the years passed, Egypt's population grew to have the majority being Muslims. So, Muslims are originally Arabs, and this is where the "Arabic" heritage comes from. Nonetheless, many Egyptians do not consider themselves as "Arabs" since Arabs are considered as the different ethnic group living in other areas; Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Emirates... etc. All besides the very important fact that Egypt does not belong or actually really fit to the area of the "Middle East". Its geographical state clearly shows its "AFRICAN", even if for political and religious reasons we are linked to the Middle East. Still, many African countries are Muslim countries and yet, they are not called Arabs, they are "Africans".

I for instance, do not consider myself "Arab" either. I am simply "Egyptian".

Ron P.

Well, this sort of thing is always going to be a minefield, but Egyptians are a conflation of peoples, consisting of Africans , Eastern Mediterraneans, Arabs, Greeks, Turks, and all the rest. The language is Arabic and the culture is now predominantly Islamic, so 'Arab' will do for all practical purposes.

However, as has been said, the population has increased vastly in recent decades, as it has elsewhere in the region, and the pressure on all resources is immense. I'd put most of the recent troubles down to overpopulation, which is straining social networks beyond the limit. And I see no sign of the problems being remedied, ever.

Fuel, water, food, work, money... you name it, there isn't now and there won't in the future be enough.

And it looks like the rest of us are not going to escape either!


I'm fully aware of the arguments.

Are Egyptians Africans or Arabs?

I hired a camera crew and set out on my mission, thinking I would only prove the obvious: Wasn’t Egypt in North Africa? Therefore, Egyptians are Africans. But it wasn’t simply a matter of geographical location-the issue turned out to be much more complex than that. I did not know it at the time but I was to be most astonished at what I would soon discover.

I spent the next couple of days interviewing hundreds of Egyptians– not just academics and researchers but also laymen and women in different districts in Cairo — asking how they view themselves. My question raised a few eyebrows among people on the streets, the majority of whom replied ” I’m a Muslim Arab, of course ” or “an Arab Muslim .” They shrugged their shoulders and looked perplexed as they responded for wasn’t it an already-known fact that Egyptians are Arabs and that Egypt has a majority Muslim population ?

If the country calls itself an Arab state and the other Arab states accept it as one then I'll accept their definition of Arab in this case even though I know there are others.

And for 3 years (1958-61) Egypt was in federation with Syria as 'The United Arab Republic'. Syria 'seceded' in '61.

Come on, Egypt is nonetheless a, if not the major cultural center of the Arab world, and of Sunni Islam as well, but yes Egypt is Egypt, and Nasser was Nasser.

Egyptians are not Arabs, they are Egyptians.

Historicly, most "arabs" are not arabs realy. They were conquered. Just like I am not swedish, I am dane. Not danish, because I don't have that citizenship, I am a swedish dane, historicly speaking. The egyptians and many others have the language, culture and religion of the arabs, who conquered them during and after the prophet Mohammed. Some have accepted an arabic identity, some have not. My lebanese/syrian girlfriend sees herself as an arab, but lots of people from Syria sees themself as syrians, not arabs.

I completely blame the United States for the population explosion.

It was the American led petro green revolution which promoted high yield grains and mechanized agriculture the world over. It was America that provided the petrodollar recycling framework that allowed the oil to continue to be produced and traded the world over. And it was America that pushed aside its own citizens in the 70s that were warning about these things, in favor of infinite business expansion and growth. It was American religious reactionaries who continued to campaign against birth control in favor of "be fruitful and multiply."

In fact, the United States itself wants infinite immigration and population expansion within its own borders.

Yes, I wholly blame the United States.

Blaming the United States for the population explosion is beyond absurd. Who are you blaming, congress, the president, the military, or perhaps Wall Street. The Green Revolution was powered by the search to enable farmers to produce more food. Though GM foods had a small part in it it was mostly a fertilizer revolution. It was driven by the urge to feed more people. And you are implying that the US should not have done that, they should have blocked colleges, universities and corporations from figuring out how to produce more food per acre, they should have stepped in and said "No, let those people starve."

But the green revolution was only a small part of it. The industrial revolution started the whole thing. That was made possible with the aid of cheap fossil fuel. Is the US responsible for starting the industrial revolution also? Funny, I thought Great Britain was the one who started that awful thing.

And there was the medical revolution. Those damn doctors figured out how to stop so many mothers from dying in childbirth. They cured Polio and allowed a lot more children to survive. They cured all kinds of diseases that aided the population explosion. Shouldn't those doctors be blamed for playing God and enabling more mothers and children to survive?

Blame, blame, blame! Point the crooked finger of blame at somebody because somebody is culpable for that awful industrial revolution that made peoples lives a little easier, that terrible medical revolution that allowed more mothers and children to survive and the terrible green revolution that fed so many hungry people. Yes, yes, those people should suffer eternal torment for doing what they thought all the time was a pretty good thing. Boy were they wrong.

Of course if they had done the right thing and done nothing, none of us would be here today. The population of the world would still be less than one billion people. And they could all expect an early death because the life expectancy before the industrial revolution was less than 30 years. (See chart below.)

From Wiki: Life Expectancy

During the Industrial Revolution, the life expectancy of children increased dramatically. The percentage of children born in London who died before the age of five decreased from 74.5% in 1730-1749 to 31.8% in 1810-1829.
Public health measures are credited with much of the recent increase in life expectancy. During the 20th century, the average lifespan in the United States increased by more than 30 years, of which 25 years can be attributed to advances in public health.

Search: P.A.P.-BLOG, HUMAN RIGHTS ETC. Statistics on Life Expectancy
Life Expectancy throughout history, long trend

Energyblues, no one is to blame for doing all those thing that enabled people to survive a lot longer and lead more healthy lives. They were all doing what they thought was a good thing. And they were right. It just turned out that in the long run it would eventually lead to disaster.

Hardly any choices we have in life are ultimately good or evil. For the vast majority of our choices we must choose between the lesser evil and the greater evil.

Ron P.

Blame is pejorative; causation is just descriptive. What seems good now turns out bad later and vice versa. The results of all this progress is transient, just as all of us are. What we think of as progress gets reversed eventually. We, perhaps, should avoid blame, but also hubris.

Blaming the USA 'wholly' when she is mostly complacent, neutral, and acting little different from our human biological imperative as exhibited everywhere? Just Wow!! Isn't the USA super special!!

It should be remembered by all that the population of the world expanded under the leadership of the United States and its banks and oil companies. Do not think this is merely Muslims breeding without control though this is part of it.

This is one of the most ridiculous things I've read on TOD.

There is perhaps a grain of truth - birth control has become a political lightning rod in the US and some other countries, as can be seen in the strenuous efforts to defund and marginalize Planned Parenthood. From Wikipedia:

"United States funding

IPPF is a pro-choice organization that advocates for access to contraception and safe abortion services. This has led IPPF into conflict with conservative social forces, including the Roman Catholic Church and the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, who reinstated the Mexico City Policy in 2001. This policy required non-governmental organizations in receipt of U.S. funds to refrain from providing birth control and/or abortion-related services, and was first instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 after lobbying from the Vatican following's Reagan's establishment of official diplomatic relations with the Holy See. IPPF opted not to alter its method of operation, and, as a result, lost 20% of its funding during the time the Mexico City Policy was in effect. The policy was rescinded by President Barack Obama in January 2009."

One gets the sense that we are watching a slow moving train wreck - the countries that are least able to sustain the populations they already have, for the most part, also have the highest birth rates.

There is perhaps a grain of truth - birth control has become a political lightning rod in the US and some other countries, as can be seen in the strenuous efforts to defund and marginalize Planned Parenthood.

Baloney! There is not a grain of truth in it. Of course there are efforts from the right wing fringe nut cases to defund Planned Parenthood. But the United States, as a whole, is not responsible for the efforts of the nutty fringe.

The post by Energyblues tried to blame it on banks and oil companies. Now you want to change that tune and blame it on the right wing fringe.

Neither Planned Parenthood nor their opposition, the Right Wing nut cases, nor the bankers nor oil companies are to blame for the world population explosion. And it is not the fault of the Catholic Church who has fought birth control in every nation where they had power for almost 2000 years. You guys are just trying to blame someone for the population explosion and cannot figure out who is to blame, so you just pick your favorite villain. After all, you reason, it happened, it is bad, so it has to be someone's fault.

Jeese guys, it happened in every country of the world. I happened in India, it happened in China, it happened in Pakistan, it happened in Africa and everywhere else in the world. Get a clue guys, it was nobody's fault, it was just the nature of the species, and every other species, to multiply to the limit of their existence. It is a fact of biology.

Ron P.

I agree that the original post was ill-conceived. I would further agree that humans (and other life forms) are programmed to fill their environmental niches. At the same time, I would submit that there are a rather diverse set of widely held cultural, business and political mind sets that ensure that little of any significance can be done to avoid or even delay totally catastrophic situations in countries such as Egypt.

Consider the following:
- reproduction is caused by male/female intercourse
- male/female intercourse is very pleasurable (generally more so for the male, but that's a whole different topic)
- male/female intercourse is inexpensive (again, some might disagree, especially as it relates to the topic of birth control for the world's poor)
- people like to do things that are pleasurable, especially if it doesn't require wealth
So, everyone likes to screw. The wealthy nations have employed birth control and abortion to limit population growth.
The poorer nations like to participate in costless pleasure, like anyone else, but don't put make the investment in birth control. Or, perhaps, in agrarian societies, having more children is seen as a pathway to wealth(?).

So, I guess the Master Designer is to blame. It seems to be me that the act of conceiving a child should be about as pleasurable as going to the dentist. So only folks who really wanted to have children would engage in it, leaving folks to find pleasures elsewhere. Folks might argue that that would have killed off the human race long ago. However, I'm not sure I agree with that premise.


My guess is that if sex were not fun we would have died out. Sex then seems to be a self-selected trait; those species to whom swapping/sharing DNA is not rewarding would not engage in the swapping/sharing exercise and therefore likely have died out.
As our environment (quite an egotistical term when you think about it) changes those who are in that environment have to adapt. Obviously those in the environment are to a very minor extent the environment of other inhabitants. We humans are interesting because we have become such a huge influence on other species (altering their environment because it suits is best) that the system as a whole is becoming more unstable, at least from a human point of view. One can argue that instability is exactly what creates stability - think of all the species that came into existence and then became extinct without any human intervention - so it's just part of nature.
Back to your question: it seems you know exactly what would happen if DNA mutation weren't fun yet you don't seem to want to accept the logical conclusion, so my question to you is: Why?


I think you lost me {back to having sex} Seriously, I think you are correct, because at its most fundamental, if it doesn't feel good you won't do it. So, I am applying a well-learned 21st century bias and, I guess, instead need to think about the times before the mechanics of egg fertilization were well known. Maybe the creator could throw a switch now??? 8^)

It's not just mammals that want to share DNA. Think of coral, grass, bacteria etc.
Sharing genetic material is a very basic and probably ingrained behavior in pretty much anything that lives.(can't really think of any exceptions..). Perhaps because genetic status quo is a death sentence?(out on a limb here).


Of course there are efforts from the right wing fringe nut cases to defund Planned Parenthood. But the United States, as a whole, is not responsible for the efforts of the nutty fringe.

Except that enough vote for candidates with the right wing nutcase agenda. Obviously not all Americans, but roughly half. Of course its not so much about planned parenthood as it is about abortion..... But, it has caused the US to put serious restrictions on aid, such as abstinence only programs which we know don't work.

I disagree with the stupid Mexico City policy. But it is not our obligation to help them with their birth control . . . that is something we do out of charity. They need to take some personal responsibility and change their culture to stop reproducing so much. And thankfully, they are.

Do you deny that the massive expansion of human population took place during the American led order post WW2? Do you have any evidence that the United States ever took seriously this problem and, as the global leader, took steps to control it?

Does the United States itself want to control the population within its own borders?

Do you have answers for any of these things, or do you want to believe that America is innocent, it's just those pesky third worlders and brown people that keep breeding like rabbits?

And nevermind that female education nonsense....

First of all, overpopulation was not at all viewed as a problem in the post WW2 so how can you blame people for not doing something about a problem that did not exist. And I don't blame them for climate change back then either since it was not viewed as a problem.

And even when people started recognizing the issue, there is a fundamental problem in that freedom and liberty are the core principles of the USA. We are not some authoritarian dictatorship that demands people may have X number of children. And when we did recognize the issue, we took steps to address it that were not incompatible with our core principles of freedom and liberty. We passed Title X. Heck, it was advocated by George HW Bush and signed into law by Richard Nixon! The courts made abortion a constitutionally protected right. Our population growth rate tempered down. If not for immigration, we would probably just be around the replacement rate right now.

If you want to blame someone, I'd suggest taking aim at all these religions that tell people that birth control and abortion are evil. And blame the political parties that have decided to use those religions as a base of support and thus give-in to their silly superstitious views. As I pointed out above, it was George HW Bush and Richard Nixon that got Title X passed . . . but now the GOP wants to destroy planned parenthood, kill Title X, outlaw abortion, and teach the proven-failed policy of 'abstinence only'. The right in the USA has really gone off the rails such that Eisenhower and Goldwater (and maybe even Reagan) would be disappointed.

And yeah, the rest of the world needs to get their act together and throw off the yoke of ancient superstitions and culture that motivate them to reproduce at unsustainable rates. (and in many places they are starting to do so!) They need education and birth control not the teachings of some ancient holy books. But you can't blame the USA for their issues. And if we try to change things then we are called imperialists and colonialists. We can try to lead a horse to water but we can't make them drink.

The population explosion was caused by many factors:

- improved sanitation resulting in significantly reduced mortality rates, especially among children
- improved control of water, especially megadams
- improved agricultural yields, due to control of water, synthetic fertilizers, petroleum-derived pesticides, and mechanization
- antibiotics, which significantly reduced infant and child mortality
- other medical advances, especially safe childbirth and effective treatment of heart disease

I suppose the US, via the World Bank, is somewhat responsible for encouraging poorer nations to build megadams. But they are hardly responsible for the bulk of the population boom.

Well if the advancement of green revolution, the advancement of antibiotics, the advancement of immunization to eradicate diseases, and the advancement of sanitation standards means we are "responsible" for the population growth . . . then yes, we are responsible. We have helped reduce infant mortality, disease, and hunger world-wide. Guilty as charged. But I just refuse to look at those as bad things. If those are bad then all our military actions causing wanton death & destruction must be "good" . . . I think not.

What we need is people to take their reproduction more responsibly both at home and abroad. And the world has certainly made great strides of improvement in these areas. But there is more work to be done. And there is a constant fight against the superstitious forces that want to erode family planning services based upon their personal religious views.

Saudi Arabia does distribute some funds to other Arab or Palestinian states but Egypt is just too big population wise to be supported in any meaningful way. Note also that the Arab nations have not yet done anything to bring the fighting in Syria to an end. I'm glad that western nations have avoided any direct involvement with Syria. If Arab countries won't deal with the Syrian problem why should we? The odds are that whatever government replaces the current regime in Syria won't be pro-Western.

I feel badly for the people of Egypt. Given the world economic situation it is highly unlikely they are going to get the amount of aid they need. Any aid needs to be thought of as a grant not a loan as it is not realistic to expect it to be paid back. Some Egyptians will manage to emigrate but most of the population won't have that option.

Oh other Arab nations are definitely dealing with Syria. They are the ones arming the rebels. Whether that is good or bad though depends on your perspective.

Why do you differ between arabs and palestinians? "Palestinians" with an Israeli citizenship is routinely referred to as "israelian arabs". Before the palestinians begun seeing themself as palestinians in the early 1980ies, they labelled themself arabs and nothing else. Literature from before 1980 have no other term for them than arabs. (Yes, I spent an entire summer plowing through the local library, and never found the term "palestinians" in any book from before the 80ies.)

But I amin agreement with you on what will come next. When (not if) Assad is gone, the new deal will be islamists.

Egypt: 84 people/km2 of land
14,000 people/km2 of water

United Kingdom: 262 people/km2 of land
37,700 people/km2 of water

Well a lot of that land is desert.

The original comparison was arable land.
EGYPT Arable land per capita: 0.04 Ha (400 m2)

UK has a touch over 6 million hectares of potential arable (not all used just now) or 10 persons per hectare, or 4 persons per acre.
(per capita: 0.1 Ha) For economic reasons some UK land that has been used for arable in the past is under grass.
In 1939 UK imported 70% of food as measured in calories.
Probably nowadays a majority of food is still imported, mostly from rest of EU.

The figure I read in the newspaper a few weeks ago was 60% imported, which surprised me. However, most of the food grown in the UK benefits from a heavy dosing of (imported) fertilizer and pesticide, so even that 60% of seeming self-sufficiency depends on imports of some sort.

Egypt: 2,929 people/km2 of arable land.
United Kingdom: 1,053 people/km2 of arable land.

Data from CIA World Factbook

German Scientists Use Offshore Wind Farms to Replenish Lobsters

Keep in mind that adding electricity to the 'water' can get reefs to grow. Thus a minor drain from the turbines could help the local marine environment, even if it does nothing for a lobster.

A week old, but I haven't seen this here. But up top is Kewaunee and previous drum had article on lower levels of Great Lakes

Specific concern of CANDU style nuclear reactors and down river, down lake concerns. Also neutron embrittlement. From Fairewinds and Canadian Coal for Nuc. Resp. Biased of course like all individuals and groups.

pdf source



Growth In United States Oil Production Peaked In 2012

I believe North American oil growth is going to continue, but that the pace of growth peaked in 2012 and is going to slow considerably with each passing year. That slowing rate of growth is not going to be enough to offset demand growth elsewhere in the world. I base this belief on two things:

One is that the big increase in rigs that moved from natural gas to oil in 2012 created a one-time surge, and that the amount of oil production growth in 2012 is not repeatable as a result.

Two is that the high decline nature of these high decline tight oil wells make them a very fast moving treadmill to run against in order to grow production.

This is a great article with a couple of really great charts. It points out that US horizontal crude oil groweh 2005 - 2012 has only two major drivers, the Bakken and Eagle Ford. And they are not claiming that US oil production peaked in 2012 but that growth in US oil production peaked in 2012.

Ron P.

I think that's called an inflection point, right?

Growth in U.S. production did not peak in 2012. It has grown by 20%! this year over last. That is a historical high in volumetric terms and comes at a time when U.S. demand is lower than it has been for years.

Look buddy, it's time to cite some relevant data. How about a source for your claims? Or are you just a troll...

I 2nd that. Where's your data?

Definitely a troll. Do not waste your time.

Written by AndreosKhan:
Growth in U.S. production did not peak in 2012. It has grown by 20%! this year over last.

The large increases in the production of U.S. crude oil & condensate occurred in September and October of 2012 according to EIA data.

Jan 2012: 6,115.903 kb/d
Feb 2012: 6,226.759
Mar 2012: 6,280.129
Apr 2012: 6,268.900
May 2012: 6,314.355
Jun 2012: 6,227.600
Jul 2012: 6,356.645
Aug 2012: 6,275.903
Sep 2012: 6,539.467
Oct 2012: 6,914.903
Nov 2012: 7,011.600
Dec 2012: 7,064.161
Jan 2013: 7,004.935 kb/d

For Jan 2013, 14.5% increase since Jan 2012, or .095% decrease since Nov 2012.

The production is not at an historical high.

The original poster never said U.S. production has peaked, only its growth. Anyone care to plot growth per month over the last few years?

No chart but here I have calculated the change from one month to the nest using BT's data.

Jan	2012:	6,115.903	
Feb	2012:	6,226.759	1.01812586
Mar	2012:	6,280.129	1.008571072
Apr	2012:	6,268.900	0.998211979
May	2012:	6,314.355	1.007250873
Jun	2012:	6,227.600	0.986260671
Jul	2012:	6,356.645	1.020721466
Aug	2012:	6,275.903	0.987298016
Sep	2012:	6,539.467	1.041996188
Oct	2012:	6,914.903	1.057410795
Nov	2012:	7,011.600	1.013983855
Dec	2012:	7,064.161	1.007496292
Jan	2013:	7,004.935	0.991615989

I don't think anyone can conclude from these numbers that growth has peaked.

You are implying that growth means the same thing as production. That if one says that growth has peaked that means that production has peaked. No, that is not what we are saying. If that were the case we would not bother using the word "growth" and would use "production" instead. The peaking of growth means, by definition, peaking in the rate of growth. From the article:

I believe North American oil growth is going to continue, but that the pace of growth peaked in 2012 and is going to slow considerably with each passing year. That slowing rate of growth is not going to be enough to offset demand growth elsewhere in the world.

Ron P.

No, I didn't mean to imply growth means the same thing as production.

Guess I should have said "I don't think anyone can conclude from these numbers that there is a peaking in the rate of growth".

The claim made was that the rate of growth peaked in 2012. There is just no way we can look at the numbers and tell if that is true or not because we only have three months of data for 2013. But looking at the chart it should be obvious that the rate of growth has slowed considerably in the last five months. Of course it could take off again as it did in July of 2012. But we will just have to wait and see.

The EIA's Monthly Energy Review has the data through March 2013. Here is USA C+C production through March 2013 in kb/d.

US Production photo USProduction-1_zps99341a73.jpg

Ron P.

US growth didn't peak the day/month/year after W.TX or Prudhoe or Thunderhorse was brought online? If we're pumping less now than in 1971, how could production growth not have peaked long ago? (I know no TOD regulars are making that argument, btw, just making the deck chair argument again here)

The article above is clearly talking about our current shale bump on the decline curve, but I'm with the "that's nice, a little pillow to land on as we head from the 5th story window towards terra firma" camp. The hype is mindblowing. Better than no pillow at all though, I'll grant. I think we'd'a repeated 2008 already if not - all my friends are moving to Denver (smack in between TX and ND) - "follow the money" - seems to be the only part of the country with a net increase in jobs for earners under $500k. The 'flyover states' are giving a big 'ol finger to the rest of us right about now ;)


US crude + condensate production

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013E 2014E
Production (mb/d) 5,35 5,48 5,65 6,50 7,42 8,17
Y-o-y change (mb/d) 0,35 0,13 0,17 0,85 0,92 0,75
Y-o-y change (%) 7,1% 2,4% 3,1% 15,1% 14,1% 10,1%
Sources http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_crd_crpdn_adc_mbblpd_m.htm
EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook, May 2013

According to the EIA, US C+C output growth peaked in 2012 in % terms, but it will peak in 2013 in absolute terms.

"And they are not claiming that US oil production peaked in 2012 but that growth in US oil production peaked in 2012."

It looks like this fellow is expecting a flatter, fatter-tailed production curve than Rune or DCoyne seem to be expecting.

This "troll" comment here is interesting...I actually wouldn't be surprised to find a lot of casual MSM observers falling into the trap of believing that we're heading for an all-time high based upon the way they frame their graphs. The MSM articles, and other frack friendly articles, always seem to pick a date, usually around the late 1990's or so to start their graphs which would leave anyone who knew nothing of production before that point with the impression that we're about to reach all-time highs. If they were to include at least from US peak in 1971 to the present the perspective would be wholly changed.

Hi Substrate,

The well profile used by Rune is pretty fat-tailed. However, I think he assumes that prices cannot rise enough to allow drilling in North Dakota to remain profitable as the sweet spots become fully drilled so that the overall output from the Bakken/Three Forks may indeed be fairly thin-tailed.

I also think Rune does not like to make blind guesses about the future as I have done (concerning future oil prices, costs of production, and decreases in well productivity). This may be because later people will point to any incorrect predictions and say "see, those peak oil guys always get it wrong."
Rune can correct me if I have misinterpreted.

I attempt to create future scenarios using a range of assumptions about the future to cover low to high realistic possible outcomes. All of these may prove to be incorrect as the future is pretty difficult to predict.


Hello DC,

Chart shows the oil price with some financial trends (as I now see it).
To me there are several considerations that need to be understood to make good forecasts for any shale play.

  • Primarily developments in the oil price and development of costs.
  • The financial position of the companies; primarily as expressed by forecasts for their Net Cash Flow (after taxes, OPEX etc.) after CAPEX. In other words do they need capital above what is generated from the operations (which is linked to the oil price) and how much spare capacity do they have to take upon themselves more debt.
  • Developments in the well productivity which may difficult to predict as companies when they come to hold acreage by production may give priority to drill out the”sweet spots”.
  • Late life decline rates. Presently actual data suggests that the decline from year 2 to year 3 is steeper than what was used for the “2011 average” well. The effect from a steeper rate (than used) have effects on production, but as of now I would prefer to have support from actual data from a significant number of wells.

The use of scenarios is in my view a very useful exercise as this may help identify and understand likely outcomes.
Most forecasts are wrong, question is by how much?


The use of scenarios is in my view a very useful exercise as this may help identify and understand likely outcomes.

Agreed. Especially if you can determine "absurds" so that the area between one absurd and the other is likely to contain the truth.

Interesting graph...can I recommend setting some specific levels for the "Cost of the Marginal Barrel" ? I'm not sure what the estimates are exactly but the categories I'm thinking of are "On Shore" "Shallow Offshore" "Arctic on-shore" (like Alaska, Siberia) "Deep Offshore" "Tight" and for giggles "Arctic Offshore". As well as a "Composite Cost of the Marginal Barrel" (Which is what you appear to have already).

Might get too crowded, but I think it would be a good visual in showing that as one moves from Onshore to Deep Offshore and Tight Oil that the price will go up irregardless of total volume.

It's interesting to note: There's a pretty solid looking upper-bound around $130 and any time it comes close to $100 or dips below it heads back up (Saudi influence?).

Eyeballing the trajectory of price it seems to be heading towards $100/bbl by 2017. It would seem that this presents an important question to find the answer to...is that trajectory downward because of efficiency efforts (implying a cumulative NET steady/growing world economies), or because the ability of people to pay that price is slowly eroding and therefore heading towards a collision with that apparent $100/bbl floor?

One answer would imply that a higher price could be supported if necessary, while the other would not.

Clarification for the above question: I say cumulative net steady/growing because although the US and Europe are down, China and India are certainly still up - so does it wash out? As for efficiency, the gallon of gasoline that would have likely powered a single American truck/SUV for 17 miles with a single passenger is now more likely being used in China or India to power a small car for 35+ miles with possibly 1+ passengers. I feel this should count as an "increase in efficiency" - although this represents a decrease in utility in the US, it represents a much larger increase in utility for India/China.

Almost every day an article regarding shale oil and gas. But none of them talking about net energy. Am I missing something?

"net energy" has neither relevance nor utility to anyone involved the oil & gas industry, thus there is no reason to ever mention it.

Even if net energy were to be far less than zero for a project, it wouldn't matter at all to the industry as long as there was still money to be made (for example, using cheap electricity or natural gas to recover higher value oil).

Even if all energy sources were priced exactly the same, net energy would still be of very limited use.

I guess the first part of your answer. But if energy extractors use x number barrels of oil equivalent to obtain x-y barrels of oil equivalent, that seems to matter a little. At that point, though, there wouldn't be money to be made--customers would have neither money nor credit.

Economic distortions can only trump thermodynamics temporarily. Net energy will win in the end.

Well, it can trump it for a long time. Energy content is not the only thing we value. We also value the form. And energy dense liquids are worth much more than gas having even more energy content since the energy density liquid is easy store, transport, and use in vehicles. The gas requires pipelines and pressurization to increase energy density. Thus, energy dense liquid fuels will pretty much always be valued higher than the same amount of energy in the form of a gas.

The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent the resource lasts.

Well, in fact this is pretty much the definition of the experiment we are performing right now! Grab some popcorn and let's see what happens.

With the recent increase of unconventional oil/gas production, plus all the media hype saying we are entering a new age of cornucopian fuel resources, aren't we all tempted - even when we know better - to be suckered into half-believing the hype and hoping that perhaps it might be true and in reality all the fears of oil depletion were misfounded? That's the way it seems to me sometimes.

There seems to be a clash of realities which is leading to very muddy waters. For my part, I still believe that all the shale oil/frakky gas and tar sands in the world won't compensate for the imminent depletion of the grand old oil fields, and that in a shortish while the fears will return.

I wonder if we might just be in a reality lull right now... a calm before the storm...

Hoping that would be better for my personal comfort, and perhaps for my personal survival. But I know far too well what using that oil will do, and I cannot ever hope it is true.

In a prior DB - I think - there was mention that investment by O&G companies had gone from 250bn in 2005 to 600+bn now. But liquids production, and specifically crude production has not really gone anywhere. That tells me there is a problem - a very big and expensive problem.


I think the real problem is we don't have our priorities right. We should have kept O&G investment @250bil and put the extra >$350bil/year into renewables. If we had done that, we would be getting somewhere, rather than just spinning the wheels in a race against the red queen.

That is a micro/macro - scope of analysis issue.
Individual companies/interested parties focus on their specific interest over a timeframe which matters to those parties.
Zooming out a bit and looking at the situation at a planetary level over a hand full of generations your suggestion likely makes sense. If that happened though likely production would be down, prices up and society twisted in a knot (depending on how much and how fast supply would be down of course).


If 100 barrels of oil are produced and used to produce 150 barrels of oil at another location , will we not be told that 250 barrels have been produced?

Yes robert,

isn't it beautiful?

But with energy arbitrage, its more like 100 barrels of oil, requires 150 barrels equivalent energy wise of coal. It still makes monetary sense, to arbitrage a cheap form of energy for an expensive one.

All BTUs are equal, however, some BTUs are more equal than others.
(utility and all that stuff)


EU China solar panel trade war looms

The European Commission is on the verge of a trade war with China over the import of solar panels worth 21bn euros (£18bn) a year.

It is considering imposing an average "anti-dumping" import tariff of 47%, with a decision expected by 5 June.

The EC argues China unfairly subsidises its solar panel firms, putting Europe's manufacturers at a disadvantage.

But some European solar panel makers are warning that such a move would amount to "dangerous protectionism".

PV prices, while currently on a slight uptick, continued to fall in the US after tarrifs were imposed. Besides, I'm sure China will find other regions to dump their panels on. PV's utility has become hard to ignore.

Forgive my ignorance, but with respect to the article up top re rising sea levels in the Caribbean why isn't an increase in sea levels evenly distributed across the world (adjusted for local gravity)?


In some places the ground is rising whereas in other places it is subsiding. Also, as you mentioned, local gravity changes from place to place owing to large mountains, massive ice sheets, etc.

Another factor is that ocean currents like Gulf stream cause water to "pile up" in one place which makes the sea level uneven.

The article seems to imply that water in one part of the Caribbean is (rising) higher than in another part. can understand why water in one basin, assuming there is limited connectedness between basins, but islands in, what seems to a laymen like me, a connected pool of water to have different water levels seems odd.

Just speculating, but in part it could be because warmer water takes up more volume, so there may be a local effect in the warm, and warming, waters of the Carribean.

Only if the (coefficient of expansion weighted) average over the entire depth is higher/lower than the global average. If salt concentration is changing that complicates matters.

It is illegal for the seas to rise off the North Carolina coast, so this puts more pressure on other areas.

This is true. As well as the fact that sea level rise is just a communist plot to destroy North Carolina's scenic beaches. Thank god we have such brave patriots in the NC legislature!


While lots of people have made fun of the NC law, it's not really that bad. The Coastal Resources Commission is made responsible for publishing the value(s) for sea-level rate of change to be used for state regulations. Local governments are given some deference — they can use their own number if they want — but that's typical in state law. Some rebuilding permits are grandfathered in under what looks to me like a narrow set of circumstances. The Commission is charged with using best scientific data and methods. The values have to be revised every five years. And the draft report with the first estimates is due at the end of 2015. That's a pretty normal delay in many/most states for the first release of a new state publication that requires creating a fairly large process and then executing it. Compare that to the US Global Change Research Program, which issued its first estimate of rates of change ten years after it was created by Congress.

I haven't gone through the history of that particular state statute in its entirety. It would not be unusual if the prior statute had listed the factors that could be used in making policy and not included sea-level change. It's unusual for a state legislature to give the executive branch carte blanche to use any method they see fit. If such was the case, the new law is a step forward, and in terms of government, proceeding at a typical pace.

Working as a staffer for a state legislature for three years was an eye-opening experience.

It appears to me that one of the most effective forms of public pressure is ridicule, especially if the comedians pick it up. So I'm happy to encourage people to make fun of them.

They are up to worse things right NOW - trying to repeal our renewable energy mandate. Fellow North Carolinians, if you have a moment please email the sponsors of this bill and tell them of your opinion of trying to revert to an imported coal-based economy with the onset of peak oil and global climate disruption breathing down our necks.


Of course they are Republicans so it makes sense to couch it in terms of us needing renewable energy for our state's energy independence and job creation.

Thank you!!!
Stephen Hren
Durham, NC

Actually anyone should write them with their thoughts pleez!! Help us poor NC'ers who are suffering under one of the worst legislative regimes in recent memory - all of our advances are under assault and they want to turn our state back into an uglier version of its 1950s hateful self.

Your legislature wasn't imposed on you. The people of NC freely elected this lot. As they say in a democracy you get the government you deserve- so this is what you good folks deserve. I am always struck by the people who don't participate in the electoral process and then complain about the outcome.

Our problem is that we engage in the "narcissism of petty differences". Perhaps one of these days folks will realize that the hot button issues that energize people are in the scheme of things pretty petty. Lets fight about guns gays and abortion while the country is getting robbed blind by a bunch of kleptocrats.

The fact that we argue about social issues is no accident; is has always been the plan of the plutocrats.

Your legislature wasn't imposed on you. The people of NC freely elected this lot. As they say in a democracy you get the government you deserve- so this is what you good folks deserve. I am always struck by the people who don't participate in the electoral process and then complain about the outcome. ~ crazyv

Sarcasm aside, if it's there... The system's corrupt and unethical. Why vote for such a system, never mind the lead actors within it? It is a system predicated on force, violence, coercion, theft, privilege, imprisonment, etc.. That's why many don't vote. Voting for an illegitimate system is giving it legitimacy.

Many anarchists oppose voting for three reasons. First, they believe it to be ineffective, at best resulting in minor reforms. Second, taking part in elections has historically resulted in radicals becoming part of the system they oppose rather than ending it. Third, because some claim voting amounts to an acknowledgment of the state's legitimacy. Most fundamental is the idea that representative democracy itself is fundamentally flawed. In essence, the state uses the theory that it is democratic to gain power over the populace, and then uses force to suppress any dissent. Nonetheless, the state in reality almost never serves the interests of the populace in general, but simply produces the illusion that it does this solely to gain power. Governments operate at the expense of the public good, and can serve no other purpose regardless of whatever form they take. ~ Wikipedia

wonderful- so what alternative system would you propose? National Socialism, Soviet , Chinese...

The system is corrupt so I won't do anything and somehow that is going to make it better. Fewer people voting is going to make the system less corrupt? Unfortunately life doesn't give you the choice between good and better- more often it is between bad and worse.

All the whining about how bad things have gotten suggests that at some time things were better. When things were better were we not voting? It isn't the system its the people casting the vote that has changed. Of course the powers that be have rigged the system to their advantage. They have successfully made sure that there can't be economic populist party by making sure that people are divided on the basis of guns, gays and god. If people have allowed themselves to be conned for so long they only have themselves to blame.

wonderful- so what alternative system would you propose? ~ crazyv

That's a good question, and while I'm unsure as to the answer-- although I do have some ideas, maybe in part based on basic permaculture principles-- my uncertainly doesn't make the current system or previous systems any less morally-dubious.

"When it comes right down to it... we're all anarchists. Because what it comes down to is each us personally does not want to be forced to pay for services. We each want the freedom to choose, we don't want to be slaves or thrown into a cage for no other reason than we didn't want to pay someone's salary.

It's very easy to prove we're all anarchists by just asking a few questions... I usually start with:

Should a service or product be provided at the barrel of a gun?

Pretty simple; most everyone admits no man should be forcing another man to pay for a service. Just about everyone I 've spoken with about this will agree using violence to provide services is always wrong, if not psychopathic...

They'll agree, as we all learn by the time we're five years old, it's wrong to initiate force against others...

So once we understand anarchy is voluntary interaction, the absence of government, then it's easy to admit we're anarchists. Once someone admits they are an anarchist, then they are by definition abolitionists, supporters of the abolition of governments, or rather the concept of governments, states, nations etc....

Since we're all anarchists already, let's work at helping the rest of society realize it. The more people who are aware they are anarchists, the less social pressure there will be to continue cooperating and supporting people who do business in violation of a principal we all believe in, at least for ourselves personally: Do no harm, or Primum non nocere." ~ 'We're All Anarchists - Most Just Don't Realize Yet', You Tube Video


"Bill Mollison: People question me coming through the American frontier these days. They ask, 'What’s your occupation?' I say, 'I’m just a simple gardener.' And that is deeply seditious. If you’re a simple person today, and want to live simply, that is awfully seditious. And to advise people to live simply is more seditious still.

You see, the worst thing about permaculture is that it’s extremely successful, but it has no center, and no hierarchy.

Alan AtKisson: So that’s worst from whose perspective?

Bill: Anybody that wants to extinguish it. It’s something with a million heads. It’s a way of thinking which is already loose, and you can’t put a way of thinking back in the box.

Alan: Is it an anarchist movement?

Bill: ...You won’t get cooperation out of a hierarchical system. You get enforced directions from the top, and nothing I know of can run like that. I think the world would function extremely well with millions of little cooperative groups, all in relation to each other." ~ In Context


"Lastly, Gandhi developed the concept of nonviolent revolution, to be seen not as a programme for the seizure of power, but as a programme for transforming relationships. The concept sits neatly with the observation of the German anarchist, Gustav Landauer (1870-1919): 'The state is a condition, a certain relationship between beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently.' "
"In its first decade several themes, theories, actions... began to come to the fore and were given intellectual expression by the American anarcho-pacifist, Paul Goodman (1911-72) (36): anti-militarism, the rediscovery of community, community action, radical decentralism, participatory democracy, the organisation of the poor and oppressed inter-racially, and the building of counter-culture and counter-institutions (such as new co-ops, collectives and communes)."
"The collapse of the New Left coincided with the exhaustion of the less well-publicised Sarvodaya (welfare of all) movement for nonviolent revolution in India, led by Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan (1902-1979), which had sought through voluntary villagisation of land to realise Gandhi's dream of an India of village republics. The implication of Sarvodaya for the subject of this book is brought out by the statement of Jayaprakash Narayan: 'In a Sarvodaya world society the present nation states have no place.' "
~ Geoffrey Ostergaard, Resisting The Nation State

Written by crazyv:
It isn't the system its the people casting the vote that has changed.

It is not as simple as that. The U.S. Supreme Court appointed former President Bush 2 in 2000 by stopping the count of votes before they were all counted. If they had allowed all the votes to be counted, Gore would have won. That was a failure of the system.

If they had allowed all the votes to be counted, Gore would have won.

That is not a given. From Wikipedia:

The results of the study showed that had the limited county by county recounts requested by the Gore team been completed, Bush would still have been the winner of the election.

The supreme court did the right thing by stopping the recounting which could have gone on endlessly.

The angry "citizens" protesting to stop the recount: http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/blfloridagopmob.htm

Basically a team of GOP staffers flown in to pretend to be outraged at democracy in action.


As of today, Gore leads Bush in Florida by 1,017. This tally includes recounts conducted by the Miami Herald, the Palm Beach Post, the Orlando Sentinel, the Tampa Tribune, the Naples Daily News, and Democrats.com. It includes a gain of 682 votes for Gore in Palm Beach - which was more than enough to erase the 537 Bush lead certified by Katherine Harris. It also includes unexpected gains for Gore in Republican counties like Lake (130) Hillsborough (120), and Gadsden (40).

Still, these recounts vastly understate Gore's victory because they focus on undervotes, rather than overvotes. According to a study by the Washington Post, Gore would have gained 28,510 votes if all of Florida's counties used an "instant-check" voting machine that detected overvotes and gave voters an opportunity to fix their ballots. These more expensive machines were used to a greater extent in Republican counties, a critical "equal protection" issue that was ignored by the U.S. Supreme Court.

You'll recall that Gore won the national popular vote that day as well - the will of the people was thwarted, the recount should have continued.

If all the ballots with overvotes had been counted, then Gore would have won Florida irrespective of any combination of the other ballot issues, such as hanging chads. That was the result of the final count paid for by media outlets.

And that is only 1 of 10 review methods which could have been done. And it didn't come to light until months later during the media study.

The Washington Post: Florida Recounts Would Have Favored Bush

Yes our legislature was imposed on us. The districts have been gerrymandered in ridiculous ways, and the government is a very bad representation of the people's wishes. You think we live in a democracy? Our elections are bought and sold - but that doesn't mean hounding the bastards might not have some effect.

Stephen, you have my sympathies. Seems NC went bonkers after we moved one state north. Not that VA is all that much better. In fact, as a result of global industrial civilization, the corporatocracy, MOMCOM... everyone is essentially in the same boat, and it's going down. But you know this. And I know you make great efforts to battle it. Soldier on, my friend. And c'mon up here sometime to see our small efforts.

Dan (and Jill)

There was a study about this not long ago.

The study focussed on three effects that lead to global mean sea-level rise being unequally distributed around the world. Firstly, land is subsiding and emerging due to a massive loss of ice at the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago when billions of tons of ice covering parts of North America and Europe melted. This caused a major redistribution of mass on Earth, but the crust responds to such changes so slowly that it is still deforming. Secondly, the warming of the oceans leads to a change in the distribution of water across the globe. Thirdly the sheer mass of water held in ice at the frozen continents like Antarctica and Greenland exerts a gravitational pull on the surrounding liquid water, pulling in enormous amounts of water and raising the sea-level close to those continents. As the ice melts its pull decreases and the water previously attracted rushes away to be redistributed around the globe.

Thanks. helpful.

One of the fun examples of post-glacial rebound is Lake Mälaren in Sweden. Circa 900 CE, it was a bay on the Baltic Sea and ocean-going ships of that time could sail well into the interior of Sweden directly. Ongoing rebound cut the bay off from the Baltic and today it's a fresh-water lake. The rebound rate is about 1 cm/year and expected to continue for thousands of years. Depending on the rate of sea-level increase, it could become a bay again in a couple hundred years.

Many things can distort the distribution of water. Short term changes in winds/surface pressures and sea currents. Also changes in the rotation axis (and speed) of the earth, as mass is redistributed from high lattitude ice caps to the global ocean. Near ice caps that are melting, gravity is changing due to the ice going away. And of course rising/falling land.

Just like Egypt, Pakistan is on the verge of collapse. The government has banned air conditioners to save energy and factories are being run by burning wood in boilers. In rural Pakistan electricity is off for up to 18 hours per day.


Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, . . . there are a lot of places barely hanging on. We are going to see more upheaval in the coming years. I think those military reports which view collapsing nations as one of our greatests threats have raised very good points.

Even Saudi Arabia is studying how to decrease fuel subsidies :

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Saudis say fuel subsidies distort economy, must be cut

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia should cut energy subsidies that are burdening public finances, the economy minister and the head of the state-run utility said, a move that would also tackle the issue of erosion of crude exports.

Rock-bottom prices for gas, power and gasoline have turned the world’s 20th biggest economy into its sixth-biggest consumer of oil, producing less than $3.70 of economic output for every kilogram of oil equivalent that it used in 2010, compared with the global average of $6.20, according to World Bank data.


We discussed steel making on a recent Drumbeat, and this looked to be of relevance: Researchers find a way to make steel without greenhouse-gas emissions

Oh, there are greenhouse-gas emissions...in the making of electricity. But if it's truly gg emission free, then let's give a Nobel to these guys.

I was not advocating it BTW, just passing on an interesting article.

If the only GHGes are from making the electricity, then that could be made with noncarbon sources. Its just a matter of replacing the electric gen system -which we are (too slowly) trying to do already.

I think the title of that article is wrong. It should have been about finding a way to make IRON without adding carbon to the mix. The process requires melting iron oxide at 1600F and then using an electrolysis process to separate the oxygen from the iron oxide. The source of the energy for heating the melt and the source of the electricity might be provided by a fossil fuel source, although a renewable source might also work. Then, to make steel, one would still need to add carbon to the iron. We won't know how well this works until it's been demonstrated in a production scale system...

E. Swanson

Traditional pig iron (what you get from the traditional smelting process) has IIRC something like 6% carbon. You gotta bubble oxygen through it to burn off much of this carbon to get the carbon content down to around or below 1% for the type of steel you are producing. So this would mean that step is avoided, and you have to add carbon, and whatever else your recipe calls for.

Actually, that suggests something - if you produce 0% carbon iron, and need to add cabon in... Theoretically you could make it carbon-negative by taking carbon from atmospheric CO2. Probably not an easy thing to do, but an interesting thought.

Except you need carbon in its reduced form C not CO2. So you have to unburn the carbon. Sequestration of CO2 or carbonate is a lot less energy intensive.

Bakken output may be boosted by closer oil wells

North Dakota's leading oilfield operators hope to squeeze much more oil from its shale formations by drilling wells closer together - a bold experiment that could raise ultimate recovery by billions of barrels if it succeeds.

Oil and gas wells drain hydrocarbons from a fairly large area, although it is impossible to know the exact extent since the field cannot be observed directly. This poses a tricky problem for operators and regulators.

Drill wells too close together and they interfere with one another, draining oil and gas from the same parts of the formation and reducing their efficiency. Drill wells too far apart, and some valuable oil and gas will be left behind in parts of the formation not near enough to any well bore to be recovered.

It should be obvious that they are drilling the wells in between the already drilled wells because they have run out of new drilling areas. I do expect that they will get a lot of oil from these "in between wells". But it is unlikely that they will get anywhere near what the average well produced from the original spacing. We can expect the "barrels per day per well" to start to decline.

Ron P.

The closing quote caught my eye:

But the basic idea is that fracked horizontal wells are draining smaller areas than once thought and can be put closer to one another without interference. If true, drilling costs could fall dramatically (closer spacing is cheaper and more efficient) and far more oil could ultimately be recovered.

I understand how this would result in recovering more oil, but I don't see how it can possibly be 'dramatically' cheaper. Adding a new well to get at oil that wouldn't flow previously is far more likely to make costs go up, unless you get some kind of economy of scale with drilling rigs, but I rarely hear of that. A run on drilling rigs tends to increase their price, period.

Guessing the wells would be dramatically cheaper because they don't have to fracture nearly as much volume. For many of the current Bakken wells, the stimulation (fracturing) of the well often costs more than drilling and casing the well. I don't think it would be "dramatically" cheaper, but the costs could definitely drop.

It's all diffusional flow, and like all diffusional processes, the flow does not scale over long distances.

Thanks for the straightforward perspective, WHT.

There are practical tradeoffs as well. More closer wells means more wells per pad, which means better efficiency for drilling. Despite thousands of wells drilled, companies are still learning too: sometimes long laterals have issues with sedimenting, and keeping liquids out gets harder with less flow. And different companies do things differently - some blow down the gas ASAP and go to rod pumps while others pace the gas to keep up pressure.

Frack recipes are evolving, and so are the staging approaches.

Sure, infield drilling means that the sweetest spots are likely tapped-out, but it is too soon to see if the ROI on the new fine-scale grid is better or worse.

My bet, somewhat reinforeced by the last few years, is that production will be marginally more difficult and lower ROI, but each new technique modestly improves the flow of blood from the turnip. People are ingenious and they'll keep oil flowing longer than many will expect. Climate effects are of course an completely different angle......

I presume it is cheaper because they drill more wells and get more oil per drilling pad.

Not sure where they came up with the concept of "closer spacing is cheaper and more efficeint". The whole reason for directional drilling (horizontal wells) and fracking, is that you can get far more oil from a given area far cheaper, than you could with a large number of "conventional" vertical wells.

"But the basic idea is that fracked horizontal wells are draining smaller areas than once thought and can be put closer to one another without interference."

If this is true then the companies and investors are in for a world of pain. Though it cannot give exact numbers todays 3D seismic and test wells, are supposed to give geologists a pretty good picture of how much oil can be recoverd and what methods should be used on a given well. If they are in fact "draining smaller areas" then the economics of each well gets thrown into question.


the companies' strategy in the first stage of bakken development was to grab as much land in the sweet spots as they could and to drill a necessary minimal number of wells. Now they are in the next stage, and try to understand the full potential of these sweet spots by infill drilling and exploring the lower benches of Three Forks, the Upper Bakken shale, etc.
I think that infill drilling could help to increase ultimate production levels per sq. mile, but per well productivity will drop. If oil prices are high enough, this strategy will pay off.

Interesting analysis from SS:

Looks like the oil markets will continue to be tight, chuckle.

Look! Something Shiny! How some textbook visuals can hurt learning

Adding captivating visuals to a textbook lesson to attract children's interest may sometimes make it harder for them to learn, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that 6- to 8-year-old children best learned how to read simple bar graphs when the graphs were plain and a single color.

Children who were taught using graphs with images (like shoes or flowers - [like those in USA Today]) on the bars didn't learn the lesson as well and sometimes tried counting the images rather than relying on the height of the bars.

... The problem of distracting visuals is not just an academic issue. In the study, the authors cite real-life examples of colorful, engaging – and possibly confusing - bar graphs in educational materials aimed at children, as well as in the popular media.

Don't Worry, Be Happy

To most of the Western world, happiness is the number one goal, and a happy life is seen as a good life. But is it as simple as that?

Not according to Dan Weijers from Victoria University's School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations ... "My research included several experiments in which students were asked whether machine-generated lives full of pleasure were better than real lives. Contrary to existing philosophical opinion, the results showed that many young people endorse the hedonistic view that experiencing pleasure was more important than living in reality."

Is Tesla Made of More Than Just Green Credits?

They jelly. Tesla report 12 cents per share earnings today blowing away the estimates of 3 cents per share. They also said they would up production.

After Hours : 69.75 +13.96 (+25.03%) 6:41PM EDT - Nasdaq Real Time Price

A bit over the 40% of the shares were short . . . and the shorts are getting squeezed.

If that after market valuation holds, Tesla will be valued at around $7Billion. To put that in perspective, Tesla hopes to sell 21,000 cars this year . . . GM that built nearly 5 Million cars is only valued at $44 Billion.

Hmm . . . How come those grandstanding Congressmen that held hearings on the loan to Fisker don't hold hearings on the loans to Tesla? Oh that's right, because a successful maker of US-designed US-built EVs running on domestic electricity doesn't fit into their narrative of bashing everything green.

don't use rational analysis when it comes to finance.
That is irrational!


The more I learn the more wiley those Tesla guys seem.

First off they decided not to go with a hybrid platform - this made them exempt from (expensive) emissions testing on any engines they would have used. They leveraged the lack of engine to optimize space and positioning of the battery pack, which benefits handling. Because of a tradeable credit scheme they're able to make money from other automakers by selling ZEV credits to them. Starting at the high end of the market, they're building high-performance luxury cars for people that can afford them and as part of that strategy they've apparently been nabbing a bunch of Aston Martin engineers.

All of these people talking about profitability should be listening to Elon Musk and simply looking at the numbers - he's been telling people all along that he's plowing every spare cent back into the company and the numbers show that. Developing a dealer network, expanding the factory, putting in the "Supercharger" network, paying back loans...they haven't been posting wild profit nor bleeding red - and that's a deliberate thing. I hope they can get the ModelX off without a hitch - it should appeal to a "wider" audience.

Consumer Reports: Tesla is best car tested since 2007

A day after Tesla Motors reported its first quarterly profit ever, the electric car maker is receiving another huge boost: Consumer Reports magazine says the Tesla Model S is the best car it has tested since 2007, achieving its highest score.

The magazine says the electric sedan achieved a score of 99 out of 100, outperforming every other model this year in every category --from performance to interior quality. It is the first time a plug-in electric has achieved such a high score.

The Tesla scored 99 out of 100. Last car to do that was the Lexus LS 460L in 2007.

I think just as remarkable is that a start-up automaker less than ten years looks like they are going to make it.

The genius of the plan was to start at the top of the food-chain. Instead of trying to build a cheap EV for those trying to save money on gasoline, they started at the top and build sports and luxury cars that were able to take advantage of the high-end luxury features of battery power (great acceleration, completely quiet, no smells, no exhaust, no fill-ups, no vibration, no oil drips, no oil changes, no shifting gears (not even automatic shifting), etc.) while hiding the high-cost of batteries with the luxury price.

And due to the 100% torque at 0 RPM, EVs can outperform gas cars in acceleration. The top speed is often not as high but it is dangerously illegal to drive 150 mph anyway.

So what advantage do the gassers have over the Tesla? Nothing but longer range and fast refill times. And when you are selling a $60K to $100K car . . . you know the purchasers can afford a second car for long trips. (That is not something you can take for granted at the low-end.)

So the start-from-the-top plan was genius. But that alone would not have been enough. They had to execute and build really REALLY good cars. And it appears they did.

Nearly one in three US honeybees lost in winter 2012-13

This winter's losses of 31.1 percent represent a steep increase from the 22 percent losses of 2011-2012, when a mild winter gave bees and beekeepers a respite. The new survey, conducted from October 2012 through April 2013, shows the respite is over, with losses running slightly higher than the 30.5 percent average over the past six years.

The 2012-2013 loss rate is more than double the 15 percent loss that beekeepers say is "acceptable" for their businesses to remain viable. Seventy percent of beekeepers surveyed sustained losses higher than 15 percent.

Lost 2 of my 3 colonies this winter. After a mild/normalish start, most of the country had a cold/hard late winter/early spring. That's when colonies are most susceptible. Even weak ones can weather the early part of winter. But as honey (or sugar water) stores deplete, it's those last few weeks that are toughest to survive through. Warmth and early blossoms can avert disaster, but we didn't get that this year, we got the opposite. I'm sure there are other factors, but this definitely plays a role. And hey, there might be a peak oil lesson in there as well, regarding the timing of depletion with the degree of reliance on a stored energy source and the prevailing climatic conditions... Perhaps it will come to be called Civilization Collapse Disorder.

The 2012-2013 loss rate is more than double the 15 percent loss that beekeepers say is "acceptable" for their businesses to remain viable

At some point one has to start to wonder if outside of a few ecologists, the general public and our political and corporate leaders, will ever be able to grasp the simple fact that without healthy ecosystems we are FUBAR and there will pretty soon be NO economy whatsoever!

The never ending stream of industrial pollutants, herbicides, pesticides, the toxic cocktail of tne 80,000 plus pharmaceuticals that humans use on a daily basis, are all bad enough when considered in isolation. When the synergistic effect of all of these substances is taken into account, the possible consequences are truly mind boggling.

Add in things like industrial mono cultures on a massive scale, coal mining, offshore drilling, producing tar sands, climate change, habitat destruction, deforestation, ocean acidification, not too mention too many humans, etc... and it really starts to become very difficult to remain optimistic about the future.

It's not the economy, stupid, it's the ecology! There is just no way any business has a snowballs chance in hell of remaining viable without it.

I really don't think many understand much of anything about what sustains us. The present myths & stories about who we are and what it is that has made us successful are so distorted and irrelevant that they provide no tools at all with which to grasp the situation we are in. Greer and others are essentially trying to re-educate people in relevant concepts, but it is a monumental task to try to reach any significant numbers.

And even if everyone suddenly understood, while there would be much beneficial we could do we would still be massively in overshoot, and still be having massive ill effects on our environment.

Government should 'grow up' on climate change, scientist says

By Max Paris, CBC Environment Unit, CBC News Posted: May 8, 2013 6:31 PM ET

A group of 12 prominent Canadian climate scientists called out the federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver on his support for the expansion of oil infrastructure in a letter released today.

The scientists wrote that building pipelines and developing fossil fuel production delays the transition to an economy that relies less on oil and gas.

The scientists urged Oliver to move away from the high-carbon approach that will lead to climate warming of more than 2 C.

"If we invest in expanding fossil fuel production, we risk locking ourselves into a high-carbon pathway that increases greenhouse gas emissions for years and decades to come," wrote the group that includes Mark Jaccard of B.C.'s Simon Fraser University, Gordon McBean of the Centre for Environment and Sustainability at Western University in London, Ont., and David Keith, a Canadian who is teaching public policy and engineering at Harvard University.

-- snip --

Keith was blunt in his assessment of the Canadian government's stand on climate change and resource development. He wants the government to "grow up" and represent the two important but very different needs of the country.

According to CO2.com, April's CO2 data came in at 398.35 ppm up about 5 ppm over 2 years. 400 is just around the corner, maybe next month. 20 more years and we will be at around 450. Governments can't grow up, central banks can not grow up,and economies don't grow up because people don't grow up.

Scientists find new obstacles to freshwater research base

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail Published Wednesday, May. 08 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

Scientists who study the effects of pollutants on fresh water say they are being barred from the Experimental Lakes Area and their work is in jeopardy despite Ontario’s promise to put up money to keep it operating.

The federal Conservative government stopped most scientists from entering the world-renowned freshwater research station in northwestern Ontario at the beginning of April, saying the ELA no longer fits with the mandate of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

I noticed the Canadian Gas Association (cga.com) still doesn't have production numbers for 2012?

They should be here: www.cga.ca/resources/gas-stats/

So I went to Statistics Canada's handy CANSIM tool, for natural gas data: Table 131-0001 Supply and disposition of natural gas

Table 131-0001 Supply and disposition of natural gas, annual (cubic metres x 1,000,000)		
Survey or program details: Crude Oil and Natural Gas - 2198
Geography: Canada
Total supply and disposition		
	Total marketable gas	% Change
	(Production)	        from previous year
1995	148,205.00	
1996	153,578.30	        3.50
1997	156,170.40	        1.66
1998	160,479.70	        2.69
1999	162,218.50	        1.07
2000	167,793.50	        3.32
2001	171,350.60	        2.08
2002	172,197.20	        0.49
2003	166,457.20	       -3.45
2004	167,502.50	        0.62
2005	170,740.30	        1.90
2006	171,690.00	        0.55
2007	165,456.50	       -3.77
2008	159,340.20	       -3.84
2009	147,598.20	       -7.96
2010	144,506.40	       -2.14
2011	144,448.00	       -0.04
2012	141,274.00	       -2.25
Statistics Canada. Table 131-0001 - 		
Supply and disposition of natural gas, annual (cubic metres)		
(accessed: May 08, 2013)			

Note: "Total Marketable Gas" is production. For a sanity check on terminology...

Crude oil and natural gas: Supply and disposition, December 2012

Domestic production of crude oil and equivalent hydrocarbons increased 5.1% to 17.1 million cubic metres in December from December 2011.

During the same period, crude oil exports increased 2.8%.

Marketable natural gas production decreased 2.3% to 12.9 billion cubic metres.

Domestic sales of natural gas rose 10.3% while natural gas exports decreased 14.6%.

Provided I have my math right; and I could be wrong and would happpily have someone correct my math on calculating year-over-year decline.

Anyway, it seems that year-over-year production in 2012 declined by %2.25.

Canadian gas production continues to decline!

Have fun playing with CANSIM, it's pretty straightforward and intuitive.

BTW, I wonder why the CGA hasn't updated it's production stats to include 2012 data?

Canada has tons more gas -- they've way slowed down due to the US glut and general oversupply. The sands can only use so much gas.

Not that Canada won't also feel inevitable declines and decreasing field quality, but they have much more still to produce.

I'm very glad to see the decline -- maybe we're finally getting past the glut. Life will be good with $7 gas. Really it should be more than that, given int'l gas prices.

"We" are being fed, clothed, housed, provided for, and governed by a psychopathic system... Like babies with psychopathic parents...

One that allows two different people doing more or less the same amount of work to earn wildly different incomes, and then acquire wildly different amounts/qualities of land and/or resources with, and relative to, their respective incomes. Some time ago, on the bus, I once told that to a young woman who appeared roughly in her late teens. I said, that's all you need to know. If you remember anything from our exchange, let it be that.

If I'm rich, what do I do with money? Buy lots of land and resources out from under everyone's feet? Then what? Charge them rent and have them work for me to pay the rent? Take my business overseas and do the same thing there?

What good is that?

You can talk about this and that all you want-- Republicans, EV's, oil depletion-rates-- but if you don't change the underlying fundamentals, you might as well be a prisoner chained in a cave with the shadows on the wall for your reality.

Perhaps it was Thomas Kuhn who once wrote that it is the lens which determines what is seen. What is your lens?

Mine is, in part, along the lines of permaculture: Care of Earth; Care of People; And Their Results Fed Back.

"Most people are not really free. They are confined by the niche in the world that they carve out for themselves. They limit themselves to fewer possibilities by the narrowness of their vision."
~ V. S. Naipaul

One of the recent postings at Boston.com in their The Big Picture series is "By Rail"


I love the look of #28 with that cabin of mostly glass...don't think it would support many Bangladeshis on top though.

Peak Oil: Energy Investor Bill Powers Discusses the Looming Shale Gas Bubble

Indeed, the well production data that Powers picked through on a state-by-state basis demonstrates a "drilling treadmill." That means each time an area is fracked, after the frackers find the "sweet spot," that area yields diminishing returns on gas production on a monthly and annual basis.

It's an argument regular readers of DeSmogBlog are familiar with because of our recent coverage of the Post Carbon Institute's "Drill Baby, Drill" report by J. David Hughes.

Powers posits this could lead to a domestic gas crisis akin to the one faced in the 1970's.

And on the Bakken:

Production in oil is probably leveling out close to 700,000 barrels a day. The wells there have a very steep decline. Will it get over a million barrels? That's very difficult to say, it's very questionable.

Ron P.

Imagine if you will, the output of every oil field in the United States in 2013. Assuming--in my opinion a probably conservative--estimated decline rate of 10%/year from existing wellbores, US oil companies would have to replace the productive equivalent of every single oil field in the US over the next 10 years, in order to maintain current US C+C production.

I've concluded that most Cornucopians are visitors from Fantasy Island, where oil fields don't decline.

The big unknown is how many, if any, of the shale wells turn into stripper wells. At 40K wells per year, or thereabouts, the number is not the issue. The question, though, is also price. There will still be shales and carbonates, but not as good as what we have now.

What is the decline rate of stripper wells? Are they slower than younger ones or declining in the same speed?

Stripper wells, in conventional fields, decline at a much slower rate. I am sure they decline slower in tight oil plays as well but I have no idea at what rate they decline. But North Dakota has shut down perhaps a thousand wells or more so they do decline pretty fast also, probably at around 10% a year or better.

Ron P.

I was guesstimating 10%/year based on declines from older plays, like the North Slope, which has shown an annual production decline of 6.3%/year for the past five years, combined with much higher decline rates from the shale/tight plays.

In any case, I think that a very reasonable assumption is that the overall US decline rate from existing wellbores is increasing, as a higher percentage of production comes from shale/tight plays. In other words, the Red Queen problem.

The U.S. oil pipeline glut is upon us

With the expansion of the Seaway pipeline to a nominal 400,000 barrels per day capacity, Cushing is now in a structural deficit when refineries connected to the hub operate normally. Since the system is not in equilibrium, it is again price that will regulate the local market. But now the price has to go up to kill off demand from regional refiners for Cushing crude. Already the balance at Cushing is not as favorable as it was a year ago. Stockpiles at the hub are poised to drift lower through the summer and with not one, but two major new pipelines requiring perhaps 8 million barrels of linefill between November and March 2014, the imbalance between inbound pipeline capacity and outbound capacity is becoming acutely visible.

Those refineries like BP's 405,000 barrels per day Whiting, Indiana plant, which are directly connected to Cushing but have the option of sourcing oil from many different markets, will cut their demand for Cushing barrels as margins erode.

But if the imbalance persists, the blow will fall hardest on refineries that have no alternative supplies. The golden age of the refinery next door to Cushing is at an end.

Actually it maybe upon Cushing, but not yet all the production areas. When WTI and WCS are just discounted from Brent by the cost of transport, pipelines will be sufficient. It's not a zero-sum game though. There will be winners (producers), losers (local refineries and their customers), and more losers (foreign producers) and more winners (foreign consumers).

Even within the oil patch there can be no consensus, given that each must know on which side his bread is buttered.

I suspect Leanan will be posting this interesting article about a new way to "trap" solar energy in theory:


Published on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 by McClatchy
Patent Filing Claims Solar Energy ‘Breakthrough’
by Greg Gordon

WASHINGTON — In a U.S. patent application, a little-known Maryland inventor claims a stunning solar energy breakthrough that promises to end the planet’s reliance on fossil fuels at a fraction of the current cost – a transformation that also could blunt global warming.

Ronald Ace, photographed at his home in Laurel, Maryland, May 4, 2013, said his flat-panel "Solar Traps," which can be mounted on rooftops or used in power plants, will shatter barriers that have stymied efforts to make solar energy cheap, clean and reliable. His claimed discoveries, which exist only on paper so far, would represent such a leap that they're sure to draw skepticism. (Photo: Mary F. Calvert/MCT) Inventor Ronald Ace said that his flat-panel “Solar Traps,” which can be mounted on rooftops or used in electric power plants, will shatter decades-old scientific and technological barriers that have stymied efforts to make solar energy a cheap, clean and reliable alternative.

“This is a fundamental scientific and environmental discovery,” Ace said. “This invention can meet about 92 percent of the world’s energy needs.”

Personally I am skeptical about the claims that any capture of solar energy could meet
92% of the world's energy needs and replace the millions of years of captured solar energy in fossil fuels.
But if it does work (all theoretical nothing in actual production - where have we heard that before? lol) it could represent a more efficient conversion of solar energy.

Any thoughts?

He solved global warming too. "Now, backed by a computer model, the little-known inventor is making public a U.S. patent petition for what he calls the most "practical, nontoxic, affordable, rapidly achievable" and beneficial way to curb global warming and a resulting catastrophic ocean rise."

"It stretches the imagination — and perhaps credulity — to suggest that a solitary inventor with no government support could solve global warming, especially a man who never earned a degree despite studying physics for much of a decade at the University of Maryland."

Let's, at least, take this guy out for a beer.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2008/12/21/58124/scientists-doubt-inventors-g...

"practical, nontoxic, affordable, rapidly achievable and beneficial"

The overuse of adjectives makes me think its investors he's trying to trap rather than solar energy.

My initial thoughts as well. But, then the question arises, are those words from the developer(promoter/scamster), or just from some ignornat journalist? It is conceivable a decent invention could be written about in such a suspicious manner.

However, the whole thing sounds very very unlikely to me. And its got to compete against panels at circa $.50/watt, which means its gotta be really really cheap.

There's no information in the article or in Google searches for "Ace Solar Trap" that can lead to any conclusions. It's all one man's claims... it would be fantastic if he has invented what he claims, and if it could be deployed at the sort of cost he claims...

However the skeptic in me thinks it's probably wishful thinking, and the cynic in me wonders whether such an invention would ever be allowed to see the light of day (no pun intended). The arch-cynic worries how much more carnage mankind would reap on the planet with vast availability of very cheap energy...

If cheap, clean energy availability becomes unconstrained it simply means we'll be able to get through all the other non-renewable natural resources that much cheaper... may be able to do good in slowing down or even reversing climate change though (which would be a huge bonus).

Apologies for generally gloomy thoughts, I must be having one of those days

We can all hop into my ECAT powered car and go visit him, and then stop by the unicorn petting zoo on the way home.

But my ECAT powered car, also uses EESTOR ultra-dultra-capacitors, which can store all the gigajoules man has ever used in a tiny space.

"...The arch-cynic worries how much more carnage mankind would reap on the planet with vast availability of very cheap energy...

If cheap, clean energy availability becomes unconstrained it simply means we'll be able to get through all the other non-renewable natural resources that much cheaper..."

It seems we're on the same page, NFE. I fear it's a reality that our species is stuck with. Part of an as-yet-to-be-posted comment I left at TheArchDruidReport this morning; goes to the paradox of human 'progress':

A group, be it a family, tribe, etc., gradually, collectively, begins to invent and adopt ways of overcoming the hardships and limitations of the hunter-gatherer system. They slowly begin to exceed the carrying capacity of their habitat ("The Garden"). The fall from Grace has begun.

"Original Sin" is the rejection of physical limits imposed by Nature (God). What follows - agriculture, technology, evermore complex social and infrastructural systems, population increases, wars for resources, etc., and our remarkable attempts to describe this process, have all grown from the seed of hubris; our ability to delude ourselves; our insistence that physical limitations don't apply.

Available energy is the enabler of this process. Conversely, restrictions to available energy can limit this process, which makes us even crazier, since we seem to be incompatible with real limits. Oh, well.... as long as energy madness defines who we are, we're caught in a loop, at least until planetary limits shuts it all down.

It seems we're on the same page

More than you know, Ghung!

While I am nowhere near as far down the line as you, I'm also working on "zero-carbonning" my home - in fact I'm already there on a net basis, less than zero carbon in fact.

4 kW of PV generates 50% more electricity than I use (though not always at the time that I use it) and heats 80% of my domestic hot water requirements. Every lightbulb in the house is LED, and all electrical appliances are the most energy efficient I can find (not that I have many). Home heating is exclusively from a 12 kW wood-burning stove with wood harvested sustainably on the property. Triple glazing and a very comprehensive insulation programme being undertaken this year will reduce peak heating load from >12 kW to <4 kW, so I'm putting in a large thermal store to spread the use of heat over 24 hours with a max of 4 hours wood burn per day on the coldest days of the winter.

I'd love to put in a battery system to store surplus PV output rather than sending it to the grid, but I simply don't know enough about it (specifically maintenance) to warrant the expenditure (yet). I also think electricity storage media will improve and cheapen over the next five years as a result of progress in EVs... playing chicken a little bit with possible economic collapse in the future, but it's a gamble I'm prepared to take.

If I weren't a mortgage slave I'd rear animals too, which would serve as a useful outlet for the vast surplus I generate in fruit, vegetables and nuts.

A water well would be nice too, plenty of water under the chalk hills on which I live...

Off grid for everything is the target - maybe I'll get there one day.

Have you added thermal mass to your refrigerator/freezer (if you have one) and connected it to a timer programmed to run it only during daylight? It makes a cheap battery for storing electricity from PV in the form of cold.

I move eight litres of ice in plastic bottles from the chest freezer (Liebherr GTP 2356) to the (old inefficient) fridge every morning. The fridge is thereby kept sufficiently cold that it almost never has to run. When I'm at home and there's spare PV, I'll manually set the freezer to -28c (from -18c) to store surplus energy as cold. Unfortunately there's no way to automate this process, as, even if I could buy a smart plug, the freezer still needs manual adjustment.

Maybe one day manufacturers will develop fridges and freezers which operate withing temperature ranges driven by smart plugs. This would allow cheap, surplus grid power (or spare PV, wind, etc if off-grid) to cold-boost appliances so that they have to run less in times of more expensive power. Such devices already exist for appliances run off electric resistance (immersion elements, electric underfloor, etc), which is how I heat my domestic hot water from the PV.

Saltwater. You need saltwater that freezes somewhere between -28c and -18c to store you spare PV.

I manually move ice bottles between my freezer and refrigerator daily too. The brine bottles stay undisturbed in the freezer.

The necessary invention might be a detector for the surplus PV power built into the inverter or battery charger that sends a wireless signal to the appliances (or power adapters like timers) instructing them to activate or deactivate.

As I study more and more about the rise and collapse of civilizations, I flip back and forth in my opinion about them. Civilization, and most of the efforts of knowledge are about trying to get around limits. Yet when humans can remove limits, even for a while, we do great harm to ourselves and to the ecosystems that supports us.

Still, I think of the great wonders, often great beauty, civilizations have created in arts, sciences, philosophy, public works. Maybe the cycles of rise and collapse are worth it if it mostly only hurts humans. Unfortunately we seem to be able to great harm even with fossil fuels.

Did you catch Eduardo Galeano recently interviewed on Democracy Now?

Transcript quote (my bold text):

"...EDUARDO GALEANO: Yes, about migrants. Immigration is a subject always—

AMY GOODMAN: About migrants.

EDUARDO GALEANO: —always present in daily life here in the United States and in many other countries also. So this is something about— December 18, The First Exiles:
'Today, International Migrants Day, is not a bad moment to recall that the first ones in human history obliged to emigrate Adam and Eve.
'According to the official version, Eve tempted Adam: she offered him the forbidden fruit and it was her fault that both of them were banished from Paradise.
'But' —but, but but— 'is that what really happened? Hmm. Or did Adam do what he did of his own accord?' Hizo lo que hizo porque quiso.
'Maybe Eve offered him nothing and asked [him nothing,] nothing of him.'
'Maybe Adam chose to bite the forbidden fruit when he learned that Eve had already done so.'
'Maybe she had already lost the privilege of immortality and Adam opted to share her damnation.'
'And so he became mortal. But not alone.'

NERMEEN SHAIKH: That’s wonderful, Eduardo Galeano. Could you talk about that particular last entry that you’ve read and the question of immigration as an issue here in the United States?

EDUARDO GALEANO: Yes. Yes, I hope things can change. And I really cannot— Christopher Columbus could not discover or the so-called discover America, because he had no visa, no passport. Álvares Cabral could not discover Brazil, because he had no—how is it? A police—a police document establishing that he was honest..."

Thoughts? Lots and Lots. and that on its own is encouraging, but also exhausting to consider.

The article gives us so little.. the ball's in his court.. it's in all of OUR court too.

My dad worked for years to lay out particulars of a design for a large scale solar desalination setup, which would also be a net energy producer, both in Electricity and waste Heat by his calculations. I don't know if it works at the scales he has envisioned, or is the best way to apply the ideas.. but as with Ronald Ace and all the other creative hopefuls out there, I think it is great to see how much mindpower is out there plugging at these things from all directions, in thinktanks, at kitchen tables and in basement workshops..

It seems to me that there is a phenomenal pile of intellectual resource material growing that can feed into the process to let appropriate designs evolve. I can only offer a wan smile at the proposition that any one guy has these great 'Wonderdrug' solutions that will do it all, but that's not to say that he's altogether wrong in seeing it that way. He is deep inside the things, looking at many avenues of potential that it might well satisfy. From where he is, such a distortion in his viewpoint is fairly understandable and forgivable.. it doesn't mean we have to either buy into that conclusion, OR that we have to spend much time trying to 'correct' his optics. Just look at what works and what doesn't.. where is there some potential in HIS plans, and where can that combine with My Dad's ideas, mine, yours..

Tag.. you're it!

Any thoughts?

Yeah! If it has already been patented then show us the physics and calculations behind it. Let's at least see a drawing, or better yet, a working prototype of some sort. Heck, at least it's not another cold fusion get rich quick scheme by someone convicted for fraud, eh?

...That all might sound rather rosy, since the previously undisclosed invention has yet to be constructed and fully tested. But John Darnell, a scientist and the former congressional aide who has monitored Ace’s dogged research for more than three years and has reviewed his complex calculations, has no doubts.

“Anybody who is skilled in the art and understands what he’s proposing is going to have this dumbfounding reaction: ‘Oh, well it’s obvious it’ll work,’” said Darnell, a biochemist with an extensive background in thermodynamics.

John Darnell holds a PhD in Biochemistry and was Energy & Science Advisor to Congressman Bartlett
US House of Representatives.
June 1998 – January 2013 (14 years 8 months)

Retired - served as point of contact for innumerable contacts from a public inspired by the Congressman's far-sighted energy insights and the urgency of developing sustainable energy alternatives in the era of Global Peak Oil.

Evaluated innovations, interviewed innovators, advised the Congressman and attempted to refer projects to appropriate Federal agencies.

‘Oh, well it’s obvious it’ll work,’ Chuckle, chuckle, fall about!

If he actually built a better mouse solar-trap then the world will beat a path to his door. I'm skeptical but if he has a real break-through it will hit the market and prevail. Good luck to him.

Data from the Sun Herald at How would Solar Traps improve on traditional solar technology?, May 8, 2013, indicate Solar Traps are high temperature solar thermal devices.

Cost of Energy Storage
High-temperature rooftop solar traps could capture enough energy for economical storage in cheap materials, such as sand, for as long as desired. When Solar Traps are used in solar power plants with arrays of mirrors, energy can be stored cheaply at much higher temperatures for as long as desired.

"...for as long as desired?" The longer thermal energy is stored the greater the loss. All thermal to electric generators are somewhat inefficient. He is talking about "arrays of mirrors" which are not cheap and will probably need tracking systems.

Chemical storage?
Phase change?
If the heat is being stored using the specific heat of sand, then I do not see how "as long as desired" could possibly be true.

Who knows what he has in mind?

He is talking about "arrays of mirrors" which are not cheap and will probably need tracking systems.

Google Bill Gross' TED talk on Energy. He developed a self tracking system with mylar mirrors that was quite cheap. This was a while ago, he used it on a Stirling engine, though at the time the Stirling engine itself didn't fly...

As for sand being used to store heat I'd have to see the guy's numbers but if the temps are high enough it still might be cheaper than molten salt.

JPMorgan Chase Faces Regulatory Action Over Energy Trading

May 8 (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co and some of its personnel face a possible enforcement action by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over bidding practices in certain markets, the company said on Wednesday.

In March, FERC staff notified JP Morgan that it intends to recommend the action by commission, the company disclosed in a quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last week, the New York Times cited a confidential document from FERC when it reported U.S. government investigators had found evidence that a JPMorgan unit manipulated trading in the California and Michigan electricity markets.

The company has said it will it "vigorously defend" itself and its employees in the matter.

Federal regulators often notify targets of investigations give them a chance to show why enforcement actions should not be brought.


London Whale
The bank's chief investment office gambled on credit derivatives, losing $5.8 billion (so far), and its trading desk may have tried to hide the losses from the home office. The bank says it is being sued by shareholders over the losses and has gotten subpoenas and requests for information.

Milan Swap Deal
The bank has faced lawsuits and criminal investigations over an interest-rate swap deal it made with the city of Milan, Italy, back in 2005. The bank settled a civil suit, but criminal charges are still pending against the bank and several employees, with hearings in the trial "occurring on a weekly basis since May 2010."

The bank and some of its executives are still being sued over the bank's relationship with the failed, fraud-ridden energy giant, more than a decade after its failure.

Credit Card Swipe Fees
The bank said in the filing that it will pay about $1.2 billion to settle charges that it conspired with MasterCard and Visa to rig credit-card swipe fees.

The bank is being investigated by regulators all over the world for its alleged involvement in manipulating Libor, a short-term interest rate that affects borrowing costs for people, businesses and governments all over the world.

There's more at the link: Involvement with the Madoff ponzi thing; Peregrine Financial; MF Global; etc.. If I went to the town square and lit up a joint, I'm sure I would be in jail within the hour...

Someone explain to me how we have any chance at all to reform our systems when the rule of law is so fundamentally corrupted.

Someone explain to me how we have any chance at all to reform our systems when the rule of law is so fundamentally corrupted.

Oh, I have long ago given up on any ideas of reforming the current system. The only solution that I see is to start from scratch with a brand new system. Anyone who took place at a leadership level in the old system would be automatically barred from participating in the new system. Well, perhaps we might allow some of them to shovel humanure after a long period of probation...

"The only solution that I see is to start from scratch with a brand new system. Anyone who took place at a leadership level in the old system would be automatically barred from participating in the new system."

This idea always ends up drowned in rivers of blood. Always.

There is a good reason why the post-WWII reconstruction of Germany and Japan was done the way it was done (i.e. with keeping the bad guys in charge). It's unfortunate, but it worked.

The desire to throw out anyone tainted by association with the bad guys often leads to catastrophe -or at least a few years of chaos. Witness the provisional coalition authority in Iraq. Throw out anyone with any bathe party affiliation (which effectively included all civil servants, police, military, teachers etc). The country rapidly fell into chaos, and an insurrection completed the downhill slide.

If you start up a brand new "system" with humans at the helm you will arrive at exactly the same place before you can say "OOPS"

Credit Card Swipe Fees
The bank said in the filing that it will pay about $1.2 billion to settle charges that it conspired with MasterCard and Visa to rig credit-card swipe fees.

I use to be a liason for a bank (credit) card processing company, repping three banks we serviced. One bank manager confided in me they made obscene amounts of money on their credit card service without really having to do much of anything. Their particular branch made 90% of their money from credit cards. That was back in the 80's.

So if they're raking in so much dough on credit cards, why get greedy and cheat the system? This is something I cannot understand about people, that the more money involved the greater the propensity to breach ethics, morals and laws to squeeze out even more. Makes it hard to believe there is any chance for a positive future outcome in the bottle-neck to come from peak oil and or climate change, as regular people get squeezed even beyond the regular daily raking over the coals that takes place.

It has been observed, that the richer you are, the more greedy you get. So if you have say $100,000 in the bank, you would be greatly satisfied to see it go to $110,000. But if you have $1,000,000 it needs to go to $1,250,000 to deliver the same satisfaction. And if its a hundred million, you had better triple it.

That and the fact that managers are rewarded with stock options. A stock option is only valuable if the price rises substantialy, which means corporate profits much rise more than the market expects. So naturally, you gotta go for outsized gains. Otherwise you are just another also-ran.

It's a utility function actually. People aren't wired for greed alone, but with a flexibly graduated scale based on perceived utility. For a millionaire, how big a change in value is needed to "feel" a bit wealthier, versus a guy with a $100 bill in his pocket? People are also to a degree risk averse, so they tend to feel a loss moreso than a gain. That millionaire who wants a 25% gain to feel wealthier might still feel poorer if he loses just 5%. Human brains are neither linear nor mathematically inclined.

FYI: Art Berman is JHK's guest on today's KunstlerCast.

Art: "This business with shale is not a revolution; it's a retirement party."

This is a great podcast. Shale oil means we are scraping the bottom of the barrel, or so says Art Berman. And he takes of on calling stuff oil that just ain't oil, like ethane. I loved that part of it.

Ron P.

Thanks. Excellent podcast. Art Berman seems very down to Earth. He is a critic but he is not a polemicist. The shale plays have definitely increased supply of oil and gas . . . but they are not a panacea that will provide energy independence (or even North American energy independence).

Sick but pinched: Prescription drug spending down, report finds

Spending on prescription medicines in the U.S. fell for the first time in decades last year, slipping as cash-strapped consumers continued to cut back on use of health care services.

Patients also benefited from a surge of new, inexpensive generic versions of widely used drugs for chronic conditions like high cholesterol, according to a new report.

Total spending on medications dropped to $325.8 billion last year from $329.2 billion in 2011. Likewise, average spending per person on medicines fell by $33, to $898 last year, according to the report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

"That's the first time IMS has ever measured the decline in the 58 years we've been monitoring drugs," Michael Kleinrock, director of research development at the institute, told The Associated Press.

The Pharma biz needs to be squeezed a bit. They've been quite profitable. And other countries need to pay more . . . the USA practically subsidizes drugs around the world by paying so much more than other countries.

The Pharma biz needs to be squeezed a bit. They've been quite profitable. And other countries need to pay more . .

Nah! Everybody just needs to give big pharma the middle finger salute as in the example below. And the US government, if it had even a smidgeon of decency would join the world against big Pharma! Basic health care can not be run under a for profit model. I have zero sympathy for any of the participants in the US healthcare provider system. It is broken beyond repair! As is the US government!

Alexandre Manguele, the southeastern country's health minister, announced that the first ARVs produced in Mozambique, in partnership with Brazil, will be ready by July 2012.

In doing so, it will be the first African country – rather than private sector supplier – to produce its own stocks of the drug, which can prolong the lives of HIV sufferers by decades.

For the past ten years, a handful of mainly First World drug multinationals have battled to keep in place patents allowing them to control the lucrative market.

Emphasis mine. Not to mention that US congress critters have been taking the graft from big Pharma lobbyists for a long long time. And yes America citizens have been paying through nose because of it.

The drug companies do deserve to have patents to protect their inventions. No one is going to invest in R&D if everything they do can be copied freely.

However, the drug companies only spend a relatively small amount on R&D and a huge amount on marketing and advertising. I think advertising of prescription drugs should be banned . . . that just creates patients asking for drugs they probably don't need. And all the drug reps run massive kick-back schemes.

"No one is going to invest in R&D if everything they do can be copied freely."

Yes, because nothing whatsoever was invented before there were patents and copyright. /s

Of course things were invented before. But only things wherein you get enough personal benefit out of it or you get can enought benefit out of it before it is copied by everyone else.

No one (except wealthy donors) would spend millions to develop a drug to cure a disease though if it could just immediately be copied by everyone else. They'd go out of business.

And how's Industrial Civilization, Inc.™ working out? For most I mean.

Ever heard of the health benefits of the chaga mushroom or wintergreen in their natural form, or goodness knows what else we don't know because only the corporations/governmobs know/have access to? That's self-disempowerment and when TSHTF and our Magic Meds® disappear from the shelves, then what?

Uh . . . industrial civilization is working out great for most people. Even the poor within it are much better off than those in third world subsistence farming nations.

I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories of things being hidden by "corporations/governmobs". If they have something good, they'll sell it to you as long as there is a profit to be made.

You might want to step back from the pointillist painting or take a balloon ride over the forest, above the trees, if you think, as you write, 'industrial civilization is working out great for most people'.

"Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits, in the classic formulation. Now, it has long been understood, very well, that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist, with whatever suffering and injustice that it entails, as long as it is possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited, that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage can. At this stage of history either one of two things is possible. Either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community interests, guided by values of solidarity, sympathy and concern for others, or alternatively there will be no destiny for anyone to control...In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival."
~ Noam Chomsky, 'Manufacturing Consent'


"...the glory of the human has become the desolation of the Earth, and now the desolation of the Earth is becoming the destiny of the human. From here on, the primary judgement of all human institutions, professions, programs and activities will be determined by the extent to which they inhibit, ignore or foster a mutually-enhancing human-Earth relationship...
...Our relationship with the universe becomes a 'use' relationship. Now that's disastrous... Just like to say to another being-- human-- 'you used me'-- is about as terrible a thing a person can say. Now the planet Earth is telling us, 'You used me.'"
~ Thomas Berry (1914-2009), 'Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community'

The drug companies do deserve to have patents to protect their inventions

Agreed! However they should also expire after a certain amount of time. BTW there is actually perfectly legitimate science and research going at universities in many parts of the so called third world, big pharma benefits hugely from that as well and they blatantly use third world citizens as test beds for their products.

I'm sorry but you just aren't going to get a whole lot of sympathy for the drug companies from me.

Patents do expire.

Unsure about patents. Why are they really needed? Who are they 'protecting their inventions' from? What are their motivations? What are the systemic/model/socioeconomic contexts/models that seem to make patents necessary, and are they working? Patenting life? Seed patents? Patenting traditional-knowledge? Complex, expensive, elitist (legal) systems? Stifling creativity, democracy, accessibility?

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library is an Indian digital knowledge repository of the traditional knowledge, especially about medicinal plants and formulations used in Indian systems of medicine... the objective of the library is to protect the ancient and traditional knowledge of the country from exploitation through bio-piracy and unethical patents, by documenting it electronically and classifying it as per international patent classification systems. Apart from that, the non-patent database also serves to foster modern research based on traditional knowledge, as its simplifies access to this vast knowledge, be it of traditional remedies, or practices.
~ Wikipedia

No one is going to invest in R&D if everything they do can be copied freely. ~ speculawyer

That's what industry (and its lawyers) apparently suggested about file-sharing: No one is going to make music/film/art if it gets copied freely.

But of course others suggest that 'sharing is caring'.

The computer you are working on would not exist if it were not for patents that protect the inventors and investors. The patents allow a time-limited monopoly in order to encourage innovation. It is not a new phenomenon . . . it is even explicitly mentioned in the US Constitution. We've been patenting things for over 200 years now . . . I think the success of our innovation and technology has shown that the system works reasonably well.

You can't patent traditional knowledge . . . you can only patent new inventions.

Is the system perfect? No. Far from it. But does it work? Yes.

That's what industry (and its lawyers) apparently suggested about file-sharing: No one is going to make music/film/art if it gets copied freely.

If everyone pirated everything then yes, industries would collapse. Fortunately, not everyone pirates everything. The music industry has undoubtedly lost a lot of revenue and they've had to turn to other sources such as advertising and sponsorship.

"The computer you are working on would not exist if it were not for patents that protect the inventors and investors."

The PC I'm working on also is the result of cooperative standards development and technology sharing. Even the operating system and software are open source/free. I'm not sure how that meme could be applied to big pharma, but it sure would be nice. Our health is at least as important as our computers (for most of us, I hope).

All of these things are made possible by a surplus of resources and faux capital, likely quite temporary in the scheme of things. Our great great grandchildren will either tell magical stories about the Alchemists of our time, or pay a tribute to the Pharma Guild of theirs.

Having worked in the computer industry, patents were more a source of potential legal problems, and potentially a way for legal vampires to raid your hardwon capital. Usually among the computer majors they would have cross licensing agreements -"you can violate our patents, and in return you will look the other way when we violate yours". Now this is probably a different environment then pharma, most computer products utilize thousands of patentable ideas -many pretty obvious given the problems that need to be solved, whereas a drug might involve from a handful to only one.

Big Pharma: How the World's Biggest Drug Companies Control Illness is a 2006 book by British journalist Jacky Law. The book examines how major pharmaceutical companies determine which health care problems are publicised and researched.

Outlining the history of the pharmaceutical industry, Law identifies the failure of a regulatory framework that assumes pharmaceutical companies always produce worthwhile products that society will want. ~ Wikipedia

Ah yes, that 'regulatory framework'...

My own formative research on traditional/natural medicine/health is beginning to make me reconsider/take a good hard look at this kind of pharmacy BAU thing too, and it's looking increasingly questionable.

You know, enemy of state, if you want to talk energy ('and our future'), how much time and energy do you think goes into, and is wasted on, the "corporatocracy"? I'll bet it's staggering.

The PC I'm working on also is the result of cooperative standards development and technology sharing. Even the operating system and software are open source/free. I'm not sure how that meme could be applied to big pharma, but it sure would be nice. Our health is at least as important as our computers (for most of us, I hope).

The way it can be applied to big Pharma is to just ignore them! You think Linus Torvald called up Bill Gates and Steve Jobs before starting work on Linux? BTW, wanna bet the excerpt below is found in a database on a network of Apache servers?

What is OSDD

OSDD - NKN ; An introduction
OSDD is a CSIR led team India Consortium with global partnership with a vision to provide affordable healthcare to the developing world by providing a global platform where the best minds can collaborate & collectively endeavor to solve the complex problems associated with discovering novel therapies for neglected tropical diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis, Leshmaniasis, etc.OSDD is a translational platform for drug discovery, bringing together informaticians, wet lab scientists, contract research organizations, clinicians, hospitals and others who are willing to adhere to the affordable healthcare philosophy. It is a concept to collaboratively aggregate the biological, genetic and chemical information available to scientists in order to use it to hasten the discovery of drugs. This will provide a unique opportunity for scientists, doctors, technocrats, students and others with diverse expertise to work for a common cause. The success of Open Source models in Information Technology (For e.g., Web Technology, The Linux Operating System) and Biotechnology (For e.g., Human Genome Sequencing) sectors highlights the urgent need to initiate a similar model in healthcare, i.e., an Open Source model for Drug Discovery.

You can't patent traditional knowledge

Tell me about it. They tried to patent "Turmeric" which is a traditional medicine and a spice, they've tried to patent "Neem" another traditional medicine component. They also tried to patent "Basmati Rice" which is also a traditional variety of rice from my country. I believe there are also attempts to copyright many yoga postures.

Patents are necessary but there are a lot of patent scumbags as well, like everything else patents have hit their point of diminishing returns.

Computers and electronics are a product of government R&D -mainly for military purposes. I wonder how long it would have taken had it been entirely up to private initiative. The mixed public/private system really has worked best. But, hybrids are ideologically unexciting -some from column A and some from column B just doesn't inspire the activists. Nor is it a good basis for identity politics.

This seems to presuppose that our lives are more improved with computers and electronics. Are they? In a thorough, honest and sincere cost-benefit analysis? I have my doubts.

If only we could have all the benefits-- assuming, for the sake of argument that they are benefits-- of "large-scale centralized/complex organizations" without the drawbacks. I just responded to crazyv in this Drumbeat about something of this.

If only we could eat our cake and have it too...

"A patent office is a governmental or intergovernmental organization which controls the issue of patents. In other words, 'patent offices are government bodies that may grant a patent or reject the patent application based on whether or not the application fulfills the requirements for patentability.' " ~ Wiikipedia

So we seem to need a coercive force to uphold patents. Anyone see problems with that?

Given that we appear fundamentally a local small-scale species, I'm afraid to say that I don't see how we will be able to reconcile our cake.

IOW, unless we can turn this around and pull a rabbit out of our hat-shaped cake, we may have to let go of our computers and magnetic resonance imaging machines in exchange for "traditional knowledge", and get cracking on getting it back before we have nothing of either.

(By the way, file sharing and pirating are not synonymous, and is an example of yet another falsehood that many seem deluded by.)

No one is going to invest in R&D if everything they do can be copied freely.
There are other models. One is to make public research grants available, with the proviso that seriously limits exclusive use -for say a year or two. This is often done with technical software, often with the funds coming from a corporate customer, who gets exclusive use for a year or two.
Sure this may not be quite as efficient at focusing research as the free enterprise model. But then the later spends so much more on promotion than research anyway.

And one could add that copyright in some cases slow down R&D. :-)

During the the 19th century there was often no copy right for publications in Germany, the number and circulating edition of technical articles was very high compared to UK with copyright restrictions. After publishing companies got their copyright some scientists complained that the number of people who read their papers went down dramatically. There are scientists who attribute the high rate of technological innovation in Germany to the lack of copyright. :-)

A obvious result of copyright is that the prices of scientific publications went through the roof, while the authors of the product (better valuable part of the product) work for free.

Another aspect is that paptents only make sense as long as you are able to protect them legally. Otherwise patents give your competitors useful information. Therefore, in some fields companies do not longer file patents, I know small chemical companies which are not longer interested in patents because they have no chance to prove that the copycat, usually in Russia or China, is using their approach, same for producer of high tech construction machinery exported to China.

OTOH it is a pain in the butt when you spend a lot of time with R&D and then somebody is allowed to cherrypick the useful results and can invest the saved R&D money to outproduce you.

In practice, the information in papers and patents is often of little value without the engineering know-how to use it in a practical way. For example, the concept of the jet engine was known decades before usable implementations existed. In fact, brilliant people were able to show that the concept was crazy and their analysis was correct in the context of the existing technology - one of the most severe criticisms was that the efficiency of such an engine at the speeds attainable by existing airframes would be terrible.

In the scientific literature and patent archives, there is lots of material that could be regarded as disinformation - you could use it to make a widget, but would find that the result was not commercially viable.

The current patent system has evolved in perverse ways - for some time it has been possible to patent vague ideas that, with a bit of luck, turn out to be extraordinarily valuable later on (i.e., other technological advances make a practical and useful implementation possible). It could well be that the more vague a patent is, the greater its potential value, because it can be stretched to cover things the patentee never imagined. The advent of software patents has made the situation worse. You can take a well known idea that involved one or more manually performed steps and, by implementing these steps in software end up with a patent (e.g., the so-called business method patents). Another distortion is that the legal aspects tend to favor the residents/businesses who reside in the jurisdiction. - patent litigation is often an uphill struggle for foreigners.

In my previous job, I worked in a government organization and had various dealings with industry. One of the things that struck me was that, with few exceptions, the businesses that made the biggest deal about IP tended to have very little that could objectively be considered to be significant IP - it was nearly always really trivial stuff. Curiously, this behavior also seemed to show a correlation with the size of the organization.

Written by speculawyer:
No one is going to invest in R&D if everything they do can be copied freely.

Written like a good little blindfolded capitalist.

Another option: Government takes money from tax payers, awards grants to university researchers and puts the results in public domain.

Yeah. The Soviet Union didn't work so well. Maybe give it another shot?

University grants ≠ Soviet Union.
Dr Jonas Salk made his life's work freely available.

When Murrow asked him, "Who owns this patent?", Salk replied, "No one. Could you patent the sun?"

As pointed out above, a mixed model also works. It's not great for arguing though.

While hierarchies always corrupt, and Marx would not of survived 1935 Moscow, they did take essentially a country that 70% of the people we living in a feudal state, and put a man in space in 50 years.

And the US IS working well?! Other than for the 1%, that is... Either you can't see the signs of serious trouble in paradise or you've drunk very deeply of the Kool-Aid!

The Soviet Union is an example of government doing the research and technology.

JPL, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, is funded by the U.S. government and managed by Cal Tech with their inventions sold to corporations for $1. At least that is how it worked a few decades ago and has been a part of America's advancement.

The recent ideology that corporations have built America and should do everything, ignores history. America is failing as corporations take over.