Urban Survival: The GOM Situation

interesting stuff, under the fold, from a couple of insiders...(from urbansurvival.com)
Our Houston Bureau guys (a/k/a oilman1@urbansurvival.com and oilman2@urbansurvival.com ) do an amazing job of keeping me posted on what's going on in the Gulf.  Tonight, on the eve of our departure for the ranchstead, Houston 1 offers this:

    Let me sum up:  Hurricane Ivan destroyed 7 platforms and 100 piplines and 0 rigs.
    Katrina & Rita destroyed (so far) 90 platforms and (who knows) pipelines and 100?

    There are typically around 130 rigs working in the Gulf. Today, there are 23.
    There will be virtually no new exploration in the Gulf for the next year or so, assuming everything stays the way it is right now. Plus, with the rigs left in operation, there are several countries bidding to have them work in their waters. Guess who wins? Highest bidder.

    Gasoline was up $0.40 at my test location just since last night. Expectations are that it will rise over $1.00 by Sunday night. Two years ago, I could fill my SUV (26 gal tank) for $28. Today, it cost me $28 to fill my buzzie with a 10 gal tank.

    Service companies are strained to the max. There is very little equipment available. Dive equipment, generators, winches and the whole lot were destroyed in the storms. Rentals are going out all over the world to get the equipment to do the job. Right now, everything is on an even keel, but one more surprise could put the whole remediation effort over the edge, as well.

    Still working on the refinery data for you. Don't trust the happy talk. These are eyeball numbers. We are keeping a large wall map up-to-date in the war room. (Oilman1 is at an oil service company that does offshore work - G)

    It's not only bad, it's very bad.

Ergo, we may not take too long getting there...we don't like lines any more than you do. (humming, "On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again...")

Now let me add it up: A tenuous political situation in DC, New Orleans clusterfibbit, quakes pending west, and oil outages on the horizon.  That means rationing and restrictions on travel.  We'll take flight ahead of a crapstorm any day...

What I wonder is how long the situation can be kept hidden from the mainstream consciousness..?
Thanks for the report, ProfG. The first half gives us some numbers so we can get an idea of where we stand, but the second half isn't really so enlightening. I think pretty much everyone here at TOD already knows that the situation is worse than the MSM have admitted (though they're starting to come around).

I realize that the situation is still very murky, but it'd be nice to have more hard data. Is it possible for TOD to do a daily summary of where we stand in GOM recovery? You could include the MMS data combined with other data from your insiders.

These numbers are so even and high compared with other reports I have read here that I do not believe them withouth further confirmation. I guess we only have to wait for a few days to get more reports.
Thanks Prof Goose.

I'm inclined to belive the government wants to play down the severity of the situation at best, and at worst, possibly hide reports such as the one above.  Possibly they do not want to cause panic, or more immeadiately, not add to speculative buying of energy.

However the weekday report from the blandly named OFFICE OF ELECTRICITY DELIVERY AND ENERGY RELIABILITY contains quite a lot of information.

Here is Friday's report:

It appears they have stopped weekend reports this weekend.

Note that even though downed refiners were given some partial power Friday, they seperately reported partial power is not enough to restart plants.

It's pretty funny how "free market" folks keep talking about "demand destruction" as a market-driven solution to this energy crisis.  Sure, an expensive product becomes cheaper as it becomes less popular.  But for most Americans gasoline and electricity are not luxuries--they are necessities like food and water.  "Demand destruction" means that some people cannot drive to work or heat their homes.

The fact is that American consumption needs to be lowered by 8% (=1.5 MMBPD GOM shut-in / 18 MMBPD pre-huricane consumption).  In an egalitarian society, one would strive to spread this "suffering" across the population.  However, in a market economy some will go on consuming like nothing ever happened--because they can afford $3/gasoline and $15/MMBtu nat'l gas.  Others meanwhile will be forced to stop driving to work because what they earn and stop paying their heating bills because what they burn.  They will lose their jobs and have their heating cut off.  Their consumption may be reduced by ~100% then.  

There is your demand destruction, which may very well be irreversible.  

The fact is that capitalism drove the GDPs and with it, the demand for oil & gas, all they way up the Hubbard peak.  On the way down, it is no longer part of the solution-- it is part of the problem.

The 1.5/18 calculation is not right - trade spreads the problem globally. So it's really 1.5/84 for oil. Even gasoline is likely to be somewhat more global since we dropped refining standards for the emergency. However, natural gas is probably a big deal.
Exactly, NG is a more continental market while oil is global. And the US has already peaked.

What about oil import capacity given destruction of port facilities? Then of course there is the refining capacity. I think we will see higher prices at the pump than if the oil problems had happened elsewhere.

The point is, in the post-peak or near-peak world the old supply-side models do not work.  And we should be worried when we only hear these as "solutions" to the present energy problem.

What we need are aggressive government-sponsered programs in coal-gasification and Fischer-Tropsch synfuels (or similar "alternative" but demonstrated technologies).  The "market forces" won't make this happen becuase they are afraid that LNG imports will make coal-gasification uncompetitive.    

There is this myth in America that all great technologies were developed without government help.  The reality is that the most successful technologies in the fuels and petrochemicals were developed during WWII with aggressive government help-- fluidized cat-cracking for high octane gasoline and synthetic rubber being just two examples.

F-T synthesis is lossy, and the fuel still has to be burned in the same old inefficient internal combustion engines.  We would be much better off building our vehicles as plug-in hybrids and running as much as we can off electricity:
  1. The mine-to-wheels efficiency is much higher with modern powerplants than with car engines, even without the F-T process losses.
  2. IGCC powerplants are a lot cleaner than car engines.
  3. We'd be able to power other loads on-peak while charging cars off-peak.
  4. We could use any source of energy that generates electricity to run our cars; we would not be restricted to coal.

We've already paid a billion dollars for hybrids through the PNGV.  It's a small step from hybrids to plug-in hybrids; we ought to insist that they be brought to market.
I agree completely - plug-in hybrids are the best way to curtail transportation demand for gasoline and diesel in the medium term (5-10 yrs).  Fuel cells for autos still seem to dominate the popular press and US auto makers as the likely solution, but the technical improvements necessary to make plug-in hybrids in real numbers are far less of a challenge.  Plus beefing up the US electrical grid is a lot less daunting than thinking about building a hydrogen distribution system.

I also agree are better off using North American coal reserves to generate electricity (and thus displace natural gas consumption) than using the F-T process to generate diesel.  I read in the papers a few days ago that GE and Bechtel agreed to begin engineering and design for a 600-megawatt coal-gasification plant in Ohio - finally!  This is by far the largest plant to date.  Coal gasification doesn't help much with our global warming problem but it greatly reduces particulate, sulfur dioxide and heavy metals emissions.  I live in the Pacific NW and much of our air pollution and the mercury in our tuna come from coal fired electric generation plants in China.  I wonder what the cost-benefit calculation would look like to pay the Chinese to replace their existing plants with coal gasification plants.  GE would be all for it.

The President needs to take a step beyond conservation and put significant DOE money for plug-in hybrid development.  His oil company constituency might not be thrilled, but it wins point on the fuel cost / national security fronts.

... beefing up the US electrical grid...
Is unnecessary unless you want to recharge during the day.  The grid is sized for peak loads, and charging at night wouldn't get close to its limits.  Average US power consumption is about 440 GW; my calculations are that actual power delivered to the wheels of US vehicles averages 183 GW given somewhat generous allowances for drivetrain efficiency.  If we can power A/C loads at 4:30 PM, we can charge cars from 11 PM to 7 AM and the grid won't break a sweat.  What we need is more fuel for the generators (or to shift some of that oil we're burning from 17%-efficient car engines to 55%-efficient combined-cycle turbines).
The President needs to take a step beyond conservation and put significant DOE money for plug-in hybrid development.  His oil company constituency might not be thrilled....
There is a trivial amount of money in the new energy bill for plug-in hybrids, inserted at the last minute.

The plug-in hybrid was always the threat to the oil interests; it would have allowed anyone who cared to drive on energy from nuclear, natural gas, wind or even solar... on different days.  I would not be at all suprised to learn that oil interests had a role in keeping CARB or anyone else from splitting the difference in the ZEV mandate, because once that cat was out of the bag it would have been really tough to keep the tech from spreading.

Your estimates for power requirements for national electric transportation needs sound about right to me.  Unfortunately people want to drive wherever they want, whenever they want.  One of the reasons cited by GM and Ford for dropping electric car support is that their customers wouldn't accept long recharge times.  The challenge to develop batteries for plug-in hybrids (or electric cars) is not only to increase cycle lifetime and charge capacity but also to increase charging rates, so that the end user has can get home from the work, plug in, and recharge for a night on the town.  And yes, that is why there is a gas engine in the car, but people will still want to have their cake and eat it too.  I agree with you that the sensible way to make mass adoption of hybrids for personal transportation work is to have everyone recharge overnight, but even with financial incentives (lower overnight rates) not everyone will choose to do so.

Also as fuel oil and natural gas prices go up many homeowners will choose to switch to electric heat.  And it's not just heat for homes - a number industrial energy needs will switch over as well.  Peak oil and peak natural gas will tend place a lot of increased demand on our electric grid independent of our transportation needs.

My point is that we already know how to increase grid capacity.  Public utilities plan for growth as a normal part of business.  It's just a matter of making sure investment dollars are available and estimates for future demand are realistic.

Hydrogen distribution for fuel cells is an entirely different story.  Then we still have to address on-board storage issues, H2 production issues and fuel cell cost issues.

Maybe biodiesel works for Brazil, but I doubt it will work for nations far off the equator like the US and Canada.

So go hybrids.  Go Toyota.  Support gov R&D support for better batteries, more efficient electric drive trains, continued solar, wind, coal gasification and CO2 sequestration technology, and subsidized loans for electric grid infrastructure enhancements (both efficiency and capacity).

There is no need for recharging only overnight if we use swappable battery packs. You pull into an "energy" station and they swap out the depleted battery pack while swapping in a newly charged pack. The whole operation should take less than 3 minutes.

The internet could be used to broadcast to everyone in real time, when and how much recharge load the grid can handle. Electricity prices vary based on this info.

Swappable battery packs mean not just a radical redesign of vehicles, but an infrastructure investment on the order of hydrogen-fuel stations.  This isn't going to happen fast enough to help, if it happens at all.
Swappable fuel-cells or other such energy-storage modules is going to have to happen with hydrogen anyway. No one is going to be pumping liquified hydrogen through a hose and nozzle. Imagine the cryogenic burn you get if you spill some on your hand. Ouch.
Why use hydrogen as fuel with a completely new infrastructure when it easily can be uses in the current refineries to upgrade crude and thus distribute the energy content within the current infrastructure?

I guess that the best hydrogen distribution method when oil get realy expensive is as synthetic methane. And then you reuse the natural gas infrastructure for distribution.

The problems with synthetic methane are two:  efficiency of use and the carbon.  Methane is no easier to use efficiently than gasoline (compared to e.g. zinc, which is usable at about 62% efficiency in Zn-air fuel cells) and you've got to obtain the carbon somewhere.  Fossil carbon will eventually run short, and renewable carbon isn't available from conventional sources isn't available in the quantities required.
If battery manufacturers formed a consortium to define an ISO standardized form factor and operating specs for these swappable batteries then auto makers could make receptacles built in for them. Existing autos could have the receptacles retrofitted into the trunk. The receptacles would probably have to be tailored to each vehicles power requirements and would convert (if neccessary) the battery output into whatever format the car needs. New cars of course could be made to run directly off the batteries. As far as infrastructure goes, you only need as many gas-station-battery-swap-booths as required for the number of swappable-battery-cars in the area.
I was thinking more in terms of a swappable battery pack that is part of a GM-like, modular under-carriage structure. You want the batteries to be low-hanging so as to keep the center of gravity close to the ground. This reduces chance of roll over.

You would drive into an open-trench service station similar to those fast lube job shops. They swap the battery from underneath without having to jack the car up. Maybe they can lube your hybrid car's gas engine at the same time if the car has a fossil fuel burning, booster engine.

Why all the talk about batteries, fuel, etc... and no talk about human powered vehicles?

That's the biggest bang for your buck of all... there must be, all over North America, a huge - massive - number of people that could trade some, or all, of their fossile-fueled transportation for human powered transport.

Too little mind-effort is spent on high tech solutions. Three wheeled bikes with comfy seats, high tech generators (for lights) and cargo carrying capability (on board or via trailers) could easily be mass produced at much lower cost... and given away... and would be far more effective in reducing overall fossil fuel energy use than any other initiative I can think of, other than a mass die off thanks to some new flu virus.

I sure wish I used the preview feature more. I meant of course "too little effort is spent on LOW TECH solutions"...
While i really like the idea of people powered transport, i can only see it being viable for short range, or flat land trips, in weather that is warm enough.
Also as fuel oil and natural gas prices go up many homeowners will choose to switch to electric heat.  And it's not just heat for homes - a number industrial energy needs will switch over as well.


We'll be reading about homes that burn down this winter from poorly utilized electric space heaters, unfortunately. Winter electricity usage is likely to hit new highs, reducing spare capacity and the ability to take equipment off-line for maintenance.

I wonder if its possible that growing reliance on electricity due to high fossil fuel costs might ever (this year, next or ?) bring summer time conditions of near-peak capacity utilization to the winter, where failure would be dangerous, not just an inconvenience, in many locales.

I've not researched this but assume its possible.

There is probably going to be a tough situation this winter if electrical demand is high and NG distribution is perturbed.  Since NG powered turbines provide most of the peaking capacity for the electrical grid, a shortage of NG could go two ways:

- Electricity is prioritized and NG for home heating is reduced.  Many people will learn about pilot lights.

- Home heating is prioritized and some peaking capacity is given up.  People with oil or electric heat learn how well their houses are insulated during brownout or rolling blackout periods. These people also realize that building so many NG-dependent power plants was a rather bad idea.

Hey, don't take my word for it.  Feel free to check my numbers.
One of the reasons cited by GM and Ford for dropping electric car support is that their customers wouldn't accept long recharge times.
Plug-in hybrids don't make people wait.  Of course, their savings will be determined by how often they plug in... but people have a pretty good incentive to do so even at current prices, and the reduced number of trips to the gas station is all the inducement some people would need.
Also as fuel oil and natural gas prices go up many homeowners will choose to switch to electric heat.
In areas where generation is gas-fired, electric rates will follow gas prices.  At this point, cogenerating furnaces are the "killer app"; a car engine may be only 20% efficient, but if you can use the other 80% that winds up as waste heat your budget looks a lot better.  Unfortunately, doing this takes time.

Envelope time:  typical gas-heated home uses 50 million BTU/year for heat.  Average vehicle drives what, 14K miles/year and gets ~24 MPG?  Call it 580 gallons/year at 126,000 BTU/gallon:  73 million BTU.  If 35% of driving (4900 miles) is done during the heating season, that's 26 million BTU.  Combined cold-season consumption:  76 million BTU of fuel.

Burn this fuel in a cogenerating furnace at 25% electrical efficiency and 90% overall efficiency.  You get 49 million BTU of heat (close enough) and 18.9 million BTU (5540 kWh) of electricity.  If the vehicle uses 350 Wh/mile at the charger, you get enough electricity to drive 15800 miles; if you only drive 4900 miles you'd only use 1715 kWh and have 3820 kWh left over.  That's enough to use 1 kW continuous for 159 days of the year, replacing the gas or coal that would be used to power the grid.

The improvements get much, much better if you use the surplus electricity to run heat pumps; how much better depends on the efficiency you allow.

Yes, it sounds nutty but the numbers all work out.  We could be getting so much more out of what we use than we are; we just haven't implemented the (relatively simple) technologies to do it.  Well, it's time.

The fuel conversion numbers may work out, but do the economics? A cogeneration plant in every home is going to be considerably more costly than your average current forced air or water fed heating system.
Well, that depends...

Climate Energy LLC has a venture going with Honda to make a cogenerating furnace (which would burn fuel conventionally when heat demands outran the cogenerator output).  The cogenerator section produces 1 kW at about 21% electric efficiency, 85% overall (it does not appear to recover latent heat in the engine exhaust).  The cost premium over a conventional furnace is about $4000.

It would take you quite a few years to pay this off.  (My personal opinion is that it's too small for the expense, and we should throw it back until it grows up. ;-)

That's the high-cost option.  At the other end are a whole family of engine designs cloned from a venerable English make, the Lister (sometimes called Listeroids).  They're widely manufactured in India, are rated at 6 HP (4.5 kW) in the single-cylinder version, have a thermal efficiency I calculate at about 30%, and run for about $1000 FOB Oregon.

You'd need a few tweaks to press this into domestic use in most places:  co-fuelling with natural gas or LPG, heat recovery system in the exhaust, noise suppression, vibration isolating mount, direct-drive alternator built into a modified flywheel.  Add a coolant pump and a heat exchanger for the furnace air, and you've got a complete cogenerating heating system.  I would be extremely surprised if this could not be built for $4000 complete, the same as a conventional furnace (automobile drivetrains cost about the same, and this thing is simpler).

How do you calculate payback?  On the relative cost for  a new installation, of course, but what for replacements?  The economics look a lot better for the Listeroid than the Honda, and more I don't know yet.

No matter which path you advocate, significant government support/leadership and subsidy will be necessary.  The IGCC projects become uncompetitive if the 2-3 BCF/D LNG facilities planned for later this decade come on line and NG prices fall below $4/MCF -- which is why private enterprise hasn't been too enthusiastic about investing in coal gasification.

I am personally a bit hesitant advocating new technologies that require many years of R&D work and radical changes in transportation infrastructure (from engine manufacturing plants to power distribution) -- we just don't have that much time.  

Although we can currently bring LNG in from overseas and deliver it for around $3/MCF by the time we build enough LNG terminals to make up for the shortfall in domestic production the world market price will be substantially higher - natural gas demand in China and India is poised to increase dramatically, and diminishing gas production from the North Sea will make Europe a larger customer for LNG as well.  As we progress towards the peak in oil production this trend will accelerate.  I also don't think we will get as many LNG facilities built as soon as currently assumed - the public is even more scared of LNG terminals than of nuclear power.  I'm worried that it will take massive shortages and federal action to get citing issues resolved in a timely fashion.

Coal is plentiful and domestic (no security risk), and coal gasification is almost as clean as electric generation from natural gas so the NIMBY factor is minimal.  I think the recent deals between AEP, GE and Bechtel, and Cinergy and Vectren for new 600 MW IGCC facilities is the tip of the iceberg.  There are substantial long term price risks on both the coal and natural gas sides because of peak oil; it's a good idea to hedge bets and invest in every reasonable path.  And IGCC technology is looking more and more reasonable:  in the last 3 years the price premium over a traditional coal fired electric plant has dropped from 50% to 20%.

Any path we choose to reduce our dependence on oil will require radical changes.  If we don't have time to implement massive changes in our transportation infrastructure, well, hope you and I both survive the collapse.  I'm hoping we still have another 10 years before things really get bad.  I think we will see practical plug-in hybrids on the market within 3 years and they will make up a significant portion of the market within 10.  In the meantime I don't see fuel cell cars becoming much more feasible and am doubtful biofuels can increase in EROEI and scale up.

What gives me more hope for the weak hybrid to plug in hybrid to electric car path is the tremendous improvement in battery technology driven by the consumer electronics industry.  If we can replicate advances in cell phone and laptop batteries that we've seen in the last 10 years in auto batteries we should be able to shift the majority of transportation energy requirements from oil to the electric grid with a minimum of turmoil.

At least trade used to spread problems like this globally, but is oil still as fungible as it used to be? Venezuela, for example, is planning to sell oil preferentially to its Latin American neighbors, at reduced prices. And who knows what China's planning to do with all the oil assets it wants to buy.
Similarly, how long will Europe tolerate their surplus gasoline and diesel production being shipped to the U.S. at the cost of "demand destruction" on their own continent? If European trucking starts to fall apart because American demand is driving the cost of distillates too high, I suspect European politicians will start looking seriously at export bans or quotas.
True. I think people in third-world countries and the working-class people in the developed countries will be the ones forced to bear the pain of energy depletion.

I see political unrest coming soon.

Start with Yemen and Indonesia
Yeah, and Zimbabwe, though Mugabe was terminally wrecking the place even before oil prices got so high. Also, see here.
I'm kind of in-between on this question.  On the one hand, it really bugs me that poor folks are having to scramble to deal with this change while rich folks can go on filling their SUVs without a second thought.

On the other hand, though, I think there's a middle ground between driving as normal and losing jobs: There's carpooling.  There's mass transit.  There's bicycling and walking.  There's moving closer to work.  Many of these strategies are more available to poor folks (who often don't have to sell a house before they can move closer to work, for example).

I think the best we can hope for is that things get bad in the right way:  a shock, so that people decide early to make these changes, and then a period where things get a bit better to give them time to make the changes (but not so long that the early adopters feel like they've made a mistake).  Thrashing about with prices high enough to crush the poor followed by six months where prices are cheap again, combined with politicians saying things will go back to normal, would cause worse problems.

I think the best we can hope for is that things get bad in the right way:  a shock, so that people decide early to make these changes, and then a period where things get a bit better to give them time to make the changes
Problem is, if things get a bit better, a lot of people will conclude the crisis is over and won't make changes.
Plus, with each time that things "get better" it further innoculates the unthinking mind against the concept of peak oil. "It's a golden age for the Repo Men, one that will never end!"
"demand destruction" is economics double-speak/eupehmism for "people can't afford shit & die."
For a very quick summary of Simmons' latest thoughts on what to do, look no further than this. Stop digging the hole, transport goods more efficiently (trains, boats), start moving to plan B (everything that works).
I don't think that it is a coincidence that the Bush Administration is launching an aggressive nationwide cappaign next week to encourage energy conservation.  

My prediction:  no outside Christmas lights this year.  

The only question is when George dons a Cardigan sweater and gives us the Jimmy Carter speech--better late than never.

Jeffrey J. Brown

I gave my mother-in-law and sister-in-law the quick Peak Oil lecture this afternoon.  My sister-in-law suggested that closing everything on Sundays again would be a quick way to save gasoline.  The problem is who gets to stay open.  Even when I was a kid, people drove to churches, bought Sunday papers, dined, etc.  But lots of businesses were closed.

This is a link to the following story: "Energy Department Plans Conservation Push."  The Bush Administration is launching an aggressive energy conservation campaign next week.

By the way, the WSJ had a story today about how major oil companies are holding down the price of gasoline, because of fears of a political backlash.  However, it is having a very negative effect on independent dealers.  I think that I saw this in effect earlier this week.  

An independent on one side of the street had gasoline at $3.21 for regular.  ExxonMobil across the street was at $2.89--basically a 10% difference.  The independent lowered his price the next day.  He may have lowered it to the point that he was actually losing money on gasoline sales.

It's possible that the majors may be using the fear of a political backlash to drive independents out of business.

Jeffrey J. Brown

I am not certain of all the inter-relationships in the world, but I think that it should be clear to all that the original post by Prof. Goose in this thread was cut and pasted from the UrbanSurvival.com web site and not original to Prof. Goose (since there was no link or attribution in the original post).  While it may not be substantial enough for copyright infringement, clear attribution would be a polite form of flattery.  However, if Prof. Goose is George Ure (UrbanSurvival.com webmaster), then ignore this comment.
Obviously you a newbie here and you don't know PG at all. He received an email from oilman1@urbansurvival.com. That's not attribution? Are you a lawyer? Get a life.
Yes, I am a lawyer.  But I believe that giving credit where credit is due is a better way to proceed in life.

Perhaps I am also anal retentive, but I do believe in accuracy and honesty.  When the first chink in the armor of accuracy appears, then the remaining thoughts, regardless how important they may be, become suspect.

Further, especially when one is dealing with a subject that may be considered to be on the "fringes" of accepted thought, it is all the more important to be 100 percent accurate or people will begin to question everything.

Compare the UrbanSurvival.com site with the original post.  I will accept that Oilman1 sent an email to George Ure at UrbanSurvival.com, which is the portion that is quoted and is indicated by being indented.  Then George Ure added the non-indented comments.

Let Prof Goose answer whether he (or she since I do not know unless it would have been Prof Gander)was the one who received the email from Oilman1@UrbanSurvival.com and is the one getting out of town.

Patent, your error is that you misread Houston 1: that's Houston One, not I as first-person pronoun. Oddly enough, I misread the one as 'I' also but it was still clear to me that Prof Goose was passing on an e-mail to us as he often has done. That was clear in the first line. It was also the function of the colon. I suppose,for the sake of clarity, it should have been set in a separate box.
patents shouldent you be out chasing and ambulance?

There is only about 1% real content on the internet very few reference where the work comes from. Start your campain somewhere else. I also think George Ure would be very happy his work (and where did he get the info from?) is being posted elsewhere. If he wasent he wouldent have sent it to PG.

GET A LIFE. No one else care's.

I am a patent attorney.  I don't chase ambulances, although I might make more money if I did.

I do try to protect people's (intellectual property) rights, and also like any teacher, condone any form of plagiarism.

While Mr. Ure may be flattered (if copying is the highest form of flattery), sources for non-original material should always be given.  Furthermore, I would imagine as having followed the UrbanSurvival.com site for a few months that Mr. Ure would appreciate a link such that more viewers would be drawn to his site and perhaps encourage people to subscribe.

To Chris:  I believe that I did not misinterpret the article.  All that I am saying is that the everything beginning with "Our Houston Bureau" that starts this thread is a "cut and paste" copy from the UrbanSurvival.com web site and it is not obvious from the text what was the source of the work (an email or copying).

Personally, I think you are off-base, completely. First off, there is no clear attempt to deceive; nor does there now, or in the past, ever been on TOD any apparent intent to deceive.

In this case, the source of the information - UrbanSurvival.com - was readily identifiable. Lets look at a common practice on the web: I often post snippets from newswires that look something like:

EMPIRE, Louisiana (Reuters) - The fishermen whose shrimp and oyster boats survived Hurricane Katrina consider themselves the fortunate few, but now they wonder how they will survive in an industry gutted by the powerful storm.


DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran, the world's fourth biggest oil producer, may hold back on oil sales if its nuclear programme is referred to the U.N.

:: where (Reuters) is proper accreditation, and "Iran, the world's..." is the lead in to the story.

Compare that standard to the posting in question:

Urban Survival: The GOM Situation

:: where "Urban Survival" is proper accreditation, and "The GOM Situation" is a title or lead in to a posting that is quite obviously sourced from the UrbanSurvival.com site.

Should there have been a link, such that those who are not familiar with the UrbanSurvival.com site could check out what else the source has to say? Sure. Does leaving out a clickable link, while not trying at all to disguise the source (putting the source in the title of the post is hardly disguising the source!) suggest anything untoward about the poster's intent? No.

On a completely seperate topic, only related to this since its a comment about the source itself - myself, I find UrbanSurvival.com a dubious source of information and rarely visit, except to get a chuckle now and again to see what the fringe elements are thinking about.

Its hard to take fully seriously anyone who would link to Scott Stevens' "http://weatherwars.info" or claim that high power radio frequency radiation is being used to steer hurricanes into New Orleans and may be the root cause behind earthquakes in LA. http://urbansurvival.com/lastweek.htm

Unfortunately there are plenty of folks out there who want to believe there is someone else to blame our woes on, so there's always an ample readership for folks like George Ure and the many other conspiracy theorists out there who are much farther off the deep end.

Hurricanes? The Russians or Italian mafia are causing them, not our profligate use of energy and resulting saturation of the atmosphere with CO2.

Earthquakes? Maybe its the Chinese or North Koreas... never mind that we've been building on land known to be capable of spawning monster earthquakes... for longer than advanced physics has even existed.

Got a cold? Blame "chemtrails" - supposedly mysterious airborne trails behind planes at altitude.

Don't have a job? Blame... all of the above!


I agree with Patents.  I had never heard of the Urban Survival website.  I thought that it was just a title describing the content.  I never dreamt that it was coming from another website.


I agree that the source would not be readily noted by those not familiar with UrbanSurvival.com; I do not agree that this was the intention by anyone connected with TheOilDrum.com.

Patents pops out of nowhere with an accusatory tone - I do not agree with this approach. Having followed this site and participated in a good number of conversations, its clear to me that those connected with the site are operating with the best of intentions.

Had Patents nothing but an honest concern, he/she could have put the issue to to rest by asking a simple question "Is that note from the UrbanSurvival.com web site? I noted it over there too" and responding with a simple "thanks for clearing that up" when answered.

Instead, his very first comment on the subject came out swinging with accusations. Its therefore quite proper to question Patents' motives.

Is it any wonder someone immediately caught on that he was a lawyer? Patents is, unfortunately, reinforcing the perception about lawyers and giving the profession a bad name!

I see a lot of comments in this thread about solutions (eg. plug-in hybrids, more trains, et. al.) that we have no time whatsoever to implement. We're in big trouble in the short-term and so-called "demand destruction" will occur. Sorry, I've never liked that term because it is a euphemism masking actual human suffering (as FireTemple said here).

I suggest making your separate peace with the "downturn" (another euphemism) that's on the horizon. There's no avoiding it. And as westexas said, no Christmas Lights! Oh my....
What exactly is Theoildrum.com about?  Is it to raise awareness about peak oil and other energy issues?  Or is it to discuss the issues of peak oil among those already very fasmiliar with the issue and if so, then to what end?

I like this site but I learned about peak oil from peakoil.com and later learned about theoildrum.  However, from the attempt to flog this site on the give em hell harry site (which I have dutifully done), my sense is that raising awareness is part of the purpose of this site.  Patent is arguing from a standpoint of raising awareness of their site and calling patent an ambulence chaser is not productive.

Keep the dialog open and not personal.  I am procceding to introduce the important issues of peak oil to MBA students and I am very interested in what they say by visiting the peak oil sites.  Thus, I want to raise awareness.  That is to me the key issue right now.  I ask then for respectful and constructive rebuttal - please.  Awareness is increasing and your site could be important to making meaningful change. Let us set a good example.

"What exactly is Theoildrum.com about? Is it to raise awareness about peak oil and other energy issues?"

In my view, the answer is "yes".

"Patent is arguing from a standpoint of raising awareness of their site and calling patent an ambulence chaser is not productive."

I just asked whether patent was a lawyer and did not call him an "ambulance chaser", OilTrader did that. I did object to his legalistic view of where PG got his information from. Raising consciousness about Peak Oil does not involve accusing PG of plagiarizing his posts.

And since I'm feeling a bit intolerant of bullshit at the moment, I will say that a situation as serious as Peak Oil in this world is not subject to petty-ante nonsense like this or what I heard from patent.

Sorry Dave, you are right and my comments were not directed at you (it seems I replied to your comment by mistake).  I still hope we focus on the issues - ie. if the issue raised is bullshit then call it that but not the person that raised the issue - I am certain that I will raise stupid points from time to time but hope not to be personally attacked- I want prople to come back to this site and this is important in raising awareness.
From the old "blogger.com" Oil Drum header:

This community discusses myriad ideas related to Hubbert's Peak/Peak Oil, sustainable development and growth, etc., and the many implications of these ideas on politics, economics, and our daily lives.

Without the dedication and effort from people like Prof Goose, Heading out and the rest of the team this site would not exist. Having a winge how they post their new information is Bullshit.  I stand by my post.
I would like to make a modest request that people proofread their comments, and that they also run them through a spell checker. With as many errors as I see in the comments above, it is harder to understand what the commenter is trying to convey.

Also, incorrect spelling and grammar detract from the credibility of a comment.

Thank you all for your defense of my character, purpose and intent.

It is a shame that you all had to waste all that energy on such a maladaptive pedantic who seems to have no idea about what we do here...

...but it does give me a chance to offer a sincere "thanks" to all of you for being willing to put forth the positive effort to maintain the culture and purpose we have here at TOD.  

It is truly heartening.

Am I the only one who finds it curious that this person claims they were paying $1.08/gal of gas just 2 years ago? Check it yourself... $28 / 26 = 1.0769. To the best of my recollection it has been quite a while since gas was going for $1.07/gal. I think it would have been some time around the Asian economic crisis when crude supplies & gas supplies were higher and cheaper. Or it may have even been further back.

I was also struck by the stats about rigs and platforms. While I agree that the stats are worse than what the MSM reports, the stats I've seen so far come nowhere close to suggesting this level of damage. I would need a secondary, non-anonymous source backing up these claims before I bought into them.

I'm not sure what he means about gas being up $0.40 at his "test location" nor the suggestion that it'll be up $1.00 by tonight. I haven't seen a jump like that and I'm in the same city as the source. I do expect prices to go up as reality sets in... so the scaremongering may turn out to be true. A lot depends on where demand goes and whether the media starts doing their job and investigating.

I've worked in the oil industry before. Just because you are a bit player, that doesn't mean you have better information than anybody else. This person may be right and have information that isn't in wide distribution, but I think we all need to be careful about what we believe in these emotionally turbulent times. I believe the patent lawyer is right to question things -- this is a skill that I wish more people in this country had. Don't blindly believe anything just because it plays into your fears or desires. Demand proof. Demand corroboration. Until you have something more concrete to back it up, all you have is a rumor.

Knight - where do you live? I find it entirely plausible that gas prices 2 years ago were in the neighborhood of $1.08 in some areas of the Southeast. The regional differences in gas prices are a lot greater than most people seem to realize.
I live in Houston and I can assure you that gas was not $1.08 any time within the last 2 years. It's been a good while since it was in the $1.25-$1.40 range. I've been here for the last 10 years. Although we are lucky to be close to the refineries, so we do save a little on transport overhead. :)
I think the thing to do is measure the claim -- did gasoline prices go up by the amount suggested in the post, over the weekend? Gas is supposed to be up over 1.00 over Saturday price (in Houston we have to assume), which would be a 1.40$ increase over Friday according to the UrbanSurvival source.

Is it?

Nope, not according to the gas price finder at: http://www.houstongasprices.com/

A range between 2.60's and 3.13 seems to be the consensus; neither ot these appear to match the expectations of the 'Houston' sources of UrbanSurvival.

I think the overall tone of the notes are probably not to be argued with, but without verifyable backup, the information merely matches the guestimates and opinions folks here on TOD and elsewhere have come to -- a bad situation, not fully scoped out yet.

Exactly my point. I'm about as far from an optimist as you can get. I'm very concerned about the energy and geopolitical situation, so I try to stay up to date. I also like to be precise and accurate as possible. Knowledge is power after all.

I learned a lot from Y2K. Although the energy situation is much different and potentially much more serious, there are some parallels. On one hand you have the people saying, "There is no problem, everything will be fixed in time." On the other hand you have people saying, "Unless we do something immediately, calamity will be here quickly -- and it might happen even if we act immediately."

The truth often is often somewhere in the middle. I think fear is a tool that motivates people to take action. There is a tendency for people who believe the same things to group together. Then when someone fuels the fire, it increases that fear. So while I like to think that I have an open mind, I try to view things critically.

I'll see what the prices are like when I go shopping tonight, but I talked to my mom she told me that the prices were around $2.95 to $2.99 on the north side of town today. That is a jump, considering that prices were around $2.79 a earlier in the week. Still, nothing on the order of what was predicted.

Anyhow, I agree that the situation is very probably worse than we've come to realize. Though I'm not sure that's a bad thing. If the media and government can buy some time, it could prevent panic that would make the situation worse. I have a feeling that if people knew half of the stuff that really goes on in this world, we wouldn't want to get out of bed in the morning. ;)

Jevons Paradox indicates that conservation isn't enough. We need a diversity of solutions, ideally of the renewable sort.

The Urban Survival website is certainly kind of funky, but there is some very good information on the website, and I have found the sources George cited to be reliable in the past.  (George has a good booklet that you can order for $10 on "How to live on $10,000 per year).

My question:  what kind of damage would you expect to see from TWO (2) Category Five hurricanes--with 60' plus waves and 155-175 MPH winds--moving through the prime producing areas in the GOM?  

Matt Simmons had an interesting observation regarding the GOM infrastructure damage.  He noted that the pattern regarding storm damage is that the actual damage is almost always worse than what the initial reports suggest.  That is certainly the pattern that we are seeing now.  

In my opinion, what all but confirms the Urban Survival post is the fact that the Bush Administration is launching a nationwide push for energy conservation next week.  

Jeffrey J. Brown

Perhaps Urban Survival has some merit here and there, but the fellow makes a living selling services and information to those who are already predisposed to believe the worse about society and the world.

... chemtrails
... weather wars
... gold, period
... etc.

I see these folks all the time. The funny, ironic, thing about many of these folks is even if their worst fears come true, they'll be too wrapped up on their own perpetual doom and gloom that it won't matter they knew in advance.

Because the fellow behind the site makes a living off this 'sector', it seems only healthy to take anything there with a decent grain of salt.

I am not trying to insult the fellow - far from it - but am explaining in part why I personally will question anything originating out of there that can't be directly attributed to a real live person, willing to go on the record. Seems only prudent.

I haven't checked out their site, but will at some point. I believe in looking at all the evidence and coming up with our own conclusions. This is one more source of information to take into account.

I would be shocked if we don't find ourselves in the middle of a recession pretty quickly. I've been predicting for a while that consumer spending can't continue at this rate. Wages haven't kept up with the cost of goods. Poverty has been growing quickly. The real estate market has been overheated for a while now. People can only buy so much with credit and home equity loans. Few people have a cushion to fall back on.

The key is to develop alternatives to petroleum. It doesn't matter how much we conserve or how much technology improves. We just keep finding ways to use more and more regardless. That is why we need energy alternatives in combination with better technology.

10/3/05 Urban Survival Update:

 What Goes Around...

 I have been asking both of our great resources in the oil patch the question everyone wants to know - will we have gas lines or just $4 gas before Thanksgiving?  The answer from oilman2@urbansurvival.com...

<<It all depends on whether they can get full power back to those refineries, and what flooding actually did to their control hardware. Saltwater flooding is not like freshwater flooding with respect to electrical equipment. For instance, if you take a common relay, and submerge it in freshwater, you can dry it out and it will go on switching and doing its thing. If you do this in saltwater, it leaves salt behind when it evaporates, and that residue corrodes the contacts, making it basically useless. You can drop your cell phone in the tub, take it apart and dry it out, and it will still work. Do it while you're in the surf, and it's junk.<p> I know things are all supposed to be in explosion-proof boxes at a refinery, but keeping air out and keeping water out are two different things. Lots of times the flammable gases/air are kept out by simply pressurizing a box with good air from a compressor. Once the compressor is down, then unless every single input/output of the box is waterproofed, it will be filled with saltwater, making it crap.

Also, sealing from normal water (rain, washing, etc.) is different from sealing for submergence. You have waterproof, water-resistant, and submersible. I doubt any or very few plants are built with submersible components.

As most of these refineries are old, they probably will have a lot of fits and starts getting back online. And with NOBODY wanting an accident, they will probably err of the side of caution.

If they cannot get them back up in the next two weeks, it could happen, as the remaining refineries switch to winter products. I don't know about gas lines - but I think $4 is not crazy. It all depends on how much and what kind of damage they have to repair. I have heard from several people that the majors are holding prices down so as not to get hit with gouging charges. What is more likely to me is that they can use this to muscle-out the independent stores, by keeping their margins down a bit. Never think that any retailer is out for anything except profit, especially when their corporate bonus depends on it...right?

I am refilling my yard tank right now, if that tell you anything. If gas actually gets scarce, even for a moment, there will be a run on it, and it will be gone. That's when things can get nasty. Rita showed us that in a big way.

One footnote - I had one neighbor who bitched about my gas storage tank (behind my garage), and tried to get the city to force me to remove it. When Rita hit and nobody had gas, this guy actually came down and asked if he could buy gas from me. I gave him a very long lecture, gave him 10 gallons of gas, and now he is hounding me to learn about my gardens.

The one thing that can make suburbia work is when people stick together...>>

OK, that confirms it: We we get back to the ranch, it'll be once a week to town (26 miles round trip) and we'll be working in the garden getting in some fall crops.  Maybe a freezer and some protein to go in it...

"Gasoline was up $0.40 at my test location just since last night. Expectations are that it will rise over $1.00 by Sunday night."

Sure, whatever you say Gomer.    Armageddon is just around the corner and the 4 horsemen will come swooping in any time now.   BTW, gasoline in my area dropped $.02 over the weekend.   If you want to buy some $4 gas let me know, I'll get you as much as you want.