ANWR, and a midweek open thread

What's clogging your mind this week?

I'm thinking about how the Senate just voted to allow oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. You know, because that's going to do us all so much good in the long run. While it's doubtful that we'll gain much if we drill in the Refuge ("energy independence"? Yeah, right), it's certain that we'll lose a lot. If you've never seen Subhankar Banerjee's photographs, check them out. You can also read more about why he undertook the project to protect the area from drilling. (More on the story, and the Democratic opposition, here.)

It's more politics than anything else.  ANWR will be drilled, if only to let politicians say, "We did all we could."

If we accept the imminent peak oil model (peak is between now and 2015), then we should expect that oil and natural gas will be extracted from every economically recoverable deposit we can find.  If prices are rising rapidly and the resource is there, why wouldn't we go after it?

Can anyone shed light on how the leases for drilling (such as those to be used in ANWR) work? Do they get to lease X acres for X $, X $/barrel, or X% of revenues from the oil? Also, who gets the money from the leases?
I'm bothered that Matt Simmons is so keen on drilling in ANWR.
matt simmons is , first of all , an oil man. why would you expect him to say anything different? he has never implied that oil was still not the central fixture of the u.s. energy picture...i wouldn't expect him to be growing corn on the back forty in order to make biodiesel, or cranking up a wind turbine so he can watch the tube.
Actually, he is an energy man more than an oil man from what I see. I see him promoting all ways to address the energy situation. He supports alternative energy as well as oil. He is just not an environmentalist in any conventional sense. He believes human well-being relies on adequate energy supplies of all kinds for food, transport and quality of life.
A lot of things about Matt Simmons bother me. While I'm not a big fan of "conspiracy" theories, he is a member of the CFR (like Judith Miller). I think one should always be careful about sleeping with your enemy's enemy.
I'm glad to learn that I'm not the only poster on theoildrum who has misgingings about Matt Simmons.  I tried to raise these concerns on the open thread of Oct. 19, but the responses were uniformly replete with praise for Simmons (not that this praise is undeserved, but neither do they adequately quell all the misgivings):

Now what would happen if it became uneconomical to drill ANWR? Would that stop them?
Some important economic indicators were published today:

Productivity, a key measure of worker output, rose at a 4.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the best showing in more than a year and nearly double the rate of the prior quarter, the Labor Department reported.

The increase allows companies to produce more while keeping costs under control -- a good sign for corporate executives and investors worried about slowing profit growth.

The department also said that a key measure of labor costs fell 0.5 percent in the quarter, versus Wall Street forecasts for a 2 percent increase. That's also good news for CEOs, policy-makers and investors who've been concerned that rising energy costs could force prices and wages higher, leading to a surge in inflation.

src: cnn
So, the bosses are making more money and giving less of it to their workers. And this is good news.
Um, how about
Aluminium prices are at heights rarely seen, yet despite receiving more than $1,900 a tonne, some producers plan either to cease or cut back production. Indeed, the high price was not enough to stop the world's largest supplier warning this summer that profits would fall short of expectations.

The reasons why companies are not benefiting as much as they would like from the high metal price are soaring energy costs and the stubbornly high prices of alumina, the feedstock used to make aluminium.

The rest of the article is behind a paywall at FT, but it does go on to say that NG energy costs are now up to $200/tonne produced, that Chinese producers are currently losing $300/tonne sold, and they'd need $2,420/tonne to make a profit.

Also that producers in other countries are using coal when available, as it's cheaper (but dirtier).

I look at the ANWR oil reserves from the perspective of a part owner which, as a U.S. citizen, I am.  I want the best return on my asset which will be worth signifcantly more in twenty years.  Leave it in the ground and let it appreciate; no model shows ANWR having a significant impact on price anyway.  Think petroleum is a strategic commodity (as in we are presently struggling to control Iraq which has the world's second-larget oil reserves)?  Why drain it now leaving us more vulnerable in the future?  We Americans are obsessed with present consumption without a thought for future well-being.  
Anyone else noticing the ongoing SPR draw-down? This is interesting, because I'm not seeing any further discussion or announcements of this. THe EIA numbers yesterday showed a drop of 1.9 million bls from the SPR while at the same time crude stocks are at a record level and increased a total of 2.7 million bls (mos of which I suppose came from the SPR). I can only guess they're quietly trying to work the price down.

Other interesting stats: The EIA shows average daily world oil production for the first 8 mos of 2005 to be only 1.2 million bls/day more than 2004. OPEC increased by 1.0 million bls, meaning the rest of the world only added 0.2. This is essentially before Katrina came ashore (on Aug 29) and doesn't reflect hurricane losses. OPEC increases are mainly from opening up existing supply, not new supply. It looks like the last quarter numbers for world supply outside OPEC will probably show a significant decline from  2004.  I'll wait and see.

Given high price and demand I find these numbers remarkable.

So the SPR drawdown of about 5 million barrels (and also Europe and Japan SPR drawdowns) will create a new future demand to refill them.  I wonder how soon that will happen.  This summer the US Congress authorized the filling of the US SPR from its then current maximum of 700 million barrels to a new maximum of one billion barrels - a 300 million barrel increase!

Suppose that conventional crude oil has peaked this year.  Then the 300+ million barrels will have to effectively come from deepwater, and so forth.

The SPR was at 701 million bls in mid-august, now is 685 for a draw-dawn of 15 million barrels so far, which is supposed to be a loan.
It is perhaps true that we are finally reaching the peak.
Personally, I do not want the peak to happen, as it will result in particularly hard economic times. Also, I love cars and will probably never have the privelage of owning a V-8 (I would consider buying one in a year or so if gas holds steady, but if the peak occurs I wouldn't touch one). Perhaps one can infer that I am a member of the younger generation. $2.00 gas does not bother me, as I have never known anything much below that. In fact, I buy premium, and consume as much as possible. The simple logic is that millions of people have gotten years of cheap fuel, and I am about to get screwed. Why not burn it while I can still afford it (because life without it is going to suck). Yes, my attitude is bad. However, I am angry. I am angry that the previous generations didn't give a shit about comming up with alternatives. I am angry that GM recalled the EV-1. I am angry few people care. I am angry that no one is still doing anything (Bush's $1 billion went to oil companies to figure out how to get Hydorgen from OIL! (not that hydrogen is feasible anyways)). I have no choice, I do not have alot of money, and what little I have is about to be destroyed. What a great system we have...

As a child of the Sixties, I can appreciate your love of muscle cars. Who would have known that a Hemi-Cuda you could have hardly given away during the first oil crunch of 1973-1974 would now in 2005 be an easy six-figure car in decent shape. Tis sad, but that era is gone and gone forever. Any vestiges of it are more an more going to entail  well-heeled folk splurging on gas to bring their Sixties treasures to one nostalgic car show or the next. These cars are going to be mere icons of a past era, rather than something someone going to seriously use as a daily driver.

If you've got one, you're sitting pretty on a very good investment. If you want one, then you are going to pay and pay and pay. Their price will not be in the least way affected by the price of gas, simply because they have become almost art objects that someone pampers and polishes into extreme old age.

Yet, when you get right down to it, today's high-performance cars are objectively so much better than those grotesque Sixties muscle cars.

However, objective performance is not what it's all about. What it is all about is that certain 'feel' of a large  car with massive amounts of low-rpm torque ripping off the line.  Only a large-displacement, gas-guzzling  V8 engine can
provide that sort of feel.  It's the Beach Boys.

While I fully recognize that Sixties muscle cars are today about as appropriate as dinosaurs, still I'd love to go back to that energy-wasteful era just for a few weeks and tear up a little asphalt.  

Do you want performance, or just a particular noise?

If you've been watching the news about batteries lately, you'd note that there have been several announcements of huge advances in lithium-ion technology; both the cycle life and the charge/discharge rate are about to go through the roof.

What does this mean for cars?  It means that any sort of electric car using these batteries and storing a significant amount of energy is going to have enormous amounts of electric power on tap.  If the motor etc. can get it to the wheels, you'll have neck-snapping acceleration just like the old days.

The future of hybrids is going to look like this:

It is true that electric technologies are promising. It is true that electric motors are both more effiecient, weight less than their gasoline counterparts, are easier to maintain...ect ect.. HOWEVER, do the calculations on how many watthours it takes to accelerate even a 2000lb car 1/4mile in 13.5 seconds, and you will see the problem more objectively
Assuming constant acceleration (which is pessimistic and thus unassailable for determining feasibility):

d = ½at^2      ->       a = 2d/(t^2)

v = at = 2d/t

E = ½mv^2 = 2 m (d/t)^2

m = 900 kg
d = 1320 ft = 402.3 m
t = 13.5 sec

E = 1.6 MJ = 444 Wh

Expending 444 Wh in 13.5 seconds takes 118 kW.  If you had a 5 kWh battery capable of discharging at 100 C (quoted for a new Li-ion battery), you'd be able to get 500 kW out of it.  I don't see this as a problem.

Wow, I am underinformed. I had not heard of the new 5kw Li batteries. If such things were indeed possible that would be a great step forward. What are the weight/costs/size of these new batteries?
The nanoparticle cathodes are creating some remarkable improvements in both charge/discharge rate and lifespan of Li-ion; one new announcement is here, and Toshbia and Altair Nano have also announced advances recently.
Batteries trade off between power and energy. The energy part of a lead acid battery has no strength, and the strength part of a lead acid battery has no energy. The energy part of a lead acid battery is the lead, the lead oxide, and the sulfuric acid. The strength part is the plastic that supports the weak and fragile lead and lead oxide paste. The more surface area, the more power, but the more surface area, the more plastic to support it and retain the lead and lead oxide, and that plastic does not take part in the electrochemical reaction that provides electricity.
So you can get twice as much power for half as much energy, and you do.
This is a very gross oversimplification, of course.
Let me just say that your anger is less than compelling. You're angry because you didn't get to be as blatantly wasteful as your father or grandfather? Poor baby. Maybe you should examine the values that spark such envy. You think you can't have a life worth living in a post-cheap oil world? You think the quality of your life is defined by the power of your  car? Excuse me if I don't have a lot of sympathy. There are billions of people in this world who have never and will never own a car. Put yourselves in their shoes for a minute and then tell me about your anger that you can't afford the gas for a V-8.
True. However, I am not saying I will committ suicide, I am just saying that in contemporary America, particularly certain areas, it is not only next to impossible to live without a car, but there exists a car culture. I am expressing anger/sadness at both seing that culture dissappear, and at the fact that in some areas of America it is next to impossible to live without a car. In short, I realize it is selfish and wrong to wish to consume an equal amount to those who have gone before me. However, the system in which I was raised (capitalism) encourages constant growth, and at the least requires no growth. In other words, I am angry at the attitude taken by the American public thus far, and the fact such an attitude is still being embraced. (Oh, and not to start a flame, but the notion that I should be content because others have less has no more strength than the argument that I should be discontent because others have more)
As a life long car nut, I am gleeful at the prospect of the car culture de-emphasized - I don't really think personal transportation will completely disappear.  We have gone way too far in that direction, and are unable to see all the sacrifices we have made to the automobile.  The impacts on or landscapes and towns, our environment, our health, the huge amount of money we have spent on it, and of course the oil we have consumed.  So many of the problems of overconsumption are linked to the automobile.
Rigzone has a report about the IEA predicting higher oil prices by 2030 if the Saudis lack the "political will" to drill more. I see that the government agencies are warning the Saudis that they are going to be scapegoats if they don't meet those pie-in-the-sky promises they made in years past about 15, 20 or even 25 mbpd.

The 50% higher comment made me laugh though. Government bodies are going to introduce this mess to the public slowly, so as not to shock the uninformed. Of course, by then it may well be too late.

Prices 50% higher in nominal terms equals an increase of 1.75% per year through 2030. In real terms this would be a reduction in price. I would expect the price of just about everything to increase 50% by then. The IEA comment is meaningless.
ANWR has been a media distraction from what the oil companies are doing to places like South Padre Island National Seashore and other federally managed land. I propose we start strip mining the Virginia suburbs of D.C.  What we find will be just as helpful to our fuel problems as the mythical oilfields of ANWR will be.
I would suggest you go on one of those beach cleanup trips that the oil companies do along the Texas coast. The trash and crap you find on the beach isn't from oil platforms or drilling operations. Drilling operations and production operations compact their trash and send it in - they no longer are allowed to burn it, and anybody throwing anything overboard is subject to termination. Few people want to lose a $50k job over a dixie cup...

The trash I have encountered while doing beach cleanup is often from garbage scows that dump at sea, ships that come here to the US with cargo and dump trash before entering port, and illegal bilge dumping by ships. Last trip we came across hundreds of spent hypodermic needles (not oil related), hundreds of diapers (not from little roughnecks), and tin cans (which were labeled in spanish and portuguese). Rig trash is usually composed of chemical sacks, pipe dope buckets, and pallets. We found none of that in recent memory.

The oily tar you see that sometimes winds up on the beach is also not related to production or drilling activities. There are at least 3 oil seeps offshore of the southern end of the island. They have been there for thousands of years, the oil quietly oozing from the sandy bottom all by itself. This is what makes those tar balls we often come across. It's natural, not man-made.

Another source of this oil is diesel from bilge dumping. Diesel gets into the bilge in the engine room. When heavy diesel hits saltwater, it clabbers, like milk does. It makes a nasty, thick scum. THIS is definitely man-made, and not fun to smell, see or step in.

Bilge water is not allowed overboard any longer by drilling rigs or platforms - it is pumped into disposal containers and sent in to processing facilities which land farm it with bacteria or incinerate it.

I live here too. I understand your anger at what happens to the beaches. But once you look into the actual trash and do a little diging, you will discover that the blame shouldn't be on the oil companies, but on the shipping industry and those waste companies that own ships and barges along the east coast, and send their trash into international waters for dumping into the deep ocean....




Energy Bulletin has a summary of the Simmons/Kunstler symposium in Dallas, including my comments.

Jeffrey Brown

Great job getting those to come down there and spreading the word. What was the reaction from the audience? who was in attendance?
Worrying news from another major oil producer - maybe the Iranian president wants someone who isn't afraid of using the oil sword. E245817_RTRUKOC_0_UK-ENERGY-IRAN-MINISTER.xml

Iran president nominates outsider as oil minister

By Christian Oliver and Alireza Ronaghi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nominated a little-known conservative politician with no industry experience as oil minister of the world's fourth biggest crude producer on Wednesday.

Sadeq Mahsouli, who like Ahmadinejad hails from the Revolutionary Guards, faces a parliamentary vote of confidence in a process that is being watched closely by international oil firms keen to do business with OPEC's second biggest exporter.

A political tug of war over Iran's most prestigious cabinet job has exposed deep rifts in the ruling conservative camp.

Ahmadinejad's first choice was unexpectedly rejected by lawmakers in August, and by naming Mahsouli the president has ditched the second choice candidate he originally proposed to parliament's energy commission.

The appointment of oil minister has traditionally gone very smoothly since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Political analysts say this is because it has been clear to parliamentarians that the president's nominee had the approval of Iran's all-powerful Supreme Leader.

"Anyone who comes forward who is not approved by the Supreme Leader won't get through parliament," said a Western oil executive who declined to be named.

Ahmadinejad has hit problems because he is nominating close allies and comrades from the hardline Revolutionary Guard, with which he served behind enemy lines in the 1980-1988 war of attrition with Iraq.

"He is trying to replace experts with Revolutionary Guards," political analyst Saeed Leylaz said....

I'm still no closer to consolidating my opinion of where we are - the When and How Fast questions.  Do I have a prayer of getting any of the money I save for retirement?  Will I be able to put my kids through college?  Or will this all just be a slow downward slide that we can adapt to?  Is the glass half full or half empty?  Does the difference between supply and demand really start to have an effect next year, or 2010, or 2015?  Sigh.  What are the rest of you thinking?  Perhaps a couple of standing surveys would be useful to help guage the mood of the TOD community.

I'm beginning to think of the Rita/Katrina disruptions as short term (2yr) transients on the longer term path.  UNLESS - it may be that such disruptions (both GW and political) will be the norm now that supply is tighter.  It may be that such events world wide will keep us from being able to effectively utilize as much of the oil on the downward side as we expect.  Kind of an  icreasing loss that reduces the efficiency of production and disribution.  

I keep modeling this mess with a spreadsheet, crudely, but at least it gives me some thoughts. I need to do more tuning of that as well. But while it's simple, what I see is that annual increases in oil production of less than 7 million barrels per day each year of new oil leave us in an ever widening shortfall situation if demand grows 2% annually or higher. I don't have near as complete a model as others here but I keep fiddling with it and the only inputs that save us are finding the equivalent of a Saudi sized oil field every year from here on out.

Because of this, my own expectation is that we've entered a long slide period to be measured in years or perhaps a few decades. In that slide period, oil costs will continue to ratchet upwards and as they do, we'll see "demand destruction" both in the industrialized nations but especially in the poorest third world nations. Zimbabwe won't be the last nation to effectively disappear after being unable to buy oil. There will be a steady stream of these and with that stream will come great hardship and suffering for many people around the world. But for every Zimbabwe that is no longer buying oil, the remaining oil can go just a little bit farther for the wealthier remaining nations.

In places like the US, it's going to feel like a long recession that slowly gets worse, unless some financial trigger just shoves us into all-out depression. And since the feds don't count people who "fall off" the unemployment rolls, the picture may never be honestly reported.

My guess (and I freely admit it's a guess) is that it's what happens during this 5-15 year slide that will determine our fate. If we honestly recognize what is happening, we'll suffer but there are ways to get past this and keep a technological society intact. Lots of key ideological concepts have to change, like unlimited economic growth, but we could still come out the other side with a future.

Of course, our fearless leaders could keep pretending that everything is fine, in which case when we get near the end of that slide, we just go into freefall. I admit to being a tech junkie and would like myself and the rest of the human race to have the advantages that science and technology can confer. But I'm also willing to realize that the dice can still roll snake eyes and we could lose it all.

I keep hoping that the gentlemen who run The Oil Drum will put together a really useful model someday that includes current production, rates of decline, new and planned production plus their rates of decline, plus anticipated demand growth and then let us all take a look at it. That's what my very crude model does and while I intend to try to refine it further as I can, I'm sure that there are people who are far better at this than I as well as having much better data.

Of course, some dramatic new energy source would alter that although I'd still expect a long recessionary period as the world began redirecting investments into new infrastructure based around the new energy source.

In places like the US, it's going to feel like a long recession that slowly gets worse
That really depends on how clever we get.

If people suddenly start buying e.g. electric motorcycles to get to work, and everybody suddenly starts making only plug-in hybrids for their new car models, the picture could change the other way.  A car is something like 17% efficient, while a combined-cycle powerplant can be well over 50% efficient; if we burned oil to make electricity to run cars, we could roughly triple the miles per gallon (as well as eliminating a lot of the refining steps to get the right octane and vapor pressure).  Further, anything that runs on electricity can get it from coal, nuclear, wind, solar, hydro....

There's lots of room to improve our efficiency, and once we go electric there is enormous potential for non-fossil energy supplies.  It's just a question of how long it takes certain advances to get to market and how fast they're adopted.  There is enormous growth potential, so once they start taking off there will be a huge expansion.

A car is something like 17% efficient, while a combined-cycle powerplant can be well over 50% efficient; if we burned oil to make electricity to run cars, we could roughly triple the miles per gallon

Don't you have to account for the efficiency of the electricity transmission and the electric motor in the car?  Or are those close enough to 100% that they can be ignored?

Transmission averages 93%, though new powerplants would probably be smaller and located closer to users.  Some of them might even be cogenerators (domestic cogenerating furnaces/water heaters burning natural gas would have essentially zero transmission loss).

Battery losses depend on the battery.  Li-ion is supposed to be better than 95% efficient (100% coulombic efficiency is claimed), while equalizing in lead-acid cuts them down to about 70%.

Losses in the charger, controller and motor... call them 5%, 5% and 10% just as an educated guess.

If the powerplant has a 40%-efficient gas turbine (e.g. 300 MW GE unit) and a 33%-efficient steam-turbine bottoming cycle, generation efficiency would be 59.8% (a domestic cogenerator might have an effective efficiency greater than 80%).  Taking 5% losses each in transmission and charger brings this down to 54.0%.  5% in battery and controller, 48.7%.  10% in motor, 43.8%.

Not quite three times the 17% figure, but well over 2.5 times as good.  The US burns about 9 million barrels of gasoline per day; Saudi Arabia pumps about 10.5.  If we saved 5.5 million bbl/day, that's more than half a Saudi Arabia.  Not bad, eh?

Pardon the bad link, here's a good one.
Unfortunately, improving efficiency does not change the ultimate outlook for an oil dependent economy. At best you can delay the peak or slow the decline a little. But it is not the absolute amount of oil that should most be of concern. What will cause the biggest problem is the collapse of growth in our economy, and improving efficiency won't help there. (not to mention the very real energy costs of completely replacing our vehicle fleet, etc.) Everything we do is predicated on growth. We won't have that option soon and the ripple effects will be the real killer (literally).

For example, a couple years of recession (depression) would dramatically impact government (at all levels) tax collection. This will require cuts in services, like police and fire and road building (meaning more unemployment, etc.). In the recent past we got out of this by borrowing money, but what do you do if the money to borrow is unavailable? Why won't it be available? Because there will be no prospects for growth that would make the investment worthwhile. It becomes a vicious circle. This is, in part, why the great depression went on for so many years. It was only by dramatically altering our willingness to take on debt and the way we created debt (war bonds) that got us out of the depression.

Well, that's a simplistic overview of my thinking on the problem - be glad to discuss this more if you like.

improving efficiency does not change the ultimate outlook for an oil dependent economy.
But a conversion to oil-fired electric propulsion is so much more than that.
  1. First, it increases the efficiency by over 150%.

  2. It allows any energy source which can be turned into electricity (which is most of the non-fossil ones) to help run transport; the oil monopoly is broken.

  3. It creates markets in batteries and other storage technologies to build economies of scale in their manufacture and money to drive research.  We already have Li-ion batteries good enough to drive cars for hundreds of miles, and the power levels and lifespan have just made huge gains.  All we need now is for the cost to come down, which commoditization does to everything.
Today we get most of our energy from fossil fuels.  But California would already get cheaper energy from the solar Stirling dishes than they do from natural gas; PV is coming down, wind has made huge strides, and switchgrass and Miscanthus have enough productivity to fill the gaps and supply our need for plastics and other chemicals.

We can get away from oil, and it looks surprisingly easy to do so.  The question is, when will we decide to start?

Engineer Poet: "In places like the US, it's going to feel like a long recession that slowly gets worse

That really depends on how clever we get.
If people suddenly start buying e.g. electric motorcycles to get to work, and everybody suddenly starts making only plug-in hybrids for their new car models, the picture could change the other way."

I am impressed with your optimism and also excited by progressing Stirling engines, Wind and Switchgrass. But --am I going to buy a new hybrid or pay down the mortgage? Invest or go to cash? I think we will have a citizenry beset with fear and inertia.  

When people perceive the energy tipping point their reaction might be keep their heads down and not boldly put disposable income towards a new car anymore; their employment may itself be disposable. Middle class "everybody" is disappearing. Inflation and outsourcing are crushing. Purchasing power of the dollar is down 50% in less than 20 years. Now add an energy crisis too.

If the government moved the market to alternatives, or "picked favorites", as detractors like to call it, things might move fast enough to avoid a muli-decade depression. But government doesn't make perfect selections and is, at best, hamstrung by prevailing favorites, while individuals will be as deer, frozen in the oncoming headlights.

But --am I going to buy a new hybrid or pay down the mortgage? Invest or go to cash? I think we will have a citizenry beset with fear and inertia.
One of the things government can do is create some certainty.  One way to do that is fuel taxes; world prices might collapse because of other economies going into recession (think Asian financial crisis), but taxes would guarantee that the incentive to economize or convert would not disappear.
When people perceive the energy tipping point their reaction might be keep their heads down and not boldly put disposable income towards a new car anymore; their employment may itself be disposable.
Some people are going to be buying new cars regardless.  The key is to change what people are willing to buy, and thus what the automakers will build.

This is a huge deal.  California could have jump-started the PHEV phenomenon in 1990, but instead the CARB wrote the ZEV mandate to exclude PHEV's.  By sending the message "Fuel is never going to be cheap again, find your own solutions" both manufacturers and buyers will do just that.

Middle class "everybody" is disappearing.
Rich people burn more fuel than poor people; redistributing taxes from payrolls (esp. FICA) to fuel will offset some of that.
If the government moved the market to alternatives, or "picked favorites", as detractors like to call it, things might move fast enough to avoid a muli-decade depression. But government doesn't make perfect selections and is, at best, hamstrung by prevailing favorites, while individuals will be as deer, frozen in the oncoming headlights.
That's a really good reason not to pick favorites.  I proposed removing subsidies from ethanol and hydrogen as part and parcel of an increased petroleum tax.  A petroleum tax doesn't tell anyone what to do, just what to cut down on.  Once the incentive is there, people will find more solutions than any policy-maker would.  The important thing is to leave no loopholes, exemptions, preferences or other things which eliminate reasons to cut their petroleum use or create ways to cheat.
A simple modeling tool can be downloaded from here Peak viewer
Another take on the enviromental situation:
Some mention has been made regarding the drawdown of the Strategic Petroluem Reserve.  It is well to keep in mind that much of the SPR was filled when oil was $15-  to $25 per barrel.   With oil now around $60, how likely is it that the SPR is going to be topped off anytime soon, or ever?

The analogy is that of eating your food stash during a time of famine. While it may keep you going for a while, you are never going to replace it until a time of excess abundance, and that may never come.

So, I tend to thing that the SPR is going to be slowly bled away, from crisis to crisis, and will never be fully topped off again. And if we do decide to top it offl the increased artificial demand will only serve to raise prices. So, filling the SPR will tend to raise prices; and rising prices will discourage filling the SPR.

An emergency kit will generally only last you through one emergency, and no more.

I don't belive it will be refilled. The question is how much a political football it will be - the temptation to use it for temporary oil price reductions will be irresistable. I believe that is probably why it is still being drawn down now, when there is enough at the moment in commercial inventories.
I do belirve the SPR will be refilled and extended to 1 billion bls, but I also think it will take longer then 120 days.

Unfortunatly I think it will happen not to protect the public as it is being presented, but instead as prep for the Bush's next military adventure in the mideast.

The SPR will certainly get refilled. Ben Bernanke will print a lot of new money, we will simply go further into debt to China and Japan and everybody else buying into the current economy.

Hey - money isn't ever a problem for our government. They have proven that we can spend our way into an ever expanding economy quite easily!

Here is a rather long quotation from the recently passed US Energy Bill.  Note that it directs the DOE to begin procedures to fill the SPR to one billion barrels (an increase of 300 million barrels) in 180 days after the bill is signed into law.  I'll point out that it will take an another act of Congress to keep the DOE from acquiring 300 million barrels of crude oil for the SPR.

    (e) Fill <<NOTE: 42 USC 6240 note.>> Strategic Petroleum Reserve to
            (1) In general.--The Secretary shall, as expeditiously as
        practicable, without incurring excessive cost or appreciably
        affecting the price of petroleum products to consumers, acquire
        petroleum in quantities sufficient to fill the Strategic
        Petroleum Reserve to the 1,000,000,000-barrel capacity
        authorized under section 154(a) of the Energy Policy and
        Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6234(a)), in accordance with the
        sections 159 and 160 of that Act (42 U.S.C. 6239, 6240).
            (2) Procedures.--
                    (A) Amendment.--Section 160 of the Energy Policy and
                Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6240) is amended by
                inserting after subsection (b) the following new

    ``(c) Procedures.--The <<NOTE: Public <br> information. Notice.>> Secretary shall develop, with public notice and
opportunity for comment, procedures consistent with the objectives of
this section to acquire petroleum for the Reserve. Such procedures shall
take into account the need to--
            ``(1) maximize overall domestic supply of crude oil
        (including quantities stored in private sector inventories);
            ``(2) avoid incurring excessive cost or appreciably
        affecting the price of petroleum products to consumers;
            ``(3) minimize the costs to the Department of the Interior
        and the Department of Energy in acquiring such petroleum
        products (including foregone revenues to the Treasury when
        petroleum products for the Reserve are obtained through the
        royalty-in-kind program);
            ``(4) protect national security;
            ``(5) avoid adversely affecting current and futures prices,
        supplies, and inventories of oil; and
            ``(6) address other factors that the Secretary determines to
        be appropriate.''.
                    (B) Review of <<NOTE: 42 USC 6240 note.>> requests
                for deferrals of scheduled deliveries.--The procedures
                developed under section 160(c) of the Energy Policy and
                Conservation Act, as added by subparagraph (A), shall
                include procedures and criteria
                for the review of requests for the deferrals of
                scheduled deliveries.
                    (C) Deadlines.--The Secretary shall--
                          (i) propose the procedures required under the
                      amendment made by subparagraph (A) not later than
                      120 days after the date of enactment of this Act;
                          (ii) promulgate the procedures not later than
                      180 days after the date of enactment of this Act;
                          (iii) comply with the procedures in acquiring
                      petroleum for the Reserve effective beginning on
                      the date that is 180 days after the date of
                      enactment of this Act.

What the bill says and what will really happens may be two very different things.

Congress is always authorizing things that for some strange reason never wind up taking place. There are many examples.

I wouldn't hold my breath that the SPR is topped off any time soon. And even if it is, it will just put some more pressure on prices.

oh my gosh.....maybe i have it all wrong..(see above)....this from mike ruppert at the petrocollapse conflab..

"Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld all have their ranches off the grid. They're all running solar and biodiesel. They know what's coming."

i dunno... the image of W going in to the kfc in crawford to pick up the latest batch of fry oil to power his diesel generator , so he can watch "green acres" reruns (what else?)...oh man ..i'm havin' too much fun
Can anyone please tell me why the 4 week product supplied average here for 2004 week ended oct 29th

is different from the 4 week product supplied average here t/txt/wpsr.txt

I think this is very important because one shows demand running 2% above last year and the other shows it running 1.7% below last year.

Now we see how it goes. Every environmental consideration will be dropped, everywhere. Rememeber, there is not yet any real crisis. World oil production is slightly up, gasoline prices are reasonable. This is only the beginning.
This will absolutely be the case if things get tough.  Everything will be sacrificed for energy - environment, ideals, freedoms, you name it.  I don't mean this for everyone, but for the nation as a whole.
Anyone how many BTUs per gallon of gasoline?
I do believe that commercial automotive gasoline has a heating value of approximately 135,000 to 140,000 BTU per gallon.
That would appear to be the lower heating value (LHV), which does not include the latent heat in the water vapor produced by combustion.  The higher heating value (HHV) does include this.

Just note that if you calculate heats of combustion based on reactants and products at their normal states at 25°C, you're going to get the HHV and not the LHV.

Because the price of coal has gone up like the price of natural gas, some power company executives are talking about putting in a bottoming cycle propane unit.
Propane boils lower than water, so they can take the waste heat from the steam and condense it down to water and use that to vaporize the propane and then put it through turbines for power.
This is capital intensive because you need huge amounts of radiators to condense the propane, so it only makes sense at high fuel prices. You can pay for the fuel, or for the interest on the cost of making the radiators or cooling towers.
But you get more power per tonne of coal and per tonne of CO2, and you get to strip more SO2 and NO2 pollution (and more Hg) out of the exhaust from the power plant when the steam condenses instead of going up the stack.
Tell me how running a propane-vapor cycle on the heat from the steam exiting the steam turbine (and presumably recycling the condensate to the boiler when it's hotter than it would have been if it was chilled to the temperature of the ultimate heat sink) is going to chill the stack gases more and extract SO2 and Hg out of them?
Oops, right. When the stack gases / combustion gases are through the H20 steam loop they go through the C3H8 steam loop and exit below the condensation point of water, which yields more energy at a lower temperature. Which is why you have to calculate using the energy from condensing the steam in the stack gas. As the article pointed out, you also do a better job of scrubbing pollution.
The calculations were in a Power + Energy magazine article I read at the Bechtel Engineering library at UCB, I think. Don't know which month or page. I just read the article and shrugged, my interest being solar photovoltaic.
You're dreaming, and since this isn't such an easy thing to calculate I'll do it instead of leaving it as an exercise for the student.

The chemical composition of medium-volatile bituminous coal is about C(1)H(0.75) [81.6% carbon, 5.0% hydrogen] with miscellaneous additions; lignite might be C1H1 plus 38.6% moisture by weight (roughly 2/3 molecule of water per CH pair).  Burning the lignite in oxygen, you'd get this:

CH + 5/4 O2 + 2/3 H2O -> CO2 + 5/6 H2O

Burned in air with 25% excess oxygen, you'd get something like this (figures don't add to 100% due to rounding):

70.5% N2
3.8% O2
12% CO2
12.7% H2O
.9% other

The partial pressure of water vapor in this will be .127 of atmospheric pressure.  This corresponds to a condensation temperature of about 124 degrees F; above this temperature, you aren't getting any heat by condensing the water.

Note that this is for VERY damp lignite.

You can't get significant useful energy out of a heat engine operating between a temperature of 124 F and ordinary ambient, even if you could withstand the corrosion problems caused by acids condensing out of your stack gases.  And that's why the exit temperature of the gases is largely irrelevant; they won't get that low.

I posted that at night when I was tired, so I want to correct it. You do in fact get more power out of a propane bottoming cycle by running the exhaust gas through the system at a lower temperature. That is, the exhaust gas is stripped of a little more temperature while heating propane. Simple Carnot cycle.
Also, you do in fact condense the water steam from the conventional steam generator and use the condensation energy to boil propane for stripping a little extra power.
If you want to know more about propane bottoming cycles and perhaps mercury topping cycles, you will have to look it up on the web from someone who knows more about it then I do. Like I said, I just read it in a trade publication and passed it by for articles on solar photovoltaic.
My point is that you were not making a distinction between condensation of steam from the steam turbine and condensation of moisture in the stack gases.

In my experience, you don't really understand something until you can write a clear description of it.  You might want to try re-writing that just for the "aha" that comes when it all falls together.

Message sent to Larry at EIA. Thanks Biologyguy for the contact information.

"Hi Larry. I wanted to know why the product supplied 4 week average here

is different from the 4 week product supplied average here t/txt/wpsr.txt

I know there is a one day difference but even the previous report showed such huge discrepancy.

The difference is in the end dates 10/29/04-20,391 vs 10/28/04-20,849 (copied that of your message biologyguy-hope you dont mind). But that cannot be explained by a huge supply on one day or no supply on another as it happened last week as well."

Will post reply when I receive it.

Robert Hirsch the author of the "Hirsch Report" as quoted by Katherine Reynolds Lewis of Newshouse News Service.

"Three-dollar-a-gallon gasoline is going to be the good old days," predicts Robert Hirsch, a senior energy program adviser for SAIC, a professional services company.

If you're moving, buy or rent near a bus or subway line. Or look for a place within walking or biking distance of important services.

"Live close to places where you can get the essentials," Hirsch advised.

Hirsch worries that an oil shock could precipitate a global depression. "Hope that your company stays in business, because a lot of companies will fold," he said. "Don't take on a lot of debt because jobs will be in jeopardy and people may have to go into bankruptcy."

Chris Skrebowski has given a 2008 estimate for a peak date at the recent Energy Institute conference in the UK.
Summary of his comments (from RogerCO at powerswitch UK:

Peak flow will be in 2008. This is pretty certain from the available good data.

Impacts of peak are already here but hidden in 3rd world
5 year lead time on projects mean future production is known - if demand continues rising at 1.5%pa and existing production declines at average 5% (figures from Exxon and Haliburton) then with known new production we have a 12mbpd shortfall by 2010.