Open thread

Anything new out there today?
It's a beautiful day here in Eastern Canada. Time to take a walk or ride a bike!
Production recovery remains stalled (Sat report was 59.84% / 38.21%) - recovery has been stalled since September 5.

Hurricane Katrina Evacuation and Production Shut-in Statistics Report
as of Monday, September 12, 2005

Today's shut-in oil production is 860,636 BOPD.  This shut-in oil production is equivalent to 57.38% of the daily oil production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 1.5 million BOPD.

Today's shut-in gas production is 3.784 BCFPD.  This shut-in gas production is equivalent to 37.84% of the daily gas production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 10 BCFPD.

The cumulative shut-in oil production for the period 8/26/05-9/12/05 is 18,852,261 bbls, which is equivalent to 3.443 % of the yearly production of oil in the GOM (approximately 547.5 million barrels).

The cumulative shut-in gas production 8/26/05-9/12/05 is 91.811 BCF, which is equivalent to 2.515% of the yearly production of gas in the GOM (approximately 3.65 TCF).

It's not new today but here's an article I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the problems looming this winter for the UK gas and electricity supply:
UK Gas and Electricity Crisis Looming.

It goes well with the Matthew Simmons interview yesterday on Channel 4 News (UK) where he predicts an energy crisis this winter if we had any kind of a winter.

Thanks for scaring the living shit out of me!
Bloomberg: U.K.'s Brown Asks Non-OPEC Nations to Lift Oil Output
Sept. 11 -- U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said he's talking to Russia and other non-OPEC oil producing nations about boosting output should the cartel fail to stem further price increases.

``You need either to have an agreement on increased production capacity from the OPEC countries or we've got to provide increased production elsewhere,'' Brown said on the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Sunday A.M. program. ``That's why we're talking to Russia, we're talking to Norway, we're talking to all the other oil producers outside OPEC as well.''

Isn't there a problem here? The rear-view mirror suggests non-OPEC and non-FSU production is a good 4 or 5 years past peak. I guess he wants to test this notion, but who can come to the rescue? Is Brown saying openly that OPEC's swing role is OVER for good?


Well there's still a little wiggle room left. We don't really know exactly what's out there. I'm a little worried that we're at the beginning, or very close to the beginning, of the initial crest.

With someone like Bush and Cheney in the Whitehouse, God knows what will happen if it comes out that Saudi Arabia and pals have led us to a cliff blindfolded. Maybe it's not a coincidence that they are going after all these evil "terrists" and the neocons have called this WWWIII.


I've got a new calculation on what it would take to power the US transportation network using zinc-air fuel cells, with the zinc regenerated using carbon from biomass.  It's here.


I have seen you talk about zinc-air fuel cells before.  While this seems interesting, could you comment on how mature this technology really is?  

In looking at the website, they talk how this technology is being used in Europe and how they are starting field trials with a city bus.  The website gives a lot of optimistic marketing talk about how great it all is, but they obviously don't list any potential gotchas or problems that might need to be solved before widespread adoption.

I have seen talk of a different company that is making diesel-hybrid vehicles, and they seem to be getting some traction with finding customers.  I haven't seen much about this company though.

Are there cities and/or fleets that are considering adopting this technology that you know of?

There are a number of companies doing interesting things with zinc-air, but the one I know the most about is Electric Fuel (  I've been using a lot of their figures from their electric city bus tests.

Power Air Corp. purchased a bunch of LLNL patents for refillable cells, but they don't seem to have a web site.  Here's a press release about them.

Hmm, I meant in my previous post.

All this being said, the company seems to be under stress financially.  The stock price is below 1$ on the NASDAQ, which means they are in danger of being delisted.  In addition, it seems that in their most recent quarter they posted a loss, which may explain why the stock is in the toilet.  Their revenues were up, but they had to writedown of some stuff in a division unrelated to the fuel-cell division.

more info here

I have worked for startups and small companies, so I am sympathetic to the position they are in, and I know what they are probably going through.  Hopefully they will pull through it all.

The bus company where I live took delivery of six hybrid diesel buses starting last spring.  These buses operate similarly to a Prius, with a normal start from rest being on electricity only and the diesel engine blending in as the speed or power demand increases. The hybrid drive system, made by GM, has two electric motors with energy captured during braking. the diesel engine is from Allison.  Further info at

With an incremental cost of C$300,000, the payback period was thought at time of purchase (2004) to be ten years.  It's presumably less now.  

Another company that is developing tech for alt. fuel is they make and distribute deisel/hydrogen generators Its a neat concept packaged in a compact unit

not sure about fuel consumption rate though...

My first post.  Question - The Futures Market, where this oil price escalation has taken place, actually bids to purchase a small fraction of all oil sold.  I believe something like 1% or less of all oil actually sold.  However, the entire energy market uses this highly speculative pricing to determine today's crude oil prices.  Correct me if I am wrong, but this is the same oil that was profitable at $20 to $30 a barrel when it was first extracted.  It is the same oil that a company like Shell (big oil) extracts, pipes, ships, refines, pipes again, trucks and sells all within their own domain - either companies they own outright or that their products drive a company's profitability.  So, ultimately the gasoline I purchase today at $3.04 per gallon from my local Shell station provides lots and lots of profit to Shell.  It is a product that is being sold at a seemingly obscene profit (based on it's original and continued costs).  Am I wrong in my fundamental thoughts (Futures Market's pricing influence, big oil's ownership or influence on all aspects of crude oil to final product production and sales, obscene profits).  Correct me if I am off base as I would like to use these points to foster discussion in my classroom.
Not all oil, as you point out, is sold via the futures market. Spot oil prices are influenced by the futures market as well as what the market will bear. Specific producers and regions set their oil prices somewhat independently of one another, and base price on factors other than the futures/spot prices in one region of the world, said factors including - quality and nature of the oil, who its being sold to (and how transported).

I see producers moving their prices up and down all the time.

Now, on to Shell and other integrateds - those that have their own supply to their own refineries certainly are in the position to maximize profits at every step of the way. However, when one looks at the raw crude production stats of the majors, they are producing less. Therefore if they are producing more finished products, they either dip into their own built up stores, or have to buy from other producers on the open market.

Upstream producers who aren't engaged in the business of refining get maximum exposure from price changes, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on where price is headed and whether/how much price hedging they employ.

We can fully expect public outrage at oil companies and their profits but one thing is certain -- in an era of tight supply/demand, where exploration is running, in many parts of the world, at a record pace and costs therefore are as well -- without these big profits you'd see a reduction in exploration activity and, ultimately, even higher prices as supply tightens further, later down the road.

If the Gulf of Mexico oil production is slow coming back on line,
the Port of New Orleans, through which a huge fraction of US trade
flows, looks to be even slower. According to a Associated Press report

"Still, port officials say, it is imperative to reopen the port hard along
the Mississippi River, even if that promises to be painstaking. When it
does reopen, officials say, the port will only do so at about 10 percent of
its normal capacity. The hope is to reach 25 percent after 3 months."

The telemovie 'The Oil Storm' aired on Australian commercial TV last night.  While the fictional hurricane Julia was very close to the real Katrina the program deteriorated after this.  There was no mention of oil supplies actually running low.  No real emphasis on alternatives or raising fuel efficiency.  The Hollywoood happy ending was really bad.

The program seemed to give the message that the oil supply is infinite and as long as we keep it flowing into America we will be OK.  It also reinforced the idea that anything is OK to keep the oil flowing and that Russia is the big hope for 4WD(SUV) and V8 owners.

In Australia a TV economist/commentator introduced the program just to reassure the people that all was well and this was only fiction.

What will it take to wake people up???

Russia, the big hope. Well, that's the best joke I've heard today. They'll be peaking next year or 2007 at the outside according to what I'm reading. But, hey, its only fiction. It's all good.
Maybe if Gordon Brown wishes it so, Russia will be the big hope.
Our pellet stove was delivered yesterday, so now I have to install a tile base and an exhaust flue.  The dealer was very frazzled; he's being deluged with buyers, and can't restock fast enough.

We've invested in the unit, so it will be interesting to see what happens with gas heating prices.  Last winter, we kept the heat low, but our gas bill was over $200 a month anyway.  I've been telling friends that gas is probably headed way up, and many have heard predictions of a 71% increase on the news, but one woman showed me a newsletter from a financial advisor.

"If sustained, these energy price increases could seriously damage the economy.  The key phrase is 'if sustained'.  IMO, the best information on that question is in the energy futures market.  So far, energy futures have been relatively quiet.  The three-month ahead futures price for West Texas crude oil has risen only 3% over the last three days, gasoline futures are up "only" 13%, natural gas up 11% and heating oil up 10%.  I take some comfort from the relatively tranquil futures market that the soaring prices we are seeing at the gas pump will be short-lived and not add much more damage to the economy.  It is important to note that MSM have a completely different opinion.  TV and major newspapers today are saying gasoline futures are up 26%.  They are quoting the future that is less than 30 days to expiration, which is practically not a future at all, but makes for a great scare story."

So my friend believes that prices are only going up slightly this winter.

I've exchanged emails with the fellow selling Twikes in the US.  He told me that the classic Twike Active, the one with pedals that charge the batteries, is being throttled back to to moped speed to qualify as an e-bike in the US.  The Twike Easy, which is being sold as a motorcycle, will have full power.  I advised that Twike add a spec sheet to their web site; something that lists available colors, standard equipment and options, as you would find on any automobile, motorcycle or bicycle website.  If I was contemplating spending $14K to $15K for a vehicle, I'd want to be very sure what I was getting.  He told me to do a web search on Twike.

They are quoting the future that is less than 30 days to expiration, which is practically not a future at all, but makes for a great scare story." So my friend believes that prices are only going up slightly this winter.

Your friend will be surprised. Prices are already at peak winter prices and the winter isn't here yet.

You folks must not assume that the price for Dec or Jan NG, today, tells you what the price at time of delivery will be. It could be 15, or 7, or 20.

There is no way to tell what the commodity will be priced at delivery.

Keep repeating that until it sinks in.

Looks like Wall Street is realizing that Katrina caused much more damage than Ivan.

Excerpts from Wall Street Journal article:,,SB112648415036137581,00.html?mod=home_whats_news_us

Gulf Energy Firms Cope With Blows to Service Sites

As the energy industry attempts to restart its damaged platforms, pumps and pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico, efforts are being hampered by damage to the coastal facilities that serve as the staging area for offshore operations.

The Louisiana coast is home to a huge concentration of service companies -- from family-owned outfits to operations run by publicly traded corporations -- that bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina's landfall late last month. The assessment of offshore facilities is still a work in progress, but industry officials said it will take considerably longer to recover from Katrina than it did a year ago after Hurricane Ivan, which skirted the eastern edge of the Gulf energy fields.

Nearly half of oil and natural gas normally produced in the Gulf still remains idled, according to the federal Minerals Management Service, as service companies struggle to right themselves and help their customers assess and repair damage. In the same amount of time after Ivan's landfall, only one-quarter of production was still shut down. But the effects of Ivan lingered. In February, five months after Ivan's impact, 4% of daily oil and gas production was still idled. Katrina's destruction, which has sent prices for natural gas and refined petroleum products like gasoline surging, appears likely to linger even longer. (See related article.)


What's more, the permanent damage this time could be greater. The U.S. Coast Guard reports 52 platforms were sunk by Katrina, compared with only seven by Ivan. Many of these platforms won't be rebuilt, meaning the pockets of oil and gas they were tapping could end up out of reach.

Katrina also appears to have permanently washed away part of a crucial peninsula used by oil companies as a staging area for work in the Gulf of Mexico, slowing down repair work and raising questions about where to rebuild. Simone Theriot Maloz, executive director of Restore or Retreat, a local nonprofit group that studies the delta, believes the storm turned the course of the Mississippi River westward near Venice, Louisiana, and took part of the town with it. A shift would further complicate oil-industry efforts to restore exploration and production from the Gulf of Mexico, which supplies one-quarter of the U.S.'s oil and natural gas.


Before Katrina, Venice, located about halfway down the peninsula as it juts into the Gulf, was full of boats, offices and sleeping quarters for offshore contractors. "Venice is no longer there," said Eric Johns, operations manager for Specialty Offshore Inc., a closely held diving-service firm that used Venice as an operational hub for docking boats and accommodating divers. He has been forced to line up temporary facilities further west.

Venice is also home to a gas-processing plant operated by Dynegy Inc. that took in 1.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, stripping it of butanes and other liquids before sending it into distribution pipelines. The company was still assessing whether the plant was viable, but said it was too early to make a determination.


If the land continues to melt away, Port Fourchon, situated on the tip of a peninsula west of Venice, could one day be erased from maps. Normally, the port services some 1,000 trucks and 200 ships daily. But, according to projections, all the land surrounding the port will flood in the coming decades, leaving no road link for the oil companies to the port. "You can't re-create southern Louisiana the way it was 20 years ago, or even today," said Ted Falgout, director of the Port of Fourchon. "All you can do is sustain it."

Just in case anyone was wondering why on Earth a "horse farmer" got appointed head of FEMA, this just might make a little sense....

And here is a few tons of salt thrown into the wound Katrina dealt the Gulf Coast:

The CEO of the Shaw Group is chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party
I'm not sure where is the best place to post this, but Raw Story has done an excellent job summarizing the American Red Cross and their misuse of emergency relief funds.  The ARC was incorporated in 1905 "to act under government supervision" and has many close ties to the government, including the fact that 8 of the 50 board members are appointed by the US President, one of which is the "principal officer" (CEO) of the ARC.  do we really know where and how our money is being used?