News Deposit/Open Thread

A nice, middle-aged couple clean our office space in the mornings.  I get in early, so I chat with them, and Friday I broached gas prices, a surefire conversation-starter.  They had cancelled their vacation drive because they just couldn't be happy while such suffering was going on in NO.

Later, a supposedly homeless guy showed up at the office saying that he got off the train at the wrong stop, and needed money to get to Rockville.  Well, we're at the end of the line.

On the way to PA, I saw a large cloud of black smoke over I-70.  A large pickup truck was on fire, completely engulfed in flames, on the southbound on-ramp.  My first thought was all these people topping off their tanks and filling up gas cans to beat the rising prices.

We had bought a coal/wood stove at a yard sale, but my wife talked me into a pellet stove instead.  The local dealer said he had already sold seventy of them this month and was running ragged.  He was expecting higher prices and fuel surcharges on his next delivery.  Now my brother-in-law wants one.  

I've got to put more insulation in the basement.

CNN this morning has put up a blistering but factual display of disconnects between Chertoff's and Brown's words contrasting current positions with past positions.

MSNBC is heading in the same direction, but not quite as strong.

FOX?  Not sure.

Good news for those still stranded & dehydrating to death in New Orleans,  It has been identified that Mr Michael Brown the director of FEMA has held only  one significant previous job which was Commissioner of the Arabian Horse Association.  His skill developed during that job Should come in handy when talking utter horse sh*te to all and sundry.  
I'd be curious to hear about the gas supply situation in the various places where shortages were reported a few days ago, like Atlanta, Phoenix, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Columbus, Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the other localities listed in this earlier posting. Are things any better? Are gas prices still high?

Here in California they seem to have stabilized at $3.05-$3.15 per gallon for unleaded regular, for the last couple of days.

$3.10/gallon at my usual pit stop in Colorado. Up .10c from yesterday.
Atlanta: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution doesn't have an article about gas prices or shortages today.  Gov Perdue repealed the gas taxes which I think saves about 19 cents a gallon, but there is no obligation for gas stations to lower their prices.  I don't know what the area prices are but locally they are $2.89-3.09.  Friends and I didn't see lines today and we noticed that cars were going slower on the expressway.  I'm waiting to see what happens next week.
Are you sure?

Atlanta Journal and Constitution (GA)
Copyright 2005 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 3, 2005
Section: Business
KATRINA AFTERMATH: Spotty gas supply to continue Governor orders relief from taxes to cut prices

[quote]Matt Simmons, a Houston-based investment banker in energy, worries that the good news is superficial, and will drive Americans back into complacency as energy resources dwindle.

After more than two years of research for his recent book, "Twilight in the Desert: Pending Oil Shock," Simmons concludes that the world's oil production has reached its highest point.

His tri-fold message is: open restricted oil fields, including the Alaskan wildlife refuge; conserve existing supplies; and look for energy alternatives, including nuclear, wind and solar. He said he hopes Americans don't sleep through Katrina's wake-up call.

"We're going to have to get used to paying realistic prices for our energy," Simmons said. "I think the quicker people start to realize that we've ended a very long era of inexpensive energy, the better off we'll be."[/quote]

Sorry, no link.

Madison, WI:  Averaged 2.85 before Katrina; now at 3.25.  No lines.
$339 in Hazleton, PA, a city of 25,000 or so souls just south of Wilkes-Barre. Up 20 cents from Friday's peak.
$3.19 in Duluth,MN area (as of sept. 2/3)

We got a wood-stove installed just a week or so ago.
I've bought some wood,
$155/cord for cut & split oak, delivered
$120/cord for cut (not-split) maple, delivered.

People looking into wood stoves should REALLY make sure to get efficient ones. Their wood will last longer, and they'll pollute a lot less. A non-efficient woods toves pollutes as much in 9 hours of burning than a car running for 21,000kms.

Check this one out, for example:

and this post about an EPA wood stove replacement campaign:

TOPOLINO-II wood stove: White heart, Light Grey
Sides, direct air
High efficiency wood-fired stove 3-8kW of £2,850.00
ceramic and porcelain
Wooden crate with integral Euro pallet, ship
weight 415kg

not bad for only $5,000[!], plus VAT plus shipping from europe.

I guess it ain't easy being green.

search "froogle" for "epa woodstove" and get lots of hits.
dumb me.  "epa wood stove" works better.
Also, be really sure to install a good flue, clean it regularly, etc. or your house will burn out.

I resisted the idea of a pellet stove because I'm still not sure that pellets will be readily available next winter, but I am partially comforted by the idea that you can burn other biomass in them.  I am also troubled that they require electrical power.  But I figure I can rig a battery backup to a bicycle generator down the road.  

that back up generator on the bicycle is a good idea  Donal  Not only will it give you electricty for your battery but you will get real warm pedaling it for all your worth, to get the juice.  -:)

the hermit

From the optimists at World Changing, a provocative (inspiring?) article on how to rebuild New Orleans right:

Here in Canada prices vary between CAN$1.26 and CAN$1.50 / liter.
Friday morning, I get a ride to pick up my car (VW Fox, 34 mpg) at the shop. The gas price in town is 3.17. (This is "northern New England.")

I come back into town and top off the tank for 3.25/gallon.

Later that day, my partner goes out to by grain for the animals and get a can of kerosene for our old fridge. He says gas in town is now 3.69.

I am not going to rest assured for the winter until we have our three tons of coal in the bin. This year it's 226 a ton. Last year's coal was nasty, with lots of "finings" in it. Our dealer says his supplier in PA was selling off coal to China for $20/ton over the going rate. When our dealer asked the supplier what his customers in the north were supposed to do, the supplier said, "Freeze."

We're building an extra bin this year so we'll have three more tons on hand.

This will be the winter of our discontent.

We heard that the folks here in PA who sold the 'nut' coal, anthracite $160/ton, weren't taking new customers.  But that burned too hot for our little pot-belly stove anyway.
A few interesting articles

Michael Parenti's How the Free Market Killed New Orleans

Pierre Chomat's Oil Addiction: The World in Peril - 16

Gas is 2.99-3.09 in Southern AZ.  Am concerned that natural gas will be in short supply this winter, and in order to keep pipelines pressurized, warm areas (like here) could get cut off or priced very high.  Have natural gas hot water, furnace, and stove.  It does get to freezing here at night in the winter, one does need heat...  Ordered a Volzegang wood stove for $119+ tax from Ace hardware.  Has cooktop.  Still need to figure out flue pipe in the kitchen, don't want to penetrate tile roof, possibly run through window replaced with panel, or penetrate wall.  Also have a fireplace.  One cord mesquite, pecan, or pinion is $260, you haul.  Next Frday afternoon's project.
Industries around the country and the world are keeping an eye to the port situation in Louisiana.

Randall Gordon, a spokesman for the National Grain and Feed Association, a trade group that represents about 900 companies that operate grain handling facilities across the country, said the closure could affect barge rates and the ability to quickly transport barges between the Gulf region and the Midwestern grain producing states during the approaching shipping season.

David Phelps, president of the American Institute for International Steel, said steel importers already are facing major hurdles. New Orleans is a leading port for steel imports.

With most of that cargo being rerouted to Houston, he said, there are concerns that the Texas port will run out of capacity. What's more, he said, Houston, isn't able to provide the major rail services to move the cargo.

"Members are very much scrambling to see what's going to happen," Phelps said.

The port is asking its employees and those who work in port-related jobs to call 1-866-476-7866. 076408

This is interesting...the port is asking for its workers to get back to work (I assume from the call for them to call) but where will they stay?  What will they eat?  If we are busy trying to accommodate the poor that could not get out, now we want the skilled wokers to come back and get USA Co. back into operation.

The lack of coordination is stunning!  

In any event, we now know how well Homeland Security has planned for a city killing terrorist strike.  I live about 25 miles from the port of LA and about 25 miles from San Onofre nuclear plant.  I can now rest assured that if either of these is ever hit by a loose nuke,  I am on my own.

My brother stated he drove through Chicago Friday and interstate 294 was very deserted, unlike the usual bumper to bumper traffic one encounters. I 'm wondering how traffic is in your area.. I just sitting at a truck stop and I can tell you the lines at the pump have disappeared from earlier this week.
Most of the gas stations in my community (just outside D.C.) are around $3.29 for regular.  There were long lines at one station with $2.99 this morning, while nearby stations with $3.29 sat empty other than a Mercedes here and there.  

Interesting to see how even the people who shop at Whole Paycheck (Foods) and eat out several times a week are willing to wait to save .30/gallon.  

NOAA now has areal photos of New Orleans:

I've just heard the worst news yet through and some more on It seems that not only were there delays in getting help to the people of NO, but the Homeland Security office actually PREVENTED the Red Cross from going in and helping, because, and I paraphrase "We didn't want the people to go flock around the food and would prevent them from evacutating and possibly to flock IN". In fact, go to, click FAQ, look at the second answer.

Also, the Green Party tried to bring in food and water directly to the Superdome and were turned away for lack of enough food for everyone!

And, finally, Haliburton is getting the contract to rebuild NO.

I'm crying.

Re: "Haliburton is getting the contract to rebuild NO"

Link? Source?
This. Scroll down the satire to find the link to the contracts to rebuild the Navy bases. I guess there are more contracts coming, as Wall Street sent the stock up .
OPEC as we've heard is going to 'consider' bumping output by another 500,000 bpd at their mid-September meeting, although as we all know, in the short term, crude is not the issue. From the Washington Post:

What I found interesting was this paragraph:

Shihab-Eldin added that there could be different crudes making up the possible 500,000 bpd increase.

"There are a number of countries that have 50,000 (bpd) other than Saudi Arabia, (countries) that have 50,000 barrels, 70,000 barrels, or they are planning to bring on line from their expansion of facilities ... that could go to contribute to this 500,000," he said.

These relatively small numbers from all over the place don't prove, but do lend support to, the notion that supply capacity is very close to peak at least at current.

Takeaway annual depletion and where are we next year...

This article you cited really does tell us what OPEC can and can not do in the Fall of 2005. As far as the Peak goes, that will be known in retrospect, after the fact. OPEC becomes more and more irrelevant in the future as the world waits with baited breath for Non-OPEC unconventional sources (outside Venezuela) to save them from their own profligacy.

Obviously, things are looking bad right now.
Lots of good stuff noted by Big Gav.
More DHS idiocy reported by CNN
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Two major fires blackened the skies over New Orleans Saturday, one of them engulfing an industrial stretch on the riverfront northeast of the downtown area and another burning at a fashionable mall.

Thick clouds of black smoke from the Louisa Street Wharf area covered the city skyline Saturday morning, where there was no sign of firefighting efforts to to put out the blaze.

Nine stockpiles of fire-and-rescue equipment strategically placed around the country to be used in the event of a catastrophe still have not been pressed into service in New Orleans, CNN has learned.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Marc Short said Friday the gear has not been moved because none of the governors in the hurricane-ravaged area has requested it.

Are forest service airplane resources on the job yet? No. I guess they're still waiting for DHS to tell them it's ok. I wonder how much of New Orleans is going to be allowed to burn before we at least start deploying the available resources.
MMS has a Saturday update -- unusual in itself I believe -- but some good news (improvement) on the natural gas front:

These evacuations are equivalent to 30.03% of 819 manned platforms and 29.10% of 137 rigs currently operating in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The number of manned platforms that are evacuated declined 25 percent from yesterday.

Today's shut-in oil production is 1,184,747 BOPD. This shut-in oil production is equivalent to 78.98% of the daily oil production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 1.5 million BOPD. This represents a 10 percent improvement from yesterday's figures.

Today's shut-in gas production is 5.779 BCFPD. This shut-in gas production is equivalent to 57.80% of the daily gas production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 10 BCFPD. This represents a 21 percent improvement from yesterday's figures.

The cumulative shut-in oil production for the period 8/26/05-9/3/05 is 9,872,662 bbls, which is equivalent to 1.803% of the yearly production of oil in the GOM (approximately 547.5 million barrels).

The cumulative shut-in gas production 8/26/05-9/3/05 is 53.232 BCF, which is equivalent to 1.458% of the yearly production of gas in the GOM (approximately 3.65 TCF).

Thanks for finding these figures, MW. It will be interesting to watch them and see how well they track the predictions from before the storm at .  They predicted 86% of oil production offline for less than 10 days, and 50% for 10-30. We're now at 79% offline after 5.5 days. I wonder where we will be at 10 days?
Iraq Kirkuk oil exports stopped after blast-source

BAGHDAD, Sept 3 (Reuters) All exports of Iraq's Kirkuk crude oil through a major pipeline to Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast were stopped today after a bomb blast set the pipeline on fire, an oil ministry source said.

''The blast halted all exports, it stopped them completely,'' the source told Reuters.

The bomb set the pipeline ablaze this morning, but a few hours later an official at the fire department of the North Oil Company said the fire had been contained.

From the Time-Picayune but worth quoting in full:
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., Saturday accused the Federal Emergency Management Agency of failing to accept offers that would have eased post-hurricane problems in New Orleans -- including a plan for the Forest Service to douse fires in the city with aircraft used to fight fire.

On Friday, Landrieu asked President Bush to appoint a cabinet-level official to oversee Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery efforts. She reiterated that request on Saturday.

"Yesterday, I was hoping President Bush would come away from his tour of the regional devastation triggered by Hurricane Katrina with a new understanding for the magnitude of the suffering and for the abject failures of the current Federal Emergency Management Agency," Landrieu said. "Twenty-four hours later, the President has yet to answer my call for a cabinet-level official to lead our efforts. Meanwhile, FEMA, now a shell of what it once was, continues to be overwhelmed by the task at hand.

Landrieu said that FEMA has inexplicably failed to take advantage of offers of help.

"I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims - far more efficiently than buses - FEMA again dragged its feet," Landrieu said. "Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.

Landrieu said that her "greatest disappointment" is the lack of progress fixing the breached 17th Street levee.

"Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast - black and white, rich and poor, young and old - deserve far better from their national government," Landrieu said.

Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which is directing FEMA in its recovery efforts in New Orleans, has said that the federal government is committing more and more resources to what is the worst natural disaster in the nation's history.

The last accusation, that fixing the levees was just being done for PR, is particularly damning. I don't think the administration is getting it: there's no way to spin and manipulate their way out of this one.
I hate to say it, but I think the "conservatives hate Amtrak" thing comes into play.  Some middle-level flunky is probably afraid it would make trains look good.
Also, this says to me that Bush is political dead meat.  For Landrieu to "flip" in 24hrs ...
Local news is that our Orange County California rescue workers are waiting, with many others, in Dallas ... for an assignment from FEMA:

This same lack of fast and proper response by the US government to support it's citizens was also seen after the Tsunami in Thailand (although on a much smaller scale).

Katrina seems a clear indicator that without policy change and deep changes to the US government's thinking, any global peak oil scenario will be meet in the US with the same lack of preparation.

Unacceptable from any point of view.

[I am pasting these comments I made from an earlier thread here to get comments:]

I don't know if these are related to the reported oil spill, but these photos from NOAA show oil slicks in the Port Fourchon area. The site has some fascinating shots of the damage.

Clearly oil on water:

Boats helter-skelter, in oil slicks: Also WHAT the hell is that hulking THING stuck in the road in the TOP CENTER of this pic?:

Object in the ocean off Port Fourchon and plume of oil:

Oil slick:

Damaged marina, center:

Zoom in on cleanup operation, lower right:

If anyone has knowledgable comments about these images, PLEASE comment.

NOTE: the orientation in these photos is uncertain and changes throughtout.

O.K. the first pic' is an area called old fourchon. The leak is coming from Chevron pipeline facility just off screen top right

The thing in the road was a camp built on a barge.

what looks like a clean up is the shrimp boat dock in fourchon.

The last pic' is in the Halliburton slip. the large building that is damaged is C-port 3, owned by edison chouest offshore. it is a large cargo loading facility.

I work in this port on a daily basis and from reports from my vessel (I'm off right now) The overall damage in port fourchon is not great.the facilities are coming on line (w/o power) and the waterways are clear for marine trafic.

On another note, The drilling rig Hercules 22 working in the bay marchand field just outside fourchon sustained a good bit of damage. legs are bent and is leaning 10 degrees. stormmoved rig 40 yds. and rotated it 45 degrees. will prob. need to go to shipyard for major repairs.  herc 22 is on long term lease to chevron to workover wells in the bay marchand field.

"But nothing, in the plethora of grim tales of disaster, compares with a terrible incident recounted to me as the week drew to a close. There was a 380-pound man stranded on the seventh floor of a New Orleans hospital. Unable to get him down five flights of stairs to the second-floor exit, through which other patients were being evacuated onto rescue boats to escape the rising floodwater, a female manager took a shocking decision. She ordered that he be given euthanasia."

Is the Scotsman a rag?  I can't imagine such a thing being true.

No, it's not a rag. The reporter is clear the story is based on the word of a single anonymous source, however.
An open letter from the editors of the New Orleans Times-Picayune to President Bush.

Three die in clashes in Saudi oil city

RIYADH (Reuters) - Two suspected militants and a policeman were killed in clashes in the eastern oil city of Dammam on Sunday, security sources said. U460274_RTRUKOC_0_UK-SECURITY-SAUDI-MILITANT.xml

Venezuela donates 1 million barrels of oil to the United States of America

Speaking on his Sunday radio show, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias has announced that Venezuela will send 1 million barrels of oil to the USA to attend the emergency caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The donation came after a telephone conversation with Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) US subsidiary, Citgo, president Felix Rodriguez.

According to Rodriguez, Citgo has escaped Katrina's ravages and is at the peak of its productive capacity.

Citgo's refinery in Lake Charles (Louisiana) is currently refining 398,000 bpd compared to 230,000 bpd that was its average in Q1.

Opec likely to raise output
Tehran - The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries will likely raise its output ceiling by 500 000 to 1 million barrels a day at a meeting in Vienna this month, Iran's Opec governor said on Sunday. 8-1785_1764928

OPEC confirms overproduction amid soaring prices

OPEC president Sheikh Ahmad Fahd al-Sabah has reaffirmed the cartel is producing 30.4 million barrels per day (bpd) - 1 million bpd over market needs - in a bid to curb soaring oil prices.

"OPEC is currently producing 30.4 million bpd ... This production is more than the market needs to allow the building of strategic and commercial stocks in order to stabilise prices," Sheikh Ahmad said.

He adds there is 1 million bpd of overproduction in the market.

OPEC exerts efforts to stabilize oil price: president

KUWAIT CITY, Sept. 4 (Xinhuanet) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is exerting all efforts to stabilize oilprice, OPEC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said on Sunday.

    Sheikh Ahmad, also the Kuwaiti energy minister, said the OPEC isproducing 30.4 million barrels of crude oil a day and production levels exceed market demands to increase the market's strategic andcommercial oil reserves, Kuwait's official KUNA news agency reported.

    The hike of oil price is related to some psychological factors in addition to other factors, he said, affirming that OPEC was doing its best to resolve the crisis and meet US demands for oil by-products.

    He linked the hike of oil price to geopolitical and climatic changes, fluctuations on the international oil market and shortage in crude refining process across the globe.

    "These factors have substantially contributed to pushing the prices high," he said.

    The climatic catastrophe now taking place in the United States, the globe's top oil consumer and high demands for oil products, such as kerosene and diesel, affirmed the fact that there is a major shortage, he said, adding oil refineries have also been affected.

Thank you Sheikh Ahmad Fahd al-Sabah! I was so worried there for a few minutes.... It's All Good!

I love the Kuwaiti Energy Minister and President of OPEC!
Lake New Orleans?

Some call it Lake George
From today's NY Times magazine, a letter in response to the Maass article:
"When Sadad al-Husseini says that we can't keep offsetting depletion (we need to add a Saudi Arabia every couple of years), why doesn't Peter Maass ask him why we can't?  We have obviously been doing it throughout the history of the oil industry.  And Maass mentions James Schlesinger as a respected figure (true) but doesn't point ou that in 1979, Schlesinger said that world oil production had nearly peaked , that it was geologically impossible to expand it."
Michael C. Lynch, President,
Strategic Energy and Economic Research
Amherst, Mass.
Re: Michael Lynch

By the way, that's offsetting depletion + demand growth.

Saudi Arabia production is currently 9.5/mbd. Every two years would be 4.75/mbd every year. Let's say world production/consumption this year is 84.5/mbd. Then next year, if we're on Lynch's schedule, we'd have 89.25/mbd available. In 2007, we'd have available supply of 94/mbd. Etc.

Does anyone anywhere in the whole wide world believe this kind of yearly supply (or capacity) growth is possible? Anyone?
I think you're misinterpreting Lynch, Dave. He indicated that to offset depletion, we'd have to add a new Saudi Arabia every couple of years. That means that he estimates depletion levels at about 4.5 mbpd per year. So adding this amount in new production is necessary just to offset depletion. He's not saying that we would increase total world production by that much every year, he's saying that we would add that much new production, which would cancel out the depletion on old production. You are right that we would also need to increase total production to account for demand growth. However this is not 4.5 mbpd per year, maybe more like 1.3 or so. And yes, I think the consensus is that we will be able to increase production for the next few years by that amount. That's what the projections I've read about say, such as the ExxonMobile report. Speaking of the 2010-2020 period, they say, "The estimated call on OPEC increases slowly from about 28 million barrels a day [in 2000] to around 30 million barrels a day in 2010. During this time, growth in non-OPEC supplies satisfies most of the demand growth, leaving little room for OPEC growth. "
Yeah, you're right Halfin. It was late night, I was feeling frustrated, my life falling apart.

We still need to come up with goods (about 6/mbd/year) to stay even with demand. That Lynch sees that as not a problem is not realistic in my view.
The bi-annual Offshore Europe Exhibition takes place in Aberdeen this week, commencing Tues. Sept 06.  Conferences run alongside this event and I found this paragraph as part of the agenda for Tuesday afternoon's conference:

<Industry analysts continue to debate over how and when global oil production will peak. But there is probably a consensus that the easy oil has been found and that we can expect a fall from worldwide peak levels at the very latest by 2050. Production in non-OPEC areas, and by Major operators, may fall even earlier, perhaps by 2025.>

I'm not totally sure which planet they are on as their forecasts seem even more optimistic than USGS.  I'm curious enough to go ahead and register for a ticket to attend; if I do manage to sit in on the conference I'll report back later in the week.

Here is the link for conference agenda:


Rec'd my (free) ticket already so I'm headed for the oil show and conference tomorrow morning.
AAA reports that as of yesterday the national average price for regular grade gasoline to be $3.06. This represents a 33% increase over the previous months average price and a 65% increase over last years average price.

The three states with the highest prices for regular grade are:

(1) New York     $3.24
(2) Rhode Island $3.24
(3) Delaware     $3.23

The three states with the lowest prices for regular grade are:

(1) Alaska       $2.74
(2) Louisiana    $2.74
(3) Mississippi  $2.77

N.W. Florida prices are 2.90- 3.00 but there is none to be found....