The European cold is continuing

Grin! Given the nature of much of the discussion here, dare I mention that I was up in Indianapolis at an event that has a relation to NASCAR vehicles (duck!) Thought not!

More seriously as I traveled, I noted that the USA Today is reporting that the bad weather in Central Europe is continuing. As a result for the sixth day Gazprom was unable to meet its international market commitments.  And, with sabotage to the pipelines, supplies to Georgia and Armenia remain cut-off. The Turkmenistan President is in Moscow possibly to talk about Gazprom taking over Turkmen gas. The BBC reports that:

some experts doubt that Turkmenistan has the gas, or the pumping capacity, to cope with what is expected to be a 30% increase in demand for its gas from Ukraine.
In fact some think that Turkmen gas may be at peak levels.

For the short term Gazprom is sending some gas to Georgia via Azerbaijan but if the cold weather persists, as is anticipated, it may get more complicated.  Iran, for example, is also willing to supply Georgia.  This may be needed since the Russian supply is providing only 35% of that which is needed.

And it is against this picture that OPEC have decided not to restrict oil in the near future, and Saudi again promises to increase supply. However, that decision might also be related to the SA agreement with China that has just been announced.

In which light one might note that the White House may end up betting on ethanol.

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, became the latest in Washington to advocate that biofuels may hold the answer to cutting US oil imports.

"What you hear from me may seem implausible," he said before arguing that ethanol could replace oil imports in three to five years if the federal government mandated that most cars be made fuel-flexible -- able to run on gasoline or a combination of gasoline and ethanol -- and provided automakers with financial aid to retool their manufacturing operations. In addition, he said, the government should remove a tax on ethanol imports; require E85 fuel (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) in at least 30% of gas stations; and help finance the first five large ethanol refineries. The thrust of his proposal is embodied in a bill sponsored in November by a bipartisan group of 10 senators.

To promote greater use of ethanol, the Energy Policy Act that Congress enacted last summer required production of 7.5-bil gallons of ethanol by 2012. It also authorized the Energy Department to provide financial assistance to the first large-scale ethanol plant.

7.5 billion gallons would be 179 million barrels.  This is a drop in the bucket.  You can save more just be imposing tighter fuel efficiency standards for cars and SUVs.  
You could also save more by cutting subsidies to oil companies, therefore raising the price and force the market impose tighter fuel standards.
(And save some tax-payer dollars!)
Though the demand levels may encourage supply if states move to make its use mandatory. Also, as Bloomberg points out, the gallons of ethanol and gasoline differ in energy content, so prices are not exactly comparible.
My first thought exactly... and is that 178mb per year? So < 500kbpd. Or is that from now until 2012? Also, does anyone know exactly how many acres it takes to make 1 gallon of ethanol (neglect EROEI). Furthermore, consider that roughly half of U.S. oil usage is for gasoline. Unless anyone has figured out how to make plastic from ethanol, there is still a problem.

The politicians think they can grow enough corn / sugar and build infrastructure to make ~ 14mbpd or ethanol in 3 years?!?!

Sorry that I have to correct but due to lower energy content 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol are equivelent to just 4.6 billion gallons of gasoline or 109 mln.barrels of oil.
This would save 5 days (1.37%) of current USA oil consumption annually which might not be impressive but is not that insignificant. I agree though that with higher CAFE we could save much more.
Thanks for the figures.  I wonder if biodiesel is similarly energetically challanged.
The folks at Austin Energy think they have it all figured out with the Plug-in Hybrid.  See  Their press conference in DC was standing room only yesterday; Senator Hatch left the Alito mark-up to make a statement in support at the Press Club.  Any thoughts on this innovation?
There is no doubt in my mind that the plug-in hybrids are the next step.  Ya gotta love electricity, it's produced from all kinds of sources, and wired straight to just about every home and business in the country.  Storage is the problem... but with the application of a few bucks, hybrids solve that problem.  I see plug-ins as the next step to commercially available fully electric vehicles.

On the other hand, I think that we are going to have to wait to get "permission" from the "powers that be" to start using non-liquid fuels for our cars...  this is because of the road tax issue, and the fact that electricity would become a major competitor for liquid fuels.

Generaly you're right about the way transport fuels are wired into our political system.  The backbone of state and local politics is the "transportation budget" which is fed by a combination of gasoline taxes, bonds and federal pork.  Developers, construction companies and bond dealers supply the campaign contributions.  Anyway, that's how it works in my little east coast state!
Generaly you're right about the way transport fuels are wired into our political system.  The backbone of state and local politics is the "transportation budget" which is fed by a combination of gasoline taxes, bonds and federal pork.  Developers, construction companies and bond dealers supply the campaign contributions.  Anyway, that's how it works in my little east coast state!
Why did they have to hurt the poor EV1, it wasn't bothering anyone, or was it?

I totally agree. Plus, people don't want to PLUG their car in to charge. I have enough trouble remembering to charge my laptop, mp3 player, and cell phone. How 'bout we get REAL innovative and make it easy for people. When you buy the car, you also get an inductive charging mat. Plop it on your garage floor, plug it in, and forget about it. (It can be done; the EV1 had inductive charging in the early 90's)
Visit the CalCar web site for lots of info re: plug-in hybrids (GO-HEVs or PHEVs).  Some claims:
Cost increments for a plug-in hybrid compact vehicle will be 10-20% more than for a regular hybrid ... a plug-in HEV with only 20 miles all-electric daily range is 62% lower [in well-to-wheel emissions] ... mass-produced PHEVs [which don't exist yet] have reached life-cycle cost parity with gasoline-powered vehicles ... Californians welcome ready access to a car that could be hooked up via an extension cord to provide emergency backup power for a few home appliances[!]
Sugar futures are way up because of ethanol.
If Brazil can produce ethanol from sugar cane, then why not Cuba, or Mexico, or Venzuela or <insert your tropical country of choice>?. Venezuela doing ethanol would be a bit like Iran going nuclear! Come to think of it, the Middle East could be reforested with sugar cane (for ethanol) and Jatropha (for biodiesel)...
The federal government from Brazil is transfering the sugarcane ethanol thecnology to Cuba. I suppose that Cuba can be a ethanol producer and start to export ethanol. But USA will not buy it while Fidel is alive...

Some countries as Germany and Japan show interest at buy Brazil's ethanol. The problem is that Brazil can produce maybe enough ethanol only for Brazil's consumption. So, not enough ethanol to export. And when the sugar's price goes up the ethanol productions goes down...

I think that the sugarcane's ethanol EROEI is positive. The problem with the USA's ethanol program is that is based at corn and the EROEI appear be negative.

João Carlos

Sorry the bad english, my native language is portuguese.

And if Brazil, one of the world's great agricultural powerhouses can't produce any for export, even with an automobile ownership ratio far short of North America or Europe, how is the rest of the world suppossed to grow enough?

(Oh, your English is fine, communicated what you wanted, and is far better than my second language ability)

2004 US gasoline consumption:  139 billion gallons.

2004 US maize crop:  11.8 billion bushels.  At 2.66 bu/gallon, it would yield perhaps 31 billion gallons of ethanol.

Iogen claims its cellulosic ethanol process yields 330 liters (87 gallons) of ethanol per ton of biomass.  If we can get to the "billion ton vision", we might get as much as 87 billion gallons of ethanol.

Ethanol from any domestic source is not going to replace gasoline.  Not even all domestic sources can make it.  The problem is that the process is far too inefficient (biomass to ethanol, 48%; ethanol to power, 15.9%, total 7.63%).

Engineer Poet
I understand we can't replace all our gasoline with ethanol from domestic sources.  But we don't currently supply all our gasoline needs from domestic sources either.  If we didn't import oil how much gasoline would we have for all domestic transportation?  Now try substituting domestic ethanol into that figure and see what you get.  

Importing ethanol from all sources, all continents, with a severe conservation program might get us to a new stable state after peak oil.  The key is having an infrastructure that can use ethanol or electric (anything other than petroleum based) as we reduce total consumption of transportation fuel.  We are not even close to moving in that direction at present.

I have been at TOD long enough to know you are seriously concerned about the details of energy exchange.  And you produce the figures to back up your statements.  Not a slam at you but many people forget the U.S. is not self sufficient in energy now but all alternatives must be or are not worth pursuing.  

This is backwards.  Start with our energy balance without imports.  What is the gap to todays usage.  How much can be made up with alternatives.  Drive to close the gap and eliminate as many imports of petroleum products as possible.  Calculate the benefits to the U.S. economy for doing this.  Repeat with next generation of efficiency.

I think you fail to appreciate the limited nature of biofuels.  Human energy consumption is a very large fraction of the world's total biological productivity, and even bigger compared to the fraction that's harvestable.  In developing nations, a great deal of that last is needed for food.

Are we going to buy tankers of ethanol from the leaders of Zimbabwe while its people starve?  Even if it doesn't come down to that, will we try to keep their economy from developing so they don't become competitors for the fuel they make?  Then there's the security angle.

The only way to get around those issues is to produce our needs domestically, which we can probably do if we stop using the inefficient systems which prevail today.  There are enough different options and sufficient available energy that it makes no sense not to try; even if we only get partway, we'll be far better off than if we decided to depend on liquid fuels for internal combustion engines.

I agree completely with your assessment.  I also comprehend the energy density of oil and the inneficiency of ethanol and biodiesel production.  I am very concerned that we are not moving in any meaningful way towards conservation and reduction in current oil usage.  

Without this we are are going to run into a wall in the near future where the infrastructure requires liquid fuel and there isn't enough oil based to meet the need.  All other approaches other than renewables, coal to liquids for example, are going to take longer to get ramped up.  IMO there must be a transition period (at least a decade) where some other liquids are consumed until we can change the transportation infrastructure.  

We also need population reduction, huge increases in energy efficiency everywhere (motors, heating, manufacturing) and reduced expectations on our freedom to consume energy for personal comfort.  But I don't see the rest of my coworkers ready to deal with these issues just yet.  Most don't even see the need for increased fuel efficiency in conventional vehicles.  

The U.S. consumes so much energy compared to what we produce domestically.  We could lose our civil society and system of government if there is too much of a shock after peak oil if we don't have some quick stopgaps.  

I am a classic Peak Oil believer.  I go back and forth between depression and optimism on what the future will bring.  I'm in an optomistic phase now where I see some real synergisms between using corn and beans for biofuels without major reductions in energy conversion in meat animals via feed.  

I live in Iowa and work for a company that is integrated into grain, animal production, human foods, and ethanol plants.  In my state, which is #1 in corn and soybean production, most of the crop is not consumed directly by humans.  It is almost all cycled through animals or used for industrial purposes already.  Recent data is showing that animals do not optimally digest and convert calories to animal mass from whole grains.  They do much better with partially converted grains.  Not all the energy striped out for biofuels is lost when feeding to animals.  

It is not correct to subtract all the energy converted to ethanol from the food chain side.  Significantly fewer "food" calories can be used to produce the same tonnage of animals.  This is due to very significant gains in feed efficiency in the animals themselves.  Less waste heat and feces waste.  Much of this data is unpublished at this time because companies are looking at intellectual property and business advantages in the market.  

This is one of the few areas of energy that I feel competent to speak on.  I'm not a chemical engineer or oil insider so I mostly soak up those energy discussions.  Thanks for the dialog on the issues defining the scale of the problem.  I am not a cornucopian with respect to renewables but see some real niche uses for these approaches in the U.S. energy portfolio.

so if we took animals out of the equation how much feed would be freed up for humans to eat directly?

how much extra water would that be if we didnt water the animals and all the extra food that they eat?

how much fuel would be saved not growing those extra crops (there is a massive surplus if you dont have animals to feed) all those crops need to be fertilized and sprayed using lots of precious oil.

The meat from the animals also has to be transported as does the animal to the slaughterhouse, and all the refrigeration for animal products??

I defy anyone to come up with a reason to eat meat, apart from taste (which will be the same argument as the SUV drivers)

bit of a rant, but all the cereals being fed to animals now in the world, when people are starving,IMHO its a disgrace

on the most recent open thread the article by jeremy leggett says that "one cow takes 6 barrels of oil to get to market"

now all I got to find out is how many cows a year are raised in the USA

Back in the days of the Chisholm Trail, it didn't take any.  If it takes more today, it's probably something we can change if we want to.

Growing corn in west Texas is probably going to yield a lot less per unit energy than putting longhorns on the range.

Is that 2.6 bushels per gallon or 2.6 gallons per bushel?
My bad.  Gallons per bushel.  Good catch.
I was mentioning the gas pipeline explosion in Russia to an associate of mine.

He then told me a tale I've not seen/heard elsewhere.  It seems the Soviet Union had in the cold war past one of the largest explosions ever due to a 'gas line failure'.  The cause of the failure?  The gas controllers bought from a US Supplier had 'a back door'.

Had anyone else heard of such before?

The story was that the CIA intentionally introduced a flaw in the software such that at a certain time the whole thing would go haywire and the pumps would run at full speed until something gave.

According to the story, this made the Soviets question all kinds of the technology that they had been stealing from the West.

I don't know how true it is, but that is the essence of the story...

A builder once told me that he had laid a sheet of plate glass halfway up a difficult client's chimney.  That fall, when the client called to complain about his chimney not drawing, the builder told him to pay his last bill or stop complaining.  Once paid, the builder said he visited the house and dropped a brick down the chimney.

I was dumb enough to believe him, but, later, I read House, by Tracy Kidder, who said that such stories were common, but generally mythical, because many builders find it impractical to collect their last payment.

This sounds like the same wishful thinking.

The 1st part of the story - a VERY large failure/explosion in a gas pipeline should be verifyable.   I can't even find evidence of the explosion.

(And I DO like the 'sheet of glass' bit BTW.)

There was really a very large explosion in Russia sometime in the end of '89s or beginning of '90s in Siberia. Gas had leaked from pipeline, filled a valley and exploded when a train passed by. The whole train was destroyed and a lot of people died. I can remember the news but cannot find the source any more. The reason was said to be poor maintenance of the pipelines, a plausible one.
Here's a link to story about a recently released book written by a former National Security Council official.
The gas line explosion which happened in 1982 appears to be the highlight of the book.

Sabotaging the Soviet gas pipeline to Europe was a key part of the economic war waged by CIA Director Casey under Reagan.  (Energy wars are nothing new.)  The weak point was that the pipeline required technology only available from Western countries.  So, who controls LNG technology?  Here's a wee tidbit...
Business in Asia -- Oct. 26, 2005
PRNewswire - Oct 26, 06:52 AM 2005
SYDNEY, Australia, Oct. 26 PRNewswire
NEW DELHI - India's US$22 billion deal to import 5 million tonnes of LNG from Iran is in trouble after General Electric of US is believed to have refused supply of crucial equipment needed to make LNG to Tehran. GE has refused to supply compressors, a crucial link in converting natural gas into liquid for transportation in ships, to Iran, industry sources said. German firm Linde had also refused liquefication technology to Iran. The only two commercially proven LNG liqueficiation technologies are of US origin and the sanctions preclude US based firms to associate with projects in Iran.
Thank you.   I felt the readership here would have some exposure to this.  
The CIA house journal published the story. The analysis is that the Russians are constantly sending viruses to the US and patiently waiting for the US to apologise for the virus we inserted into the pipeline software, before they stop sending them.
I don't know if the US is also supposed to pay compensation for the economic damages or hand over the individuals responsible for prosecution for premeditated murder of the pumping station crew.
Gazprom boosted production to try and get Europe the natural gas promised, but the Ukraine just siphoned off more, leaving Europe out of luck.  They are rationing electricity in Italy now.

The Ukraine is now considering cutting off the gas to industrial users:

found this yesterday

Statoil to Write Down South Pars in Iran by NK1.6 Bln (Update2)

The decision threatens Chief Executive Officer Helge Lund's goal of increasing oil and gas production by 19 percent next year, the Stavanger, Norway-based company said today. Oil companies around the world are facing rising costs and delays because of rising demand for rigs, pipelines and related equipment.

``We are not as certain of reaching our 2007 production target as we used to be,'' Ola Morten Aanestad, a Statoil spokesman, said in a telephone interview. ``We have not changed the target now, but we are continuously evaluating it.''

This is why I think peak oil was last year.  If all the projects in the pipeline came in on schedule and produced as hoped, we could raise production.  But there are two chances of that happening: slim and fat.
Couldn't resist. Georgians react and hang a new moniker on the beloved Russian leader.

Putin has 73% domestic support.  Georgia's hysterical leader thinks he can blackmail Russia with obviously staged incidents  that go against Russia's interests, specifically supplying gas to Armenia.  Considering that all of Georgia is affected, this lame demonstration by a handful of Shakashvili appartchiks is truely pathetic.
Putin has 73% support in Georgia? I've read some of Wrestling the Russian Bear but don't claim to understand the incredibly complicated politics going on in the region.
With Russian influence smoldering in Georgia in the wake of President Shakashvili's assumption of power, and in view of the growing independence of Azerbaijan as a small but not insignificant competitor not only for Russian oil to the West but also as a viable and vital transit state for Central Asian energy resources, Gazprom decided to draw the line in Kiev....

This price increase [to the Ukraine] must be seen against the backdrop of Gazprom's prices to states across the neighboring Caucasus region: $64 per 1000 c/m to Georgia and reportedly $56 to Armenia....

Perhaps you'll explain further about what's happening there. I certainly can't figure out what's really going on.

Two comments:
1.  I read in the Energy Bulletin a few weeks ago an article discussing the reduction in flow of the North Atlantic Drift by some 30% as compared to data from 10 and 20 years previous. The research was done by British scientists so of course it got no mention in the US press. This lesser amount of warm water reaching the Barents Sea before cooling and sinking is taking its heat somewhere ( see two Atlantic tropical storms/hurricanes in December of '05).  I'm not a climatologist but I can't help but "wonder" if the extreme cold being experienced in northern Europe could be in some part related to this drop in the amount of warm Gulf Stream/NAD water not reaching the Arctic. This shift in warm water movements could be related to the enormous increase in Greenland melting over the last few years. Nah, there's NO peer reviewed science supporting global climate change. Just ask the neocons.
2. Politicians discussing ethanol are blowing it out their collective whazoos.  To grow that much corn to make a dent in the nation's supply of transport fuel would, at least under current farming methods, require even more petroleum inputs than we're making now.  Where's this petroleum gonna come from? Our industrial farming methods have become such a travesty on our farmlands and waters that there is no way we can just grow more corn to make into ethanol. Corn is an extremely heavy feeder thus requiring large inputs of largely synthetic nitrogen fertilizers let alone all the god-awful petroleum based herbicides we spray on the crops to cut weed competition.  This is just more pie in the sky.  Ethanol could make a difference on more local economies.  Unless we develop and commit ourselves to more sustainable ways to grow this and other crops, we are only fooling ourselves.  This next growing season will be a real eye opener for many as the costs of production hit the accelerator due to much higher fuel and fertilizer costs. If we expect farmers to eat those increased costs without being paid more for their crops, it's not gonna play well in Peoria.