Updating a couple of graphs or more

After Khebab had posted his excellent information on the Production Forecasts on Monday, I sent a copy of the initial summary plot to the person I consider my ultimate boss in this neck of the woods. The reply came down "Does this mean the end of the world?" And I was for a while perplexed as to exactly how to reply.

In large measure much of the information that we talk about on this site is not widely known. To most people none of those who have modeled the coming of peak oil are known, and they would not know Cambridge Energy Research Associates from the Central Electric Railfan's Association . Every so often we have looked to see how popular the terms "Peak Oil" , "Saudi Oil" and "OPEC" are on the internet, starting in April 2005. Using blogpulse as the tool I thought it germane to see if there had been any change in the popularity of the phrases. Prof G changed the plots to compare "Peak Oil" with "Global Warming" and "Climate Change" in July 2005 and found that interest in "Peak Oil" was going down. We went back for another look in February this year and the Peak Oil line was again just a thin line at the bottom. But by April there was another upswing in popularity. So how are we currently doing? (Answers below the fold).

Going back to the original terms, the plot we now get is:

With Peak Oil alone, one can see that the topic continues to lose popular interest,

However if we were to look at Russia and the equivalent plot to the Saudi and OPEC one, we find:

Which shows, if one looks at the scales on the sides, that there is even less interest in those topics, despite the tightening grip that Moscow (and Gazprom in particular) is starting to establish on European fossil fuel supplies.

Given the more general nature of the job, it's not therefore unsurprising that my current boss is not that familiar with the topic. And so one of my first thoughts was to reprise, in a short report, some of the information that has flowed across the site recently. But in the land where a two-page memo is too long, conveying a sense of concern without being overly dramatic is not particularly simple.

And then, of course, there is the question itself! Are we really heading into the maelstrom, or will it be a more gentle transition that most will survive. Stuart will tell you that I tend to be a bit pessimistic on this one. And I wasn't much convinced toward changing my mind after listening to Matt Simmons as he excoriated the CERA Report on Financial Sense Online (thanks for the tip David Shvartsman). But one thing he said towards the end of the talk is worth casting out as an object of discussion. He anticipates that, much as the American Space Race was initiated following Sputnik, so there is some event coming that will trigger a major energy effort in the U.S. He did not know what it would be, and so I throw this out for nominations.

And since this is a post with some updating of graphs on it, let me close with the current EIA gasoline plots since the first of these is giving Matt some concern. Here are the plots, starting with the current state of gas stocks

followed by the current level of production.

the current levels of imports

and the current state of gasoline demand in the U.S.

I hope that you all had a Happy Thanksgiving, as we did, though I was surprised at how empty the airports were, at the time we had, perforce, to visit them.

A couple of quick comments -
I'm not surprised at emptier airports in America's wonderful economy, the same way I am not surprised that gasoline demand hasn't gone down at all. After the last two decades of the American Dream reaching its full flowering, there is no way for Americans to use less gasoline in their daily lives, without their lives turning into a nightmare in their eyes. Of course, using gasoline is already a nightmare, just one they haven't woken up to - regardless of which alarm clock is going off.

This is why I also think the hope of a major energy effort is simply a hope - the time to have started was 25 years ago, and at some point, it is just too late.

This is specifically meant for America and its society - I do not agree that peak oil means the end of industrial civilization, or the collapse of society, or whatever nightmares people see. It is just that at some point, a society reachs a breaking point from which it can't recover. The Soviet Union comes to mind as a fairly fresh example - the abandoned infrastructure of the Soviet Union are strewn throughout a continent, while the Russian population shrinks as public health systems fall apart and various vices (vodka, AIDS, crime) grow without much effective social control.

"I'm not surprised at emptier airports in America's wonderful economy, the same way I am not surprised that gasoline demand hasn't gone down at all"

That may be partially explained by the simple fact that no one wants to take the airlines crap anymore.  Let's be honest, airlines were insufferable before 9/11 and have always treated humans like cattle in a box car.  Since 9/11, they have the added excuse that "it's for security" and have become almost completely unusable.  I will never fly if I can drive, until the gas or Diesel in my case, is gone.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Oh, no question about flying - I returned through the American/British security 'alert' - awful.

What is interesting is that instead of flying, Americans drive - since in America, with the semi-exception of the Northeast Corridor, it is either fly or drive. There is no other infrastructure, and quite honestly, I can't imagine it being constructed within the current framework of American culture (that which has existed since ca. 1950). A workable rail system requires things like cities with centers, and people who feel that the disadvantages of using rail are vastly outweighed by the disadvantages of having a car. With the very notable exception of NYC (and from reports read on the Internet, New Orleans), and the possible exception of a few older cities like Boston or SF, this does not describe America and the attitudes shared by most of its citizens.

This doesn't mean that in 20 years America won't be using rail - it does mean the odds are, the steel for the new system will come from a Russian company, Evraz (which intriguingly, will become the world's largest manufacturer of rail steel, with a primary market in Russia, and exports to Asia) after it takes over Oregon Steel.

I could find a lot of information in German, but the English information was fairly meager. And this is yet another indication of what I keep harping on - America is so absolutely fixed in how it views the world that the idea that a Russian company (or Canadian or German - you have to buy your locomotives and rail infrastructure from someone, after all - America certainly doesn't manufacture much of it anymore) will be profiting from any expansion of American railroads is pretty much ignored, while the importance of GM or Ford in producing SUVs (which have zero role in a world market) is considered paramount to America's future.

This time, the music is from Elvis -
'We're caught in a trap
I can't walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Why can't you see
What you're doing to me'

Well, maybe Elvis isn't the best fit, but still...

good try though!


Good points all, as for the the choice of music, my pet in this area would probably closer to The Steve Miller Band
"Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you..."
(no reference to "you" present company, of course :-)

What is fascinating to me is how many folks will drive hundreds of miles to....get to ride a train!  The tourist draw of an old railroad is well known.
Here in my hometown, as late as the 1950's, you could take a train from the country into Louisville, and then to anwhere in the country.  That has since been lost, and the older folks pine for the easy and cheap transportation.
In the last few years, even the Greyhound buse lines have disappeared.  Now, If you want to get out of my hometown, you either walk or drive.

Can't we talk some of these billionaire "peakers" (Simmons, Rainwater or Pickens)  into some investment in rail?  Apparently, gas is going to have to get a good deal more expensive before it even looks profitable to the peak believers.

Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout

A good investment would be buying up Greyhound and making it work for everybody. Investing in Rail would take decades. Putting efficient busses on the road (vans?) would take days... If a somewhat improved bus system were in place once oil hits over $100, the idea could kick in real quick.

Saw a report once, where Cubans ride remodelled semis.. A bit third worldish, but hey, why not??

Does anyone know how many times Greyhound went bankrupt?

i nominate robert plant  
 crazy on a ship of fools ...............
 turn this boat around..............
That was Stealers Wheel, not Steve Miller.
His tune was The Joker.
Sorry Roger.
John Kerry already reserved that Miller Song for his "Stuck in Iraq" (with you) line.

The Elvis song is a good one.
Just change "why can't you see.. " to "why can't I see what you're doing to me"

The statement that it is either fly or drive, or that Americans cannot reduce their gasoline consumption, is not true. If the gasoline prices were high enough, we/they could and would:

  • the whole nation has a well-developed intercity bus system. This has the additional advantage that the tickets are cheaper than train tickets (where trains exist) and that they sometimes go more direct (e.g. New York City directly to King of Prussia, PA instead of going through Philadelphia)

  • anybody is free to form car pools. Certain minorities already do (I heard about Hispanics). Four-person car pools would reduce commuting gasoline consumption by about two thirds (allowing for pick-up detours)

BTW, similar arguments can be made about the impact of oil shortages on home heating and airconditioning, and on food consumption - there is an enormous slack and waste in the American energy system that can absorb a great decline in demand. It would not be pretty though...
the whole nation has a well-developed intercity bus system.

I don't think that's really true, but even if it were, the capacity of the existing system is miniscule.  If it can currently carry 1% of travelers, what would happen if 5% tried to use it?  25%?

Cheap van-based public transport could be set up quite quickly, technically speaking, but the current regulatory conditons prohibit that via multiple requirements that a cheap startup cannot meet.  E.g., insurance, commercial driver license, handicap access, exclusive licenses for access to passengers given to certain taxis in some areas, laws against multiple paying parties in same taxi-like vehicle, etc etc.  Perhaps when gasoline hits $8/gallon a blind eye will be turned on all that.

The CDL requirement is only for vehicles over 15 passengers, which is the most that vans are set up for from the factory (GM and Ford 15 pax, Dodge and Freightliner 10 pax).

"...but the current regulatory conditons prohibit that "

You bring up a good point.

I predict you will see MANY MANY regulatory statutes removed or just ignored.  

The cost and weight of it will become unsustainable.

Regulatory Conditions are a luxury of a rich society that exists now, but that will not in 10-20 years from now.

Cars will look like 3rd world vehicles.  Broken Tail light?  You will be lucky if it has lights at all.

MANY MANY regulations I feel will be simply ignored.

And let's not forget the role of airplanes (and other public-transportation vehicles) as cauldrons of disease. You get on a packed flight anytime from October to April, and they're hacking and coughing away, and you know the air is dryer than the Sahara, and the filters haven't been changed out since the days of King Tut, and you know all too well what's coming your way in a few days. Yes, when some relatives moved within driving distance, it was a huge improvement in that respect.
He anticipates that, much as the American Space Race was initiated following Sputnik, so there is some event coming that will trigger a major energy effort in the U.S. He did not know what it would be, and so I throw this out for nominations.

Geopolitics initiated the space race (a very simple race compared to the "energy race").

Acute and dramatic oil shortages due to failures in geopoliTICs will likely be The Cause, beginning between now and next summer.  

Iranistan and it's Fairy Godz Parent the 12th Imam, as well as the Chaos needed to summon him, will be one key player.  Iran has now restocked it's foreign legions Hamas and The Hezbos mostly through Syria The Doormat.  The Radical Islamic Armies will initiate hostilities one way or another by next summer ... unless Israel beats them to the punch.  

To bad Iranistan is run by the Pat Robertsons of Islam.

Second runner-up ... The Russian Energy Bear.  

Instead of Sputnik, it will be their Bear-Hug on the energy supplies to Europe and asian countries.  The inability to intimidate the Russian's militarily might force the Sleepy Saps of the West to start dramatic moves towards alternatives to fossil fuels (at least to oil - focus on coal is more likely than alternatives).

Of course, neither of these two countries would be a threat to anyone but themselves if it were not for Peak Oil.

Without Peak Oil, Iran and Russia would both continue to be "mostly harmless" peasant states.

This being a rather Americanocentric place, I am not sure that it is wise of me to mention the following:

Iran is an ancient country with a lot of very nice people living there. Early in the 20th century, the British messed up the place to some degree in order to get at the oil. In WWII, Joseph Stalin took the North and starved it and the British kept the South and did not allow food to be sent up North. After WWII, the British left but the Russians stayed for as long as possible. Eventually they left and took everything they could with them. However, they hung on to the part that is now called Azerbaijan - because of its oil. When the Iranians democratically elected someone who the CIA did not approve of, he was kicked out and the son of a previous despot (who had been exiled by the British) was put in his place. This guy bent over so backwards to give favours (just like with Haliburton in Iraq) to the Americans that eventually he was overthrown. A bunch of religious zealouts and thugs took over - the Shah and his American-inspired "white revolution" had ensured that there were no other centres of power in the country. In view of the above, why does sendoilplease hate and fear these people so much?

Russia is a country with a very sad and dramatic history that I am sure you know better than Iran's. However, let us be a little bit serious now. The events that took place in Russia after the collapse of communism were a good deal more dramatic that the USA's experiences during the "Great Depression". How exactly did the West help out? Did it not try to exploit Russia's weakness to the maximum. Who was it who abrogated the ABM Treaty and why? In view of the repeated threats against the existence of Russia by the USA, is it surprising that Putin is planning to invest in a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles?

If you assume that everyone who happens to have oil is your enemy, you are aiming to create a most unpleasant world. No one encourage you to waste your own oil. With a little effort, you could get by on a lot less oil and probably have a happier society

Boy, you are really anti-American, aren't you?

(That was just a bit of sarcastic humor, by the way.)

If by really anti-American you mean that I don't like it when Americans denigrate other nations and class them as "peasants" - I guess you are correct.

However, I find it sad when you do not like even your friends to point out the silliness of your attitude. You think that guys like Blair are friends of America because they do not tell you what is obvious to them but not to you.

This sarcastic sense of humour has led to the following in Iraq:

  • A war with Iran that was strongly supported materially, politically and economically by the West - over 1 million dead
  • An embargo that probably cost 500,000 children their lives
  • Bombing them from the air - much underreported at the time
  • An occupation under false pretences (between 400,000 and 950,000 lives excess deaths) ,
  • The dissolution of their army, ruling class and middle classes
  • The encouragement of a civil war by imposing an unworkable political model on them

Let us not forget that Iraq was a joke for a while and that it was only just before the mid-term elections that your president pointed out that it would be a shame to lose control of Iraq's oil reserves.

The first step to war is usually to try and belittle your perceived foes. That can quickly get out of hand.

I suggest that you stop classing countries into simplistic categories of friend or foe. Germany and France are already downgrading their relationship with the USA and upgrading that with Russia. Most other European countries will eventually do likewise - even Poland once they have lost enough soldier in Afghanistan and other silly adventures.

I wondered if what I wrote would be misunderstood, and it seems it was.

Being American, but living in Germany, it is always a surprise to see how even the most commonplace Europeans assumptions are considered 'anti-American' by Americans. For example, Chirac needling Blair that at least when France goes along with something, it expects something in return, was a fine reminder of just how Blair gained nothing for his support of Bush. Imagine the Gallic sneering as you wish - and for a change, it was fully deserved - having the French remind you that your own interests are more important than anyone else's must have been galling, since it has become so  publicly obvious.

Trust me, much of what I believe is considered to be deeply anti-American, and has been since Reagan was elected, and it was morning again in the shining city on the hill, or whatever poetic paint was splashed over the reality of the most wasteful society the world has ever seen.

I remain surprised at just how many Americans seem incapable of understanding what the rest of the world thinks or believes, in all its variety. Not accepting it, mind you, just grasping the fact that their own opinions and beliefs are as subjective and provincial as everyone else's, and not the revelation of eternal truths which the rest of the world will eventually understand, as they are led to paradise following the American Dream - suburbs from sea to shining sea, with purple plastic majesty.

To the extent that my comment was misunderstood, it was my mistake. But as a note of caution, which my poor skills didn't convey well - the truth seems to many Americans to be 'anti-American' at this point. It can be pretty frustrating to deal with when discussing various challenges facing the world.

Wow - can't have any peace signs when celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, can we? Where would that stop - I mean, some chain in America might start selling Easter candy with a machine gun nest. Oh wait, they already did, right around the time America invaded Iraq.

Sometimes, the power of reality trumps even my most cynical and bitter imaginings.

As this reference shows -

'A Nevada City woman was arrested Tuesday for protesting Kmart's display of Easter baskets filled with war toys and military action figures.

Joanna Robinson, 56, of Nevada City, was arrested at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday after complaining about some of the Easter baskets inside the Grass Valley Kmart store, 111 W. McKnight Way, police said.

The Kmart store has stocked four different varieties of Easter baskets full of military toys. One had several miniature toy soldiers, machine guns, and military vehicles, as well as Mega "Warheads" candy. The baskets with war toys did not contain any Easter bunnies or nonviolent toys.

Grass Valley police had warned Robinson she would be arrested if she didn't change her behavior.

Robinson would rapidly approach Kmart customers, holding the package up to their face so they would be forced to see it, an action that was offensive to some of the customers, said Grass Valley Police Sgt. Dave Bishop.'

http://www.theunion.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Site=TU&Date=20030312&Category=NEWS&ArtNo= 103120036&Ref=AR

Sounds like another example of a good Christian being persecuted for their beliefs, but naah, that doesn't happen in America. No, this was some anti-American peace protester disrupting commerce - and we can't have that. To their credit (see where this is going?), the security guards and police were reluctant to arrest her - but after washing their hands, they did anyways.

the security guards and police were reluctant to arrest her - but after washing their hands, they did anyways.

They are not always that reluctant to make arrests.
Arrested for Epilepsy - When a Seizure Gets You Thrown in Jail
There is a specific american kind of stupidity which I find more ominous than ruthlessness.

BTW, nobody seems to care to chase the TOD trolls in residence anymore but I have better things to do.

Good, I'm glad. Stop by once in a while. Just to let us know how you are doing.
How are you doing with Paris?
Seems she has a hard time with the competition : a contest between LLohan, Paris and Britney: Who is the biggest slut in hollywood?

I am sorry for allowing myself to get provoked. I guess I had been reading too much nonsense elsewhere and what I read here was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I just get a little fed up from time to time with the gospel according to Fox TV

Yes, the American media framework can be very, very difficult to take.
"- the truth seems to many Americans to be 'anti-American' at this point."

I wonder what George Bush loving four wheel drive SUV drivers would think if China threatened to sell their dolllar holdings and if Saudi Arabia threatened not to export oil to us--if we did not withdraw from Iraq.  Of course, that is very similar to what we and the Saudis did to the UK in 1956.  (We threatened to crash the pound.)

Reality would seem to be very anti-American at that point.
"if China threatened to sell their dolllar holdings"

I think China did threaten to divest in AmeriKa last year when it looked like the US-Iranian tensions were mounting (can't find the link now).

  As an American and a Christian I am constantly amazed by our foreign policy as touted by the fundementalist hypocrits  that currently control our government.My personal ethics are when I am in conflict I look to see what my own role is first, without blaming others. In the case of Iran, we certainly can't see as a nation how the arrogance of the conference at Yalta where the Americans, Brits and Russians divided the world like a herd of sheep might engender a little resentment, and our memories as a people are too short to remember stuff like imposing the Pavlavis on the Iranian people or supporting Saddam Hussein in his aggression against Iran. The Iranians I have contact with are cultured, intelligent, ambitious and are great people. Although their current government is by fundementalist nuts, ours is generally the aggressor in conflicts. If I were an Iranian government official I would also be persuing nuclear weapons, because the US doesn't invade nuclear countries-noe Pakistan and North Korea. I'm guessing that this is a direct result of our news media being controlled by the corporatocracy. If Kim Jong Il would just change his name to Jon Benet Ramsey he'd probably get a better hearing for his positions...
  Yeah,www.theoildrum should be renamed The Oil Drum-Ameriac .I like how our editors have encouraged splitting the posts into different regions like The Oil Drum Europe so we can get different regional perspectives. I think this will be very fruitful. Its a world problem, but each area has different problems and ideas for change. As far as the popularity of the site, I'm more concerned that the site is read by influential people who can have an effect on policies. Who really cares about the goldbugs and survivalist doomers? They probably do more harm to discussing the implications of peak oil than Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Of course,they may get on anti-psychotic drugs someday and have something to add.  
  The reason I brought up my Christianity is that mainstream Christians have let our religeon be coopted by the fuy the nuts. The Episcopal Church and other main stream denominations believe that we should be stewards of the earth and its resources, not some wierd end-time craziness that despoils and ravages our earthly home. But the crazies get all of the press-I guess snake-handling is just plain more photogenic than a good Baptist like Jimmy Carter helping  the people of our planet through building poor people affordable homes or churches going to New Orleans helping to clean up.
  Enough of my morning rant.
"fundementalist hypocrits  that currently control our government"

I agree completely - just be glad Pat Robertson was not elected president.

As for the history leading up to where we stand now - I don't care.  That might help explain WHY but it is not an excuse for today's bad behavoir.

The same applies to fights between children - they can always say point to past transgression by the kid they are picking a fight with and we as adults do NOT accept it - so why accept it from Adults Running Nation-states?

"The reason I brought up my Christianity is that mainstream Christians have let our religeon be coopted by the fuy the nuts."

Ask most islamic peoples - including Iranians themselves - and they would likely say the exact same thing.

"when Americans denigrate other nations and class them as "peasants""

Alfred, is it okay if anyone OTHER THAN americans "denigrate" other nations?

My point was that neither country would be a threat to anyone if it were not for Peak Oil.  

Without the wealth they gain from their energy exports they would have weak economies at best - and could not fund Foreign Legions (e.g. the RIA of Iranistan + Hamas and Hezbo) and threaten all of their neighbors in the region.  

Also note, it's not my intention to paint the Russians with the same brush as the Iranians.  It is simply a fact of life that the Russaiins have Europe by the Balls - which is why the French and others get down on their knees to please Putin and "upgrade their relationship with Russia"...

Russia's energy monopoly over Europe is one of the geopolitical fuses that is likely to be lit eventually. That's all.

Iran is in a class by itself. As far as I know, the Russains, unlike the Radical Islamic Army of Iran, have not called for wiping any other nation off the map.

"With a little effort, you could get by on a lot less oil and probably have a happier society"

It will not take effort. It will be simple necessity. Whether happier or not..

I think the point is that all people - especially democratic nations - are motivated by fear. A simple opponent (Iran, Russia) doesn't do the trick. It will take something that scares the bejesus out of us like 9/11 did. Otherwise no (arms/energy) race.

Cheers, Dom

I think that "something that scares the be-jeZus out of us" will likely come from Iran or from conflict between Europeans (China ??) and Russia over energy supplies.

The question I originally responded to was "what might light the fuse for a Space Race-like effort" by the West.

Something dramatic in the geopolitics of the Needy vs the Greedy and the Religious Fruitloops is my guess.

If you assume that everyone who happens to have oil is your enemy

I think that was your assumption - I picked two Energy Powers. Note the absence of most of Mexico, OPEC and North Sea countries.

Also, Iran's history is no excuse for today's Fascism.  

"Iran is an ancient country with a lot of very nice people living there." .

Yes it is.  And the same can be said for every country on the planet - even 1930-40s Germany (see below)...

Too bad Iran has been Hijacked by Radical Islam.  

Nice people governed by Religious Zealot Fascists who believe the Apocalypse is upon us and their Godzilla Allah wants them to kill all non-believers (including sunni muslims who do not agree with the Iranian Radical Army's version of Islam).  

In view of the above, why does sendoilplease hate and fear these people so much?

You are confused - it is not hate.  And it is not directed against "their people" - their Fascist government and it's goofy Armageddon is what is feared.  

If you have been paying any attention to what the Iranians have been saying you might have a clue as to why the sane in the West as well as their Arab neighbors FEAR them...

Maybe ask someone who would Recognize a Fascist:

"THE German chancellor, Angela Merkel, compared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Adolf Hitler ....

"Looking back to German history in the early 1930s when National Socialism was on the rise, there were many outside Germany who said, `It's only rhetoric -- don't get excited'," Merkel told an international security conference in Munich.

"There were times when people could have reacted differently and, in my view, Germany is obliged to do something at the early stages," she added. "We want to, we must prevent Iran from developing its nuclear programme."

My vote's on China, myself. Remember what a to-do there was, once China wanted to buy Unical(?)?

Europe will be the one playing Sputnic with Russia..

Excellent point on China.

Here we are at Peak Energy and Peak Matter, and China is rushing it's country into an unsustainable industrial age built on the last of the cheap oil.

They sold their people a Lie.  And their peasants will be very disappointed.

I wish you would learn to show some objectivity about Iran. Believe me, most people outside of the US do not fear Iran at all. I fear US recklessness and stupidity far more than I fear anything from Iran, and I am a white Anglo-Saxon monoglot. There are many more people exactly like me in these respects, and we would all view your remarks about Iran as, well, completely misguided (the charitable phrase).
Franz, I wish you would show some objectivity towards Iran, like German Chancellor Merkel - as well as Iran's Arabic neighbors (other than Syria the Pathetic).

I think it is you and others who "do not fear Iran at all" that are misguided (a charitable phrase).  

Whether or not you are the majority is irrelevant - the "majority" also has no fear of Peak Oil.  

The lack of fear by the majority in both cases is due to Ignorance.

Ignorance is bliss - until the Facists follow through on their threats.

I'm sitting on the horns of a dilemma here and maybe someone can help clear this up.

On the one hand the blogpulse is saying hardly anyone is paying attention to Peak Oil anymore.

On the other hand, CERA and their foxy friends are launching an all out attack against the "peakists". Why bother if no one is noticing the PO alarmists?

And then there is this fellow at HuffPo saying that we are part of a grand conspiracy to inflate oil prices

If you believe market forces are the reason for this enormous [$60/barrel] bonanza benefitting oil producers, than well and good, the invisible hand of the market is doing its job. Alternatively, if you believe the market is rigged with the acquiescence of our and other governments, with the tolerance of a somnolent press, and the shrill cheerleading of the peak oil pranksters, as I do and have written about extensively, than the oil game has become the greatest rip-off of all time (one need only be witness to OPEC's current efforts to manipulate production and price).

How can one reconcile all these allegations? Is no one paying attention or are our "shrill cheers" being heard by the vultures of capital and starting to worry them? Which is it? How can the detractors have it both ways?

Imagine you were king of all and you wanted to stay in power. Would you allow opposition the chance to mobilize and gain popular support? Or would you intervene early to make such opponents irrelevant?

I compare "peak oil" to something like the sport of curling:

As a percentage of overall web activity, the sport of curling would have an almost infinitely small amount of traffic.  But for the people who are directly involved in the sport and the various businesses surrounding and supporting the sport, it is a big part of their daily activity, web activity, and thought and effort.  If you google the word "Curling" you will get over 16 million hits, including local clubs and organizations all over the world, a national and world governing body, marketing and merchendizing of the sport, schools that teach it, even apparel to buy.  There is also a "strategic plan" on the website (gee, don't you wish the peakists had one of those!) Yet, how many people as a percentage of the TOTAL world population know what curling is?

However, inside the curling community, fantastic controversies and disputes can break out, about rules, policy, methods of merchendizing and marketing, etc.  To the people that have a vested interest, this is big, you can win an Olympic medal doing this after all (gee, don't you wish there was one of those for peak oil disputation! :-)

So, for those of us inside the peak "community" (remember Robert Redford's line in "Three Days Of The Condor?  "Community?  Community?  Gee, you guys sure flatter yourself!" in reference to the intelligence community. great...)  back to subject, for those in the "peak" aware comunity, the disputes between CERA, Matt Simmons, Laharrere, etc., are BIG.  But as a percentage of "blogspace" or public awareness, they rank right up there with discussion about last years world champion curler.

Occasionally though, they blow into the bigger media.  After the complete debacle that was the 1997 natural gas report by NPC (National Petroleum Council) which was agreed with in it's outlook by CERA and USGS and EIA, suddenly you had the Fed Chairman Greenspan testifying before Congress, and American business asking what the hell went wrong.  Then these obscure disputes make it to the main page.  ExxonMobil is obviously aware of the "peak" movement, as witness their advertizing, and their recent attack on a small college for showing films and teaching courses they viewed as endorsing "peak oil" theory, per a link right here on TOD.  The debates may get very hot, as people see their business and future at stake, which brings me to Simmons "big event" but I will do that in another post).

This brings us to the difference between some obscure sport like curling and peak oil, and why we in the "peak" aware community take peak more seriously.  Curling cannot effect in any real way peoples lifestyle, wealth and security (with the exception of those directly involved in the sport).  Peak can affect ALL the people who produce, consume and rely on energy as a part of their existance, in other words, just about everyone.  If we want to flatter ourselves, we can take the position that those of us here are at the vanguard, the cutting edge of world altering set of events.  I can remember when those who discussed "software" and "wireless" were a very, very small percentage of the total population.  But a decade later.....

Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout

this is big, you can win an Olympic medal doing this after all

Not only that, you can win enough money on the "cashspiel" circuit to make curling your one and only source of income.  e.g.


"Last year, we won nearly a quarter million dollars ($247,000),'' said Ferbey. "Yet people were coming up to us and saying 'you guys had a bad year.' I'm not sure people care that much about curling until the playdowns start.''

There's even a TV channel for curling only:


In my teen years I believed the gift of prophecy was a very mystical thing.  As an old geezer I see prophecy as just being a little more aware of the unobvious problems coming at us (or us approaching the problem) then warning others.
  Who was it that said a prophet is without honor in his own country?  We have called the corporate world to repentance and their hired guns like CERA throw aspersions at us. Peak discovery in the US preceded peak output by 40 years.  Peak global discovery was 40 years ago.  See how easy being a prophet is.
So what are you prophesizing oh great sooth seer?
  • Do you see financial markets realizing that Peak Oil is real (maybe years after it actually happens)?
  • Do you see Wall Street gurus halting their snort of the cocaine just long enough to realize that the study of things technical (a.k.a. "technology") will not necessarily get us out of this pickle?
  • Do you see K Street politicians waking up the day after the great election victory to realize they have no plan either?

Keep that crystal ball polished. And keep us tuned in  :-)
He anticipates that, much as the American Space Race was initiated following Sputnik, so there is some event coming that will trigger a major energy effort in the U.S. He did not know what it would be, and so I throw this out for nominations.

My favorite is Gas shortages, on the verge of happening in both sides of the Atlantic.

Luís de Sousa,

By gas, do you mean gasoline or natural gas?  Are we showing signs of gasoline shortages?  

I'm glad you gave me a chance to make my "nominations for Simmons "some event", so here goes.  Take note that I do not often make predictions, because it runs counter to my belief that we simply do not have enough clean reliable information to predict anything.  The crisis right now is still in my view the COMPLETE BLINDNESS crisis.  We are running in the dark with no lights, a very, very dangerous condition for the industrial modern world to be in.  We have better observation of comet and meteor threats than we do of our oil and gas situation.

I do not believe our energy situation will make the mainstream radar until it affects the business and corporate community in a major way.  There is evidence that this may occur on two major fronts, catching many business and international corporate concerns by surprise:

1.Natural gas crisis
2.American Diesel crisis

The problems with natural gas are well known.  The price is very high by historical standards, and only mild weather has protected us to this point.  Europe is in more jeopardy right now than the U.S., and Britain in most jeopardy of all.  This is a surprising turn of events compared to a few years ago, when North Sea British and Norwegian gas and the pipelines from the Russian and Caspian basin made the Europeans sure that natural gas was "the gas of the future".  Russia was then seen as a reliable partner and getting better.  That view is now seen a Pollyannish and naive.  Europe could be facing a catastrophic nat gas crisis, if the Russians continue to degenerate into chaos.  The North Sea crisis we do not need to comment on.  It is simply getting worse and worse for the British, and as nat gas becomes a critical problem on the mainland, they cannot count on supplies being freed up to them.  The need critical action soon, but cannot decide what to do.  It will have to be a radical move, whatever they decide, because almost no preperation for this event has been made in prior years.

The U.S. has nat gas in storage.  If we have a "normal winter", it should be enough.  However, we are waiting with baited breath to see what the extraction season looks like.  Each year, the extraction seems to go up, even in normal years, compared to the injection season.  Thankfully, we have not been having "normal" years.

What is going unnoticed however is the fact that natural gas is being called on in a big new way.  The new regulation on ULSD requires 15parts per million (ppm) or less of sulfer in Diesel fuel.  This is down from 500 parts per million, a stiff target to make. This change was roundly cheered on TOD NY

But no real explanation of how it is done was given, with only a short quote:
"The new fuel contains 15 parts per million of sulfur, down from the standard of 500 parts per million, thanks to changes in the refining process."

It is done with hydrogen, extracted from natural gas.  For a long technical paper on the economics and technology involved in ULSD, go to
and don't lose that link if this subject interests you.  Real information on this subject can be VERY hard to find.
The plans for ULSD were laid in the 1990's.  Needless to say, the natural gas outlook was considerably different then.  The EPA projected in the 1990's a price of $2.75 per mm/BTU when the ULSD rule was to come into 80% effect in 2007 on the highside.  As we know, that projection was wildly incorrect, as we were in the high $7 dollar range yesterday, that down from much higher prices in past months.  Of course, the crude oil projections of the EIA have been as greatly in error, so what we have is a natural gas price and a crude oil price that make the cost projections of ULSD made in the 1990's completely useless.

The fact that ULSD requires hydrogen, thus, natural gas imputs on a large scale was not well known by many in the Diesel consuming community.
But how much hydrogen, i.e., natural gas is need to "desulfur Diesel"?
It's very hard to find out.  One has to dig deep and hard to even find an admission that natural gas must be consumed in the process.  And if one digs hard enough, sentences such as the following can be found:

"The amount of hydrogen required for desulfurization is also uncertain, because the industry has no experience with widespread desulfurization at ultra-low levels. One of the primary determinants of cost is hydrogen consumption and the related investment in hydrogen-producing equipment. Hydrogen consumption is the largest operating cost in hydrotreating diesel, and minimizing hydrogen use is a key objective in hydrotreating for sulfur removal. In general, 10 ppm sulfur diesel would require 25 to 45 percent more hydrogen consumption than would 500 ppm diesel, in addition to improved catalysts.58   Hydrogen requirements at lower sulfur levels rise in a nonlinear fashion."

Note that little nugget:
"Hydrogen consumption is the largest operating cost in hydrotreating diesel"

Again, think back to the EPA projections of $2.75 natural gas for about now, and you begin to get a feel for why Diesel fuel is, and will remain much higher than gasoline for the foreseeable future.  Remember also, that the rule is only 80% in effect, with the other 20% to come into effect in 2010.

Several months ago, Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Chemistry Council testified before Congress, and dropped the other foot.
"Well, Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) has been readily available all of three days, let's argue about it. Yesterday, the president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, Jack Gerard, issued a statement saying that U.S. lawmakers need to change the policy regarding access to domestic natural gas sources if we're going to keep making ULSD. Why is this, you ask? Because you can use hydrogen to desulferize diesel fuel. So while we've now got diesel engines that emit up to 90-some percent fewer particulates, we've also got to get all this extra hydrogen.

Gerard's statement was, in part, "Today, most ULSD is produced by treating the fuel with hydrogen to remove sulfur and other impurities. Most of that hydrogen is produced directly from methane contained in natural gas. Yet federal policies continue to put most U.S. natural gas supplies off-limits. If the nation is to be successful in our pursuit of cleaner diesel fuel, then Congress needs to change energy policies to help bring about reliable, affordable access to natural gas."
http://www.autobloggreen.com/2006/10/18/what-about-the-hydrogen-that-s-used-to-make-ultra-low-sulfur -die/

We could go on for days.  But the key points to notice are:
(a) The only economically valid way to remove or "desulfur" Diesel fuel is by use of hydogen, extracted from natural gas
(b)  The amount of hydrogen required is not known, or if it is, it is not given in the papers I can find.
(c)  It must be considerable, to have drawn the attention of the EPA in their original documents, and to be the single largest cost factor in the "desulfering" of Diesel fuel to meet the newly mandated standards.
(d)  Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel thus becomes essentially a "bi-fuel" and as such the price of ULSD is now relient on the supply and price of both crude oil and natural gas.
If we assume that natural gas is not showing signs of being cheaper in 2010 than now, and we know that the other 20% of the ULSD regulation is still set to come into effect, we are put in a difficult position in trying to know how the price of Diesel will return to a price below that of gasoline.

Another question arises:  If we are now relient on natural gas to produce "legal" Diesel fuel, why not just go over to the natural gas directly?  As we know, Diesel is already having difficulty with the Nox emission laws, and Diesel engines by their nature have major liabilities (noise, smoke, smell, low acceleration performance, etc.).  What incentive would the customer have to buy an engine that is now relient on both crude and nat gas price and supply, and also noisier and dirtier than a nat gas or LPG engine?

Indeed, the recent race to compressed natural gas in the mass transit area shows the swiftness with which many are cutting the Diesel loose:

This is also beginning to occur in commerical transit to some degree, as parcel services continue the development of nat gas trucks, and hybrid trucks using nat gas or LPG as the onboard liquid fuel.

The full effect of the changes in the Diesel market are yet to be known.  What we may see is a marketplace moving away from ULSD fast enough to help bring the price down as demand levels off or even drops.  However, after spending somewhere between 3 and 13 billion dollars on the refinery modifications to produce low sulfur Diesel, and being reliant on natural gas price, there is a bottom limit to how cheap Diesel fuel can go.

One thing is certain:  The recent changes almost certainly end the possibility of "rebirth" or "expansion" in the production and sales of Diesel passenger cars.  I own two, and many of my Diesel owning friends, along with myself, are looking to get loose from them as the possibility allows (some have already done so).

What now are waiting to see is if the combined problems facing the now combined fuel (nat gas/crude oil=Diesel) will set the stage for a real price crisis in the Diesel markets.  At this time, Diesel fuel is still the fuel relied on for over 90% of commercial transportation in the U.S.  If there is a price or supply crisis here, America's big players will be forced to take notice.  Could it be Simmon's "event"?  The system is very fragile, and getting more so.

Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout

Thanks for that, Roger.  It was very, very interesting.



I agree with you that natural gas will likely be the trigger crisis event. But my view on the future is slightly different.

There has been concern over North American winter nat gas stocks. I think the trigger event will be due to demand for cooling, not heat. There is a large and growing population in the US south and southwest. These areas are only habitable due to the introduction of air conditioning. Then you need to add in all the electricity required to maintain a lush golf course with water traps in the middle of a desert.

My hunch is that summer peak electrical demand will force up the price of NG. Given what you have described, such a price increase will also flow through to most goods transport. This means the price of all purchases, including food, will increase. A very sharp NG price increase will also call into question the logic of CDN tar sands development.

This increase in the general price level will be highly inflationary. It cannot easily be blamed on OPEC nor can it be blamed on oil industry price manipulation. The explanation will be "we have run out and cannot easily get more" ie a Peakish explanation.

Such an event will be a significant pocket book issue and will impact the entire population, in addition to being a possible public health crisis (old folks found dead from dehydration and heatstroke in their home in the middle of some lush desert suburb). This will make for good news stories. FOX will blame it on a lack of foresight on the part of the Clinton administration. The public may start to take peak seriously.


Yeah, no one was ever able to live in the south and southwest before the invention of blessed, cool, central air conditioning...
I have only a sketchy knowledge of desulfurization processes. But the most economic involve bubbling natural gas through crude which picks up the sulfur, then refrigerating the gas to make it give up the sulfur. There is at least a 1/3rd loss in the gas because of the costs of compression to chill the gas.
   Robert Rapier seems to know more about refining processes than the rest of us, maybe he could write a post with some figures. I hope he hasn't given up in disgust because of the slurs on his good name and intentions when he tried to debunk the"gas prices are being manipulated for the election" caca.
  I might add many of you owe him an apology. Oil prices since the election have totally vindicated his position and shown the conspiracy nuts to be nuts. I for one hope he's just busy with work and not totally P.O. and I don't mean peak oiled.


I would love to have RR's imput on this!  I have had a great deal of difficulty finding any published documents that give clear and hard numbers.  As pointed out in my post, only the EIA long document mentions it as being a major expense, and gives an estimate of the cost increase compared to the old standard (500ppm)

What is mentioned is that since the cost of desulfuring has to be spread over a smaller total volume of fuel than is the case with gasoline (which requires some desulfering of it's own, and more as lower grade "sour" crudes are used as feedstock), the cost per gallon on Diesel is considerable.  Diesel starts with a high sulfur feedstock, plus the mentioned smaller total volume in American refineries.  This is only an opinion on my part, but based on what I can see, the odds of Diesel fuel dropping much below gasoline in price (with the possible exception of the absolute peak gasoline season in the heart of summer) seem unlikely from now on....we'll see...:-), and we still have that other 20% to come through in 2010.

Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout

Gasoline here in VT is up 14 cents in the 3 weeks since the election.  And may go up further.  The price was on a constant slow slide for the 2 months preceding the election, and a constant uptick since, while all along the price of crude has been wobbling around in a constant band.  That does not prove any conspiracy, but certainly does not disprove it.
roger...you talk about the low sulfur diesel standard as if it's written in stone. last summer, during the katrina gas crisis, the bush administation did away with boutique blending standards for gasoline. not a peep was heard about environmental degradation. i would expect a similar response with low sulfur diesel. the first casuality of peak problems will be the environment. i wouldn't get rid of your diesel vehicles just yet. low sulfur diesel will be stillborn in the U.S.

All 07 and later on-road diesel engines require ULSD to accomodate catalytic converters and Particulate filters (much like cars and the switch to unleaded gas). The trucks are starting to hit the road in small numbers now and will be here in serious numbers by the end of next year. The engines are being EPA certied and are entering production now. ULSD isn't going away. Europe has had much, much higher diesel prices for years and still truck freight market share is growing (their rail systems are more focused on pax than freight and truckers' unions have vigorously fought intermodal).

Trucks will slow down (The American and Canadian trucking associations are pushing for a lid and they're governed at 56 MPH in Europe) and at some point will get heavier but they'll still have lower emissions and more safety features than today (the Europeans have more lax emissions [soon to change] and weight rules but tougher safety standards than the US). We moved weight standards last time to compensate for high fuel prices. Diesel starts pushing $4.00 a gallon and it'll quietly happen.

I noticed during the Katrin/Rita crisis that Gas reacted much more quickly and sharply (up and down) to world events but Diesel moved slowly up, stayed high much longer, and then slowly back down (but never back all the way doen to the pre-crisis level). So I suspect in times of crisis (bombing of Iran, hurricane, etc) Gas will bounce above diesel for brief periods of time. Diesel will more slowly, but more inexorably, upward.

The other issue is that some smaller refineries will choose not to produce ULSD instead making off road diesel or heating oil, neither of which have tight sulphur standards. Some just don't move the volume to justify the capital expenditure and some refineries may be too old to justify that large of an investment.

Also with the changeover to ethanol from MBTE for Gas and the supply difficulties that has entailed there will be competition for dollars and space in the refinery plant (new equipment and storage of ethanol to cover supply delays).

Plus ULSD is a pain in the butt to transport. If you run it through a pipeline or an unrinsed tanker it can pick up sulphur from the previous products and be over the PPM limit. Now you have some very expensive off road diesel. So that adds cost as well (more of it goes by tanker now and you have more waste).

Another tool for tracking trends is Google Trends. Here's it's take on Peak Oil vs Saudi Oil vs OPEC.



Its interesting to consider 'Peak Oil' compared to 'Gas price' and 'Price gouging'.

Google Trends for Peak Oil, Gas Price & Price gouging

Look at how there is little correlation between interest in gas prices and peak oil. Look also at how the news talks alot of price gouging, but there is relatively little public search interest.

To me what that says is that the case for peak oil being real and responsible for much of what's going on isn't connecting with the general public. It looks to be presented too academically and memories of claims in the 1970s and 80s still ring through. However, the claim which is pushed by much of the press on price gouging being responsible for gas prices also isn't ringing through.

The jump between where we are and a widescale realisation in the mind of the common man that peak oil is on the horizon requires a simple, one line phrase that can be grasped by all, addresses the mispredictions of the past, and probably has a well known face behind it.

In short, a meme.

Could you do that in one line?

notice that Europe is not real interested in PO - and I think there is a reason for this.

Much of Europe, especially the Germans, have been playing the PO game since 1972 since the Club of Rome published "The Limits to Growth". It seems they are somewhat tired of debating something that can't be proven yet.. At least it's obvious that the climate's getting warmer, so why not stick to that subject instead? Everyone here seems to be quite aware in one way or another that the oil's running out..

Expat, how far way from Munich are you, anyway?

Cheers, Expat2, GermanDom or what have you.

A few hours - I live near Karlsruhe.

Actually, I think that peak oil doesn't play a major role in public debate in Germany mainly because there is nothing much to debate about, at least in the public imagination - a finite resource declines, the price goes up, and you plan based on the long term. And if shortages develop (East Germany comes to mind, for anyone wanting an example which would apply to the current head of the German government), you either work around them, or do without. It is not exactly a foretaste of the world ending.

Which is why such a notably sunny and windswept country as Germany is investing heavily in renewable energy, and why the government continues to force efficiency/conservation.

This isn't tha same as saying that everything is working perfectly - after all, the car and energy companies have a major say in the political process. It is just that it is unlikely a German natural gas distributor head believes in endless growth. Maximum profit? Absolutely. A future with ever growing amounts of fossil fuel? Absolutely not, assuming he wouldn't want to be considered an uneducated fool.

And there is another difference, a more subtle one, but still very real. A German energy company executive does seem to worry more about the future that his family/community/nation faces - he does not believe in escaping to a gated community near Jackson Hole, or feel that technology will take care of the problems before they grow too large. That is, such executives actually seem to be members of a larger community, with certain attachments and obligations that go beyond the monetary. (For example, you do not want to be known as someone that killed a forest in Germany - it is hard to imagine how a typical American real estate developer would be seen here, but it would not be at all positive. He would not be a figure of respect or emulation, since clearcutting forests is considered barbaric here, for example.)

Again, this doesn't make the heads of E.on or EnBW a Green - it just makes them seem less deluded than the people running ExxonMobil.

"it just makes them seem less deluded"

Exactly. The delusions here are mostly the political kind - that either the US or, say, Russia really does think in the same terms as a German/continenal European. The PO discussion is not existent, and I think it is because most people here wouldn't notice the difference between it and the discussion that has been taking place since the '70s.

Nuances really don't matter, and the public trans. system functions quite well, even if it's not cheap. Upper middle classlers don't mind riding (or at least do it with their teeth gritted) the train to work.

Good point that the heads tend to think more like the community that elsewhere in the world.

And sadly; here's the Google Trends take on "Peak oil" vs "Curling":


That can't be right.


  I tried looking at the US curling website and I still can't figure out what curling is, perhaps teams of gay hairdressers and beauty operators competeing on trailer park big-haired women?
Well, except for that blip during the olympics, at least global warming seems to be more accessed than curling.


re: Energy equivalent of US space program - What will it take?

Transforming the global energy regime is not as easy as a space program, unfortunately. The US, in particular, has based its whole current socio-economic model on the availability of cheap fuel for transportation: automobiles and, to a lesser degree, airplanes. From that simple yet pervasive basis emanate a host of consequences: the single family home and suburban lifestyles, the loss of cohesion in the extended family, impermanent employment and geographical dislocations - to name but a few.

The corollary condition of a rather unsatisfying daily existence, away from the cultural and familial diversions of concentrated city living, leads to consumerism as a substitute for more traditional pass-times, adding further to energy use both directly and indirectly. (This "American Way of Life" is less than 60 years old, by the way. The process got started with Levittown, NY).

The initial major thrust for a new energy regime must perforce occur in America, where 5% of the global population cannot continue to consume 25% of its energy. This condition is unsustainable in a world of 1.2 billion resurgent Chinese and 1 billion up and coming Indians, who are also looking for their place under the sun.

The declining availability of concentrated sources of energy (oil&gas) leads - by definition - to less concentrated consumption. The laws of thermodynamics are immutable and ultimately apply to socio-economics as well. Crude oil is temporary, but entropy is forever.

So, now what? How do you accomplish societal transformation to lower energy consumption in the US? Societies do not willingly alter their established ways by agreed consensus, ahead of time. When change comes, it is initiated by a crisis. American history is full of examples: the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Vietnam and the civil rights movement all produced permanent societal alterations through crises. The Oil Crisis years of 1973-80 also transformed the US, though the subsequent plunge in oil prices eventually wiped out many of the initial benefits.

And therein lies an instructive tale: people react to painful stimuli much more than thoughtful scientific analysis or theoretical future threats. To put it bluntly, for as long as gasoline is $2.20/gal. Americans will blithely sleep-drive through history.

Taxes on oil and gas must be raised. Taxes on automobile possession and use (tolls) must be raised. Taxes on air travel must be raised. And they MUST hurt.

There is no alternative - even war is not accomplishing anything, as is plain to see.

We need to balance our focus on energy use.  Understandably, the focus here is on oil and, therefore, transporation. But it it also important to note:

Growth in coal-fired electricity generation is forecast to contribute to a dramatic rise in
global warming pollution. The Energy Information Administration recently projected
that annual CO2 emissions from power plants will increase by 1.1 billion tons (44%) -
between 2004 and 2030 largely as a result of America's increasing reliance on coal. The
projected rise in annual CO2 emissions from power plants is equivalent to the annual
CO2 emissions from nearly 200 million cars.  


Analysis: Israel sees shale replacing oil
UPI Energy Correspondent
HAIFA, Israel, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- The Israeli process for producing energy from oil shale will cut its oil imports by one-third, and will serve as a guide for other countries with oil shale deposits, according to one company.

A.F.S.K. Hom Tov presented its oil shale processing method on Tuesday, outside Haifa and just down the street from one of the country's two oil refinery facilities.

"Because the patents for this process belong to (the company), Israel is the most advanced in the world in the effort to create energy from oil shale," Moshe Shahal, a Hom Tov legal representative and a former Israeli energy minister, told United Press International.

Shahal estimated that the company's Negev Desert facility would begin full-scale production in three to four years, while other countries with oil shale deposits will need five to six years to reach production.

Oil shale is limestone rock that contains hydrocarbons, or fossil fuels -- about 20 percent of the amount of energy found in coal. Using the rock as a raw material and coating it with bitumen, a residue of the crude oil refining process, the company can produce natural gas, fuel, electricity, or a combination of the three.

Older technologies squeezed the hydrocarbon material out of the rock, with extremely high pressure and at high temperatures.

According to Professor Ze'ev Aizenshtat, an oil shale expert, the Hom Tov process is more environmentally friendly than other methods of converting oil shale into energy. It also allows for more flexibility in the kind of fuel produced, produces less waste and operates at lower temperatures than other methods.

Though the production process may be more environmentally friendly, the end product is still a fossil fuel, similar in quality to a high-grade diesel when in liquid form.

Israel's shale is low-quality, however -- its "caloric value" is only about 15 percent, while shale in other countries yields 20 percent, according to a report in BusinessWeek earlier this year. As a result, more Israeli shale is needed to produce the same amount of fuel.

Hom Tov isn't worried, however. "This is a much lighter (substance) than what gradually comes out of an oil field," Aizenshtat told UPI, as Hom Tov company owners Israel Feldman and Shimon Kazansky posed for photographs with their fingers dipped in a plastic pitcher of the stuff.

Because fewer refining processes are necessary with oil shale than with crude oil, the final product is a higher quality fuel at a lower price, Aizenshtat said.

The company estimates it will consume 6 million tons of oil shale and 2 million tons of refinery waste each year, for an annual production of 3 million tons of product.

It would cost about $17 to produce a barrel of synthetic oil at the Hom Tov facility, meaning giant profit margins in a world of $45 to $60 per barrel crude. Yearly earnings are forecasted to be between $159 million and $350 million, Shahal said.

Israel has 15 billion tons of oil shale reserves. Jordan, on the other hand, has about 25 billion tons, and the oil shale in Jordan is of higher quality. Shahal met with Jordanian Energy Minister Azmi Khreisat earlier this year, to discuss setting up a plant there.

The United States also has a giant reserve, mostly in Colorado, and Hom Tov sees potential for its patented process there.

The process, which Feldman and Kazansky developed in the mid-1990s, has lately attracted some high-powered investors, including Ofer Glazer -- the third husband of Israel's richest resident, billionaire Carnival Cruise heiress Shari Arison.

"It's a kind of dream" to invest in Hom Tov, Glazer told UPI. "It's the type of investment where Israel needs the product, and it creates jobs."

Glazer added that it will be good for Israel not to be dependent on "external sources" for its energy needs, saying that "those countries aren't exactly friendly (to Israel.)"

As for his stake in the project, Glazer said he preferred "not to get into numbers."


I took a bit of a look at this some time ago and could not see how the energy balance could come out positive. Now it may be that the stories that I read did not go into the full process in enough detail for me to catch the magic secret, but on the other hand I have seen some very well educated people in the oil patch taken for quite large sums of money in the past, so I will await more details before venturing a comment of any significance.
What would the graphs look like if one eliminated TOD and maybe a few other such PO dedicated sites?
The local version of GasBuddy ran a couple polls.  For people in OC, CA, commute distances tend to be short:

0 to 10 miles (0 to 16 km)           38%
11 to 20 miles (17 to 32 km)         23%

even if their cars do not get stellar mileage:

20-30 mpg (7.84-11.76 L/100km)      45%
15-20 mpg (11.76 - 15.68 L/100km)     24%

but at $2.40/gal, that works out to maybe $2.50-5.00 to get to work and back.   It's not surprising to me that most people don't worry.  They have daily problems that come in with higher price tags than $5.

A few of us odd-balls may look ahead to things that may be problems, but a lot of people don't have that luxury.  They are focussed on this week.

FWIW, I think a lot of things could shake that up ... war, natural disaster, or an actual peak in global oil production.  I don't bet than anyone here is going to call that by anything other than luck.

Absolutely right. And under present conditions, their alternatives stink and impose huge opportunity costs - sweaty bicycles; random, smelly, and unreliable busses that take forever; and unbuilt rail transit.

With rail costs ranging to an unaffordable $300 million per mile (e.g. LA Red Line - I won't even venture a guess on Second Avenue Subway), and even $50 million a mile for surface rail that constantly crashes into car drivers running crossings (e.g. L.A. Gold Line), rail is going to be unavailable to most Americans indefinitely even if every last one of the projects comprehensively listed by Alan is eventually built. And as EP pointed out on the same thread, given a bit of time, fuel efficiency (gas mileage) has a long way to go, which could compensate for a lot of price rise in gasoline/diesel/ethanol. (Though I very seriously doubt that SUVs would actually disappear even at $15/gallon).

Of course, as toilforoil also pointed out, a static analysis is not truly useful, because the car-fuel price that would cause major change according to such an analysis is so immensely high that other factors would probably change enough to void the analysis. Unfortunately, those factors would severely strap governments and that will not work in favor of already unreliable and time-consuming transit. The tiniest percentage shift away from cars would hopelessly overcrowd and bog down most trains and busses, and under toilforoil's assumed conditions, the money would simply not be there for more and better service.

In the spirit of the question up top, I would nominate some sort of geopolitical shenanigans as an eventual catalyst, but by creating political panic by abruptly interfering with fuel availability. But even that might work mainly in favor of car pooling and faster improvement in fuel economy. Most busses and trains would instantly become so overcrowded they wouldn't even stop for you - and additional service cannot be conjured out of thin air, and, just like highway space, it often cannot be added without going through endless years of NIMBY fights.

I expect the status quo to continue for some years, but ...

5mi is thrown around as the normal limit for a bike commute, but if people slow down, relax, and get used to it, 10mi shouldn't be bad.  It's kind of interesting to me that 38% of the respondents to that survey are within "biking distance" of work.

But as you (and all those people you pointed to) know ... such conjectures chase their tails.  In a world where 38% of Californians had to bike to work ... would they have jobs?  Or would they have had time to move closer to the spaceship factory in the meantime?

This stuff is beyond our "prediction horizon."

BTW, if global warming is consistently stronger than peak oil:


you could bind yourself to that a little more.  The proposed solutions to peak oil are not all solutions to global warming ... but as far as I know, the proposed solutions to global warming are solutions to peak oil.

Reminds me of all the 70's jokes about that as an energy source.
Speaking of Simmons:  "Oil stained brine"

Matt quoted an oil industry insider as saying that a lot of large oil fields are producing "Oil stained brine."

East Texas is 99% water.

Prudhoe Bay is 75% water.

Regarding the big four,Daqing is reportedly 90% water, Ghawar is probably somewhere between 35% and 50% (after being redeveloped with horizontal wells).   I haven't found any numbers on Burgan, but it is in declne, and of course Cantarell is crashing.  The only new one mbpd and larger field, the problematic Kashagan, won't hit peak production, at best, until 2020.  It may be producing by 2010.

The expectation for rising world oll production when the four super giants are almost certainly all watering out is what amazes me about so many oil industry insiders, even those who are predicting a 2010-2020 peak.

In any case, ask me a question and I talk about oil exports.  The decline in world oil and product exports will be much  sharper than the overall decline in world oil production.  If Americans wish to continue consuming their "rightful" share of petroleum products, we are going to have to bid the price up.  The next round of bidding will not be against just poor Africans; it will also be against the Europeans and the Chinese.

If Americans wish to continue consuming their "rightful" share of petroleum products, we are going to have to bid the price up.

Did you see the little box in this month's National Geographic, comparing 1915, 1967, 2006?

They have 1967's gasoline price at $0.33, or $2.00/gal in 2005 dollars.  That looked low compared to Aug. 2006's $3.04/gal ... but I notice that the national average is back down to $2.25 today.  Spitting distance.

That's pretty wild.  We have been amazingly successful at getting worldwide oil production on-line, and holding down those prices.

I can kind of relate to talk of "bidding up" and that consumers might unthinkingly expect "their share" ... but I don't think we're there yet.

westexas, you said
"The only new one mbpd and larger field, the problematic Kashagan, won't hit peak production, at best, until 2020.  It may be producing by 2010."

I still think you underestimate Khurais oil field, and Saudi offshore.  We'll see...but I don't trust 'um not to have an ace or two up the sleeve, if they hit us with a good blast of cheap oil in the next year or so, they could break the spine of many of the alternatives (with nat gas going up and crude going down, it would pretty much bankrupt the Canadian tar sand operators, the investors are already starting to bail)

Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout

I can't think of a bigger anti-Peak Oil magazine than the Oil & Gas Journal, and they list one new One mbpd and larger field on the horizon--Kashagan, which they show as not hitting peak production until 2020.  We are going to lose one mbpd of production (and exports) in the blink of an eye almost, from the ongoing crash at Cantarell.
WT, are we to now assume that your source for your 'infamous' new production list is the Oil & Gas Journal?

... ... . . .. ... ... .            .

And just think, people criticize me for using Popular Mechanics :P


In that post, I clearly stated that the numbers came from an Oil and Gas Journal article.  The article was based on a report by a UK think tank, which I identified in the post.

The point that I was making--based on an article in an anti-Peak Oil magazine--was that all of the projected 100,000 bpd and larger new fields and redevelopments (at least based on their list), would not even equal the recent production from Ghawar, and that is with the biggest new field, Kashagan, not hitting peak production until 2020.

By the way, I am still waiting for your explanation of how the Six Day War (in 1967), which you identified as the Seven Day War (in 1964), was supposed to have had a negative impact on Texas production.

As I noted above, Texas production actually increased in 1956 and 1967, in response to the 1956 and 1967 (Six Day War) crises.

I think your confusing my request for your source data with something else, WT...

And as I told you and everyone else repeatedly, Texas production did not decline due to the 6 day war.  I added that label to the graph to help people place significant global events with a production declines from a significant producer.  Not once did I ever say that Texas production declined solely because of the war.

And as others pointed out, I only used the '7 day war' after multiple people stated on the November 21st drumbeat that that was going on.

Strange that I don't see you criticizing them...

 I sure wish you guys would refrain from sniping today. It does not become either of you and really interferes with my enjoyment of the site, and probably with the real insights that you each have to offer. Its one thing to question the source of a statistic or graph and quite another to be mean spirited.
I can't think of a bigger anti-Peak Oil magazine than the Oil & Gas Journal, and they list one new One mbpd and larger field on the horizon--Kashagan, which they show as not hitting peak production until 2020.  We are going to lose one mbpd of production (and exports) in the blink of an eye almost, from the ongoing crash at Cantarell.
Sorry for the double post.  I can never tell on the Dark Side computer at home when the server or computer is slow versus when the post not registering.
Listen to the Financial Sense interviews with Matt Simmons and Dave Cohen  that Leannan linked to above. Its preaching to the choir around TOD, but absolutely masterful presentations of Peak Oil to the rest of the universe and need to be models in how we present the concept to others.

Output at Kashagan oilfield set to beat forecasts by 25% from today's ft.com - 1.5 mb/d from 2020

Re:  Declining Oil Exports

CNBC reported that tanker rates are falling--there is less oil out there to ship to importers.

yes, declining tanker rates would be a po prediction... but, this would also be expected if opec cuts exports, which they are doing because prices are falling, not exactly what one expects at po... many confounding clues lying around.
notice that Europe is not real interested in PO - and I think there is a reason for this.

In Switzerland, PO is a fact of life.

It is assumed that fossil fuels will decline in availabilty, or are already doing so.  The few elected officials I spoke to/heard in speeches in the last 6 months seem to be Deffeysian, no idea why.

Beyond the big axes - invest in renewables, push geo-thermal, augment public transport, conservation, more conservation etc. - about which everyone agrees, there are plenty of quarrels about what and how to do it.  CH (switz.) has a moratorium on building new nuclear power stations, and there has been some alarming talk of setting up some gas-fired electricity production.  CH became a net importer of electricity in 05 or 06, to mention just one problem.  

The main differences I see with the US:  

a) nobody believes in a technological fix, or using clout.  (CH is tiny, dependent, and powerless.)

b) some `green' political streams (very minor, and not aligned to the left or the right) speak about de-development openly.  The `minus ten percenters' - a simple scheme, everything has to be reduced by 10%!  

c) the intangible mentioned above by several posters, community spirit or some such, obviously resting in part on territorial organisation  - huge tax on or rationing of petroleum products scares nobody.  The discussion is about how to do it.  It is generally considered that to dent gasoline use its price would have to almost double, *1, and that there would have to be exceptions for certain entities (which?)

The main difference though is that here the big worry is global warming, and on that score, CH is doing almost nothing, scooting along under the radar...

1)  because CH is a rich country and for private individuals alternative transport (public, car pooling, official hitch hiking, car share, mobility cars, etc. which work quite well) and some life-style changes, e.g. not going to a mall or for a one-day ski trip (in highly populated areas, the present no 1. use of cars is `leisure' since the early 2000's) can be contemplated without stress.

Hum, i must react to this post.

I don't know if you're living actually in CH, but i do, in Geneva, and i don't see the thinks like you are.

In the last couple of year, i haven't read just one article on the subject of PO. I really think that a LOT more debating in the US and the UK than in the french-speaking area, FWIK. I saw on TOD mention of Financial Time or WSJ articles on this subject. The most repected and reference newspapers here haven't simply gone into this subjet. It may be a great amazing here soon in the public opinion..

I cannot recall which elected official, whether federal or local, expressed the idea that, maybe, the way our cars are powered will not last for decades.

All i see is the funny green guys that nobody takes seriously when they speak about de-development (some call them the green Khmer), or the "soft" green that say: well, pls, shut off your TV when u don't use it and this kind of nonsense (and don't forget to not let the water flows too long).

The others partys aren't simply talking about that. OIl flows, and wil flow (forever, don't ask question if u don't want to know the answer!)

We have certainly a more expensive gasoline as in the USA, as i can see on this blog, partly because of additionnal taxes, but that's saying a lot that "it doesn't scare nobody".

We do have a moratorium on building new nuclear power stations but his continuation has been refuse by the people recently.

I don't know about wich "alarming talks" you refer to, because i saw any of them, especially in the biggest french-speaking newspaper. I rather think that the people, when electricity lacks, will agree to any solution, include gas-fired powerstations.

It's like: ecology is cool, but my CONFORT must not suffer.
I know many people that went to see the Al Gore film. They found it impressive and indisputable.
But how many leave now their car in the morning? For what i see each morning on my bike, not so much!

I think most of the swiss are as lazy as the rest of their western fellow contrymen!

With a name like "Noisette", you must speak french, mustn't you? N'est-ce pas?
heh manmax! I guess we are just in different milieus. Of course the Swiss are lazy and hypocritical and will agree to anything when the lights go out - but they like to play savvy and clean ...  I mean they are nothing special, except for one thing, they all know about peak oil, when I say all, that is not every single person, but authorities etc.  Of course it is `save the eidelweiss' and `recyclce your paper bags' (while having two cars).. absurdity!  Those are the bobo-ecolo - some percentage of the population.

What they do with that knowledge varies (and that is why the example is interesting), and is partly dependent on the International scene. Their richness and hubris gives them a `we will muddle through attitude' which is both appealing and excruciatingly boring.

(more another time perhaps)