Saturday open thread

Things are not looking good in Nigeria (also pointed out by Leanan):
Armed militants carried out a wave of attacks across Nigeria's troubled Niger delta on Saturday, blowing up oil and gas pipelines and seizing nine foreign oil workers.
[editor's note, by Prof. Goose]Also, please check out this interview with Richard Heinberg and JH Kunstler with Jim Puplava over at FinancialSense (it's about an hour). I found it to be a good "primer interview" that you can send to people who might be inclined to listen. (Plus, there's a pretty cool plug in there regarding TOD by Heinberg about ten minutes from the end. Thanks for that, Richard.)

[editor's note, by Prof. Goose]And, after a night of -13F temps, Denver has initiated rolling blackouts. Sweet.

The noise and losses will only increase, making it increasingly difficult to achieve the production levels that might otherwise seem possible.
Heinberg gave a very nice plug to TOD in this roundtable interview on Financial Sense Newshour.

[There's not much new in this discussion to the PO aware, but it is interesting to hear Heinberg and Kunstler together in the same discussion. Even when they agree, their style differences are notable, to put it mildly.]

wow bman...thanks for bringing that to our attention.  That's a very nice and humbling set of words from Professor Heinberg.

Aside from the nice words about TOD, it's a good primer interview as of those you send to the people who can listen...

Excellent interview. Go listen, even if you're an expert on this stuff.
This otherwise great discussion was missing one key element and skipped lightly over another.

MIA: any acknowledgement that when crude prices jump on the start of public awareness of PO, as they will, it will cause enough economic contraction world wide to slow demand for oil substantially.   Once demand slows, crude prices will temporarily drop, even after PO, but the scare should be enough to propel the adjustment process (more hybrids, less wasteful use of oil, more nuclear, solar, wind, etc.)  Of course, eventually world economies will start growing again and quickly crude prices will spike even higher, and the whole recession, adjustment process will begin again.  The net result of all this is that the world as a whole will have a lot more time to adjust to PO than is contemplated in this discussion.

Skipped over: the very important discussion of regional hegemony, bilateral deals, and production cutbacks by exporting countries to conserve their resources.  These trends, as noted, will exacerbate the effects of PO (opposite to the effects of economic contractions discussed above).   While this part of the discussion was exactly on target, I think, it failed to emphasize the early manifestations that we are seeing almost every week whereby China in particular and India less so are making bi-lateral deals that reduce the supply side of the global "free market" in crude.   This is the future staring us in the face from headlines in our papers nearly every day.  It is truly mind-boggling that such clear indicators of the direction of the future can be either misunderstood or ignored by virtually every single American (and European, so far as I know) political "leader".

well said points should be part of the discussion, but not accepted as panacea either.  
Sweden at least has grasped the point.
On the MIA point: the world may have more time, but it will have fewer resources -- in particular, less capital. Time -- hey, the world will have all of the that we could want!
Time dollars then. Community currencies, mutual credit, that kind of thing. Money is a means to an end -- people transacting with one another. We'll find another way. We dont need central banking to function - indeed we could be far more efficient without it.
I thought it was a nice enough conversation they were having but rather unchallenging as all three were pretty much peakoil advocates. I also think that the breadth of the issue was addressed with to much authority. The degree everyone was an expert on all the ramifications from economics to geopolitics is a bit thin. Some of these conversations need to bring in experts from other areas who have the maturity to operate in the discussions under "if peak oil is true" assumption so we can here a debate from experts (who may not agree with PO theory timelines) but are willing to extrapolate from such a premise


It contrasted very strongly with the program on BBC Newsnight on 22nd December in which Jim Kunstler took part. It can be seen here. After a  fairly straight pro peak oil report by the programme staff there was a discussion with a mixture of different people of different views and different degrees of knowledge which rather rapidly developed into a bear pit. Kunstler on a video link from America was somewhat taken aback by this and finished up appearing the most restrained and understated of the speakers.
It shows the danger of programme producers trying to obtain 'balance'. Without care niether side of the argument gets well put.
Yes, I heard about the BBC Newsnight program and found the copy on GPM. It was very poor. Seemed like a couple of the participants were very effective at disrupting any meaningful discussion and the 10 minutes that look to have been allocated to peak oil got hijacked into bickering about trivia. I spoke to a couple of people with minimal awareness of PO who had watched it and they were none the wiser after having done so.
Thanks for the URL - I too listened - only one person brought up the point that we are not running out of oil as such - only "Cheap" oil - IMHO coal and nukes will be the future ... with coal leading because, correct me if I am wrong, coal processing can come on line quicker than nukes and second, nuke is only power, while coal can take the place of "oil" only at a higher cost ...
BTW, there are plenty more audio interviews with PO folks at the FSO site (Simmons, Savinar, Heinberg, Zapata George, Kunstler... ). I've heard them all since I've been listening to their excellent Saturday online broadcasts for years. Do ferret around and do some listening.
There was a story about Kuwait's oil reserves in Delta Farm Press this week:

If recent reports are true, the world's energy crisis just got worse. Kuwait, long assumed to have some of the world's largest oil reserves, may actually have much less.

In late January, Petroleum Intelligence Weekly, an energy industry newsletter, said internal Kuwaiti records show the nation's oil reserves are only about half the 99 billion barrels previously cited. If there, the 99 billion barrels would translate to about 10 percent of the world's reserves.

Delta Farm Press is a publication for  farmers, which usually prints articles about corn prices, soybean rust, farm subsidies, etc.  But high fuel prices have been so brutal on farmers, they're now covering Kuwait's reserves.  

I think a recent post put Kuwaiti reserves at only 24 Gbbl.
Yes, it was the same story, actually - the PIW one.  The info in the article isn't news here.  I was struck by the fact that it was in a farmers' trade journal, though.  There seems to be growing awareness in the mainstream that something about energy has fundamentally changed.
Energy, fossil fuel and electrical, is a high proportion of the input costs in conventional agriculture, a point missed by many. To harvest the sun's energy as plants, tillage, irrigation and harvesting require a lot of horsepower. A typical farm tractor used in tillage or harvesting is 100 HP to 400 HP (and cost $800 or so per hp - think of a typical tractor as 2 nice Beamers or a Mercedes). (not the utility tractors)

Forage choppers and combines are even higher hp:

In typical use, a tractor burns about 4.4 gallons of diesel per hour per 100 Hp in size. Then there is the cost of fertilzer, irrigation power, crop drying costs, transportation to market and so on. Historically 40% of the on-farm costs for alfalfa, a major feed crop for cows, is the direct or indirect cost of energy. For milk production the cost of feed is about half the input costs. The increasing production of biofuels displaces the production of either human or animal food, reducing their supply and thus increasing their prices as inputs. IMO, increasing energy prices are a double whammy for food agriculture (animal or human) and ultimately the cost of food.

Matt Stockton
of the West Central Extension Center gave a presentation at an ag conference last week.  He said, "There is no bigger headline ... than where our energy costs are going for diesel fuel and fertilizer."

I'm inclined to agree.  Along with transportation, agriculture is the industry most dependent on petroleum.  It will be difficult to maintain our current levels of production, let alone grow biofuel crops.  

Great link, Leanan.  

This year's growing season may well cause a real spike in the cost of food.

Remember, the spike in oil prices occurred after the last planting and growing season.  This year, farmers see real hikes in all sorts of products necessary for growing.  There is a direct correlation, the article says, between the cost of these products and the cost of oil and natural gas.

Perhaps because economists are not farmers, they have overlooked a real inflationary cause that will bite later this year.  

I wonder what kind of demand destruction is going to occur here?  Cut down on the calories?

Portions might be smaller.  There's a theory that one reason Americans are so prone to obesity is that we have a surplus of food, thanks to agribusiness.  And being a good capitalist society, naturally, the solution to that problem is to try and get people to consume more.  Hence food is highly processed (because people will more of it, and you can charge a higher markup), and portions are huge.  (Why not supersize those fries, if potatoes are cheap?)  Many European countries, like France, have protected their small, local farmers.  So food is expensive, the portions much smaller - and the people are thinner.  (Though that's changing, as globalization brings in more McDonald's.)

My parents took me to a French restaurant over the holidays.  They are light eaters, so I was really surprised when they ordered an appetizer, entree, and desert, and insisted we all do the same.  In most restaurants, I can't finish the entree, let alone apps and desert.  But they said portions were French-sized at this restaurant, and sure enough - you really could eat appetizers, entree, and desert.  And walk out not feeling stuffed.

In any case, smaller portions would be the easiest way to deal with higher food prices.  People get upset if you raise prices, but if the price is the same and there's a few less fries in the bag, they may not notice.  Or if they do notice, they won't get too upset.  


Volume of available food isn't really the key for obesity.  Obese Americans tend to be poor and consume the cheap starch laden junk food.  In the last 30 years the type II diabetes rate has been growing rather rapidly including onset in teenagers.  The only plausible explanation for this is the low fat hysteria that started in the 1970s and which led food processors to substitute fat with corn starch.  People with a genetic predisposition to type II diabates are insulin resistent and preferentially turn sugar (aka starch) into fat instead of burning it off and producing heat.  American rich don't have an obesity problem since they consume better food.
There is more to the issue than that.

Other issues, driving and not walking a few blocks.

Living in NYC requires quite a bit of walking and hence obesity is lower as well as diabetes.

Oddly, New Orleans, with the best food in the world, also has high obesity but not so high diabetes.  A bit of exercise goes a long way, even if eating a roast beef po-boy :-)

I was shocked during my summer evacuation just how much HIGHLY processed food clogs the supermarket and how little basic foods.

I am used to a large selection of rice types, frozen and fresh vegetables and a limited selection of frozen pizza and hot pockets, gourmet popcorn, etc.  I found the reverse in the rest of America.

I have gained 20 lbs since moving to New Orleans, but it was GREAT tasting, well prepared food, not junk.  Quite frankly worth any reduction in lifespan.  Sex, laughter and good food are the primal pleasures of life.  McDonalds is not.

I ate a McDonalds once. 1978, in Wood Green north London. I'd never seen a McDonalds before, nor heard of them, it was probably among the first few in UK. Little did I know, LOL.
In 2003, I visited my daughter, then active-duty Navy, in Iceland.  (Absolutely wonderful place, but that's the focus for another post).  We went to McDonalds one time in Keflavik or Reykjavik, (can't remember).  It cost us US $25 for a meal for two adults and one child, but the food there beat American McDonalds in taste, juiciness, etc. by an amazing amount.  I don't know what the standards are for other overseas McDonalds, but in Iceland, it's just about worth the consumption of all the transfats, etc. for actually a really good meal.
Of course, it didn't come close to the Icelandic fish, soups, bread and milk (where do they get it and why is it so good?) that we ate most of the time...
In 1998 while backpacking around Sweden,I was amazed how difficult it was to find a 'traditional Swedish meal' yet there were 25 McDonalds in Stockholm.

The only benefit to this was that at least I always knew where I could find a restroom. lol.

The best bet for finding a traditional Swedish meal is at a simple lunch restaurant. Realy traditional Swedish food is food for heavy manual labor, lots of fat and starch. And often salt or sour taste from older ways of conserving food. I think black pepper, white pepper and mustard are the most common spices and cinnamon and saffron for deserts and very often cardamom for bread. But most important butter, cream and sugar. I do not think peak oil will change this. A chef will probaly give a better answer, I dont cook much.

The most common Swedish fast food is a fairly thin pizza with white cabbage salad with a mild sweet and sour taste and black pepper. Any place with a few hundred houses or more have a pizza baker that almost allways is run by an immigrant selling pizza and often kebab and fairly often cheap lager. 99% of the pizza owens run on electricity.

The first fast food that became common is the hot dog, it is still popular but has been complemented with hamburgers. There are probably more independent hamburger friers then McD, Burger King and Max (A local chain that is very Swedish in a 100% american way, good burgers made with a recipie more like swedish meatballs. ) Sushi is becomming very popular, probably due to the sweet and sour taste familiar from pickled herring.

We have as usual imported most american things including critizism of McDonalds. We have had and still have some young left wingnut green vegans who even burned down one McDonalds in my town a few years ago. This resulted in some more policework and people basically waiting for them to grow up. This seem to work but the next generation of left wingnuts seem to become extreme feminists. It is probably a phase in their lives some people go thru. :-) A need to hate. :-(

Myself I used to buy a McD hamburger of cup of cofee about two times each week untill they stopped serving bicyclists at the drive in a few meter from the main bicycle road to the university.

Yes, Icelandic milk is QUITE special. Better than kiwi milk ?

The butter and skyr are special as well).

The cows are a historic breed (no imported bulls/semen allowed) that has lower than typical milk production and they feed on grass and herbs )fresh 1/2 the year, hay the rest).  The herbs add something to the milk (I have noticed subtle differences, I assume based on diet).

And the pylsur !  Their hot dogs (think mutton :-)

Do the Kiwis make sheep based hot dogs ?

"Portions might be smaller.  There's a theory that one reason Americans are so prone to obesity is that we have a surplus of food, thanks to agribusiness.  And being a good capitalist society, naturally, the solution to that problem is to try and get people to consume more.  Hence food is highly processed (because people will more of it, and you can charge a higher markup), and portions are huge.  (Why not supersize those fries, if potatoes are cheap?)  Many European countries, like France, have protected their small, local farmers.  So food is expensive, the portions much smaller - and the people are thinner.  (Though that's changing, as globalization brings in more McDonald's.)"

I have to disagree - the reason for American obesity is NOT a surplus of food - it is the type of food that we are eating - its the silly low-carbohydrate diet that has caused the problem - grains, potatoes, breads, pastas, pastries and sugar -- people eating a low-carbohydrate diet have to eat MORE in order to be "filled" - and being thinner is NOT a sign of good health ...


Umm, all those items you listed are high in carbs, right out of Ornish/Pritikin, aren't they?
I'm not sure what you're trying to say.  Pastries, grains, etc., are all carbohydrates.  A low-carb diet, which was a recent fad, emphasizes meat.  

It's not what we eat that matters. It's how much.  The food is highly processed, which makes it more likely we'll eat it.  (People will eat more potato chips than they will boiled potatoes.)  But it's the portion size that counts.  French food isn't exactly known for its health value, after all.

There have been studies done of potion sizes in the U.S., and they've gotten immense over the past 50 years.  McDonald's used to serve just hamburgers, what would be a very small drink now, and small fries.  Now few except children order the hamburgers; instead, they get QuarterPounders, BigMacs, etc.  The smallest drink is bigger than the one they used to sell, so is the smallest fries.  They aren't the only ones, either. CocaCola used to sell 5 oz. bottles of Coke.  Now cans are 16 oz., bottles are 20 oz., and 64 oz. or larger cups are common on fast food and convenience stores.  Bagels are more than twice as large as they used to be, and muffins are something like five times as big.  Even the standard dinner plate has gotten larger.

If that wasn't tongue in cheek then I totally disagree.

When I look round an american diner the ones that are eating the two plate meals are the grossly fat ones. The obesity problem is a combination of three main factors: sedentary lifestyle, near unlimited access to food, poor choice of food.

For most people the problem can be solved by awareness and willpower, should they choose. Though peak oil and recession may come to the rescue of the uninformed and weak willed soon enough.

Being excessively thin or excessively fat are both signs of ill health, for maybe 70% of americans being thinner would be a sign of better health, LOL.

As a result of the bombing of the platform, some are now predicting that oil ocompanies may shut down all production in Nigeria:

"Willbros Group Inc. said the hostages were taken from a boat that was on contract for Shell, Nigeria's top international oil producer. The attacks sparked a fire at the Forcados terminal, which has a capacity of 400,000 barrels a day, and an explosion at the Chanomi pipeline, Shell spokesman Don Boham said.

``It could be that it shuts down all of Shell's onshore operations in Nigeria,'' Simon Wardell, an analyst in London at Global Insight, said in an interview today. ``The markets are going to discount Nigerian production in the price of oil.''"

"The markets are going to discount Nigerian production in the price of oil."

If that's true, $60 a barrel is going to look like a bargain.

I don't think it would be quite that drastic. Lets say they shut down/have shut down 400kb/d and the rest of their production is always half on half off. I think it would be surprising if it moved more than post Katrina/Rita. But we shall see. In some ways I think the general leaning toward a near term peak can make people (myself included) think something CRAZY is going to happen even if it isn't.
Nigerian militants threaten oil tankers

Militants who seized nine foreign oil workers in a string of attacks across Nigeria's troubled delta region threatened Sunday to step up assaults by firing rockets at international oil tankers.

There are rumors that Shell is going to pull out of Nigeria entirely.  

I didn't think Nigeria was that big a deal, but the news out of there is getting worse and worse.  Plus there's the wicked cold snap in the U.S., and the fact that oil prices usually start rising around now.  February is typically a low point for oil.  

The key is: oil prices at or below $60 bbl are dependent on no or minimal production disruption. So far (in the last year or so) we have only had relatively minor disruptions with a maximum total production constraint of 1 to 1.5 mbpd and never more than 1 mbpd for more than a very few weeks.

Sooner or later there will be total disruptions greater than this due to simple probability, it would be crazy to think otherwise ;)

In reading this thread, I hear a question that will not break through - Human rights - would it be proper for a powerful nation to move into a weaker, smaller nation that has a leadership that is totally crooked, robbing the people of their wealth - set up an honest ruling group and then purchase the commodity from the new said ruling group; even if the main reason was not Human Rights, but for the right to purchase the said commodity?

Wasn't the food for oil program created along these lines?

We now know that the UN is not the enity to do so; so would the US, China or India be given the green light to do so; as in this case?

Wondering ...

Are you arguing for a new incarnation of the British Empire?

It did some good things and some bad things. It developed order and infrastructure, it taught english and cricket. It exploited resources and labour, but provided markets and trade routes. It attempted to impose its religion and values where it could but mostly pragmatically accepted when it couldn't. It supported good and bad local rulers as it suited them, it granted peaceable independence eventually - it may have been too late for some and too early for others.

Your thought is a valid one and worthy of debate. The best of the British Empire model without the worst would be a useful model. But on one thing I must totally disagree: it cannot be by a country, it must be by the UN. If the UN is inadequate for the purpose then it must change to become fit for it, and we must wait till then.

I personally believe that the US mostly does its best to sabotage the UN. I advocate a significant proportion of all countries' military forces and spend being ceeded to UN control, I would start at 5% and steadily increase that to between 20 and 30%. I would include nuclear weapons and aim to put all of them under UN control within 20 years by which time I would hope they are down to at most 10% of current levels.

Supply disruptions such as those in Nigeria, Iraq, and even Katrina are unfortunate for those concerned with PO.  They will simply lead most Americans to believe that politics (and weather) and not depletion is the reason for high gasoline prices.  
Not necessarily. The consequent increased price will, to some extent, pressurise industries and consumers to begin to be less wasteful in energy use. That preparation could make PO less initially painful. I do realise there are counter arguments but I think that a significant supply and price shock (prices perhaps double current for an extended period of time) would have an overall beneficial effect.
I think your point and JCK's below are good ones.  Part of the question is whether or not the public at large attributes to the price increases to faulty energy policies or falutly foreign policies, i.e., if we could only get (insert leader/country of choice here: Chavez, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq) to act better, our oil troubles will be solved.  OTOH, your point about increased prices easing the pain now until the PO situation becomes clear is a good one.  
'Tis critical. We must do what we can to ensure the public are informed and aware. If needs be we might have to talk HO, SS, PG or some such into running for president and finding a way to fund that, LOL. I personally think Chavez ain't doing so bad, and I respect a country's freedom to choose the leader that embodies their will. Every country has the right and RESPONSIBILITY to choose their best leader ;)
You really cannot seperate supply disruptions from peak oil. If there is plenty of excess capacity in the world, then small disruptions matter not to the market.  As the peak approaches, one would reasonably expect that smaller and smaller supply disruptions will have larger and larger effects on prices, as excess capacity shrinks to zero.

In other words, supply disruptions that would not be news five years ago are now a big deal.

Well stated.
Record cold forces blackouts in Denver

DENVER - With record-cold temperatures dropping to 13 degrees below zero Saturday, Xcel Energy has implemented rolling blackouts to deal with the high energy demands.

Xcel Energy is conducting rolling blackouts throughout the Denver metro area.

Xcel says the blackouts should last about 30 minutes each.  The rolling blackouts affect a 15 to 20 block area at a time.  

no, energy problems here in the US.  really everything's just f-ing fine.  nothing to see here.
It does make one wonder how much of this could have been avoided using Climate Energy's Honda-powered cogenerating furnaces, or wimbi's wood-fired Stirling.
Well, the Danes and Austrians at least seem to have awakened to the possibilities of biomass stirlings, according to the true scoop I have recently heard, so maybe there is some hope there.  Not of course, in the good old USA. (I  gave up on US quite a while ago -too goddam much military spending slurping up all the talent).  There is also hope in China, and other places where some sane engineering thinking can still sometimes go on.

I am also sorry to hear more bad vibes (literally) from the big solar stirling project in Calif.

Bad vibes?  Specifics?  Links?
Yes - I'd be interested in a link or two - Google news has nothing on the project for the last month or so...
Right, I knew that one was gonna bounce.  I have nothing to show you, probably should not have said it. Sorry.  My link is by way of troops on the ground with wrenches in their hands who can get annoyed when they fix the same thing too many times.  And we all know that these guys like to gripe over their beers and often do not have the big picture.

But I can note that the engines on sun in Sandia are close relatives of the automotive stirlings of the 80's.  Mean time to failure of a couple thousand hours might be just barely ok for automobiles. But---.

From BusinessWire

Xcel Energy is experiencing reduced natural gas supply into Colorado. This situation is affecting natural gas supplies along the Front Range. It is also affecting the generation of electricity. Xcel Energy is asking customers along the Front Range to reduce their usage of natural gas and electricity until the situation can be rectified.

The company is currently working to increase the amount of natural gas flowing into the state. Until the issue can be resolved, the company will curtail electric service to groups of customers in the Denver metro area on a 30-minute rotating basis. It is anticipated that this will last for the duration of the day.

I don't get it.  Haven't recent inventory reports showed we're up to our ears in natural gas this winter?  Is it a pipe capacity issue?

its completely infrastructure capacity - they have plenty of nat gas to get TO the pipelines but not enough to get THRU the pipelines when demand is very high.
Might be a distribution problem.  Someone who used to work in the natural gas business in the area posted an explanation over at  I didn't entirely understand it, but it sounds like that particular natural gas system is not connected to the one that serves the eastern half of the country.  The fields they get their natural gas from are all in steep decline.
An update:

A natural gas supplier to Xcel had equipment problems, causing a significant loss of electricity generation at the company's natural-gas power plants, company spokesman Tom Henley said.

Frozen liquid at the supplier's well head slowed the flow of natural gas. The problem was enhanced by increased demand because of the freezing temperatures.

Sounds like things could get hairy out west.  The fields are declining, the infrastructure is aging, the population has exploded.  

Most of the Denver gas comes from western OK and TX panhandle. In 1990 I was out there trying to reverse a gas line in SE Colorado to flow north to a new cogen plant we were thinking about building (Lamont?). Project abandoned. A lot of the wells that still flow into CO area are hi N2 and CO2 content as well, so requires major blending with better streams. Betcha' top $ that with those temps, somebody left the heaters offline and hydrates plugged the gathering system. Once that happens, its hard to find and heat the underground areas where the hydrates get caught. Just have to wait for mother nature to warm it up.
Boulder reporting.

I got up about 9:00 am this morning. At precisely 9:25, the power went off. When this happens, of course, you don't know how large the affected area is, how long the power will stay off and what caused it. It has been unusually cold here and in large parts of the midwest. Naturally, my computer here and everything else shut down.

Exactly 30 minutes later, as I can now see in retrospect because I didn't have any way of telling the time, my power came back up. A friend had gone into the downtown area. There was power where she was but as she was driving home, she encountered a blacked out area. There was a major car accident on almost every large intersection she saw. She took a detour (the long way home) passing in and out of the blacked out area. By the time she got home, her (and my) area had been turned back on.

It is one thing to know that natural gas supplies are tight. It is quite another to experience a rolling blackout just because the weather got colder. I won't be forgetting this anytime soon.

I don't really understand this; do a lot of people use electric furnaces in Denver? I was aware of heat waves overloading the eletric grid in summer but not so much cold snaps doing the same in winter (since my impression is that most furnaces run on oil or gas).

I understand even less why there would be traffic accidents. Is it something like, the traffic lights stopped working, so drivers, seeing the lights were out, decided to interpret "no light" as "green light"?

I mean, what gives????

Alright, I looked it up.

Roughly half the households in the country use natural gas to heat their homes, while about a third use electricity and almost 10 percent use heating oil. The remainder use wood, alternative fuels or have no heat at all.

Source: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Heating oil is used mainly in older homes in the northeast.  New homes almost all use natural gas or electricity, for environmental reasons, I think.

we use 7 quadrillion BTUs as a nation for home heating. 5 quads of this is nat gas - 1 quad is heating oil and 1 quad is electricity, wood etc. the 'half the households in the country use natural gas..." is misleading because that half is in the north with higher degree heating days.
Roughly half the households in the country use natural gas to heat their homes, while about a third use electricity and almost 10 percent use heating oil. The remainder use wood, alternative fuels or have no heat at all.

And getting worse.  According to the Census Bureau, of houses completed in 2003 that had heating, 70% used natural gas.  Not to mention what added electricity generating capacity is using:

And we know that "oil and gas" is predominantly gas.  I continue to maintain that "peak gas" in North America is going to hit people's lifestyles harder than "peak oil" does in the next few years.  The US can outbid the developing countries for oil; the capacity to move natural gas from outside the continent is simply not there, and the decline in production will hit home directly and immediately.

Yeah, I agree.  Natural gas is the cheapest option for contractors now, because of environmental regulations.  

No one saw this coming.  As recently as 2000, we thought we had hundreds of years worth of natural gas left.  You never see the peak until it's too late.

Off setting this trend, or at least buffering it, is the widespread use of a new technology that is making a difference in NG consumption.

Combined cycle generation (burn NG in a jet engine like turbine and then use exhaust to create steam for steam generation) became reliable and economic about 15 years ago.  Result is about 50% more electricty for the same fuel burn.

Some of the new NG is to replace old NG steam plants.  Looks bad on a graph, but good for the economy, ecology, GW and Peak Gas.  Much of the new NG is for new demand, not so good for the above.

In addition, in 2004, 34.3% of NG burned for electricity was in cogeneration plants.  Combined cycle, cogeneration is as efficient as one can get.  Waste heat can be as little as 1/3 of the total.

Some may be interested in microCHP:

It's a New Zealand site, Powergen in UK are importing some for a domestic trial. I'd guess there's something like it available in the US.

Another one is the British Gas MicroGen CHP stirling that replaces a home heating system.
Electric baseboard heat is the norm here--I have it. Most of the electricity in the area is from power plants using natural gas. It's that simple.

As far as the car accidents go, it is my understanding that every intersection should be treated as a four-way stop when the grid goes down and the traffic lights no longer work. So, we must ask Shaw's question

Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I spent a month driving around the US a while back, did about 3000 miles in a month, much in urban areas. Found the traffic lights and signing of rights of way somewhat confusing (I'm sure they wouldn't seem so to folks who had known them all their life) and probably less than optimal. That could contribute to maladaptive driving if a power outage occurred.

In UK were have a strange road device called a 'roundabout' which functions well in the absence of electricity. The US doesn't seem to have discovered this. Maybe it's partly due to a cultural disposition for going in straight lines. That could be something to do with relative space: in UK we might like wiggly roads since the added complexity would increase perceived distance, whereas in US one might prefer the converse.

Roundabouts are just gaining popularity in the U.S.  They are difficult to design right.  A few degrees in the angle of an on-ramp can make the difference between free flow and a two-mile backup.  (Most Americans are more familiar with traffic circles, which aren't quite the same thing.)

Communities often resist roundabouts, though, because they slow traffic down.  Drivers don't want to be slowed, and the community worries that if a roundabout is installed, people will cut through their neighborhood to avoid it.  (Which is often what happens.)

Traffic problem with them in SUVs.  Seriously.  They are so high they block the vision of drivers in cars.  So if you're behind an SUV that's turning, you can't make your turn until they it clears the intersection, because they block your view of oncoming traffic.  Someone did a study that estimated this slowdown at intersections, caused by SUVs, amounted to thousands of dollars per SUV per year - in lost time and productivity, and additional gas use.  

Roundabouts are very common in Sweden and they seem to be the most popular crossing for new urban roads.

I think there are three reasons for this.
They slow down the trafic flow and slower traffic gives fewer and less serious accidents.
They do not reduce the number of accidents in crossings but the accidents happen in much slower speeds and shallow angels avoiding people being seriously hurt.
They give a trafic flow with fewer complete stops and sudden accelerations and good capacity, some people like this and it probably saves fuel.

Myself I prefer to wait for cars and not for a light to turn green. An annoying thing is that it has becomme common to place odd or ugly artwork in the middle of the roundabouts that hides part of the traffic flow.

My favorite roundabout is one that has four car roads and four tunnels for bicyclists and in the middle of the roudabout there is a quite small and cute bicycle roudabout. Some traffic planner had a good sense of humour.

But when they get overwhelmed by traffic flow they size up and thruput goes down. The prefered solution seems to be to add separate "right turning" lanes to get some of the flow out of the roubabout proper or build much larger "motorway" type of crossing but they are very expensive and only built in large cities.  I suspect that having some traffic lights on a road system with mostly roundabouts can help the flow by creating empty slots for traffic held back by stronger flows but this is only a wild guess.

Large roundabouts are usually built with tunnels for walking and bicycling since there otherwise is a large accident risk. Traffic lights seems to mostly get built where there is no room for a roundabout or when there is a large flow of pedestrians or bicyclists.

Some experiments have been done with micro roundabout to more or less only slow down the traffic flow but they usually only get people annoyed. Seems like someone somewhere talks a municipial into building a few dozen of them every 5-8 years resulting in curses, removal and a few years later someone else repeats the mistake.

In Swindon in the south of England there is a 'magic roundabout', named after a children's television programme. A large roundabout with five roads coming into it was replaced with five very small roundabouts linked in a tight circle. You can see a picture of it here.

Every time I use it I wonder what it must be like to be an American tourist in a hired car driving on the 'wrong' side of the road, using a manual gear change for the first time because automatic gears are still rare, not used to any sort  or roundabout, coming on this monster in heavy traffic.  

Somebody help me out here. I can understand why temperatures being too high can strain the electricity grid as people use their A/C. But why would temperatures being too low strain the grid?  Aside from space heaters (which I assume are a small component of this), heat in the home is provided by burning oil and natural gas.  Is it that people are using so much natural gas in their homes that the Xcel Energy can't get enough for electricity generation?
Many homes use electric heat.  I don't know what the percentage is, but it's a more popular option than heating oil these days.  

However, the problem in this case is a shortage of natural gas.  I'm not sure why, because only two days ago, Xcel was saying they had plenty.

And some people are reporting their power was out a lot longer than 30 minutes, and the blackout area was a lot bigger than a few blocks.

Thanks. I guess "historically high levels for this time of year" actually means "not that much natural gas."
As the original article posted says, XCEL's delivery system could not meet consumption for natural gas used for home heating. The temperatures last night were in the -10 to -15 range up and down the Colorado front range, including the Denver Metro area of which Boulder, where I am, is a part. I had my heat on last night whereas for most of the last several weeks I have managed without it. Everybody else had there heat on too. Obviously, the Denver Metro area is where the large majority of the energy demand is.
Large industrial gas customers — which includes the electricity generating part of Xcel — typically have contracts that allow the gas company to cut off or reduce their supplies in shortage situations.  Priority is given to residential gas customers that are paying a higher rate.  Since this was Saturday, few other industrial customers were probably affected.  I'll have to ask my neighbor, who works in the glass plant at Coors.  They run 24/7 except for two weeks per year when they are closed for maintenance; I believe they are heavy users of Xcel natural gas; they may have been forced to shut down as well, or at least to cut way back.
In California, for example, the state energy contingency is that if there is a natl gas shortage, the electric generating plants will be cut off. They are too concerned about pilots lights and other safetly issues to cut off residential service.
Sometime back I saved a chart or graph, Oil trade between regions of the world 2004, However I can not locate the chart in the BP statistical review 2005, and was wondering if there is a new chart for 2005? The 2005 review carried the 2004 chart. It shows big dark lines with values proportional to the volume of export and import trade.

I have a link to one for US imports but not sure where I found it:
I look for propaganda related to Nigeria's problems to start kicking into high gear.

The environmental and economic justice issues related to the oil industry's activity in Nigeria will be excluded from public discourse while all resistance to the corporatist aganda in Nigeria will be lumped together as "brutal anti-democracy" and "anti-west," and "against the great march of industrial progress."

The first casualty of war is the truth.  Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, Columbia, Nigeria....all are being seen through the distorting smoke-and-mirrors of propaganda.

If oil prices do skyrocket, won't this make the warmongering propaganda all the more believable to most people?  It will be easy to define scapegoats and "enemies" for people to direct all of the fear and frustration toward.

My biggest concern right now is that oil shortages will be managed by propaganda as follows:

1.  "First-world" nations, and especially the USA are victims of demonic, diabolical evil-doers who are denying us the oil we want and deserve.

2.  We must attack and conquer these evil-doers with whatever combination of weapons will be most effective.

3.  We must occupy oil-rich regions and keep pipelines and seaways used to transport oil secure through military force.

4.  Anyone who dissents from the above is offering "aid and comfort" to our enemies, and will be punished as traitors.

My guess is that cooperation and "powerdown" are laughable to the US political establishment.  Will other political elites join in the war for oil disguised as "war against terror" of "war for democracy?" England is already "with us" in this war and France sides with the US government lately.  What about China, India, and Russia? What about Canada and Latin America?

How do we respond to this?  Are there any MSM or mainstream politicians willing to challenge the Resource War?  Roscoe Bartlett has a start understanding energy issues, but I've not heard him oppose war at all.

Is the violence in Nigeria and Iraq and the political tension with Venezuela a prelude to an acute war, or do the elites plan to wear opposition down over a long period of overwhelming but lower-level violence?

Meanwhile, we keep using more and more of that good old petroleum.  What do we do?

It will probably come to this:

6.3. Fortress World
 In the Fortress World variant, powerful regional and international actors comprehend the perilous forces leading to Breakdown. They are able to muster a sufficiently organized response to protect their own interests and to create lasting alliances between them. Arising within the cynical and pessimistic social mood of Barbarization conditions, these alliances are not directed at improving the general well-being, but at protecting the privileges of rich and powerful elites. This is viewed as a matter of necessity in a world in which wealth, resources and conventional governance systems are eroding. The elite retreat to protected enclaves, mostly in historically rich nations, but in favored enclaves in poor nations, as well.
  Outside the fortress, the majority is mired in poverty, denied access to scarce resources and restricted in mobility, expression and basic rights. The authorities employ active means of repression to guarantee exclusive access to needed resources (such as oil fields and key mines) and to stop further degradation of the global commons of air and ocean resources. Draconian measures are required to control social unrest and migration. Strategic mineral reserves, freshwater and important biological resources are put under military control.  

From Branch Points: Global Scenarios and Human Choice (pdf)

I am glad you posted this.  Only recently, I have begun to think that PO scenarios may not follow the foavored story line:  recession to depression to collapse only to be prevented by a much more gradual decline in crude supply giving societies time to make the severe but necessary adjustments.  

When I read that the DOD has put out some $300+ million in funds to start building detention centers on US territory, maybe they have decided to plan for fortress world.  I think a very real scenario involve warfare, the loss of the republic, and a permanent warfare state.  PO is only a problem if you need a lot of people living the "American way of life."  If only a few get to live that life, the PO problem goes away.  

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has had face time with the President on this issue and nothing has changed.  Maybe the whole point all along is to deal with PO with more crude methods.  Pardon the pun.

How many detention centers can Halliburton build for $300 million?  One?
Congress approves $10 billion a month in Iraqisthan with last minute 'supplemental' budgets - where only the most superficial details are given.  I don't think a few billion $ will stand in the way of any unexpected building for 'security' purposes.


One REALLY BIG detention center.
300 MM to finance the overthrow of Castro then just use the whole island as is.
This is all silly talk. Why would they build new ones? They already have Guatanamo with a well trained staff. All they need to do is expand that one. There are a lot of us that have always wanted to visit Cuba. Plus, you don't need heat. That should be a plus for those of us that are energy conscious.
Ummm... that $300 million is just for new detention centers. They already have significant capacity sitting idle, ready and waiting.
My thoughts at this moment can best be expressed in the form of a short dramatic monologue from the essay "Subject Without Confines", by Alexandr Dugin.

From now on everything will only depend on the ability of "solitary people" to take leave of the previous ideological illusions, having recognized the metaphysical necessity and inevitability of a new systematization of a social sphere - not according to the scale "the rightist against the leftist", but according to the scale "friends of aggression" against "enemies of aggression".
And who knows, whether the mondialist integration of people, who are objects, people, who are victims, into the one planetary liberal community, into One Absolute Object provokes the emergence of a new and last character of the world history - the Absolute Subject, Subject without confines, which will commit the conclusive act of the eschatological drama.

Hegel with a Nietzsche spritzer. Very refreshing. Now if I can only figure out what it means for life after PO . . .
Wait a minute...isn't this the plot line to Logan's Run (circa 1976)?  
I was referring to Iowans post about Fortress World above.
Peak Fish?

From todays Globe and Mail

Dr. Pauly, director of the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia, said there is a global crisis in fisheries management that governments need to address immediately.
He said that the world has passed a peak in the total weight of fish caught in the world's oceans.

Through analyzing global fishery statistics, he found that the peak happened in parts of the world between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s. The timing was tied to the spread of industrial fishing.

Once what he calls "peak fish" was reached, the total haul of fish globally began to shrink, despite increased fishing effort and increasingly effective technologies.

"There's no doubt about this," Dr. Pauly said. "We're in a phase where increasing fishing effort produces less catch."

The oceans are in a very bad state.  I recommend two books to anyone interested:

"cod: a biography of the fish that changed the world"

"The Doryman's Reflection: A Fisherman's Life"

I'm sure there are others, but those two viewpoints painted the picture for me.

FWIW I agree with Dr. Pauly that "no take zones" are the only things that can help at this point.  But like GW and PO ... people don't register the painful facts.
Peak Fish?  Too much fertilizer/gas needed for industrial agriculture?  Falling water table in the Great Plains?  Become a Vegan.

I hate to come off as elitist, but if you're not at least a vegetarian, then I don't think you can honestly say you are serious about mitigating the effects of peak oil, or promoting sustainability or limiting mankind's impact on the environment because you are not doing the single most effective and easy personal thing you could be doing to help.

True to a point but one has to be very careful of assumptions when making choices. Under many circumstances, yield per acre is lower for organic than conventional agriculture. As more acreage is required to obtain equivalent total yield, more direct fossil fuel use may occur for organic than conventional crop production using fossil-fuel origin fertilizers if other changes aren't also made. On the other hand, because organically-managed soils have a much higher water holding capacity than conventionally-managed soils (and considerably more carbon as part of that capacity), under drought conditions organic yields will be higher than conventional. Ruminants fed grains are on the bottom of the energy/water efficiency scale for animal production (fish > chicken > swine > dairy > beef) but ruminants can do very well doing their own harvesting (grazing) feed monogastrics (humans, pigs, chickens) can't eat (grasses). IMO both "organic" and conventional agriculture need to move toward a more sustainable agriculture. Processing methods (sterilization for room temp storage rather than canning, freezing or refrigeration?), packaging and distribution networks (eating local rather than global) will likely change considerably. In general, more energy is invested in food after the farm gate rather than before. Holding frozen and refrigerated food is energy intensive as is cooking using conventional stoves compared to technology such as microwaves. Look at the size of refrigeration systems on supermarkets. Heating corn on a stove costs more energy than pre-farm gate. The Europeans are well ahead of the US in performing life cycle analysis of various food products and different production and distribution systems.
When we first started TOD, I posted a number of times on food issues. One post was a review of a scholarly article called "Farm costs and food miles: An assessment of the full cost of the UK weekly food basket" that compared the costs and benefits of local vs. organic food. This article also touched on many of the relevant externalities, including the social, environmental, and health costs of vehicle transport. Readers interested in food issues might find this article interesting.

Another post was a general overview of food production called "Our Oil-Laden Food Chain".

It might be "perfect" to get every endangered species eating SUV driver and turn them into a bicycle riding vegan ... but it is "good" just to get them into a smaller car and feed them some chicken ;-)

... or make that burrito long on rice and beans, short on chicken.

Good luck.  I have just relocated to Houston from NYC out of morbid curiousity (banker). I ride my bike and use the lightrail in the "oil capital of the world" and believe me, this is an SUV town.  NO ONE, except the poor and the odd Medical Center employee (to get to their cars in the parking lot!) uses public transportation. Peak oil awareness among the industy members I have met so far is zero.  

Will keep you posted.

If I recall correctly, Houston is ranked as one of the more "bike unfriendly" cities.  It's one of those things that makes a feedback loop.  The nicer and safer it is to ride, the more people do, the more the city works to make it nicer and safer.

FWIW, there is a "bike town" marketing effort that tries to build up critical mass in various places:

(Austin is the Texas attempt ... perhaps a recognition of existing city culture)

Thanks.  I will check it out.  I don't plan on sticking around here for long though - this place will be underwater!
I hope all Peak Oilers are moving to at least a less carniverous diet.
I for one, am moving incrementally towards a vegetarian diet: restricting meat to one meal a day and only a few ounces.
i am still trying to convince my faimly it's real and not y2k redux.
Since you mentioned Y2K....

I've thought about Y2K and how it was such big event and yet absolutely nothing happened. It makes me wonder how that happened.

The conspiracy side of me wants to think that the elites, knowing about Peak Oil, wanted to understand what societies reaction would be when faced with an end of the world scenario. So, invent some scare, (Y2k) and see what every one does. That way it's better understood what will happen with PO shows up.

Just a thought. Guess I better go take my medicine. lol.

The short answer is, Y2K didn't happen because people got scared and put the needed $billions into fixing or replacing a huge amount of code and electronics.  No conspiracy is needed; there was a problem, for once it got at least as much attention as it deserved, and in an uncharacteristic bit of societal competence we managed to solve it.

You really can't compare Y2K to peak oil, global warming, or any other problem without Y2K's essentially small constellation of technological fixes.  But nonetheless I'll take it as a point of minor optimism.

Not to mention that Y2K made scads of money for software engineers the world over. In that sense, it was really a good news story, yet another chance to make money during the dot com boom of the late 90s.
Y2K was handled much more efficiently than Katrina because we could set the computer clocks forward and see exactly what would stop working when Y2K came to visit. So we fixed or replaced the software code that would have failed.
Do you think the levees would have failed if we had known Katrina's exact path and strength five years in advance?
The problem with the 'Y2K problems didn't bite us because we fixed them in time' thesis is that there was as few problems in the countries that took almost no steps to avoid them as those countries invested a fortune in doing so.
The problem with a lot of TOD visitors being engineers is that many of us were working in the Y2K business.  I fixed a few problems with these typing fingers ... and learned that many companies had a boom (considered now as part of the 'dot-com' boom) as people simply turned off questionable systems - and replaced them with newer, faster, and Y2K-certified systems.  Everybody made $$$.
Thank you. That is part of my original thesis... That there were NO reported problems. I can understand that in the US or First World we fixed the problems (though the margin of error on millions of systems and computers you would think there would be a couple of problems), but why wasn't there a problem in some third world nation? Just more thoughts. Again time to go take some meds.... lol
Because Third World nations don't use computers much?  Especially back then.  When you don't have reliable electricity, you don't depend on computers.

BTW, have you seen that laptop designed for Third World nations?  It's crank-powered, no hard drive.  $100.  There's a lot of interest from Westerners who want to take it camping and such.  I suspect it would be a hit among the peak oil crowd, too.

It's much simpler than that. The reason that Nigeria had an essentially zero bill for Y2K is that Y2K failing code was written in the sixties and the seventies and the first half of the eighties when data storage was expensive.
Nigeria wasn't writing a lot of COBOL code twenty, thirty, and forty years ago. We were.
Most of the third world that has computers is running BackOffice and SAS. They didn't write ten thousand different mainframe legacy code products like we did, so they didn't have to fix them. They just plugged in the latest upgrade and the problem went away. All that upgrade code was written in America and Europe.
The level of computer technology available in the third world is surprising. Anything that is personally transportable and can be gotten by customs (of varying corruption), is available somewhere, somehow. In my experience (90's in Africa), new software  versions and upgrades were available as fast or faster than I could get them in the US and often considerably cheaper. Yes, everything had to be on a strong UPS because power availability was erratic and voltages were variable. With no large infrastructure investment requiring backward compatibility, the few with the resources to acquire technology could leapfrog to the frontiers. Was it readily accessible to the average person - absolutely not. People associated with the government drove new top line Mercedes; the rest walked or rode in over-stuffed combis or buses and pulled up every fibrous plant that they could get their hands on for use as fuel for smoky cooking fires in their huts (getting this back to peak oil).
I could get whatever I wanted before it hit the US streets and get it for $2.00/CD at that.
eating less meat and dairy is the way foward, I think PO aware people should also start gardening.
its a good hobby for many reasons

Water should also be considered in the livestock equation as well, the animals drink a lot and the feed that they eat is also using a  lot of  water

Now don't y'all forget the free meat out there eating your garden.  I eat at leat 2 deer a year and this doesn't come close to slowing them down.  Tramping the woods  not necessary, just shoot my gun out the window (after clearing the area of lawyers, first, of course) and then go out and pick up my supper.  I come from a long long long line of deer eaters.  better get 'em with my gun than with my toyota, sez I.

Clear the area of lawyers how, exactly?  A la Cheney?
Deserved that.  Too close to bedtime.  How about " visually verifying  area clear of lawyers".  Or. "assuring target not a lawyer, nor  presence of lawyer in line of fire out to three sigma, as required by NRA."  
Yeah, this is huge ...

Off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, used to be one of the biggest sources of protien on the planet; the Cod Fishery ... when Jacques Cartier first showed up 500 years ago, all one had to do was drop a bucket into the ocean to sweep up enough fish to feed the crew ... it's now virtually completely gone - destroyed - and what's so poignantly pathetic about it is:

Scientists had been warning for years that it was being over-fished, but nobody listened!

Yet another sad story of what happens when the most informed are shouted down by the biggest short term self-interests who entertain a larger theatre of ignorance.

Business men and Politicians only listened to the few experts who where doubters of the pending crisis (often those who's opinions they somehow subsidized), and - seeing as they where only interested in short term profit or re-election -  idiotically - the government actually provided subsidies to fishermen who wanted to invest in equipment ( bigger boats, nets, etc ) to further increase their take of the known-to-be-endangered stocks!

Technology was the answer - and the less fish there where, the more technology was subsized and payed for to go after it - total "free market as the answer" insanity ... until the Cod Fishery was completely destroyed.

Does any of this sound painfully familliar?

"Plus ca change " ... and all that ...

Iceland claims, with some justification, to have the best fisheries management in the world (having fought the Royal Navy twice, and won, for that right).

Their fisheries, including cod, are stable to growing slightly  and are clearly sustainable.

Their fondest desire is to thin the fish eating minke whale (tastes good BTW) so as to allow more fish for man.

A completely vegan population would leave wild fish and pasture raised ruminents "on the table" and reduce the food available for humanity.

Plus the animals provide manure to fertilize the crops.
I wasn't going to get into the food thing, but here goes. We are trying to design a system of food production that is near term sufficient for our needs but also tending toward long term sustainability. We can't hope to be sustainable in our lifetimes or even our grandchildrens. What we can do is reduce our load. So to that end, eating veg/vegan is very helpful IF the local/preparation equation is brought into consideration. For example, Seitan is really good, but it takes a lot of water to make it (washing out the starch), if you had less water, one would make bread instead and just have a mis-balanced diet. But all this assumes you're living in an urban context where you grow no more than 50% of your food.

Even in said urban context, animals can play a huge role in the trapping of energy. Obviously factory farming is one of the relics that we will be leaving behind (and good riddance too!), but animals are able, as someone astutely pointed out earlier, to eat things humans can't. Get a goat or a sheep and let it out in your back forty, but then one must balance whether to feed it over the winter (which is why a lot of slaughtering gets done in the fall). Chickens are one of the best examples of a way to concentrate protein. Feed them any kind of grain based feed and they will concentrate it at 2:1 ratio (eggs). Which means you can get some high protein eggs, poo poo, scratching/pest control and the occasional tough chicken thigh. I think looking at Cuba and traditional China would be a wise idea in this age of declining energy (Cuba did it, China has - until recently - managed to maintain soil fertility across 100's of years)

P.S. I just got an advance copy of The Power of Community:How Cuba Survived Peak Oil. If you didn't get a chance to see it at ASPO-USA or some other location, I highly recommend ordering on.

A good article on Cuba's recent transformation:

I agree with your other points: a largely vegetarian diet is more efficient but mixed farming will be essential IMO, for all the good reasons you suggest and more. I'm omnivourous and produce almost all my vegetable needs all year round (excluding grains, flour, spices and condiments, essentials that don't grow outdoors in UK) from a relatively small urban garden plus a not large allotment.

Preparing for sanctions, Syria switches to Euro......


Courtesy of Green Car Congress:

In a move authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the EPA is revoking the two percent oxygenation requirement for reformulated gasoline (RFG) nationwide. Currently, about 30% of gasoline is RFG.

This whole oxygenation requirement has been a major fiasco. Aside from ethanol, which is expensive, the only reasonable oxygenator was MTBE. So oil companies were effectively forced by regulation to add MTBE. Then the stuff turned out to be a carcinogen, to leak out of underground tanks, to get into ground water, and to cause all kinds of havoc. All due to this regulation, which it turns out doesn't even really clean the air that well, there are other ways that are better and cheaper.

Anyway, this should reduce the cost of gasoline a few cents as we move into the summer driving season.

I am a little bit puzzled. I thought ethanol currently is less expensive than gasoline (partly thanks to government subsidies for ethanol production). It could be in short supply but this is another issue.
I think Halfin's referring to the potential improvement in a tight refining market of having fewer gasoline blends out there.

The patchwork of about 15 different gasoline blends around the country came about in good faith from the EPA's attempts to clean the air in polluted areas.  But it's a big headache from a refining point of view, and it's easy for even refiners acting in good faith to have one blend come up short because of mistaken forecasts.  With refiners operating near capacity as it is, high gas prices are then much more likely, at least regionally.

I'd be much happier if the EPA just settled on one good grade for the whole country, or perhaps two blends (one for most places and one for problem areas).  If it were strict enough then CA could stop putting in its own requirements as well.

Hold on, I work at that lab (National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Lab).  I'll defend the lab, but I'm not speaking for my employer.  Look at your source again, it points out that the patchwork is due to local decisions.  Don't blame the EPA for that, we tell the locals what level of pollution they have and recommend some options.  Many choose reformulated gas (RFG) because it's more politically popular than inspection/maintenance programs.  They choose the blend that they like and that meets our standards.  It's all politics and economics beyond that.  

I think the EPA would be quite happy to have only two versions of RFG for the country, as long as the blends solved the local pollution problems.  It's a real pain for us to test and certify all those different fuel blends.  Unfortunately, the pollution problems differ, and no one wants a more expensive blend for another area with a more severe pollution problem.  My understanding of the oxygenate issue was that states near the corn belt often chose ethanol because of politics.  Other areas chose MTBE because it worked well at lower cost.  Or they had chemical plants in the area that made the stuff and fewer corn farmers.

It is my understanding that the US EPA and EU do not believe it is a carcenogenic. Wouldn't it be banned immediately, if it was? (Or perhaps more correctly, the US EPA says there is no evidence yet). Do you have the link?
Why use MTBE when we can use ethanol that we know is benign and can make from biomass.
MTBE is cheaper.,0,1764034.story?coll=la-headlin es-nation

Anxious about high energy prices, lawmakers from both parties are launching a new, more determined drive to relax the long-standing ban on new drilling off most U.S. coasts.

They have been thwarted before. But this time, their efforts may benefit from a more favorable political climate.

That worries much of the California Democratic congressional delegation, some of whose members went on the counteroffensive Thursday by introducing legislation to permanently ban new energy exploration off the state's coast.

One proposal... would allow rigs to operate off the California and Florida coasts -- if the states agree and the work sites are at least 100 miles offshore. At that distance, proponents say, they would be well out of sight of beachgoers.

I'm not sure that 100 mile rule makes sense for California! All the oil fields I am aware of are in the nearby offshore waters. It might work for Florida but the geography is different in California.

Backing the bill that would permanently prohibit new drilling off the California coast were the state's two senators, Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and all but one of the state's 23 House Democrats...

"While we have all been well-served by the bans on new coastal oil drilling for the last 25 years, these important protections are increasingly threatened," Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) said in a statement.

A spill from an oil platform off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969 caused extensive environmental damage.

The bill also would exclude California from a survey of offshore energy resources -- a provision included in the energy policy legislation signed into law by President Bush last year. Critics say the seismic technology used in the survey could damage marine life, an assertion that industry officials dispute.

Santa Barbara is a tough situation. It's one of the main areas where there are thought to still be potential offshore fields, but it's also where the 1969 oil spill triggered the modern environmental protection movement. The first Earth Day was held in Santa Barbara the next year. To say that the region is opposed to offshore drilling would be a considerable understatement.

If and when our thirst for oil becomes so acute that they start drilling again off Santa Barbara, you'll know the peak is near.

I can see platforms off Huntington Beach.  Don't know what fraction of SoCal's reserves can't be reached from existing platforms or shoreline sites.
"Anxious about high energy prices, lawmakers from both parties are launching a new, more determined drive to relax the long-standing ban on new drilling off most U.S. coasts."
This certainly goes into the "when you find youself in a hole, just keep digging" category.
Nigeria suspends 380,000 bpd oil exports after attack

Saturday February 18, 7:52 AM EST

LAGOS (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell suspended exports from the 380,000 barrel-a-day Forcados terminal on Saturday after militants bombed the tanker loading platform, a senior oil industry source said.

The company is still trying to ascertain the damage to the platform, which is located three miles offshore, but has already begun shutting oilfields in the area which feed the terminal, the source added.

"Of course no ships can go near there now. This is going to be a major deferment," the senior industry source said.

These Nigerians in the delta are getting serious. This is no joke.
I will try to follow up w/ some research but I am very curious as to which actor may be promoting this rebellion or if it is a continuation of a home grown / regional insurgency.  (I have not been tracking Nigeria!)

Anyone know?

Let's see what google reveals!

The violence cut the West African country's crude oil exports by 20 per cent.

A fire was quickly put out on a Royal Dutch Shell platform that loads the company's tankers in the western delta but the Forcados terminal's normal operations could not continue, halting the flow of 400,000 barrels a day.

"We can't load because there is some damage to the loading platform," Shell official Donald Boham said.

Shell said it had also evacuated an oil platform off its Atlantic coast as a precautionary measure, shutting off an additional 115,000 barrels a day.

...On Friday, Shell shut down a facility pumping 37,800 barrels of crude daily after an unexplained blaze at a nearby oil well. And the firm has yet to restore 106,000 daily barrels lost when a major pipeline supplying the Forcados terminal was hit in a similar wave of attacks and hostage-takings last month.

A Business article in my local newspaper caught my eye today as being a prime example of why goverment funding may not help. A fuel cell which can produce 5KW of electricity and an unspecified quantity of hydrogen from natural gas(!) was unveiled yesterday. Our local representative said "An oil dependent economy is short-lived. (Bravo) That's the reality we face today. If this was mass-marketed, we wouldn't have to worry about the Middle East. Few things have more potential."(Really?) He is attempting to get federal funding for future research and development of this product. Since he is well connected in Washington I expect he will get the funding. Ion America is the manufacturer and plans to produce a unit in the future that runs on ethanol. This in an area where most of our electricity comes from coal, nuclear or hydro and only peaking power comes from natural gas......
A fuel cell that produce hydrogen?  They usually run on hydrogen, getting them to run on other fuels withouth turning them into hydrogen first is great research news. I think there are methanol fuel cells but I have not read much about it.

Someone has probably misread the information.

I thought that was a little strange too, but the exact quote from the newspaper is 'The unit is powered by natural gas and produces not only electricity but hydrogen.' It wouldn't be the first time a reporter got something wrong. The original article is at: sometines known locally as the newsfree press.
Great read here:

To conclude, while I could go on and portray many other elements of the devastating effect that Peak Oil will have upon our society, my message to the American people is just this. To the millions upon millions of Americans who are content to be safely tucked into their protective cocoons, in a self-imposed state of apathy and disinterest relating to these massive problems that America faces, this may be the very final wake-up call. If we, as a nation do not collectively recognize the threat of this great tsunami, refuse to think more deeply or get educated and involved, we will be sealing the fate of our children, our grandchildren and those who follow. They are the ones who matter. We simply cannot refuse to address this monumental issue that threatens their very future existence!
It was nice of Heinberg to give us that endorsement and mention Stuart by name. He also said that we were a bunch of petroleum geologists working on the problem full-time. I know we've got excellent petroleum geologists posting on this site all the time--so where do I get awarded that honorary degree--though the only thing I think I could identify with a high degree of certainty is a hole in the ground.

HO is the man, of course, if you're talking about the actual geological technical issues. But as I said, we have so many knowledgeable contributors and people that understand energy issues here at TOD.... I'm always grateful for the information they give me.

I thought it was particularly ironic when I had my rolling blackout today that when I was finally able to re-boot my computer, all I had to do was go to TOD to find out why my power went out!

One of the greatest websites in the world and proud to be a contributor.

For your computer's sake, I suggest you invest in a UPS (one with dead batteries will do) and a storage battery.  I'm set up for at least half a day of outage; when the 8/14 blackout hit the East, I was in fine shape.
I also have a plug in base for a standard edison base light bulb (sold by Walmart for some decorative lighting, max 25 W) with an in-line switch plugged into my UPS.

I keep an LED light bulb from that has 8 LEDs and uses 7/10 of a watt in it.  I have a 5 watt flourescent bulb if I need more light. (they also make 3 & 4 watt compact flourescents)

Even a small UPS will let me get around in the dark all night :-)

I am unemployed and poor, with my condo on the market but not selling, so I have to make decisions about buying stuff.

My UPS died some time ago and I have not replaced it.

My machine came back up so I'm happy but insecure.

What probably died was the battery.  You can replace it with a deep-cycle battery and have many times the storage for well under $100.  Don't forget to use heavy cables and fuse the line right next to the battery terminals (automotive blade fuse holders go up to 30 amps and only cost a few bucks).
One thing that comforts me is thinking that this crisis it's happening in the Internet era (while we have electricity, that is), so thanks to places like this we aren't totally uninformed...
But being 'informed' just satisfies our craving for novelty like reading the sports section or watching a NASCAR crash.
Doesnt help matters any. (I guess it depends whos reading, but for the most part)
Bush calls for expansion of nuclear power:

'We will develop and deploy innovative, advanced reactors and new methods to recycle spent nuclear fuel,'' Bush said in his weekly radio broadcast. ``This will allow us to produce more energy, while dramatically reducing the amount of nuclear waste and eliminating the nuclear byproducts that unstable regimes or terrorists could use to make weapons.

What is more interesting for me is the following:

The radio address begins a series of public speeches Bush plans in the coming week to put energy market changes on his domestic agenda this year.

When I add this to the SOTU speech I start to wonder what is the reason for this energy offensive now? Currently it seems like we have secured 2006 at least... Oil and NG inventories are high and demand destruction seems to work well for us mostly in places like China and India. Even concerns about Iran are not able to drive prices significantly higher. Probably we'll see some disruptions during the hurricane season but another Kathrina is highly unlikely. So... what he is up to? Or, if I leave aside my suspiciousness, maybe we are finally starting to prepare for the mitigation process? What do you think?

Bush's priorities remain unchanged:
     1. Keep taxes as low as possible on my rich friends, and
     2. Elect Republicans so they can keep taxes as low as possible on my rich friends.

He sees that the sheep are getting a bout of nervous energy (pun intended)so he's decided (or Karl has, more likely) to "get ahead of the problem", show that "he cares".  So he's talking about energy.   Is he actually doing anything about moving the country in a direction to save energy?  Of course not.  It's all talk.  He's gotten himself elected on talk twice and the only thing he's accomplished, aside from a cynical war aimed at keeping him in office, is to lower taxes on his rich friends.

Just some observations...

1) If you look at the issue of "keeping taxes low on rich friends," throughout our history, don't you think this is a rather American trait, rather than anything necessarily unique of Bush or the Republicans.


He's gotten himself elected on talk twice...

Isn't that how all of our Presidents get elected?


...the only thing he's accomplished, aside from a cynical war aimed at keeping him in office...

It seems to me that this war has been the one thing that has consistently threatened to remove him from office. Whether it is reportedly manipulating WMD intel, leaks by Rove and Libby, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, NSA eavesdropping, etc.

  1. No, not all administrations lower taxes on the rich.  This administration has done more for the rich than any in history.   We have the greatest disparity between rich and poor in history and our Bush-restructered tax code is a major cause.

  2. True, in a sense, all get elected on talk.  What I meant was the enormous disparity in Bush between talk and action:  talk about preserving the surplus (in 2000); talk about no nation-building; talk about restoring amity among the parties; talk about "clean skies"; talk about building a stong economy when the result is an economy that is only strong if you are wealthy (as I am).  

  3. The war is what he ran on.  It is what he beats up on the Dems about constantly (weak on defense).   Nixon once said that being being in a war was worth several points in the re-election of a President.  Do you suppose that Karl was not paying attention?   Iraq was invented as a false target for our 9/11 response at exactly the time when Republicans were getting worried about the 1994 congressional elections because the polls were going against the president or congress at that time.   It was brilliant Rove strategy.  You satisfy your neo-con base and take all the oxygen out of the air on the country's disatisfaction with the economy and the president.
Sorry, in #3 above I was thinking about the 2002 congressional elections when Bush invented the Iraq war to take all the oxygen out of the press when there was major disatisfactions with Republicans and they were worried about losing their majorities.   Not sure what slipped synapse came up with the year 1994.  Time for a checkup.
Bush may not be my most favourite person on Earth, and surely not one of the most brilliant ones. But I am pretty certain that his "friends" that put him into office are not that stupid. They are also concerned about PO and the future of their investments if not the planet.

If 2008 comes with 5$/gallon, people will demand explanation what were this government's actions (not just speeches) to prevent it and solve the problem. If there are none on the list GWB will be out of office no matter how many electronic voting machines are set up in the meantime.

My point was why did he pick this very moment when things seem to be settling down... I suspect there is something cooking on international scale, and I don't quite like it.

I agree. Good points.

But I am pretty certain that his "friends" that put him into office are not that stupid. They are also concerned about PO and the future of their investments if not the planet.

Well said. How could they not be, right? It's not like you get a free pass from Global Warming if you're a rich Republican.

On the international scale, though, isn't something always cooking?

Well that is a dangerous assumption. There are some fundamentalist Christian groups that think, simply put, the fastest way to The Rapture is to FUCK THINGS UP as quickly as possible. They're impatient for judgment day!
Unless there is a planned change to the constitution, then as a second-term president, the one guarantee is that GWB will be out of office in 2008. Whether the GOP is still in charge is another matter entirely.
Yes, thanks for the correction.
Though I can argue it is not that important. The position of the president himself (herself? ohh dreams...) started to resemble the one of the Speaker of the Senate in recent years.
They're buying cheap harbour space in Hudson Bay for when the new short route to China opens up.
As I have told James Kunstler via email recently, I think 2005 was the year of Peak Oil.  2006 will be the year of Peak Oil Awareness amongst the masses.  Perhaps Bush is preparing things in advance of the mass awakening.
Hmmm... IMO, 2006 could well be the year of "we don't have energy security" awareness. Or "the Chinese are consuming our oil" awareness. Or whatever.

PO as "the world is not infinite" idea will be acknowledged by the public probably only after some significant societal transformation. For the average Joe the idea that there are limits is unbearable. "Gosh, isn't this why I came to this country? They told me that you can achieve anything here". This will not change quickly.

I was talking to a guy at work on Friday.  I don't remember how we got onto the subject but somehow he started talking about how we needed more alternative energy (he was thinking ethanol).  Guess what he drives?  A Navigator (huge SUV).  Groan.  At least he only lives 5 miles from the office, but he drives his kids to soccer in this monster too.

I had another coworker asking me about ethanol a few weeks back - probably in reaction to all of the GM nonsense on the air these days.  I explained that I thought it was all smoke and mirrors because the cars are still gas guzzlers, but it didn't dissuade him completely.

People are becoming more aware of the fact that there is a problem.  They are still looking for simplistic "solutions" that would allow them to continue life as usual, but there is an awareness that there is a problem.  That is progress - last year at this time most people wouldn't have even thought that there was a problem.

On one level I'm not sure we need "peak oil awareness" to see adaption by the public.  It may just be that after hurricanes, Iranians, Nigerians, Venez ... they just say "if it's not one thing it's another" and figure out they have to downsize the SUV.

On the other hand, yes, there is this huge problem with "lifestyle change" ... it's treated as more privation than opportunity.  People like that SUV driver asking about ethanol are really asking how long they can hold out.  I think he knows that the SUV will not last forever ... but maybe he and his family can squeeze by.

I hope that enough people will pick up on a happy, efficient, future.  Maybe SUV guy will notice that the corolla/civic drivers have less worries, put off fewer trips, and have a few more bucks in their pockets.

I explored this a bit a couple of days back in an older thread:

On awareness of peak oil in governments. I suggest the following broad possibilities:

  1. They are unaware
  2. They are slightly aware but haven't properly heard or listened to much of the information
  3. They have heard but don't believe peak oil will occur soon or that solutions will be adequate
  4. They have heard and are scared, daren't tell 'us'
  5. 4. but they dare.

I think all the above are true for different sub-populations within our governments. Amongst the higher echalons I think we can disregard 1. since most have had presentations (eg UK parliamentary sub-commities, US house presentations, departmental reports). There will still be many who are at 2. and 3. - as we find amongst the general population. Sweden is the only country that seems to have made it to 5. as far as I'm aware.

It is 4. that most interests me and is the group that I think many heads of state may be at now or soon. They are talking round the issue without daring to mention the dreaded words 'peak oil'. GW talks about addiction and techno solutions, Blair talks about climate change. They are doing what they see is their best to begin appropriate actions and prepare 'us' for what may happen without confronting their populations, and the world, with the scary truth.

To some extent they may be right, and I'm sure they can rationalise it so. Consider what would happen if GW stood up and said "Peak oil is reality, it will happen soon and then we will have less and less oil and gas, evermore." What would happen to oil and gas prices? Economies? Industries? The dollar? Perceptions of foreign policies, especially US?

Can I suggest 4.5? Slight variation; They have heard, but chose not to rock the powerboat.
Yes, accepted, 'scared' is probably not an accurate term in their context (as they currently perceive). Speaking the words would, indeed, rock the powerboat.
"What would happen to oil and gas prices? Economies? Industries? The dollar? Perceptions of foreign policies, especially US? "

We would have a bad go of it for a bit and then perhaps we would shake the hangover off, clean house and start taking things seriously. My God, maybe we would actually work WITH other countries and try to solve some global issues.  I can dream can't I?

You would (have a bad go of it for a bit), but it would be the least bad in the long run. Unfortunately democratically elected politicians have short term horizons so they mostly choose to keep quiet despite the inevitably greater pain that will ensue later. I'm afraid their electorates share the blame for that: 'But, as Carter said "There is no way to avoid sacrifice...". That didn't sound nice so the american people turned their back on truth, embraced illusion, and postponed the (then small) sacrifice.'

Yes, the politicians should be saying this now but they are not. Judge them accordingly.

LevinK, that's an interesting comment:
'Probably we'll see some disruptions during the
hurricane season but another Kathrina is
highly unlikely'.

Do you have some evidence, or is it just
wishful thinking? After all, the planet is
heating up rapidly and in view of the warmer
than average winter in the US, surely we should
expect the summer to be a hot as last year if
not hotter. Hot land delivers hot water into
the GOM.

What I am interested in at the moment are the
continuing drought and abnormally high
temperatures in Texas (or has the drought now,
broken, but not been reported?)

Of course I don't have any evidence, just common sense.

Neither oil industry in GOM, neither Global Warming started last year with the advent of hurricanes. IMO for processes lasting decades if not centuries like GW it would be normal to see a gradual increase of the effects; if you compare 2005 to 2004 and years before you get the impression that a lot of what happened last year was pure bad luck. May be the danger will be rising with each year passing, but one year in a row does not make a trend.

In short don't count on the weather to solve your economical/lifestyle/whatever problems.

There's is much mystery in the way the whole natural gas thing works. Oil & Gas Weekly reported last week that Iran was buying more gas from Turkmenistan. Why would they need to buy gas given the squillions of cubic metres they are sitting on?

Iran seeks more gas from Turkmenistan
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 13 -- Iran wants to increase its imports of natural gas from Turkmenistan and will accept a higher price, according to Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Motaki.

"Iran wants a considerable enlargement of Turkmen natural gas imports and is ready to make proposals to Turkmenistan," he told Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov by telephone on Feb. 12.

Motaki said Iran accepts a Turkmen bid to increase the gas price. He said an Iranian delegation will soon visit Turkmenistan to sign a contract.

Preliminary negotiations about the suggested increase of the Turkmen gas price from the current $42-60/1,000 cu m were held in Ashgabat on Feb. 3.

According to the Turkmen Oil and Gas Ministry, Turkmenistan delivered 5.8 bcm of gas to Iran in 2005. Contracts signed last year call for the supply of 8 bcm in 2006. Last month, Iran received about 786 million cu m of Turkmen gas.

Turkmenistan produced 7.03 bcm of gas in January, up 24% over last year, according to the country's National Statistics and Information Institute. Gas exports grew 28%.

In addition to Iran, contracts signed late last year stipulate the delivery of 30 bcm of Turkmen gas to Russia and 40 bcm to Ukraine in 2006."

Maybe Turkmenistan does not have the infrastructure to sell directly to Iran's customers?  During the cold snap, Turkey was very distressed because Iran cut them off.  Iran said due to the cold weather, they needed the natural gas for domestic use.  
I think (and I may be mistaken) that when the gas pipelines into Georgia from Russia got blown up recently that Iran stepped in to start supplying them (though as they don't share a border I'm not sure exactly what the mechanics of this are).

So maybe this gas is to meet that need (while iran may have tons of gas it may not be on tap waiting to be piped to whoever wants it tomorrow)...

I read sometime back (I don't remember where, but I belive it was a reputable enough source to lodge in my otherwise leaky memory) that Iran uses so much NG for oil field injection that its prospects as a major NG exporter are limited.
Turkman gas is still cheaper than Iran's own production cost.
Extraction Rate:

Has anyone else noticed as we approach peak/plateau that the World production/extraction rate is closing in on 1000 barrels/second?

West Aust

Peter Tertzakian has.  

He's even got the domain name:

Thanks for the link. It is a very good name for a book, as it hammers home the truly huge amounts of this resource we burn up.
I tried the reference on a couple of sceptics last night and it helped them get a perspective. (of course then they get mad because they really don't want to it)
It would appears that Peter Tertzakian believes technology will save the day, at least that's what I got from reading the summary.. I wonder if he confuses oil depletion with technology like so many others??
Slow down.

He has a more interesting position than that.  To (unfairly) encapsulate it, I'd say his position is "technology will prevail ... but not soon enough."

He is trying very hard to make people understand that there is nothing available to replace oil for transportation on the timeframe that we need it.

This is completely incorrect. The exact opposite of what he believes. This highlights the number one reason why people should actually read books before commenting on their authors' opinions.
I have a totally different view about life style and PO.  My feeling is that a doctor just told me that in 2 years you will end up in a wheelchair and have to be fed thru a tube.  But your health will be perfect until then.  Sorry guys, it's party time!  I'm gonna take a few weeks this year by car to explore the wonderful country that oil created and view the amazing natural beauties of this country.  If you don't do it now, you won't in the future.  I can go veggie in 2009....
I agree with you.  I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

In particular, I'm traveling now, while commercial air travel is still affordable.  Now's the time to see the world, if you want to see it.  

Not a bad sentiment, but I find it's more beautiful when you get out of the metal box. The times I biked from San Francisco to Denver (the long way, via Yellowstone), or walked 4 weeks in the Himalayas, I saw some beautiful stuff. Long car trips are fun too, but in a more junky kind of way. For something you'll remember all the way to St. Peter's gate, get out of the box.
Ah yes, Vegan - forget it - read the book "Life Without Bread" by Wolfgang Lutz, M.D - it saved me a whole lot of dollars and at the upper end of my 60's - anyway, what about all the coal that we have that is fairly clean that Clinton took off the market during his years as King, that is sitting out West here, illegal to mine?

And is it not true that even if we drilled and found lots of oil we have no way to refind it?

Did not our congressional critters just dump on the nation refusing to Ok the building of refineries and drilling?

Hell even a Nuke plant is going to take 10 years to built once the jerks in congress get off their fat asses ...

But what the heck, our oil and gas stocks have been making a nice profit for us and therefore we sold the bike (LOL)

Human beings are meat eating animals and we love our motor vechiles ...

I guess I'm 50:50 on this.  I ride my bike for the local trips that I can ... but now and then I break out to do a road trip ... in my small car.

If you're driving 1000 pointless miles at least you can look over and say "hey, I'm not in that Expedition."

(The most energy efficient and environmental thing would probably be to stay home, in the dark, and drink tap water.  I don't think we really expect anyone to do that.)

At least get a reverse osmosis water filter!!!
i agree too, like Tim Mcgraw sang in that song "live like you were dying". "I went sky diving, i went rocky mountian climbing, i went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu"

As i recall shortly after 9/11 there was a report that alcohol sales skyrocketed. Hmmm, i wonder how much was spent on that survey?

It's Time to live like you were dying!
i know i would!
Party On Fatlady!

Today I heard from two people appalled at their NG bills.  Although I had recommended a pellet stove, my brother-in-law had his gas furnace replaced with a high-efficiency model.  Even so, his bills have almost doubled.  Another woman is dropping her all her digital tv and premium cable service in response to increased gas prices.

I expect that discretionary utilities like cell phones, cable and broadband will start to see increasing defections as the middle class pays substantially more for energy.  That'll just mean more layoffs, and one of my brothers is a cable guy.

Speaking of looming economic disaster, is anyone following the housing bubble story? I don't see much mention of it these days in the MSM, but the folks over at the housing bubble blog seem pretty excited about how the TS is just now really starting to HTF.

It seems to me that apocalypticons from both camps ought to get together and share scare stories.

Maybe with those two, plus a currency crisis, we could hit the trifecta.

Speaking of currency crises I'd like to mention one of Ben Jones' other blogs -- his money and metals blog. Nowhere near as active as thehousingbubbleblog but still interesting.
Integrating the potential effects of financial/economic crisis, energy crisis and climate change (among other things) is very important. Events do not happen in isolation and can compound each other in complicated ways. For instance, a serious financial crisis could threaten jobs, pensions, investments, savings, credit and housing (with a myriad follow-on consequences) for a very substantial fraction of the population in a relatively short period of time. To imagine that this would not impact on energy systems, for example, is simply foolish IMO. Indeed more people should share 'scare stories' from various perspectives. If that makes those who do 'apocalypticons', then so be it. Ignorance may be bliss (for a while), but I'd rather be informed and prepared.
I totally agree, Stoneleigh, the timings and interactions of these things will be absolutely critical in determining the ultimate outcome.

I think a US recession in the next couple of years is inevitable regardless of peak oil, and I expect peak oil to happen within five years should the approximate status quo continue. Different timings of just these two events could have markedly different outcomes. Should the recession follow peak oil (and especially if PO is perceived as causal) I expect a huge and partially successful effort to mitigate, which would probably mitigate the recession, too. Should recession happen before peak oil is widely appreciated oil demand would be depressed, the price would drop and we might meet the oil production curve as we are beginning to struggle out of recession - in a weaker position to mitigate and facing a more rapidly declining production curve.

My bet would be on the financial crisis hitting first (causing more than just a recession IMO), and I agree with you that it would leave us in a much weaker position to mitigate peak oil. I think people are about to lose the resources they would need to make the transition in any kind of rational (ie planned) way, exacerbating the pain of peak oil significantly.
I'd say it's chickens and eggs on financial crisis / recession, one will trigger t'other, probably not too important in which order.

Odds probably are that the recession / financial crisis happens before peak oil becomes sufficiently widely understood. The moral is clear: we must beat the drum LOUDER!

I like that idea... the bit about a depression before peak or after. Merits further consideration. One thing for sure; peak oil will be the last drop in the recession bucket.
Having seen both coming two years or more ago I've been grappling since then, both logically and 'illogically', with how it will play out. I still don't know with enough certainty to say. My logic says the recession happens first :-(( but my 'illogic' says that events intervene and the reality of PO is sooner than predicted by reason (mine gives 2008 for PO). I hope my 'illogic' is correct, even though it says there are some rather nasty things ahead. Usually it is.
What? No white nationalism or ecofascism? I feel marginalized.
Speaking of housing.

I need some WAGS.

Picture a 4 bed 3 bath house, with 4 acres of forest and 3 acres of fertile farmland, 2 miles from the beach with 65 inches of rain a year.

How much would you guess it would be worth now and how much it would be worth in 5 years if last spring was the production peak?

It's impossible to say.  The house sounds large.  That's great now, but in the future, it may be difficult to heat (if heating is necessary in your area).  Two miles from the beach is nice now, but might be way too close in the future.  I suspect property in some coastal areas may become difficult or impossible to insure.  

FWIW, the finanical talking heads who believe in peak oil think it will mean a boom in urban real estate and a crash in the suburbs.  They think people will move closer to the cities, because they won't be able to afford to drive to work.  They are recommending people invest in city properties.

I would say don't count on anything. Don't put it all in real estate, or gold, or t-bills, or bonds, or Exxon stock.  Diversify, because even real estate can tank.  Especially if it's underwater.

Peak oil is one thing. Global warming is another. But what about other non-energy, non-renewable resources like copper, zinc, etc. that are vital to our way of life? First of all, what are they? Second, where are they? Third, which are starting to be in short supply?

I've read various environmentalists on the oceans, the forests, the soil, fresh water, and of course global warming, but I've seen little of the above discussed.

The one thing I did read in a book on the evolution of the earth was that these various metals were separated out (here) by geological processes. The moon is dead, and therefore these separations did not take place. So all the elements are there -- but all mixed together. Separating them takes, as you all know, energy. So those that look to the moon are truly loony (yuk, yuk).

Yeah, but energy is free in space, so we will be vaporising asteroids to condense the various metals out in stills. Why would anybody want to go to the moon? We gave up on planets long ago.
Water we drink,
Air we breath,
Space we sail,
Land we never.
I don't think raw materials are a problem, as long as you have enough energy.  In that sense, Tierney is right.  He just doesn't understand that energy is not like other commodities.  You can find substitutes for almost anything - given enough energy.  

We've already had problems with shortages of steel and concrete.  Then there's silicon; prices have more than doubled, at least partly due to the sudden popularity of solar panels.

The U.S. imports a lot of its raw materials now (including silicon).  It's okay as long as we can outbid everyone else, but if that changes...if the dollar collapses, or if countries start to hoard their resources for domestic use, as Russia and Iran did with natural gas during the European cold snap...yikes.

I have some answers for you. The metals that are likely to deplete first are silver and the platinum group, I think. There is plenty of aluminium and iron. Zinc might be a bit tight, it's price has increased substantially recently. Copper should be OK for the next decade but a helluva lot is being used up by China and presumably, soon by India.

Like oil the more concentrated, cheaper and larger resources have been found and exploited. Increased energy will be needed to produce many of the metals in future. Location will be a problem, particularly for Europe which has generally exploited more of its metal ore resources than has North America. Some minerals are partcularly concentrated in specific areas, like copper in Chile. Huge amounts of energy are required to produce most metals from their ores and high technology is often required to do so efficiently, that could be problematic. Also they and their ores are heavy and (the ores) bulky, transportation could be an issue.

If things turn really bad global trade could virtually end. That would be a significant problem for re-industrialisation in many currently developed countries since virtually all the easily producable depletable minerals have been exploited. If we, as a species, blow it and have to rebuild from a mostly pre-industrial state the next industrial revolution will be much, much harder.

This is exactly the kind of thing I want to know. It would make a very timely book if someone could pull it together.

Thank you, Agric and others.

"Limits to Growth", first written in 1972 does just that. The latest version (which I believe is a total re-write and recalculation) came out in 2004: 31?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

I read the original when it was first printed but have not read a more recent version. It gave estimated production, consumption and reserves data for individual resources such as individual metals.

Nope, silver is a byproduct of lead and zinc, both used for energy storage systems (lead acid batteries and zinc bromide flow cells). Platinum is primarily sourced from nickel cobalt copper deposits like Norilsk, and nickel and cobalt are used in nickel iron and lithium polymer cobalt batteries. Copper is going to be used for more efficient transmission lines, replacing aluminum.
My bets? Tungsten, uranium, tin, and high indium byproduct mines.
> Copper is going to be used for more efficient transmission lines, replacing aluminum.

Copper only give lower losses when the wire dimension is limited. Aluminium cables and high tension lines are thicker to get the same resistance and loss or less then the equivalent cost in copper.

Partly correct, a lot of silver and platinum are by products of other metals' production for some deposits. But... Silver has been in a deficit of supply for about 20 years, platinum is in heavy demand for catalysts, catalytic converters for cars and, if hydrogen fuel cells happen there's enough spare platinum to equip a few thousand cars with them worldwide.

Uranium can be partly solved by building breeder reactors but I expect it to continue its steep upwards trend, tungsten is quite widely distributed but may be expensive to mine due to the low quality of many of those ores, there's a good bit of tin about but exploitation of the most cost effective deposits has closed down older mines.

Re: Appalling natural gas bills.

I heat my house with 2 corn stoves.  The only thing cheaper is wood which is much more work.  Why people want to heat with pellets amazes me. Corn is much cheaper per unit and has much higher per unit heating value.

I'm not sure corn has a positive EROEI.  Does anyone have the numbers?  It's one thing if you've got excess around, as burning waste is always useful, but to heat on a large scale that way would mean planting corn specifically for fuel.  And I understand drying it properly takes either energy, or time if it's dry enough outside.  
I don't know the EROEI for corn but it is a lot higher than corn ethanol. I'm not endorsing corn burning but hear is some data on corn burning.

Here is a more efficient method of consuming corn. 15% water in shell corn contains 7000 btu's of energy per pound, and 15% shell corn weighs 56 Lbs per bushel. That is 392,000 Btu's per Bushel. At $2.00 per bushel that is $5.10 per million Btu's. Then I checked kerosene it's about the same as distillate. 6.819 Lbs per gallon and 19,810 Btu's per pound or 135,000 Btu's per gallon, or 7.4 gallons per Million Btu's. At $1.76 per gallon that is $13.00 per million Btu's. NG spot today was about $10.00 per million Btu's. Now according to the USDA a bushel of 15% corn should yield 2.68 gallons of ethanol,and ethanol contains 14,000 Btu's per pound and weighs 6.59 Lbs per gallon. That means that a bushel of corn will yield 247,000 Btu's, so you see you lose 145,000 Btu's in the ethanol process, however the leftover mash is used for cattle feed. I don't know the efficiency of a corn burning stove versus a gas or fuel oil furnace, however it is certainly more efficient than using it to produce ethanol, as a significant amount of energy is used in the conversion process. Corn burner web sites.

I'd mix in corn if I knew where to buy it.  FWIW,

says wood pellets yield more btus per lb.

All right, let me try to take a positive spin on this as an optimist might. This is an American-centric post (because the U.S. probably has the most energy inefficient built environment leading up to Peak Oil), so I apologize to everyone else, but you still might find this interesting.

What if, every family in suburbia planted a Peak Oil Victory Garden filled with tomato plants, carrots, lima beans, swiss chard, potatoes, and other good vegetables that can be canned and preserved. (Of course, this wouldn't work on the desert Southwest, but it will work in much of suburbia.) These gardens alone wouldn't solve a food shortage problem, but combined with the remaining big agribusiness farming, it would help. AND, then imagine that neighbors in suburbia agree to eliminate unnecessary car trips and start carpool system to combine their necessary trips (and foster a community spirit). It wouldn't solve the suburban transportation problem, but it would make life more livable out there.

Americans have faced a number of challenges over the centuries and have generally managed to come out ahead. Maybe through coordinated action, this thing can be, if not solved, mitigated. . . .

I wonder if every place has a fruit tree that is dirt simple and producive.  In semi-coastal California it's things like Avacados ... no fertilizing, spraying, pruning (unless it gets simply too big), can live on rainfall most years, and bury you in fruit.

I planted a couple trees 30 years ago at my mother's house and she still keeps me (and many friends an neighbors) supplied ... avacados all week.

It's one of those places where the "efficient" and "environmental" solution is also a happy one.

I spend every Christmas & New Years at my parents in Phoenix/Scottsdale.  Going back for 3 weeks after Mardi Gras to help with my fathers knee operation recuperation.

Anyway, enough time there to tell you that it will not work there.  4 million people live in a city built for cars, not people.  Many/most live behind walls and not only do know their neighbors name, they do not know what they look like, just what they drive.

I am usually the solitary walker as I walk a mile to the nearest store.

The US abandoned much of it's pre-existing housing stock after WW II, the same should, and likely will, happen to most of the 1980s and later McMansions.

Re:  Escalating Capital Costs for Tar Sands Projects in Canada

(It seems to  me that the capital costs, not counting operating costs, for new production projects are running on the order of $72,000 per bpd of new oil production from tar sands.  If you look at the Canadian oil industry as a whole, it almost certainly costs the industry well in excess of $100,000 to add one incremental barrel per day of new oil production, on a net energy basis, and after accounting for depletion from conventional energy sources.  In other words on a net-net basis, oil production from tar sands has to "pay" for the energy to get the bitumen out of the ground and to convert it to oil and then the new oil production has to offset the decline in conventional Canadian production, to get the net-net barrel of new oil production). 1_N16360232_RTRIDST_0_BUSINESS-ENERGY-CANADA-OIL-COL.XML&archived=False


Partners in the Syncrude joint venture have targeted a midyear startup for their C$8.4 billion ($7.2 billion) "Stage 3" expansion, which will boost volumes by about 100,000 barrels a day to 350,000.

 However, conventional light oil output in Western Canada is expected to keep slipping at the rate of about 4 percent a year as the region keeps maturing, Wise said.   In 2005, Canada's light crude production averaged 830,000 barrels a day, down from 868,000 in 2004, the NEB said.

Wow! If this is true then the capital cost of tar sands produced oil is closing that of a nuclear power station!
1 bpd ~ 70 KWt
1 KWt ~ $2500 (for Canada and US, I hear in Russia they make them for about $1000)
70 x 2500 = $175 000 per bpd.

And the output of the tar sands is oil burnt with ~15% efficiency, while electricity is used with ~90% efficiency.

Maybe it would be indeed a much much better idea to just burn these sands and get electricity. And we switch to plug-in hybrids.

Canadian oil production could rise a hefty 10 percent this year as oil sands output climbs to meet surging U.S. demand for energy supplies from outside the Middle East, analysts said on Thursday.
I wish I had a nickel for every article I've ever seen that tells me that production could rise X% this year (or by 2007 or by 2008 or by....)
Boy, it seems kind of pointless to add to a thread with 175 postings already! If another open thread appears today I'll repost it. Dilbert today is about oil and fungibility...

Dilbert: I'm thinking about buying a more fuel-efficient car.

Dogbert: Why?

Dilbert: It's my patriotic duty to reduce this country's dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Dogbert: Why?

Dilbert: Because then the countries that hate us will have less money to fund terrorists.

Dogbert: Actually, developing countries would buy the oil you saved, thus adequately funding those same terrorists.

Dilbert: At least I wouldn't be funding them myself.

Dogbert: Oil is a fungible commodity. The capitalist system virtually guarantees that you'll end up buying the lowest cost oil from sources unknown to you.

Dilbert: Well, maybe. But I want my car to make a statement.

Dogbert: And the statement would be, "Hey, everyone! I don't understand what fungible means!"

As I walk to the market, leaving gasoline for the 3rd world, at least I'll have a blue sky over my head.
(I really am going for a walk ... if I could just find my favorite shoes ...)
I noticed this as well and was going to post it.

For anyone who reads this thread after Sunday, Feb. 19th, here is a more permanent link to the cartoon.

Right, just added Dogbert's and Scott Adam's names to my 'first against the wall' list ;)

The link leads to a BBC business page which has a report on Statoil's re-injection of CO2 at Sleipner.   This is of itself interesting regarding GW, but what caught my attention was the frank admission that this is being done as a business decision due to the high carbon tax in Norway.
Lesson - if you want a meaningful change in attitudes - hurt people in the pocket.

BTW, does anyone knows of a MSM site which gives comparable coverage on Energy, PeakOil and Global Warming to the BBC?  It would be nice to compare coverage.  

Anybody know how much energy is used and CO2 produced to pump CO2 underground?
Twas always thus, business is business, after all. The planet is not a consideration in capitalism. That is why the US is being irresponsible in not introducing carbon taxes and increased duties on fossil fuel use.

Coverage of global environmental issues on US MSM? Don't be ridiculous! You have already compared the relative coverage, LOL. But I'm sure US MSM can tell you what colour nail varnish Britney is wearing today. One must look to the less MSM US media for what you wish to see, here's a few:

I suppose one could say the US media is more differentiated and much more insular, but I would say the best US MSM online coverage of the global aspects of these issues is probably about 5% of the BBC's.