Friday Open Thread

From Fortune:

Massive oil profits may not last

Although industry leader Exxon  has long shown extraordinary discipline in finding more oil year after year, rivals like Shell and Chevron  are lagging badly. Despite earning $14 billion last year, most of Chevron's production and reserve increases came from its acquisition of Unocal, not what oil insiders call 'the drill bit.' And while Royal Dutch Shell  earned more than $25 billion, its daily production fell from 3.7 million barrels a day in 2004 to 3.5 million last year. Even worse, the Anglo-Dutch giant replaced only 70% to 80% of the oil it pumped out of the ground, despite spending billions on new projects.

"This is the big story for these companies," says veteran industry consultant and occasional gadfly Matthew Simmons. "They're so big, they're having a very hard time growing. The only thing they really know how to do well is buy back stock." Simmons, it should be noted, is convinced the world is entering a period of tight oil supplies that will drive prices much, much higher. That's debatable -- but he's on to something here. Because if the oil giants can't find new fields, going forward they'll essentially be liquidating the source of future profits. Smaller, independent oil firms have had much more success in growing production, which leads Simmons to wonder if maybe the giants wouldn't be better off splitting themselves up. "I think one of these days, one of the Big Oil companies is going to break itself up like AT&T and the Baby Bells."

Oil analyst Neil McMahon of Sanford Bernstein agrees the production numbers are a challenge, although he's a bit more sanguine about the future of Big Oil than Simmons. "Still, at the end of the day, it's not great," he admits, adding that production schedules of big projects like BP's  Thunderhorse in the Gulf of Mexico and Chevron's Gorgon field off Australia have also been slipping.

Obviously some analysts still don't get it.

If Simmons knows more about than PO its about extracting value out of businesses.

The problem of falling reserves is hidden with the price increases and buying out other companies. Revenue looks better than it really should be. Not that they can honestly find more oil to replace production.

I suspect there is a Marzipan layer to cut out. Like engineering and exploration, admin etc. What are those geologists and geophysists doing if they are not finding oil? Probably wasting time blogging on the net at TOD.

Then it becomes a strip mining operation of cash.

Vulture capitalism at its best.


On the same note, there was an aticle in today's (fri) NYT by Floyd Norris, "High Profits, Sluggish Investments". In the article, Norris points out that Exxon used to invest "more than it made. Now it invests less than than half its profits."

After describing stock repurchases and so forth, he goes on to say: "There is a phrase for that strategy: gradual liquidation. It is an excellent strategy for a company in a declining industry with few investment opportuniies. Let us hope that not is the case here."

Norris, in the end, puts his hands over his eyes and says: "We can hope others are will make the investments Exxon Mobil is unwilling to make, in both oil and alternative energies. If not, the easing of energy prices may be further off than it needs to be."

I happen to know that Exxon is coldly and relentlessly rational in its focus on the bottom line. If they don't invest, it's for a reason that they believe impacts the bottom line.

Yeah, I just loved that "easing of energy prices" remark at the end of the article--total cluelessness.  He just can't take that next step and see that this is a sign of smaller and smaller discoveries.  The ultimate end, to Floyd, is just more cheap energy. This is what those who think we can enlighten the population are up against...
Hey!  What are all the dashes between the names for?  Exxon-Mobil, BP-Amoco, Chevron-(Gulf)-Unocal....  They just finished combining.  Now the split-up' coming?  What were they thinking?  Seems like it certainly wasn't looking for oil.  Windfall profits tax?  No. Time to nationalize them all.  Ha!  Ya I know. But at least it will eliminate short-sighted shareholder value considerations from the decision process. Couldn't be any worse, could it?  It would give DOE something worthwile to do.
I thought I would re-post this from Thursdays thread since it got somewhat buried and no one responded.

I was trying to read up on how oil is used in the US. I found this data  The data is barrels of oil used a day. The percents are each categories percent of the total.

I was curious how much oil gets used as an input for the manufacturing of products. I always thought things like plastics, synthetics, pharmacuticals, etc. contained had oil derivatives.

So does anyone know which products below go into manufacturing?

US Oil Production              7,649    
Oil Imports                    13,145    
Total                          20,794    

NGLs and LRGs                  2,264     11%
Other Liquids                  (30)    0%
Finished Petro Prods            
    Finished Mogas             9,105     44%
    Finished Avgas             17     0%
    Jet Fuel                   1,630     8%
    Kerosene                   64     0%
    Distillate Fuel Oil        4,058     20%
    Residual Fuel Oil          865     4%
    Naphtha Petro Feed         390     2%
    Oth Oils Petro Feed        366     2%
    Special Naphthas           27     0%
    Lubricants                 141     1%
    Waxes                      15     0%
    Petroleum Coke             524     3%
    Asphalt & Road Oil         537     3%
    Still Gas                  704     3%
    Misc Products              53     0%
Total                          20,730    

I always thought things like plastics, synthetics, pharmacuticals, etc. contained had oil derivatives.

Yes, but it's a very small portion of each barrel.  "Petrochemical feedstocks" account for 1.1 gallons per barrel, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

So a feedstock, like the Naphtha Petro Feed or Oth Oils Petro Feed above, are used as inputs for manufacturing? Sorry, I am not an engineer, so this is all new to me.
As I understand it, yes.  

The API produces this brochure about what is made from oil, for classroom use:

Thanks for the link.
I think you're asking the wrong question (maybe).  The more important question IMHO is how much of the product's price is due to the price of oil.  I've heard the price of carpet has gone up considerably because the pad is made from oil.
That was one of the next things I was going to start considering. First I just wanted to understand the allocation to various uses.
I bought a bed last month from a local manufacturer (Puget Sound).  The salesman claimed that their materials cost had gone up around 30% since Katrina.  Foam rubber prices were even worse.
I have a procedural question to the blog editors regarding the restriction not to edit one's posts. I'm answering Prof.Goose's argument here, not to spoil the excellent SS thread with side discussions:

I must admit I don't know what are the fundamental differences between blogs and forums that require such restriction. I'm writing in a hurry sometimes as a take-away from work, and therefore the mistakes which I suspect are pretty annoying to the public here (being highly educated in general). Overall IMO, the confusion element from typos, factual errors etc. is higher than it would be if they could be corrected right away from the commenters instead of posting a "correction" post.

Of course I grant the editors the right to have a final word on such questions, but still hope they change their minds...

Here's a hypothetical situation that illustrates the problem with allowing readers to edit their comments:

Reader A makes a comment. Reader B then responds. Then reader A modifies his original comment such that Reader B's response makes no sense. Confusing, and not very fair to Reader B, yes?

Agreed. I guess this is one of the which is the less evil problems. For me the less evil is correcting the posts because I'm mostly concerned by the syntax errors, but for the community as a whole your argument outweights.

I'll try to be more careful and use the preview button.

This is the internet age - type fast, don't look back


Forums have addressed this for years. Forums simply date/time stamp the post and add a line (automated, cannot be changed by the author) showing that they edited the post and when.

So you have this:

Feb. 3, 2006, 3:56pm

The big brown dog ate the little grey mouse.

After editing, it becomes this:

Feb. 3, 2006, 3:56pm

The big brown cat ate the little grey mouse.

Edited by Greyzone, Feb 3, 2006, 4:01pm

Now reading a thread, I can see if someone has modified the thread and therefore understand that I am not looking at the original post. Further, forums often allow "quoting" which automatically copies the original post precisely so that a reply can be compared directly against the post. Such a quote cannot be edited, and thus demonstrates the difference between what is currently posted and what was originally posted.

In that sense, blogs are a step backwards when used as community platforms for communications. As expressions for a single individual or even a few individuals, they work very well. What has occurred here at TOD is the evolution of the blog into a wider community of posters. Perhaps one solution would be to install a forum and disallow further direct comments to the blog except by the TOD team itself. Then community participants (like us) could comment on a thread in the appropriate forum opened by the original poster and which would have a link back to the blog entry.

Reader B may then feel compelled to quote Reader A's comments in his responses, in case they change, but Reader C will accuse Reader B of misquoting.

If editing left the original text, but allowed strikeouts and bold or red-colored revisions, that would be fine.  But I doubt those features are available, and enforceable, in this software.

The way some PHP boards handle it is a note is automatically added.  (Last edited by LevinK on 03 Feb 2006 08:25; edited 3 times in total)

But most blogs don't bother, probably because unlike message boards, they are ephemeral.  Once a blog entry drops down the list or scrolls off the front page, few will see it, let alone reply to it.  While a PHP board like has some discussions that have been going for years.  It just seems like it's not worth the hassle of adding editing capabilities, given that most blog threats have such short half-lives anyway.
It's capitalism or a habitable planet - you can't have both
Robert Newman, Guardian
Our economic system is unsustainable by its very nature. The only response to climate chaos and peak oil is major social change
published February 2, 2006.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Editorial Notes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On the one hand, capitalism has been a flexible, durable system that has re-invented itself many times over the centuries.

On the other hand, the current unresponsiveness and denial lead one to believe that Robert Newman may be right.

Newman is an English writer-comedian, currently appearing in his show "Apocalypso Now" (review).

He is also the author of "The Fountain at the Center of the World," about which Salon says:
The anti-globalization movement may not quite have found its Dante or its Homer in British writer Robert Newman, but it's found something, all right -- maybe its Theodore Dreiser. Newman, the author of two previous novels published in the United Kingdom, makes a splashy, messy American debut with The Fountain at the Center of the World, an ambitious and occasionally thrilling book that takes you from a NAFTA-impoverished Mexican village to the sleek corporate hallways of the City of London to the now-legendary street demonstrations at the World Trade Organization's 1999 Seattle meeting.
(Review by Andrew O'Hehir)


My suggestion:  replace the highly regressive payroll tax with a petroleum fuels tax (see Thursday Open Thread).  This would also put everyone who directly and indirectly uses petroleum fuels into the Social Security system.

What we want to tax is congestion and consumption and not employment.

This is why toll roads make sense. The driver pays to use it. Its not free. Govt is then not resposible for providing free roads for cars.

I would add one thing is congestion pricing is also part of the equation. ie Drive in Peak hour traffic pay heaps. Drive off peak pay less. Take publc transport pay nothing.

Instigates "Mississippi River Civil War" ... big states against the little states.  Big states win... they got the oil.
I saw this earlier today myself.  I'm totally convinced he's correct.

The way I see it, there are simply too many problems encroaching on the world.  We have peak oil, of course, and the related problem of climate change, dropping water tables, desertification, oceanic dead zones, etc.  If we manage to solve one problem, 8-10 more are waiting to become the next big problem, or factor limiting growth.  

And of course all of these problems interact to make solving them all much more difficult than solving them independently.  For example, if we run out of fresh water, we could desalinize ocean water.  But that takes energy, which is going to become scarce in the near future.  And so on.

All of these problems are fundamentally caused by the demand to grow.  At some point, as population grows, as our waste products accumulate, as we demand ever larger harvests of (fill in the blank) every year, we will reach a limit.  I believe we are in overshoot already and are destroying the earth's productive capital in order to grow the economy another 2-3%.  It's madness, but it is what our institutions demand of us.

You couple this with the fact that changing over to an economy which is sustainable in the long term will require truly massive changes, and changes which will demand significant sacrifices in terms of a reduction in the standard of living (at leastin the developed countries), I just don't see it happening.  People are too used to their trinkets, kept too ignorant by the mainstream press, and simply are too suspicious of things that depart from the norm this radically.

I believe we are headed for collapse, in the Tainter/Diamond sense.

Yeah, let's face it, we're "Status Chimps" - and the sooner we admit it and quit being secretly ashamed of it; and learn to laugh at the ridiculousness of who's SUV is bigger, or who's McMansion has more unused floor space to heat - the sooner we can ask:

"Ok, but then, is all this crap really making us happy?"

Because one look at psychoactive usage in the US tells the whole story ...

.. it ain't

And then, who knows, maybe something useful will actually come out of this crisis.

It will, I'm pretty convinced that PO can very well act as a cure to this society.

It is just like in psychology, when you try to reject and postpone some problem coming from yourself, a problem that keeps hinting of itself until in the end comes to hit you straight in the face. And you start asking: Oh, God, where did this come from? Whose fault is it? Al Quaeda? Iran? Russians? Marsians? But in the end there is that little chance to find out that the fault is in yourself.

Personally I feel sorry for the american society - so much money here and so little self-fullfilment or happiness if you want to call it. Seems like we're trying to substitute one with another but just like the oil we've burnt, you can't buy something that simply isn't there (no matter the price).

Sounds like we're coming at this from different directions LevinK, but we're getting to the same place: which is a good sign.

Another - somewhat pleasurably angular - analogy along these lines, was a lovely lesson I learned, albeit not personally, from none other than Donny Osmond.

Donny was in competition most of his younger life with Michael Jackson: in fact, "One Bad Apple" was - to be brutally frank - tantamount to a rip-off of the Jackson sound, still they did it well (no easy feat), and it was a huge hit for them (<jealousy> the bastards </jealousy>).

The competition continued through the 70's, but then came the 80's, and Michael while went nuclear, Donny's career stagnated.

There's no point in getting into the details of the effect of this on Donny - essentially his perfectionism really took hold of him and he really beat himself up bad: but after years of this, eventually, it dawned on him (even before things with Michael got too obviously freaky)

"Why the hell would I want to be Michael? He's essentially alone, pretty messed up, and I have a wonderful wife and family, and I do what I love, even if it's not as big as Michael, so what? I actually have a better life than he does: end of story!".

Now, before we all get all teary eyed at Donny's discovery, it's good to remember that we all should be so lucky to be in a position to have such a realization: but regardless, the point is made. I think the short form goes something like ...

What would a baby prefer? Her mother's love, or to be stuck alone in a crib of gold? I think the same analogy holds true for adult humans as well; there's more to happyness than a limitless credit card and a clothes rack.  

Chris Matthews discussion with Don Evans on "oil addiction" is now up at this MSNBC site
What about "war time" ban on NASCAR races, given that we're in this "War" and it's a war about oil supplies and NASCAR races use oil or its derivatives?   When Bush declares his war is over,he gets his NASCAR races back. Just a thought; sorry to be a party pooper.

I would guess that most of the fuel used at a NASCAR event is for the fans to get to and from the track.
I don't know the numbers off hand, but I've that this is definitely true (spectators usew more fuel than the racers), as is the fact that more energy is used for lighting an NFL night game than is used by the cars in a NASCAR race.
The figure I have seen is that about 5000 gallons of fuel (leaded, BTW) is used during a typical NASCAR race. That's quite a bit, though not as much as you might have thought.

Given that crowds go anyway from 50,000 to 250,000, and that some fans travel great distances to attend every race they can (I grew up in North Carolina, I knew people who'd take their winnebago all over the southeast several weekends a year), the fans not only use more, but 2 or 3 orders of magnitude more.

In the '70s oil shocks, NASCAR temporarily cut race distances, say from 500 to 450 or 400. Given the back of the envelop calculations above, this is obviously the equivalent of spitting in the ocean, but still a nice gesture.

The point of the war was to keep NASCAR going, so to voluntarily limit NASCAR would sort of defeat the whole purpose. In any case, it's moot since Bush already declared the war to be over on May 1, 2003. So NASCAR can continue.
Glad to know that "The War is Over." When do we get our civil liberties back??  

The NASCAR proposal obviously was intended for its symbolic value. Symbolism usually does help in setting the ground for other more significant sacrifices. Put another way, if folks won't give up their profligate use of gasoline to attend a car race, then how can they be expected to make other more serious behavioral changes/

Hello, does anyone know a link which shows the expenditures of developing countries for foreign oil? What percentage is paid for this today and how was paid 10 or 20 years ago? The consequences of 65 $ a barrel must be fatal for the trade balance of such countries in Africa or in some parts of Latin America. matthias, berln
(Note the reference to converting prime farmland into housing developments and shopping.)

Del Monte to Stop Growing Pineapples in Hawaii



HONOLULU (Feb. 3) - Pineapples have long been a proud symbol of Hawaii, along with hula dancers, palm trees, Diamond Head, surfers and the spirit of aloha.

 The future of Hawaii's top agricultural product is now in question as Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. announced it will cease pineapple operations here in a little more than two years.

 Del Monte said it was no longer economically feasible to grow pineapple in Hawaii because it can be produced for less elsewhere.

Fred Galdones, president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142, said about 700 pineapple workers will lose their jobs. Galdones said he was also concerned with the future of the two remaining pineapple companies in Hawaii, Dole Food Hawaii and Maui Pineapple Co.

 "I hope it's not a domino effect like it did with the sugar companies, where one had closed and the others followed suit," he said.

 Hawaii's once thriving sugar cane industry is barely a presence now as companies found it cheaper
to operate elsewhere.

 Tens of thousands of acres of former sugar cane fields on the densely populated island of Oahu, where about 75 percent of the state's 1.3 million population reside, have since been developed into master-planned residential communities and shopping centers.

Interesting example of two colliding trends - suburbanization and the end of cheap oil. How do those pineapples get from the middle of the Pacific to California supermarket shelves with their dewy freshness still intact? Sailing ships? Don't think so.

Maybe in a hundred years those burbs will have been ploughed back under and will be producing much smaller quantities of fresh fruit and veggies, grown without artificial fertilizer, for the benefit of a local population who live under the shadows of a thousand abandoned resort complexes and vacation condos.

Very J.G. Ballard ;-)

I've been on this board for several months, and have seen it go from 20 comments per post to 200. That's not sustainable. And we're starting to repeat ourselves.

I suggest that we put that energy into a set of Wikipedia articles. Everything from "peak uranium: myth or fact" to "what kinds of demand will be destroyed first" to whatever else we've been talking about.

The amount of time we've been spending just to read these comments could write a book a month. Many of us are good writers. Let's go for it.

I think half the threads I've seen in the past two weeks could be either "take it to Wikipedia" or (after just a few weeks of work) "that's already on Wikipedia."

There's already a "peak oil" category. It takes maybe 10 minutes to learn to use the software. And anyone can add an article.

For an example of what an article looks like in source form, see:
Note the line at the bottom: "[[Category:Peak oil]]" Include that in any article you write for that category, and the web site does the rest.

Just go here to start a new page:

Let's go for it!


An excellent idea!  This would also allow us to address large projects, such as in-depth responses to books like "Black Gold - Stranglehold."  However, it wouldn't be the same as the current back-and-forth commentary between differing sides of an issue.  Even if we have to repeat some debates over and over, I don't see how we could replace them with Wikipedia entries... It seems like controversial subjects on Wikipedia end up getting very bland or very one-sided after a bunch of competing changes.

In addition to Wikipedia entries, how about a statement on the posting page requesting that a person search for their subject before posting.  If everyone searched the existing posts before adding their own, their would be somewhat less posts.  On one hand, I just searched the blog for "Wikipedia" and there was a zillion references...too many.  On another hand, before making a recent post I searched for "Present Value," and only found three unrelated posts.

For some reason, I get the feeling that no matter what is done, we are going to have an even greater explosion of comments in the future.  Looking into the future - when the mainstream media can no longer hid the divergence between oil supply and demand - so people start searching the Internet by the millions.

It will be "Hello World, welcome to the blog - please be nice and clean up after yourselves..."

Cutler Cleveland, editor of The Encyclopedia of Energy, is considering something like this.  He is working with Charlie Hall on a new project to form an objective, up-to-date, and authoritative source of information about energy, online.  An early form of the website should be up soon.  

Cutler and Charlie are also working to develop a broadly-accepted and definitive methodology for ERoEI, Energy Returned on Energy Invested.  I will keep you all posted on developments.

Dick Lawrence

That sounds terrific.  Please, do keep us updated!
USGS on peak oil: they admit that yes, it's about to get scarce. They call it "The big rollover" and refer to US and Soviet rollovers. and click on the PDF document.

The latest cite is in 2000, so it appears this was written a while ago.

Quoting from the poster:

A! It's when the demand for oil outstrips the
capacity to produce it.

Q! Wouldn't it be better to get started solving this
problem before THE BIG ROLLOVER is upon us?
A! Absolutely! There's no substitute for planning and
implementing that plan before the oil shortage
occurs. We can turn a lose-lose situation into a
win-win situation if we start now.

Q! What about Saudi Arabia?
A! Saudi Arabia has about 3 million barrels a day of
excess production capacity (Figure 3, G).
Depending upon world oil demand, it could last
a few more years, but then what?

A! Nobody is sure, but those willing to forecast say
somewhere between 2003 and 2020 (Table 2, J).
Most everybody seems to agree that it will most
likely be within our life time, and possibly
quite soon (Figure 1, K)!

I don't think that's the official USGS view.  They just published it.
In 2000, it looks like.

I just read the Farrell et al. article article in Science retrospectively analyzing studies of ethanol as an energy source.  Doesn't anybody find the graph showing that gasoline has a negative net energy completely bizarre?

They were comparing the fossil fuel inputs to gasoline production and ethanol production.  In order to get a negative net energy for gasoline (-0.2 MJ/L), they subtracted the entire energy content of the input petroleum, which is, of course, a little more than the energy content of the refined gasoline you get out the other end (34 MJ/L).

Then they compare this negative net energy with their calculated positive energy for ethanol (e.g., 6 MJ/L) and criticize Pimentel for not accounting the other non-ethanol outputs of corn ethanol production.

Now if I was doing such a study, I would try to measure the amount of fossil fuel inputs to drilling, transporting, and refining oil and compare that the the energy you get out of the gasoline.  I wouldn't subtract out all the energy you get out of the gasoline as 'not counting' and lump it in with the much smaller subtraction of the energy cost of refining, which is certainly fair to subtract!

I think their point is that by using some fossil fuel to plow fields, you can harvest solar energy via ethanol and get a little more total energy than if you just burnt the gasoline directly.  That's OK, if you believe calculations and assumptions.  But phrasing things they way they did in a generalist journal like Science is sure confusing and misleading for the general scientific reader, much less the general public.

(disclosure: I knew Dan Kammen, the senior author, when he was a post-doc with Christof Koch when I was at Caltech, and I like Science since I have two publications in it :-} )

It is entirely possible that an "optimal" energy strategy will include manufacture of liquid hydrocarbons for transportation fuel.  The US (and the world, for that matter) have an enormous and enormously expensive transportation fleet that requires liquid hydrocarbon fuels.  If there were adequate supplies of, for example, fusion electricity available, it might be more attractive to use it to manufacture ethanol and biodiesel (or octane from the same inputs by Fischer-Tropsch) than to do early replacement of the existing engines and fuel storage with exotic hydrogen-based technology.  For that matter, it is possible that we will find that the advantages of manufactured octane -- high energy density, ease of handling and storage -- make it more practical for long-distance transporation applications than hydrogen even in the long run.

In that situation, I don't care that I have to put more energy into the process than I can get back out of the product -- I'm willing to "pay" to convert the energy into a stored form that is better for the application.

I believe the USDA pulled this sort of sleight-of-hand in one of their publications touting up ethanol from corn. As I recall, they basically took the refining conversion efficiency in going from crude oil to gasoline and tried to make the point that gasoline 'consumes' more oil energy than it produces.

As I can't believe they were so stupid as to confuse the efficiency across a refining process with primary energy production EROEI, I can only conclude that this was a deliberate deception intended to make the ethanol from corn scheme appear far more attractive than it really is.

You've really got to watch some of these people!

I think mcain6925 has made a really important point, that often seems to disappear under the carpet at TOD. Simplistically there are two types of energy. High density, easily packaged fuel energy which is ideal for transport (such as liquid hydrocarbons etc.) and less conveniently packaged energy such as electricity. As we've been living in the age of cheap oil, we've forgotten the distinction. However pre the oil age there always was (and is) a premium on energy dense fuel. The price difference between oats and hay (for horse fuel), or the difference between plant food energy and more energy dense meat. A future economy will place a price premium on energy dense fuels, and so EROEI becomes only part of the calculation. It may be economically viable to manufacture a negative EROEI fuel if the price differential between electricity and a dense fuel is sufficiently high.

For instance if you calculate the cost of lead acid EV car batteries per kilometre (deep discharge ~ 1000 times lifecycle), its close to the price of the fuel you'd burn in an infernal combustion engine to go the same distance (thats not including the price of electricity to recharge it). So transportable electricity (frozen in battery chemistry) has quite a premium compared to the stuff that comes out of the little holes in the wall.

Another example is solar powered oil wells, a way of converting low density energy into high energy density stored energy:

Liquid fuels could be an example of what is called 'path dependence'. There are millions of cars which can run on ethanol blends. Therefore ethanol helps stave off a massive investment write-off in vehicles, despite a lousy EROEI.  The life cycle cost which includes the energy embodied in car manufacture is less, at least in the medium term. Aliens in oil-free galaxies probably skipped cars altogether. The big question is whether there is a smooth path from where we are now to a civilised world in 20 years time. I'm not so sure.
What's wrong with the idea  of running vehicles on batteries that are themselves replaced  entire at "filling" stations with fresh ones, just like filling your fuel tank, except a lot faster.  The batteries, recharged by your favorite source of electricity (nuclear, solar, etc), would not be considered a part of the car, but just the "fuel".  This gets rid of all that stuff about recharge rates, range, and so on that people use to shoot down electric vehicles.
There are a few problems with battery swapping. All vehicle manufacturers in the world would need to agree on only two or three battery types and module size and shape. Once chosen we will be stuck with this choice for several decades. So far the few small EV companies AFAIK have not even agreed on how to connect the car to the grid. Should it be 110v or 220v or something even higher? What international organisation will set the standards? How will the swapping stations store the batteries before during and after recharging? Underground tanks are cheap compared to the warehouses that will be needed and the 72KV power lines that connect it to the grid.
Well, the NiMH battery in a Prius has about 1/45 the energy density of gasoline. That means putting the equivalent of 10 gallons (62 pounds) of gasoline into your car would mean installing a NiMH battery weighing almost one and half tons. This isn't to say that such a plan wouldn't be practical if we had lighter cars, better batteries, lowered range expectations, etc, etc, etc. But it's important not to forgot just how convenient and energy dense fossil fuel is.
Right,  I know that.  What I was really getting at was the oft-repeated statement that nuclear does not address our big problem- vehicle power.  I have to note that I don't like nuclear, but we have to be dispassionate, right?  And yes, I know that nuclear could do all sorts of other things, like make hydrogen.  But just having visited a big city, and seeing all those cars zooming around eating up the world, I had to think of running them all on a nuke sitting right in the middle of town,  spewing out charged batteries.  That gets the nuke out of my hair, and puts into theirs.  And right, this would be a big change, but we have a big problem, yes?  Big problem, big change.
Plugging in smaller, lighter, shorter range cars overnight sounds like a practical plan. But we still have to figure out trucks. Even if most of truck transport were to be replaced by electric rail, which is 4-5x more efficient because of lower rolling resistance and air resistance, we still need trucks to unload stuff. Standard semi-trailer trucks (80,000 pounds) will likely never be run on batteries.
For instance if you calculate the cost of lead acid EV car batteries per kilometre (deep discharge ~ 1000 times lifecycle), its close to the price of the fuel you'd burn in an infernal combustion engine to go the same distance
The cycle life of lead-acid depends quite a bit on the depth of discharge, according to Optima:

(see bottom of this page for the image link and others).

IIRC, lead-acid fails in part due to structural degradation.  One recent development is the announcement of carbon-foam batteries which replace most of the lead with physically and chemically stable carbon.  No idea if that will boost the cycle life, but it can't hurt.

Thanks for the graph Engineer Poet. I use these Optima yellow top batteries. They are rugged! Looking at the graph, ideally you'd only discharge the batteries 20%, but this would give terrible range. So you go for deeper discharges and a shorter life. I did some calculations how much it costs in battery turnover/kilometre. It turns out to be as expensive in battery replacements as the electricity to recharge the batteries (at least where I live). Ouch! So liquid hydrocarbons will have to get quite a bit more expensive before its worthwhile using plug in hybrids. Here's hoping carbon foam helps. However Optima batteries are spirally wound lead/fibreglass and appear to have a similar surface area to the new foam battery design (Optima batteries have a warranty 3X a normal battery), so I'm not sure how great an improvement there will be.
Peak Oil Debunked has an article about the possibilities for oil in Greenland:

The USGS estimates that offshore Greenland has the 2nd greatest potential for undiscovered oil in the world (the greatest is the Iraq/Iran region). Little exploration has yet been done there, but the rock formations are similar in size and structure to the North Sea.

A big problem is the sea ice in the region, which interferes with shipping and other operations. If only there were a way to get rid of all that pesky ice! Luckily Stuart has some ideas along those lines...

February 3, 2006  

Attack Jolts Iraq Oil Business as Civilian, Troop Tolls Rise
By Solomon Moore, Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD -- A mortar attack set ablaze a major petroleum facility in the northern city of Kirkuk on Thursday, stopping refining at the plant and further damaging Iraq's beleaguered oil industry.

Iraqi oil workers were still fighting the fire late Thursday, and U.S. officials held high-level meetings in Baghdad to assess the damage. An Iraqi executive with the North Oil Co. called the incident the "most severe attack we have ever faced on an oil installation." The mortar rounds also hit an important pipeline to Turkey that was already out of commission and was being repaired, the executive said.

Shell President Forced to Address 'Peak Oil' Theory

I asked whether Shell had done any detailed modelling on this question, said Strahan. Mr. van der Veer replied that his argument basically was that the world will not [arrive at a peak oil situation]. He said that peak oil is correct as applied to regional areas of production like the North Sea, Texas or the Lower 48, but does not apply to the world as a whole.

Van der Veers actual reply to Strahan on Shells webcast was That is a great question it is much more complex than many people think. That (peak oil) is not how we will go. Because peak oil theory itself is correct, if one takes easy oil close to the markets. If you look at West Texas the oil has gone, or even the North Sea but if you look at oil sands you don't know where the peak will come. if you think about coal there are huge reserves. If you assume we can develop clean coal technologies, [then] there will not be one peak.

So there is no one peak. There will be many peaks [for different fields, regions and fuels] and they will be in many different time frames and how that will develop, we don't know.

We think [for prices] that it is prudent for our company to evaluate projects in a very [many] differing pricing scenarios.

this was extracted from right here

alright, whats the "low down" on this? Is this just a type of senior executive Spin?

He says there is No one peak, there will be many peaks...etc

But, this is one GLOBE, and we all use oil. And while this may be true to specific regions,  this planet is more inter-connected today than it was 30 or yrs ago or more.

Is he saying the truth? bending the truth? in denial?

Confusion is starting to set in!

He should know. Just ask any oilCEO

Oil company reserve writedowns,

El Paso Corp.
Kuwait Oil

And this is a change of subject, but nontheless interesting.

US Government Uses Same Enron Accounting Practices

A substantial part of the Justice Department's criminal cases against former Enron executives Jeff Skilling and Richard Causey involves their complicity in Enron's liberal use of "off-balance sheet" partnerships that Enron used to shift risk on debt that otherwise would have diluted Enron's net worth. In an ironic twist, history professor Niall Ferguson and economist Laurence Kotlikoff explain in this outstanding paper

how the United States Government uses the same off balance sheet liabilities in accounting for its Medicare and Social Security liabilities to mask the true financial condition of the Government.

For more information on this point see The Decline and Approaching Fall of the US: When Social Security and Other Trusts Fail by R Earl Hadady. The the author really needed a good editor, but the information on the parlous state of government finances (particularly trust fund liabilities)is there. The author's opinion is that the US is committing financial suicide.
I'll speak to this. He is absolutely correct in everything he says. It is extremely hard to argue against. This is, in fact, the legitimate anti-Peak Oil argument, put forth sanely.

The only proof of peak-theory exists in a vacuum. The truth is nobody knows how a peak will "form" as far as a global-hydrocarbon-economy goes. It is all pure speculation. Nobody wants to admit this. Especially not Kunstler. Speculation based on speculation. No reason alot of people can't be right, just unlikely they will be as right as they say.

Anyone on the Oregon/Washington Coast, ready for the "big storm"?


Loop here.
These things look like Hurricanes these days.  I have never seen a Westcoast storm spin this fast.  The damn thing has an eye for heavens sake!

90+ wind expected.

i have never trusted wikipedia. on paper it sounds like a great idea but in practice all you get is editing wars, look around there are groups of people of all political sides going about editing the wikipedia entrys to slant them to their veiws. do you realy want the same thing to happen here on this?
a simple solution would just be to code the page so that no one but the person who made the original blog entry can edit the whole thing and preventing anyone else from editing.
you post a mistake, too bad.
looks like the nesting of comments is broken folks, keep them at the top level for now and refer, I guess.