Monday Open Thread and News Dump

Just to get you started, here's an article entitled "OPEC Warns High Commodity Prices May Kill Oil Projects."  Is it truly peak everything?

There's also a couple of WSJ article summaries below the fold.  Enjoy!

April 10's Wall Street Journal, on p. A1 is a story about the deft exploitation of Nigerian rebels to disrupt Nigerian oil production and roil international oil markets through media, and on p. A8 is an analysis of likely supply/demand/price trends this year.  These are both behind the WSJ paywall.

Bottom line -- $80/barrel probable - $100/barrel potential with a supply disruption

Demand increases with weak supply responses and multiple risk areas for supply disruption is driving prices upward.

Particular weaknesses in US noted - 23% shut-in of Gulf of Mexico supplies persists; new regulations eliminating MTBE for summer emissions reduction formulations requiring ethanol as a substitute which can't be shipped in pipelines increasing ethanol prices and setting the stage for potential regional shortages; potential for inflationary pressures and Fed response to raise interest rates and dampen demand.

Rebels, Terrorists Roil Global Oil Prices

Since January, an obscure Nigerian rebel group has battled Nigeria's military, blown up oil facilities and kidnapped foreign oil workers. All the while, a man who claims to speak for the group has fired off emails taking responsibility for the attacks -- roiling global oil prices in the process. - Oil Prices Show No Signs of Slowing

Turbines threaten Trump plans

Donald Trump discovered the most beautiful unspoiled coast he had ever seen in Aberdeenshire.  So of course, he did what anyone would do - plan to turn it into a golf resort.  

Then he found out they were planning an offshore windfarm.  Oh, horrors!  Can't have a golf resort with those ugly turbines there.  

I want to see Richard Rainwater sponsor the Peak Oil version of "The Aprentice." Something along the lines of Bob Shaw's "bio-solar" idea but with some Mad Max elimination type stuff thrown in for ratings.



$80 - probable? Only for a month we moved halfway to that - almost $69 now from $60 a month ago. And the driving season has not even started yet... IMO $80 is pretty much a safe bet by the end of the summer, maybe even conservative.
I'm wondering what gasoline prices this translates to.  I realize it's more complcated than that, with issues like the MTBE thing and the light-sweet/heavy-sour problem.
Not that much, if we don't experience gasoline shortages:

On Sep, 19 crude was $67.39, $80 would be 18.8% higher or gasoline would be up 30c to $3.14 on average.

Some stations in NYC are already hitting $3+ this week.
$2.79 around here, and we are almost in the shadow of the Houston refineries (100 miles inland)

Easter Weekend is a big driving one here in Texas, after that gas prices should cool a bit before school lets out in mid May.

Paid $2.65/gal today to fill the Civic Hybrid (1st time in almost 3 wks, was down to 1/4 tank) here in the ethanol-blessed midlands.  

IMO, $70 is very strong resistance for crude, will take more nasty news to push up beyond-- MEND attack in Nigeria, something unexpected out of Venezuela, or Bush says "Hey, what's this red button do?" or similar.

Upstate New York $ 2.85
School lets out in mid-May? When does it start up again now, Halloween?
School lets out in mid to late May in Texas then resumes in mid August. Up north schools let out after Memorial Day and resume after Labor day. The net school year is very nearly the same.
It's not really school anymore - more like a "test preparation" facility.  

And you don't have to walk 6mi, up hill both ways, to get there anymore.

We should not assume that the FED is sitting back, powerless in the face of market dynamics, letting gold and oil just do whatever. On the contrary, people like Mike Bolser at are showing that there are some very straight unusual moving averages in these markets, proving that the markets are being steered and not fluctuating randomly. So, if you are long oil and gold, be very sure that you understand your enemy (the Fed), who will protect the dollar, and particulary the 10 year bonds, at all costs. If that means blowing the derivatives even higher (1.5 Trillion so far on Oil alone), then that is what they will do.  

Sure - they will have to curb demand somehow, but as Mike suggests - what if tommorrow morning we all wake up and Hugo Chavez's suggestion of fixed price oil ($50) is extended to gold ($400) for 10 years? The markets would have a fit. Point is - a desparate FED can change the rules of the game at any time and catch a lot of amateur investors like me with their pants down.

The next IR increase (middle of May I think) is already priced in the market. After 5% methinks they will be careful - IR are already affecting the housing market and FED would not like to cause a liquidity crunch either.

IMO 80-90 bucks is still an acceptable price for the American economy (we've been there already), and there is a good chance that it can be maintained until the next year cycle - if nothing blows up in the meantime of course. I think they plan to pause at 5-6% and intervene only if oil spikes or the USD is under attack. If it comes to desperation like you said and the market gets it, than we are all f*cked up anyway.

I understand this logic is a classical example of "everybody thinks so, beware of the backslash..." but I don't think they have much choice - at 7% and above all the hot air from the economy will vanish and they may have to go to the high double digits to save the day.

"What if tommorrow morning we all wake up and Hugo Chavez's suggestion of fixed price oil ($50) is extended to gold ($400) for 10 years?"

Easy, that would move the US beyond merely a banana republic to the economic status of Zimbabwe.  No gold would be imported into US, zip zero, nada.  US gold mining would wind down to zero as production costs approached the controlled price.  Gold jewelry would vanish from stores overnight.  What is left of the US electronics industry would fold due to an inability to acquire any gold at all at the official price.  Affluent US residents would go on Asian vacations wearing heavy gold jewelry to be sold for hard currency.  Some of these people would not return to the US at all.  Very nice seaside condos and villas are being constructed in Dubai.  There are many attractive options to staying in a bankrupt budding theocracy ruled by madmen.

The US is far from a dominant gold producer, Russia, South Africa, and Australia are more important exporters.  With active gold markets in Hong Kong, Dubai, London, South Africa, Switzerland, Australia, India, etc., the idea that the US could fix a world gold price is laughable.  I buy my gold from AGR Matthey, which is based in Perth, and I do not buy it with US dollars.

You are of course right about what would happen to gold - it will be hoarded.

But my point about the market stands - the gold shares and oil share prices will probably be devastated. Do not underestimate the enemy - they can nationalize gold mines, make gold holding illegal, or whatever else strikes their fancy in order to protect the dollar.

The point about US gold mining is moot - the western central banks all work together, and will act together to protect the dollar.

"But my point about the market stands - the gold shares and oil share prices will probably be devastated. Do not underestimate the enemy - they can nationalize gold mines, make gold holding illegal, or whatever else strikes their fancy in order to protect the dollar.

The point about US gold mining is moot - the western central banks all work together, and will act together to protect the dollar."

Big disagree on all of the above.  "The market!?!?"  I assume you mean the US markets?   It is not the 1990s anymore.  There are many markets in the world of 2006, many entirely beyond the control of the US, as Ukranian natural gas customers learned in January.  There is very little central bank gold available for continued sales in either the US or Europe, and all of it can be snatched up by cash rich China and Russia who aim to increase gold reserves.  Likewise, the publically traded western old companies no longer control the world oil market.  The western central banks are out of options to defend their fiat currencies other than military options, which will not work out well either.  The US cannot nationalize the gold mines that matter, in Russia and South Africa by conquest, not even in their twisted neocon dreams.  Mugabe is trying to nationalize the mining industry in Zimbabwe, and it isn't working out well for him.

Yes, the US government can make the lives of Americans impoverished and miserable, and can destroy other nations with its death machine, but it cannot turn back time.  No manner of fraud and chicanery can ever bring back the low commodity prices and dominant US dollar of the late 1990s.  If the Clinton Era world of a strong US dollar and cheap commodities constitute the world as you knew it, we are well past TEOTWA(Y)KI.

I've seen photographs of these Quatar and Dubai seaside condo developments, a mere 25-30 feet above sea level and wondered . . .  do the developers and emirs read Science and Nature?  What happens when the ice shelfs melt?
"I've seen photographs of these Quatar and Dubai seaside condo developments, a mere 25-30 feet above sea level and wondered . . .  do the developers and emirs read Science and Nature?  What happens when the ice shelfs melt?"

Not an issue if one is an over 50 empty nester, the age group of the most affluent people.  They will all be dead before sea level rise is a big issue.  They want to be comfortable now.  Those condos in Dubai are selling quite well.  The Emirs are making money now, the future is not their concern.  When their nation floods, they can buy another one with their gold.

For rich young people with children who want to build a multi-generation sustainable castle/homestead, the highlands of Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and South Island New Zealand await.  Foolish economic actions in the US will lead to a capital flight like the world has never seen.  If millions of poor people and tons of cocaine can flow into the US, affluent people and their money can certainly flow out.  You can take that one to the bank.  It is happening already:

Developers make their money tomorrow and next week, not in five or 50 years.

Who is buying the Dubai real estate? I look at the images of the high rises and the endless cranes and I think of a set for Brazil II.
David Beckham just bought a home in Dubai.
IMO $80 is pretty much a safe bet by the end of the summer

It may seem like a safe bet to you, but oil traders don't see it that way. Futures market call options for $80 or above are trading at a price implying only about a 20% chance by the end up summer, up to maybe 25% by the end of the year.

Just presented as a data point. You have your opinion, oil traders betting millions of dollars have theirs. Everyone's free to believe what they want.

But you might be interested to know that in the real world, you can get four to one odds in your favor for something that seems to you to be "pretty much a safe bet". Either you're a lot smarter than the rest of the world, or... you're not.

As for predictive abilities I think I am on the average (that is nowhere), but don't ask me to bet my money on this :)

Derivatives always contain some risk premium which (not surprisingly) grows as the price deviates from the futures price. E.g. if I personally assign 20% probability on oil being $60, 60% - on $80 and 20% - on $100 than my subjective futures price would be $80 - which is the median. Therefore I say (unbounded) '$80 is a pretty much a safe bet', that is I rank it (personally) higher - with 80% certainty, than the article which ranks it as 'probable', which I would quantify as 15-20%.

But if I have to bet money on my $80 median prediction I would certainly be more conservative (say I would bet on $75), because in my portfolio as most investors I give higher value on "not inferring huge losses" than "caching huge profits". This skews the market towards the median which median is the futures price.

Remember that commodities brokers would all retire in a couple of weeks if they had anywhere near 20/20 vision. They don't. Not even close.

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the yearly contest sponsored by some university in Texas that pits a chimp, a dart thrower, and an actual broker against each other for bragging rights. Not sure how long the contest lasts, but it is at least several months.

Guess what? The chimp has won every year.

So apparently money does not make smart, though many say it makes you handsome. Given the number of uggos I've seen with elbow candy at casinos, I'd guess that is true.

Haha.  Maybe I ought to go out and buy a chimp, and start an investment newsletter.  

You could probably do the same thing with a dog.  That would be a lot easier to explain to the neighbors.

I hate my neighbors.  I'd take the chimp.  Let him sh@t on their dang bluegrass.
Why do you spend so much time at casinos? Just curious.
Somewhere out there an oil trader is saying, "dang, I paid $70.85 per barrel last August 30th for crude."  And all the rest of the traders are saying, "dang, some fool paid $70.85 per barrel last August 30th for crude."

Nobody wants to be the next fool.

Remember prices reflect both scarcity as well as the general health of the economy. The commodity boom has a lot to do with the lack of commodity investment during the commodity bear of last decade. Problem is, it takes quite a while to get the heavy infrastructure in place to get the commodity supply side up.

Meanwhile, there could be a liquidity crunch coming if the housing market craters. That would make the producers of the commodities challenged to get cash for their operations, though the price skyrocketing could help if they have good business plans.

In short, not all commodities are at peak. Some of it is cyclical. Just trying to be positive here...

Hello TODers,

I have mentioned 'Peak Everything' before in my posts. Consider initial gold mining at Sutter's Mill in CA: basically hand-picking big nuggets out of the stream vs 50-100 tons of highly energetic processing to get one ounce today.  

This ever-increasing energy input to get a usable consumer end-product applies to virtually all goods, from the 10,000 mile ultra-lux Starbucks cup o'coffee to the water we drink to survive.  The constantly decreasing detritus ERoEI meets the ever-increasing difficulty of finding adequate supplies of other resources.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Back on April 4, Stuart posted the latest version of his famous IEA + EIA graph, which showed a plateau. He wrote:
Readers are welcome to speculate about whether the break, when it comes, will be up or down.
After a comment on April 8 from Robert Rapier, I'm starting to think that it's going to break up. We've had hurricanes and Nigerian unrest halting production, and it's still flat. Had it not been for those factors, the uptrend would have continued.  Now, I don't think that it will last all that much longer though, especially considering Cantarrel's rapidly dwindling 825' oil column.
Yeah, we will start to see soon if all that technology we developed really increased URR or was just "sucking harder on the straw" to get the same URR faster. If the latter, that would really, really bad for the slope of the decline when it comes. I mean, it would really suck, wouldn't it?
Hersh:  US Military sources on Bush:  'irrational' and 'messianic' and 'Hitler'

(Writerman had a fascinating post on the Iran thread.  Part of it is shown below.)


I also heard an interesting interview with Seymour Hersh on the BBC this morning. He said his article was very carefully researched, he hadn't made anything up. He stood by every word in his article. Hersh also added that the US military was concerned about, 'Crossing over a moral and ethical line' that is the first use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear Muslim country. The military had gone from 'contingency' to 'operational' planing. The JCS wants the nuclear option taken off the table. In a few weeks the JCS will return to the White House and 'demand' that the 'option' is taken off the table. If it isn't, there has been talk of resignations. Hersh also mentioned that sources in the US military have complained that the White House is 'irrational' and 'messianic' and 'Hitler' keeps cropping-up.

They will never take the "nuclear option" out entirely.  That's why we keep nukes, so we have the option to use them.  
This is the key phrase that apparently has the JCS threatening to resign:  "The military had gone from 'contingency' to 'operational' planning."
While looking for the transcript to the interview (hard to know what might have been paraphrased) I ran across this article where Hersh says
Hersh says intelligence officials have revealed that Iran is the Bush administration's "next strategic target".

The article is from fifteen months ago.

He may be right, but what about the timeline?  

I'll post a link to the interview when I get it.

interview with Seymour.

Very convincing.  I didn't listen to every bit, but did hear the part where military planners went to the white house saying they want the nuclear option off the table (Seymours words) and the "White house said no, leave it in."

More BBC commentary and Hersh quotes:

Sorry if this has been posted previously; just working my way along here this evening.

I think it's important that certain pieces of information get out to as wide an audience as possible, especially given the constraints the mainstream media works under. In my work I do a lot of research and information gathering from various sources. Often when one puts these pieces of information together, they almost become like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, and sometimes a picture begins to reveal itself.

Perhaps I should add that Seymour Hersh, does 'let himself of the leash' slightly when he gives interviews or speaks in public. His writings in the New Yorker are very restrained and sober in comparison. This is probably a good thing, as we're dealing with a really serious subject here. It's too important to get wrong.

I think he seemed concerned and rather worried about what he'd been hearing from very reputable sources with insider knowledge of the Iran 'debate' inside the JCS, the Pentagon and the Whitehouse. He had a lot to say, and so little time to say it. It's strange how this new debate about Iran, is almost overshadowing Iraq. Maybe this is an understandable human reaction, given the desperate and intractable nature of the Iraq disaster. One flails around for an answer, any answer to the problems one faces. One grasps at straws, and is ready and willing to fool oneself, and conjure a solution out of thin air; rather than face the grim, reality of defeat. I know it's a cliche, but I think history teaches us, that once our leaders begin to adopt this kind of mindset - tragedy can't be far off.

Hersh spoke quickly and had a lot more to say, but the interview wasn't particularly long. I think he said something along the lines of 'I've been around this town for forty years, and I've heard nothing like this level of concern, not ever.' Personally, I think what may be worrying people the most is the general 'atmosphere' in Washington, and that it reminds them uncannily of the build-up to the attack on Iraq. This time it's not mythic weapons of mass destruction, it's mythic nuclear weapons that are the excuse. After most of the same people are involved and still in charge. Perhaps the great strategic decision has already been taken to attack Iran, and that's what really frightens the generals? I've no hard evidence for any of this. Only carefully listening and reading the signs. It's when one begins to see 'patterns' emerging, that I become interested and start to think and draw conclusions. Which may be hopelessly wrong. I really hope Hirsh is wrong and his sources are wrong, and that we're not heading for war again. I hope I'm even more wrong than Hirsh is. Who wants to be 'right' about something like this?

Question:  what if Bush/Cheney are convinced that the Peak Oil Doomers are right?

What if they think that we will soon start seeing the net dieoff that Richard Duncan is predicting (2.1 million per week)?

What if they view themselves as super patriots?

What if they are determined to do "whatever it takes" to secure the oil supplies for the US?

You can't come out and say we are going to seize the oil fields in Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  

So, how would one go about it?

Question: What if they have sold you this pile of crap, hook line and sinker? What if their actions are targeted toward THEIR well-being and not yours? What would they tell you? Where do you think George Bush will be when this gig is up in 2008? In an auto plant working the line? No, he will probably be a top executive in some capacity at an investment firm like the Carlye Group. Tony Blair already has his position lined up.If you analyze the actions of George and Dick keeping in mind the monetary needs of themselves and their friends they are really not that hard to understand. Jeez, his old man is 80 years old and he is still out there pushing for an extra nickel. Unlike most of the posters on this site, I do not think that GW is nearly as stupid as he pretends to be (he is rather cunning in an extremely slimy sort of way).  
You start with a false flag.
I think this is pretty much how it is happening except the definition of "us" for Bush and Cheney is them and their rich friends.



What'd I tell ya?

This info has been public domain for years. Only the blind and the naive have managed not to come to the same conclusion years ago.

I have been predicting this for a couple of years.  What is new is that it seems that the military seems to be sending a very strong signal that they don't want to play ball.  

Time Magazine has a story out on a senior retired Marine general who said (paraphrased) that Iraq was a mistake typical of those who never had to send soldiers to battle and to bury the results.  

I can't help but wonder if these two stories were timed to come out together.

UPI:  Third ex-general calls for Rumsfeld ouster

WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- A third retired U.S. general has called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down over mistakes made in invading Iraq.

In an essay in this week's Time magazine, Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, a 3-star Marine Corps general, wrote that the decision to invade Iraq "was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results."

Newbold served as director of operations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2000 through the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the war in Afghanistan. He left military service in late 2002, the New York Times said.

His essay follows one on March 19, by another retired officer, Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who commanded the training of Iraqi security forces in the year after Baghdad fell. He wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times criticizing Rumsfeld's management of the war.

On April 2, Gen. Anthony Zinni, who previously led the military's Central Command, responsible for operations in the Middle East, said in a television interview that Rumsfeld and others should be held accountable for mistakes in Iraq and that he should step down.

If one of the technical experts here has a moment could they please explain why ethanol cannot be piped as MTBE could and does this mean extra mixing plant somewhere nearer the final user? Also how much ethanol is going to be required and is capacity in place to produce it? Thanks in advance from a "Learner"
I'm an "upstream" guy not a "downstream" guy, but as I understand it, while oil and water don't mix, ethanol and water do mix, so traces of water present in the pipeline will blend with ethanol, diluting and ruining the fuel.  Ethanol and gasoline are being blended at terminals.  Since the ethanol has to be trucked in, it is putting pressure on the trucking fleet.

The best move that we can make regarding ethanol is to remove the approximately 50¢ per gallon tariff on ethanol.  I just saw (but haven't read yet) an item on the Energy Bulletin regarding China making moves on Brazil's ethanol supply.  I wouldn't delay scrapping the tariff.

Thanks westtexas. Seems to me that anything that is vulnerable to water ingress has a problem when it is used in quantity. Underground storage tanks, deliveries in the rain, normal things like that which could be solved by pumping clean the bottom of the tank while the gas / diesel floated on top could be an unforseen (or just unconsidered) problem that I haven't seen mentioned before.
There's that, but also the fact that the water that the ethanol picks up will speed up corrosion of the pipelines. That is the biggest concern about mixing it at the refinery and sending it out by pipeline.


Completely right about the mixing of ethanol and water but wrong about China and Brazil.

This article indicates that Brazil can't really export much anyway.  

"However, all this talk of Brazil significantly expanding ethanol exports may be preliminary, said local traders and analysts.

For the coming year, as Brazil's own local ethanol market booms, analysts and traders caution that at best the country's ethanol exports are likely to stay level this year to the roughly 2.6 billion liters sold in 2005. At worst exports could fall as low as between 1 billion and 1.5 billion liters."

Every little bit helps but the US ethanol industry is the largest in the world and it would be better to focus on distribution within the US.

By the way, Pacific Ethanol, Archer Daniels Midland and the Andersons have been amazing stocks lately. Check them out.

From the article:
Although current high oil prices may be helping to drive much-needed crude investment, the rising cost of construction projects could curtail new energy production development, they warn.

Darn, that whole declining EROEI and infrastructure investment concept is just lost on the media. How about a reporter actually tries to connect the dots a little here?

Why can't they just say:

  1. The fields that are in production now are declining and require more energy to extract the remaining oil.
  2. People have been exploring the world for oil for a long time and most of the big fields were found long ago. The new fields that are being drilled to replace them have much less/dirtier oil that will require more energy to raise than the previous fields did and therefore will peak quicker.
  3. Due to relatively cheap energy prices over the last 25 years, the level of investment in new infrastructure has been low until recently.
  4. Almost all commodity supply development are somehow dependent on energy prices. Unless energy prices go down, there has to be significant demand destruction.
Just say that the cost of building anything tracks with the cost of energy.  Which is why it's important to get ahead of the game, before it turns into the Red Queen's race.

Below is a post I just did at TOD UK, in a discussion of whether the issue is "geological Peak" or "logistical Peak".  It is my view that these two things are being confused in many peoples mind, and we need to re-examine exactly how we use the term "Peak".  A logistical peak is not a new thing, and there have been many of those in industrial history.  A "Geological Peak" however, is quite different, and has been the way I understood the term "Peak Oil" to be used.  These remarks were made in relation to the words of the chief of exploration at Total, the French energy giant ("120 million barrels a day, never..."), who then began talking about logistical problems, insisting that the oil was indeed out there.  Read and comment, this to me is fundamental to understanding the current situation:

 Before we go any further, let's look at an amusing little post that a poster listed as Biffernon gave me in reply to my remarks about where the oil money is going.  These are photos of construction and boom times in Dubai, and please scroll through them, and think about the EROEI on these projects.

Now we are being told that there is not enough steel, workforce, or money to continue increasing oil production.  There seems to be a lot of resources in Dubai, but we will leave that, and allow me to play through my issue here,  that being a true understanding of the use of the term "Peak Oil".

Let us take a sample oil field, it doesn't matter where.  It is reasonably simple in construction, take if you like East Texas in the U.S. or Ghawar in Saudi Arabia.  You find it, you study it, you estimate it's reserves in place, you drill it.  Now, as you drill, you find out more how it behaves, you learn reservior pressures, and you get an even better idea of it's size and composition.  You adjust your early numbers, and look at what is ultimately recoverable and how much will someday be left in place, because you can never get the last drop.
A good geologist (a Colin Campbell or a M. King Hubbert) can give you a pretty good estimate of total quantity, and calculate depletion rate, and know that at half of Qauntity, the production will begin to fall.  In fact, sooner in many cases, if you do not introduce technology.  That technology has been mostly directional drilling, and the mother of all recovery methods, water injection.

But that only speeds the depletion, so if beginning point of drilling was year 1, and original halfway was year 50, with the field trailing off to almost year 1 production by year 100,  the introduction of water injection pushes production so that half way point moves to year 25, and the field trails down to year one production by year 75.  These numbers are of course examples only, and give a somewhat expected progression.

NOW, HERE IS THE IMPORTANT POINT:  This is not, repeat NOT a logistical problem.  You can keep adding drills, manpower, money, etc., and you will only speed the depletion, AND the production will NEVER COME BACK UP TO YEAR 50. Once you have drank a half a mug of beer, you will never get more than a half a mug out of that one (you can search for new mugs, but that one is over half gone!)  That is my understanding of Peak Oil.

Is it possible that our French friend is misunderstanding the term?
Remember, he is talking about new projects.  Is he talking about completely new fields?  Because if he is, THOSE FIELDS CANNOT HAVE REACHED PEAK INDIVIDUALLY.  Now, if there are not enough of them being found to cover the depletion rate world wide, that's a different issue, AND DECIDEDLY NOT a logistical, money, manpower, or machinery issue.  

And here's the clincher:  If he is talking about enough oil recoverable to match or exceed the depletion rate being out there, and just needing the investment to get it, then it is a logistical problem.

 But if he is saying "the oil's out there" but then saying the discovery rate is not matching the depletion rate, then for all practical purposes the oil is DECIDEDLY NOT out there in the needed volume.  He is simply incorrect.  There may be trillions of barrels, but what we need to know is this:  If you had 10%  more money, manpower, machinery, would oil production go up 10%?  If you had 20% more, would oil production go up 10%?  IF YOU HAD TWICE AS MUCH MONEY, MANPOWER, AND MACHINERY, HOW MUCH WOULD OIL PRODUCTION RISE?

Because that will set the definition:  On the day the oil people can shake their head and say, "I don't care if you gave me a thousand times more money, manpower, and machinery, the total production of crude oil will never be higher than it is today."  THAT IS TRUE GEOLOGICAL PEAK.

Right now, the public is very, very suspicious of the words of oil companies and governments.  The confused language, back tracking, mixed terms, and back biting by the industry assures us one thing:  almost no one is buying into the Peak Oil idea because even those who use the term use it in so many contradictory ways.  

IMO what may be going on is that the majors are afraid to admit that we are at a geological "Hubbert's Peak" because they are afraid of punitive taxation.  Instead, they are saying that they need every dime of cash flow in order to maintain and grow our oil supply.    

I do think that you need to differentiate between making money in the energy business and being able to increase the supply of oil.   I predict that nonconventional sources of oil will only serve to slow and not reverse the decline in total oil production.  As total oil production declines, vast sums of money will be made in the energy business, even as total oil production continues to decline.

The problem that companies like ExxonMobil are causing for the energy industry is that if there are "trillions of remaining oil reserves" (from all sources), then high prices must be a result of a conspiracy.  Thus, perhaps the new emerging story is that that majors can't increase production because of logistical bottlenecks.  I think OPEC is using the same story line.  To some extent it is true, but historically drilling programs on the wrong side of the 50% mark have not been able to do anything to reverse the decline.

One important point.  Logistical bottlenecks truly are a problem in the tar sands play, and in the whole nonconventional realm.

Texas post-peak drilling case history:

Texas oil production peaked in 1972.

Oil prices went up 1,000% from 1972 to 1980.

Rig count exploded.

Number of producing wells increased by 14% from 1972 to 1982.

Oil production fell by about 30% from 1972 to 1982.  

Post-peak, more oil wells = less oil production, as the large old oil fields roll over and go downhill.

My point is that the energy industry made money finding smaller fields, but the industry was not able to do anything to reverse the overall decline.  

Today, the majors have an acute problem (since they need to find large oil fields). The only thing that really makes sense for the large majors is nonconventional oil, but that is precisely where the logistical bottlenecks are so acute.

Going forward, I think that you will see smaller companies making a lot of money finding smaller fields that will do nothing to reverse the overall decline.  And the majors will focus on the nonconventional oil, which, in my opinion, will also not do anything to reverse the overall decline.

Saudi Arabia (at about 55% of Qt) is now where Texas was at in 1972 (at 54% of Qt), and I understand that the Saudis are trying to ramp up their drilling program as fast as possible.

You go into great detail with examples and who said what. I think the logistical peak has been fit for the geological peak. Of course all the oil is out there(shale as an extreme example; literary trilloins of barrels)and that is where EROEI comes into play.

Also I guess the oil majors made a few wrong calculations/assumptions in their asserted logistical peak.

Logistics only adds lag terms to the production profile. I think you are on the right track overall in your understanding. Production is a phased stochastic process; the only truly geological part of the process are the discoveries. All the rest of the delays or lag terms consist of fallow periods, construction periods, and maturation periods, i.e. logistics.  This basically describes how the discovery profile gets pushed to the right along the timeline.  In purely mathematical terms, it is not too hard to describe. Unfortunately, it is hit and miss trying to explain it in purely rhetorical terms. We end up missing half the people who just end up arguing over ambiguous meanings or can't make up for their lack of intuition.
I think your analysis is correct, and it is an important distinction.  But I would add that I think looking at it only from the geologic point of view may be overly simplistic.  I  think it ignores the problems that occur whenever you try to push any system to its maximum.  Sure, if everything were perfect you could get XXmbpd, but it never is.  I agree, however, that the Hubbert analysis was not intended to cover those effects.
How long until the hurricane season relly gets going?  

Perhaps more to the point, how far in advance of the hurricanes in 2005 did the water in the GOM get so warm?  Seemed all you had to do was fart in the GOM last year and it turned into a CAT4 it 2 days, so the water temp will be what I watch.  Does anyone know a site that tracks it?

There's the National Data Buoy Center:

Measures all kinds of things, including temperature.  

Pup55 at recommends this buoy.  

I just did a little digging into the buoy mentioned and according to the data that buoy recorded a temperature of 73.4 degrees on April 10, 2004.  2005 data was not available, it seems that the buoy was not transmitting data correctly for a two month span in 05.  Today the same buoy has a reading of 76.3 degrees.  The average between 2004 and 2006 for the month of April has 2006 running a consistent 3 degrees warmer.  So we may be in for a long, stormy summer in the gulf.
And the buoy to watch for new England is 44008- the South Nantucket buoy which is close to 70 degrees  West longitude and 40 degree North Latitude. If the sea temperature reaches above 70 degrees fahrenheit the hurricane possibilities for the Northeast become substantially greataer.

Thanks for these links folks - I just put them on my Yahoo homepage bookmarks list.  

It will be an interesting year in so many ways.  

August/September is my guess as for when TSHTF with regard to Iran, also prime hurricane season, a key election looming, and  gasoline could well have been in the mid $3 range for an extended period by then.  

Remember too that here in the midwest, we're off to a stronger-than-usual storm season, with predictions of more to come.  Hail and drought play havoc with the corn (ethanol) crop.

NOAA shows satellite data for SST (sea surface temperature) anomalies averaged over successive five day periods for the GoM & Caribbean at

You can also compare SST this period vs same period last year.  What I see is that the waters are warmer in GoM so far this year, than last year.  Could be an "interesting" hurricane season.

Les Lambert


This link works better.

Then click on the SST Anomalies button to get the 5-day averages menu.  

BTW, does anyone know a dataset that averages SST anomalies over longer time intervals than 5 days? Say, monthly?  The 5-day data are a bit noisy for seeing year-over-year trends.


There was something wrong with the other SST Anomaly link.  Try this one:

Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) always fluctuate and some days/weeks in some areas in the Atlantic Basin it is hotter than average while other times it is cooler.  But, the general trend this year appears to be hotter than average.

Tie that to the La Nina conditions that set in during this winter (La Nina typically brings increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin), and the signs are definitely pointing to another busy season.  The question is will the steering currents remain favorable for landfall like they were in 2004 and 2005 or do they shift and push storms out into the North Atlantic before they reach the US coast?

If it means anything, Dr. Gray and his colleague from Colorado State "predicted" a busier season this year than they "predicted" last year and in 2004 ( both 2004 and 2005 their prediction was considerably lower than what actually happened).

If you are curious about tropical cyclones in other parts of the world, here is a link to the Pacific and Australian Regions:

And more specifically here is what Australia saw this year:

As you can see there were 7 storms that reached "Major Cateogry" status (i.e. Cat. 3, 4, or 5).  Although only three of those major storms made landfall on the Australian Continent (though Cyclone Larry was bigger/stronger than Katrina at landfall).

And one more really cool image loop showing Cyclone Glenda forming on the west coast of Australia and blowing up into a Cat. 5 beast from an inland system in only a matter of a couple days (NOTE: You can also see Cyclone Floyd .

If it means anything, Dr. Gray and his colleague from Colorado State "predicted" a busier season this year than they "predicted" last year and in 2004 ( both 2004 and 2005 their prediction was considerably lower than what actually happened).

That's the same Dr. Gray who got into a kerfluffle over whether global warming was increasing hurricanes, isn't it?  He thinks it's just a natural cycle.  Maybe it's throwing his predictions off.  

I sent this email to the honorable Professor Gray on April 5. Being a Katrina evacuee and survivor, I have lost all patience with people whose business is predicated upon disasters of any sort.

   Professor Gray;

    You may now discontinue publishing your yearly storm predictions.  Just  
   let the media use 13 named storms and 7 hurricanes every year.  They will
   always be closerto measured fact than you were in 2005.  Your acceptable
   statistical variation must be up to 100% from mean value.  I should be
   ashamed to call myself a scientist and yet allow main stream media push
   me into making stupid, groundless calls with excuses such as "Insurance
   underwriters need to use this valuable information."  You are a media
    I am an economic geologist who lives in Katrina's path.  I predict that
   recent subsurface activity measured at the Denny Creek Seisograph Station
   heralds imminent and catastrophic eruption along the whole of the
   Laramide thrust zone and specifically portends the explosion of
   Yellowstone Caldera.  You'd better watch your arrogant academic ass.


Twilight, I took this from Jeff Masters' latest blog entry: Note that compared to this time last year, GOM SST's are much higher, but SSTs in the Caribbean are lower.

From the Washington Times:

Gas prices and discontent rising in Iraq

WASHINGTON -- In what is seen as an unavoidable trade-off, Iraq's acting government is risking public anger by ramping up gasoline prices to boost revenues and reduce a gas-smuggling trade that is helping to fund the insurgency.

    Heavily subsidized since the days of Saddam Hussein, the price of gas has risen from about 5 cents a gallon to 10 cents a gallon, and is expected to rise dramatically in the coming months, despite the threat of street protests and other signs of discontent.

    Robert Silverman, director of the State Department's Office of Iraq Economic Affairs, told an audience at Rice University's James A.Baker III Institute for Public Policy on March 30 that he expected the price to reach 50 cents a gallon by the end of the year.

    Several violent demonstrations greeted an announcement in December that prices would be boosted, and it is not clear how the further price increases will be received in a country where driving is popular and the average annual income is about $1,500.

    But the gas subsidies have placed a huge burden on the Iraqi treasury, amounting to $8 billion a year in lost revenues, or 30 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. U.S. congressmen have also complained about U.S. taxpayer funds being used to purchase gas in neighboring countries for sale in Iraq at such low prices.

OPEC March 2006 output drops: ;EDATE=

"Even with oil prices well above $60/barrel, OPEC doesn't appear to be
trying to make up for the fall in Nigerian volumes, which supports the view
that OPEC-10 production is constrained around the level of the 28 million
b/d official ceiling," said John Kingston, global director of oil at

Hello TODers,

In response to Twilight's worrying about the upcoming GoM hurricane season: I am reposting an earlier blurb that got absolutely NO RESPONSE!  It this because of the unacknowledged mindset of:

"We see the rising floodwaters, secretly hoping the others drown first."   ???

I think a lot of good, low cost ideas can be emailed to FEMA and other national and smaller orgs to help mitigate the next hurricane season.

For example, requiring a certain number of gas-stations to pool some money to buy a small generator on a trailer, so that if the area grid goes down, this genset can power a gas-stations pumps till the tanks are empty, then quickly be moved to the next gas-station, and so on.

A modest subsidy to scooter manufacturers to maintain a 10% larger stock than normal, so when gas price skyrocket: those wishing to switch to these vehicles will be able to find a ready-to-buy supply.

Any more ideas?
totoneila on Sat Apr 08 at 3:58 PM EST

Hello TODers,
If the CNN Moneywatch article, which speculates that an unforeseen event, such as another Katrina GoM Hurricane, could cause a gasoline superspike to $6,7/gal or more:

  1. How do you think the unwashed masses will react?

  2. What proactive measures can we email to our pols to mitigate this possibility?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

You should really listen to this podcast, about Bombay, and "Maximum Cities."

It seems that Bombay had 36 inches of rain in 24 hours a little while back.  If I recall correctly, in a mega-city made up very much of "unwashed masses" ... something like 150 people died?  The thing is, they didn't expect the government to show up, and so they just rescued each other.

There are darker stories in this podcast from other times in India's recent history.  There were bread sellers set afire ...

I think the trick is to remember that while people can obviously do very bad things, they can also come together and save each other.

When we focus too much on the bad part the decline, the break down ... we just set the stage.  We reduce the common vision and expectation that we will all just make it work.

We had close to that in just a day a couple years ago.  Lots of flooding (dead cattle) but no lives lost.

We are, at least, above sea level.

Prepare for some specific imagined eventuality and some other thing will happen. So much for optimism about "being prepared".
  1.   How about when a hurricane is bearing down on a region, the government will insure and back auto dealers to loan ownerless cars to licensed drivers without vehicles.  This reduces damaged property and save insurance companies and consumers money as well as evacuating more people.
  2.   Set up a preregistry for families to communicate with.  An electronic database (bloglike) where after a disaster they can post comments easily found by relatives and friends as to location and needs.
  3.   Before each hurricane season have families/churches etc across the US register for available sheltering in the event of large disasters. Fema could then (or red cross) transport victims to partnered volunteer hosts.  This would not just be for hurricanes but other disasters to.
  4.   Have a large works project like the ones in the deppression ready to spring into action after disasters and do other "upkeep" work off season (levees dams forestry whatever)
One practical alternative/supplement is to create and fund a "Strategic Rail Reserve" to supplement the SPR.

During WW II, a massive switch was made from auto to rail in a month's time, to save gasoline for the war effort.

Today, due to FTA policy, every US Urban Rail system has "just enough" rolling stock.  One can get extra pax aboard by going to near "crush loads" (studies show that people refuse to baord at about 85% to 90% crush loads).  But this will not be enough if we have a major oil supply interruption.

IMO, every US Urban Rail system should study the likely demand if, say, The Islamic Republic of Arabia replaces the Saudis, and judge how many railcars would be needed at, say, 75% of crush load.  And then order enough rail cars to cover the potential demand.

I noticed this fall, that DART (Dallas) was running their rail at very close to capacity.  They had a cost underrun on one project and got FTA permission to use the funds for 3 more LRVs (Light Rail Vehicles).

We could stretch out the SPR for a few more days with enough rail cars, and at lower cost (IMHO) than just buying more oil.  And the rail cars would keep saving oil after the last drop of the SPR was squeezed out.

It will be a shame to not use what we have in an emergency.

This is the same DART rail that was debated and delayed for what - twenty, thirty years? and still a bone of contention in some areas.

A few years after they actually get it running and lookie there - running at capacity.  Imagine that.

(I grew up in North Dallas and remember lots of rhetoric, probably goes back to the Nixon administration.  Of course there WAS an interurban railroad that ran from Dallas to near McKinney that was abandoned for a freeway years and years ago)

I just want to throw out my belief on what the future holds, and see what others think of it.

My take on peak oil is that it will cause a crisis, possibly severe, but it is not, by itself, a civilization ending threat.  There is a lot of oil left, and also a lot of coal.  We can burn carbon based fossil fuels for a while yet (50 more years ?  more ?).

However, peak oil isn't the only crisis coming in the near future.  We will soon have peak natural gas as well.  Climate change effects are only now starting to really assert themselves, and will get progressively worse.  And of course, peak gas makes peak oil more difficult to deal with, and switching to other fossil fuels like coal, even if it postpones the problem of a liquid fuel deficit, will exacerbate global warming.  The confluence of the problems makes finding a wholistic solution much more difficult than dealing with any of them individually.

Finally, I view all of these potential crises (peak oil, peak gas and global warming, among others) as all being symptoms of our demand for economic growth.  Trying to grow the world economy 2-4% every year inevitably hits the wall, where the finite earth just can't sustain any further growth.  Even if we can find solutions to the coming problems of peak oil, peak gas, and climate change, we'll run into something else (lack of water? arable land?) in short order.

There is nothing wrong with short term fixes, of course, as they keep us from disaster for now and buy us some time.  So by all means, let's change our lightbulbs, car pool and turn down our thermostats.  But my strong feeling is the only way to fundamentally deal with our predicament is to radically change society and aim for sustainability, not growth.

Unfortunately, I don't have any clue how to get from where we are to a sustainable society, or even what a sustainable society might look like.

Congratulations, you've nailed it!

By admitting that you do not know how to get from where we are to where we need to be in say, fifty years time, you are way ahead of most of us. Clearly a world where population and use of fossil fuels and pollution keep expanding exponetially cannot go on indefinitely, and indeed, cannot go on much longer.

Here are some further things to think about:
How should income be distributed in a steady-state society, where the total income will not increase faster than the rate of technological advances?

How can population be stabilized? And a very important connected issue: Should societies allow their populations to increase through net immigration? And if not, how can migration from poor societies to rich ones be stopped?

How can we end the tragedy of the commons through "mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon" [Garrett Hardin's phrase]?

With greatly increased amounts of leisure from technological advances, how can people be educated to use this leisure constructively?

And the toughest and possibly oldest question of all: How can we find leaders of courage, wisdom and integrity--and how can we keep them from being corrupted by power?

Of course, all of these questions are mutually interdependent. And if a society fails badly at answering any one of them, then TSHTF eventually--and maybe pretty soon.

How can population be stabilized? And a very important connected issue: Should societies allow their populations to increase through net immigration? And if not, how can migration from poor societies to rich ones be stopped?

You have an herculean task before you. You must first convince the stupid and the wasteful that it is not in their best interest to reproduce. Currently we are confronted with a situation in which those least worthy of reproduction are most inclined to do it.;_ylt=AqgsNsYEgm2_NyIahzlT43 Gs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3YWFzYnA2BHNlYwM3NDI-

And stop talking about the problems of immigration before you solve the underlying problem: imports of the non-people kind. Sure, close the borders to people. But it would not be fair to do so unless you also closed the borders to imported goods. Of course this would completely change the USA-nian way of life. I don't think that most people would be willing to accept it.

How can we end the tragedy of the commons through "mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon" [Garrett Hardin's phrase]?

It is not necessary to spread the genes. Only the memes must prevail. A worldwide one-child only policy for one hundred years would work.

First you must construct a society in which education and environmental sensitivity are esteemed. Judging from the quality of the posts here this will be nearly impossible. I see lots of words but very limited action.

And the toughest and possibly oldest question of all: How can we find leaders of courage, wisdom and integrity--and how can we keep them from being corrupted by power?

That's easy: you first identify the genes and cirumstances for ambition and propensity towards corruption and then you "randomly" poison the water supply so that the corrupt and ambitious are eliminated.

you first identify the genes and cirumstances for ambition and propensity towards corruption and then you "randomly" poison the water supply so that the corrupt and ambitious are eliminated.

Then you will have to eliminate the entire human race. Everyone can be corrupted, it's just a matter of how much will it take?
Excellent point!

Much of Plato's "Republic" is devoted to trying to figure out what it would take to prevent leaders being corrupted by power. Indeed, the whole book is one long thought experiment (as opposed to being an actual recommendation for what government should look like, as found in "The Laws" by Plato) and Plato was discouraged to the point of requiring that the philosopher-kings never be allowed to touch gold or silver, never be allowed to own property, never be married [in a conventional sense], and not even be allowed to know who their own children were.

That Old Bright Dude (OBD) was onto something.

I find it interesting that the Founding Fathers of the U.S.A. were quite familiar with Plato and the problems he posed, and they were also aware of how the Roman republic tried to answer these concerns--and how it failed.

I think peak oil is (broadly speaking) true, and near.  It isn't however the only think that is true, or even near.  This podcast on the future of telephony provides a little contrast.  Even if boxes become increasinly expensive and difficult to ship, it looks like bits are going to continue to get cheaper and easier:

_I beg you, TOD_

We all know that everyone disagrees about everthing,
but you guys really need to make your own primer.

I don't mean the basics like the wiki primer but
a data primer that has a list of countries,
reagions and fields that you all think have peaked
and a list of countries, regions and fields that
have more future production.  And a few tables that
show the top 50 producers and comsumers countries for
oil and gas (and coal).  And of course, your guesses
to the world's acutal production and consumption.

Just a snap-shot of your educated and researched reality.

I know you all have real jobs and are very busy
but it would be super fun if we could have
a user poll each week for the peaks and valleys
in the "bumpy plateau" and user polls for highs
and lows in weekly oil prices.

Or even a html form where, instead of angry consumers
submiting error reports, we could submit our oil
guess and you all post the summary at the end of
the week.

I just want newcommers to understand faster.

Hedge your gasoline or heating oil consumption, buy/sell USO.

Interesting, today was the first day of trading on this fund, which is designed to trade like a stock but to track the price of oil. Sounds like a good idea, but answer me this: why did USO fall by 23 cents today when May oil was up $1.35 and June, $1.47? What kind of oil tracking is it when oil has a big move up and the ETF drops in price? They're not getting off to a very good start from what I can see. If I'm "buying oil", I want the price to go up when oil prices go up.

Another thing about this fund is that you don't really get any leverage, so you won't make much money even if oil spikes to $80 or $100. For Peak Oilers I think a better investment is oil call options on the futures market. You can pick these up in units of 1000 barrels for generally $1 to $2 per barrel, getting an out-of-the money option. So it's a couple thousand dollar investment and won't break the bank. Then if oil goes above your strike price, say $80 or $100, the profit potential is almost unlimited. You can make ten times your investment or more, easily.

The down side is you can lose all of your investment if oil never hits your strike price. So you shouldn't do this if you can't afford to lose a couple thousand dollars. But you can set the expiration up to six years out, so you have several years to get the price move you're hoping for. You have to be right about oil prices, of course - but one thing that most Peak Oilers have in quantity is confidence.

For Peak Oilers I think a better investment is oil call options on the futures market

For REAL peak oilers, how about put options on everthing else.

What kind of oil tracking is it when oil has a big move up and the ETF drops in price?

The spot price today spiked higher at the open and basically trended down to the close. Presumably, USO will be just as an effective tracker as the gold ETF, GLD.

The down side is you can lose all of your investment if oil never hits your strike price

Tis the difference between hedging and speculation. I'm just interested in fixing my price of gasoline at the pump for the next 12 months. If crude spikes to $100, the ETF profits pay for an increased pump prices. Conversely, if crude spikes down to $40, the ETF losses offset the decreased pump price. It is a simplified way for Joe and Joan SixPack to fix some or all of their future gasoline purchases.

Thanks for the advice...I've bought puts before, but not oil futures.  Might do it, though.
There is a small broker fee included in the orginal price of the shares for the first buyers:

Subsequently, you should expect the ETF to track very closely to its current asset value:

The WSJ article writes "A shortage of commodities also means that machinery such as cranes are in short supply..."

Would like to see some graphs of other commodities then oil. If we may have passed peak silver several years ago (silver is  very important for electrical infrastructure) I would love someone to show us. The same for copper.

BTW the "obscure Nigerian rebel group" (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND) is actually a coalition of previously seperated local interest groups. The are well organised, well funded, and well armed (in random order). Sorry, no internet reference, a great article on it in the paper edition of April 6 of
But it comes down to this:
-The younger generation is tired of negotiations
-They stopped competing and now work together
-They take hostages so their message come through
-No political objectives, as politics corrupts. Just redistribution of wealth
-The battle is being fought not just in the delat, it is being fought by succesfull businessmen, and oil smugglers.
-Activists become militants, no outlook for improvement in the situation

And Bonny light is of such good quality!

The article in Dutch, and behind registration, is here

I don't know if anyone's ever tried to estimate reserves for other commodities the way they have with oil, but Jerome a Paris wrote an article last week you might find interesting:

Kaboom: Peak copper, superspike prices, oil and US debt

He's got some price graphs for other commodities.

There's something very weird about what's going on there.  It seems really important but not trivial to understand.

It seems extremely implausible that we'd be at "peak everything" at the same time.  You would expect the amount of various different commodities (relative to human desire for them) would be somewhat random and they'd all peak at different times.

I can only think of three plausible theories for what's going on.

A) One is that energy is such a large factor in the cost structure of these other extractive industries that the constraints on energy supply are preventing them from expanding to meet demand.  The problem with this explanation is that I didn't think that energy was that big a factor that other extractors wouldn't be able to afford lots of it given the enormous prices for their output.  I mean if energy was X% of their costs before, but now it's tripled in price, but the revenues have tripled too, then it's still X% of their costs and (1-X) is now three times as big and they should be rolling in dough and able to do all the capacity expansion they want.

B) The second is that the whole thing is a bubble - Hedge funds (or whoever) are speculatively driving the price up beyond the fundamentals in a fit of irrational exuberance.  The problem with this explanation is that it ought to result in large quantities of the various commodities getting stored somewhere, which would be visible.  That isn't happening at least in oil (I know there's been some stock build, but it's only a few days to a week of usage - not exactly tulip territory).

C) The third is that all commodities are in the same situation of long under-investment that the oil industry has had, and so they have all hit the short-term capacity constraints at the same time, and there's a lot of price feedbacks that make fixing the problem hard - the steel guys need oil and copper, the copper guys need oil and steel, the oil guys need steel and copper, and so on.  So prices spiral upwards.  The problem with this explanation is that the percentage increase in production that demand is requesting is not very large at all by historical standards and it seems like it was eminently predictable.  The Chinese have been doing this boom thing for quite a long time.

So I'm puzzled.  All this is very much in need of more quantitative exploration but unfortunately I don't have time right now.  My best guess is that there's some mixture of A) and C), and while B) might well happen in the future, it hasn't been too much of a factor so far.  But I'm not satisfied with that theory.

I think that China and India were unexpected.  India is newer to high growth rates and many (including me) expected China to slow down due to infrastructure, political and other constraints.

The US housing boom is also consuming a LOT of copper (takes more for a McMansion than a bungalow), and this was not fully predicted 5 or 7 years ago.

Just too much demand too quickly.

This is what makes sense to me.  Stuart's option "C", combined with very rapid and sustained growth in consumption.  Long term the response may vary with the specific commodity - where it is on the depletion curve - but short term they will all look like they're in the same condition.
But if option "C" explains copper and nickel and zinc, why not oil?
Here's steel prices (this is scrap steel, but I assume the various steel prices move more-or-less together):

Steel is an interesting experiment in that there's absolutely no question of ever running out of it (crustal abundance of Fe is 5.6%).  The pattern looks pretty different - there was a big run-up through the end of 2004, and then prices dropped (though they have partially recovered since).

Also, there is no sign of production slowing down of steel:

If the bottleneck explanation was the main thing going on, seems like it would apply to steel too, no?

That's just restating the issue - can production of any of these commodities be increased to compensate or not?  With oil, many of us feel it cannot.

In a grossly oversimplified way, it's analogous to an electric circuit run by a battery.  Assume a battery with finite charge, a resistor, and a variable load.  If you try to increase the current supplied to the load, the resistor will limit what can be supplied.  But that tells you nothing about how much charge is left in the battery.  

I hear industry people say this all the time (China and India are a surprise), but I just can't see how it makes any sense.  Here (from this piece) is the logarithm of oil consumption in those countries:

Oil consumption of China and India as reported by BP Statistical Review of World Energy, together with exponential fits to the data extrapolated to 2025.  Logarithmic scale on the y-axis.

I can't believe that oil market analysts can't make that extrapolation.  If we look at the more short term factors, here's the growth rates in oil consumption:

Annual percentage changes in oil consumption of China and India as reported by BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Recent growth in Indian consumption is absolutely nothing to write home about.  Ok, 2004 growth in China was high, but that followed several years of low growth, and 2004 is certainly not a massive unpredictable outlier - it's just a bit higher than previous high growth years over the last few decades.  And all these commododity price run ups started back in 2002, and really gained steam in 2003.  In those years, Chinese oil consumption growth was well within the historical range.

So what's the big surprise?  This level of Chinese and Indian consumption has been quite obviously coming for well over a decade.

Stuart, economies, and especially developing economies, are not geological structures but dynamic and unstable systems.

Steady consistent growth for long periods is a true oddity among the world's economies.

Yes, this was NOT seen coming.  I would have bet that China would have stumbled by now (remember the Asian financial panic ?).

Actually, growth rates tend to fluctuate about a pretty stable long-term average that doesn't change very often.  The China and India graphs are not atypical.

I disagree. Look at the major long term fluctauations in growth for the major economies of Germany, Japan, the Asian "Tigers" before China & India became dominant, Brazil.
Matthew Simmons predicted China's growth.  It is what led him to the concept of peak oil.  He started wondering if there was enough oil in the world to bring China to the level of 1960 Japan, let alone modern America.  
Exponential growth can sneak up on you. Even though it looks straight on a log graph, in reality it starts off inconsequential, then it becomes noticeable, then it becomes dominant. And this transition can happen pretty quickly.

In terms of overall world demand, China and India were nothing, a few years ago. Now suddenly they are beginning to dominate growth. This is a sudden transition and in fact a paradigm shift for production industries. They previously had one growth rate and now suddenly have to shift to a larger one. That's the nature of a curve which sums a slow and a fast growing exponential.

BTW JDH did offer an alternative explanation of the commodity price explosion in terms of low interest rates:

I don't know if that story really holds water either. At this point it seems to be a mystery.

The real issue from the PO perspective is whether the cause is entirely a matter of causation from high energy prices to high commodity prices; or whether some common underlying factor is leading to both. The first case fits into the classic PO scenario; the second undermines it to some extent. It's an important issue in terms of getting a handle on the likelihood of a near term production peak. The fact that nobody has a good explanation should be seen as a warning that we may not really know what is going on.

(I think we are underestimating how oil prices will have to go to dampen demand.)

Copper, Zinc Climb to Records in London Amid Supply Concern

April 10 (Bloomberg) -- Copper rose to a record, leading a rally in metals as investors bet returns on commodities will beat those on stocks and bonds. Zinc climbed to an all-time high and nickel jumped to a level not seen since 1989.

Copper rose after the government failed to intervene in a 17-day strike at Grupo Mexico SA's La Caridad mine, the nation's second-largest copper mine, while a leak at a Lonmin Plc platinum plant in South Africa disrupted production. Rising demand from hedge and mutual funds has helped drive copper 79 percent higher in the past 12 months. Zinc has more than doubled.

``The demand story is very robust,'' Alfred Wong, who helps manage $12 billion at UOB Asset Management, said by phone from Singapore today. ``We are quite upbeat.''

Copper for delivery in three months rose $185, or 3.2 percent, to $5,910 a metric ton at 4:18 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange, after earlier reaching a record $5,940.50. Zinc jumped $99, or 3.5 percent, to $2,910 a ton after touching $2,927. Nickel climbed 3.6 percent to $17,450 a ton, after reaching $17,525, the highest since March 1989.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper for May delivery climbed 5.35 cents, or 2 percent, to $2.694 a pound ($5,939 a ton) at 11:20 a.m., after reaching a record $2.71. A futures contract is an obligation to buy or sell a commodity at a fixed price for a specific delivery date.

The work stoppage at Grupo Mexico's La Caridad copper mine continued over the weekend with no intervention from the Mexican government, spokesman Juan Rebolledo said yesterday. The strike, over improved conditions and new contracts, began March 24.

Commodity Rally

The Goldman Sachs Commodity Index, which includes copper, zinc and gold, has advanced 20 percent in the past year, double the gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index of stocks. Benchmark U.S. Treasuries have lost investors about 1.6 percent this year, according to Merrill Lynch & Co. indexes.

Shares of mining companies rose after gains in metals. BHP Billiton, the world's largest miner, rose 17 pence, or 1.5 percent, to 1,136.50 pence in London after reaching a record high last week. Anglo American, the world's second-largest, rose 2.8 percent to 2,402 pence.

Phelps Dodge Corp., the world's third-largest copper producer, rose $0.40, or 0.5 percent, to $84.36 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Phoenix-based Phelps Dodge announced last week a third special dividend in five months as part of plan to return $2 billion to shareholders after record earnings in 2005.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Alcoa Inc., the world's largest aluminum producer, is expected to report today a jump in first-quarter profit because of higher prices. Aluminum, which reached a 17-year high of $2,678.10 a metric ton on the LME Feb. 7, today rose $48, or 1.9 percent, to $2,588 a ton.

Economic Growth

The booming economies of China and India are stoking demand for the raw materials needed for factories, cars and appliances. China's economy expanded 9.9 percent last year and is headed for similar growth this year.

The International Monetary Fund said last week it may raise its forecast for global economic growth this year. The world economy may expand 4.9 percent, it said April 3. It forecast on Sept. 21 that growth would be 4.3 percent.

``For the first time in 15 years, all major economies are growing together in both North America, China and Europe,'' said John Kemp, an analyst at Sempra Metals in London.

Kemp forecasts copper may rise to as high as $7,000 a ton this year. Gary Lampard, an analyst at Canaccord Capital Inc., Canada's largest independent brokerage, increased his forecasts for base metals prices. The gains are being ``heavily influenced by speculative activity,'' he wrote in a report today.

Investment Funds

Fund investments in commodities are forecast by Barclays Capital to climb by more than a third to $140 billion this year. Merrill Lynch said Feb. 8 money manages should invest directly in commodities rather than energy and mining stocks to take advantage of rising commodity prices.

Copper inventory monitored by the LME has dropped for six consecutive trading days, shedding 8.3 percent to 111,800 tons. That's less than three days of global consumption. Zinc stockpiles have plunged 53 percent in the past year to 267,650 tons, equal to less than 10 days of global consumption.

Nickel gained amid disruption to the building of Inco Ltd.'s Goro project in New Caledonia. Goro, due to produce 60,000 tons a year by late 2007, is being hampered by protests by anti-mine activists. Investors also are stocking up before a labor contract expires at Inco's main operations in Canada in May, Maqsood Ahmed, an analyst at Calyon Corporate and Investment Bank in London, said today in an interview.

A three-month strike at Inco's Ontario mine from June 2003 sent prices to more than a three-year high that year.

Inventory of nickel fell for the seventh straight trading day. It has declined 10 percent in the past seven days to 29,430 tons, LME data shows. That's less than eight days of global consumption.

Platinum rose $29, or 2.7 percent, to $1,094.50 an ounce in London, after earlier reaching $1,095.50. Prices, up 27 percent in the past year, rose today after a furnace in South Africa closed.

I think you are about right with your A + C theories.  In the metals mining world, profitability was discouragingly tough to come by for many years, until just recently.  Mining companies have only recently started to reopen mines and expand production, and are still reluctant to expand quickly, for fear that the boom with end.  Prudent managers have kept their jobs during the bad years, and they don't want to swing for the fences.  

Unlike the oil world, as represented here, there is not a serious concern for future supplies in metals, just yearning for immediate supplies at yesterday's prices.  Commodity prices, including oil, have lagged inflation for quite a long period.  It is shocking that the producers might want to actually make some dough.

I think A) and C) explain why supply has difficulties to meet the skyrocketing demand, hence the price boom.

On the demand side we now have China, India and trillions of debt created US dollars fueling the commodity boom. All this money has to go somewhere and after the housing market and the stock market got overinvested, the only one left was the commodity market.

I don't think we have "peak everything" in the geological sense - it is just overstretched and bottlenecked production.

Holy Cow, three coins to Stuart Staniford!!

<C) The third is that all commodities are in the same situation of long under-investment that the oil industry has had, and so they have all hit the short-term capacity constraints at the same time, and there's a lot of price feedbacks that make fixing the problem hard - the steel guys need oil and copper, the copper guys need oil and steel, the oil guys need steel and copper, and so on.  So prices spiral upwards.  The problem with this explanation is that the percentage increase in production that demand is requesting is not very large at all by historical standards and it seems like it was eminently predictable.>

This is not to say that "Peak" whatever is not real, but it is being wildly exacerbated by the idiotic 1990's tech boom, and the corporate houses of cards that were Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Conseco, and now add in Calpine.

That giant sucking sound was billions and billions of dollars that were NOT invested in basic industrial needs.  Then, in one last vain attempt to double down and get it back, and in a bid to spite our administration for it's "gung ho" policies, we poured more on the "Euro bubble" fantasy, until we realised, after the various national referendum there, that the "EU" was a mental construct that existed in name only.  It has no real binding legal status in even the founding nations, and even the richest and strongest members ignore the already paper thin "memoranda's of understanding" which supposedly put budgetary control on member nations.  The whole thing was and is a hoax to suck outside money into a non-entity.

Now, we realize that for a decade and a half, we have invested in NOTHING in the way of that old, ugly, industrial and outdated stuff called "heavy industry"  (what self respecting young investor wants to admit they skipped the glamour world of the internet and genetics to invest in coppor or iron ore?  

Now, we are trying to replenish 15 years neglected investment in 3 years!
Whether we can get it built in time is the question.

Actually, if 'peak' is defined as not enough supply compared to demand for an extended period of time, it may not be such a surprise, since just about everyone uses the same model for industrial development. Currently, something like a 1/3 of the world's population lives in societies undergoing fairly rapid industrializing, where in the past it was much smaller numbers, both absolutely and relatively, and the process involved much longer time spans.

Partially, though, part of this idea of 'peak' everything is  influenced by oil - some finite resources are used up, such as fuels, and some tend to be used over thousands of years. Though only a guess, I would assume most gold, silver, and copper has been recycled for generations, and the idea of 'peak' gold or silver is a market condition essentially, not really the same as peak oil. Admittedly, if you live in America, you might think metals are just thrown away, but most of the world treats scrap as a valuable resource (notice that the Japanese bought American scrap while conquering the American auto market in the 70s and 80s - and in Germany, when buildings are demolished, they always pull the rebar, wiring, fittings, etc. out - and then the concrete itself is recycled).

But now we wander off the reservation.

But in the sense that previously, hundreds of millions of people had telephones connected with copper which took decades to create as the installed base, now a growing number of billions of people have cell phones requiring batteries, chargers, and the electrical infrastructure to support them, it is not a suprise to see an 'economic peak' - this is what anyone would expect, actually, in the normal functioning of market mechanisms (yes, including speculation, and various political considerations). Prices rise, innovation/substitution are fostered, adjustments made, and expectations are placed into line with reality, either through price or policy or a combination of both.

The problem is more with the metaphor than the facts.

Currently metals are being redistributed to the highest bidder, to an extent from the former haves to the current have-nots - East German rail steel is now avidly bought by the Chinese for example, where in 1992, nobody knew what to do with it except to park endless lines of railcars on it. This is not necessarily peaking in the sense of not having any metal. Metals tend to be recycled - it is generally only in the sense of human demand that metals peak, not in the sense of no longer existing.

Peak oil is different on a number of levels, but somehow, many people don't seem to quite understand this.

And everything 'peaking' certainly fits into a doomer perspective about the end being nigh. It just doesn't necessarily fit various facts into a valid picture, I believe. The markets are peaking in terms of metals (and yes, the storehouses do seem to be emptying out - demand does seem higher than production, no question, until demand is balanced by price, of course, including enhanced metal recycling/reuse), while the world is peaking in terms of available liquid hydrocarbons which can be pumped from the earth, transported, and then in the main permanently destroyed creating energy. (Well, byproducts are created - but that is another subject too.)

Hello TODers,

I have mentioned before that people should google Africa periodically to get an idea of what might be happening here in the future.  To give you an idea, here is a recent example on Zimbabwe:,2172,125382,00.html

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, has urged supporters to disregard
the country's laws April 10, 2006, 07:15

Morgan Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, has urged supporters to disregard the country's laws, Harare's Herald newspaper reported today. Its website said he told a MDC rally in Bulawayo the party was mobilising its members for a mass action.

"Elections are not the exclusive option available to us to be in government," Tsvangirai said. "When I come back to Bulawayo, I want to see you mobilising yourselves, street by street, village by village, house by house; talking about what we must do". Tsvangirai told supporters to forget about the Public Order and Security Act.

"Laws are meant to be broken if you are in a revolution, especially if the law is bad," he said. "What we need from you is your courage and your support for the direction which we will take. When the whistle blows, you should know what to do.". Tsvangirai's calls came in the wake of government warnings that civil disobedience would not
be tolerated as it could lead to bloodshed. - Sapa

"I am prepared to die in order to liberate the people of Zimbabwe from Zanu-PF's misrule," the head of a powerful faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was quoted as saying.

"Who are you, Mugabe to talk about the death or life of an
individual? Are you God?" he told thousands of supporters on

Tsvangirai recently promised to lead peaceful mass action against the authorities, in comments that provoked an angry response from the 82-year-old Zimbabwean president. Mugabe, in power here since 1980, compared the MDC leader to a cowardly hunting dog and said Tsvangirai was dicing with death.

Life Expectancy in Zimbabwe Lowest in World; 37 Years for Men, 34 for Women
April 09, 2006 12:02 AM EST by Jim Kouri

Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is lower than any other nation in the world, with neither men nor women reaching 40, according to a new United Nations report. Women have an average life expectancy of 34 years while men on average do not live past 37, it said.

The World Health Organization said women's life expectancy had fallen by two years in the last 12 months, according to a BBC story.  According to the BBC's Africa editor, David Bamford, the latest figures are extraordinary for a country like Zimbabwe, which until 20 years ago, had a relatively high standard of living for Africa.

Zimbabwe groans under world's highest inflation rate
(Reuters) 8 April 2006

HARARE - Zimbabweans woke up on Saturday to news of an inflation figure that confirmed life in a country already on its knees is getting worse.

The cost of bread rose by 60 per cent overnight after the southern African country's official statistics agency announced that the annual inflation rate -- already the highest in the world -- was heading towards 1,000 percent.

Zimbabwe's main state media tucked the bad news in the middle of bulletins dominated by what critics call "useless speeches" by President Robert Mugabe's government officials.

Zimbabwe: That Vicious Circle
Financial Gazette (Harare) EDITORIAL
April 5, 2006

The reasons for this state of affairs are pretty obvious -- lack of forward planning, upside-down priorities and certain government policies that have no basis in realities whatsoever.
My comments:  Now read this posting in reverse to see if it predicts an accurate decline path for America: idiot leaders, rampant inflation, declining life expectancy,

Will America change course to Powerdown?  The recent Iran thread suggests our leaders prefer the 'Nuke their Ass--I want Gas' option.

From the movie,"3 Days of the Condor":
[Turner]: Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?

[Higgins]: No. It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In 10 or 15 years-- food, plutonium, and maybe even sooner. What do you think the people are going to want us to do then?

[Turner]: Ask them.

[Higgins]: Now now. Then. Ask them when they're running out. Ask them when there's no heat and they're cold. Ask them when their engines stop. Ask them when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. Want to know something? They won't want us to ask them. THEY'LL WANT US TO GET IT FOR THEM.

"We see the rising floodwaters, secretly working to make the others drown first".

I would hope we prefer Voluntary Population Control & Powerdown instead.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hi Bob,

A "national character" is very stable.  We are very fortunate that our character has developed to support, trust, and maintain market, government, and civil institutions.

If we hit a too-sudden peak oil, or anything else, we should step up to defend those tendencies ... rather than step down to become Africa.

Bob, Zimbabwe is much more a case study in how a totally incompetent and corrupt Government can hose things up than a case study in absolute resource scarcity.
Aw yes June 6th 2006 in Iran (666) What a coinsidence.  A sequence of events that although accidental seems to have been planned or arranged.


Sorry, no can do.  We go on vacation at the end of June, so they have to wait until after that.  It may be our last one.
Couple of news snippets I was sent over the weekend that I haven't seen discussed:

Ibrahim al-Muhanna, adviser to the Saudi oil minister, reiterated the kingdom's plan to raise oil production capacity to 12.5 million b/d by 2009. Current capacity is around 11.3 million b/d thanks to this year's commissioning of 300,000 b/d from the Haradh development.

But Muhanna also pressed the case for producers being able to count on future demand. "We in Saudi Arabia plan ahead, yet we do not want to create additional oil capacity which might not be required in the future," he said.

This is what I have been saying. Part of the problem right now is that the supply/demand situation was miscalculated a few years ago. Producers don't want to bring too much supply on the market and make prices plummet.

More on that theme:

Talking to reporters a day earlier, Qatar's Al-Attiyah said barrels moving into inventories "shows the world is not facing any shortage of supply." Noting Qatar's plans to boost crude production from current levels he said were 850,000 b/d, by 325,000 b/d by 2009, Attiyah said it was important for a country investing in capacity expansion to be sure that there would be demand for that additional capacity.

However, Total's president of exploration and production had a different take:

Total's president of exploration and production, Christophe de Margerie, however, dismissed the notion producers at this point required demand security, insisting that robust demand and insufficient capacity were the primary factors driving prices higher.

"I don't see any problem of security of demand," he said. "I still feel the problem is to find sufficient oil."

In another news snippet, the same guy had this to say:

THE world lacks the means to produce enough oil to meet rising projections of demand for fuel over the next decade, according to Christophe de Margerie, head of exploration for Total and heir presumptive to the leadership of the French energy multinational.

As I have been suggesting, what we have here is a serious supply/demand imbalance, and not an actual production peak (yet).


Predictably, Ibrahim al-Muhanna, adviser to the Saudi oil minister, does not dwell in the palace of truth.
11,3 million barrels...that would include 1mb of fantasy capacity (Manifa) and 0,3mb of new but mysteriously invisible capacity (Haradh). You need another 0,5mb from somewhere to reach 11,3, but what's that between friends?
Traveling the Texas panhandle today on unavoidable business.  I walked the conservation walk, using vent fan only (no AC even though temps were in the 80's) cruise control set at slightly above 55.  Not in an SUV, thank you very much.  Anyways, went from Amarillo to Panhandle White Deer to Pampa to Perryton to Fritch to Borger and then back to Amarillo.  Lots of new drilling rigs dot the panhandle.  In one case I saw two new rigs on opposite sides of the highway!  I'm not a geologist or an engineer, so I have no idea what purpose these rigs serve.  Are they EOR rigs?  Anybody?  There are no hotel rooms anywhere except Amarillo, even though Perryton just built a new hotel and a new one is going up outside of Pampa.  Locals told me there are so many oil workers being brought in, they are living in the hotels.  The Phillips refinery in Borger is being expanded, and an ethanol plant is being built nearby.  I believe a bio-diesel plant is also being built.  Saw about 80 wind turbines outside of White Deer.  Plans have been approved for another wind farm to be built nearby.  

These are just observations of what I saw today.  The depressing part was also seeing the effects the drought is having on the Texas panhandle.  Hardly any green places at all.  It looks almost completely dead, and the wind is kicking up the dust something wicked.  I'm glad I had the windows rolled up or my face would have been sandblasted.

Wes Texas to The Big Texan

I have a post up the thread on this topic.  In a nutshell, there is money to be made in finding small fields that will do nothing to affect the global energy picture.

I was curious how close I got on my estimate of the turbine count of the wind farm I saw.  Turns out I got it exactly right at 80 turbines.  Pretty good estimate from a moving vehicle.  I also found this nifty little Quicktime animation of the turbines in action (sorry my html skills are poor, may have to copy & paste if interested):

While I was in Borger I stopped to see an attorney who worked for me until a few months ago.  She quit to open her own office in Borger because she said Borger is booming again.  Now, keep in mind when she worked for me she was extremely liberal and complained about "global warming" every time another hurricane hit the coast, and she actually told me one time that "all SUV drivers should die."  So, it turns out she landed some cash paying clients right out of the box and is flush with cash now.  So what's the first thing she does?  She buys a huge honkin' SUV!  A Jeep Grand Cherokee, no less.  I sat there and stared at her after she told me this, and she said "What?"  And I said, "I am quietly judging you."

I attended an interesting speech today by James Woolsey, the former ambassador and CIA director, at the University of Colorado's Conference on World Affairs.  His topic was "Energy, Security and the Long War of the 21st Century."

He said to reduce our oil addiction, we should focus on improved vehicles, minimal infrastructure change, and inexpensive feedstock. This would avoid risk of a collapse of alternatives like the mid-80s collapse of synfuels (just in case there's another oil glut ahead). He wisely said current efforts on hydrogen vehicles and fuel cells are a failure and may not show promise for another 20 years. Here is Woolsey's program:

1.    Celulosic ethanol. Quote: "The substantial majority of soil bank land, the 330 million acres of the conservation reserve program of the Dept. of Energy, grow crops like switchgrass, because they have very deep roots, and one can mow them once a year and use that to produce ethanol." He said Brazil, using sugar cane, would be independent of oil imports by next year. In the Q&A after the speech, he went so far as to say we could replace half our (USA) gasoline with ethanol with just this soil bank land. He made it sound like the genetically engineered enzymes for celulosic breakdown were a done deal.
2.    Flexible fuel vehicles. He said this costs $40-$140 per vehicle, a no-brainer.
3.    Diesel from manure, slaughterhouse waste, etc. Woolsey loves this because burning this diesel makes no more greenhouse gases than the feedstock would have made.
4.    Plug-in hybrids. "The infrastructure change required for this is an extension cord for every family." (He somehow overlooked the extra coal at the power plants.) He said that off-peak electricity at 2-4 cents/kwh was equivalent to 25-50 cents/gal gasoline.
5.    Carbon composite cars as per Amory Lovins. (I wouldn't call this one an off-the-shelf technology with minimal infrastructure change.) Woolsey said the carbon is "10-100 times safer than steel", so the lighter cars are safe while getting "2-3 times the fuel efficiency"

Now watch carefully as he multiplies these together:
1.    Your 45 mpg Prius gets 135 mpg when it's a plug-in. (Gallons of petroleum, that is.)
2.    Now substitute ethanol for 85% of the petroleum fuel, and, allowing for less energy per gallon of E85, you are conservatively up to 500 mpg (of petroleum).
3.    Make the car with lightweight carbon composites, and conservatively double the efficiency.

There you have it, 1000 mpg without even using the turkey guts.

Woolsey concluded by saying his program requires no inventions, no Manhattan Project, and can and should be implemented rapidly.

I'd love to see some comment about the carbon cars (although that's drifting pretty far from the topic)

My only experience has been with bicycles, where carbon composites are usually reserved for the elite racing set.  I (a mere mortal) feel that "steel is real."  If I wreck my bike, any decent bike mechanic (and indeed, somebody who isn't a mechanic) can hammer it back into workable shape, and if need be entire chunks of the frame can be cut out and a new piece welded into place (okay, brazed).

Anyway, if I wreck a carbon frame, best thing to do is throw it away and start over.  In fact the manufacturers insist on inspecting parts (forks, for example) if they've even been in a minor accident or the warranty is null and void.

I love the idea of multiplying the benefits (high mileage + hybrid + ethanol)  

Now substitute ethanol for 85% of the petroleum fuel, and, allowing for less energy per gallon of E85, you are conservatively up to 500 mpg (of petroleum).

Even cellulosic has a substantial input of fossil fuels in the form of natural gas. A big problem with ethanol of any kind is having to get rid of the water after the ethanol is produced. That is done by a very energy-intensive distillation, and eats up a big chunk of the BTUs you get from the ethanol. That's a big reason I favor biodiesel.


There must be a reason why carbon fiber is at present VERY expensive.
There are two:  Airbus 380 and Boeing 787.  Commercial airframe carbon composite content is skyrocketing in response to high jet fuel prices - carbon composites are far more expensive than aluminum alloys but have a much better strength/weight ratio, and lighter planes use less fuel.  And the increase in it's infancy, as production of the new planes is just barely starting.  As long as a recession doesn't kill passenger demand for seats carbon composite suppliers are at the start of a multiyear bull run.

Windmill turbines are still only a tiny fraction of the overall carbon composite business although they also a very high growth component.

Back to Africa--and our  future?  This interesting article in the New Republic:

Power Crisis
by Joshua Hammer

"For South Africans, the power failures offered a disconcerting glimpse of the fragility that lies just beneath the country's prosperous surface."

"I spent the entire two-week period of the blackouts in Cape Town, watching as the city descended into chaos. Frustrated commuters inched through traffic-lightless intersections at rush hour, slamming on brakes, narrowly averting collisions, without a traffic cop in sight. Six days into the crisis, I watched angry shoppers at Pick 'n Pay, my local supermarket, ransack the shelves in a futile search for gas stoves and candles, which had run out days earlier. "What the hell is wrong with this country?" one man shouted to nobody in particular. ""

When the nuclear plant (electricity supply) went down temporarily, the country all but collapsed.

And finally a direct word to my favorite President.   Most Esteemed Your Excellency, sir.  History will judge you well.  What a fine Christian.  What a legacy.  Just please, sir, if I might address your glorious personage with a small suggestion:   DON'T BOMB IRAN,  Unchristian and certainly a smudge on your hard won legacy.  Don't be insecure, your Rogal Heinness.  You are a man's man.  A woman's man.   There's not a whiff of gay about you.  Why go and bomb Iran?   Naw.  You're so big and strong - you don't need to prove anything to anybody.   We love you, Mr. President, just the way you are.


And think you for listening so intelligently, you noble, secure Superman -- so confident, so at home in your own skin.  I humbly apologize for not voting for you.

I was there (in the Cape) and can confirm it was no fun.
A lot of racists came out of the woodwork and complained about "new South Africa".
Here's an interesting article from Noam Chomsky concerning The US destruction of Fallujah.  General Kimet was in charge of this war crime.  This is something that Americans shouldn't tolerate, but we did.

Ever since Noam Chomsky became the great public apologist for/supporter of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge I have chosen to disregard him (to put it kindly). It still makes me sick to think of it.
I agree 100%. The guy is a pompous ignorant immoral asshole who pretends to knowledge that he does not have. Why anybody still takes him seriously is something of a mystery to me, although it probably has something to do with politics and emotion overwhelming reason.
Found the following on the Internet... It seemed appropriate.

"It is striking how the craven extremism of Bush & his bestiary of madmen is prompting even the mainstream media to acknowledge Chomsky's analysis of U.S. conduct: it fits the evidence so well that even journalists can no longer ignore it.

Chomsky is often accused of supporting unsavoury regimes because he demands that the same standards (moral standards and standards of proof) be applied to the west as are applied to unfriendly regimes...there is a difference between the crimes of official enemies and the crimes of official friends.

Chomsky's mistake - if you can call it that - is to assume that his readers and critics will be as intellectually honest as he is. In fact his critics refer derisively to his "forests of footnotes".

Chomsky is a phony. In a twenty-minute debate I could do a Socratic on him and reduce him to the pathetic reeking rotten mincemeat that he is.

Look at "Euthyprho" by Plato. Essentially, Chomsky IS Euthypro, with fake claims to knowledge.

He is a wart on the posterior of philosophy.

From Wikipedia:

"Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is the Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, often considered to be the most significant contribution to the field of theoretical linguistics in the 20th century. He also helped spark the cognitive revolution in psychology through his review of B.F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior, which challenged the behaviorist approach to the study of mind and language dominant in the 1950s. His naturalistic approach to the study of language has also affected the philosophy of language and mind (see Harman, Fodor). He is also credited with the establishment of the so-called Chomsky hierarchy, a classification of formal languages in terms of their generative power.

Outside of academia, Chomsky is far more widely known for his political activism, and for his criticism of the foreign policy of the United States and other governments. Chomsky describes himself as a libertarian socialist and a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism (he is a member of the IWW). He is generally considered to be a key intellectual figure within the left wing of American politics. According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, between 1980 and 1992 Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any living scholar, and the eighth most cited scholar overall."

Yes indeed. One more example of the fallacy of appeal to popularity.

The guy is a lightweight with an even lighter-weight fawning following. I compare him to Herbert Marcuse, the popular idol of the sixties.

NEW YORK A Gallup poll released today shows that nearly half of all Americans have cut back "significantly" on their driving due to high gas prices--and in a surprise, 57% say they will consider buying a hybrid car when replacing their current vehicle.
Editor & Publisher

I guess I was just a little ahead of the pack. Next thing you know, we'll be reading that 65% of Americans are sick to death of rap music, and 7 out of 10 watch more anime than network television...

What is the "average" cost of crude? And over what period(s) is it averaged?

Why the question? From time to time I see comments that $XX average means this, that, and the other for the US economy.

Iran achieves uranium enrichment. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is directly throwing this in Bush's face. It's like we have two kids taunting one another, circling. Neither of these nitwits should be leading a nation yet both are. I think the "interesting times" in which we live just got a notch more "interesting", don't you?