Monday Open Thread: The GasBuddy Price Map Edition

If you haven't seen the Gas Buddy Price Map yet, you probably should.  Anyone want to combine it with the gasoline grade map (which I can't seem to find right now...) that has 43 different grades of gasoline for US consumption?

And, don't forget to check out this article which states:

DOHA, April 24 (Reuters) - OPEC ministers conceded on Monday there was nothing they could do to halt surging oil prices that threaten consumer nations' economies and could trigger a collapse in demand disastrous to producer states.
Ruh RoH! From Reuters:
DOHA (Reuters) - OPEC ministers conceded on Monday there was nothing they could do to halt surging oil prices that threaten consumer nations' economies and could trigger a collapse in demand disastrous to producer states.
The group, already pumping as much as refiners can handle, concluded at talks here that raising its 28 million barrels per day output ceiling would not rein in runaway prices.
"The market determines the oil price," Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, OPEC's most influential voice, told reporters. "You know and I know that the reason the price is where it is is not from a shortage of (crude oil) supply," he said. OPEC ministers, meeting during global energy talks here, had little enthusiasm for a Kuwait proposal to offer up all the organization's spare capacity of two million bpd as they did in September when oil spiked above $70 a barrel."
The german minister for economic affairs gave an address at that meeting. He told OPEC producers not to postpone urgent big investments in new wells and technology. It is necessary for the consumers to come back to a reasonable price for oil.

I am somewhat surprised this man knows so much about the oil infrastructure on the arabian peninsula. I wonder if the audience war laughing secretly at him. It probably just shows the naivety and the helplessnes our politicans are confronted with, when the oil prices is rising and nothing actually can be done.

Sorry, just a source in german language.

"The market determines the oil price," Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, OPEC's most influential voice, told reporters. "You know and I know that the reason the price is where it is is not from a shortage of (crude oil) supply," he said.
Supply is fine! There's plenty of supply!!!  Prices are high because ... of ... some other reason.  But that reason is definitely NOT SUPPLY!!
Speaking of a bidding war between importers. . . 50869_RTRUKOC_0_US-ENERGY-RUSSIA-EUROPE.xml

Russia should cut oil to Europe: Transneft


MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's planned oil pipeline to Asia will help cut deliveries to Europe, which is currently being oversupplied with Russian crude, the head of Russia's pipeline monopoly Transneft told a newspaper.

"We have overfed Europe with crude. And every single economic manual says that excessive supplies depress prices," Semyon Vainshtok told the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta in an interview published on Monday.

"So far we cannot reduce supplies as all our exports are going to Europe. But as soon as we divert (flows) to China, South Korea, Australia, Japan it will immediately take away crude from our European colleagues," he added.

Vainshtok has repeatedly said that building a pipeline to Asia would help diversify Russian oil flows and cut discounts on the country's mainstay Urals crude blend in European markets.

His new comments are likely to come under much closer scrutiny after another Russian monopoly, state gas behemoth Gazprom, shocked Europe last week by saying it would supply gas elsewhere if its expansion in Europe was blocked.

Urals used to be underpriced compared to blends of comparable gravity/sulphur content, but as of recently is so no longer.
Particularly strange in light of that inversion in Texas WTI vs. UK's Brent Crude a few weeks back.  Great observation.

Just remember, it's not supply.

Hello Westexas,

Great post! I encourage Russia to sell to the highest bidder no matter who it is: the more this happens, the sooner people will start conserving and Powerdown as best they can.  If this makes Europe, and even parts of internal Russia start to setup biosolar habitats 3-5 years earlier, so much the better for their environment and related biodiversity in the long run.  Fair higher prices, not corrupt political-driven preferential pricing schemes will make the great unwashed masses face the Peakoil 'music' sooner.

The difficult part to control in the future is my predicted rise of the detrito-terrorist.  No religious ideology, like Islam, is required, just an addicted desire to maximize detritus access vs adopting Powerdown.  Just as the Ukrainians stole transiting natgas last winter, and some other unknown party blew up a critical pipeline supplying Armenia, I forsee covert Europeans and/or Central Asians disabling Chinese pipelines to increase the flow to their respective country, and of course, the Chinese or some other country returning the favor some time later. Nigerian 'bunkering' is another example of theft that will bedevil oil companies worldwide postPeak.

Add this in to the enviro-terrorist, and the religio-terrorist: Gazprom and Rosneft will have their hands extremely full the further we go postPeak.

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

China acts to secure oil reserves amid record crude prices
Hello Westexas,

Another interesting post loaded with press doublespeak in my estimation.  The very fact that China feels it is most important to lock in deals to build their SPR is telling.  Possibly, the Chinese topdogs are more Peakoil aware than our US topdogs.

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

Ruh RoH!

The fun's just starting!
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is planning a new assault on Big Oil, potentially taking a major step toward nationalization of Venezuela's oil industry that could hurt oil-company profits, reduce production and put further pressure on global oil prices, the Wall Street Journal reports on Monday front pages.

I suspect it might also correlate well with a state gas tax map, if there is such a thing.

(to pop another issue up to top-level, don't believe the CNW Marketing Research hybrid study

From Australia:

Fuel prices hit new vehicle sales

Australians held off making new vehicle purchases in March as the onward march in fuel prices kept consumers away from car yards.

Australian new motor vehicle sales fell two per cent in seasonally adjusted terms to 79,634 units in March, from a downwardly revised 81,249 units in February, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

This was below economists' expectations of a 0.6 rise in new motor vehicle sales.

Commonwealth Bank senior economist John Peters said heavy fuel prices were continuing to weigh on car sales.

"It appears that the annual total of new car sales will stay just under the one million mark until there is some signs of lower petrol prices or lower new car prices," Mr Peters said.

Mobjectovist reports:

Bike sales outpaced car sales for the first time ever in Australia. It happened in the USA as well last year, as not since the oil crisis of 1973 have they sold in such big numbers. We just might catch up to the rest of the world at some point, unless China decides to go the reverse route.

the direct link to that article should work, but Blogger claims some kind of error:

China has long since decided to go the reverse route. For a ton of articles, type this into Google, Yahoo, or whatever:

ban bikes bund

I wonder are there places in the US where "marshroute taxis" (not sure about the correct name here) are available? Basicly these are small vans/shuttles (10-12 seats), going by a fixed route, which you can stop and get off at will.

In many European countries they are very popular, being much faster and regular than buses; and much more affordable than regular taxis or a personal car. I suppose they will also be a good idea for small-scale personal business in the future to come.

While this ("marshroute taxis") is a good idea, a similar grass-roots business whereby locals were running shuttle services for hikers has been pretty effectively killed by legislation requiring special licensing, insurance, etc. maing it cost prohibitive to operate such a business. This is especially true, since for most of these folks,it was just a way of earning a few extra dollars on weekends.
If you are in a situation where everyone knows and trusts each other, fine.  Otherwise, the passengers are no safer than hitchhikers.
This is a question of balance. You can provide licensing and insurance framework that can ensure the safety needed, without killing the business before it even started.

In this regard I find the legislation environment in the US quite discouraging for the small businesses. Only a large company could afford to pay for those licensing fees or to potentially meet the prodigious liability claims that are common here.

Our current climate would have killed many existing ventures had it been in place back when they started.

Can you imagine getting approval for heavier-than-air passenger travel?  Basically the only reason it exists is because they can point to a long (relative) safety record, which they have because of the many sacrifices of the pioneers who took huge risks to test new designs.  

If you were trying to start the "Air travel industry" from scratch now, not only would the NIMBY's prevent any airports at all from being built, but every govt from local to national would have to be convinced that the things wouldn't plummet out of the sky or cause unforeseen environmental damage or what have you.  It would take decades before anyone permitted even a pilot project (ooh, bad pun, sorry) to get off the ground (groan).

This is very educative for countries, making their first steps in the market economy like the countries in Eastern Europe. With the European integration and the modernization of their economies it is often the case that Western standards are being applied in a pretty straightforward manner. It is ideologically forgotten that the viability and applicability of these standarts are a result of many years of accumulation of capital and infrastructure and evolution of traditions, buseness relations, legislations etc. The idea that these standarts will be reached by simply enforcing them by the government is simply silly and very counterproductive.
LevinK makes a good point: these vans driving regular routes make a nice compromise between buses and cars. Just to toss out a few numbers - in Vilnius (capital of Lithuania), a municipal bus fare is roughly 40 U.S. cents. To get where you're going, that bus might take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. In contrast, one of these vans driving the same route as that bus will charge from 70 U.S. cents to $1.40, but will get you to where you're going in half the time or less.

I'm not sure how the vehicles compare in terms of mileage per gallon (or, as they say around here, in liters per 100 kilometers). The bus fleet and the van fleet are in an arms race, with the municipal guys and the private guys buying newer and newer vehicles. Don't know who's ahead, at the moment. Maybe the vans.

I guess more important would be what is the fuel consumption per passenger kilometer. These vans usually have not very big diesel engines - making probably around 17 mpg. With 7 passengers on average the overall efficiency would be better than a 2 passenger 55 mpg Toyota Prius (119 vs 110 passenger miles/gallon).
On the South Side of Chicago they are called jitney cabs. They are very illegal, serve as many people as does the regular city bus system(though mostly a.m. & p.m. rush). The city needs them & tolerates them. Same system on smaller scale throughout Black America.
During the 1980s there was a safety problem of mostly truckers on drugs causing accidents as well as things like school buses being driven by students. Truckers were carrying licenses from several states to avoid too many penalty points from being accumulated on any single license. So the Feds created the Commercial Driver's License system. They also imposed mandatory drug testing that is so expensive it costs nearly $100,000 per violator caught. A person now must prove they know the rules of the vehicle they are operating as well as the skill to do the job. They must pass the drug test which has discouraged users from entering the profession. They must pass a medical exam every two years. The only fixed requirement in passing the medical is a blood pressure under 140/90. Beyond that its the judgement of the doctor. I am not aware of any scientific study that has shown that the CDL laws and drug testing has improved safety. As long as a company doesn't cross state lines drivers can and are pushed to work overtime so much that fatigue is a serious safety problem.
A similar system exists in SE Asian countries. In Thailand it is very common to see both bok-bok and sangthaew that carry from 7-20 people in something equivalent or similar to a converted pickup. In fact they are now running with prices less than the local city bus system and causing some anguish as some bus companies in Bangkok are now holding protests about inability to compete with these little guys.

In most western countries people would not even consider these types of things due to safety concerns whereas here it quite expected that you would stand off the back hanging on for your life. I suspect that as the prices rise and the world changes we will see much more of this kind of thing long before we see people simply deciding not to go anywhere. So even if people cannot afford to drive to work in their SUV the day will come when they may be forced into using some form of shared transport to get to work.

Of course, that will only happen once other measures like invading and stealing the oil have been exhausted but I don't think those plans are likely to be successful for too long anyway.

How big can the effect of speculation be on front month futures oil prices? I have seen this topic broached several times in these open threads, and usually simply lurk and try to digest the argument. However, I am still stuck on this simple problem.

As I understand it, on one day each month (second last Friday?), anyone who holds a net sell position is obligated to deliver oil, and anyone who holds a net buy position is obligated to receive it. I have been told there are large fines for not being able to fulfil these obligations. Does that not mean, clearly and precisely, that, at least on that one close, the market is composed of actual buyers and sellers, and that speculating money has been displaced?

I can understand how speculation can happen during the month. Looking at the most recent month, it looks a little to me like speculators tried to short oil once it got up near $70. Unfortunately for them, the price kept rising, and they were forced to buy their way out of trouble before the final close last Friday. According to this interpretation, the shorters were surpressing the price in the final days leading up to the close, but speculation was shaken out before the end of the month, rushing prices back to fair value as the close approached.

I can also understand how speculation could effect more distant contracts, and that the more distant the contract is (from the point of obligation), the more speculation could effect the contract price.

I'm still confused about the front month contract however. The MSM is often referring to speculation driving up prices, but according to my perhaps simplistic understanding, the effect of this just cannot be very big in the front month contract.

Am I wrong, if so, how? Thanks.

This is exactly the same question that has been puzzling me for long time and so far I haven't found any good answer to this one. It is easy to understand that distant contract prices could be up due speculation and there is contango, but how speculation could affect front month? Possible solutions:

a) Increase in price is not caused by speculation. Media just cannot understand differences between futures and stock markets.

b) Some speculators are really taking the delivery and paying storage fees.

c) People who are really using the oil are buying distant contracts.

d) Because future prices are high, the users are willing to pay the same price for delivery also because they considere it to be "fair price".

I really would like to see more discussion of this topic. If there's some who understands commodity markets better, it would be nice to have a article about that written in TOD.

b) Some speculators are really taking the delivery and paying storage fees.

This was pretty popular back during the initial contango in some of the physical markets caused by the creation of the index funds and presumable entrance of additional retail investors to the fray who may have been bidding up contracts.  Whether that was the reason for inversion or not is beyond me, but if you short 1 month out, buy the delivery month, accept delivery, and then deliver when the contract closes, there's a few dimes of 100% guar-ron-teed profit per barrel.

It's a definite mechanism of some transmission of speculation to the actual physical price, but not a huge amount.

This is the oil-related story that google news puts on the front page.  It puts a dark spin on the oil/dollar story:,5936,18919311%255E5003680,00.html

The IMF has been looking for a reason to exist ever since third world countries began running net current account surpluses -- and generally large ones -- due to the 1997-98 outbreak of Bahtulism, ample liquidity, and rising commodity prices.  The ones that still didn't have refused their advice and seem to be better off for doing so.

They've already said they don't want to be currency referrees, which is similar to saying you don't want to be dropped into a shark tank.  Trade is obviously generally handled by the WTO, which, while sincere and actually somewhat effective, is too slow to matter.  Convening a roundtable on oil won't kill any more dinosaurs.

Maybe they should ring up New Zealand and Iceland.  Might be interested.

in savannah, ga, we have pedal cabs, like bike-rikshaws.  they get pretty good usage, it seems.  and will probably get more usage as life gets peakier.

but since this is an open thread, let's talk tv and pop-culture's take on peak oil.  i finally saw the cnn fantasy piece, "we were warned."  its re-airing followed a very good environmental piece that was truly scary.  makes one wonder which disaster will come first: the chicken of oil depletion or the egg of the abrupt climate change.  (A: they will come together: great news, eh?!)  it also stood in stark contrast to the ludicrous "we were warned" piece.

is it me, or was "we were warned" worse than bad?  it communicated very few facts and its overall message seemed to be don't worry about oil and gas unless something extrinsic (hurricane, terrorism) that is really bad happens, and probably only if 2 really bad things happen in the same week.

i mean, is THAT the right message to send to joe hummer?  i suppose anything that sheds light on the issue of our dependence on oil and the ramifications of its depletion is marginally positive, but this was almost negative, imo.

then i saw saw roundtable discussion on fox "news" that had juan williams shilling to be the "balance" on o'reily central saying that the current price o' gas is a combo of politics and greed, as opposed to economics and geology, because there is no shortage of oil and supply is the highest it's been in 8 years.  you can't argue with that, he argued, because it's a fact.  huh?  didn't you just see "we were warned"?!  oh yeah, it said basically the same thing, but with cooler special effects.

we are toast, folks.  and we're toasting ourselves.
have a nice day,

I don't think "We Were Warned" was that bad.  (Though it is interesting that they cut that part that mentioned peak oil by name.)

Sesno did say specifically that it would not take an extraordinary event like a hurricane or a terrorist attack to cause the problems described in their scenario, though perhaps the average viewer wouldn't notice.

Sesno seems really big on ethanol.  He thinks the answer is to do what Brazil is doing.  Someone should send him a link to the "Life in a Grass House" thread here.

"Melting Point," the global warming show, was pretty good.  One moment that really struck a chord: when the Tuvalu native expressed anger that his way of life was being wiped out not by anything he had done, but by people in Europe and the U.S. and Canada who don't give a damn what happens to anyone else.  

Today it's Tuvalu, and the Inuit, and New Orleans.  Tomorrow, who knows?  Rotterdam?  San Franscisco?  London?  New York?  Houston?  No one cares, unless they personally are affected.

I still hear things all the time like "fifteen MPG is pretty good."

The public is anything but scared at this point.  They are still more afraid of "middle-easterners with box-cutters."  There's plenty of oil, if the stoopid politicians would let us drill Alaska and drop gasoline taxes, everything would be peachy.

The neighbor whose house I am at the most, does not watch network tv, During the Day she watchs movies and makes her house prefect, During the night if he is not watching fighting or sports, they are watching movies or singing to their favorite songs.  They do not care what is going on, and don't want to know.  To many other things in life to worry about and why add more.  

Not everyone is glued to who is going to get cut off the next big game reality show next.  Some people hardly know the news of the day.  If you were to ask me 5 years ago I would have told you the 3 top stories,  today,  who cares.  

I have a move in the works, and I have to pay gas prices that will make this move my final move of the year, if not decade or ever.  If need be I can live in a cardboard box, On a back lot somewhere, but no more burning money for gas to move.

I'm not sure who the GasBuddy demographic is, but when I looked at their poll with the question "As gasoline prices increase towards $3 per gallon (US)/120 c/L (CDN), do you...?", I was surprised to see that "Conserve as much as possible" got 73% of 15,166 votes. Now, what behavior that actually translates into is unknowable, but there you have it from the horse's mouth.

Only 450 of their respondents bike or use public transit (the 3% figure).

Does that count as conserving?

Do you expect very many heavy public transportation users to be visiting a site called "Gas Buddy"?
Excellent point.  The guys on the train aren't looking for the cheapest gas in town, at least not for commuting.
Many of us are still interested in ethanol, though.
I know it isn't very probable, but somebody that depends on mass transit or rides a bike to work may still be interested in gas prices.  For planning a vacation or weekend trip, for one example.

I don't fly for business but sometimes look for air fare deals so I can travel when I have some time off, I would think this could be similar.

But gas buddy is aimed squarely at the car culture, certainly.

Why are Utah, Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming green? Is there an unbilical tying them to Canada, feeding them cheap gas? Or do they have no taxes or environmental standards? Or both?
These states have low fuel taxes. Population densities are very low and the EPA doesn't bother to measure pollutants in any but a few counties in the region.
Monica may be the worst cyclone to hit Oz:

We do live in interesting times.

That link just crashed my computer.  Might have been the "RealPlayer', not sure.
Sorry about that.  My Firefox stopped the popup window.
Hello TOD-threaders,

There are some who argue that the United States is  on the verge of morphing into a full-blown dictatorship, police-state, and surveillance-state.  For example, see the following URL: 28.htm

Your thoughts on the evidence and arguments presented would be greatly appreciated.

I am reposting the URL, since there was apparently a glitch in my original message:

CTL discussion on C-Span
live right now ..


Some points from the CTL discussion ..

267 Billion tons recoverable reserves
at present mining techniques

1.1 Billion tons annual consumption

33 states have recoverable reserves

Total potential US coal resource may be
as large as 4 trillion tons

CTL costs equivalent to $35/$40 per barrel
crude equivalent ..

Triff ..

Thanks, I caught a few minutes of it.  One other quick stat was (if I got it right) $15 to mine coal and $25 or $30 to carry it on a railroad.  I wonder how that works out when you have to CTL the diesel for the train?
I heard those figures also ..
Makes siting a CTL plant easy though ..
They'll all need to be at/in the mine itself <g> ..
Hopefully the output ie liquid fuels can use
existing pipelines .. If so, hopefully we have
some coal reserves conveniently located near product
pipelines .. I was dissapointed in the obvious lack
of knowledge about the topic on the part of the
chairman Jim Bunning of (KY) ..

Triff ..

One more data sound bite from the discussion
on the potential for CTL ..

1 mbpd production would require an additional
500 million tons of coal production from
the present level of 1.1 billion tons

Also a 50,000 bpd facility would cost $3.5 billion
Wonder how that compares with the cost of production
for the equivalent amount from oil sands ??

The EIA was/is projecting that by 2025 CTL would
be providing ~8% of domestic consumption and that
domestic consumption would be +24% higher than the
current +20 mbpd ..

Someone needs to start construction fast ..

Triff ..

So if CTL was to replace petroleum it would require 10 billion tons per year and we could run out of coal in just 27 years.
GOP leaders urge price-gouging probe on gas

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congressional GOP leaders on Monday formally called on President Bush to launch an investigation into possible price gouging by oil companies, as gas costs shot up nearly 25 cents a gallon in two weeks.

...With political analysts suggesting that Democrats are within striking distance of taking over control of Congress, each party is working to gain the upper hand on the gasoline issue.

"Anyone who is trying to unfairly profit by forcing American families to make tough choices over whether to fill the car up with gas or severely cut back on their budgets should be investigated and prosecuted," said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois.

Meanwhile, on the international front...

Three explosions hit resort town in Egypt

AP is reporting that at least 100 people are dead.  It's assumed it's a terrorist attack.

Is it actually against the law to unfairly force american families to make tough choices?

I missed that law when I was in law school.

I guess you blew that question on the First Year Torts Final! It's tempting to say it's in the Restatement, but you know I am kidding. Something about "Pursuit of Automotive Happiness" in the Declaration of Transportation Independence, I suppose?
Yet another pair of interesting postings over at the Morgan Stanley Global Economic Forum ( ), dated April 24, 2006. If you look at the site after today, you'll have to click on Archive, then click on April 24.

  1. Richard Berner, "How Vulnerable is the Economy to Another Energy Shock?" Not much will be new to regular readers of TOD, but still, it's a nice summary piece.

  2. Richard Berner and Eric Chaney, "Oil Alert: No Relief on Supply." At the risk of letting the cat out of the bag, here's a brief excerpt:

"In a nutshell, our conclusions are:

·         We think that crude prices (WTI/Brent) are likely to range between $70 and $80/bl for the reminder of this year; we raise our 2006 annual average forecast from $61 to $73/bl (+19%);

·         We believe that markets will remain tight next year, as new refinery capacity is coming slower than we had thought; We raise our 2007 annual average forecast from $48 to $68/bl (+43%);"

...but I won't list any more, just so you'll be motivated to read the piece. It's short, won't take more than two minutes.

I don't know what they're smoking, but whatever it is, it's enough to make them think that $40 to $50/barrel is a band where they believe the long term equilibrium price to be. They must have some really good hydroponics going on over there...

We believe that markets will remain tight next year, as new refinery capacity is coming slower than we had thought;

Hmmm.  A lot of these financial types were predicting that prices would go back down in 2007, due to new production coming on line.  Looks like some, at least, are backing off that prediction.  

If this isn't the peak, this is what the peak will be like.  

Oil Falls Almost $2 a Barrel as OPEC Says Supplies Are Adequate

In other news, the dollar took quite a tumble today.

The NYMEX futures has June oil down only 36 cents ($0.36) for the 4/24/06 session.  Similar declines for later months.

Disconnect between the spot market and futures?  Or is the spot market always different?

WTI Cushing spot is down to $69.

Others are down $2 to $73. Phew! Now we can breath easy.

What fundamentally changed between yesterday and today? OPEC said words, empty useless words. Supply did not change. Production did not change. As Stuart pointed out in his pricing article, a correction is probably due about now, but I wonder if we've established a new floor yet, perhaps $70 or so? Note also that the cluelessness of the MSM continues, with quotes last week about how Nigeria might impact oil supplies. When I saw that I was left wondering exactly what they think the current lost production from Nigeria was - a mirage or something?

I don't see any reason yet for oil to tumble clear back down to the $50 range and let's not even pull out the Steve Forbes Comedy Central audition laughtrack of $35 per barrel. I expect oil to hover near $70 now until another external event sets it off again. That could be Iran, Nigeria, or a major terrorist event aimed at Europe or the United States.

Finally, we keep hearing the rumblings of discontent from China about the dollar. While its arguable whether China would be able to trigger a collapse of the dollar, any large scale move out of dollars by China would give many other dollar holders reason to believe that they are depreciating even faster than they originally feared. And a depreciating dollar would wreak its own havoc on energy prices.

China owns the dollar and has every reason not to break it.
You are correct up to a point. China would like its huge dollar holdings to retain their value and would like US consumers to have purchasing power to buy Chinese products. Having said this, when we move into the Peak Oil mid-to-end game (we might be starting), China is bidding against the USA for oil. As the US dollar weakens and the Yuan strengthens, China can buy more oil and the USA less. For the same reason Japan is no longer as motivated to weaken the yen. Two competing desires are in play: the desire to sell into the US market (keep your currency weak) and the desire to buy oil (keep your currency strong).
Carrie posted just posted this story at

March 28 Speech by Bill Clinton at London Business School

The Indians and Chinese are in this huge fight now to see who can get the most oil. We may be at a point of peak oil production. You may see $100 a barrel oil in the next two or three years, but what still is driving this globalization is the idea that is you cannot possibly get rich, stay rich and get richer; if you don't release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. That was true in the industrial era; it is simply factually not true. What is true is that the old energy economy is well organized, financed and connected politically. The new energy economy is underfinanced, under organized, entrepreneurial and in need of the type of research and development work that we routinely did when we were trying to sequence the human genome or go into space. But just with existing technologies for conservation and clean energy, we can more than meet the Kyoto protocols if we were remotely serious about the targets and in the process create jobs in the developed and developing world on a scale that is otherwise unimaginable to me. It is just a question of whether we accept this, but I can only tell you that I have studied this data seriously. I consider it an existential threat to your future. It may be the most remote security threat you face, but the only one who has the chance to change the life of everybody on the plant for the worst. And yet it is a phenomenal opportunity.

Interesting that he said it overseas, where there would be limited coverage by the U.S. press.  

But a more willing audience?
I agree with Bill on this.

When Bill was president I didn't actually like him, but I was happy how moderate policies resulted from his fight/deadlock with congress.  I thought the whole Monica thing was tawdry and that I'd never miss him.

I was very surprised a few years later when GWB accomplished the impossible, and made me miss Bill.

Now he shows that he gets it ... maybe that will help when he's first lady?

The guy was by far the most underrated President ever.
Anyone who thinks our problems will be no harder to solve than sequencing the human genome or going into space is deluded beyond words.
I agree, but I'm not sure Clinton really believes this.  He's a politician, after all.  And a good one.  He not only lies, he's convincing about it.  (Unlike Dubya, who lies, and looks as awkward as a little boy lying about who broke the lamp.  Or Gore, who looks like he's lying even when he's telling the truth.)

Someone who tells the American people the truth about peak oil can never be elected.  No one wants to hear that the happy motoring lifestyle is over.  That we are living in a brief moment of mind-boggling prosperity, thanks to oil, and it's all ending, probably sooner rather than later.

No, any legitimate peak oil politician will have to do what Clinton did, and offer a hopeful future.  It will at least get people thinking about the issue.  And maybe they'll actually do the right thing, while waiting for the technological miracle.  

Actually, he didn't say it would be no harder.  He said it needed that level of research and development, and I think research and development is always good.

The harder problems are socal and political.  Those include getting congress more aligned with solutions than with pork barrel spending, and getting consumers aligned with efficiency rathern than inefficiency/complaining.

That guy should run for president...
Two articles from The Truth About Cars. First, they diss the Prius:

And yet, as always, physics trumps bullshit-- er, marketing savvy. Even with Toyota's hidden subsidy, the Prius is simply too heavy, complicated, expensive and yes inefficient to quickly and easily justify its premium price. Recent media focus on the discrepancy between hybrids' real world mileage and the official EPA numbers only reveals part of the truth. If consumers considered the fact that the Prius uses every non-hybrid trick in the book to raise its fuel efficiency (de-contenting, skinny tires, lightweight materials, etc.), if they compared like-for-like (the Prius vs. a similarly equipped, same-sized gas-powered car with equivalent horsepower), they'd see that the efficiency gap between competing propulsion technologies is narrower still.

So, I imagine Odo will weigh in.

Then, how PR works:

Robert B. Reich is an economist, journalist and commentator who once worked for President Clinton in the Labor Department. He currently enjoys a regular slot on NPR's nationally-syndicated "Marketplace" program. On Wednesday, Reich announced that he'd been approached by a "public relations firm working for General Motors." Reich said the flack asked him to praise GM's buyback deal for its workers. He then offered to pay Reich "remuneration" for a positive story "out of respect" for his reputation. Reich declined the unspecified offer.

The man attempting to bribe the twenty-second United States Secretary of Labor was Richard Strauss of Strauss Media Associates of Washington, DC. According to the company's website, Strauss Media uses its "integrity, perseverance, and skill" to help clients "realize the power and influence of radio." The PR company's client roster includes Nike, Eastman Kodak, Coca-Cola and General Mills. Although Strauss Media Associates doesn't list GM as a benefactor, a description of recent projects includes work on the Saturn brand's Second Annual National Donor Day.

Aha!  Here we have a glimpse of one of the important mechanisms for the cooptation and corruption of the mouthpieces of the powerful in action.  Does anyone ever wonder whether Michael Lynch, Daniel Yergin, Peter Huber, etc., may at various points in their past have accepted offers of the sort that Reich declined?
You call?

My 2005 Prius was listed at $22.4K, while the average new car is priced at $26-27K.  You can add it up a lot of ways, but I think a car that costs less than average, and gets the best real-world mileage of any midsize car, is a win.

As far as the "tricks" - sure, you need them.  It is a hard engineering problem to get 50 mpg in a midsize car.  If it was easy General Motors everyone would do it.

The tricks are essential.  Forget the hybrid motor.  If you took the average car and lightened it up a bit, put low rolling-resistance tires on it, gave it the auto-stop feature of the hybrids (shuts down the gas engine at red lights), and give it instant- and long-term mileage indicators prominently placed on the dashboard (for that "social engineering" effect) I bet you could increase it's mileage by 20%, easy.
All the rest are done on various cars ... but I'm a little bit skeptical of auto-stop in isolation.  The electric drive lets the engine be off when you are moving, expanding the "off time" by several times.

And I think everbody likes the idea of regenerative braking.  It's nice to capture and use energy that you'd be otherwise throwing away as brake pad/disc heat.  The challenge is of course to do that energy capture economically.  The current hybrid electric systems appeal to some, but they are obviously  not an inexpensive option.

(though technically Toyota tried to sell me a Nav system for more than the "hybrid premium.")

I remember reading in Popular Mechanics (or similar) about thirty years ago about engines that had a big flywheel incorporated.  The engine would stop firing when the vehicle stopped, but of course the flywheel kept spinning, and it provided the power to restart the motor smoothly when the light turned green.

The idea was that the wear and tear on a standard starter motor with frequent starts and stop was prohibitive.

Wonder what that design evolved into...

Going from memory, I think in the 70's some of those little postal delivery jeeps had flywheels for regenerative braking.  Obviously doesn't store energy overnight, but good for stop and go ... like mail delivery.
I think the electric regenerative braking idea may be hype. First problem is the battery can't recharge as fast as it can discharge. Ultracaps can get around that problem but no one uses them yet. The other problem is keeping voltage high enough as the generator slows down. A CVT may be able to get around that problem but I don't know if current CVTs can do the job. The CVT solution won't work in in-wheel motor systems. Hydraulic and pneumatic systems don't have these problems but are more complicated than electrical systems.
Dude, I see it.  I coast and brake down a long hill, with my battery off, and my battery charges.  Neat, huh?
Darn, I almost cought that typo as I hit "post" - should be "engine off" of course.
My 2000 Echo was listed under 11K (but add on automatic transmission and taxes, oh yeah and CD player etc. came out to 14.4K) and it gets around 38 mpg (US) on the highway. I'd say that's dam echonomical!

(It was only a couple months ago that it dawned on me that "echo" is an appeal to liberal-left tree-hugging enviros.)

I mentioned a day or two ago that I liked the Echo.  That is a great car.
Thank you for that great, succinct little example.  Add that example to the "what is 'The American Way of Life'? question" someone was asking about earlier.  

The PR/Marketing industry will gladly lead us off the cliff.  There's just too much $$$ out there, and our 'freedoms' allow them to BS us to death.  It's one example of the problem with extreme wealth disparity.  There's too much money sloshing around out there; that money does not have the same interests as you or I.  (It doesn't breathe air, eat food, or ever die.  It has no home or neighborhood and loves no one.)

Irwin M. Stelzer, in a piece in The Weekly Standard, calls for an oil tax to reflect the "true cost of oil."  The tax would be used to offset the payroll tax.  Sound familiar?  The energy portion of the article is a small part of the entire article, which is rather long, so I'll quote the entire energy part.  The entire article is here:

CONSERVATIVES SHOULD ALSO be asking whether our energy policy makes any sense. The president is right to want to encourage the development of oil-saving technologies, although it is a mystery why auto companies need subsidies to develop products for which they believe the market is clamoring, and which would not be needed if we were to price oil properly. And Bush is right, too, to want to remove any uneconomic barriers to the development of domestic resources. But neither of those measures is likely to break our dependence on oil imports soon, or probably ever.

That will take bolder steps. The arguments in favor of making imported oil more costly to use are virtually unanswerable: Higher prices would cut consumption and encourage new technologies far more efficiently than government bureaucrats who think they can pick technological winners, despite a dismal history of playing at that game. For those who share the president's infatuation with wood chips and switch grass, I recommend a study of the massive failure of government-favored coal liquefaction projects in the 1970s. Conservatives are entitled to be disappointed that their president prefers to have his bureaucrats pick technological winners rather than leave that decision to the market. Greater reliance on getting the price of fossil fuels right by having them reflect all the costs of their consumption, and less reliance on government subsidy schemes, would remind us more of the Bush who rode into town from Crawford, and less of the Bush who now lives among the Washington bureaucracy.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, "I can tell you that nothing has really taken me aback more as secretary of state than the way that the politics of energy is--I will use the word warping--diplomacy around the world." Yet, we are doing nothing about the fact that we rely for a steady flow of oil on the likes of Saudi Arabia, which uses its oil revenues to finance terrorists in the hope of diverting them to external targets, but whose oil facilities are nevertheless subject to attack and disruption; Iran, which is threatening to turn off its spigot if the world angers it by moving against its nuclear weapons program to forestall it from achieving its stated goal of wiping Israel from the face of the earth; Venezuela, controlled by an anti-American Castro clone who has already seized several oil fields from major oil companies; Iraq, in a state of turmoil; Russia, in which oil is seen by Vladimir Putin more as a weapon in the geopolitical wars than as a commodity; and unstable regimes in Africa, all now supported by oil-hungry China, a leading investor in Iran.

That reliance--addiction, if you prefer--forces us to send billions of dollars to regimes that finance terrorists or, at minimum, do not wish us well. The cost of that addiction should be borne by the addicts, Americans who drive their cars and heat their homes with a fuel that is dangerous to the nation's health. So conservatives concerned with national security, with the "warping" of our diplomacy, with the ability of our economy to continue growing, and with the need to develop market-oriented environmental policies, should be clamoring for a tax on oil use. That would be fairer than taxing gasoline alone: It shares the burden between regions of the country that use oil for heating (the Northeast), and regions in which drivers cover long distances to get to work and the supermarket (the West).

Such a tax on oil use would, of course, generate huge revenues, not a good thing from the point of view of anyone already appalled by the president's LBJ-like expansion of government. No problem: Those revenues can be offset by reductions in the regressive, job-destroying payroll tax now levied on salaries. "Tax dangerous oil consumption, not wealth-creating jobs" is a slogan that just might have some popular appeal.

Such a tax on oil use would, of course, generate huge revenues, not a good thing from the point of view of anyone already appalled by the president's LBJ-like expansion of government.

Actually, the huge added revenues would barely make a dent in the Jupiter-sized debt Bush has rung up, so no problem there.
The simple fact of the matter is that the US is ruled by swine.

There are two constituencies: a very small number of people with the bucks, and a very large number of people with the votes. The whole idea is to make  deals with the people with the bucks so as to get the money to run campaigns in order to promise the people with the votes that you have their interests at heart and get them to vote for you.

 The candidate with the most bucks is usually the candidate with the most successful propaganda, and hence the candidate who wins.

That's about all you need to know about American politics.

I personally am not voting anymore. Why? Because my vote is meaningless, and my vote only validates a corrupt system, and I no longer want to be part of that. So, essentially, my non-vote is a vote of 'no confidence'.  Which I feel is a stronger statement than a vote for the lesser of two evils.

I am in the passive-aggressive mode right now.

"Don't vote!  It just encourages them!"

I personally am not voting anymore. Why? Because my vote is meaningless, and my vote only validates a corrupt system, and I no longer want to be part of that. So, essentially, my non-vote is a vote of 'no confidence'.  Which I feel is a stronger statement than a vote for the lesser of two evils.

We should pass a law requiring a
"none of the above" choice on all
ballots just to let TPTB know the
level of voter dissatisfaction with
the status quo ..


That's an insult to swine. I've never heard a pig tell a lie. A pig is more likely to reveal a lie. They are good squealers.
A couple Republicans were on MSNBC's Hardball, and I got to hear their answer (repeated many times) to high gasoline prices.  Are you ready?

Increased domestic exploration

That sounds to me like you are out of Pepsi, and your answer is to keep checking the fridge.

The Daily Show was an old repeat, so I watched O'Reilly.

O'Reilly dissed futures traders and speculators as gamblers that are artificially inflating the price of oil in a time of war!  He said there was no profiteering during WWII (!) and it is shameful that oil companies are doing it now, when there really is no shortage of oil.  His opponent Johnson did a pretty good job of rebutting him, citing the "why weren't they colluding when the price was only $20 a barrel?" argument.

Like the bud light commercial (saw it at the super bowl) where the guy had the revolving wall to make it look like his fridge was out of beer?

Only in the apartment next door, the guys are all worshipping the "magic fridge" hoping it would produce beer...

Amusing firefox+greasemonkey plug in for those who choose to see the entire world in terms of drumbs of oil:

"converts all prices from U.S. Dollars into the equivalent value in barrels of crude oil."

Gas buddy also has some very nice price trend charting ablities;

with lots of fun adjustments for looking at the data.

For example you can overlay the price of oil.  This chart

pretty much forces the answer to the question: "What the current run up in petrol prices is due to?"  But recognize that other time window's are less compelling.

Interesting comment from the King 5 TV blog in Seattle:

I'm not an expert but I do know that when supply is down and demand is up prices go up. But, what about an artificial lowering of supply?
I work in the the tug industry. The vessel I work on and it's sister are primarily assinged to assisting and escorting tankers entering Puget Sound. Recently my vessel and our sister were shut down for a few daysdue to a lack of work. The lay up are more common.
Several years ago we would assit 2 or 3 tankers a day. Now 1 aday or less. The refinery docks are empty. This also applys to our primary competitor. And yet the refieries claim they are work at capacity. Where are the tankers? Iwonder.

Hmm.. But inventories are at a high.  Perhaps the tankers are coming to other ports?  Or are our refineries that bogged down with the MTBE changeover?
These are important questions.

When I have a feeling that the economy is at a turning point, I take a rest from looking at the usual published numbers and "count" things such as numbers of unsold cars at nearby car dealerships, vacancy rates at new housing developments (very hard to get honest info here--but extremely useful to get even rough approximations). Also I talk to people who have little motive to bullshit me to get qualitative info on car sales, housing markets, demand for grain exports, shortages of, e.g. rebar, etc., etc.

For what it is worth, my casual empiricism (or SWAG or horseback opinion) suggests that we are close to the onset of a recession. IMO the housing market (especially for new construction) is much weaker now than suggested by numbers two months old, and a lot of car salesmen are about ready to sign up for food stamps.

In regard to car sales, many people who trade in vehicles have been "upside down" (owing more than their cars are worth) for years, and clever salesmen have "rolled-up" such deficiencies with creative techniques (i.e., fraud) to conceal this situation and make it appear that there is some value to the traded-in vehicle. This no longer can be done, especially in the case of big and rather new SUVs where people are sometimes upside down to the tune of $15,000 to $20,000.

With housing and car sales down, I think we will see a recession called officially within nine months.

I realize that I am sticking my neck way out here, but I trust my "nose" for timely information more than I do the official statistics.

If my prediction is correct, then demand for oil in the U.S. could decline somewhat (probably not a helluva lot), and what impact this decline might have on speculative expectations and the price of oil is anybody's guess.

This is an interesting article.
"With international oil prices breaching US$75 per barrel, China's crude prices, which fluctuate with international benchmarks, are expected to rise considerably as well. The country's Daqing crude price is forecast to rise to 4,701 (US$586.55) yuan/ton in May, 421 yuan/ton higher than that in April"

If there are about 7 barrels of oil to a ton. then this means that the Chinese think their oil will be $83/b this month and $91/b next month.

Lord Browne, BP boss, see petrol prices averaging over £1 / litre if crude prices continue to rise.  
"But if crude oil prices keep going up, and we don't fully understand why crude oil prices are going up at this rate, then indeed they may well create the price of petrol above a pound a litre."

That does not really tell us much - most of us could make that assumption.  What is more telling is the comment that they (BP) do not fully understand why prices are rising.  If the head of the UK's largest company, with the resources at his disposal, has problems understanding what is driving price movements, it makes the forecasts make by various pundits seem like pure guesswork.  
Of course - those with a more suspicious nature might believe that BP understands exactly what is driving prices, but prefer not to open that particular debate.

Quote is from BBC business news

For reference, 1GBP/litre = $6.74 per US gallon. From Gas Price Calculator.
Rebuilding of Iraqi Pipeline as Disaster Waiting to Happen

When Robert Sanders was sent by the Army to inspect the construction work an American company was doing on the banks of the Tigris River, 130 miles north of Baghdad, he expected to see workers drilling holes beneath the riverbed to restore a crucial set of large oil pipelines, which had been bombed during the invasion of Iraq.What he found instead that day in July 2004 looked like some gargantuan heart-bypass operation gone nightmarishly bad. A crew had bulldozed a 300-foot-long trench along a giant drill bit in their desperate attempt to yank it loose from the riverbed. A supervisor later told him that the project's crews knew that drilling the holes was not possible, but that they had been instructed by the company in charge of the project to continue anyway.

A few weeks later, after the project had burned up all of the $75.7 million allocated to it, the work came to a halt.

It has this graphic:

Thank you, Leanan.
Hey, kids, only a month until hurricane season!

Another debate: (emphasis added)

MONTEREY, California (Reuters) - The record Atlantic hurricane season last year can be attributed to global warming, several top experts, including a leading U.S. government storm researcher, said on Monday.

"The hurricanes we are seeing are indeed a direct result of climate change and it's no longer something we'll see in the future, it's happening now," said Greg Holland, a division director at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Holland told a packed hall at the American Meteorological Society's 27th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology that the wind and warmer water conditions that fuel storms that form in the Caribbean are "increasingly due to greenhouse gases. There seems to be no other conclusion you can logically draw."

The CNN special on global warming that aired last weekend had a brief clip with Dr. Gray, who still insists that hurricanes are driven by a natural cycles.  But they clearly stated that he is now outside the mainstream.  They said the only reason Gray had any credibility at all is that he's known for making the yearly hurricane forecasts.  The scientific mainstream now thinks global warming is behind the increase in Atlantic hurricanes.  

Yesterday, there was an article on the front page of USA Today, about the levees in New Orleans.  It interviewed some of the people who were rebuilding, and they said Katrina was a "hundred year storm."  They seemed to think that meant it wouldn't come along again for another 100 years, which is not correct.  

Worse, I suspect Katrina was not a 100-year storm.  Not any more.  Global warming may mean storms like Katrina are five-year storms or ten-year storms, not hundred-year storms.  


About the third time we got "hundred year rains" when I was growing up I pretty much tossed that idea.

New Orleans was hit pretty hard forty years ago, and then last year.  The thing is that growth and loss of wetland area (the natural barrier between N.O. and the gulf) has increased exponentially.

Technically, Katrina was only a Cat III when she finally came ashore (I read that but don't have a link, the weather service revised their category estimate after analyzing the data after the storm).  

A Cat III is NOT a "hundred year storm" by any definition.  

There were a few posts on the science and environmental blogs yesterday, about fears amongst scientists that the hurricane link was being oversold.

Yes, certainly warmer ocean waters will mean more/stronger hurricanes on average, but people may not wait for the averages to total up.  They may see a quiet year or two (completely possible, even with a global warming and hurricane connection) as a proof that there is nothing to worry about.

Not sure what our attraction to water is all
about .. Maybe we really are 'sea monkeys' after
all <gg> .. But I do know that if we insist on
trying to build cities below sea-level a la New
Orleans or permit development within 20 foot
elevations above mean high tide levels that we'll
have to assume significant annual destruction to that
infrastructure ..

Triff ..