Saturday Open Thread

Have at it...
Dont know if this was posted here before, but really frames Chavez in a light that makes me feel less happy to be an American:

link to Chavez story

Hello theLastSasquatch,

If Chavez started a Powerdown program combined with a voluntary cultural shift to one child families, he could dribble out the detritus for highly profitable export for decades.  Otherwise, this country will eventually be caught in the 'Detritus Dependency Trap' like the US and other countries.

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

When we've finished with Iraq and Iran, Venezuila with probably be the next country on the list to receive the benefits of 'regime change.' Chavez is already getting the 'Hitler treatment' and finding an excuse for intervening in Venzuela won't be particularly difficult.
Hello Writerman,

You may be sadly correct, check out this Yahoo news link:

Is this the truth or milgov propaganda--How can we know the real facts?  IMHO, makes no sense for Venezuela to tease or anger the US elites.

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

A few hours ago I saw Chavez on the BBC. He wanted OPEC to recognize Venezuela as the world's lagest source of oil. According to him Venezuela has enough oil for a hundred years supply, which sounds great, if one can figure out exactly what he really means! It would appear he's including the tarsand into this figure. He also said the US was planning to invade his country, but this would be a very bad idea, as nobody would get any oil, not us, not you, and the resulting war would last a very long time. Let's just hope it doesn't really come to that.
In all fairness to Hugo, and just to keep a little bit of balance we should probably include an editorial from

After all, a dictator is a dictator.

For those of you who like to insinuate that George Bush is the real fascist and that the Venezuelan is merely a populist, you might want to remind yourself that by January, 2008, GWB will no longer be in office, while Mr. Chavez for all intents and purposes will be there for life.

I seem to recall that Mr. Hitler was elected and Mr. Hussein always had surprisingly high approval ratings.

I seem to recall that Mr. Hitler was elected . . .

 You are incorrect. On March 5, 1933 the last free elections were held in Germany. The people denied Hitler his majority, giving the Nazis only 44 per cent of the total vote despite massive Nazi propaganda and SS/SA intimidation of the electorate.

 Hitler simply proclaimed himself to be above the constitution, commenced unfettered spying on the populace, detained individuals without warrant and spirited them away to remote camps, controlled all information release, appointed himself Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and manufactured evidence to justify pre-emptive warfare and regime change.


Yes the Nazi Party had the most seats but did not get a popular majority of the votes (50%+1 vote). This inspite of massive intimidation by the Nazi, Nationalists and the Communist and Socialists. Lots of people were cracking heads back then. The nearest party in popular vote had 18%.

However the Nationalist Party (DNVP) joined in a coalition with the NSDAP which was well over 50%. The Catholic Party later joined to give Hitler the 2/3rds vote he needed to become a dictator "legally."

By this point in time in Germany the center parties were reeling, and the Socialist (SPD) and Commies were the strongest on the hard left, and in a minority.

Link at:,_1933

Then Hitler, like Chavez, essentially usurped full power and ended the Weimar Republic. Chavez is an embryonic dictator, albeit one who is popular with the poor of that nation (usually with darker skins) than the middle and upper classes.

What else is interesting is that Germany was the most educated country per capita in 1933 when it freely elected Hitler to lead the nation.

"Embryonic dictator" means "I don't like him but I don't have anything on him."

 And I believe that the USA was the most educated nation on a per capita basis when it elected George II in 2004.

 I do not believe the same can be said for Venezuela.

you are dreaming
Oil CEO,

Why should anyone believe your biased source of news?

Just because you post a link does not make it true.

Seems you have an axe to grind against Chavez.

What might that be?

And gee, I do wonder what could possibly cause anyone to have a beef with Hugo Chavez...

Let's see. Could it be because his "Bolivarian Circles" have violently assaulted his opposition? Because his police have been known to randomly fire into demonstrations against him? Because he is chummy with Castro? Because his bureaucracy uses the Tascon list (the original petition list for recall against him) to blacklist the entire opposition, down to opposition voters? Because he has switched his elections to using paperless computerized balloting machines, with which he not only has made recounts and vote auditing impossible, but which have destroyed the right to a secret ballot? Because he will form warm relations with anyone who opposes the US, even Mugabe? Because he has defunded hospitals in regions that  voted against him, causing the health systems there to deteriorate? Because he has tried to foment war in several neighboring countries? Because he shelters FARC members from justice?

Opposing Bush is one thing. But I am amazed at the willingness of people on the left to latch on to anyone who opposes him, no matter how vile he might be.

The tears are pouring down my face as I pity those poor Venezuelan oligarchs groaning under the unbearable weight of such oppression.
If only they were opposing some admirable, US supported democracy like '80s El Salvador, they would be able to enjoy all the benefits of enlightened, tolerant governance.
Your attitude is disgusting.  At a minimum, 1/3 of the voters (too many to be "oligarchs") are strongly against Chavez.

He is clearly undermining an established democracy so that he can be "President for Life", yet that is "OK" as long as he opposes the US.

So, for you, Dictators of the Right, Bad,
Dictators of the Left, Good.

I think the jury is still out about what his plans are re being "president for life".  Most of what I'm reading has to do with having "flipped" the society on it's head, so that now the ones who used to be on top are on the bottom, and visa versa.  Naturally this pisses off on group while the other group loves it.

It also points out that a stable society requires a strong middle class, which is what we used to have (and it worked very well for us too).  We are busy ripping that apart now, and our stability is going with it.

There was a very long interview that Chavez gave, I believe it was Ted Koppel, in the last year. ABC(or whatever network it was) devoted the better part of an hour's(Nightline, World News Special, 20/20, Primetime Live?) to it. I'm kicking myself now, who thought Hugo would become so popular?

Double points to whoever can provide a link to the video. Contained is a very interesting exchange regarding the "presidency for life" issue. You can only truly understand this issue when you are watching Hugo getting grilled by Koppel.

No link to that interview but here's how the evil dictator violently maintained power Torrent
If Hugo Chavez Frias is a dictator, I'm a ballerina.
Read again the list of his misdeeds provided by the previous poster, and I challenge you to repeat with a straight face  that they are intolerable acts of tyranny.
So apparently black box voting doesn't make someone a tyrant. I would shudder to  live in your idea of democracy, whatever it might be.
Well, at least you recognise GWBush as a tyrant then. You're not totally blind to reality:-)

This is the second time that you've responded to me on the subject of Mr. Chavez. I suggest the third time you add something of substance. Both times you have attacked me and not the argument. This is an unacceptable form of debate. My axe to grind with Mr. Chavez is that I don't believe he is what he appears to some people. I think I've made that abundantly clear with the material I've presented on the subject. You are welcome to your opinion of Mr.Chavez, I understand that you don't agree with mine, nor feel I have the right to express it. If you have something to say in defence of Mr. Chavez, say it. Otherwise, I would appreciate it if you left me alone.

It's fully true that Hitler was elected that first time around. But W wan't elected. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd like to slice off Florida and let it drift. That was before Y2K! Let that piece of sh#$% drift and 9/11 Cuba. CRASH!!!!

I guess that Democracy was the Y2K computer failure. Democracy wasn't Y2K-compliant.

Chavex is described as a demagogue:-  

"a person who tries to stir up the people by appeals to emotion, prejudice, etc., in order to win them over quickly and so gain power."

And you find that different from GWB?.  As for there for life, if the US govermental system did not have the 2 term rule, your politians might be inclined to invest more in the future instead of worrying about the next circus.

Is it so very wrong to use the wealth of your country to the benefit of its people?  I find the anti american rhetoric unhelpful, but in light of that coming out of Washington entirely justified.  It will take some more years and elections to see if the man is a genuine democrat.

Before all the charges and counter charges go too far, the facts would be nice:

"in 1999, a National Constituent Assembly drafted a new constitution that increased the presidential term to six years; an election was subsequently held on 30 July 2000 under the terms of this new constitution.

"election results: Hugo CHAVEZ Frias reelected president; percent of vote - Hugo CHAVEZ Frias 59.5%, Francisco ARIAS 37.5%, Claudio FERMIN 3%
note: a special presidential recall vote on 15 August 2004 resulted in a victory for CHAVEZ; percent of vote - 58% in favor of CHAVEZ fulfilling the remaining two years of his term, 42% in favor of terminating his presidency immediately"

Please note the source of this information:

I assume most understand the length of a U.S. presidential term.

Venezuelan president can serve for two consecutive terms.  So can the U.S. president.

Until either man suspends his country's constitution, comparisons to Hitler for either is foolish and adolescent.

so Chavez term is up on Jul 30th this year? Whens the election? Who will replace him? I was unaware of that - thanks
I believe the elections are to be held Dec 2006.
correction: Jan, 2009. Although this Wilson/Plame/Novak/(Rove?)/Miller/Fitzgerald/NYT/Time/Cooper/Libby ->Cheney ->Bush thing looks like it could possibly alter that. Note to Whitehouse: bring Ari Fleischer back.
There is almost no detail in the article you cite. As a piece of journalism it is almost a complete failure. There may be details in some of the other articles linked on the same page but this one is bad polemics. Who are his cronies for example? Not one name. He uses airtime to rant and rave....and sing...he forgot to mention that. George Bush is no democrat. He may be gone in 3 years but the system remains. Imagine the big US of A running scared from someone like Chavez!
I believe this is an editorial I cited. Your comment is also an editorial. Maybe you think you sing better than he does?

As a piece of journalism it is almost a complete failure.

OK. Fair enough. But let's engage in an exercise now. Let's take a look at the word 'almost.' Can you point out the part where it wasn't a failure? Certainly you read it carefully enough to notice. Your next sentence highlights the importance of details.

W doesn't like Hugo for at least one reason. Hugo got ELECTED, not APPOINTED. There's a giant difference between these two heads of state. While W got appointed and re-appointed, Hugo got elected by popular vote fair and square. Nobody can question that. Bush cannot claim that he got ELECTED even once, let alone twice. Sounds like the ol' pot and kettle in a worst case.
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?
Do you guys see any employment prospects for Petroleum engineers post peak?
Hello Ahas....H,

Develop technology to extract the petroleum residue from the crumbling national asphalt pavement, and the asphalt roofing shingles from abandoned McMansions?   =)

Seriously, I would develop the skills & knowledge to match the oil sands tech, or the same for coal-to-fuel conversion tech.

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

My understanding is that there's a very serious shortage of qualified people that's likely to last a long time.
Good point, Stuart. The demand for petroleum and chemical engineers seems to (roughly) follow the price of oil. When oil prices crash down, no jobs. Price of oil goes up, the old and the feeble and the young and the unproven, all are in great demand.

IMO the limited number of engineers is very likely the binding constraint on how fast we can increase the supply of conventional and nonconventional energy to deal with peak oil. Thus, the compensation of such engineers may rise to higher (real) levels than ever seen before--and stay there for decades.

opposite will hold for liscenced real estate brokers, stockbrokers, lawyers etc. jury is still out on fortune tellers and carnival employees as there are pros and cons.

id go to naturopathy school now over med school in a heartbeat - my friends in med school have to memorize SO many different drug interactions and different procedures based on oil/energy its insane. prevention will be where its at. And poppy farming...

Last Sasquatch,

I totally agree.  In fact, I've got a stack of book on alterantive/preventative medicine (accupressure type stuff) and am trying  to teach myself the basics.

Kunsterl says 1 out of 3 americans is on some type of anti-depressant. Don't know if that is true or not but even if it is only 1 out of 10 that's still amazingly high.



after the dust settles, peoples diets will be better off and the exercise and withdrawal from serotonin lowering inputs of caffeine and sugar, will make people healthier.

(anti-depressants increase serotonin uptake)

There's a theory that one of the causes of depression is mineral deficiency.  Some people have been successfully treated with intensive supplement therapy in a small clinical trial.  I believe a larger trial is ongoing now.  

The idea is that American farmland is now so depleted the only reason crops grow at all is synthetic fertilizers.  The result is food that is not as nutritious as it was in the past.  From Discover:

In 1997 a British study compared the mineral content of fruits and vegetables grown in the 1930s with the mineral content of produce grown in the 1980s. It found that several nutrients had dropped dramatically, including calcium (down nearly 30 percent), iron (down 32 percent), and magnesium (down 21 percent).

I also wonder if hygiene may be an issue.  Our food is so clean.  My dentist was astonished when I came home from two years in the Philippines.  My tooth enamel was as worn down as that of the typical 60-year-old American - and I was only 16.  He said it was likely because food in developing nations has so much grit in it compared to American food.


I take it your familiar with the rapidly falling sperm levels of American men? I've seen articles linking it to xeno-estrogens from the chemicals in the environment to lack of magnesium and zinc in our food.

The estrognes in the environment could also have an effect on mental state.



So estrogen is a mind altering drug? That explains so much...
As is testosterone, although "substance" is probably more accurate than "drug." :-)
Fertilizers don't attempt to provide the trace minerals  present in soil to my knowledge; so maybe they are depleted in the soil in turn causing the produce to have deficiencies.
Experiments on mice may give an indication of the effects of chronic caffeine administration. The density of cortical A1 adenosine receptors increased 20% whereas the density of A2A receptors in the basal ganglia did not change. Densities of cortical serotonin receptors increased by 26-30%, cortical cholinergic receptor densities increased 40-50% and cortical GABAA receptor densities increased 65%. Cortical & cerebellar adrenergic receptor densities decreased by 25% [CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR NEUROBIOLOGY 13(2):247-261 (1993)].

caffeine is an upper not a downer

sugar intake boosts serotonin levels also.

Of course it boosts serotonin immediately - thats why we eat it!, but the spike is non-sustainable, and just like Ken Deffeyes peak was last December, it borrows from the future - after several hours the system is back to low-serotonin levels. If we use sugar repeatedly, there is a chronic loss in serotonin levels.
link to study on sugar consumption and societal depression levels

link to explanation of short term boost of serotonin]

link to sugar addiction interview

Hmm.  There's no mention in your sugar consumption comparison link of controlling for anything, and they got a 95% R^2.  I'm guessing that both sugar consumption and major depression are highly correlated with "being a developed country".  Thus the causation may not run sugar->depression, but either "depression->sugar" (self-medicating) or just other factors in common cause both.
OilRig Medic,

Could you translate htat into english? Today was suppossed to be my first day w/o caffeine in years. I only made it til 4:00 pm until I had to give in. But I only had half as much as usual so I guess that's a victory.

I can't afford to go off during the week so I'm trying to forgoe it all together on the weekends and only have half as much as usual during the week.




Caffeine like so many other things in our society is good in moderation. 1-2 cups of coffee a day is fine.  Even good for the heart check the AHA website.  All the calories and milkfat that we drink with it counters any good however.  My preffered form is Coca Cola which is bad the high fructose corn syrup is a pretty sure cause of adult onset diabetes but I love the Sh#%.  Anyway two cups black coffee is good for you.

I make an ersatz "Cafe au Lait" each morning.  Take 1/2 cup of skim milk + 1/2 cup water to boil (in microwave, watch closely and put in saucer) add instant dark roast chicory coffee and one packet Equal and enjoy !

No milkfat, but milk solids, no sugar.

I figure nothing bad and I get my morning fix :-)

after the dust settles, peoples diets . . . snip . . .  will make people healthier

 Better check exactly what is in that dust. A study by the University of Arizona indicates that depleted uranium has significant health implications:

Depleted uranium - what is left over when the highly radioactive isotopes of uranium are removed - is widely used by the military. Anti-tank weapons, tank armor and ammunition rounds are just some of the applications. "The health effects of uranium really haven't been studied since the Manhattan Project (the development of the atomic bomb in the early 1940s). But now there is more interest in the health effects of depleted uranium. People are asking questions now," Stearns said.

Her research may shed light on the possible connection between exposure to depleted uranium and Gulf War Syndrome, or to increased cancers and birth defects in the Middle East and Balkans.

 The increased cancers are noted three to five years after exposure. Going to become increasingly difficult to have troops rotate into Iraq if this finding holds up. Certainly not going to earn a lot of points with the "liberated" citizens of Iraq.

"Kunsterl" (diminutive of Kunstler) in his, as his terms it, his "Pin stripped" suit, is actually correct on this one, apparantly one hell of a lot of Amurrikans are on anti-depresants.
and alot of the ones who arent are self medicating -coffee and carbs, happy hour with alcohol, watching TV, playing freecell, smoking etc
I self medicate with New Orleans cooking. The concept of health food never made it down the river, but the tastes ....


Currently jonesing for decent food in chain food hell Phoenix.  Back next week ...

I'm continually puzzled by the disparity between the earnings of top engineers/scientists and those in the finance sector (and I come from the latter). It seems to be just one more indicator of how imbalanced our modern society has become.

Now, I confess I don't know exactly how much a top petroleum geologist is paid, but I suspect it's substantially less than even a mid-level employee in investment banking. In the UK, some 3000 City of London financial workers were reported to have received bonuses of 1m GBP ($1.74m) this winter.

Many of these people are extremely bright and well-educated, but certainly no more so than skilled petroleum engineers and scientists. And unlike in the energy industry, there's no shortage of them. With the incredible amount of money bouncing around the oil sector, why aren't the top engineers being paid in seven figures?

Part of the shortage of scientists in the energy sector is probably being exacerbated by the finance sector itself. My son is due to start reading Chemistry at Oxford in October, and already he's being tempted by overtures from the banking sector, with promises of earnings he could never expect to make in the scientific field (the mathematical and analytical skills of chemists/physicists are highly valued in the development of modern trading systems).

Something needs to change. We ought to have the brightest minds on the planet working on solutions to the growing threats to economic stability from resource depletion, instead of dreaming up ever-more sophisticated derivatives strategies.

And they should be rewarded accordingly.

I have phrased it this way--what would the value of the 100 largest financial institutions be without the 100 largest oil fields?  

Note that energy has intrinsic value regardless of our concepts of money and capital.  Do money and capital have intrinsic value without energy?  

To ask the question is to know the answer, which is why the financial guys--by and large, along with their cohorts in the media, housing/auto industries, etc.--absolutely hate the Peak Oil concept.

why aren't the top engineers being paid in seven figures?

The price that one is paid for one's service is a negotiated value. People in the finance sector are taught to negotiate and to "play with the numbers" until the results come out the way they want them to, namely, to say that financial employees are the most valuble ones to company becuase they can talk the dumb engineers into accepting lower salaries.

Engineers are not taught to negotiate and play with numbers so as to arrive at a self-flattering portrait. In fact, engineers have no control over how the bottom line appears on the books because engineers never get to play with the books. Engineers have to play with Mother Nature. She doesn't take any book sh*t.

looked at in another way - organisms that have been the best at harvesting, refining and using energy have evolutionarily had an advantage.  over time, natural selection optimized the most efficient methods for energy capture, transformation, and consumption, both in humans and other species. (Cheetahs that expend more energy chasing a small gazelle than they receive from eating it will not incrementally survive to produce offspring.) Humans have recently found huge surplus energy - much more than we needed to survive - combine this fact with a normal distribution of intellect, drive, tenacity, desire, luck, etc and some part of the distribution will become the best at garnering the spoils of the leverage of fossil fuels. The law of large numbers concentrates these people in the areas that are best at harvesting, concentrating econonmics-not energy. Indeed, there are many billionaires among us. the financial world UNDERSTANDS leverage to begin with -

our current story is really about the interesection of two worlds - the economic one, where the modern fitness metric is growth, and the thermodynamic one, where the age old necessity of energy invested to energy received will become increasingly more important. Economics, in my opinion, only works when all players have at least an opportunity to be better off next year as this. This has only been available when there has been a next step on humans climb on the ladder of energy density. Will there be another step? An incremental step down? A step off a cliff??

peak oil is past. now we are at peak total oils, and eventually peak liquid fuels, -once we pass total net energy left over to non-energy producing society is when the fitness barometer will start to change to those who can most readily produce human necessities - the transition period - 5-10 years - will still be dominated by the economic-world leverage success stories, as the capitalist system will allow them to trade dollars,euros,gold etc in for land, water, goods, etc. after that period is over, all the money in the world wont teach someone how to protect plants from slugs, skin a deer, start a fire, etc.

ECONOMIC ERA > 1600-2004 - icon example Donald Trump
> 2005-2010 -icon example Stuart Staniford
THERMODYNAMIC ERA => 2011- icon example - MacGyver

The icon example of MacGyver is a good one. I like Mad Max, hence my screen name "Mad Maxout". Check out the flick "Road Warrior" to see a "Mad Max" in action, complete with an oil refinery tribe. The coolest yet made Peak Oil movie. I bet other Peak Oil flicks will be made, adding some entertainment to the fun and games.
Don't forget DOOM.  The whole point of the research station on Mars is supposedly to find a new source of energy to replace earth's depleted hydrocarbons.  

Wonder if that made it into the movie?  

.. nor are least the ones who got their $ worth in their education. If there is such as thing as revealed truth on the web, step back has it of the most intelligent, penetrating statements of truth I have seen on TOD. As a moderately-capable geologist who struggles with with Ma Earth every day, I can empathize (sp?). She doesn't suffer fools (read those who don't understand the physical laws of the universe, as best we meager humans can understand them) and their voodoo at all. Bravo.
Wow. I'm lucky to be making $45,000/year. It's like if I hear about the economy it's like if they got the data from those two Mars rovers. The housing market is too much like The Twilight Zone. Imagine driving an ordinary car but you drive by a development with the homes going for a million bucks a pop. It gets like a flight through The Twilight Zone in a nice fast plane. (think of a nice SR-71)

Are things insane or what? Certainly with the housing market. When houses go for a megabuck seconds away from a high school with shootings, something's wrong.

You should strive toward being a net food producer or net energy producer, on affiliated with a company doing one or the other, or energy conservation.

Alternatively, you should be affiliated with a company providing basic needs--and not wants--such as clean water; basic shelter; basic health care; basic transportation, etc.

Today, the majority of Americans live off the discretionary income of other Americans.  The transition to an economy focused on meeting needs and not wants is not going to be pleasant.

"Today, the majority of Americans live off the discretionary income of other Americans. "


West Texas,

That's a very lucid way of putting it. I would say that most of us here on TOD and elsewhere are in that category: living off the discretionary income of other Americans.

I hear it (here and elswhere) that we simply need to "cut back" on nonessentials and much of the problem will be solved or greatly alleviated/mitigated.  Of course the person(s)making that statement doesn't realize that if we follow their advice, they won't have an income since they most often aren't involved in truly necessary endeavors: the production of food, water, energy, medicine.

So sure, we could cut back on non-essentials to a great degree. But then most of us would be unemployed or underemployed and unable to meet our financial obligations. And when you have a large body of unemployed or underemployed people, there always arises demagogue(s) and political mischeif.

In the end we're going to have to go this route anyway but as you say it's not going to be pleasant.



My last software development contract was indirectly in the movie business ... that kind of amuses me.  Can't get much more discretionary than that.

... actually I bought into some kind of dumb-ass moive partnership shares 20 years ago ... it paid, but below inflation.  I guess I got my money back in the long run ;-)

But anyway, you've got to plot a pretty steep depletion curve for industries like that to try up.  These blanket statements that 'most of us would be unemployed or underemployed' are rooted in irrational fear, not realistic modeling

Post peak, oil will be worth more than ever. Petroleum engineers should be able to write their own tickets as long as oil remains in the ground. This was one of the reasons I jumped from a chemical company to an oil company. I see oil companies benefiting greatly in the future, and making some moves into alternatives when they think there is money to be made there.


I expect so. I quick glance at the internet recruitment pages in the UK shows hundreds of oil industry jobs. What will the oil industry look like 10 years after peak? Well what will anything look like!? But I would be surprised if there wasn't still a high demand for people who understood how to get oil out of the ground and into an internal combustion engine.
According to an article in the London Times Christophe de Margerie, head of exploration for Total and heir presumptive to the leadership of the French energy multinational believes "The world lacks the means to produce enough oil to meet rising projections of demand for fuel over the next decade"

He says "The world was confusing the issue of reserves with the scale of the problem in producing those reserves."

We are getting the message across slowly.

Argument Made That Peak Production Will Be Hampered By Too Few Resources - People, Facilities, Etc.

World 'cannot meet oil demand'

April 8, 2006

By Carl Mortished, International Business Editor

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.

The world is mistakenly focusing on oil reserves when the problem is capacity to produce oil, M de Margerie said in an interview with The Times. Forecasters, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), have failed to consider the speed at which new resources can be brought into production, he believes.

"Numbers like 120 million barrels per day will never be reached, never," he said.

Snip ......,,13130-2124287,00.html

The world is mistakenly focusing on oil reserves when the problem is capacity to produce oil,

That's pretty much what I have been arguing. What looks like a peak right now is a bottleneck. Oil production will continue to creep higher, but supply and demand will be so tight that oil prices will remain high.


I think we may be at peak now.  That is, we cannot bring new production online fast enough to offset the decline of the aging giants.  Like Prudhoe was for the U.S., new projects may end up being just a pimple on the backside of the downslope.
I think we will bring production online to more than offset declining fields, but I don't believe we will bring it online fast enough to offset that plus increased demand. If I am correct, you will see production increase, but prices stay high. If you are correct, we will see production decrease (and prices stay high).


Well, you could be right.  Frankly, I hope that you are.  I'm not ready for peak oil yet.

But I think the fact that high prices have not greatly increased production is telling.  I don't blame "above the ground" difficulties.  We've always had those, and they are likely to get worse rather than better in the future.    

You've been saying this for a few days, but I haven't seen you back up your opinion with anything.  What do you think capacity erosion will be in 2006, 2007, and 2008, and why?
I disagree that I haven't backed it up. I have pointed out multiple times that the projects currently coming online were based on economics of about $25 a barrel. Economics of $70 a barrel would certainly have meant more projects that were considered marginal would have been coming online. You have seen the mega-projects list. You know that there is a lot of capacity coming online. Those projects don't even include all of the small projects people are doing to squeeze more production out. I know of at least half a dozen of those that aren't on the mega-projects list. So, I can extrapolate that to there being a whole lot of capacity coming online from many small projects.

As I have pointed out once before, even though your graph seems to indicate a plateau, only 2 months in the past 13 showed lower production than the corresponding month in the previous years. Those were the 2 months directly following the hurricane.

So, what is the capacity erosion going to be? That's a hard call, but it currently isn't enough to offset increases in production that have been achieved over the past year. And we are about to see a lot more new production come online. Some of the lost gulf production will be coming online. We will probably see some Nigerian production come back online. And some of these new projects will come online.


 "I disagree that I haven't backed it up. I have pointed out multiple times that the projects currently coming online were based on economics of about $25 a barrel. Economics of $70 a barrel would certainly have meant more projects that were considered marginal would have been coming online. You have seen the mega-projects list. You know that there is a lot of capacity coming online. Those projects don't even include all of the small projects people are doing to squeeze more production out. I know of at least half a dozen of those that aren't on the mega-projects list. So, I can extrapolate that to there being a whole lot of capacity coming online from many small projects."

Been there. Done that.

Texas peaked in 1972, at 54% of Qt based on the HL plot I did.  

Oil prices exploded from 1972 to 1980 by 1,000%.

We had the biggest drilling boom in state history in the Seventies--lots of "many small projects."

We increased the number of producing wells by 14% from 1972 to 1982.


Production dropped by about 30% from 1972 to 1982.

The smaller fields don't make up for the declines from the large, old oil fields, whether it's Texas, the Lower 48, the entire USA, the North Sea, Russia, or the world.

The smaller fields don't make up for the declines from the large, old oil fields, whether it's Texas, the Lower 48, the entire USA, the North Sea, Russia, or the world.

That wasn't my argument. My argument is that people are looking at the megaprojects, and trying to calculate the decline in existing fields, but there are a whole lot of small projects that are escaping the analysis. So, when you are trying to figure out whether X is greater than Y, it is important to note that you are really asking if X + Z is greater than Y. Z is being completely ignored while nitpicking over X and Y, but a lot of little Z's can add a significant amount to the equation.


but a lot of little Z's can add a significant amount to the equation.

That, I think, is the point of disagreement.  Can "little z's" make a difference?  Based on history, I would say no.  Even the not-so-little z of Prudhoe could not change the U.S. peak.  

That's the mistake several of you are making. You are presuming the peak, and then saying the little projects won't save us. What I am saying is that the calculations that seem to indicate a possible peak this year are not taking those small projects into account. Therefore, the peak is not as soon as you think, because some of the inputs are being ignored.


The whole point of a Hubbert linearization is that you can predict the peak based on the early discoveries - because the early discoveries are the larger, easier to produce ones.  So people who take the Hubbertian view are essentially saying small projects don't matter.
We are talking about 2 different things, though. I am talking about using the megaprojects list and calculating a decline in existing fields to suggest that there will be a peak this year. That has nothing to do with a Hubbert linearization.


But it's not the mega projects list that suggests a peak now.  The people looking ahead and counting expected new production coming in are saying we won't hit peak until 2008 or 2010 or later.

The ones predicting peak now, like Deffeyes, are using Hubbert linearization.  They aren't basing it on future production, but on the past.  

and if they are right, then current production using super-technology, water cut etc, is borrowing from the right hand side of the distribution. Meaning peak production year is past 50% point in graph. Two definitions of peak.
I think the lines are clearly drawn, and only the outcome of next few years will give us the answer. My nod goes with Westexas, largely because in the past all the small projects have not made up the difference when the largest fields decline. However, peakers also have a history of being wrong. The fact is we don't know precisely what will happen. Neither the data nor the knowledge to adequately interpret the data is available to anyone right now. I think RR, as much as I appreciate your remarks and find them valuable, continues the historical error of denying the importance of decline in current fields, especially every one of the current 1+ mbpd fields in existence. My advice to RR, if you want to pursuade "peakers," is to incorporate a serious, quantitative estimate of decline in your analysis. This is very difficult to do, and I believe Stuart has given it the best shot so far, primarily because adequate data and understanding don't exist (at least for the general public - Aramco may know). The point is that this unknown decline rate is what will determine whether we are at peak or not, even if all your fields go into production as hoped.
My advice to RR, if you want to pursuade "peakers," is to incorporate a serious, quantitative estimate of decline in your analysis. This is very difficult to do, and I believe Stuart has given it the best shot so far, primarily because adequate data and understanding don't exist (at least for the general public - Aramco may know).

The problem is that there are too many unknowns to be able to accurately predict an estimate of decline. You will have margins of error that are very large. So, I approach the problem a little differently. If I look at 2005, every month of the year, except the 2 following the hurricane, had higher production than the corresponding month of 2004. Projects coming online right now were based on the assumption that supply and demand would be more balanced, because Nigeria and hurricanes weren't factored into the equation. But perhaps more importantly, the presumed price of oil at the time these projects were being considered was about $25/bbl. In that case, you certainly aren't going to do marginal projects. That's a big reason more projects did not come online in 2005.

Here we are in 2006, and January production was higher than in January 2005 (and in fact higher than any month in the first quarter of 2005). This, despite the fact that around a million barrels a day are still offline from the hurricane and the situation in Nigeria (which started in January). For the entire year, 2005 production was a million barrels per day higher than in 2004, despite the hurricanes. So, despite any assumptions about rate of decline, production is still growing, and I haven't even yet factored in a couple of things. First, this year there are more barrels of new oil scheduled to come online than in 2005. Second, I know a lot of fields that aren't producing at full capacity because the demand simply isn't there since the refineries downstream are constrained. That's not an opinion or a speculation, it's a fact. But there are a lot of refinery debottlenecking projects in the works that will open them up for additional capacity in the next 2-3 years. Finally, most of the offline production in the gulf will come back online this year, and Nigeria probably will as well.

The issue about the small fields is a separate issue, and is addressed at those who are looking at the new production from the megaprojects list and speculating that it won't be enough to offset a peak this year. I am just pointing out that this analysis is ignoring a lot of small inputs into the calculation that could potentially throw your peak assumption off by 2 or 3 years. That's all.

Now, there's my qualitative analysis, which I believe is better than a quantitative analysis in which one of the key inputs is poorly known. It is based on information I have about this industry, in which I work. I don't mean to imply that I think the peak will be 20 years from now, and we do in fact need to prepare for a peak now. I just don't think it is on top of us, as some here believe. I have given my reasons above. You can save this post, so that when production does show an increase this year, as I believe it will, you know why those peak production forecasts for 2005 or 2006 were off by a few years.

I do think that some of you (not necessarily you) take this a bit too personally. I have no vested interest in proving my point. I am not engaging in fanciful thinking. I am just trying to objectively point out the reasons I don't believe we are at peak yet. It seems almost like some of you will be disappointed if we don't peak this year. I can't quite understand this, and maybe it is my misunderstanding. Because if we do in fact peak this year, life will be unpleasant for a long time.


Thank you for your thoughtful response.

I don't think I'm as far from you as you may think. I never thought we might be at rough ("fluctuating plateau") peak (and am still not sure) until around Nov. last year. I always figured it would be maybe 2010 or so. I was more concerned with supply/demand imbalance moving ahead as we approached peak. It was only the with onset of the hurricane disruptions, the ongoing travail in Iraq, and other issues such as Nigeria (all of which I suspect will continue), together with what I personally believe is the unprecedented simultaneous onset of potentially rapid decline (starting 2004-2006) of the last of the 1+mbpd fields - especially Ghawar - that I thought this might be it. I have no doubt that if all was well in the world we could expand production. Now, I am afraid that by the time production expansions and recoveries occur, the loss of the historic giants will be unrecoverable.

I think you're absolutely right that we'll eke out a year-on-year gain in 2006 over 2005.
Absent geopolitical catastrophe, of course, which caveat I assume you are tacitly making as well.
But it's all about Saudi Arabia and whether they can really add new capacity.
The spike in five-year futures, with its characteristic two-step up, one down behaviour, dates precisely from June 2004, when KSA opened the taps full.
If the Khursaniyah projacts don't add 0,8 mb in 2007 as promised, then look out.
RR's analysis is close to my own with one big assumption, no significant decline in Ghawar.

I wrote my brother "I think there is an 80% chance of a significant decline in world oil production between 2008 & 2011".  I used decline, not Peak, because that is when economic effects will get intense.  Significant is a bit over 1% decline.

Second, I know a lot of fields that aren't producing at full capacity because the demand simply isn't there since the refineries downstream are constrained. That's not an opinion or a speculation, it's a fact.

That's a very interesting observation.  I'm curious though.

The picture you paint is that oil companies have believed prices are only high in the short term (their internal price is low reflecting the fact that they believe crude prices will drop again in the future).  However, temporarily, oil is $60ish.  Yet they have shut-in production.  It would seem to me that a producer in that situation would be smart to call up a refinery and offer to sell the output for, say $55, right?  They would try to grow their market share and displace other suppliers of the refinery.  That would be better than shutting it in and then selling it at $30 or whatever they believe the price will be in the future.  Of course if they all do that, prices might drop some.  Since crude prices have in fact stayed very high, it would seem to me that these producers with shut-in capacity are effectively giving away money (as they see it, anyway).  At least that's been my reasoning to date - is there something I'm missing?

You're also saying that the producers have shut-in capacity and the refineries are the bottleneck, and yet producers have higher profit margins than refineries.  What am I missing there?  Why can't the refineries stick it to the producers on margin, since there's excess oil production capacity?

Actually, I'd love if you were in a position to give any more detail on this business of shut-in production in the US.  I haven't heard any of our other industry insiders say this.  Anyone?

 Reading your comment I was reminded of the paper The Economics of Minerals

 Shutting in production would be in the economic interest of the producer if they had the expectation that future prices will be greater then current prices.

 Past experience has shown that not curtailing production has resulted in steep declines in market prices as all producers attempt to arrive at a market clearing price. Both the Texas RR Commission and OPEC originated as a solution to this problem.

 The real question is "What is the true value of a bbl of crude?" For the most part this value is negotiated between willing buyer and seller. But if I, as seller, have become accustomed to obtaining $60 a bbl then I am going to be reluctant to sell at a price below $60. This will be even more true if I believe that I can obain $80 a bbl in the subsequent year.

 Like you, I would be interested to see some evidence but the economic rationality seems clear provided there is no attempt to take market share on the part of any producer.

Expectations of oil prices in teh future are relevant for new infrastructure but not as relevant for current production capacity - and the reason isnt political or geological but economic. The stock market values companies on current earnings and proven reserves.  It would be a rare CEO that would let his stock go from $50 to $10 on a by throttling down on the expectation that oil will be higher in the future. About as aggressive you can get is to NOT hedge forward production and be naked exposed to higher prices in next quarter.
The picture you paint is that oil companies have believed prices are only high in the short term (their internal price is low reflecting the fact that they believe crude prices will drop again in the future).

I have to tread very carefully here. So let me say what I think is OK for me to say. I am sure most companies have been raising their internal estimates on how future oil prices will be. I have seen that in publicly available news articles, that future estimates of oil prices, for doing economics, have been raised up to around $60. That is quite a change from 3 years ago, and will trigger some different investment decisions.

However, temporarily, oil is $60ish. Yet they have shut-in production.

The producers with spare capacity (for the most part) aren't getting $60/bbl. There are a variety of reasons for that, one being that they don't have an outlet to a port. What might be useful for your analysis is to call some producers, and ask them if they could sell an extra 50,000 bbls/month. While this is not the area I am talking about, here is an example of what I am talking about:

Regional oil prices drop off

That's probably all I should say about it. Like I said, I am not speculating about this. I know of lots of producers who have spare capacity.


R(ichard) R(ainwater),
Do your sources know of any refiners that could refine an extra 50,000 bbls/month?  Alot of them?...
Understood :-)
But all the factors you hint at, and those mentioned in the article you linked to, seem purely US-specific.
So I don't think we can extrapolate from them to conclude significant spare capacity world-wide.
Like I said, that wasn't the area I am talking about. Think further north. ;^)

I can't speak for other areas of the world. I think Saudi has made their current limitations clear (unless they are just trying to keep prices high). I am not sure if other producers are sitting on any spare capacity, but if I really wanted to know I would send out some feelers to see if they could sell some extra crude.


Like many people from other continents, I sometimes lazily use <US> as shorthand for North America.
It maddens the hell out of Canadians, and they're absolutely right. I apologise.
Ok - I had briefly seen mention of the situation in Montana.  But AFAIK that is very recent (the article says three weeks) and not widespread.  What I gathered is that they compete for pipeline space with Alberta which has been increasing production.  It's not a refinery problem, it's a lack of pipeline problem.  We know average US import prices are over $50 (including the heavy grades) so that suggests there is not shut-in production that actually has access to the global market.

So the question would be whether there is enough of this kind of thing and it's been going on long enough that it's really a factor in the production curve or not.  Obviously "lots of producers" per se doesn't tell us if it's significant or not since the producers could be very small.  The question is if there's lots of mbpd.

To some extent this is basically a case of new capacity which is delayed because not all the necessary infrastructure to deliver it is in place, no?  It's basically a special case of the general issue that new capacity gets delayed sometimes.

Actually, I found this 2002 map, which sort of illustrates the Montana problem and is pretty interesting.

It would appear there is a significant bottleneck preventing the oil sands cavalry from getting to the expiring US SUV drivers.  Does anyone know what the plans are to alleviate that?

Obviously "lots of producers" per se doesn't tell us if it's significant or not since the producers could be very small.  The question is if there's lots of mbpd.

I would venture to say that most Canadian producers, the single biggest source of our foreign imports, have spare capacity. So the overall amount is not trivial. The problem is that the downstream refiners are maxed out, but many have announced projects to debottleneck.

It would appear there is a significant bottleneck preventing the oil sands cavalry from getting to the expiring US SUV drivers.  Does anyone know what the plans are to alleviate that?

There have been pipeline expansions that have been announced, and others that have been floated. I can't remember which ones have been officially announced, but that will help alleviate the bottleneck. However, refinery expansion projects are the other half of the equation.


For background, here's a map of where refineries are located.

So I guess Canadian production is increasing, and there isn't enough downstream capacity to process it all yet.  And there isn't enough pipeline capacity for it to displace imports from other places - this production is effectively cut off from the world market.  Fair enough.  But again, this still seems to me much like the situation in Sakhalin, where the project is done but with no pipeline, they can only ship oil in the summer when there's no ice.  It's basically saying that one of the things going into the overall supply calculation is the fact that new capacity sometimes gets delayed.

One way to estimate the size of this issue is to look at recent production increases in Canada:

2001    200220032004

Looks like production was increasing at around 150kbpd per year until starting to flatten out in 2004.

How long would you say Canada has been shutting in production?  The situation in Montana is very recent.

How long would you say Canada has been shutting in production?

Here is the way I will try to explain the situation. I have never heard a Canadian producer - except maybe for the tar sands producers - say they are tapped out if you call and want to buy additional crude from them. So the question I would pose is "When haven't they had excess production?" Just because they produced X in 2004 doesn't mean they couldn't have produced more if there had been willing buyers downstream.


Hello Robert Rapier,

What I got from the Billings newsarticle is that western US and/or Canadian extraction is becoming shutin from insufficient pipeline routing capacity to get it out to the refineries-- similar to a blood clot in a vein.  Of course, having insufficient refinery capacity does not help either as demand is still rising.  Is this a correct reading?

Choking off potential maximum extraction by pipeline limitations is a pretty good subterfuge method if intentional.  Or is it just accidental oversight of correctly anticipating the required pipeline spiderweb to get this variety of crudes to the right refinery at the right time?

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


You do have a correct reading on the situation. In addition, if oil prices had been forecast correctly a few years ago, I think we would have already had substantial expansion projects for these pipelines. But this is one reason I am not worried about a peak this year. We may still have a supply/demand imbalance, but it will be due to system constraints. Production will increase, just not fast enough to meet demand.


I have a fuzzy way of looking at all this.  I choose to believe that the TOD consensus is that we are at light/sweet peak, and not far (5 years +/- 5 years) from heavy/sour peak.  I remember shut-in hurricane damage.  I remember a world wide drilling rig shortage.  I remember a world wide drilling services backlog.  I remember recent confirmation from the financial press that Exxon messed up by not accepting $50+ as a long term price.  I remember the recent suggestion that anothr company messed up by selling too much of it's forward capacity as approx. $50 futures as prices climbed.  I remember that oil "producers" are squeezed as oil "services" clean up.  I think that adds up to the same general message RR is giving us:

We may be blessed by a peak that is constrained by production bottlenecks.

Well, if there are "are too many unknowns to be able to accurately predict an estimate of decline" then you don't know that production is going to increase, do you?
Ah. A point of agreement. I suspect that the Hubbert linearization curves fit a defined system very well. What is missing are the new frontiers. Whether this impacts the peak or just the ultimate recoverable amount in a given province is definitely not known, but I suspect that it does. My surmise is that these new concepts are analogous to opening up a new oil provinces as opposed to exploiting smaller reservoirs in an existing provines ... but the size of the new province matters deeply.

Prospects like the Bakken that have hit the news lately cannot be discounted. To do so is to ignore the facts. For example a similar situation, the Barnett Shale. A well know [to understate the reality of the situation] and well understood formation. Everyone knew that the formation contained gas. It was always a well recognized soutce rock. Gamma logs screamed hydrocarbons. The ultimate "duh" in one sense. Massive fac jobs. Horisontal drilling. Voila -- new production [mostly gas, but IMO hydrocarbons accessible in commercial quantities are what counts when addressing the implications of downside of peak and post peak oil situations.]

In the way Chris does it, the small fields effectively get included into the capacity erosion (with negative sign obviously).
This is a bunch of words.  When you make a claim that production will increase that is a claim that the new capacity (X) will exceed the erosion of the existing capacity (Y).  It is true that the new capacity Chris estimates for 2006 is larger than what actually happened in 2005 by around 1mbpd.  However it is only around 0.5mbpd larger than the capacity he estimated for 2005 in his first Megaprojects report.  So if there's a similar amount of slippage in 2006 to 2005, the actual capacity increase over 2005 will be about 0.5mbpd.

So what you're really asserting is that capacity erosion in 2006 will be no more than 0.5mbpd higher than in 2005.  How do you know?

Essentially similar considerations apply to 2007 and 2008.

As to small fields: count rigs.  There aren't going to be a whole lot more rigs this year than last, nor next year either.  Is the productivity of new wells likely to go up or down as we go forward?

As I have pointed out once before, even though your graph seems to indicate a plateau, only 2 months in the past 13 showed lower production than the corresponding month in the previous years. Those were the 2 months directly following the hurricane.

This is true but irrelevant.  No-one is claiming the production stopped growing before late 2004.  The point is that there's no discernable growth during 2005.  It is true that hurricanes disrupted production, but not as badly as the Iraq war and Venezuela disrupted production in 2003 and 2004.  Production grew just fine in 2003 and not quite so well in 2004.  Thus it's completely spurious to attribute the plateau to the hurricanes.

Seriously, I'd love to be wrong - I'd sleep better at night.  But I just don't see that you've backed up your certainty with any quantitative reasoning.

Just this one time, Stuart, I am going to have to disagree with you. IMO the qualitative method of RR is the appropriate one, because the numbers are so uncertain that to use them would almost necessarily involve the fallacy of misplaced precision.

My own qualitative analysis differs somewhat from that of RR, mainly in that I am not counting on any increase in Nigerian production and would not be surprised to see a marked decline due to worsening civil disorder this year.

The refineries question is a perplexing one, because it is hard to make valid generalizations about such a heterogeneous category--especially when we do not know how much crude in inventory is sour and how much sweet, nor do we have any accurate notion of how much additional refinery capacity is coming on line, how soon, where, and exactly what kind of crudes they can process. One thing I've noticed over the years: Refineries tend to be old; they are complicated and put flammable liquids at pressure through a lot of pipes and valves. Thus, it is not a question of whether refineries will catch on fire (or otherwise go offline), but when and how many and for how long.

Also, I think anybody who would venture a prediction as to the probable impact of hurricanes on the GOM this year is talking through his hat.

A bumpy plateau--yes, probably. But how bumpy and for how long I do not believe anybody can say at this point. Nor does it much matter. In terms of taking constructive action it does not matter whether the peak was last year, this year, or two years from now: We are very late in the game and need a huge late-inning rally. Nature always bats last, but I'm an optimist, not a doomer.

My problem is that he's making a quantitative claim with only qualitative reasoning behind it. :-)

Obviously I agree that there are significant uncertainties and that it's conceivable production could increase somewhat further, but at least at present I've not seen a persuasive argument for how it could increase much further.

My problem is that he's making a quantitative claim with only qualitative reasoning behind it.

No, I am really not making a quantitative claim. I am not saying Peak Oil in Year X. What I am doing is critiquing the reasoning that would suggest Peak Oil this year or next and identifying reasons that prediction might be off. I see a valid explanation for the plateau that occurred last year that have nothing to do with a legitimate production peak. I see shut in production that is not factored into the equation.

I think your quantitative approach is perfectly valid provided you have all the inputs correctly identified and quantified. But it is not possible to determine those with a high degree of accuracy, and some aren't even represented in the equation. I think that's leading you to conclude a peak that is too early.

One other thing I will note here is that when I really started looking into this, I thought a peak this year was probable. I acknowledged that we may have actually peaked last year. But the more I looked at it, and the more industry people I talked to, the more I began to realize that what looks like a peak is due to bottlenecks in the system and the timing of projects coming online, as opposed to an actual production peak.


Hello Robert Rapier,

First, the 'million dollar question': In your opinion--pipeline contraints intentional or just piss-poor 'pipeline spiderweb' planning to get this crude to the correct refinery in a timely manner?

Next, your gut feel for how much of the NAFTA [MEX,US,CAN] internal extraction is shutin.  0.5%,1%,2% or barrels/day estimation is fine.

Do you think Canadian tar sands will be given preferential pipeline treatment so they can expand mining ops and recover invested costs quicker?  There ERoEI is lower than any NAFTA area oilfield--so any oilfield shutins helps keep the oilsands corps profitable--and they need bigbucks to expand capacity vs just punching holes for a gusher.

These questions all make sense if one looks long-term: the oilsands, if fully developed, will provide more oil than the miniscule oilfields.  In short, ramping up oilsands provides more long-term NAFTA security, and the last NAFTA oilfields provide emergency backup as the former NAFTA giants rapidly deplete.  Bush could have issued a secret Nat. Sec. directive with MEX,CAN leaders to make it so.

Very interested in what you can answer.  Do the best you safely can reveal.

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

First, the 'million dollar question': In your opinion--pipeline contraints intentional or just piss-poor 'pipeline spiderweb' planning to get this crude to the correct refinery in a timely manner?

Not intentional, just the nature of cyclical businesses. When times are good, money is invested to bring capacity online. The problem is that everyone does it, so then you get into an overcapacity situation and the prices fall. Three years ago, prices weren't that good and the forecasts were that they would stay low. So, the industry didn't invest the funds required to debottleneck to the required level.

Do you think Canadian tar sands will be given preferential pipeline treatment so they can expand mining ops and recover invested costs quicker?

Who gets the pipeline space is dependent upon the purchases by the refinery. If I decide not to purchase any heavy sour crude, and instead purchase syncrude, then they will get the pipeline space at the expense of the heavy producer. So, the downstream users are the ones who dictate that.


Hey RR,

If you prefer, please cut and paste this reply to Sunday Open thread--we can continue from there as this thread is going stale-- I posted my earlier request for info there [about halfway down] along with some additional speculation.  Thxs

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

In very short order--perhaps by the end of next year--we will need new capacity of one mbpd, just to offset the decline from Cantarell, where the 825' oil column, between the gas cap and water leg, is shrinking at the rate of 250' to 360' per year.  

Cantarell is the second most prolific field in the world, right behind Ghawar.

Oh my! Tangible evidence of peak if ever there was some. Not that I doubt it's true, but what's the best source for more info?
A few weeks ago, the WSJ had an article on Cantarell, which discussed an internal Pemex report.  The most pessimistic, i.e., probably the most realistic, estimate of the decline rate (given the oil column numbers) was in excess of 40% per year.  

Tom Whipple has a column on the WSJ report:

Thanks. At the most optimistic 250' decline rate per year, we're looking at 3.3 years left of productivity. Of course, it's not that simple, but the implications are huge.
I have seen the amazingly steep projected decline curve for Cantarell. Was this curve drawn based on the known reservoir contours [maybe more analogous to a sand lens than a regional feature with oil trapped in the high spots]? A thinning of the oil column on the described scale [250 to 350 feet per year] described implies a amazingly permiable and largely verticle trap. Your thoughs / understanding?
Hello Everyone,

It's hard, in these times, to come up with 'positive' comments, but, depending on one's attitude the folowing may fit the bill.

Recently a friend of mine was involved in an absolutely enormous traffic jam. It was on the outskirts of Beijing. It was public holiday and thousands and thousands of middle-class Chinese decided to drive out for a picknic in their shiny and beautiful new cars. He was with a Chinese business associate who had just bought a very big, infact an enormous, SUV. My God, how he loved that great beast. His business was growing at well over 20% a year. He sold all sorts of wonderful things to customize cars. The Chinese Middle Class apparently express their individuality, wealth, and social standing through their cars. They love to alter them and make them appear more beautiful. Not only this, they also love really big cars and huge SUV's. They are not like the Japanese, who love small things. Chiense culture likes big things and prestige projects. He also mentioned that China has built over 24,000 kilometres of highway during the last five years and plans to build double that over the next. My positive take on this is, that the Chinese are just like us, for better or worse.

I thought I'd follow the 'sweet' with the 'sour.'

There is a startling and rather depressing article in the latest number of the New Yorker magazine, written by Seymour Hersh. It's about the advanced state of the preparations for an attack on Iran. Just type in The Newyorker into Google and have a look. I think for lovers of this site it is absolutely required reading, though I'll let you all draw your own conclusions after you've read it. Nobody her needs my help. I just hope the story isn't really true, and if it is, that somehow it can be stopped.

From the New Yorker article:  "The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years."

On the other thread, just before this New Yorker story was posted,  I posted my Bush/Cheney Peak Oil Theory:  (1)  They knew about Peak Oil from day one; (2)  Therefore, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia would be the biggest remaining prizes on earth; (3)  Therefore, they knew the federal debt would never be repaid (so why not max out the federal debt and get foreign creditors to pay for our takeover of the Middle East?) and (4)  In effect, they would then renege on the debt, perhaps by inflating our way out of it.  

Cheney maybe. Bush - no way. If he understood it, it would have come out somehow in various freudian slips by now.
Other than that he does not emphasize the oil aspect, which I believe is the real issue, I believe it is largely accurate.  Do YOU see anything that would lead you to believe it isn't?  

We face many very difficult challenges in PO and GW, but I am not so much of a doomer when it comes to those issues, at least in the near term.  Long term the GW thing scares the snot out of me, but there is a lot more to learn about it yet.


We talk about the strategies that could be employed for reducing our energy footprint and developing new sources - but it doesn't matter.  This purely human thing, this emotional reaction to PO, and the relationship between societies, will happen first.  The issue is not, and never was, "what could we do?", but rather "what will we do?"  We will fight each other for the last of it.

Exactly, yet everytime I point this out somebody says something like, "well my grandparents got through world war II. . ."

Thanks for proving my point for me. We resolved the early 20th century disputes over the oil reserves in the Middle East, in the Caspian and in  the South China Sea by going to war!

For those who don't know:

World War I: UK and Germany both wanted access to Iraq's oil.

World War II: Hitler wanted the oil in the caspian; US blockaded Japan from it's oil supply.

How did the above parties resolve these matters? By killing 30-50 million people. By the timewe stopped one of he competitors (the US) developed the most incredibly destructive piece of weapons ever, of which there are now 20,000 of the them floating around.



Yes, and the Hersh article points out that the Administration is considering using tactical nukes to take out deep facilities.  That opens the door wider to total chaos sooner than later, IMO.  Wonder what the Chinese & Russians' reactions would be.
I don't believe that article "points out" the administration is going to use tacticals.  In the pentagon, there are high up generals who brainstorm constantly every conceivable threat and every conceivable counter.  Yet we lose wars and are hit with surprise attacks. Our intelligence is neither omnipresent or omniscient, and it is much more highly funded than a newspaper. So I doubt anyone outside the pentagon has an idea other than speculation of what the Pentagon intends to do.
"World War I: UK and Germany both wanted access to Iraq's oil.

World War II: Hitler wanted the oil in the caspian; US blockaded Japan from it's oil supply."


If you can adequately link WWI to oil please describe your rationale. That whole mess outwardly appears to be the result of a series of diplomatic accidents coupled with a lack of recognition of the "advancements" made in the technology of warfare.

WWII was about a lot of things including resources of all sorts [agricultural land, steel, tin, rubber ect and "yes" oil.] Without a clash of ideologies or more properly a class of totally incompatible expansionist ideologies it would not have played out even remotely like it did. WWII had been going on for a very very long time before FDR's embargoes triggered a crisis in the Pacific.

World War I is what I call the original "Mesopotamian Oil Burglary" aka "The M.O.B."  Here's an oversimplified summary of why:

At the turn of the century, both the UK and Germany wanted to shift their navies from coal to oil. Neither had domestic reserves sufficient to power the transition.

Germany managed to cut an oil deal with the Ottoman Empire whose dictator was named Sultan Hamid ("S.H.") The so-called "Baghdad to Berlian" oil railway was what the deal was called.

BP, then know as the Anglo Persian oil company, tried to get an oil deal in the early part of 1914. Ottoman Empire turned them down.

Lo and behold, a terrorist attack (the assasination of the Archduke Ferd.) takes place right on what would have been the northernmost link of the Baghdad to Berlin oil railway.

As a result of some treaties Britain had signed in the months following the Ottoman empire turning down them down, this gave Britain an excuse to invade what is now Iraq.

After the war the oil fields in what is now Iraq got divied up among companies from the victorious natioins: US, UK, Dutch and some others. These companies became known as the "Seven Sisters."

Sound kind of familiar?  

There were also currency/monetary issues (like the modern war in Iraq) but that's for another post.




Thanks for providing your assessment on root cause of WWI. It has always been an mystery to me. I still suspect that there were other factors that played a major role, but your quick case that oil was at least a factor seems reasonable on its face.

As far as diplomatic accidents and new technology, I have little doubt those were factors. But if all the world's oil was in pennsylvania and texas, I doubt anybody would have jockeying/fighting to control the oil in the Mideast during those years.

It's like saying the current war in Iraq was the result of bad intelligence, poor planning and an overconfidence in "shock and awe" type technologies. You could argue those have played a role but without the oil in the Middle EAst (what Dick Cheney called the "prize" in 1999) we wouldn't be there or even be interested in the first place.



I've seen similar stories.  I'm counting on the Pres. approval ratings to keep it from happening.  I'm sure with enough "political capital" (as he likes to say) Bush would go for it ... but he's on the ropes.  A major attack on Iran would probably generate impeachment.  A minor one would just hand congress to the Democrats.

And the long way, through congress with a resolution for military action ... ain't going to happen either.

Thank God.

Yes the president's approval ratings are poor. Congress is up for re-election and unlikely to approve another unpopular war.  Consider also that even Francis Fukuyama has decleared neoconservatism dead.  
Oops, meant to give this link to the Fukuyama editorial:

Fukuyama was, by the way, one of the founder signatories of the PNAC.

I saw Fukuyama give an interview on CNN, and I confess, I was impressed with him.  He admitted he was wrong, that invading Iraq was a terrible idea, and that he was sorry he supported it.  

He struck me as that rarity of rarities, a neocon who lives in the reality-based community.  ;)

Hello Leanan,

Or as Stuart would say: He was permeable to new evidence.

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

His "The End of History and the Last Man" is a must read for anyone who intends to understand modern international politics and American foreign policy.  He has not so much said that he was wrong, rather, he said his beliefs were twisted and misused by the neocons.  He still maintains that liberal democracy/ capitalism is the last and only human system and that they will outcompete the remaining systems until they convert to liberal democracy / capitalism.  Only now he's saying that Iraq shows it can be done by force.  Somehow, he believes, the merits and competitive advantage of liberal democracy / capitalism would have eventually toppled totalitarianism in Iraq.  Even without the US invasion, Iraq would have, say in 20 years or so, become such a society as an inevitable progression of history.  
 The New York Times is reported to be running an article in its Sunday edition in which four officals rebut the Hersh story.

 Hersh reports on US military personnel infiltrating Iran in order to mark bombing targets and create public unrest. If true, these acts constitute acts of agression which would justify Iran in taking pre-emptive military action.

 The Hersh article also contains an offical's claim that the US Navy would be able to keep the Straits of Hormuz open in the event of military conflict. I believe this to be a false claim.

 In the Falklands crisis Argentina had available 5 Excocet missiles. If these had been used against troop transports rather than warships, the consensus is that Argentina would have prevailed in that conflict.

 Iran is reported to have stocks of an improved variant of the Excocet. I am sure it has not escaped the Iranian military that if they were able to force the closure of the Straits the impact on the Great Satan would be immediate and profound.

 All the Peak Oil impacts we have theorized about would likely become reality a few months after commencement of hostilities.

 I sleep so much better at night knowing George II "I'll fire any leaker in my adminstration" has control of the button world's future.

If memory serves, Hersh has been pretty much dead on right regarding Iraq.   Hersh has previously said that it is not "if" but "when" we attack Iran.  

I wonder if some senior military people are leaking plans regarding Iran, trying to get Congress to confront the madmen in the Executive Branch--before it's too late.

 What scares me is Hersh's past record and the accuracy of his reporting. This makes the current story all the more chilling.

Exactly.  He tends to be right a lot.
"I wonder if some senior military people are leaking plans regarding Iran, trying to get Congress to confront the madmen in the Executive Branch--before it's too late."

I think you've got that right - I'm sure that's the motivation for the information given to Hersh.  It could be official propaganda to intimidate Iran, but I doubt it.

I find the numbers in his Iraq bombing analysis to be highly questionable. He makes very clear past historical comparisons, and the numbers just don't add up.
Sorry, I should add this doesn't relate to present article. This was an article he published at least three months ago in the New Yorker.
Here's the New York Times story.

But four Pentagon, military and administration officials who participate in high-level deliberations on Iran and who were granted anonymity to speak candidly rejected the article's contention that the Bush administration was considering nuclear weapons in a possible strike against Iran.

"I've never heard the issue of nukes taken off or put on the table," a senior Pentagon official said.


Senior administration officials, while emphasizing that their preferred path is diplomatic, have not ruled out military attacks if negotiations should fail. Senior officers and Pentagon officials said war planners, in particular Air Force targeting teams, have updated contingencies for dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions, as they periodically do. But they emphasized that the updating did not reflect any guidance from the civilian leadership to prepare for military confrontation.

"There have been no operational plans or options presented to the White House," said the senior Pentagon official.

Top commanders say the military options range from bad to unimaginable. None guarantee success, planners say, given that dozens of suspected sites are buried deep underground or near urban centers. Many risk causing not just casualties but a political crisis in the Middle East.

"I've never heard the issue of nukes taken off or put on the table," a senior Pentagon official said.


thats about as conclusive as "I didn't inhale". It might have been on the table since the table was made.

heres another link to Hersh commentary - link
"The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings among the joint chiefs of staff, and some officers have talked about resigning, Hersh has been told. The military chiefs sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran, without success, a former senior intelligence officer said."
One way to take this New York Times story is that this is the administration's PR response to Hersh's story.  They decided what the party line was, and then deployed a few anonymous officials to feed it to the NYT.  If that's correct, that would rule out the theory that the administration is leaking to Hersh in order to intimidate the Iranians.  That leaves about two theories I think: Hersh's sources are mostly accurate and are trying to stop this from happening, or Hersh's sources are nutcases or egotists who just want to feel bigger than they are by pretending to have inside information that they don't really have.  Or, I suppose, we have the Don Sailorman theory that Hersh just made it up, which is fairly indistinguishable from his sources making it up.

We also have the Telegraph story earlier in the week, saying basically that the British think more-or-less the same thing.  So now we need both American nutty sources that can fool Seymour Hersh, and British nutty sources that can fool the Telegraph.  (Or both Hersh and the Telegraph journalist willing to make up sensational stories out of whole cloth).  That starts to seem a bit less likely.

That's not good is it?

Does anyone know of a case where Hersh really blew it in the past?  Reported something that just turned out to be totally wrong?

After some thought, I think I would like to be permanently on record that I think a first use of nuclear weapons against Iran in present circumstances would be the largest war crime since the second world war.  If, hypothetically, the US were to do that, I would hope that our leaders would at some point be tried for that crime.  It is a line that absolutely should not be crossed.

Stuart, unfortunately the spin doctors will assure that it will not be 'present circumstances' if that day does arrive
The Telegraph has a very long history as a conduit for purposeful leaks of the kind you mention. Independent of changes in ownership.
So I cling to the hope that's what's going on.

After some thought, I think I would like to be permanently on record that I think a first use of nuclear weapons against Iran in present circumstances would be the largest war crime since the second world war.  If, hypothetically, the US were to do that, I would hope that our leaders would at some point be tried for that crime.  It is a line that absolutely should not be crossed.

It would probably not be the largest war crime if you count bodies.

The realy scary thing is that a use of nuclear wepaons by USA would break the taboo forbidding actual use of nuclear weapons. The cold war between Pakistan and India depends on this taboo as do the stand off between India and China. And if nuclear weapons goes back to simply be big bombs they would make all future wars far more deadly and it would become much more important for threathened countries to get them and be willing to use them.

The only way I see for such a genie to be put back into the bottle is for the world to economically ruin any country including USA who starts using nuclear wepaons. A trade embargo and nullification off all US trade agreements, business deals and foreign assets would do it, it would give a serious world depression but it would be worth it.

I believe subsequent events--or, to be more precise, NONevents--have supported my conjecture that the "Daily Telegraph" story was booooohgus. There never was the meeting described in the story, and I challenge you or anybody to come up with a single shred of evidence to the contrary. Either the reporter's sources lied (very likely) or the reporter lied, or both.

In regard to the Hersh article, I do believe that his sources exist. However, the article is clearly spun for maximum anti-Bush impact. For one thing there is what appears to be deliberate (because Hersh is a VERY careful writer and extremely bright) confusion of contingency planning with actual war plans. Contingency planning for an attack on Iran has been around for at least fifty years--and not only in the United States. Russia, Britain, Israel, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. air force have all had contingency plans for attacking Iran for many decades, and periodically these plans are updated. All this updating and discussion of scenarios is routine and not an indication of imminent attack.

In regard to using nukes, there is no need at all to use nuclear weapons. An attack on Iran using conventional weapons can take down its electrical production and distribution network and also the infrastructure that would be needed to repair this network. Without electricity, you cannot enrich uranium. Now this plan is only one of several; there are other ways to take out Iran's capacity to develop nuclear weapons, including more than one way to get at facilities buried deep underground. But the notion that Bush is planning to nuke Iran is, to put it mildly, highly speculative. Indeed, Hersh provides no verifiable evidence at all in his article.

I'll say almost the same thing, but with a slightly different spin:

The Hersh story is about what the administration wishes it could do.  The response shows their recognition that they cannot do what they wish they could.

I have not read the entire Hersh article yet, but here is the Drudge Report headline:

Bush 'is planning nuclear strikes on Iran's secret sites'

IMO, we are rapidly approaching the point where only impeachment, of both Bush & Cheney (?), will keep us out of World War III.

Can I ask a personal question here? I live in Australia and am planning to visit France, flying Emirates and so stopping in Dubai both ways - late April going and late May coming back.

So what's the chance that my holiday is going to get rather exciting as my plane dodges SAM missiles, Nuclear fallout or just the smoke from burning oil tankers?

I will I just be stuck in France with no way of getting back to Oz?

Here in Texas, we are debating precisely this same question.  We had hoped to make a trip to Europe in September, before the costs become prohibitive, but I have my doubts now for two reasons:  (1)  We could be in something akin to World War III and (2)  It's hard to imagine, but it looks like America is going to become even less popular abroad.  
Hello Writerman,

Aha, the 'chrome penis phenomena' again.  Every tribe does it-- google images of very primitive New Guinea tribesmen-- some adornment gourds up to 3ft long!  Here is one image of a guy's carefully carved & daily worn 'pride & joy':

If the First World's men adopted this cultural fashion, instead of our proud peacock preening in our shiny automobiles with aftermarket wheel 'bling' --Powerdown would be a piece of cake!

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

Oh my god, for $45 you can buy one of your own:

Mmmmm . . . once SUVs are no longer a vialbe way for us to adorn ourselves perhaps this type-of-thing will come back in vogue?  You youngsters looking for what you should major in? I suggest handicrafts. . . .




Admit you, you alreay bought one didn't you?



Hello Matt,

Still shopping for my VLCC! =)  I want a propeller spinning in the breeze!

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

Mine's going to glow in the dark and have chrome spinning things like you see on the cars of the more bragadocioius young people these days. Maybe add a slide out solar panel or something so I can hook an ipod or cell phone into it.



I hear they come in 3 sizes:

Small, medium and liar.

My negative take on this, is that the Chinese are just like us :-)).
More misleading information from Michael Wang, co-author of the pro-ethanol (but factually incorrect) USDA studies and originator of the GREET model:

Energy Balance For Ethanol Better Than For Gasoline?

The bottom line:

The claim has been made and perpetuated that "the finished liquid fuel energy yield for fossil fuel dedicated to the production of ethanol is 1.34 but only 0.74 for gasoline". The truth is that the EROEI for gasoline is about 5/1, and for ethanol it is 1.3/1 at best. The calculations are documented at the link. Kind of goes to show why ethanol needs those subsidies.


What they are trying to do is shift the debate if I understand correctly.  Instead of focussing on the fact that 1.3, even if true, is an absolutely pathetic EROEI compared to that of fossil fuels, they are trying to compare the process of taking crude oil and converting it into ethanol to the process of taking crude oil and converting it into gasoline.  In other words, they aren't trying to say exactly "ethanol is better than oil", but rather "given some oil, you can get more bang by converting it into ethanol than directly refining it all into gasoline and giving to end-users".  So this positions ethanol as kind of a multiplier that helps to make the oil go further, rather than as a source of fuel.

I have not had time to study carefully the literature on this, so I can't comment on whether there's any validity to the claims made.  The fact that a bunch of other very valuable inputs (soil, water) are required seems unpromising.  On the other hand, Kleiner-Perkins (premier VC firm) backed one of those companies, and they are hardly idiots.

In other words, they aren't trying to say exactly "ethanol is better than oil", but rather "given some oil, you can get more bang by converting it into ethanol than directly refining it all into gasoline and giving to end-users".

That's the whole point, though. It isn't true. If we have 1 BTU of energy to use, we can turn it into 5 BTUs of gasoline or 1.3 BTUs of ethanol. But they are making the false claim that 1 BTU of energy would only be turned into 0.8 BTUs of gasoline.

There may be some legitimate arguments for ethanol, but energy balance is certainly not one.


If we have 1 BTU of energy to use, we can turn it into 5 BTUs of gasoline or 1.3 BTUs of ethanol.

Technically, that isn't even correct. If we have 1 BTU of energy, we can turn it into 1 BTU of ethanol, plus some animal feed byproducts valued at 0.3 BTUs.


You're misunderstanding the comparison they're making.  They aren't comparing ethanol production to oil exploration and production plus refining.  They are comparing "refine the oil to gasoline and diesel and sell it to truck and auto drivers" with "give the oil to us and we'll make ethanol and sell that to truck and auto drivers".
No, I understand that's what they are doing. But that's not the way they are framing it. Look at Wang's presention. He is showing gasoline production from getting oil out of the ground. He is saying that it takes more BTUs than the gasoline contains. That is a false argument.

Besides that, think about your argument "give the oil to us and we'll make ethanol". It still has to be refined. What they are doing is making an invalid comparison. They are comparing the energy loss during the refining step to the overall cycle of ethanol. That's apples and oranges.


Stuart, I think what would be helpful is for you to do some calculations on this. Let's say we have a barrel of oil. It takes about 10% of the contained energy to refine the oil to useful products. For an input of 1 BTU, we get 10 BTUs of useful product out.

Now, let's take that barrel of oil, and somehow apply a BTU directly to ethanol production. Forget the fact that we still have to refine the oil in order to use it, but let's pretend we don't. To get 10 BTUs of ethanol, given an EROEI of 1.3, we have to input 10/1.3, or 7.7 BTUs. We used 670% more BTUs than in the case of gasoline to produce the same BTUs of ethanol.

So, where's the multiplier? Any way you do the math, if you are comparing apples to apples, ethanol is going to be a huge loser.


Take 10 btus of oil and turn it into 9 btus of gasoline.  Or, take 10 btus of oil and turn it into 13 btus of ethanol.  That's the comparison they're making I believe.
But is it true?  Doesn't the 10 btus of oil have to be made into diesel, fertilizer, etc., before it can be made into ethanol, and doesn't that take energy?
That is the comparison they are making, but it is wrong. That's where your apples and oranges are. 10 BTUs of oil contain 9 BTUs of gasoline. But you only have to input 1 BTU to get 10 out. That's not what you are looking at in the case of ethanol. You actually have to input 10 BTUs to get 13 BTUs out.

Or, think about it this way. I have 1 BTU of oil. What can I do with it? I can input 0.1 BTUs of energy to turn it into 1 BTU of gasoline (netting out 0.9 BTUs). Or, I can use it to make ethanol, using up the entire BTU to make 1.3 BTUs, netting out 0.3. What looks like the better deal?


its actually much worse than that. EROI is non-linear once it drops below 2:1.

(Stuart - you are correct in your assertion that Archer Daniels backed scientists and pro-ethanol researchers are using  a sort of bait and switch math saying that gasoline is also an energy loser using this methodology.)

If I start with nothing, I can invest energy in oil production or corn and coal production. For each BTU I invest in oil production (internationally) I get about 20 BTUs back. To get the same 20 BTUs from ethanol (which is presumably the objective, given we want to be use renewables to become energy independent) , i need to invest 16.66 BTUs of oil,  coal, nat gas etc in order to get 20 BTUs of ethanol, which is 16.66 times the investment needed from turning oil to gasoline.

At this point we've only considered energy. We havent considered:
a)ecosystem damage
b)loss of water table
c)standard deviation of expected crop return (if you build ethanol capacity and there is bad crop due to flood or drought - where does ethanol come from?)
d)wide energy boundaries, like highways, building the tractor, medical care for employees, etc. these 'indirect energy costs' almost certainly bring the 1.2:1 below EROI parity.

But the BIGGEST case against ethanol (and something Ive been saying for a while) is that as we approach peak oil, the net amount of liquid fuels left over to society after the 'energy production sector' uses what it needs will be a declining % of the total. What our current system relies on is energy left over for non-energy production. If ethanol was somehow able to scale, we would have to use the BTU equivalent of 100 million barrels of oil per day, plus land and water, to generate the 20 million barrels or so we currently use. We clearly dont have that amount of corn, but neither do we have that amount of fossil fuels. In this example, the entire energy balance sheet is grossed up, so that 80% of our society is devoted to ethanol production.

It is a travesty that people are being hoodwinked on corn-ethanol - (and sugar cane ethanol is turning out to be planetarily disastrous as well). The academics most knowledgeable about these subjects are being blackballed and discredited - all because of money, slick marketing, and the (ignorant) but well-intended public desire to create 'renewable' energy. I cant blame people for desiring different energy policy - I just wish that there were better ways for disseminating the  big picture to people.  it seems more and more apparent, that without destroying the environment, the only real option is to be happier with less.

Net energy, (EROI), and ecological systems MUST be considered in future policy frameworks. For those interested in a more detailed discussion on this, Ill be moderating a panel at the Peak Oil and Environment Conference in Washington DC next month on the framework of alternative supplies to oil. conference agenda at link to conference agenda here

(Stuart - you are correct in your assertion that Archer Daniels backed scientists and pro-ethanol researchers are using  a sort of bait and switch math saying that gasoline is also an energy loser using this methodology.)

Actually, that was my argument. Stuart thought that I merely misunderstood what they were doing. I think by now, if he has gone through the calculations, he knows that I didn't misunderstand at all. They are doing a bait and switch, or as I always say they are comparing apples and oranges and calling them equivalent. It is as you say: You have much higher energy inputs to get X BTUs of ethanol than you do X BTUs of gasoline.


I'm getting sick and tired of this argument!  If the farmer and the ethanol processor had to use only ethanol, to till, plant, harvest, fertilize, irrigate, process, and transport. The balance would not provide enough finished product for them and their employees to drive to work and the market to by groceries.  And we certainly would not have 288 thousand barrels per day (our current production) left to mix with gasoline.  It's a zero sum game, But it does provide a lot of jobs. Its kind of like one fellow digging a hole so that he has somewhere to throw the dirt for the hole he's digging tommorow.
I think we're arguing semantics here.

No, we really aren't. We are talking about 2 different ways to measure efficiency, and calling them the same. They aren't. By a fair measure, gasoline is far more efficient to produce than ethanol. But the ethanol advocates use these different ways of measuring efficiency to claim otherwise.


Stuart - you are absolutely correct that they are trying to frame the ethanol issue in a positive light. The EROIs, depending on boundaries are strongly centered around EROI parity (1:1) some are less, some are more but the new report at 1.35: is the biggest Ive seen. In effect, we are taking coal and natural gas, and combining it with corn to get concentrated vehicle fuel. If we really want to turn coal to liquid fuel, lets just do it using Fischer Tropsh and save the arable land for other uses.
If we really want to turn coal to liquid fuel, lets just do it using Fischer Tropsh and save the arable land for other uses.

That is exactly correct. Sounds like something a Science Advisory Board would tell Energy Secretary Bodman, who could pass it on to the president. That is, if there was still a Science Advisory Board.


True, VC people are not idiots.
But they may just be making an intelligent bet on the stupidity and corruption of legislators.
That is quite conceivable ;-)
From the NY Times:

SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD IS ABOLISHED Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman has decided to abolish his department's Science Advisory Board, a panel of experts that has served energy secretaries since the Carter administration. The board includes scientists, business leaders and former government officials who assign thorny technical questions from the secretary to subcommittees that respond with detailed reports. A spokesman for Mr. Bodman confirmed the decision, first reported in the journal Nature, and said Mr. Bodman, a former chemical engineer, judged the board to be unnecessary after President Bush set the department agenda in his State of the Union address.
Well, we know that we are all in good hands if Bush is setting the department agenda instead of relying on scientists to hash through those boring technical details.

Every time I convince myself that we will make it through this, I read something like this that makes me think we really are doomed.


Here I am, on a Saturday evening, trying to think positively, and you, Leanan, come up with something like this! This fit so well with my gloomy idea that we're entering the post-enlightenment and post-democratic age. I think I'll christen it 'The Darkness.'
my suggestion is to start transcribing scientific material and other information on at least non-acidic based paper and ink.
what you save is up to you but i would start on basic medicine and basic engineering.

Truth is stranger, and sadder, than fiction.

WCCO in Minneapolis is doing a week-long series on peak oil:

Don Shelby and WCCO TV take on the energy crisis with a series of groundbreaking reports entitled, Project Energy. For the week of April 10, WCCO 4 News at 10 p.m. will devote expansive coverage of the world's dwindling supply of oil and efforts here in Minnesota to develop alternatives.

    MONDAY As it becomes more difficult and expensive to find oil, the consequences will change our lives forever.

    TUESDAY Americans use far more oil than anyone else, yet we make up just a fraction of the world population.

    WEDNESDAY America's electrical system will become more problematic as problems develop with the natural gas and coal that feed power plants.

    THURSDAY Minnesota is on the leading edge of the race to find renewable energy alternatives.

    FRIDAY Most Americans believe global warming exists, but just how much are we to blame.  

Ken Deffeyes, Jimmy Carter, Roscoe Bartlett, Matthew Simmons, and Norm Coleman are among those interviewed.

I hope lots of people watch this. Don Shelby is nobody's fool and widely respected as a mature reporter of honesty and integrity in the WCCO viewing area.

Also, although I am biased, IMO Minnesota leads the way in many ways, from health to clean air, expanding bike trails, and yes, even in E-85 production and distribution;-)

Even our public schools and universities are not as bad as those found in most other states.

And, to conclude, the loon is our state bird, and many think we are loony to live here; we export those types in large numbers to Florida, Ariz., Calif., etc. This increases the average I.Q. in all state affected by the migration;-)

They had me going until they mentioned Norm.  Oh, please - what a nitwit.

Still, this could be interesting.  When I am there for Easter I will have to ask around and see who watched it and what they thought of it.

This will be first time I have heard of Carter saying much on energy. I have seen him interviewed a no. of times & he did not take the opportunities.Gunshy I have figured.
Hello creg,

Maybe not gunshy, but being carefully holstered by the Democrats until he reappears on National media with guns blazing.  If we are positively on the downslope come 2008, can you see him pointing at the 2008 Republican slate and proclaiming, "I tried to warn you, but you would not listen 30 years ago."  It would be a terrific wakeup call for all Americans to Powerdown.

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

Interesting article here:

by Hersh in the NewYorker on the upcoming expansion of the war to Iran, including the use of Nukes.

I know there has been a lot written about Iran here, but I think Hersh is one of the good ones in terms of quality of sources

Here in Minneapolis, our CBS affiliate is going to air a 5 day series on Peak Oil.

The local Minneapolis CBS affiliate (WCCO) anchorperson, Don Shelby, has been interested in peak oil. Last fall, a friend of mine attended an educational event for arborists, and Shelby gave the keynote address on peak oil. He had the crowd riveted.

He is going to have a series on the coming energy crisis on WCCO News April 10 - 14th.

Minnesotans for an Energy Efficient Economy (ME3) is a local non-profit organization and they have info on their website ( ). Look under "Project Energy." Here is a snippet from the ME3 website: "Don Shelby and WCCO TV take on the energy crisis with a series of groundbreaking reports entitled, Project Energy. For the week of April 10, WCCO 4 News at 10 p.m. will devote expansive coverage of the world's dwindling supply of oil and efforts here in Minnesota to develop alternatives."

The WCCO website is As of this morning, they have not yet posted any information on the series, but I suspect they will have web info once the series starts.

Shelby interviews Matt Simmons, Ken Deffeyes, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, President Carter, as well as local Energy activists Michael Noble and J Drake Hamilton of ME3.

Oops.  I idiotically didn't read through all of the posts to see this was already posted.  My bad.
In my view the only way the Bush regime will be able to justify a massive air (possibly 'nucular') attack on Iran is for there to be another domestic terrorist attack on the US on the scale of  9-11, or worse.  I have little doubt that this could be arranged.

If such an eventuality comes to pass, then I hope some of you true believers of the Goverment Party Line take another good look at the first 9-11. For if you do, you will find that there is much that is unexplained and which is unexplainable.

According to the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war. But the last time that was done was December 8, 1941. So don't depend upon Congress to stop the Bush regime from carrying out this insanity. While I am hardly any fan of the military, I will say this though: generals and admirals are probably the least enthused about starting a war, for the simple reason that they have a much better understanding of the uncertainty of what that entails and a better understanding of the consequences, intended and unintended.

So, have we gotten to the point where the only thing that will save the US is a passive military coupe?  By that I mean a mass resignation of top brass as a repsonse to the Bush regime's desire to attack Iran with 'nucular' weapons.

Far-fetched? Perhaps. But the way things are going these days, I wouldn't totally rule it out. Notice how Congress is largely silent on Iran. The Republicans will go along with it; and the Democrats will bide their time, hoping that Bush will screw up enough for them to get back into power. In the meanwhile, it will all turn to shite.

But, as in all things, time will tell.

Let's suppose for a moment that, regardless of his approval ratings and bad polls, they launch a massive air strike - say in September.  Let's assume it's a conventional attack.  What would happen here in the US?  What do you think people would do?  Would there be be millions marching on DC?  Or would people go to work the next day to earn their paychecks, come home and watch the fireworks on TV?  What would the affect on the elections a couple of months later be?

My personal opinion is that the domestic response would be underwhelming, and that people will rally around the flag.  The election would probably leave the Rebuplicans in power, but regardless of who wins the house, I doubt there would be an impeachment during war.  The Chinese and Russians will not start a war with us directly.  Therefore, they can certainly start it, and get away with it for quite some time.  I don't see where another terrorist attack is needed.  And starting it is all that matters.  After that, it's a matter of "what are you going to do about it?"

When I filled up this afternoon, gas was over $2.80 here in San Francisco. By the time for an attack on Iran, the price will surely be over $3, perhaps quite a way over $3, and any shock such as a military crisis in the Middle East would send it through the roof. In that case, if I were Bush, I wouldn't be worrying about winning the election or surviving impeachment. It would be a question of not getting lynched.

Boy I hope I'm not whistling in the dark.  

That is exactly right.  Bush could kill 5 million Iranians, and a large portion (at least 30%) of the american public would be happy as clams. Another 20-30% don't watch the news enough to even know that he was doing it. However, if he causes gas prices to shoot to $8/gallon, you can be assured that his ass would be grass.
For me, gas was $2.87 today.  It's risen 34 cents in two weeks, and people are getting pretty irate.  

It's going to be tough for Bush to start anything with Iran.  After Iraq, who'll believe anything he says?  

The only way we are starting anything with Iran is if Europe takes the lead.  

I'm curious why you think high gas prices would make it tough for Bush to start anything with Iran?  He's not up for election again - no one is until November.  There are no other avenues for people to express their displeasure, other than polls - and IMHO his rating won't go much lower anyway.

There's a big difference between bitching an moaning about the price of gas, and doing something - especially if that means actively opposing the president during a time of war, and the guilt bad feelings that entails.  

The biggest act of defiance people might take would be to give the House to the Democrats in November, and as I've commented elsewhere, I don't think that would result in any serious consequences for Bush.  He scarcely needs any more powers that Congress could give him, considering what he's already assumed, so the only risk is removal from office and that's a big stretch during a war.

I don't see the risks for them - it's a very looong way between unhappiness at the pump and some kind of public revolt.

Congress has served notice that they won't be taking orders from the Oval Office any more.  First with the ports deal, now with the immigration bill.  

Bush cannot be re-elected, but Congress is facing the voters very soon, as such things are judged in DC.  And Bush has a lot to lose if the GOP loses control of the House, the Senate, or both.  All the Dems need is one, and they can start the kind of investigations that dogged Reagan and Clinton.  Wiretapping, Plamegate, and so many more.  Plus, Bush's agenda will be blocked at every turn.  If he cares about his agenda and his place in history, he cares about the next election.  

Yes, but see what the article says about Bush's idea of his place in history:

"...the President believes that he must do 'what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,' and 'that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.'"

Sounds like Bush is going to hear only what he wants to hear, regardless of who opposes him.  I don't think he cares about low approval ratings, and Congress is simply an obstacle on his way to the goal.

Oh, I'm not saying he won't do it.  But he won't do it until after the election.
He loses Congress he won't be able to do it at all.

Besides the Hersh article, three things make me nervous:

As far as the diplomatic stuff is going, the Bush admin is aacting like they have some sort of deadline coming up soon.

Having a carrier circling off Venezuela would make sense if you're planning on something nasty with Iran.

And Hersh first said in 2005 that they were planning on Iran strikes.  He might just have got the date wrong, but it's possible that they were and only got stopped by the Iraq mess and a bad hurricane season.

He loses Congress he won't be able to do it at all.

Actually, I don't he'll be able to do it at all, anyway.  But he may try after the election.  

There is no way Congress will get behind a war on Iran now.  If Bush attacks Iran before the elections, he will do it without Congressional approval.  I don't think he'll risk it.  

And Hersh first said in 2005 that they were planning on Iran strikes.  He might just have got the date wrong, but it's possible that they were and only got stopped by the Iraq mess and a bad hurricane season.

And there's likely to be plenty more where that came from.  Plus Nigeria.  Nigeria is not expected to calm down until after their elections, which are in early 2007, I believe.

"If Bush attacks Iran before the elections, he will do it without Congressional approval."

The official line is that Congress has already given approval.  I don't see much evidence that Congress has enough fortitude to refute that.

As I mentioned previously, Congress has grown a backbone in the past couple of months.  They can smell weakness, like sharks smelling blood.  It's Bush who has been backing down.  

Bush is a lame duck now.  The balance of power has shifted in Washington, driven by Bush's 36% approval rating.  

THAT's a backbone?  They must be invertebrates - I never knew. ;-)
Bush really wanted that ports deal.  He threatened to veto any legislation that would delay it.  The end result?  Embarrassing climb-down.  

And it looks like the same thing is going to happen on the immigration bill.  This would never have happened three years ago.

"...the President believes that he must do 'what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,' and 'that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.'"


good Lord were fucked.

This is why I carry both a Quran and a Bible in my bug-out-back. I fear prophecies of "judgement day" could be imminently self-fulfilling when I read things like this and if law school taught me one thing it's to have "full spectrum ass coverage" if you're about to go to trial



It's already up to $3, the middle of the road stuff is $2.90 but I'm sure it will be $2.95 in the morning, and the good stuff $3.10-$3.15.
Joule:  "But the last time that was done was December 8, 1941."

People usually get to correct me on multiple occasions, so I get to do it for a change.  Actually, we declared war on Germany a few days after we declared war on Japan. We waited for Germany to declare war on us first, and we declared war on them on December 11, 1941.

I've read that Germany declared war on the US first.
You might want to reread my post.
The time has come apparently. We are going to fry Iran.

Check out this story:

and the original story:

Here is a tidbit from the story:

The administration of President George W. Bush is planning a massive bombing campaign against Iran, including use of bunker-buster nuclear bombs to destroy a key Iranian suspected nuclear weapons facility, The New Yorker magazine has reported in its April 17 issue.

The article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said that Bush and others in the White House have come to view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a potential Adolf Hitler.

"That's the name they're using," the report quoted a former senior intelligence official as saying.

A senior unnamed Pentagon adviser is quoted in the article as saying that "this White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war."

The former intelligence officials depicts planning as "enormous," "hectic" and "operational," Hersh writes.

I see the link has already been posted.

Pretty damned frightening. Combine the neoconservative with the messianic and you have all you need for a self-fullfilling prophecy.

From the BBC:
'The number of tornadoes in the US has risen
dramatically in the first part of 2006,
according to the National Weather Service's
Storm Prediction Centre.

At the end of March, an estimated 286
tornadoes had hit the US, against an average
of 70 for the same three-month period over
the past three years.'

The politicians, economists and oil company
executives can keep playing their silly games,
pretending global warming isn't a problem,
but it looks to me as though Gaia is taking
her revenge.

Let's not be hasty - I think we should study it some more. ;-)

This issue should be referred to the Energy Department Science Advisory Board for an extensive and comprehensive review. It is entirely possible that these phenomena are simply another manifestation of Intelligent Design.

I have to laugh at the posts that consider the many downsides to bombing Iran and that Bush himself is considering them.  Bush is an embattled failure with a messianic complex.  Hersh himself (he was on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now) talked at length about what motivates Bush.  Conclusion:  True Believer.  That's what is so fucking scary here.  If Bush believes he can save Western Civilization from a nuclear Iran, so be it.  The latest admin spin on IraQ btw is that history will judge Bush right.  Stupid mindless spin?  Of course.  But something the Shrub himself believes?   Quite likely.

Bush won't weigh the obvious downsides==gas lines, economic chaos, etc-- against his religious belief in his calling.  That's on one level.  On a another level,  Bush's real wet dreams come (so to speak) with his fantasies of wielding overwhelming power.  Basic.  Macho.  Stupid as all hell.

You know, I watched the "Fahrenheit 911" movie on DVD last night, and that's the impression that I get of Bush (I'm in NZ BTW).

He comes across as getting a huge kick out of the power that he yields.  Almost like he's addicted to it.

At the end of the movie my overwhelming thought was that I was glad that I am not living in America.