Of gas and biofuels

Well it appears that the thought of a New Great Game is catching on, as an image to describe the scene, if nothing else. The discussions this week are focusing on Kazakhstan where, you remember
China's CNPC last year bought Kazakh oil producer PetroKazakhstan, and the first oil from Kazakhstan reached China last week via a major new pipeline. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov last month paid a six-day visit to Beijing, where he signed off on a plan to send 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually by a new pipeline to China beginning in 2009. Not satisfied, China is in talks with Kazakhstan over a gas pipeline from that country, too.
Well enter Vice President Cheney and the United States has an alternate suggestion
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is expected to push in Kazakhstan on Friday for a major new gas pipeline from the country to bypass Russia and take Kazakh gas westward through Azerbaijan and on to Turkey.
This time around, and before he even comments, I suspect I am going to agree with Jerome a Paris, who has written before of the poor chance of some of these pipelines being installed.

Down at the bottom of the article, it also appears that others are not impressed with the likelihood of this coming to pass.

Kazakhstan is unlikely to antagonize Russia by moving fast on a new gas pipeline westward, while the low quality of gas in Kazakh fields would also make any such project extremely costly, said Valery Nesterov, oil and gas analyst at Troika Dialog. Proposals to hook Turkmen gas up to a Kazakh pipeline westward would likely serve to push up prices for Russia rather than win the United States and Europe easier access to the gas, he said.

Another big problem for any direct Kazakh route to the West is that it would have to go under the Caspian Sea, the demarcation of which has yet to be agreed on by its littoral states, including Iran, Baran said. "Iran would be a threat to any pipeline project," she said.

Meanwhile in Asia the hope is that oil prices won't stay up too long though ethanol is becoming more popular

In Thailand, consumption of plant-extracted gasohol has quadrupled in the last year, rising to 3.4 million barrels a day in March. The country's consumption of gas and diesel stood at 70 million barrels per day that month.
And China is also looking into biofuels It currently produces about 1 million tons of ethanol, but could perhaps produce more using their own varieties of grass etc.
The plants include sugar grass, which is suitable for salina and other low-quality land in 18 provinces north of China's Yellow River and Huaihe River basins.

Those land totals 33.34 million hectares, and one fifth of them would be enough to produce 20 million tons of ethanol, said Shi.

China produces annually 1.5 billion tons of stalk as by-products of grain production, which can be used to produce 370 million tons of ethanol.

China currently consumes around 323 million tons and imports around 119 million tons a year, according to the article.
I remember being told that during a panic is the worst time to make a decision.

Does anyone else feel like Peak Oil seems to have exploded onto various states' "radars" over the past year or so?  It certainly seems to me that a lot of people are being very hasty and scrambling to lock in as much supply as they can.

I guess the burning question is:  Are these states and energy companies locking in to simply maintain the status quo, or are they locking in to minimise the disruption while they develop alternative energy sources?

The sudden panic rather depressingly leads me to believe the former rather than the latter...

There are 1.2 billion Chinese and another 1.5 billion Indians. The current high energy lifestyle countries have about 700 million people. The high demand is caused by all the developing nation's crowd wanting a high energy lifestylSo the e,and oil and gas are the easiest methods of getting that energy.Satalite T.V. and the Internet give them access to information about how us energy hogs in the US live. They still want to become rich energy consumers. Alas.They have no long range plan except getting richer.
The paradox is that we exported that lifestyle in order for western companies to expand their current market. Now, we are  blaming them for consuming too much energy! it seems that Consumerism is starting to eat itself up!
Didn't Marx say something to that effect? Not that I'm a big fan of his solutions, but his insights into the flaws of capitalism are pretty good, but he just didn't factor in 2 Trillion Barrels of oil.
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

--Groucho Marx

Yes Marx said capitalism would consume itself. He was talking about how capitalism was prone to crises, esp. crises of overproduction.
In current terms Marx was a cornucopian. 150 years ago that made sense. Capitalism has proven remarkably resilient at responding to its crises. Impending peak oil breaks all molds, Marxian or otherwise. This is not a crisis Marx foresaw.
If you know of a Marxist critique of peak oil post a note here. Everything I see is ad hoc, this is all too new for much else.
Capitalism and market economy works best in an environment of just laws and with competition where no one has a monopoly.

One problem with Peak Oil is that it is a problem in a scale where our capitalist system is controlled by states and very large oligopole or monopoly corporations. It is essentially no longer a capitalistic market economy but a command economy.

Command economies are very efficient at getting one thing done but they have a hard time doing the right thing since they lack the constant parallell development of manny ideas and products.

Our future probably depends on a fairly small number of very powerfull individuals in states and mega corportations deciding that they and their heirs would like to live in a pluralistic and culturally rich future. We depend on them deciding on a "fertilizing" strategy and not a "hoarding" strategy.

The next part that must work is doing the right physical investments and technology developments. It must both be concentrated and spread out to do a lot of good in the short term and not miss important opportunities. Here is the market economy king in assigning recources and using them efficiently if there is a market with manny competing companies.

I am quite sure that most of us can do ok physically if our leaders are up to this and things start moving. If not regions will start to break down and other regons will get it and the world will start to split up in well managed parts and basket cases. Where will we then have our next former Sovjet union och new Zimbabwe?

That should be 1.3 billion Chinese and 1.1 billion Indians.
Neither do we.  It is a mark of the American hubris that we complain that China and India want the same lifestyle we have but are unwilling to relinquish.  
The 'non-negotiable American way of life' (read: gluttony and waste) will become very negotiable at $5/gal.
According to a Carnegie Mellon University press release on May 4, "...researchers say use of switchgrass could solve energy woes."  So, no problem with gas guzzling.


For those who don't know, Eurekalert is run by AAAS.

I have just returned from the 97th AOCS (American Oil Chemists Society) meeting which is a group that deals with biological lipids and fats.  

The AOCS is everything non petroleum oil, from supply to sythesis to diet to oxidation.  There were realistic discussions about the diversion of food lipids to energy uses.  There is a clear understanding by the scientists there that biological lipids will not replace all our current petroleum usage.

There were entire sections on biodiesel and energy.  Also a key lecture by Professor Frank Gunstone of the University of St. Andrews tiltled Will Oil and Fat Supply Meet Oil and Fat Demand in 2020?  This was fascinating because it looked at all sources of lipids from oil seeds to rendered animal fats to pressed fish oils.  The total supply is increasing and a greater percentage of the total is from oil seeds every year.

There is great opportunity to increase lipid production with out increasing acreage significantly for biodiesel.  I will gather some thoughts and present more here after I take care of some work.

thanks, looking forward to hearing more!

"There is great opportunity to increase lipid production"..."The total supply is increasing and a greater percentage of the total is from oil seeds every year."

My great concern when I hear talk of biofuels is, where will the vast amounts of pesticides and fertilizer come from?

I'm under the assumption that monoculture can be very difficult without a constant check on pests (i.e. large amounts of petroleum based pesticides). And due to the acres of production that we are talking about, where will the natural gas come from in order to feed these commercial-sized crops?

"Inputs" are important I think we'd all agree. Yet they never seem to be discussed in detail. Did they talk about this at the conference? Or if you have insight into these concerns please elaborate in your future response.

Thank you.

Use DDG as fertilizer: Hi Mr Downing, I had been asking those questions too when fuelaholic pointed me to this paper by David Blume. RR doesn't rate his numbers, but I was fascinated by the idea of using the DDG byproduct as fertilizer. Blume is a permaculture guy.
Hemp as a dedicated energy crop, will not need pesticides nor will it need larges amounts of fertilizer.  The root system stays in the ground after harvest - 40-60% of which is nitrogeneous.

We start with hemp and work our way to algae.

In the meantime, bioethanol and biomethanol can be made from bio, waste and landfill gases.

Don't worry about biomass, there's more than enough to make all the biofuels you want.


Wait, Are you sure they are talking about 3.4 million BARRELS or GALLONS of biofuel??? I just don't believe the Barrels number (unless their barrels are much, much smaller).
In the end, the shortest and least expensive pipeline which can deliver appreciable export income will win the day in the Kazakh government. That is just the way pipelines work when governments are involved.


Sorry, unrelated news: There was a article in The Economist last week that was very critical of the "Peak Oil" theory. That article has just been published on the PBS website:

Why the World Is Not About to Run Out of Oil?

Notice this nice forecast from CERA:

I think It would be important, especially for newbies or PO skeptics, if TOD could debunked this article and offer a rebuttal.

Is this the same article Heading Out posted on, on April 24th, or a new one, I can't tell, or can't remember? I read that one in the bookstore and it was pretty lame. This one looks similar with all the CERA stuff.

HO's post

The fact that there is so much "debunking" of Peak-Oil going on means it is getting more mainstream, however slightly - this is a good thing.

That's the same article. I guessed I missed that thread!
It's hard to debunk something which is based on sheer speculation and whose underlying assumptions are not available to us. You have to purchase the report, but as I understand it a lot of detail is even left out of that. I saw a CERA chart on TOD some months ago giving the North Sea as an example - it projected growth over the next few years, but all the growth was from "undiscovered" and "uncharacterised" fields. Their decline assumptions are also unclear. In this situation, you can only present your side of the argument but it's hard to directly challenge the other. You get these frustrating, perpetual parallel and contradictory conversations.
Production has been flat since around oct 04. This is long enough to show up on their graph as a flat segment - doesn't seem to be there.
Is it just me, or when other people think of Kazakhstan do they also think of Ali G. doing his "Borat" character?
Quote from one of the articles above:

"The country's consumption of gas and diesel stood at 70 million barrels per day that month"

Hmmm, what country consumes that much? Some of these writers sure are sloppy with their numbers/units. It makes you wonder how much of the rest is wrong.

Oy.  You could write a book on the statistical crimes the media commits.  But in their defense, the ones on TV do have nice hair and teeth.

One of my favorite gaffes is when they quote some value, typically a change in money spent or saved, without specifying the time frame.  

Journalists are terrible at handling units of physical measurement.  Some of my "favorite" common errors are in reporting about electrical energy.  First they can't distinguish KW (power) from KWH (energy).  And stating the power of a generator in "MWH per year" (instead of MW) makes me want to puke.  And they always say things like "this new power station will make X megawatts, enough to power Y homes for a year".  And after the year is out, I guess the power station self-destructs?

Physics should be a required subject in high school.

Also, why is it that economists, who are experts at calculating exponential growth of money (interest rates, how much a penny invested in 1776 would be worth now, etc), are so incapable of realizing the consequences of exponential growth of anything else?

Now that you mention it.... I remember the tennis courts at my university in the late 70's. It wasn't long after the first "oil crisis" so there were still a few remnants of energy-saving consciousness. They didn't want people forgetting to turn off the lights after playing at night, so there was a big sign: "These lights use 4000 watts per hour."
We shouldn't beat up on the journalists so much. There is a radio interview posted somewhere here on TOD with both Heinberg and Kunstler, maybe someone can find it. If I remember correctly the host(or it may have actually been one of the doomsters - everybody sounded the same) made just such a gaffe in regards to the amount of oil used in this country and nobody corrected the offender. It was a sad moment.
My favorites are wildly wrong estimates or guesses, or something, like incredible BTUs in a gram of gasoline, found on peak oil sites.

Chemistry should be required in high school too.

What always kills me are the reports that the Canadian tar sands hold nearly 2 trillion barrels of oil and the US oil shales hold near 2 trillion barrels of oil so why worry, as if both the tar sands and the oil shales were giant pop bottles just waiting to have the cap popped and a straw stuck in to suck out the oil.

Maybe a little geology ought to go into the science education mix.

Sadly what we should probably think about teaching is agriculture.
Think about?

No, I don't think so. You are spot on. Agriculture?

Who remembers this word?


For those who do, do you remember why?

Does anybody know what Bauer means in German? Strange Coincidence? Don't know, have to have DaveByGolly research that one.

Previous to Bauer, I believe Hitler was the most frequently used German name.

So why Bauer?

I hope you'll understand that I post my links here once again, but as I have written extensively on the topic of the Caspian resources and the pipelines to get them to the markets, I feel it makes sense to give you access to the long versions... (and the underlying issues son't change from one year to another)

Caspian Oil - a Sunday Special (all the big fields and the pipelines)
Pipeline economics - why the Afghan pipeline will NOT be built (that applies to any gas pipeline form Turkmenistan)
A pipeline is like a marriage with kids (Dec. 16)

(on the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline, among others).

I once had a lenghthy comment describing how many times a breathless announcement could be made by politicians with respect to an international pipeline, and why such comments should be heavily discounted... I need to dig it up or rewrite it.

But yeah Cheney is full of shit on this one.

Thanks for that Caspian Oil (Sunday Special) link. There's lots of good stuff but events are moving fast in Asia.

But here we go again :) I love maps.

It's just a hop, skip and a jump over to China, mostly through Tajikistan about which we learn

Tajikistan, riven by civil war for much of its history since becoming idependent from the Soviet Union in 1991, has the highest rate of poverty of the 15 former-Soviet Republics. United Nations estimates show that 83 percent of Tajiks live in poverty....

A proposed pipeline connecting oil and gas from the Caspian Sea to the Chinese market would provide Tajikistan with some badly needed revenue. As it stands, Tajikistan is in danger of becoming another failed state. As it stands, Tajikistan is already a major trafficking route for heroin and opiates from Afghanistan going to Russia and Western Europe.

As an almost failed state, Tajikistan would be only too happy to get some pipeline revenue. On the other hand, should the Turkmen renege on their deals with China, this small country could not impede troop movements if worse comes to worse. The Uzbeks would surely be concerned about all this and must cooperate with the Chinese Dragon. An alternative for the Turkmenistan gas would be to join up with a pipeline from Kazakhstan to China.

Jerome, you're a excellent source about the region. I just disagree about predicting the future developments in the area. I tend to think that the Chinese are very powerful there and growing more so all the time. I believe that what they want, they will get.

As for the pipeline through Afghanistan into Pakistan, that will depend on what India is willing to pay assuming of course that a spur will be built so they get the gas.

But to make my main point, I think desperation for energy drives all this and the kind of practical, logistical points you bring up are certainly a factor. In the end, however, I think the supply will end up where the demand is and money is no object at this point.

best, Dave

"money is no object at this point"

As the provider of (some of) that money, let's say that I disagree with that...
Even China will not dump USD 10 bn in an uncertain venture with (an)uncooperative partner(s) that can scupper a deal at any time.

Re: "I suspect I am going to agree with Jerome a Paris, who has written before of the poor chance of some of these pipelines being installed."

I would not underestimate the determination of the Chinese. Here are some additional quotes from the article.

"The Chinese are now waving their checkbooks," said Alfa Bank chief strategist Chris Weafer, who is also an expert on OPEC politics....

"The Chinese have already changed the rules of the game with their checkbooks."

This situation is complex. For example, the Asian Times reports in The Sino-Russian romance
The Russia-China relationship improved significantly last July 1, when a meeting between Putin and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao led to a joint statement that rejected attempts by any country to gain a "monopoly in world affairs" and to "impose models of social development" on other countries.

This statement was clearly directed at the United States and came after Moscow and Beijing reached agreement that they did not desire increased US influence in Central Asia. The "colored revolutions" that were sweeping through Eurasia - in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan - caused concern in both Moscow and Beijing, as each perceived US motives in the region as potentially threatening their spheres of influence.

Moscow's and Beijing's efforts to increase control over the countries that make up the SCO reflect this policy. For instance, shortly after the SCO meetings in Kazakhstan last July 5, member-state Uzbekistan announced that the US military could not use its base at Karshi-Khanabad for any purpose other than its support operations in Afghanistan. Tashkent's statement was a prelude to its July 29 announcement that the United States would have to shut down its operations at Karshi-Khanabad altogether.

As usual, I recommend reading the whole article.

So, Russia and China are getting cozy and both agree that the US should stay the hell out of the Caspian Sea & Central Asia. Now, if the cash-rich Chinese want some of that Turkmen and Kazakhstan gas and are willing to build the pipelines, would the Russians risk antagonizing them? Jerome says "no pipeline out of Turkmenistan can be built, whether to India, China or elsewhere, because it makes no economic sense to build it when Gazprom can undercut you any time with a fully amortised and operational pipeline already available". But the Chinese clearly want the gas and have a big checkbook. So, it's not clear what going to happen. Consider that China has already bought PetroKazakhstan as you note. Russia didn't stand in the way there.

Meanwhile, the Sultan of the Steppes has every reason to smile.

I'll shake hands with you but
you won't be getting any of my gas

The only certainty I see here is that the US will be cut out of any deals and Cheney is wasting his time. As was alluded to in a previous comment, it is ironic that the Chinese can sign big checks because they send all that manufactured crap to the America (Walmart) and simultaneously snub the US in procuring energy to keep it going. And that Unocal deal (they operate in South East Asia) didn't help matters. The world is a beautiful thing sometimes. You just have to keep the right perspective.

Actually, Lukoil (russia) did not want china to buy pkz because they were in the process of stealing those pkz assets involved in the lukoil/pkz joint venture, but china got her way, happily for pkz shareholders. China does not just carry a big checkbook, they have enormous political influence in the region, particularly kazakhstan, with whom they share a border; both countries worry about islamic extremists operating in their border region, are anxious to cooperate.
Re: China does not carry a big checkbook

Huh? Of course they do. They're outbidding people for oil and natural gas contracts all over the world, or at least trying to. Otherwise, I agree with your remarks. Of course Lukoil didn't want China to buy PKZ but it happened, didn't it? Nursultan Nazarbayev enjoys good relations with Russia but he still allowed the sale. He's playing everybody off against the others.

China doesn't need a big checkbook -- they can just fork over some treasuries -- if anyone will take them.
Most of this is behind a wall, but..

China bad loans may reach total of $900bn
By Richard McGregor in Beijing
Financial Times

China's total liabilities for non-performing loans may be as high as $900bn, dwarfing official estimates and outstripping the country's massive foreign exchange reserves, according to a study of Beijing's bad debt problem.
The study, part of Ernst & Young's annual global survey of NPLs, says China's big four state banks alone have bad loans worth $358bn, or more than twice official estimates.

Houston thinktank Stratfor predicted China would collapse because of its bad loans.

Of course, Stratfor predicts China will collapse almost every year, for one reason or another.  They're the ones that predicted oil would go back down to $30 because China would collapse before the end of the year.  That was two years ago, I think.

That study was based on some appalling blunders, see a post by Joseph Wang on Brad Setser's blog.
Russian Media Warn of New Cold War

A Russian newspaper said Friday that Vice President Dick Cheney's harsh criticism of Moscow's human rights record signaled the start of a new Cold War.

The Kommersant business daily compared Cheney's speech Thursday in neighboring Lithuania to Winston Churchill's famous "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Mo., saying in that it "marked the beginning of a second Cold War."

It gets worse:

From The Media Matters website:

From the May 2 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Colonel David Hunt joins us now, the Fox News military analyst, in Boston. Colonel, I'm wondering whether this is a military threat -- leave aside the energy concerns -- but a military threat to our country now?

HUNT: Yeah. There is no question. Oil -- oil is a weapon. And I think what you are finding with Iran, Bolivia, and -- and Venezuela, that it absolutely is being considered. And why wouldn't the -- why wouldn't terrorists, or terrorist states, or states getting close to being a terrorist state, like Venezuela, like Bolivia, and certainly Iran, consider it? It's -- it's -- it's cheaper for them. And it absolutely could hurt us. And we need to be very, very careful about it and figure out how to counter that kind of a threat.


CAVUTO: Colonel Hunt, finally, let me end with you. Is this now, in your eyes, the way that Bolivia has acted in the last 24 hours, a military threat?

HUNT: Yeah, I think it could -- I think it absolutely needs to be considered. And the problem is we're very tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we're going to have to start looking toward South America and figure out what we can do in the near term. All your very smart guests are talking about some far-term stuff, but the near term is, if Bolivia keeps this up, what Venezuela does, and Iran, we've got near term -- right now, this month, this next six months -- action that we have to look at both from a military standpoint and an economic standpoint, so, yeah, absolutely it's a threat.

Notice now how anyone not bending over backward to supply America the energy for its non-negotiable lifestyle suddenly falls into the "terrorist" category?  (Maybe the new phrase should be "if you're not supplying us, you're against us.)  I also think it amusing that Dick Cheney, of this Administration, has the audacity to complain about Russia's human rights record.
"And the problem is we're very tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq, ...".

If not, they'd be in there already. Is it called overreach or overstretch? Everyone goes back and second guesses Hitler with his second front. But once you're running the empire, it's not such an easy decision, is it?

Germany needed oil.  The push towards Azerbaijan was a necessity.  (As was the Afrika Corps push towards Suez and middle east oil.)  The distractions of Moscow and Leningrad doomed the effort.

In the case of the US imperial defeatin Oil War IV, lingering too long in Iraq with too few troops was the mistake.  In retrospect another false flag terror operation that would have been the excuse for nuking Iran in May 2003 and resuming the draft maybe could have been a winning move.  But just like Germany in 1942, most of the rest of the world is lined up against the US at this point.  In 2006, a US strategic victory is not an option.

Cheney's adventures in Europe come two weeks after President Hu of China's visit to Washington. His trip was described by the Washington Post as China and Its President Greeted by a Host of Indignities  Here is the meat of it:

"The protocol-obsessed Chinese leader suffered a day full of indignities -- some intentional, others just careless. The visit began with a slight when the official announcer said the band would play the 'national anthem of the Republic of China' -- the official name of Taiwan. It continued when Vice President Cheney donned sunglasses for the ceremony, and again when Hu, attempting to leave the stage via the wrong staircase, was yanked back by his jacket. Hu looked down at his sleeve to see the president of the United States tugging at it as if redirecting an errant child.

"Then there were the intentional slights. China wanted a formal state visit such as Jiang got, but the administration refused, calling it instead an 'official' visit. Bush acquiesced to the 21-gun salute but insisted on a luncheon instead of a formal dinner, in the East Room instead of the State Dining Room. Even the visiting country's flags were missing from the lampposts near the White House.

"But as protocol breaches go, it's hard to top the heckling of a foreign leader at the White House."

Who isn't our government trying to provoke?

Does anyone understand why they behave this way? Who are they trying to impress? Bush and Cheney make Putin seem like Fred Astaire or Cary Grant. In fact, both guys seem like they are competing for outrageous sound bites with the Iranian guy.

Yeah, a new cold war, just what we really need right now! I keep hoping for signs that we're going to start on tentative steps in the right direction, but we seem to be heading away from realistic solutions, and towards the fantastical, at break-neck speed. How, exactly will confrontation provide answers to our environmental concerns, and the Big One, Peak Oil? Cheyney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Bush, are really Dangerous and delusional. If they really studied Rome, they be way more circumspect and cautious.

When Bush and his henchmen talk about "freedom" "democracy" and "globalisation", I think they mean "freedom" for American corporations, backed-up by military force, to re-model the the world in the image of the United States, and with the United States in control of the world's economy, raw material, and markets. The main beneficiary of this new world order will be the United States, or at least the super-rich and powerful elite that rules the country.

Do these guys really believe that a benevolent form of imperialism is possible today? Isn't the age of imperialism over? In a way they are right. Iraq and Iran are test cases. If one can re-establish imperial rule here, rolling back nationalism, then maybe one could do it in other countries too? But how realistic is this neo-con dream? One can have differing attitudes to the insurgency in Iraq, but they are tough and ruthless mothers, who are not about to bow to imperial rule without a fight. Shock and Awe, like Blitzkrieg, just haven't worked. The Germans tried it in Russia and worse. Terror from the occupying army only makes the resistance more determined and willing to die. That's why the United States will lose in Iraq. Because the Iraqies are ready and willing to fight and die in far higher numbers than the Americans are prepared to. How is such and Pax Americna possible without millions of soldiers in uniform and wartime rates of taxation? There's this old British imperialist song, which has a jaunty, cockshore rhythm, and tune. I can only remember the chorus.

Oh, we don't want to fight,
But by jingo, if we do,
We've got the men, we've got the guns,
And we've got the money too!

Shortly after this song was written it all started to un-ravel for the British, as these things tend to do. It's like there's a kind of "historical gravity" at work here. What goes up, must come down, and this applies to countries, and Empires as well. So even if one is contemptuous of the "reality based community", the physical reality of "historical gravity" grabs one by the clicking heels of one's jack-boots, and drags one back down to earth, and reality, with a bump.

The United States "Empire" would appear to be heading for the trashcan of history at an alarming speed. Where is the money and where are the men? Of course if one has decided to use nukes, in order to re-establish a level playing field, then we enter new, uncharted, and very dangerous territory.

Writerman, I think that these guys have crossed the Rubicon, just as Hitler did when he invaded Poland. There is no going back. People talk about the elections, '06 and '08, but to me that's meaningless talk at this point. These guys have committed SO MANY crimes that they dare not turn power over to anyone for fear they'll end in jail. And who can bring them down? They have made SO MANY at the top complicit, they have stuffed SO MUCH money into the pockets of the top .001 (or whatever) percent and so badly corrupted the Congress and Senate that there is no one left to take them down. 9-11 was the first big crime, but even if you don't buy that, there have been so many other crimes since then that it doesn't matter -- you'll see my point.
they can just play the pardon game.  heck, bush (with the longer life expectancy) can resign (if things get that bad) and let cheney pardon him.  hhhm. can bush pardon cheney, and then resign and get pardoned himself? ;-)

it's a disgrace, but it's also a safety valve - the nixon plan

Sometimes it just happens that we have very bad leaders. This is one of those times. These guys are not making rational decisions or acting on the interests of constituents. These guys are deep into eschatology and damn the torpedoes.
I wish I knew why we accept these leaders.
Look around the planet and see where you find rational actors amongst the politicians. It's pretty depressing.
Global Oil Exports 1988 - 2003

Kazakhstan is the bright red sliver in the middle. That represents about 800,000 barrels per day exports out of production of 1.0 million barrels per day in 2003.

I believe they are currently producing over 1.3mbpd.

Your question above was "why are exports as a percent of production increasing?" I think part of the answer is that the major consuming nations - esp US but others - have been declining in indigenous production, requiring imports which are increasingly coming from less developed countries with less internal demand which were not explored before for political or economic reasons (African nations, etc). In addition, the increased production using the last of the KSA spare capacity was all for export, as was the build in Russian production. I don't think these factors contradict Westexas' thoughts about exports declining, because his analysis suggests this is only in the beginning phases now, not on the time period of the chart above.
This is a topic that I am starting to seriously look into. I'm still kind of in the beginning phase of scraping together the data and staring at it. I have no preconceptions and a bunch of questions at this point. I'm far from making any type of intelligible comment. Westexas has raised a very interesting issue(at least for me). I appreciate your input and hope you will continue to provide it. I'm going to add in 2004 data soon and try presenting the numbers in different ways before attempting to work population figures into the mix. Suggestions would be helpful.
Thanks. After I wrote my comment I realized I should start by saying I appreciate your effort in putting this information together and putting up the graph. It is another, thought-provoking way of looking at what is going on. I'll watch for the next graph. I had been thinking that instead of looking at US imports to evaluate westexas' ideas it would make more sense to look at actual export data for KSA and Russia. We are not their major market. I was looking but had trouble finding the data.  
Can't believe anybody is still awake. What is KSA? Don't say Kingdom, please. I grew up there, or at least for one year. A very memorable year. Probably formed me more than I'm willing to admit.
People have been referring to Saudi Arabia as KSA, so I used the term. Actually, I just prefer SA and will stick with that. Your year sonds interesting.
Many moons ago, I wrote a story There's A New Kid In Town -- Iran Versus Kazakhstan about future export capacity. You might want to take a look. Here's my analysis at the time.

Exports, Iran versus Kazakhstan

Check it out.

In Thailand, consumption of plant-extracted gasohol has quadrupled in the last year, rising to 3.4 million barrels a day in March. The country's consumption of gas and diesel stood at 70 million barrels per day that month.

Thailand's daily consumption is three times ours?

I think that should be 3.4 million litres a day.  

Thailand is planning to discontinue consumption of unblended premium gasoline at the end of this year, as a way of reducing oil imports. As in the USA, the strategy is to replace MTBE with ethanol, selling E10 blends for both regular and premium. Cassava, tapioca and sugar cane are the main raw materials for ethanol prodcution.