DrumBeat: June 11, 2006

Now for some wise words from the readers of The Oil Drum...
The Dallas Morning News asks, Has oil peaked?

The Princeton geologist Ken Deffeyes warns that the imminent peak of global oil production will result in "war, famine, pestilence and death." Mr. Deffeyes, author of 2001's Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage and 2005's Beyond Oil: The View From Hubbert's Peak, predicted that the peak of global oil production would occur this past Thanksgiving. Mr. Deffeyes isn't alone. Houston investment banker Matthew Simmons claims in his 2005 book Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy that the Saudis are lying about the size of their reserves and that they are really running on empty; last September, he announced that "we could be looking at $10-a-gallon gas this winter."

No, they say.  We have 30 years to find an alternative.  :-P

Well, I feel all better now...until I read this about China's coal use...
What got my attention: 400,000 Chinese per year die prematurely due to pollution caused by coal.  And that's today: "Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China that is big enough to serve all the households in Dallas or San Diego." Pollution from Chinese coal has reached the US West Coast.  If this is what we're going to hang our hats on, get used to breathing with a mask when outside.
Even scarier, China subsidizes energy use and gas is only $2.00 per gallon.  I think what China is doing (and we aid and abet it with our consumption of Chinese goods) is far worse than peak oil.  If only we had peak coal.
Do you mean the pollution is drifting to the west coast all the way from China?
on a similar note the particles from depleted uranium shells fired from our military in Iraq have been found as far as Europe.
btw du is only depleted in the since that it can't be used to make nuclear bombs, it retains 90% of it's radioactivity also it's a toxin.
it's basically fallout without a bomb going off.
Uhm No

Fallout is dangerous because of the short lived, and hence HIGHLY radioactive fission products + irradiated soil in the area (if a ground level blast).  From memory, Iodine 131 has a half life of a couple of weeks, and our bodies efficiently scavange for iodine and send it to the thyroid.

Strontium 90 has a half life of a year of so and the body treats it like calcium.  And so forth.

DU is mainly U-238 with a half life of 3.5 B illion years.  Not radioactive in any significant sense.  Very small amounts of U-235 (half life 200+ million years) were not removed (i.e. depleted).

Uranium, like most heavy metals is toxic.  Lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury are more toxic.

DU is dangerous because it is used in munitions and post-impact it disintegrates (aersolizes) into micron sized or smaller particulates that contaminate the air, water and soil.  these particles can easily be inhaled or injested where they enter the lungs and bloodstream.  once inside our lungs they can become trapped or if they are small enough (nanometers) they can pass directly from the lungs into the bloodstream or through the olfactory bulb (nasal) into the brain.  they then radiate away alpha particles that would be harmless to our skin, but cause enormous damage to celluar organelles (e.g. mitochondria), membranes, brain/lung tissue, and DNA.  

from an article describing both Afghanistanian and Iraqi contamination and DU tests:

"Two additional scientific study teams were sent to Afghanistan. The first arrived in June 2002, concentrating on the Jalalabad region. The second arrived four months later, broadening the study to include the capital Kabul, which has a population of nearly 3.5 million people. The city itself contains the highest recorded number of fixed targets during Operation Enduring Freedom. For the study's purposes, the vicinity of three major bomb sites were examined. It was predicted that signatures of depleted or enriched uranium would be found in the urine and soil samples taken during the research. The team was unprepared for the shock of its findings, which indicated in both Jalalabad and Kabul, DU was causing the high levels of illness. Tests taken from a number of Jalalabad subjects showed concentrations 400% to 2000% above that for normal populations, amounts which have not been recorded in civilian studies before.

Those in Kabul who were directly exposed to US-British precision bombing showed extreme signs of contamination, consistent with uranium exposure. These included pains in joints, back/kidney pain, muscle weakness, memory problems and confusion and disorientation. Those exposed to the bombing report symptoms of flu-type illnesses, bleeding, runny noses and blood-stained mucous.  How many of these people will suffer a painful and early death from cancer? Even the study team itself complained of similar symptoms during their stay. Most of these symptoms last for days or months.

In August of 2002, UMRC [Uranium Medical Research Center] completed its preliminary analysis of the results from Nangarhar.  Without exception, every person donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium contamination. The specific results indicated an astoundingly high level of contamination; concentrations were 100 to 400 times greater than those of the Gulf War Veterans tested in 1999.   A researcher reported. "We took both soil and biological samples, and found considerable presence in urine samples of radioactivity; the heavy concentration astonished us.  They were beyond our wildest imagination."

How many of these people will suffer a painful and early death from cancer?

Zero to one.

The specific radioactivity of DU, with a half-life of 3.5 Billion years is incrediably low.

The radiation exposure from living at high altitudes (much higher cosmic ray radiation) and in granite areas (radon exposure) likely dwarf the radiation exposure from DU.

There ARE issues with heavy metal exposure.  But if lead had been used instead, the effects would have been worse.

DU radioactivity is just a psuedo-science worry.  And any institute that specializes in such a minimal (except for political purposes) issue, I question their results.  But I will read the link if I have time.

For what it's worth:


Depleted Uranium - US Lung Cancer Rates Soar

From Karl W B Schwarz

So, what is the plan?

On the March 8, 2006 edition of the CNN American Morning program with Miles O'Brien and Soledad O'Brien, they made a startling announcement.  On average there are 175,000 new cases of lung cancer each year in the United States.  For just the months of January and February 2006 there are 172,000 confirmed, newly diagnosed cases of lung cancer.  This is not just a little spike on the charts and much worse news is coming.  That is already averaging this year about 6 times the normal incidence of new lung cancer cases in a year.  

They tried to attribute it to second hand smoke, but second hand smoke and cigarettes are nothing compared to being exposed to Depleted Uranium ("DU") and particulates created by DU explosions.  You can smoke for 30 years and not do the damage that DU can do to you in 30 days.

How long does it take to get lung cancer after being exposed to DU and nano-particulates?  On average 2-5 years is the correct answer.  We started bombing Afghanistan in October 2001 or four and a half years ago.  We started bombing Iraq again in March 2003, or just shy of three years ago.  

The effects of those bombing attacks were registered as far away as the UK according to the Aldermaston Report we and others released February 19, 2006.  We do not know yet what was registered in the U.S. because the U.S. government is not saying and they definitely do not want you to know.

The link between DU exposure and lung cancer has been known for many years.  The correlation between DU and lung cancer versus cigarettes and lung cancer is even stronger for DU.

I work on a US Air Force base, where, among other things, we have large DU counterweights that are used on various aircraft flight control components (C-5, for instance). The mechanics here will not work on or around the DU parts without a lead lined box placed around it, and the Air Force, in its infinite wisdom, has radiation warning signs posted around these work areas, and has included warnings regarding the hazards of DU counterweights in official technical orders covering repair and service on these structures.
What does that tell you?
It tells me that you either have used contaminated DU for the counterweights or you have scared yourself. It would be intresting to measure the radiation. But a sticker with a radiation sign and a crossed over hacksaw would be apt.
you ignore the critical point.  DU's alpha decay may be harmless when it is outside your body and hits your skin.  but when it is dispersed in 100 nanometer - 10 micron sized particulates that are readily inhaled/injested, the situation is very different.  once inside your body's tissues, bloodstream and cells, it causes havoc and is not easily metabolized.  as any good scientist would know, particle size has a huge effect on biological absorption and physiological effects.  

And i doubt we can trust the UK Atomic Energy Authority which is just politically motivated and doing psuedo-science.  

"How many additional deaths are we talking about? In the aftermath of the first Gulf War, the UK Atomic Energy Authority came up with estimates for the potential effects of the DU contamination left by the conflict. It calculated that "this could cause "500,000 potential deaths". This was "a theoretical figure", it stressed, that indicated "a significant problem"."

Very small particles do penetrate further.  But very small particles of material with a 3.5 BILLION year half life emit very few radioactive emmissions/decade.  One in every 530 million atoms will decay in a decade.

OTOH, Carbon 14 has a half life of about 5,730 years. One atom in every 573 "goes off" in a decade. Before atomic testing, 1 of every trillion organic carbon atoms was radioactive.  Today, it is closer to 1.9 per trillion.

Let us suppose that you have a billion times more organic carbon in your body then DU.  One DU atom weights almost 20 times carbon atoms (most are C12), you have 20 billion times more carbon atoms than DU atoms.  So you have 25 DU atoms for every carbon 14 atom.

So DU MUST be worse than carbon 14 !

You forgot the specific radioactivity.

You will get 57,000 radioactive exposures from Carbon 14 for every one from DU.  And Carbon 14 is, from memory, higher energy and MUCH more destructive radiation.

These #s and ratios are "off the top of my head" but close to reality.

Afghanis are generally spared the radiation risk of dental X-rays and get far less medical X-ray risk.  OTOH, they get much higher cosmic ray and radon exposure (living in granite mountains, etc.)

DU is a toxic metal, but not excessively so (like mercury is).  The radiation risk is just BS.

i've confirmed your calcs of radiation "events" to within an order of magnitude.  this is rather unexpected, that C-14 would produce 1.2 trillion decays a year in a 100kg person, whereas 1mg of DU (estimates are that average exposure during Gulf War I were 0.34mg/person) would only give around 2-3 million decays/year.  on the surface it seems C-14 emits around 1000 times a higher dosage than DU (for typical exposures).  of course if you had several grams of DU in your system this would shift things to roughly equivalent between C-14 and DU radiative events.  

C-14 beta decays while DU is an alpha emitter. outside the body, beta is more penetrating, but in cellular structures i remember hearing that the larger helium nuclei could be more destructive to DNA and membranes.  i'm not an expert on this, but maybe someone else could chime in.  

if DU is really not much of a radiological threat in doses less than 1 gram, then it is likely the toxicity coupled with ultrafine particle size that is the cause of the diseases, cancers and birth defects.  it's still a WMD and a war crime.  i've worked with GaAs, and i wouldn't want to aerosolize it and then breathe it, snort it and eat it for lunch.  

Thank you for making the effort to confirm the calculations on radiation expsoure.  Mine was "quick and dirty" from memory.  You obviously did a more detailed calculation.

I am surprised that a REAL enviromental disaster, the near Doubling of organic C14 for many thousands of years passes unnoticed.  After all, after 5740 years, the background C14 will STILL be be almost a half higher* than it should be IF we explode no more atomic bombs in the atmosphere. (Assuming no significant sequestration or dilution by burning C14 free fossil fuels or active volcanic emmissions).

Cancer is endemic in human beings.  I truly doubt that uranium is severely carcingenic.  Any reports of clusters of cancer with DU use are likely coincidential.

*An early and noteworthy study of lung cancer rates in 1950s era uranium miners (published late 1970s in Science from memory) showed that non-smoking miners had lung cancer rates roughly equal to 1 pack/day smokers that did not mine.  But smoking miners had lung cancer rates almost 10 times (i.e. most of them) that of non-mining smokers.  In the 1950s mining ventialtion was poor and radon exposure quite high, as well as uranium dust.

oops, i meant "1mg of DU would only give around 2-3 Billion decays/year".   this is ~1000 times less than the 1.2Trillion decays/year of C-14.  
one minor correction:  after checking the numbers, 1mg of U238 produces ~330 Million or 0.3 Billion radiative events/yr.  so the ratio between radiative decays is 3,000: 1 for C-14: DU @ 1mg dosage.  
i did not account for radiative dosage however.  it turns out that U238 delivers 1 alpha particle and 2 betas in its initial decay chain.  in human timescales these 3 decays are the only important (measurable) ones out of the entire 18 steps to lead.  

the energies are as follows:

alpha = 4.27 MeV (to Th-234)  (half-life 4.5 Gyrs)
beta1 = 0.273 MeV (to Pa-234) (half-life 24 days)
beta2 = 2.20 MeV (to U-234)   (half-life 7 hours)

C-14 beta decay = 0.016 MeV

thus, there is ~500 times more energy released per DU atom decaying vs. per atom C-14 decaying.  

so, if 1mg of DU provides ~3000 times less events than background C-14, dividing by 500 we get ~ 6 times more radiative energy from C-14 than 1mg DU.

this is a sloppy calculation, as i am no nuclear physicist and am essentially doing high school/freshman college phsyics analysis.  there are likely other subtleties i am unaware of.  regardless, 1mg of DU provides a similar level of radiation to background C-14, to an order of magnitude.  

this is substantial, and given the addition of alpha particles, ultra fine particle size and chemical toxicity, could render DU quite destructive to biological systems and internal organs.  

Re:  "Has Oil Peaked"

At the request of the Dallas Morning News, I put together a counterargument to this article--with tremendous help from Bart Anderson, with the Energy Bulletin and Alan Drake (Alanfrombigeasy).  The hard copy of the paper features the "30 Years" article on the left side of the front page of the editorial section, with our article on the right side.   Unfortunately our rebuttal is not linked to the web.  I've got a e-mail into the editor of the editorial page. To the paper's credit, they are doing what I asked them to do in my "Open letter to two Texas Newspapers." In any case, following is the text our article:

Has Oil Peaked?  Yes:  The world has used half its reserves and is headed for shortages, says Dallas geologist Jeffrey J. Brown

The Texas oil industry knows all about peak oil, because we've already gone through it.

 In 1972, Texas was King of the Oil World. We had increased our oil production by 40 percent during the previous 10 years at relatively low prices. Texas producers were poised for surging production as oil prices exploded and increased tenfold by 1980. Texas underwent its biggest drilling boom in history. The number of producing wells jumped 14 percent by 1982. The industry consensus was that oil production would increase dramatically.

To general astonishment, Texas oil production fell instead, despite dramatically higher prices, frantic drilling and improving technology. By 1982, production had dropped to almost exactly what it had been in 1962, reversing the earlier 40 percent gain.

Not everyone was surprised, however. In 1956, M. King Hubbert, a native-born Texan oil geologist working for Shell Oil, got up before a meeting of the American Petroleum Institute in San Antonio and made a startling statement. He predicted that Texas and Lower 48 oil production would peak, and start irreversible declines, between 1965 and 1971. Dr. Hubbert also predicted that world oil production would peak and then decline within 50 years, by 2006.

Dr. Hubbert used complex mathematics to predict recoverable oil reserves, but his resulting model was quite simple: fields, regions and ultimately the world tend to peak, and enter irreversible declines when they have produced about half of their ultimate recoverable reserves. The underlying cause is that the largest reserves are found first because they are large and easy to find. The average size of discoveries shrinks over time, so one looks harder and harder for smaller and smaller fields, as has happened in Texas.

The Lower 48 peaked in 1970. Texas peaked in 1972. Alaskan oil production slowed the U.S. oil decline, but U.S. oil production never equaled its 1970 peak. Today, Prudhoe Bay, the largest American oil field, is now at about one-fifth of its peak production and declining rapidly.

Did we stop finding oil in Texas in 1973? No. However, it is impossible to replace old, very large oil fields, like the East Texas Field, with a collection of the much smaller fields such as we have been finding in Texas since 1972. Today, Lower 48 oil production is at about half of its 1970 output, and Texas oil production is at about one-fourth of its 1972 rate.

Dr. Kenneth Deffeyes, a former associate of Dr. Hubbert's, recently published a simplified method of predicting the total amount of oil that can be produced from a region. This method is commonly called "Hubbert Linearization," or HL. HL uses two known factors -- annual production and cumulative production to date -- to estimate the total recoverable reserves.

How reliable is the HL formula as a predictor? It shows us that the Lower 48 peaked when it was 52 percent depleted. Texas peak did not show up until our oil reserves were 57 percent depleted - but  I suspect that can be explained by the Texas Railroad Commission's regulation of Texas oil production, which kept production equal to demand  -- that is, below the maximum efficient rate of production.

Another example are the North Sea oil fields, where production has been falling steadily since peaking in 1999 at 52 percent of total recoverable reserves. North Sea oil production is now about one-fourth below its peak. The HL formula would have foreseen this - but the 10 major oil companies working the North Sea oil fields did not. Using the best engineers and technology available, they predicted just before what we now know was the peak in 1999 that North Sea production would peak around 2010. They were badly mistaken - but many of these same companies are now saying that world peak oil production is decades away.  

The HL model says Saudi Arabia is 58% depleted and the world is 48% depleted.   This is close to where Texas and the Lower 48 peaked and started irreversible declines in production.  Based on the HL method and historical models, I believe that Saudi Arabia and the world are now on the verge of irreversible declines in conventional oil production.

Two legendary Texas billionaires, Boone Pickens and Richard Rainwater--who share a remarkable ability to profitably predict future trends--have looked at exactly the same regional and world data plots that I have looked at, and they have reached exactly the same conclusion that I have: that the world has used about half of its conventional crude oil reserves. Both Mr. Pickens and Mr. Rainwater have tried to warn us about the challenges that we will face as a result of declining conventional oil production.

What about unconventional sources of oil? The unconventional reserves are very large but can only be produced slowly because of high capital and energy costs per barrel of production. In recent years, new tar sands production has balanced declines in conventional Canadian oil production, with no net increase for exports.

There will be massive efforts with unconventional oil, such as Canadian tar sands and the tar and very heavy oil deposits in Venezuela. However, I predict that unconventional sources of oil will only slow--and not reverse--the decline in total world oil production because of the time and energy needed to expand production of these "oils."

Without question, we have to reduce greatly our energy consumption to account for this new reality. What can we do? I have seen two very sensible proposals.

The first is that we fund Social Security and Medicare with a tax on energy consumption, especially at the gas pump, offset by reducing or eliminating the highly regressive payroll taxes. Doing this would unleash enormous free market forces against profligate energy use.

The second proposal is that we electrify our freight railroads and encourage freight to go by rail instead of truck with any of a variety of economic incentives while building electric urban rail systems, such as DART, at a rate much faster much faster than today's pace.

Incidentally, both strategies will also find favor with those concerned about global warming.

Jeffrey J. Brown, an independent petroleum geologist in the Dallas area, can be reached at westexas@aol.com. Bart Anderson, with the Energy Bulletin, and consulting engineer Alan Drake both contributed to this article. Read more of their work at www.energybulletin.net.

Really outstanding work here, guys.  If only this were published in every major newspaper in the country.
Dallas is second only to Houston as an oil industry center.  It is a VERY good place to start.  We shall see how this is picked up elsewhere (those here can write your local papers asking for them to re-print the editorial in their paper).

It was a pleasure to be of assistance and work witn Jeffrey Brown !

Dittos for Bart & Alan.  Now if we can just get them to link the article to the web.
If only this could be recited on American Idol.
This is a major part of the problem isn't it?
Super.  Bart has been asking me about a link.
The first is that we fund Social Security and Medicare with a tax on energy consumption, especially at the gas pump, offset by reducing or eliminating the highly regressive payroll taxes. Doing this would unleash enormous free market forces against profligate energy use.

This sounds like a good idea, but what if people conserve to the point that Social-Security and Medicare are underfunded? I suppose in starting out this would be filed away as a "we'll cross that bridge when/if we get to it." I can see this might be a problem with the scheme as time goes on and the Social-Security/Medicare financial obligations grow and energy usage shrinks.

How about this, just for starters: no more subsidies for oil drilling of any kind, no tax money whatsoever for new road/highway building (if you've started a project you can finish it but that's it), no subsidies or tax money for ANYTHING that encourages us to drive more. Tax breaks for bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, and any car that gets 35+mpg.  In other words, let's stop digging this hole deeper. This in addition to Westexas' proposal.
How about 9 months and 1 day from now no more $ for unwed mothers without requiring that she cough up the fathers name so he can pay.
What about retirees who no longer pay into social security?  They are being discriminated against if some way is not found to compensate them.

Personally, with a multi trillion dollar debt and billions of dollars in deficits each year, I find it ludicrous that we are trying to make this revenue neutral.  But I guess that's a discussion for another day.  Also, it scares me a bit when people start messing with social security. Next, we will decide to divert those dollars somewhere else.  And besides, don't we rob the social security fund each year anyway to fund the rest of the government.  

If we are trying to be revenue neutral, we should compensate people with tax reductions and credits.  And what about the unemployed or those who pay minimal taxes but have high energy costs.  

I also think we should have tradeable carbon credits as a way to doubly reward the frugal. Save at the pump with a smaller car and make money by selling your excess credits. Even those who don't drive at all and live in small and/or efficient housing could benefit.  

We need to give up all these credits that try to pick carbon winners and let the carbon market decide.  Guess who will be the first to oppose carbon credits?  The ethanol pushers, of course, as the true bogusness of their fuel of choice will be exposed.  If it's not, so be it.  At least we can decide throught the carbon market and not through debates in congress.

While solar PV is expensive (as opposed to solar thermal, which can make it without subsidies), it appears that it would not suffer under a carbon credit system which set significantly high goals as far as energy use reduction. Wind would also do fine.  Biofuels?  Maybe not.  


FWIW, wide public acceptance of PO is a bad idea. As I stated many times, once the world acknowledges PO, Exporters will likely dramatically cut back on exports. This will be exceptional bad for the US. Obviously this is apparent to you from the article you submitted. I recommend avoid stoking MSM interest in PO. Please take a few minutes to think about the potential ramifications of your publications. I know that your not the only one doing it, but the more people that inform, the likelyhood of wide public acceptance increases.


Hmmm...I wonder what is going on behind the scenes.  I cannot figure out why they would export any of it to us at any price.  To keep the cash flow - flowing? To avoid being invaded?  I think that SA should have plenty of $.  It seems so clear to me that oil in the ground is worth more than $ in the bank.
first off i like your idea but i have a serious question about it.
basically it is this. while we can afford to build more rail and electrify it now, how long do you honestly thing we would maintain it considering using your model less and less oil and natural gas every year?
We were able to build and maintain railroads, and electrified streetcars, before the Age of Oil.  Coal, horses and sweat.

Rail assets are quite long lived.  The St. Charles Streetcar Line was about to renew the overhead wires for the first time since the late 1940.  The new wire will be thicker (and hence last longer).  I suggested added an ounce of silver per ton of copper (improves wear and strength).  However, they decided against it since their would be only one source bidding that speciality mix.

If they had gone to the silver admixture, the new wire would have taken over a century to wear out.  It may take that long anyway.  (Old wire that lasted 60 years 2#0 , new is 4#0).

Rails last a while as well, as do concrete ties.

Some rails underneath coal trains and other VERY heavy use, can last only a dozen years.  Most last much longer.

Alan, does that a small silver additive to copper wire [alloy or freee silver?] add anything to the ability of a pure copper wire to conduct electricity? [I have shocked some otherwise generally savy people with the clear facts concerning the exceeding low resistance of silver -- I had to whip out my Handbook of Chemistry & Physics to convince my brother.]
Coin Silver, 90% Ag 10% Cu has higher resistance than either copper or silver.  So alloying the two is not a "magic bullet".  Best explanation is that a different atom disrupts the uniformity of the merged electron clouds.

The system had been engineered for pure copper.  This "alloy" I suggested has exactly the same resistance as pure Cu, AND the same capitance (less important with DC) but better mechancial properties (strength & wear) so it could have been a straight substitute.

Higher silver above one oz per ton is stronger and even better wear resistance, but higher electrical resistance.

BTW, the precise % is close to one oz/ton but mot exactly.  I would have to look up notes for details.

Thanks. A casual question. An adequate [thanks] response. GJ
Anyone seen any recent production data on Russia?  Through March, the EIA shows combined Russian/Saudi crude + condensate production to be down by 1.6% from December, and the Saudis have admitted to steeper declines in April/May.  

Russian production is up year over year, but I suspect that it "up" in the same way that 1973 Texas oil production was up by 6.3% over 1971, as Texas started its (so far) irreversible decline.  

Published on 3 May 2004 by Oil & Gas Journal. Archived on 3 May 2004.

A trip down memory lane:  World oil production capacity model suggests output peak by 2006-07
by AM Samsam Bakhtiari


Wocap's predictions for a global oil production peak of about 81 million b/d in 2006 or 2007 lately have been reinforced by the clouded predicament for the world's two largest producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Should non-OPEC champion Russia stumble, or OPEC pillar Saudi Arabia show signs of falling in step with Simmons's thesis, then Wocap's credibility would be further enhanced.

This does highlight the problem for peak oilers. The 81 mbpd was eclipsed a while ago, and without hurricanes, politics, etc would have been exceeded by over 6 mbpd by now (if demand was sufficient). Being that far off only 2-3 yrs out shows there are significant flaws in the model. The model was based on geological factors, not political or climatological.

This reinforces what I have thought for years: people who develop these models need to track their predictions, analyze their mistakes, then go public with their mistakes and reanalysis. Otherwise there is no credibility. This is my biggest beef with Campbell - I've virtually stopped reading his stuff. He ignores the previous poor predictions, and carries on as if nothing happened, like the Jehovahs Witnesses predicting armageddon 4-5 times (I forget exactly) already this century, each time with absolute biblical certainty. Doesn't exactly build confidence going ahead.

This is partly why is don't reject RR's assertions of continued production growth. I just wish I could see a better analysis that includes a good discussion of depletion (which I understand is not available so we don't need to reopen that). To date, the peakers have been wrong and may or may not be this time.

BTW, the cornucopians are just as bad or worse so I'm not making a case for them.

If you subtracted out the unconventional production, it looks like the predicted rate might be very close to correct, and it increasingly looks like he was correct regarding the time period.  IMO, only a few hundred thousand bpd of production are shut-in because of the hurricane damage and/or political problems.

In any case, based on the HL method Saudi Arabia and the world are now arriving at the same point at which Texas and the Lower 48 nosedived.

Westexas: Sorry to restate everything you just said. Your reply wasn't posted when I put mine together.
You're right, I didn't subtract unconventional and to be fair I realize I should have.  However, if the prediction doesn't include it, it again feeds into the cornucopians who say the peakers ignore other sources, the  way Campbell ignored it for many years. Only total net liquids really matters from a peak standpoint, not where it came from.
it again feeds into the cornucopians who say the peakers ignore other sources

Yes but cornucopians keep ignoring that unconventional sources will always have a low production rate compare to conventional sources (see this last article from the Uppsala Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group).
Agreed - I'm no cornucopian. But we can only work to keep our own house in order and not give them amunition to use against us. It is the unconventional that has prevented peaking before now and it has made a significant difference despite its low production rate (obviously I don't think it will prevent the peak, however).

I like what you, westexas, stuart and others do on TOD because you state your assumptions, make your predictions, they make sense, and I expect that if things turn out differently the reasons would become part of an open, honest discussion, not swept under a rug.

I like it too but it's un-nerving...Even, even, if they are off 1 year or even 2 years for peak and even if they are off 1-2% in decline rates isn't this going to get tough?  This is what I don't understand, who thinks this future will be rosy?  Why not get a year or two extra ahead of the game while (if) you (we) can.  I think I will be alive to see it and I know my kids will.  yuk!

I hope I can ask this correctly.  I guess my question is (setting demand related increases in price aside) Will solar panels always be expensive (in relationship to oil) because of the energy it takes to make them?  I thinking of getting some installed and was curious.
Thanks Dave

Making solar panels or any silicon semiconductor is not much more energy intensive than making glass of any kind. What is difficult is the purity required throughout the process. This is on the limits of what humans can achieve in a production. I guess a lot of energy is wasted in the ventilation systems etc. Plus there is a high rejection rate in all semiconductor manufacture, though long production runs will improve over time.
Re:  Solar Panels

IMO, based on what I have read, a better use of captial is probably a smaller, more energy efficient home.  A group in the Dallas/Fort Worth area designed a 2,000 square foot home with a current construction cost of about $115 per square foot that uses about $55 per month in total energy costs.  www.heathershome.info

The best idea is to arrange you life so that you have a minimal or no drive lifestyle.

Thanks, Dave
Comparing Wocap's model to Jehovahs might be a little harsh. I'm not sure what the peak inclusive of other liquids is, but 81 is relatively close. Also, to be fair, the model seems to have hit the peak date almost right on (in the context of the MSM telling the sheeple that global oil production will not peak for decades).No model is ever 100% accurate (97% is very very good).  
I was referring not just to the Wocap model, but to the series of wrong peak predictions leading up to now. I personally think we are about at peak production capacity now, but I remember how often we have been wrong before and I always wish we could understand what went wrong so the next prediction could be more trustworthy.

I pretty much buy Westexas' HL models and am waiting to see if they pan out (looks that way so far).  I just think Campbell, Deffayes and others have harmed the process not only through several wrong predictions but especially by the way they don't explicitly own up to and explain what went wrong.

I hate to see so many people getting hung up on "predictions".  Don't we all know that it is very difficult to predict the future?  And regarding the oil industry, everyone agrees that getting accurate reserve numbers from almost anybody in the world is impossible.  So while I place a great deal of value on the opinions of someone like Matt Simmons, if you look at what he said immediately after Hurricane Katrina, he "predicted" that gas would be $10/gal in the US by Xmas.  Clearly, he was way, way off!  But that doesn't mean that I'll ignore everything else he says.
And the charges here against Campbell are totally unfounded - I have read many times his admission of revisions to his models, and he points it out repeatedly when he does revise.  You need to look at the back numbers of the ASPO newsletters!
As I mentioned recently, I've realized that I am often pressed to "make a prediction", as in "So what do YOU think is going to happen", usually accompanied by some sort of glare.  If I even hint at something "predictive", that's all that will be remembered as ammunition when this "prediction" doesn't come to pass.  It's just another excuse to avoid looking objectively at the real issues, which, I'm constantly told, "takes too much time".  By people who play video games 5 hrs a day...
I don't see where it makes a difference whether oil peaked last year, this year, or whether it will peak in 20 years, it is clearly time to address the problem.  

The scary part is what we due to address the problem.  And whether or not we do a bunch of stupid and counterproductive things to address the problem.  And how we define the problem.

If the problem is just defined as having world where oil becomes scarcer and more expensive, there are workarounds. But if the problem includes addressing oil shortages while attacking global warming, then we have a big problem.  Biofuels will have little impact and may actually be counterproductive. Wind will help.  Solar will help.  Coal is killing us and will kill us.  

China has already chosen the coal path.  They are opening up a coal plant about every week.   The U.S. is also increasing its coal capacity and will continue to do so without sequestration, gasification, or offsets.  

I think we know how not to freeze in the dark without a lot of oil.  We know how to build homes that use little or not energy for heating or cooling. We know how to cost effectively produce plenty of hot water with solar heating. We know how to run a transportation system without a helluva lot less oil than we use now.  

We know all these things but we only do them in onesies and twosies.  We have a few individuals who are effectively addressing their energy consumption on an individual basis. We debate and debate about the best approach, but we don't need the best approach.  We need a set of approaches that are mandated now.  We need to desperately institute a set of policies, incentives, and disincentives that stop inertia now.  Education is part of it but how many people realize it makes sense now to solarize their home (at least water heating) but are doing nothing. In some cases there is still a financial issue because of up front costs.  But what about those who can clearly afford to do something.  It's inertia. How do we address inertia?

We don't like to use the club in this country.  But it's time we brought out the clubs.  For example, all new housing need a mandate that it be solarized, that it be built in a way that minimizes energy consumption.  If that's considered too expensive, then selectively subsidize it.  

We will spend anything to fight terrorism, real and perceived. The same principle should apply to the consumption of fossil fuels.  

We have a crisis and the crisis is not peak oil; it is having too much fossil fuel, not too little.  


I guess I stepped on more toes than I intended. Really, I pretty much agree with everyone here.
"We need a set of approaches that are mandated now."

Be careful what you ask for! The mandates that come out of Washington just might not be what you want!
Suppose "They" mandate that all registered Democrats have to drive small fuel efficient cars to save enough fuel so the registered Republicans can continue to drive their big SUVs? Take a real good look at some of the "mandates" that have come out of DC (generally unfunded <BG>)

The Government that governs best governs least!
Goes all the way back to the founders of the Country.

I agree, it is time to address the problems.  Predicting PO reminds me of the predicted paths for hurricanes.  They are doing good if they can predict within 200 miles where they will come ashore.  It is enough for me to know that PO is going to happen soon, if it hasn't happened already.  

Unfortunately, the only way PO will be solved is thru the price/market mechanisms.  A $1 rise in the price of oil will do more to solve the problem than any government action.  It will be painful, but it will happen.  One gallon and one person at a time.  

Well said.  We have a plethora of ideas, we just refuse to wake up and start doing them. We "can" do many things to address the problems, but we won't, or we'll do the wrong things or start them when its too late.
I must quibble with you, Sunspot, Matt Simmons definitely did not predict that US gasoline would be $10 / gal by Xmas 2005. I think his words were something like "...it's not impossible that it might be $10 by Xmas".

Any comment about the future, however hedged with provisos, can be selectively quoted / misquoted and subsequently misunderstood. Often the media seem to take pleasure in fostering that, lol.

Making predictions has become a mug's game because of the way they are reported and distorted, and the apparent general lack of understanding that a prediction is only an educated guess about the future. I must be a mug 'cos I do quietly make public predictions, but semi-anonymously and I'm just another nut on the net: http://theslide.blogspot.com/

This last week a US bank / trading house revised its metals' average price predictions for 2006 - it increased its estimate for gold by 25% and for copper by 100%. I must admit that copper has surprised me too, but I am consistently better than these 'professional' organisations. The truth is: they mostly haven't understood that some fundamentals have changed and are still working off old, now inaccurate, models.

I'll make a prediction it will be here long before we are prepared or ready, and all those using dates should be happy they were wrong or they will be sorry they were correct.
We aren't at peak oil now except & perhaps as "peak" means real world down and dirty reality. Perfect world, Nigeria can produce more. Iraq can produce more. The U.S. can produce more [think the Santa Barbara Chanel and go no further... or think places like the Great Salt Lake where IIRC Amoco [now BP] 25 years ago claimed to have found a half billion bbls of very nasty crude oil.] Chavez can produce more. There is heavy and ultra heave crude that the main constraint is investment demands on producers and refineres. There are always bad things happening, market conditions dictating rational behaviors of state controlled oil companies and inverstment decisions being tempered by a belief that things may get worse in terms of lower prices.

I rember very well thinking that when about the degree of courage displayed when Murphy Oil decided that Hibernia was a good investment when the break even was more twenty dollar oil. In the rear view mirror ... not much of controversy only the rear view mirror is not how the world works.

Robert Rapier has stated that the company he works for had intelligence which indicates that the peak is sometime in the future. I believe his view in the abstract. In the current reality ... "well maybe" ... "kinda sorta" ... "yes if" .. "we should be able to." If all of these views reflect the future then "yes " peak oil is out in the future ... maybe even a Cambridge Energy distance in the future.

Once again and for the record, I am not a doomer, in that I believe that a bit of market imposed pain and the vast opportunities for conservation and alternative engergy of almost all sorts [exept for corn based ethanol] can get us through provided governments don't get too involved and totally hose things up. In additional, although everything will not in all likelihood go well, everything is also not likely to go wrong.

This reinforces what I have thought for years: people who develop these models need to track their predictions, analyze their mistakes, then go public with their mistakes and reanalysis. Otherwise there is no credibility.

They also need to give a confidence interval on their prediction! these predictions are built on very imprecise and uncertain data. Saying peak date= 2005 + / - 1 year at 81 + / - 5 mbpd would have avoid a lot of criticism.
Right on!
The process of denial by humans is not affected by math. Its sort of like telling an alcoholic that whiskey is gonna kill 'em. Its very likely true, but they aren't going to be affected by " there is a virtual certainty that if you live long enough whiskey will kill you in 5 years, plus or minus 6 months". Might be exact, is undoubted true, but the drunk is going to focus on the mathematics and not the glass of whiskey in his hand that he is sipping on. Look at how Global Warming is ignored.
I cannot agree more.  So many people play the denial game.  "only when the pain of continuing becomes too great will change look better" - referring to oil consumption and said by a smoker with a hacking cough....
There is also the underlying question of whether history was plotted against some sort of ideal. The answer is "no." Excrement occurs [close paraphrase] in all time periods. Something always happens. Projections [and half assed powerpoint slides] are what [at least recent] MBAs are paid to do ... "rea;ity is" [I think per Valentine Michael Smith --- RAH -- if not I hereby stake claim to the ultimate truism].

Does a more lucrative situation lead to increased incidents of excrement ... well 'yes," but anytime your model is based on best case, the end result is doomed.{ :-)

Over 6mb? How much extra are you counting on from Iraq? It must be an unrealistic figure to get that high.
We are at almost 85 right now, Nigeria says they're down 800,000, and I would expect if Iraq were peaceful they could produce maybe 750,000 more (just guessing). I suppose that would put us at about 5.0 - 5.5 mbpd more than the 81 mbpd quoted in the article. I may have overestimated but I think the basic point is the same.
But according to EIA figures we are only at 84 mb, and according to all Nigeria is officially down just 300kb.
Always consider the source


These guys like Ronald Bailey are libertarians!

Reason is the monthly print magazine of "free minds and free markets." It covers politics, culture, and ideas through a provocative mix of news, analysis, commentary, and reviews. Reason provides a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion magazines by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity.
Those choices might cover driving a Hummer or a Surburban, converting pristine land to human (ab)use, etc. They're crazy.

And if we have any libertarians on the board, I mean to offend them. How can you go about dealing with peak oil and climate change when your philosophy is "I can do any god damn thing I please and nobody can tell me otherwise"?

Damn those crazy freedom lovers! If the USA would just wise up and put more highly trained and efficient Blackwater mercs on the streets of their cities, oil depletion would not be a problem.
I didn't say anything about approving of blackwater mercenaries. And my first impulse on reading your smartass remark was to tear you a new one.

I suppose you would agree with Dick "Dick" Cheney that the American lifestyle is non-negotiable. That is, the freedom to do any damn thing you please. How do you think we got into this mess to begin with? There is such a thing as community and doing what's best for it. In this age of globalization, we might regard the whole world as the community we live in. And doing what's best for it is not to have everybody running around doing any selfish thing they want to do.

Political extremism of any stripe is self-defeating. Having said that, I think many Americans do not realize that the USA used to represent something- an ideal of liberty, of freedom. Since the 2000 election, that has been steadily chipped away until now, in 2006 that ideal is barely holding together. Yes, oil depletion is a problem (just like terrorism is a problem) but if your society throws its entire value system into the garbage in a desperate attempt to maintain a standard of living, is it worth it? Obviously this is a personal choice. By the way, having Dick Cheney as a poster boy for liberty is somewhat like having Adolf as a poster boy for pacifism.  
I was aware of this so I hedged by not mentioning his last name.I will attempt to refrain in the future.
... this "law" only works for crypto statists who believe and continually attempt to redefine Hitler as a conservative or a "right winger" in any sense. That satanical animal was a statist. Hitler believed in government control of damn near everything. Hitler's party were "National Socialists". What part of left wing does this fact set not fit? Hitler did hate communists, but because any one particular devil hates communism does not objectively mean that what they are attempting to impose differs significantly in the ultimate outcome.

Define the policital spectrum any way you like, but IMO the most objective range is between statists of all stripes and anarchists. Neither works for the average man. The choice is something like the social democrats [although I don't know that they have any philosophical limits] and something like the U.S. Constitution which as amended [but not as it has "lived and breathed"] severly limits central government, expressly lists certain rights of "the people" and leaves it to men to prevail over their local governments such as cities and states for everything else. Because the rules for the social democrats are not fixed, the end game can potentially be just as nasty as for Nazis of Communists ...

I believe you will find that a liberal policymaker operating under pseudo-conservative ideals, by whatever political name he happens to become attached to (bush-republican, hitler-national socialist), is a dagerous animal.  I also believe that you will find that nationalism is really where things start going wrong and that hitler wasn't much of a socialist, but definitely a nationalist.  Also that the republican party has defined themselves as very nationalistic and have been quite liberal in their policy making lately.  Quite a turn from the old school republicans (who were conservative fiscally and more importantly with respect to the constitution).  I am not saying that any "viable" party today is any better though.
weak cop out that stifles valuable debate. so i will ignore it.
"Non negotiable" is a double entendre. A universal truth??? Hardly, in point of fact "it" [the current American lifestyle] cannot be "negotiated" / tendered for anything of value.

A belief that is false to fact, will fail economically in short order, whether that belief is held by Cheney or Ted Kennedy or any other irrational jackass. The only question is how much damage any particular bit of stupidity will do before its day is done. Stated another way, whether one goes into the ditch with Kennedy or Cheney the end result is still going into the ditch.

Dave, I have read and agreed with a lot of what you have written. You seem to believe that there are solutions or at least prospect.

Please do not confuse Cheney with market solutions, or God forbid small "l" libertarianism.

Easy does it Dave:

And if we have any libertarians on the board, I mean to offend them. How can you go about dealing with peak oil and climate change when your philosophy is "I can do any god damn thing I please and nobody can tell me otherwise"?

Busting heads will get you no where.  I considered myself a libertarian, until I read Rothbard's  "Libertarian Manifesto" It was at that point that I realized Libertarianism is a altruistic social order that simply won't work with the population levels in the world today.  I also suspect that Brians  "snark" back to your comment, was meant to tell you to cool down, your blood pressure is up again.  

I would also suggest to any Libertarian that might be here, to read Murry's work.  In doing so ask yourself; Will this really work in our society today?

Thanks. My understanding is that Rothbard advocated precisely no government. As I have posted on an earlier thread, von Mises.org has published an email by an author describing Somalia as a viable solution [at least for Somolia.] Well maybe, but I fear that a "Somalia solution" is only a different way to state the problem.

Think the U.S. Constituion and the lawful means to amend it. The U.S. has enacted some truly ugly amendments [Prohibition of alcohol for example] but what was done was lawful. If the country [Senate and the States] believes the Federal Government needs to dink around with the energy market, at least it would be legal. If it discovers that it has made an error, [e.eg. Prohibition of alcohol] it can be repealed. Nothing happens fast, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is legal. Accordingly although I may not like it, it works for me.

Actually I don't think they believe they can do any god damn thing they please, I kinda think they believe they don't have to do every god damn thing that some law makers try to impose on them by force. From what I gather they believe if they do something that doesn't have an effect on you or any one else it is O.K.
This is a reply to you and oldhermit also.

Re: "they believe if they do something that doesn't have an effect on you or any one else it is O.K."

Almost everything you do has an effect on someone else whether you recognize it or not. It's some fantasy to believe otherwise.

Re: "your blood pressure is up again"

Guess so. But you (oldhermit) seem to agree with me. It is this libertarian attitude that has constributed substantially to the particularly American point of view that individual freedom is more important than the good of the society as a whole. There is a more realistic middle position that freedoms can be restrained by reasonable rules (sometimes, laws) that restrict freedom. That's why murder is illegal. See my remark above to dipchip that what we do usually affects others. Suppose you own an SUV that gets 12/mpg and you commute 100 miles (both ways) a day to work. Surely you can agree that this behavour affects others (carbon emmissions, gasoline usage, damage to road infrastructure, etc.).

TOD is partly about changing our behavour to save this planet and keep the economy stable as we switch to new energy sources. Sorry, but this not compatible with a strictly libertarian philosophy. And yes, I appreciate my individual freedoms but try not to abuse them to the detriment of others. Of course, that is not always possible.

best, Dave

And also, I might bring up Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons as pertinent to this conversation.
The more people you have, the less any individual matters.  More people = less freedom. Nothing political about it.
Individual freedom is inversely proportional to population density!

Reduce the population of the USA from 300 million to 100 million and most of our lost freedoms could be restored - Under either a Democrat or a Republican as President.

Pray tell how you are going to accomplish this?
Amen. I keep posing your question in response to statements like this one and have never yet got an answer.
And yes, I appreciate my individual freedoms but try not to abuse them to the detriment of others.
Gee Whiz: I was under the impression that is exactly what Libertarians practiced.
Libertarianism is a political philosophy advocating that individuals should be free to do whatever they wish with their person or property, as long as they do not infringe on the same liberty of others. Libertarians hold as a fundamental maxim that all human interaction should be voluntary and consensual. They maintain that the initiation of physical force against another person or his property, the threat of initiating it, or the commission of fraud against any person, is a violation of that principle.
From here. Sounds good, right? If we substitute "corporation" for "individual", since basically by law these two are for all intents and purposes the same, then Wal-Mart is a libertarian organization.

So, there it is.

Yes, and you could also be convinced a witch is a beautiful lady if you enter a room blindfolded.
If my mother was a streetcar I'd have wheels.
Maybe not if your father was a whale boat.
Jesus Fucking Christ!

I am in no mood to fuck around with this topic. In a world in deep trouble, I refuse to debate the legitimacy of crazy people like Bailey who posts at reason.com. And furthermore, I posted Friday on serious questions about Qatar's North Field, supposedly the largest natural gas field. You didn't have much to say about that, did you?

This is The Oil Drum. We are serious people. Reality-based. Get real or get off.

I was going to bring up the Smil's catastrophic cult line just for fun, but that might put you over the edge.
Sorry about all that nonsense. The Sunday fish fry was the culprit. We popped the keg at 10 am. Sunday afternoon is my least serious time of the week.
Walmart has been an incredible beneficiary of a lack of enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act. Selective enforcement is about as ugly an aspect of big Government as I can imagine.

In regard to the sins of Walmart, a corporation is a legal construct, an artificial human. What is you point?

BTW, the most radical libertarians have a solution to the "tragedy of the commons" in that they belive that there should be no such thing as a common holding.

Once again Dave, I am not trying to pick a fight. It just seems that you are on one tonight. Maybe I am also [too many Sam Adams perhaps?]

Please post the changes you would like to see to the U.S. Constituion that would enable the legal implementation of your preferred solution. Thanks. GJ

I find it ironic that one of the Libertarians favorite books, "Atlas Shrugged", is about someone in the railroad business -- but there is scant mention of eminent domain.  The railroads couldn't exist without this government power.  In addition, another character is in the copper mining business -- which he inherited from his father and which produces an output inherited from the Earth -- so much for rugged individualism.

I have a proposed change to the Consitution.  Combine the Treasury and Federal Reserve into a 4th branch of the government.  This branch would be constitutionally bound to secure the long term financial condition of the country (i.e. accrual accounting).  This 4th branch would be designed to balance the spending profligacy of the Prez and Congress.

Ayn Rand's works are full of such obvious idiosyncracies.
She opposed immigration, yet was an immigrant herself.
She opposed infidelity, yet cheated on her husband.
She espoused individuality, yet believe that only those who follow her are individuals.
She opposed the control of individuals by organizations, yet lauded corporate power.
But then what else would do you expect from a obvious megalomaniac and wanna-be cult leader?


"Nathaniel! Bring me another gin and tonic!"

The problem is that the vast majority of the world's remaining oil reserves are not possessed by private enterprises. Seventy-seven percent of known reserves belong to government-owned companies.

Sounds to me like they are trying to make a case for WWIII.
Like Heinberg says, the real point of free markets/globalization is to take other countries' resources.  Like a greedy kid who's eaten his dessert and now wants to eat everyone else's.  
Bailey and other libertarian ideologues want it both ways. On the one hand they argue that private enterprises way outproduce publicly owned ones even when they have a lot less to work with. (Remember how we kept hearing that in the old Soviet Union, people got a lot of their fresh produce from the small private plots farmers kept on the side, because the state-owned farms didn't run very efficiently?)

Yet on the other hand, those same companies need to privatize the remaining state-owned oil reserves because they've depleted their own oil fields and can't keep up with the demand.

In other words, Bailey implicitly admits that private ownership of oil supplies doesn't make them last forever. Privatizing the state-owned fields wouldn't solve the Peak Oil crisis, but only postpone it.

In short: It's about who makes the money.
I wonder if a libertarian would object if I bought the house next door to him and put a lead smelter in my back yard that burned high sulphur coal?
Yup. The most radical libertarians "solve" the "tragedy of the commons" by repudiating the concept of shared ownership. Stated another way, if you polute my air, you have committed a tortious act. Hard to enforce: Yes. Conceptually sound?
Funny (or not), when I see the words "radical libertarians", the first thing I think of are these folks. Anarchism, or libertarian socialism, is actually a rather sound political theory, if not a very coherent political movement. Even if the theory proves to be right the movement will probably be marginal at best, at least outside Latin America.

By the way, anarchists endorse communal (and usually direct democratic) management of shared resources to fight the tragedy of the commons.

I can attest to the fact that decisions made by operators can reduce the amounts of otherwise ultimately recoverable oil from a particular well / field.

Part of the reason that I am pesimistic about middle eastern supplies is that big private oil and big government oil companies probably aren't going to give a damn about the small opportunities that abound. When the elephants die, will those entities pursue the mice with vigor or merely try to milk dead elephants?

That could very well be the case.
The Albany Times-Union (Albany, NY, hailing distance from Kunstler's Saratoga digs) has been covering food and energy.  

In May, there was this:

Fossil fuels consume big portion of food costs

...Today's food system is a real Hummer. More energy is invested in the form of nonrenewable fossil fuels than is generated as food calories -- 10 fossil fuel calories are used to generate each food calorie we eat.

Today, there's a followup of sorts:

Food, energy woes can change people's ideas of community

...The crisis of food and energy should be a tipping point creating the political will to plan and build communities and regions where the key elements -- home, work, recreation and agricultural spaces -- fit neatly together without auto dependence. Yet, we may slide by this crisis without real changes.
re: Food EROEI   ("His boy EROEI", as in "Jane, get me off this crazy thing!")

the '10 fossil calories/food calorie' is a number I've blithely tossed around unchecked - when describing our energy predicament to friends who care but don't have much information yet.  Does anyone have an original source for this now familiar Statistic?  I don't really doubt it's essentially true, but it would be responsible to back it up, and to be able to understand the assumptions that went into it.

Beyond that, and not just to nitpick, I have been thinking that it would possibly become very useful to start figuring out the EROEI's of different food products, including packaging.  I'm almost convinced that one policy direction (to once again overburden the food-producers, and further drive up that Energy/Calorie ratio), would be to include that number on the packaging of foods, or otherwise get it out there to the public, maybe even include a tax on food items based on this number as part of the 'energy tax' proposal..  then again, that's probably 'double-taxing' in that case..    After all, that average energy cost has got to be very different for a bowl of local oats than it is for a box of prepackaged ring-dings, both in the energy required to produce, promote and package it, as well as the energy/nutrition that it offers to the consumer (which clearly would need to be measured in more than just 'pure' calories, if you believe in such a thing)

Bob Fiske

This said, I do have a "Market" side to my thinking which believes that rising energy costs will have to affect the various foods prices, IF we don't get too crazy over-subsidizing Corn, Ethanol, and in the future, TV dinners and Twinkies, and keeping their true costs from letting them find their proper place in the 'Market's Food Chain'..
Bill McKibben likes to bring up the example of iceberg lettuce from California costing 93 (or whatever) calories to grow and ship for each calorie in it.  I think that that's a silly example, as people don't eat lettuce for the calories.  If you want to make a good point, don't overstate it.  There are plenty of better examples, e.g., high-calorie but very processed foods.  A breakdown into growing, packaging, and shipping is useful too.  Pointing out superfluous food "swaps" is also eye-opening, e.g. the many tons of potatos that the UK sends to Germany, and a similar amount that goes the other way.  Then there are the cases of the same food transported on a long round trip for processing, e.g., British apples hand-polished in S.Africa and sent beck to Britain (I kid you not).
Reminds me of my fictional "Iceberg Lettuce Diet" Newsletter I sent out to co-workers about 4 years ago.  At the time me and another male cook were talking about diets and fads.

Iceberg Lettuce is mostly water.  To eat enough Iceberg Lettuce to get your daily needs of Protein you have to eat 400 pounds of it.  400 pounds of Iceberg lettuce alone.  

My diet you could eat all the Iceberg lettuce plain or with salt and pepper you wanted. I said, I promised  if you stuck to this diet you would lose weight in 6 months or less.    

Reality if you did this diet you would likely strave to death,  problem solved.  It was fiction.

I bet if you eat a lot of organically or home-grown foods you get less than 10 to 1 , oil to food ratios.

But I use refridgeration, I cook on NG, I eat red meat and fish, and fowls, I bake with packaged flour, not local water milled stuff.   The list goes on and on. In the USA we do, but world wide in every family that is not that case.  

Would be nice to know where it got started and who has actually done the study on the 100,000 food products(see note) we eat today.

@ Note:  No clue how many food products there really are, likely no one else does either, but its big enough to make you think and small enough to make a good random sampling cross section really work for figuring up the fossil fuel calories to food calories ratio.

For the source, I think Pimentel has done the calculation; Tainter maybe also. Doing a search on energybulletin.net would also be useful.
There are probably several answers, from 10:1 to 1:10 depending how you cultivate, calculate, package and get to market. I have some original sources for you that may help. The Pimental/Giampietro (1994) "FOOD, LAND, POPULATION and the U.S. ECONOMY" at Dieoff:
Dale Allen Pfeiffer's excellent (and shorter, lol) "Eating Fossil fuels" (2004):
Iran - the dance continues

Looks like the pretend negotiations should go on until the G8.  That will give me time to get the vataion in.  After that bring on the hurricanes and geo-political storms.

vacation, that is!
"Look, I don't CARE that we signed a treaty saying Iran has a right to nuclear power stations, we gotta have a good reason to invade and IT'S GOTTA LOOK GOOD, DAMMIT!!!" -- Official White Horse Souse

The US keeps taking positions that no sane leader would agree to. Suspend enrichment (which Iran is legally entitled to under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty) before any talks about Iran suspending nuclear enrichment. In the meantime, the US refuses any security guarantees, meaning that even if Iran agrees to stop enrichment, the US will still invade if it feels like it. Such a deal!
Read all about it, courtesy of Reuters.

Biofuels again.  The Worldwatch Institute, of all organizations, came out with a report that is rather optimistic on biofuels.  Some of its claims (and my comments):
  • Last year, world biofuel production surpassed 670,000 barrels per day, the equivalent of about 1 percent of the global transport fuel market - presumably that is gross production, no mention of EROI.
  • The new report... is a comprehensive assessment of the opportunities and risks associated with the large-scale international development of biofuels - that's good if done right.
  • Brazil is the world’s biofuel leader, with half of its sugar cane crop providing more than 40 percent of its non-diesel transport fuel - that doesn't jive with RR's numbers?
  • Figures cited in the report reveal that biofuels could provide 37 percent of U.S. transport fuel within the next 25 years, and up to 75 percent if automobile fuel economy doubles - ditto, big time.
  • It is essential that government incentives be used to minimize competition between food and fuel crops and to discourage expansion onto ecologically valuable lands - burn your cake and eat it too?

Their recommendations include:
  • Strengthen the Market. Biofuel policies should focus on market development, ...
  • Speed the Transition to Next-Generation Technologies...
  • Protect the Resource Base. Maintaining soil productivity, water quality, and myriad other ecosystem services is essential. National and international environmental sustainability principles and certification systems are important for protecting resources as well as maintaining public trust in the merits of biofuels.
  • Facilitate Sustainable International Biofuel Trade. Continued rapid growth of biofuels will require the development of a true international market in these fuels, unimpeded by the trade restrictions in place today. Freer movement of biofuels around the world should be coupled with social and environmental standards and a credible system to certify compliance.

Sounds to me like the usual republican (I won't call it "conservative") call for voluntary, market-based hand-waving.  I believe that will utterly fail in preventing the exploitation and destruction of third-world peoples and ecosystems for the feeding of SUVs in the first world.

Note who starred at the conference:
The report’s findings were discussed today at a conference on Capitol Hill hosted by Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin ... Participants included ... the private sector, governments, international agencies, and nongovernmental organizations.  Speakers at the opening session included ... Paul Wolfowitz; Thomas Dorr, Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; ... James Woolsey, ... former Director of CIA; John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress; and representatives from DaimlerChrysler AG, Iogen Corporation, and CHOREN Industries...

What gives?  Even Worldwatch has sold out?

I have supported WorldWatch in the past in part because of their great research. Have they lost their freaking minds?  They have no credibility now as far as I am concerned. No soup for you, WorldWatch.
What does this mean? They won't toe yuor line so their cut off. You sound like a mini-Exxon.

Why not read the study first.

I was in Pittsburgh last month, and was taken on an impromptu tour of the city.  Very interesting and beautiful city, and not the industrial wasteland many imagine.  

One thing I'd never seen before: "inclines." They're vertical, cable-driven railroads (funiculars).  Pittsburgh once had as many as 15 of them.  They were used to transport people from the river valley up to neighborhoods built at the tops of overlooking hills.  Now there are two left, and they are used mostly as tourist attractions.  People living on Mount Washington drive up these days.  (Though I shudder to think what those roads must be like in winter.  They are really, really steep.)

(Click for larger version.)

Ha. I spent four years at CMU and never made it to the inclines. When I was there the air was tough to breathe, but many mills have closed since then. I noticed that Pittsburgh has fallen out of the top fifty cities.

Where did you eat?

I got a drive-by tour of CMU.  

We ate at a small restaurant next to the incline lookout.  It was actually pretty good, and not too expensive.  I was expecting the food to be bad, because the view was so good.  They're usually inversely proportional.  ;-)

We considered eating at that restaurant that puts french fries in the sandwiches, and a couple of other well-known Pittsburgh lunch spots, but there was no parking.  

Worse than that, they got rid of a great streetcar system in the eighties.  Bigger mistake than eliminating the inclines.
They are slowly bringing back the streetcar lines as light rail.  Currently digging a tunnel under one of the rivers to North Pittsburgh for light rail and new routes up there. (from memory).

But they are a decade or two away from being where they were in the 1980s and even further away from the 1930s.

Having just moved to Pittsburgh, I am now located within walking distance of 90% of all my shopping needs (eg. the grocery store, drugstore). Any day I don't have to drive my car--and that's most days now--is a good day. The traffic is terrible especially since it's an old city with narrow streets. I wouldn't even attempt to ride my bike here since I prefer to live life a bit longer.

However, I had to take a fairly long drive to the North Side to get printer cartridges -- why? Because there was no Office Max, Staples etc. within the city center between the two rivers (the Allegheny and the Monongahela which together form the Ohio. And the reason for that is there are no big malls in the city center. The malls require space for parking lots of cars and sufficient space doesn't exist in the city.

I have an Office Max seven blocks away.  It shares an odd sized parking lot with two restaurants (old homes that were demolished decades ago) and on-street metered parking.

I will have to guess, but a 30 space parking lot and a "smaller than normal" store. No furniture sold there for example, except orders and delivered to store.

The restaurants need more parking at night, the store closes earlier than others at 6 or 6:30 PM I think, thereby freeing up parking.

I went out of my way to ride one of these contraptions in Dubuque [spelling] Iowa. I don't know about the economics, but it struck me as a nice solution to a steep grade in an otherwise walkable city.
Nude cyclists race around the world to protest 'car culture'


I just finished reading "The End OF Fossil Energy" by John G. Howe. John recommends powering down ahead of the depletion curve to save Fossil Energy for the 100 years after 2050. The graph he has on total world energy production estimates that production drops 50% by 2040. This is everything from every energy source. It looks like he believes peak oil and peak energy are nearly this same.

"It looks like he believes peak oil and peak energy are nearly this same."

Yes, that's an error many people make....

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

I don't think it's an error.  Peak oil is peak energy.
Peak oil might be peak energy density, put it does not need to be peak energy availability. Without getting into all the potentially nasty greenhouse gas intensive answers [or the "maybe someday" sources such as fusion], we can become much better at scavenging relatively diffuse amounts of energy. Fissionable material from stuff that is not currently ore. Direct usage of sunlight for heating. Wind. Micro hydro. Waves and tides. Low level hot water sources. Photovoltaics. Small methane source capture. Biomass when feasible. The list probably goes on -- these are what came immediately to mind.
The other major energy sources are subject to the same geological limitations as oil. Coal and NG may not have peaked yet but they could be close. So what is the energy source that is going to replace oil and raise energy production higher?
Believe it or not, renewables have the potential, with wind being the dominant source.

Wind turbine technology is not yet mature.  Add 25 more years of development and even more energy can be extracted than current calcuations show with good EROEI.

Hot rock geothermal still has potential IMHO.

Hydroelectric still hae unexploited potential although the cream has been developed.

Perhaps low cost PV production will FINALLY be solved.

And solar thermal for both process and electricity has some potential (a reason for some people in Phoenix would be to support solar thermal process industries).  Perhaps a good use for some of that ruined irrigated farm land that was "developed".

Biomass is in it's infancy, despite being our first energy source.

The transisition will not be easy, and may not be successful, but it is possible IMO.

Don't forget the two-fluid liquid flouride thorium/U233 breeder reactor. http://www.thoriumenergy.blogspot.com/
Wind is great and getting better all the time, but solar thermal is way underrated.  I don't know why, after all, it puts out far more kw-hrs than PV right now, and has had minuscule $ support in comparison. Solar thermal resource in the southwest is huge.

Not to mention summer time solar hot water, which everybody should have.  Easy and cheap.

Line focus vapor solar thermal cycles do well, and point focus could do better.  A few days ago I was watching a little 100 watt stirling  putting out  38%  (electricity out/heat in) efficiency;  and this is 60Hz-120 VAC power ready for use, not that effete DC stuff exuded by PV.

But keeping first things first, lets cut the population to 1/2- 1/5 by seeding the populace with super attractive sexually energetic robots, so that no  union results in more of us.  Not that?  Ok, what else works? TV zombyizing? Unsprung bikes?

Do you have any attractive tin foil hats for sale? I bet the robot sex slaves would be really attracted to me if I had one. Do you think they were really right and masturbation does make  a person go crazy?
Lonesome Nomore
You don't need robots. According to the rethugs, all you need to do is allow gay marriage. Pretty soon most of the country will turn fag and your population growth will be solved.
You're right! Although I think that gay marriages were the cause of all three of my divorces. It couldn't have been my own bad behavior, I'm a white anglo-saxon protestant heterosexual male, the natural rulers of the planet and the owners of all its resources.
In my most recent SciFi Short Story a Quantum Computer falls in love with a Human Male, and she ( the computer ) works out a way that they can procreate.

Sorry just had to throw that in there.

Been married twice, no kids.  Brother and his wife married 15 years, no kids.  We are the only two children of our parents.   This family did its part how about yours?

Don't forget solar water heating.  Start by mandating that all homes in Phoenix use solar water heating. Of course, I guess it's so hot you can just go outside and use the water hose.  
All kidding aside: From at least July through September the water coming out of the cold water pipes in my old apartment on Ray Road [in Phoenix} was pleasantly warm enough for a shower. A solar water heater would not have to be any great shakes to cover usage for most of the year.
For Phoenix and the entire Southwest US, the real problem will soon be (or is?) potable water supply, not its temperature.
Just replacing oil with these alternatives would be a monumental challenge. John Howe is a big proponent of wind and solar, but doesn't think they will come close to replacing the energy from fossil fuels. This is why he recommends a planned powerdown. He still thinks population reduction will be necessary for longer term sustainability.
Overshoot and collapse is still the most likely scenario because our leaders are taking no intelligent actions to achieve a planned powerdown.
Even if we had more resources the model in "Limits to Growth"  predicts it would only buy us another couple decades before pollution started shutting us down.
I just finished reading "The End OF Fossil Energy" by John G. Howe. John recommends powering down ahead of the depletion curve to save Fossil Energy for the 100 years after 2050. The graph he has on total world energy production estimates that production drops 50% by 2040. This is everything from every energy source. It looks like he believes peak oil and peak energy are nearly this same.

I might agree with Howe, that if you want to plot the long curves ("for the 100 years after 2050") you are going to see more than one kind of fossil energy deplete.  That might make them "nearly" the same, for some meanings of "nearly" ;-)

I think oil and natural gas will see depletion before 2050, and depending on (a) inventions and (b) global warming, coal may see depletion around or after 2050.

I don't expect methane clathrates to be depleted in this timeframe ;-)

From the WSJ letters to the editor regarding the June 5 story "Saudis Cite Market Forces for Lower Crude Output"... the section is titled "Saudi Arabia's Baffling Oil Policies"...

...The good news is that with Saudi Arabia cutting back production there is now clearly spare production capacity.  This realization should help deflate fears, which is one of the causes of the high oil price.  The bad news is that the Saudis may be happy with oil prices around $70 per barrel, compared with their long-gone desired range of $30 to $36 per barrel.  If true, this would indeed be bad news for consumers because a widespread belief continues that the Saudis would like prices below the level at which renewable energy and other sources would affect their long-range production potential.
   It is also interesting to note that while Iran has joined Saudi Arabia in keeping oil off the market, the Iranians are forced to store their oil in tankers, as opposed to simply cutting production, as the Saudis do.  This is, of course, because of Iran's inability to replace lost production in the absence of spare production capacity and implies that the loss of this oil to the market is only temporary.  
   Less explainable is the support that is given to the Saudi thesis that the movement of their light crude oil and, in particular, heavy crude oil has been curtailed because they are having problems finding buyers.  It is amazing that the Saudis won't discount by a dollar or so to move the oil when oil is earning as much as $70 per barrel, choosing instead to forgo the sale rather than "leave money on the table."  It is fundamental that any grade of oil will be sold in the marketplace only if it is priced to meet the current market clearing price of its grade.  The Saudi position is in stark contrast to that of the producers from the tar sands of Venezuela's Orinoco oil belt, or from Syncrude Canada, Ltd., and others, who routinely produce and move large volumes of very heavy tar.
   The Saudi inability to move crude oil in this market is almost as inexplicable as the inability of the current U.S. administration and International Energy Agency members to move the promised 60 million barrels from their strategic reserves to relieve high prices during the Katrina crisis.  It appears that only about 22 million out of the planned 60 million barrels was actually released, and it is surprising that this issue hasn't been the subject of any media or congressional scrutiny.  Perhaps the Congressional Budget Office should be asked to assess the effect of the additional supply of 38 million barrels on the then-market price, and the cost to consumers of the failure to release the oil.
Robert B. Almeida
Almeida Oil Co.
Mount Kisco, N.Y.

Comments TODers?  This guy seems baffled by the whole situation.  Seems he needs a good one on one conversation with Westexas.

I've been thinking about that Saudi announcement (production cut from 9.4 mbpd to 9.1 mbpd because "there are no buyers") the last few days, and I have a hypothesis:

For some time SA has claimed to have substantial additional production capacity, all of it heavy/sour, but "there are no buyers".

So, I am speculating that their light/sweet production has recently dropped by 300,000 bpd, and they added that much heavy/sour production in order to keep up the aggregate numbers. But, "there are no buyers", probably due to lack of refining capacity for those grades. They may have filled their available storage with oil they can't sell, and are now forced to cut the overall production.

If true, we might expect to see further production cuts as their production of light/sweet grades decline.

Your argument is the only one that makes sense. Don't know if it is backed up by the data.
widespread belief continues that the Saudis would like prices below the level at which renewable energy and other sources would affect their long-range production potential.

There were some high level meetings between Saudi Arabia and China last winter

During Abdullah's trip, the two states signed a pact on energy cooperation that calls for increased cooperation and joint investment in oil, natural gas, and mineral deposits. Several other agreements were also signed on economic, trade, and technical cooperation, on avoiding dual taxation, on vocational training cooperation and granting of an urban development loan to the far western Chinese city of Aksu by the Saudi Arabian Development Bank.


I wonder if the agreements included a chinese promise not to undermine Saudi Arabia's future income by exporting electric cars.

I am forever astonished that the media, along with just about everyone else, seems perfectly content to take the Saudis word for the reasons for this cutback. No buyers! Absurd! As the article points out if they just discounted their oil by about a dollar they could find plenty of buyers.

When I went to Saudi Arabia in 1980, my employer gave me several books to read in order that I might better understand the culture. One of these books was "The Arab Mind".
This book, first published in 1973 is revised every few years and is still being sold by Amazon. To "lose face" is the most disastrous thing that can happen to a person of Middle East culture. And that is exactly what will happen to the Saudi's when it is finally revealed that their reserves are only a fraction of the 260 billion barrels they are reporting. They will do anything and everything in their power to delay the release of their actual reserve numbers. And when, for obvious reasons, they can deny them no more, they will blame everything on the former four oil companies that started ARAMCO. They will claim they were mislead and robbed by these oil companies.

Also, I am a little dubious about Iran holding oil off the market and storing it in tankers. A typical tanker holds about one million barrels of oil, (actual range is from about 600,000 barrels to about 1,500.000 barrels or 80,000 to 200,000 dwt's). There can be no more expensive way to store oil than aboard sea going tankers. If they were holding 300,000 barrels per day off the market they would have to rent a new tanker every three days just to store the oil, in a time when there is an extreme scarcity of tankers. Perhaps the author meant "tanks" instead of "tankers". At any rate I am dubious that they are storing that much oil anywhere. They are just as capable of closing the taps as the Saudi's are. Oil left in the ground in Iran would not be "lost" any more than oil left in the ground in Saudi Arabia would be lost. And that would be a whole lot cheaper than renting tankers. Storing the oil in tankers is just too absurd to be true.

Patai's book, the Arab Mind, is one of those "know the natives" treatises that mostly serve to assert the superiority of the Western mind to some variety of WOG. I always get a kick out of the suggestion that Arabs or Chinese or whoever are motivated by a mysterious desire to save face as if Americans or Europeans were unfamiliar with the concept.

The recipe for books like Patai's is simple. Claim that normal characteristics of human beings such as venality, ignorance, and bad work habits are actually defining features of the collective psychology of some group of foreigners. But Patai's book is worse than many others of its genre. It's full of semi-Freudian psychobabble and a crude version of the Whorf hypothesis--the Arabs are late for appointments because Arabic has a defective system of tenses. The ideological agenda of the book is painfully obivous--the Israeli Patai is concerned to explain why Arabs should be treated like children. My basic problem with the book however, is not that it is politically incorrect but that it is just plain incorrect.

Well, I lived in Saudi Arabia for five years, 1980 to 1984, and I found the book to be spot on. I have a son in Saudi now who has been there since 1991. He is involved in the "Saudiazation" of Aramco. He helps train Saudis to take over technical jobs now held by expats. He says it will never happen because of "wasta".

Have you ever heard of wasta? Wasta is what gets you a job in Saudi Arabia if you are a Saudi. Wasta is what determins whether you pay a traffic ticket or not. Wasta determins whether you get promoted or not, ability or incompetence has absolutely nothing to do with it. Wasta is exactly why there are 5 million expats working in Saudi Arabia today and massive unemployment among the Saudis.

To claim that there are not dramatic differences in Arab culture and Western culture is nothing more than politically correct B.S.

I'd really like to read a book called "The Western Mind" written from the point of view of another culture. I'm sure that'd be interesting...
The way you describe "wasta," it sounds synonymous with "connections" in English.

In America, connections get you a job. At every job I've worked, the vast majority of hires are made by personal recommendation - not by interviews with strangers based on qualifications. Foreigners without green cards tend to get rougher treatment.

I know for a fact that if you're a politician's son, connections can protect you from a traffic ticket.

In many jobs promotions depend on connections. Do you think it's a coincidence that the CEO of Ford is a Mr. Ford?

So I don't buy this idea of an "Arab Mind." I think it's more accurate to say that countries like Saudi Arabia are too newly rich to have as much rule of law as America. I wouldn't attribute this to the racial or national "character" of the people who live there.

In America you can always find a few instances where connections get you something. In the Middle East wasta is EVERYTHING. Why arn't Saudis running everything is ARAMCO right now? Why do Americans and Brits still have all the technical jobs? Even most management jobs are held by Americans.

EVERYONE get's promoted on the basis of their wasta, NOT on their ability. Incompetent people are promoted and the competent never get promoted based on wasta.

No, a thousand times no, it is NOT that way in America or in Europe for that matter. The competent rise to the top and the incompetent settle in at the bottom. And that is why things work. Yes, there are exceptions in America where connections occasionally get you something. But in Saudi there are NO exceptions. You must have wasta or you get nowhere. And if you do have wasta you climb to the top even though you are a total incompetent.

If the USA worked the way you think it does, the economy would be a lot stronger.
I respectfully disagree with your assertion that in America and Europe, connections are less important than competence.

If this were so, why are almost all CEOs white men? Why has every president in history been a white Christian man? Why are blacks and hispanics so likely to be poor in America?

Don't get me wrong - America is by far the least connections-oriented country. America enjoys a large middle class in which competence counts for more than anywhere else. But I wouldn't say that America is "mostly" competence-oriented. That would be dishonest.

"Why arn't Saudis running everything is ARAMCO right now? Why do Americans and Brits still have all the technical jobs? Even most management jobs are held by Americans."

This makes me wonder why more infor doesn't leak about what is really happening in Saudi Arabia with the oil fields if there are so many Americans and Brits in technical and management position over there ?

the competent do not always rise to the top, they instead provide the experise to the incompetents to perpetuate the incompetents position.
the competent do not always have the "gift off the gab", they can't always talk their way through a difficult situation. the competents will give you the "cold hard truth", right or wrong.
 But the incompetent have no expertise per se, and normally have no morals either, yet they have connections, they manage to stay or advance from where they are. thus the incompetence people get promoted.
 sad but true.
Thank you Jim Harrison. The scholarly standard work on the literary tradition of "the Arab Mind" is Edward Said's book Orientalism(why won't underlining work here?). At this late point in time Patai's efforts and all the others like his should be universally recognized as crude crass racism.

Expending energy on racism is not going to help anyone cope with peak oil.

I'm not Ay-rab, but "losing face" burns my ass big time.
No, racism helps no one. Understanding racism however would be a great help to everyone. I have seen a Saudi grab a Yemeni and smack him around simply because he was a Yemeni. No more racists a society exist than in Saudi Arabia. Yemenis treated as lower casts by the Saudis, they get all the menial jobs that the Saudis will not touch.

Saudi Arabia is basically a Sunni nation. However the Eastern Province, where all the oil is located is primarily Shiite. (Sometimes spelled Sheite.) But the Sunnis run Aramco. Shiites have jobs but they never get promoted. If you are Shiite you do not have wasta in Saudi Arabia. Of course wasta comes in varying degrees and not all Sunnis have wasta. Incompetent people get promoted simply because they have wasta. They do not have to perform because they know they cannot be fired because of their wasta. Very good and competent people never get promoted because they have no wasta. They have no hope of ever making a better life for themselves and their family. Wasta is the purest form of racism in the world. What makes wasta so bad is that it is accepted as right and just in all Arab nations, just as we once accepted slavery as just and right.

People who deny the racism of wasta, of Saudi Arabia, of all Arab states, are simply ignorant and uniformed. They just love to point the crooked finger at people who write books on the subject and cry "racist, racist, racist". But I have lived there for five years. I have talked to those with wasta and to the pitiful and downtrodden who have no wasta. I know who the real racists are and it is not those who write books explaining the problem. Of course it is not the politically correct either. They simply blinded by their overwhelming desire to be politically correct on every problem that comes down the pike.

I've got no problem with attempts to understand the folkways of various people, just with books like Patai's that do a rotten job of it. Incidentally, I formed a low estimation of the Arab Mind before Said's Orientalism was even written. Considerations of PC have nothing to do with it--I routinely piss off Muslims, who, obviously, are plenty ethnocentric themselves.

These issues matter in relationship to the oil problem because there is such a huge temptation either to ignore the reality of cultural differences or to find it convenient to demonize or infantalize the people of other countries. Understanding foreign cultures--or our own, for that matter--requires both empathy and objectivity. And you do have to take into account the political context of interactions between Arabs and non-Arabs, instead of assuming that every bit of behavior is the expression of some mysterious national esssence.

Well, let's get back to the original discussion. Can what the Saudi's say about their reserves or production be taken at face value. No, it simply cannot be taken at face value. And the reason is explained, very well to my mind anyway, in the book "The Arab Mind".

I lived with the Saudis for five years and I know the things, well most of the things, stated in the book are exactly correct. I found absolutely nothing racist about the book and I read it cover to cover. But then I do not notice a lot of things that the politically correct seem to always notice.

No, the Saudis do not have 260 billion barrels of reserves with another 200 billion barrels soon to be found. That is totally and completely absurd. But the point is most Saudis actually believe that stuff. They actually believe that they can increase production, by drilling more wells in the Persian Gulf and inland, that they can increase production to 12 million barrels per day by 2010.

Now suddenly their production starts to drop. It drops dramatically by 400,000 barrels per day in just two or three months. What DO you tell the world. You tell them anything in order to keep up the façade of invincible production ability. After all, their repetition rides on it. They are king of the hill as far as production goes. They will not give up that prestegous position without a fight.

Saudi Arabia has from 60 to 70 billion barrels of reserves and they are producing flat out and pulling about 9,100,000 barrels per day. Well, that is my opinion anyway. You can believe they have 260 billion barrels of proven reserves, with another 200 billion soon to be found, and that they are only "voluntarily" cutting back on production if you wish. But if so then there is a lot about the Arab mind that you do not realize.

Apparently you not only stereotype the poor Arabs, you stereotype anybody who disagrees with you. Political correctness? Phooey!

Meanwhile. I expect that the government of Saudi Arabia, like the governemnt of Iran, the government of Israel, the government of the U.S. and, probably, the government of Utopia, doesn't like to lose face and lies a lot to prevent embarassment. What this has to do with being an Arab beats me.  I must be one of them bemused liberals.


I am not only a liberal myself, I am what is referred to as a "bleeding heart liberal". However that does not prevent me from facing reality. I am just a liberal who hates political correctness for political correctness's sake.

The concept that there are no difference in cultures is nothing but political correctness gone to seed. And such a silly theory can only be professed by someone who has not lived for several years in a land with an entirely different culture.

I did my homework before I ever went to Saudi Arabia. My employer required it. (First Dravoe Utilities then Aramco.) I got along just fine with the Saudis. I learned how to behave around them. I never offended them. I have been in their home and drank wine and sadiki with them. Yes, Saudis DO drank wine an sadiki. Sadiki is like vodka. It is brewed in a home still from pure sugar.

I would never stereotype Saudis because they are as different from each other as you and I are different. But every Saudi knows his place in their culture, and has no hope of ever escaping from that place if his status is on the low rung of the culture, if he has no wasta. And no matter how low his status, every woman in Saudi Arabia is even lower. They are the lowest of the low. And that is sad. But it is made even worse by people who deny such sexism, such racism, even exists.

And yes, there is no lengths a Saudi will not go to to avoid losing face. I understand this is a concept totally foreign to Westerners. That is why so many Westerners, like yourself, choose to deny the existance of this phenomena.

I don't know why you feel the ethnic context makes your arguments about Saudi production stronger. I think they are strong in and of themselves. The Saudi authorities have ample motivation to act as you suggest on grounds familar to the powerful of any culture.
"books explaining the problem...." How about those who write books inflaming the problem?
Saud is a family, not a nation or a culture, be my guest if you wish to insult them. Not friends of mine.
Thank you for understanding my motivation so much better than I do myself.
"No more racists a society exist than in Saudi Arabia."

I'm sure Wasta is the cock of the walk over in SA, but I wonder how it compares to the sly effectiveness of 'WASPA'..

I don't have any intention of suggesting that there isn't a serious problem with racism over there, as the 'splinter in their eye', so to speak..  But I was watching PBS' NewsHour a couple months ago, and heard David Brooks talk about this "sense that the culture of the Arab world and the culture of Iraq is just not compatible with democracy." ..as an explanation for why the new government was stumbling, and the insurgency was still surging.  Again, we forget the mote in our own eyes, in the form (in this case) of democracies we've actively undermined.. Iraq, Haiti, because we were ourselves incompatible with the will of the people, while propping up dictators and warlords who seemed to suit our immediate purposes, even if they cost us very dearly in the long run.  (Osama, Mugabe, Pinochet, Taliban, Saddam)

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(My daughter just wanted to say her piece, too)

"Sometimes satan comes as a man of peace"..  Waspa, it's gonna be big!

Again, we forget the mote in our own eyes, in the form (in this case) of democracies we've actively undermined.. Iraq, Haiti,

Democracies we've actively undermined! He, he, surely you jest. Not that they would not have been better off if we had just kept our troops at home, but calling these nations "democracies" is not just an insult to any democracy, it is an insult to any good dictionary.

How about Iran under Mossadegh and Chile under Allende?  Solid democracies both, unquestionably undermined by the US.
I mistyped and had meant Iran (ie Mossadegh), but didn't we, under JFK also oversee the installation of Saddam.  BloodMoney well spent..

Is there a dispute that Aristide won two elections by considerable margins?

What is more insulting to democracy?  Arming and Funding dictators and paramilitaries who have turned reliably into terrorists, or allowing sometimes imperfectly elected governments to iron out their ruffles, while the world watches us and hopes that we manage iron out ours?

India has a similar caste system.
My favorite, recent example of this 'Analysis of Arabic Culture' was after the Abu Graib incidents, when the Press-Pundits were all instructing us on how the Arabs are particularly sensitive to being insulted or demeaned through their sexuality, or the display of their sex organs, and possibly their peculiar discomfort at having attack dogs lunging directly at their exposed penises.  (Can I say Penis?  This is America, after all, and penii might be considered 'indecent')

I'm so glad we don't have any hangups here about sex..

Actually, Iran is storing oil in VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers).  They're up to 9 so far.  Here's a story about it ...


Is it just to save face?  They aren't meeting their OPEC quota anyway

Okay, I stand corrected. But this is STILL very stupid. They could just close the taps and leave the oil in the ground to collect it later. Oil left in the ground is NOT lost as someone else suggested. It does not evoperate from the reservoir.

If there is no market for their very heavy crude, they could just mark the price down and sell it now. Am I wrong here also? Or they could just leave it in the ground and extract it later when there was a market. And I know I am correct here unless someone can explain why oil not extracted today would be lost tomorrow. The Saudis may be deceptive but they are not fools. They know oil not extracted today will still be available tomorrow. Why do the Iranians not understand this as well as the Saudis do? Why are they contracting tankers to act as storage drums?

Considering all the saber rattling going on, the tankers may be useful in blocking the strait of Hormuz.

"floating storage capacity" may just be the cover story.

If it was really impossible to sell this oil, its price would not have risen faster, in relative terms, than that of lighter sweeter crude.
It takes time to adjust. Existing refineries are set up to optomize outputs / volumes from certain crudes. If the Saudis substitute heavier nastier crudes than they had previously produced, there will not be as many buyers will to take that stuff unless the price is lowered.

BTW, a lot of what is in the strategic petroleum reserve is the just the sort of heavy nasty stuff that is least likely to find buyers during time of high refinery uliliation.

On last point: Thers is / was apparently a glut of Williston Basin and other heavy crudes from ND WY and Alberta. This glut [similar to what the Saudis are reporting] IIRC has recently resulted in in relatively low refined product prices in the parts of the Rocky Mountain and Upper Midwest Regions.

Next Saturday, 17th of June, in Australia there is a presentation of the long awaited...

The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2006

I hooked up with a small organic farm here in exurban Atlanta. They gave me a plot to grow food and they are going to teach me the ins and outs of organic farming. I want to learn to grow "nutrient dense" foods. Maybe this is the wrong term.

Here are my questions:

  1. What foods provide the largest nutritional bang for the smallest time investment buck? (It's not that I'm lazy, my thinking is that the less trouble per plant, the higher total yield possible as I can plant more)

  2. What is a minimalistic emergency survival diet that will fulfill my nutritional needs? In other words, what X crops must I grow to avoid malnutrition?

Has anyone else started growing their own food, bee keeping, raising fowl etc? Several in my family have recently started this in preparation for possible food scarcity, I wonder if it is a significant trend?
I do NOT know about all crops but tomatoes and peanuts would be in my mix.  And learn how to double crop with a fall crop.

Okra has value but it is unpleasant to harvest.

It is my understanding that beans and corn together will provide all of your essential amino acids.  Don't forget Vit. C, too.
If you want info on producing a decent amount of food on a small plot of land while minimizing effort, look into biodynamic/french intensive agriculture.  "How to Grow More Vegetables" by Jeavons is a good book on it.  The concept is that by intensively planting (i.e. leaves of grown plants touching), you maximize output, minimize weeds, and minimize water usage.  The concept of corn and beans going together is complementary proteins, dealt with extensively by Francis Moore Lappe in the 70's in a book entitled "Recipes for a Small Planet" (a 20th year edition is available and her daughter just published a cookbook dealing with the same subject titled "Grub").
I've written about this in "Creating Resiliency & Stability in Horticulture," but the advice on getting the Jeavons book is right on.  For straight calorie density, you can't beat root vegetables:  parsnips, onions, potato, etc.  You can grow enough calories for one person for one year with only 1500 square feet of potato (per Jeavons).  However, the critical features are really stability and resiliency, hence the article above.  It does relatively little good to be able to feed your family three out of four years (because the fourth year will also be the year that everyone else is having trouble).  
There are a lot of things to consider.  What can you grow where you are? What can you store where you are? What will you eat? What do you want to eat? And How much work you are willing to put into all of this?

Georgia you can grow just about anything you want and get in about or really close to an all year growing season.  To do this you have to use in-ground storage of several crops that will sweeten as they over-winter in the ground, and get dug before they go into thier second season.

What are you able to store? Depends on you and only you know this answer.  But you have a fresh food that needs to be canned (cooked in jars, or pickled, or jellied) if you have large amounts of it.  Do you have the needed tools and storage skills, or can you learn real fast.  20 jars of Tomatoes going bad on you can make your pasta really plain for a few months.  But if all your Potatoes rot in storage you could strave.

I would seriously look into the Native plants that grow in your area and check them out before you bring in a lot of seed store varieties and depend on them to grow like the pictures on the package look like.  

Winter Sorrel is a tiny common lawn weed.  The best source of Vitamin C in the wild almost bar none.  The Pilgrams were introduced to it.  Looks like a tiny shamrock. Pale to medium green, its southern peak was about a month ago. What few are left out there now have likely no seed pods left.  The plant in peak has small white flowers with Square Candle shaped vertical pods, a great burst of tart lemon in the whole plant stems and all.

As above, just knowing what grows wild can mean a lot more to you than what is just growing in your garden.  Get as familar with the living giving plants and animals in your area as you can.  

Good feild guides and good books on planting, storing and survival are a must. And never be afraid to ask us older green thumbs, ( or crazy SciFi authors ) for help.

Charles Owens Known to you as Dan Ur

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/scottburns/columns/2006/stories/DN-burns_11bus.ART0. State.Edition1.900ef08.html


There is little to take care of, and everything we need is at hand. Daily life has suddenly become simple. It's easy to wonder: Why do we let our normal lives become so complicated?

For the first - and probably only - time in our lives, we are living in a gated community. The Roadrunner RV Resort provides residents with a temporary gate card. And we are surrounded by beauty that is somewhere between priceless and very pricey.

We are also surrounded by easy community. Without ceremony or much attention to detail, we arrange to cook outdoors and share two dinners with neighbors across the creek.

Nearby, three couples from Fort Worth have arrived with eight children and all their assorted equipment - bicycles, ATVs and fishing rods. The kids, only yards from their parents, skip stones in the creek.

We can't remember how long it's been since we could arrange impromptu dinners with friends. Definitely years. Maybe decades.

Perhaps, we wonder, it isn't the speed of our lives that makes community so difficult. Maybe it's just the incredible bulk of our possessions and shelter.

On our morning walk, stunned by the beauty of the mountains and the clear blue sky, my wife and I nod as we experience a simultaneous revelation, a fundamental concept buried under decades of contrary advertising.

It is not necessary to own something to experience it. Some things are better experienced without thought to ownership.

I've enjoyed Scott Burns for years...read his 3X weekly columns in the DallasNews and his book, The Coming Generational Storm, is a fine one on how bad Social Security and Medicare are going to get, real soon. This Airstream thing of his is a continuation of explorations of "alternative" ways of retirement: Mexico, in a trailer, on a boat, etc. The subtle message is: get ready to downsize your life.
My local paper had an editorial that among other things focused on the "crackpot" Hugo Chavez. I have never written in to them about the subject before, but I'm thinkin of getting my 'feet wet'. BTW long letters to the editor are normal in our little burg.

In respose to the opinion piece offered in the xxxx from June 8th about oil companies I'd offer you this.
   Of the three mentioned methods of lessening our dependence on oil, conservation is perhaps the only one with a proven ability to make significant inroads into recovery from our oil habit.
   The other two ways; alternatives to oil and domestically drilling our way 'out' may offer scant relief.  Time will certainly tell but our current energy
'experiment' with world oil reserves will probably require more effort from us than we may now imagine.
   If rising oil prices are not soley based on the avarice and corruption of the foreign AND domestic controlling companies , but ALSO on GEOLOGY, we could be in for a very 'crude awakening.'
   Most geologists will tell you that there is no creamy nougat core of the earth from which new oil is formed. Fossil fuels were laid down one time, over a long time, to be taken out but once. Many will also tell you most of the 'low hanging fruit' of light sweet crude oil, which our refineries so love, has already been picked.
   Sure there is lots of oil left but the deposits are increasingly locked up in hard to get at areas, in energy intensive extraction media (such as oil sands), or in
'unfriendly' territories where the local population has the audacity to want to enjoy it's benefits (and value) as
much as we currently do.
 Labeling foreign controllers of oil as 'crackpots' is not going to eliminate our dependence.
   The truth is no one entity controls the world oil markets. Or do we throw out the laws of supply and demand just because we no longer control the supply?
   If you don't buy the 'last man standing' solution then the techno-fixes and alternatives need to come off the shelves real soon. They will certainly not be enough
to feed our current appetite.
   In this country we almost literally consume massive crude oil in everything we use and eat.
  Apx. 85 million barrels of conventional &'unconventional' crude oil are consumed in the world
each day. (apx. 1000 barrels per second)(1 barrel = 42 U.S. gallons) We in the U.S. burn apx. 1/4th of world supply.
  If total world production slips (for whatever reason) we may suffer greater impact than those who depend less.
  A combination of good technical ideas, localized community organization and conservation will
probably help but a lot of smart people are saying that 'powerdown' is a state most of us will learn
to live in.  
  Seems to me we ought to try and make the best of it.

Turbo Prius coming?

British car mag Auto Express is confirming that Toyota is working on a successor to the Prius that upgrades it hardware not only with a better Lithium Ion battery pack that recharge faster and hold more power for longer, but also adds a lean-burning 1.8L turbocharged engine. The next Prius will be host to Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive II system that will coordinate the power play between these two drivetrains and may also gain plug-in capabilty. Auto Express reports Toyota's goal is to have its cake and eat it, too - high economy and high performance.

Extra feature on European Prius's

Toyota's Prius in Europe gets a button we don't
Ever stare at that spot on your dash that has a piece of plastic where a button should be? Ever wonder what that button would do if it were installed? More and more Prius owners are finding out that that empty spot on their dashes is occupied on Euro-spec Prius models by a button that switches the hybrid into electric-only mode while driving locally at low speeds.
    While North America Prius cars can be powered solely by their electric motors at low speeds, anyone who has driven the king of hybrids in the States knows that operating in EV mode for extended periods is nearly impossible. Any adjustment of the throttle is immediately interpreted by the onboard computer as acceleration, which instantly calls upon the gas engine for assistance.
   Toyota claims that this feature was disabled for the North American market because U.S. law mandates a minimum 8-year warranty on the hybrid drivetrain, which includes the battery pack. By disabling the option of operating solely on battery power for extended periods the company can better assure a longer life for the car's battery pack, despite the fact that much better fuel mileage is being sacrificed.
There's a company that makes the EV button for American Priuses - www.coastaletech.com. Alas, the mpg increase is minimal, because all the Prius' energy ultimately comes from the gasoline engine, so increased electricity consumption now just means increased electrical generation later. However, it can improve mpg a little by enabling you to take very short trips without using the engine at all; you'd then recharge the battery on longer trips, when the engine runs more efficiently. You might be able to skip an occasional warm-up cycle, and it's those first few minutes when the Prius' mpg are worst.

Now, with the coming Lithium Ion battery pack - rumored to allow up to 9 miles on battery power alone - the EV button would be very useful.

Westexas, excellent work by you and your parnters on the Morning News piece. Very succinct and powerful.

Here's something from Indonesia that supports your thesis of an imminent decline in net exports.  

Indonesia Tells Japan it Will Only Export LNG if There is a Surplus

26-05-06 Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla has made clear to Japanese investors that his country's future priority with natural gas will be meeting domestic demand instead of exporting LNG.
"We'll only export it if we have a surplus," Kalla told executives of Toru Oil Japan in Tokyo.

He acknowledged Japan's reliance on Indonesia for LNG, amounting to about 50 % of its needs. But he said demand in Indonesia has been increasing, and exports have contributed to a domestic shortage.
He said fertilizer plants have closed due to the lack of gas supply, and the state electricity firm has been unable to secure gas supply for power plants. He urged Japanese investors to help develop the Indonesian gas industry.

Kalla said Indonesia would honour terms of all current LNG contracts with Japan but might not extend them when they expire in 2008 and 2010.

As westexas has said many times, the first priority will always be indigenous consumption. Where is Japan going to get all its LNG after 2008? Where will the US get its LNG for all new these import terminals now on the drawing boards?

This web site set up by the API is now advertised on TV!
Higher corn prices may hurt hog producers

I guess we knew this was coming sooner or later.. I expect to see more article about higher food prices due to higher energy prices in the upcoming years..

Explosive growth in U.S. ethanol production has a potential downside for hog feeders: higher-priced corn that could cut into producers' profits.

Consumers could be affected, too, by higher prices at the meat counter, market analysts predicted Friday.

Cash corn prices are expected to average $2.45 per bushel across the United States for the 2006-2007 marketing year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Friday. That's up more than 22 percent from the average for the marketing year that ends Aug. 31.

In Iowa, prices will average about $2.35 per bushel next year, said Robert Wisner, an Iowa State University Extension economist. By Wisner's calculations, the price of corn in Iowa could climb to $2.70 per bushel in the 2007-2008 marketing year and $2.85 per bushel the following year.

"The driving force in that is the huge expansion in ethanol production," he said. "That is by far the dominant reason."

Add this cost to the cost of ethanol while you are determining (objectively, of course) the viability of that fuel as an alternative.  "Holy, moly, we didn't think of this", says the USDA.  Of course, they did.  That's the whole point of ethanol, after all.  I don't eat meat, so maybe this affects me less than most people. But this is so pernicious, it makes me tend to detest a lot of those farm state senators, even the ones in my own party.

I hate ethanol because it diverts us from what we have to do and offers us this solution that Americans are so fond of, that solution having very much to do with magic.  

Kill this fuel in its crib, so to speak, before it takes over our entire corn crop.

Our corn crop?

I am quite sure farmers enjoy having a new big customer and perhaps even living on farming instead of elaborate subsidy systems.

..And this new market for corn doesn't simply continue and further complicate the existing subsidy system?

I don't doubt that farmers just want an honest income for doing this essential work, but if it's based on a fantasy-fuel, then it's still only an illusion of 'Free-market Farming'.

And tell me. When will the subsidies end.  And will that include the direct subsidies for ethanol?   If they enjoy the free market so much, let them end the subsidies now and push all the ethanol they want.  Of course, once you end the subsidies, the ethanol industry will die on the vine.
It didn't work that way in Brazil where the post-subsidy ethanol industry is producing 40% of the country's vehicle fuel (the Worldwatch figures higher up in this thread agree with most of what I have seen).

I don't think the US corn ethanol subsidy is well conceived or primarily intended to be an energy policy. However, I don't see any reason why ethanol can't be a major part of future energy solutions.

I would like to see a five year phase out of subsidies and see if that gives the industry enough time and incentives to show whether it is viable.

Again, I am not at all sure corn could do this, but am sure sugar did.

It's 10%, not 40%, as Robert Rapier (and others) covered previously.

According to The CIA Factbook, oil consumption in Brazil in 2004 was 1.6 million barrels per day. That's 24.5 billion gallons of oil per year. That means ethanol contributed 16.3% on a volumetric basis to the total liquid energy pool. But since ethanol has a lower energy content, 4 billion gallons of ethanol is the energy equivalent of 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline. So, their ethanol production is equivalent to about 11% of their petroleum demand. That echoes what David Victor, the director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University, wrote here:
"In reality, ethanol is a minor player in Brazilian energy supply. It accounts for less than one-tenth of all the country's energy liquids."

A few other relevant notes:

· It is about eight times as efficient making alcohol from the sugar in cane as from the starch in corn.

· Brazil has the climate and soils conducive to growing sugar cane. (We have the right combination of soils, climate, and latitude in only four states: Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, and parts of Texas.)

· Brazil has vast tracts of inexpensive, undeveloped land at the tropical latitudes conducive to growing cane. When they need more land, all they have to do is clear more of the Amazon basin, while ignoring the affect of that on the environment.

· Brazil has a large supply of dirt-cheap, machete-swinging manual laborers. We don't have or want that in the U.S. Our farmers are understandably reluctant to wade into their cornfields swinging a machete.

Brazil is achieving energy independence not only through ethanol, but mainly by using their partially state owned oil company (Petrobras) to extract oil from their continental platform using cutting edge deep drilling technlogy.

In summary, they use ethanol AND their own oil. Ethanol adds to the formula but it is only a small part.

This presentation from the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy seems to confirm your figures, giving the quantity of ethanol as 17% of vehicle fuel - presumably by volume.

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTENERGY/Resources/336805-1137702984816/2135734-1142446048455/Br azilianPresentation.ppt#266,9,Slide 9

Using figures of 75,700 BTU/gallon for ethanol vrs 155,000 for gasoline (http://bioenergy.ornl.gov/papers/misc/energy_conv.html), you get a figure of 11.2% of vehicle fuel energy from ethanol.

I stand corrected regarding the percentage figures. As I am in pursuit of truth not a preconceived position, I am grateful for your help.

However, I don't see this as undermining the overall point that sugar derived alcohol is a hugely important step towards solving oil supply problems.

Note also that Brazil exports ethanol, so if use was changed to produced the 11.2% fuigure could be higher.

I am from the "Silver BB" school of thought, so I see a sustainable source of fuel that can offset at least 11% of vehicle fuel as one of the great successes we will need to have.

As I live in the tropical band that the presentation (slide 40 indicates) as appropriate for sugar, the corn case is less interesting for me. I was quite skeptical about corn in my original post.

Thank you kindly, Jack, especialy for the link to the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy presentation. I'd found it previously, but lost it.
I appreciate your open mind in the matter.

I do agree with you regarding Brazilian (and possibly others, in the future) exports of ethanol being a helpful step in the right direction, but am very concerned about this trend being, in essence, a mining of third world national agriculture for first world energy, and all that goes with it.
Other sugar products, such as sugar beets, would be more promising in northern latitudes than corn is, but then again we're back to the same old problem, arable cropland is finite and already valuable.

In the case of Brazil, the cane farmers are already in a conundrum regarding "sell it for ethanol" vs. "sell it for sugar".  World sugar prices are up 98% in the last year alone,  making sugar sales more profitable than ethanol.

Depends on costs for farming and the gasolene price the day the subsidies end. It does not make sense yet but another doubling of crude prices and a low cost source of energy for destillation and I think it will be ok withouth subsidies, tarrifs or extreme petrol taxes. The local low cost source is steam from district heating plants burning low quality biomass.
Another interesting find - community plans of action...


Kinsale, Ireland's is especially interesting.  I did a fast scan.  It looked good except there are a couple issues that areextremely important that I did not see that they addressed.  They must have rational NPG and that is taboo in Ireland.  Without NPG in a rational way
they will get it in the "Long Emergency" in ways that are much moreunpleasant.

Also, security must be addressed in a big way.  They need a plan to deal with the starving mobs from other areas.

Longer term planning is needed.

Peak SUV ?

Although we have may have not hit peak oil yet it seems
that Peak SUV is upon us. People are burning there SUV's.
A little bit of global warming in the end.


Let's not waste that scrap metal.

A flood of late model used SUV's on the market would kill Detroit.

I wonder if there is any way to get this number.
I googled with no success but its got to be somewhere.
Also the price ranges.

Since McMansions and SUV's tend to go together I see disaster
looming for both industries.

Is  SA pulsing production.

I'm wondering if the latest drop in production is actually a ploy to pulse output to retain some control of the market.

By cutting exports greater then capacity they can refill there storage tanks then "increase" production till they claim there is no market rinse lather and repeat.

If your primary concern is to hide peak production then this type of pulsing would probably keep the world guessing for some time probably a few years.

Now if we only knew how much is in storage.
Actually for Saudi Arabia well production is not so important since they have so much storage capacity what more important is tracking the status of that.

Lets guess they have 100 million barrels of storage and they
start the refill at say 50% of capacity this means 50 million barrels of oil. So guessing a 500,000 day of hidden production for refilling. You get 100 days to refill.
And probably less then 100 days of "new" production on each pulse as depletion sets in. This would match quite will for peak hurricane season in this case i.e September.

Add in the US spr and you can hide peak oil for a number of years.

Easy enough to estimate storage capacity - look for tank farms on Google Earth. Here is Ras Tanura:


Count the tanks of different sizes, use the Measure Tool, assume an aspect ratio of 4:1 diameter:height on the big tanks, 3:1 on medium and 2:1 on small, calculate the volume, add them up, there's the answer. You should also look at Abqaiq, Jubail (near Jeddah) and maybe Ras Khafji in Saudi Arabia.

The main buffer tanks have floating roofs (look for the internal shadows) so satellite surveillance would clearly show how storage varies from day to day. You should probably also look at suspiciously immobile tankships moored near offshore.

SA has tanks in the Caribbean and Amsterdam as well as underground storage caverns.

Now thats a intresting opportunity hook up a pattern recognition software to google maps and .....

Not something to do by hand or over the internet but if google allowed you to query with a pattern filter hmmm ?

Actually they could in general let people launch pattern bots to do data mining visual is just one of the harder ones.

Actually I think this will be a big thing in a few years data mining tech is well known the technology exists.

Geeze like google needs to make more money.

Laughs and to think My former employer would love to get paid to help you with this task.

Might I suggest Geo-Media, or the older cousins of it MicroStation and MGE-Dynamo.  They will be able to handle any size sat photo you can throw at them and give you several tools to place your photos over real world ground coordinates and fit them in place within a very low tolerance, off the real thing by an inch.

But knowing how full they are might be harder to guess.

Not so difficult to guess how full they are - if you know the angle of the sun, and it's not vertical, just look for the shadow on the floating roof.

That was an interesting snippet about SA's storage tanks outside their own territory - of course you could always monitor tankship movements to get an idea of what's happening there.

I was thinking more if the right people get asked the right questions. I suspect that this information may be available.
Also if this information was once readily available and then suddenly disappeared thats enough.

It was not really that important before since the use of the tanks was more for managing regional flow/buffering but if there using tanks now for strategic flows to replace the loss of capacity then it will show.

Beats the hell out of doing via brute force.

Marginal Crude Oil Production 2002 - 2006

This graph shows the amount of crude-oil production that has changed every month since 2002.I am using the EIA's numbers from tables 11a/b/c which are for crude oil+lease condensate only.

The world is broken into 16 sections. The 15 top producers and "The Rest of the world"(all production by the 60 other countries that produce oil.) I took the smallest amount of oil produced by each country in this time period and subtracted an additional 100,000 barrels per day from this figure. I then used this as a baseline. So the numbers for each country are the amount of oil produced above this baseline.

Notice the 2 million barrel per day increase by "The Rest of the world." To put this in perspective, it is like having 2 Saudi Arabias each producing an additional 500,000 barrels per day every 2 years.

Notice the large increases by Russia over the last 4 years.

The biggest, longest lasting declines have only been experienced by Venezuela, Iraq, and The United States. The current situation in Nigeria may not be accurately reflected in these numbers. We will see how this develops.