DrumBeat: June 28, 2006

Update [2006-6-28 9:48:48 by Leanan]: Data released from MEES today show OPEC production still declining from October's high.

OPEC oil production in May fell 105,000 b/d to 29.345mn b/d from a revised April figure of 29.45mn b/d after Saudi Arabia’s April production was adjusted down to 9.1mn b/d for that month. Total OPEC output fell on a decline in Iraqi production as well as lower Saudi and Iranian oil exports in the month (MEES, 19 June). Production by the OPEC-10 (OPEC without Iraq) was up 75,000 b/d at 27.445mn b/d from a revised 27.37mn b/d in April, well below the 28mn b/d ceiling that has been in place since 1 July 2005. The May estimates have seen Saudi Arabia fall below its quota for the first time since late 1998 as it responds to lower refiner demand for its heavy crude, while Iran has unusually posted two straight months of relatively low exports. Iranian production comprised 2.145mn b/d of exports with deliveries to refineries at 1.5mn b/d.
Update [2006-6-28 9:55:19 by Leanan]: Ukrainians protest over gas hike
Tens of thousands of people have protested in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, against plans to sharply raise gas and electricity prices.

A BBC correspondent in Kiev said the protests were as big as those during the 2004 Orange Revolution, which swept President Viktor Yushchenko to power.

In Jamaica: Consumers feeling the energy squeeze

Nigerian oil dispute flares into full-scale revolt

"If Shell never comes back, we would have lost nothing," says Young Kigbara, a member of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, surveying the pungent pool of oil and an abandoned pumping station nearby.

"We are better off without oil production."

I awoke this morning to a conclusion about transportation.   In the Richard Gilbert report "Hamilton: The Electric City." the only way to combat the power lose problem is to have personnel transportation vehicles directly tied to the grid system that are fed by power generated locally by renewable sources, glorified bumper cars.

 Electric cars with batteries produce more waste.  The reason I brought this up is that my wife and I are debating the pros and cons of living car free, investigating alternatives, the main reason being that our current car is a gas guzzler and sits in the driveway most of the time as I ride my bike to work and we live in a community that we can easily get around without a car.  I have been reading about fuel alternatives and different types of vehicles on TOD but I believe there are no alternatives and in the long term we must all use less.  


Wrong !

A combination of the below (depending upon the urban area).

  1. Subways or Elevated Rapid Rail
  2. Light Rail
  3. Electric Commuter Rail (See Long Island Railroad)
  4. Streetcars/Trams
  5. Electric trolley buses

And personal bicycles/tricycles (some with electric assist) with shoe leather.

Use the roofs of shelters at stops for PV + landfill gas should fill most of the transportation power requirements in most cities.  Add a few wind turbines on the edge of town dedicated to transportation and battery banks (not economic for gtid, but OK for high value transportation).

 I fully agree.My main point is that a new system for transportation should be tied directly to the grid.
Hybrid locomotives pull their own weight
Two Union Pacific engines use the latest in sustainable technology
By JIM REDDEN Issue date: Tue, Jun 27, 2006
The Tribune
Two of the largest hybrid vehicles in the world are now in Portland --
280,000-pound, 52-foot diesel/electric locomotives owned and operated by
Union Pacific Railroad....
RE: transport options and choices:

for the last 6+ years I've been pedaling cargo trikes here in Minneapolis, MN -- year-round, hauling 200 to 500 pounds of tools and supplies daily.

I do not suggest that everyone must do the same thing.  I do suggest that if we increase our pedestrian/bike/workbike share of urban transport to 10 or 20 percent of total trips, we would do more to solve our energy crisis than by making new fuels for cars or new cars to run on new fuels.

We need to meter out our energy to redesign our lives carefully.  I suspect that we will need a fair amount of energy to transform our urban areas into "continuously productive landscapes -- to grow food locally. Creating transit infrastructure will also require energy and focus.

Meanwhile, I urge folks to walk or pedal for those trips under six miles or so, as much as possible.

Full disclosure:  my wife drives a Honda Civic hybrid -- making an effort to drive as little as possible even so.  We've been carfree before (with two kids) and I hope we can be again -- maybe soon!

The Sensible Utility Vehicles can be seen here:


The latest article/book review I've seen on the notion of redesigning urban landscapes to grow food is here:


At any rate, the changes we need are really quite radical.  I suggest that getting bike/ped share of urban transportation up to 10 or 20 percent is the most effective single step we can make at this time.

-- pedaling for peace and ecojustice -- Gary (beggar)

I try to include bicycles in all of my plans (although, perhaps due to my personal prejudice, not with top billing).

Step #4 of my "10% reduction in US Oil Use" was encouraging more bicycling.

The plan that everyone accepted (A Public Works engineer & I designed) and the Mayor was going to announce (45 days after Katrina) as a cornerstone of his re-election campaign was to rebuild North Rampart Street as a city roads project.

Widen neutral ground (median) from 20' to 36', put scenic streetcar (old 3 light poles on either side of grass running tracks with ctpress trees), go from 2 traffic lanes on each side to 1 traffic lane + 1 bicycle lane.  Add bicycle parking on street.

Today I read about plans to add bicycle garages to the new rail link with three new stations being built in Malmö Sweden to better utlize the Öresund bridge to Copenhagen. The proposal is for 3000(old station) + 4000(city center) + 1500(new area) bikes with room for bicycle repair shops. The fee for parking is not decided. Malmö has 271 000 people with a prognosis for about 281 000 in 2011 when the railwayline is to be complegted.
Anybody thought about how much additional food production would be needed if we turned from being "couch potatoes" to active people pulling 200-500 pound loads on a tricycle?

Also, I know that the life expectency of "bicycle rickshaw pullers" in India is significantly lower than their population peer cohort. Would that represent a counter to the additional food required?

No additional food production needed, but instead a change to eating lower on the food chain.  The best diet for health and athletics is based on plants.  Below is a good discussion
of the benefits and myths involved:


And speaking specifically to cycling, carbohydrates are what is needed for endurance.  The differences in fatigue time is astounding - comparing a meaty diet Vs. a complex carb one (this is well references in a great book called "With the Grain" by a female author named Brown.  Unfortunately it is OOP and I'm not sure where the references are, and I'm too lazy to find them :)  Regardless, the link above applies to cycling too.

One of my office colleagues is a bicycle racer. His team just got the silver in some national track event, so he's no slouch. He's been on a vegan diet for maybe five years or so.

This looks like a reasonable first cut on efficiency:



This came up in another recent thread.  I dropped this link then as well:


It might be that an electric bike beats some diets, but some diets beat an electric bike.

If the food is available, eating more, and burning more, is a closer match to our pre-agricultural roots:

The average daily energy expenditure, as physical activity, of Stone Age humans is estimated at approximately 5.2 MJ (1240 kcal) and their total caloric intake at approximately 12.1 MJ (2900 kcal) (Cordain et al., 1998). Their subsistence efficiency was thus approximately 2.25 kJ (kcal) acquired for each kilojoule (kilocalorie) expended in physical activity. In contrast, sedentary humans in contemporary affluent societies commonly consume perhaps 8.5 MJ (2030 kcal) with expenditure, as physical activity, of approximately 2.3 MJ (555 kcal) (Cordain et al., 1998), a subsistence efficiency of 3.66 to 1.

PDF article


I will buy those figures. Though the issue I raised about the life expectancy, is probably also relevant. Post peak, I expect the standard of living, quality of life, and the quality of diet to significantly reduce. Under these conditions, hard physical labour (approximating that of an Indian rickshaw puller) would definitely bring down the life expectancy of individuals -- that should have an impact on the total energy used, and the total impact of an individual on the planet.

Well you are really talking about an incremental caloric uptake. But the U.S. diet is typically excessive, calorie-wise, for the age/weight groups. So if anything, you might see a decrease in diabetes, lowering of blood pressure, lowering of colesterol, maybe an increase in joint pain, etc, IMHO. Those rickshaw folks a probably burned out with 12 hour days? This guy (Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology) has been doing it with no ill effects. I think currently he is in old town St. Louis.
Congrats. What an inspiration. 200 lbs was about the max I ever worked with on my working bikes and I started backing off from that after age 30. The Sensible Utility Vehicle is a beautifully developed work of art. A beautiful tool. Everybody visit organicengines.com.
Thanks, OldHippie!

I was out working all day -- just got back.  I worked on replacing a threshold of a door, did some tuckpointing, masonry crack sealing, and also put some insulative foam in places in an old house belonging to some clients a couple of miles away.

I hauled all the tools, including a ladder, and the mortar and other supplies -- plus lunch! -- on the trike.  It was a beautiful day!

Some very fine comments on the need to integrate transit and walking and biking.

Also good comments on diet and exercise!  I've read that some of the pedicabbers in India and other third world countries do not get an adequate diet, but also guess that other health concerns may enter in as well.

I do get plenty of food for fuel and nutrition.  I am more concerned about getting adequate food in a few years as peak oil meets so many other world-shaping trends -- climate change and a variety of resource shortages and shifts, along with resource wars and shifts in geopolitical power.

I hope to pedal my trike through it all.

I try to get back to post as much as possible -- but what great comments while I was out and about!  No laptop on my trike yet.

-- resting from a very full day!  -- Gary (Beggar)

Rosarita refried beans were on sale at Safeway for $0.80 a 15 oz. can, and cantaloupe was $0.33 a pound. So I loaded up my Azor Transport Super:

with 30 pounds of groceries in the front basket. I just got the bike a month ago. It's fun to see what I can do with it. Handled the 30 pounds without complaining. Rated for about 50 pounds in the front & 75 in the back. I've got the 8 speed Shimano Nexus hub - with enough weight, even the little hills between Safeway and my apartment will out-torque what I can apply at the pedals. I'm a long way from that yet, though!


Where did you get your Azor, Jim?  I have been unable to locate a North American distributor or even e-seller of these, or the Monark brand ones, either.
These folks are the US importers:


I'm not sure what they have in stock. I had to wait about ten weeks for the container ship to cross the Atlantic, etc. It's a solid bike, though - I measured 60 pounds. That's steel.

Congrats! That bike's a beauty!  After pondering electric bikes, I finally settled on a single-speed Trek cruiser, with double rear baskets and fat tires(not electric).  My next dream, for faster non-hauling trips is a single-speed racer style, yes, for in-town.
My link to Richard Gilbert,s report didn't work. Try http://www.richardgilbert.ca
I like the bumper car idea.  Then I could vent some of my agression garnered from reading all this stuff about global warming.  Actually, we need to move to car free cities and minimize the need for cars elsewhere.  
This would be great but I think a complete collapse would be in order to level the playing field.  Urban sprawl has run rampant here in Ontario and somebody would have to pay for the re-localization and the new infrastructure.  Unless the guys from google and yahoo are going to step up to the task I can't see government footing the bill.
According to Middle East Economic Survey (http://www.mees.com/) Saudi Arabia's Crude Oil Production:

Jul 2005        9,520
Aug 2005        9,550
Sep 2005        9,550
Oct 2005        9,520
Nov 2005        9,500
Dec 2005        9,480
Jan 2006        9,450
Feb 2006        9,450
Mar 2006        9,450
Apr 2006        9,100
May 2006        9,050

Notice the drop starting Apr 2006.


It's here - time to get ready to enjoy the ride down the slope.
Starting Apr 06?  If you look from the top down it's down almost 500K barrels a month less in May 06...I'm really curious to see June's #'s though.
According to the EIA, in recent months oil production from all four of the top net oil exporters--SA; Russia; Norway & Iran--has been trending down.

Let's consider the four largest producing oil fields in the world.  

The only real question is Ghawar, but given the drop in production in SA and given the 8% decline in existing fields that the Saudis admitted to, it seems highly likely that Ghawar is almost certainly declining.  The other three largest fields--Cantarell; Burgan and Daqing--are all declining.

IMO, we are going to see a series of bidding/demand destruction cycles for declining net oil export capacity.   I predict that we will see:  (1)  a decline in net exports; (2)  a price increase as available exports are allocated to the high bidders; (3)  followed by demand destruction among the low bidders.  And the cycle repeats again.    I think that we just finished one bidding/demand destruction cycle, and we are just now starting on another one.

However SA is also saying they don't have enough demand for their existing production. So I'd now expect a drop in current production until much of their excess production stored in tanks from years past has been substantially tapped.

So a fall in production at this point doesn't signal too much,  IMO.

Well, to that I say you're correct.  They don't have enough demand for their production of heavy crude

Saudi says crude is flowing freely

Saudi Arabian crude is stranded in tankers on the high seas, circling the globe in a desperate search for buyers, according to the kingdom's ambassador to the U.S., Prince Turki al-Faisal.

The ambassador told an audience at the U.S.-Arab Economic Forum held at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Tuesday that 350,000 barrels of heavy crude oil have been lifted from the ground but cannot be sold because the world lacks the refining capacity to turn it into useful fuels like gasoline or diesel.

That's the real "rub" isn't it.  Yes, Saudi is doing everything it can with regard to pumping more of the heavy crude... but that doesn't help if there are no refineries to process it.  


Opinion Piece

Q:  How can you tell that the Saudis are lying?

A:  Their lips are moving.

Yet, I don't hear anything...how odd!!
Yes, the Saudis are not very sklled. We have leaders who lie without even opening thier mouths.
Jeffrey, they are not lying, they are merely representing their point of view.
True...I guess it's not really lying if you really think you are telling the truth.
Yes, it is sour. But if SA lumps sweet and sour together then I'd still expect a drop in production numbers. Agree?
LOL. It can't be that tanker. It's empty.
LOL, yeh I know, but that's the only tanker image I could find that was sort of "circling" if you will...


Somehow I can't resist asking the question "why it is only Saudi oil that the world doesn't want?"

Saudi dropped over 400,000 bpd, while Kuwait is up about 20, Russia, Norway, Nigeria, Mexico etc seem to keep selling all they can produce without any drop (except depletion-related for Norway/Mex) or with small increases. Iraq is bragging about increasing production, for which I suppose they have a market. If there is no demand why isn't Saudi asking OPEC to return to quotas instead of having lost full tankers wandering the ocean for a buyer (violins please)?

Something isn't adding up here, although there does appear to be abundant supply based on storage statistics. This isn't how the world responds to a global oil supply surplus (as in "lets keep prices really high but stop buying SAUDI oil."


feeding off this comment

Something isn't adding up here, although there does appear to be abundant supply based on storage statistics. This isn't how the world responds to a global oil supply surplus (as in "lets keep prices really high but stop buying SAUDI oil.

I give you:

Saudi cut shows record oil defies market logic

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil power Saudi Arabia has offered the most compelling proof yet that record high prices are divorced from the realities of supply and demand.

The world's biggest crude exporter dared to make a huge cut in its production through the second quarter but growing demand for oil was still satisfied.


Another strange twist. First, Reuters is simply taking off on another interpretation of what the Saudis said - this is not an independent assessment. But most peculiar, now instead of Saudi not producing oil because there was no market, they proactively "dared" to not produce oil and then after-the-fact discovered they didn't need to. Say what again??

Again, this is unprecedented and completely at odds with any prior behavior or approach they have ever taken.  Saudi is in the business of producing and selling oil, not "daring" to not sell it. Besides, they also keep voicing concern that the price is too high.

There's more to this decline than just an inability to sell heavy or sour SA crude.

Extacts from Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister comments 3 weeks ago:

"In an interview after a meeting here of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Ali Naimi said other cartel members are having trouble finding buyers for all the crude they are producing,..."
"It's not just heavy oil. Even light oil is having problems" finding buyers, Mr. Naimi said..."

Sounds like SA is having trouble meeting demand on all grades.

You can see why Matt Simmons has become more vocal and direct on Peak Oil.  As Saudi Arabia goes, so does the world.  I think it's about time for some of this site's experts to make another in-depth report about the possibility that we have passes the peak, and have begun the slide downward.  How about it?  :)  To be honest, after doing some soul-searching I came to the conclusion that the sooner the peak, the better.  I feel that the longer away peak is, the more drastic the inevitable human suffering and ecological devastation will become.  Better to take the hard medicine now, and learn how to create a biointensive, sustainable world (or collapse trying).
Better to take the hard medicine now, and learn how to create a biointensive, sustainable world (or collapse trying).

Great way to put it!  We need to die trying SOMETHING!

We have to kill consumption before consumption kills us.
Has everyone seen his latest, "The Energy Crisis Has Arrived," presented to the Department of Defense last week?

On page 44, he says "Middle East oil production will not rise any longer," and goes on to predict a 30% decline in ME oil production in 6 years, and a 50% decline in 12 years.

...I came to the conclusion that the sooner the peak, the better.

I, for one, would like a couple more years for my fruit trees to mature and several more firing range sessions with the Bullpup.

MEES data continues to fly in the face of Industry norms.  Yesterday, IEA cofirmed 2005Q4 production of 9.13-mbd followed by 9.27-mbd in 2006Q1.  Some day, the Peakists here have to ask themselves, if the rumours they are so fond of for individual countries are true, how do global monthly and quaterly and annual records continue to be set?  You are only fooling yourselves.

IEA has this month confirmed a new record in Russia of 9.3-mbd and has upwardly revised the global 2006Q1 record to 84.77-mbd (was 84.42 in 2005Q2).  In two weeks we will see announcements of new monthly record confirmations.

Which is Cheaper ?

Tar Sands or Electrified Rail ?

Tar Sands _ Upfront Capital Costs - US$60,000/barrel/day
Marginal Operating Costs - Can$50/barrel

I am working on this analysis ATM.

Go for it, Alan!

I think that we need to get down to brass tacks on making the needed changes -- transit and walking/biking are the best combination of technology that we have, and are likely to be the best fit for human settlement patterns for some time.

(See my above post on urban transport, Sensible Utility Vehicles, and redesigning the urban landscape to  produce food -- as well as energy.

-- pedaling for peace and ecojustice -- Gary (Beggar)

You are asking the wrong question (from corporate point of view): the right quiestion is which will generate more profits?

My guess is that tar sands will generate more marginal profits as the price of oil inevitably rises. The savings from electrified rail will certainly be higher (long term), but will not generate considerable profits in the short term. Instead in an oligopolistic market (what rail tends to be) the increased expensies will be passed onto the consumers.

The bottom line is that an imperfect market (dominated by huge corporations/government) always favors supply side solutions because they promote higher cash flow.

This is an example of why I think that peak oil is a cultural problem, not a technical one.  More specifically, the real problem is the way we've structured our economies, to be run by for-profit corporations with no responsibilities at all other than to shareowners' greed, and the financial/monetary system that is based on endless "growth" while the real world is finite.  Stopping monetary growth, under the current system, will cause a monetary collapse.  Even Hubbert wrote about this.  That is why technical solutions fail.  Added energy supply from "alternatives" is always added to the total, never causing a voluntary reduction in the use of fossil fuels.  That is why RR's (hypothetical) responsibly-produced biofuels will be undersold by irresponsible producers (who externalized the costs of their non-sustainable methods).  That is why serious carbon taxes, which could help resolve that, will not be imposed within the current political and economic structure, as it will get in the way of greed.  If we don't stop "growth" then nothing else will help, no matter how well intentioned or how technically beneficient.  Of course, "growth" will be stopped by nature, but the human reactions will be the wrong ones, trying to revive "growth" at all costs.

Capitalism is a pyramid scheme
- Herman Daly

Sadly, you are correct.  I especially agree that alternatives will be an addition not a substitute.  Without a specific, enforceable goal with respect to the consumption of fossil fuels that is backed up by carbon taxes and/or rationing with carbon credits of some sort, we will continue to ramble towards the future having solved nothing.  Greed is ok as long as its channeled towards the right ends.  

Thus far, no politician dares give people the bad news. The only way to continue the joy ride is to ride over a cliff and/or destroy the planet in the process.  And that's not even talking about the massive federal debt.

Jared Diamond tries to explain in his Collapse book that social mores are often more resposible for failures of civilizations than any other factor --pointing to the self-imposed Norse taboo on eating fish in Greeenland as the main reason for the Viking collapse on that continent. They were surrounded by fish, they had boats, and yet they died of starvation.

It's very hard to look in the mirror and see what "religious" biases we have and how we are sending our own civilization spiraling down that graveyard helix because of our own unbending adherence to taboos.

Our "religion" is Adam Smithism and our taboo is called ISEP (It's Somebody Else's Problem --aka Not My Job).

How often have you heard some politician or management type sneak in a line like: "I'm no expert, but ...".

That's a cheap shot that means I'll leave the "details" to the little folk who handle such miniscule and unimportant matters while I tend to the big important stuff. This is why our civilization is going to into a slow-motion, slip & slide collapse --because TPTB religously believe in the hierarchical pyramid of knowledge and responsibility.

IOW, those on top know nothing and are not responsible for anything.  They all manage to "delegate" and distance themselves from the details.

Thining hard about that last quote and I would agree that Capitalism is a pyramid scheme, but no matter what system is used there will be disproportionate amounts of rich and on down the ladder.  In a socialist setting, there will still be leaders and their friends who run things.  They would in effect be the rich and the money would funnel down with even more people in lower classes than upper.  Sadly there are few examples of great systems, they are all flawed to a degree and so far capitalism has produced the most good for the most people.  Anytime you remove competition people lack motivation (as a whole, there are plenty of examples by the way) to improve anything.  
Actually, the countries with the highest MEDIAN standard of living are all socialist. The reason for this is that the average citizen relies on wage income for their livelihood and an efficient truly capitalist system continually works to increase efficiency by lowering real wages (which improves profitability). I don't totally disagree with you, but you need a balance. Neither system carried to an extreme is any good. You can die of starvation or you can eat yourself to death, and we could debate which is the better approach when in reality neither one works.  
One of the older definitions of Jacobin is a political actor who acts for what he believes to be right even when it goes against his own interest.
If you think that's impossible read TOD more closely.
We need some Jacobins.
My only point was there is no perfect system and I think it's highly cultural as to what type of govt is setup.  I keep looking at the Danes and there great country.  There are problems, but all in all it's a great place to live and die.  But it won't work here, so I realize the limitations.
economies...run by for-profit corporations with no responsibilities at all other than to shareowners' greed
Since, according to the Investment Company Institute,
  • "Individual Americans hold about 90 percent of total mutual fund assets"
  • "Businesses, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations, and other institutional investors hold about 12 percent of mutual fund assets."
  • "At year-end 2005, businesses' mutual fund assets totaled $511 billion, the majority of which was invested in money market funds."
Then shouldn't we conclude that the greedy shareowners are us?
With the widespread ownership you note, a lot of these companies are being run for the benefit of upper management(and their greed).
Agreed. The problems in the "agent system of investment" publicized by John Bogle will hopefully be dealt with by the various state's treasury fund managers.
Note that there is a fundamental difference between:

"Individual Americans hold about 90 percent of total mutual fund assets" <stated>


"90 percent of individual Americans hold total mutual fund assets" <implied>

Fact is, these individual American mutual fund shareholders are, in fact, a very small minority out of the whole (according to WSJ, less than 15%), and includes those with vested interests in capitalizing on fund profits, including those working in the businesses, financial institutions, non profit organizations, and institutional investment houses.

OK, I'll quote futher from the ICI:
In 2005, nearly 54 million households, or about half of all U.S. households, owned funds. Mutual funds represent a significant component of many households' financial holdings.
So we have differing data. The ICI is a direct source of data, where did the WSJ get it's data?
From U.S. Wealth Distribution Data (1998) and 1998 was a better year for number of people owning stock compared to 2006.

Household distribution of common stocks in 1998 (i.e. who "owns" the corporations and gets profits). Note that in 1998, only 48.2% of Americans owned any stock at all (either directly or though mutual funds, 401k-type defined-contribution plans) and only 36% of Americans owned stocks worth more that $5000.

% of owners Net stocks Cumulative %    Cumulative stocks
Top 0.5%    37.0%    Top 0.5%    37.0%
Next 0.5%    10.7%    Top 1%        47.7%
Next 4%        27.2%    Top 5%        74.9%
Next 5%        11.3%    Top 10%        86.2%
Next 10%    9.8%    Top 20%        96%
Last 80%    4.1%    All 100%    100%

There is other data relevant to this issue, but (please don't take this personally) I've decided to make no further comments on economics.

self imposed silence

Most of those shares are owned by a small number of wealthy investors.  But that's not the point.  I agree that the greedy shareowners are "us".  The problem is that the financial system is set up in a way that not only does not require corporations to behave responsibly, but actually requires them to behave irresponsibly.
Do you have (data) references for your opinion about the distribution of shares ownership?

Re: corporations, I'll not debate "behave responsibly" other than to say that it is the province of regulators to set the rules for corporations -- and regulations are controlled by governments, and governments are elected by people, so it is ultimately, again, us who must "behave responsibly".

Juan Cole reports:

Saudi Ambassador to US:
SA to have a democratically elected legislature within 10 years

"A Force for Peace & Stability"
Speech by Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.
Prince Turki Al-Faisal
at the U.S. Arab Economic Forum Gala Dinner
Houston, Texas on June 27, 2006

. . Political reforms are also being implemented to increase citizen participation, such as last year's elections for municipal councils. More elections are planned for the future in order to give our people a more direct say in the decisions that affect them.

Saudi Arabia's goal is also to promote peace and stability in our region. The Roman poet Horace once wrote: "It is your concern when your neighbor's wall is on fire." Right now, our neighbors' walls are ablaze. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine all require immediate attention. In addition, the situation with Iran calls for international engagement and diplomacy. In each of these circumstances, the Kingdom is doing what it can to bring parties together, open up dialogues, and offer solutions for peace and progress.

Many of the world's problems also require humanitarian assistance, such as for natural disasters, disease and poverty. In those areas Saudi Arabia is a leader. Many people don't know that the Kingdom contributes more per capita in foreign aid than any other country in the world. We have also provided hundreds of millions of dollars to victims of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean region, hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the earthquakes in Pakistan and, most recently, in Indonesia. . .

. . . So tonight, I lay down the following challenges for all of us.

First, to Saudi Arabia, I challenge ourselves to meet the needs of our youth and ensure that they have the education, the tools and the means to help change the world, and become a force for good and tolerance.

I challenge the Palestinian people to give up the armed struggle and follow the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King by engaging in civil disobedience instead of violence, even in the face of Israeli guns. Violence is the weapon of the weak; non-violence is the weapon of the strong.

I challenge the Israeli people to give up their illegal, immoral and colonial occupation of Palestine.

I challenge the United States to use the power and abilities with which God has blessed this great nation to bring about an end to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict through the implementation of the President's Roadmap.

An article linked from peakoil.com -

'Berlin - Germany has a well-deserved reputation as an eco-friendly nation. It also has a great love for cars and a passion to drive with no speed limits on much of the country's vast network of Autobahn highways.

So how can it bridge the gap between promoting an environmentally conscious world and a desire to hit the gas pedal?

The answer may be that the car of the future will be powered by something not all that different from salad oil or fat left over from the deep-frying of food.

And it might not be that far away: About 12 per cent of Germany's more than 15,000 petrol stations already give motorists the chance to tank up with so-called biodiesel before hurtling down the Autobahn.

Germany's push to develop new fuel-efficient vehicles represents the latest stage in the nation's green revolution which began almost 30 years ago, when it began introducing a comprehensive recycling system.

The nation currently leads the way in promoting alternative energy with an array of subsidies and government support aimed at underpinning Germany's burgeoning alternative energy sector and in particular helping to develop its wind and solar power industries.

But with oil prices soaring, Germany is now also emerging at the forefront in developing the technology for adapting vehicles to renewable fuels.

Last year the nation became the world leader in the production of biodiesel, pumping out almost 3,000 million litres of the fuel.

Biodiesel is derived from organic sources and contains no petroleum. In Germany the main source is rapeseed which grows across the country.

'Coordinated action to expand biofuel markets and advance new technologies could relieve pressure on oil prices while strengthening agricultural economies and reducing climate-altering emissions,' said Worldwatch Institute President Christopher Flavin, releasing a report this month on biofuels.

Germany's plans to broaden the use of biodiesel fuels also form part a wider, ambitious European Union goal that 5.75 per cent of the bloc's transport sector fuel needs should come from biofuels by 2010.

Germany and France have both said they aim to reach the EU target before the 2010 deadline. Biofuel currently accounts for about four per cent of Germany's total diesel sales.

But despite the ambitious plans in Berlin and Paris, there are doubts whether the 25-nation EU will be able to reach its 2010 target without new measures to encourage the use of biofuels after the Union missed its 2 per cent target for 2005.

As a result, Brussels plans to rework its biofuels initiative by the end of the year, and observers speculate that this could involve setting mandatory targets instead of the existing indicative goals.

This could mean that even more of Germany's 400,000 farmers might soon find themselves heading across their farmlands on tractors powered by biodiesel.

Farmers in both Germany and neighbouring Netherlands have already begun to use biodiesel tractors with transport companies believing that adapting their fleets to organic fuels will produce long-term savings.

Most economists do not see any immediate end to the pressures which keep oil prices surging higher.

Dubbed 'flower power', biodiesel fuels in Germany are at present exempt from the nation's fuel tax. In addition, filling up on green fuel can cost motorists up to 15 euro cents less a litre than relying on regular diesel.

But apart from the environmental benefits of biofuels, such as reduced air pollution, a greater use by industry is considered key to promoting organic fuels as a serious alternative to carbon-based fuels.

The development of a global market in biofuels could help to ensure the commercial viability of biodiesel.

In the meantime, some consumers also still need some convincing when it comes to filling up with biodiesel.

This is despite the fact that Germany's powerful car industry agreed more than two years ago that biofuel could make up up to five per cent of regular diesel without impacting on a car's performance.

Besides worries about the impact that green fuels might have on their vehicles, car owners also first have to obtain a special clearance from the auto maker to use biodiesel.

Other concerns still prevalent refer to fertilisers and pesticides that might have been used to grow the energy crops, and even the risks of deforestation in certain areas.'

© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

It is possible that current German production of biodiesel outweighs America's current production of ethanol as motor fuel - and to my current very limited knowledge, biodiesel does not significantly impact the fuel efficiency of already fuel efficient vehicles. And do notice the long term perspective, the awareness of multi-level implications of actions, and the attempt to create a 'closed loop' in the sense that farm machinery would use a portion of the harvest to power itself - not hard to imagine in a society where horses were being used at least until the 50s around here - a major war tends to force a certain reduction in your standard of living.

This, broadly speaking, is the level of debate in Germany. Also worth noting, peak oil as such is not really the focus - but ensuring that economic activity continues to be profitable is.

This is another reason I have such a hard time with the doomer perspective (apart from war) - it is very possible to plan and prepare for the future, if you do it.

As an interesting thought experiment - could Germany feed itself using the roughly 5% of its diesel current needs through biodiesel? I think it seems realistic, especially when tied into the electrified rail system and river/canal system.

The autobahns would be empty, the car industry bankrupt, and a number of other problems shouldn't even have to be listed, but too many readers seem to think that when describing Germany, I simply mean it will go on as before, while the U.S. crumbles.

But will Germans be starving in the freezing dark? Unlikely, very, very unlikely - after all, they still remember what that is like.

Did a quick check - on a per capita basis, 2005 Germany's biodiesel production is roughly equal to America's ethanol production in 2004 or so.

German biodiesel goes into cars getting roughly 40+ mpg. Ethanol cuts fuel mileage by roughly 15%, it seems is the consensus here, and is used in cars which get 20 mpg? on average.

Long term thinking and economic pragmatism are ways a successful export oriented economy looks at the world. There was a time, during my childhood, that the same could have been said of America. That was a generation ago.

You're right- in 2006,the USA is run by Wall Street. Often the interests of America and the interests of Wall Street conflict and usually Wall Street wins out.
"...biodiesel fuels in Germany are at present exempt from the nation's fuel tax."

This is good, of course. But didn't I recently hear talk of imposing a tax on biodiesel? With so many "reforms" being made here, it's awfully hard to keep track. If they do implement this particular "reform" it would be regrettably counterproductive. Let's hope it was just talk.

"In addition, filling up on green fuel can cost motorists up to 15 euro cents less a litre than relying on regular diesel."

And regular diesel is another 12 cents/liter or so cheaper than gasoline. As has been mentioned in other threads, some folks add a few liters of cooking oil from the local Aldi to their tanks.

Robert Rapier is mentioned in this article at Goldseek.com.

For anyone who still thinks that ethanol or hydrogen will solve the energy crisis, I cleverly hide my laughter by unexpectedly stuffing a whole taco into my mouth with one hand.  With the other hand, I direct your attention to Robert Rapier, of R-Squared Blogspot, who reports that "a barrel of ethanol contains approximately 3.5 million BTUs, and a barrel of oil contains approximately 6 million BTUs."   So, using Advanced Mogambo Mathematics (AMM), I quickly calculate that you will need to use almost twice as many units of ethanol to produce the same work and one unit of oil!  And when you consider the energy necessary to produce ethanol from seeds, to plants, to harvest, to process- whew! -what a loser!
How do you find this stuff? :)


Simple.   Some of us read the Mongombo Guru.

(He's part of the Peak US Dollar movement.)

Oh, and the mighty Mongombo missed these on why hydrogen is a boon-doggle


And the 'guru' does blow it....
And the energy available from solar power, in total BTUs per square foot, is actually miniscule to the point where the energy used to manufacture solar cells is more than you will ever get back out from the solar cell as usable energy.

please expand on your statement that pv panels are net energy losers.  i guess it's fairly simple: it takes X units of energy to make'm and they only produce >X over their useful lives.  but what are the numbers and the source of same.
merci`, PoP
Its not my statement that PV is a net energy loser, that is the quote from The Mongombo Guru.

I believe that PV is the BEST way to convert photons to electrcity.   And evacuated glass tubes are the best way to capture solar energy for heating.   A regular flat panel is best if you are in a warm area.

PV panels are listed with EROEI from 2-5.  

The EROEI of solar cells cited above is not correct. Thin Film solar cells produce the energy used to create them in roughly 2 months.However, if you include the battery system, electronics etc. needed to use them, then the above figure may hold. But then I don't believe that the EROEI of Electricity generation includes the Energy cost of the energy transmission  infrastructure. However, if you take out the batteries for storage from the equation, and you plug the output of the solarcells directly into the grid, then the EROEI is much higher than quoted above.
The 2-5 EROEI is the 'full system life to death' type cost.   Wind comes out some of the best, but the big concrete anchor brings the system number down...

No matter how one slices/dices the numbers - the position that PV is a net loser isn't right

Energy Payback of Roof Mounted Photovoltaic Cells
by Colin Bankier and Steve Gale

The energy payback time of photovoltaic (PV) cells has been a contentious issue for more than a decade. Some studies claim that the joule content of the energy and materials that were put into the process of making the PV cell, will be equaled by the joule content of the electrical output of the cell within a few years of operation. Other studies claim that the useful electrical energy output of the PV cell will never exceed the total amount of useful energy contained within all the inputs of the manufacturing, installation and lifetime operating processes of the PV cell. These studies are often loosely referred to as measuring the energy "payback" of the PV cell. This study undertook a literature review to determine the key assumptions and considerations included in PV Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) modelling. In addition, other forms of modeling such as embodied energy (EE) analysis have also been considered. This review has concluded that the likely energy payback of a typical domestic sized rooftop grid connected PV cell is approximately four years. In addition, it was estimated that larger utility PV cell power stations would have a much longer energy payback period.

Description of Abbreviations

sc-Si Single-crystalline silicon

mc-Si Multi-crystalline silicon

a-Si Amorphous silicon

BOS Balance of System components (including mounting materials and structures, Inverters, cables and control electronic devices)


Previously published estimates for the energy requirements of present day crystalline silicon modules vary considerably. As noted in Alsema (2000), these differences can partly be explained by different assumptions for process parameters, but they mostly appear to arise from estimates for the silicon purification and the crystallisation process. The majority of silicon solar cells are made from off-spec material rejected by the micro-electronics industry, which introduces the question of whether to include process steps required for micro-electronics wafers in the energy requirements for the PV modules. In order to attempt to draw some conclusions as to the actual energy payback time of PV cells, several previous studies were reviewed. A summary of their findings is presented in table 1. These studies are all based on different assumptions, and evaluate different types of modules, and therefore cannot be directly compared. Some key assumptions of each study are shown. Please refer to the original articles for more detailed information.

Not to disrespect Don Lancaster, whose books inspired my gadget-ridden youth, but his solar analysis makes some assumptions that are questionable from a peak oil perspective.
I agree that hydrogen can put the dog in boon-doggle.  

For solar, Don's argument is based on amortization/interest rates and also cheap fossil fuels.  Over the 20 to 50 year life of a solar system installed today, does anyone really expect to make a real return on equity, given probable hyperinflation?  I don't, though I am financially diverse and do have equities.  So, even if the dollar value of electricity from solar does not cover the interest on investment now, over the long term, you probably come out ahead.
I think the largest component of real inflation is and will be energy.  We all know that cheap fossil fuels are going or gone.  Investments in solar should be evaluated against this elevated escalation in energy cost.  A solar panel is like a  huge tank of gasoline with a 0.1 mm outlet.  The inconvenience and big capital outlay are discouraging now, but as fossil fuels become scarce, the value of the tank's contents is obvious.

Good point: future EROEI should be taken into consideration on the personal level. I agree with Everett that energy will spark inflation and solar panels will become much more valuable in light of this.
Okay, we know that ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline.  But how significant of an impact does this have on an engine that has been optimized to run on ethanol?  

Can someone who has an E85 car do the experiment?  Fill it up with E85 ethanol and measure the miles per gallon, then run it empty and re-fill with gasoline and mesure miles per gallon.  

My hypothesis is that the E85 m.p.g. is about 20% lower than the gasoline m.p.g.  But I haven't seen the data.

Car and Driver did this, page 120, July issue:

2007 Chevy Tahoe 4WD LT, 5.3 liter v8:

steady state 30 mpg: E85 17.4 mpg, Gasoline 25.7 mpg
steady state 50 mpg: E85 15.8 mpg, Gasoline 22.9 mpg
steady state 70 mpg: E85 11.4 mpg, Gasoline 16.0 mpg

There is more in that magazine.

Thanks Odograph!  

With E85, we burn about 1.7 more gallons of fuel for every 100 miles travelled!  Who is going to pay for this increased inefficiency?  The tax payers-- twice!  Once by subsidizing ADM et al, and another time for buying the E85!


If Iran is looking at reduced production, they might be taking a leaf out of China's book:
First, ration product, leading to long lines at filling stations.
Second, in response to protests, allow prices to rise, concurrently allowing greater imports (in China's case, the increased imports are crude; for Iran, the increased imports are gasoline because iran does not have sufficient refineries to meet its citizens (growing) demand for product.
Note that in both cases, higher demand is accompanied by higher prices. Coming off rationing always leads to the reverse of standard economics, just as happened in the US in the seventies.
Hello JKissing,

Very interesting theory!  Has a lot of merit.

I have some other ideas to add to the discussion--->>>speculation ahead:

1. I have posted before that it would be proactively advantageous for the long run if an exporting country would detritus Powerdown and biosolar Powerup as much as possible.  The internal conservation jumpstart would allow them to continue highly profitable exports for a much longer timeframe, then use these funds to further leverage biosolar Powerup to the culturely desired new postPeak Paradigm.

Additionally, a highly visible biosolar Powerup program and voluntary pop. control education would shift world moral sentiment to the Iranian side.  Iranian adoption of widespread permaculture and electrified mass-transit, combined with the induced shift away from detritus-powered personal transport and military reductions would prevent the US from attacking; the overwhelming US firepower could never be morally justified against an Iranian world leadership in Paradigm Shift.  This 'outside the box' thinking is the best way to help defuse the Thermo-Gene Collision.

Thus, perhaps Iran's leadership choking of gasoline imports is the initial designed wakeup call for their citizens that a monumental shift in lifestyles and birth rates is beginning.  We will see.

The US govt. blew their chance to do this in 1956 by not immediately jumpstarting the paradigm shift when M. King Hubbert first disclosed his findings.  The price of this denial will be very high for the postPeak US.  Recall my previous post where I suggested that North America should be the world leader in the Paradigm Shift.  Continued detritovore addiction combined with economic plans and military forays to continue importations of 'the fix' will inevitably lead to Thermo-Gene disaster for all.  The big question: does America have the moral will to institute internal 'ring encirclement vaccination' to proactively jumpstart mitigation for a postPeak shift?

2. Alternative scenario:  Perhaps the Iranian leadership fatalistically believes in the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario--->>> the tragic Neocon-designed and media-manipulated alteration of American sentiment to the 'Nuke their Ass-I want Gas' mindset; the business as usual detritovore continuance of our economic plan and military funding for importing ever-increasing FF 'energy slaves' from around the globe.

Thus, the Iranian choking off of gas imports could be designed to help modify their society to induce a widespread streamlining of resource flows to a total war mindset.  American rationing for WWII is a good historical example.  The dominant, radical Muslim forces will be easily able to identify and neutralize those detritovores protesting the gasoline cuts and socially paint them as 'wasteful' traitors to increased defensive militarization.

As the leadership still retains sufficient gasoline imports and internal supplies to power their military and fanatical Revolutionary Guard, any internal chance for political overthrow by dissenting covert political movements is severely mobility limited by rationing.  Then the Persian, dominate Shiite leadership is free to isolate or eliminate any imagined opposition similiar to the unfortunately tragic Japanese-American internment camps of WWII.

This final political consolidation can be further enhanced by creating a reward system of additional ration coupons to those groups most eager to militarily shift, and a punishment system to those most reluctant to join the full-on military transformation.  North Korea is an excellent example of this as it's military thrives while its people starve.  Fostering radical Islamic fundamentalism to it's highest 'suicide bomber' level is then easily achieved: just like Japan had no problem finding WWII kamakazi pilots.  Recall the Iran-Iraq war of the '80s-- horrific kill ratios and total deaths without resorting to suicide bombings.
I would hope Iran would chose #1 and the US and other first world importers would respond with Powerdown too.  But Historians and Geneticists predict an alternate path--Time will Tell.

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

You draw all these conclusions from just one data point?! Okay so Iran has decided to reduce its gasoline imports.  Here are some other data points for you to consider:

  1.  Iran's 420,000 BPD refinery in Abadan (the largest in the world until 1980s) was mostly destroyed during the Iran-Iraq war.  It never returned to its original capacity.

  2.  In order to boost its domestic auto industry, the government started to subsidize gasoline.  This reduced the cost of car ownership and, as planned, raised car ownership.  In fact, the plan worked too well:  creating more drivers and car sales than the infrastructure of cities like Tehran and Isfahan could handle.

  3.  Tehran which sits at the bottom of a mountain range (like Denver), has a major smog problem.  So bad that the city government has implemented even-odd driving days for the city's drivers (license plates that end in even number drive on even days, and vice versa for odd).

  4.  Iran started some oil swaps with the land locked Caspian Sea countries in the late 90s.  Iran gets their crude for its northern refineries (Tabriz and Reyy), and exports an equal amount of its own crude from Persian Gulf terminals.  The switch from Iranian light to high mercaptan crude has cut into the north Iran refinery capacity.

  5.  Iran's need to import gasoline has been political ammunition for all opposition groups in Iran.  Before the revolution, Iran never had to import fuels.

Given all the above, it's no surprise that Ahmadinejad is cutting back on gasoline imports--even if it means short term rations.  There is really nothing sinister about it.


Not to mention that Iran's birth rate already began to decline in the early 90s and is now the lowest in the region.
Iran is very unlike the caricature presented in the western media.
Hello Fire Temple and Smekhovo,

Thxs for responding.  I prefer the term as defined in my original post: speculation, not conclusion.  A "Conclusion" to me requires a higher standard of data from verifiable sources, and a definable thought process of logic to reach a high probability result.

Since my post did not utilize these requirements: that is why I warned readers of 'speculation ahead': essentially a two-prong free-form distillation and analysis of possible trends I could see occurring in the MiddleEast.

But I thank you both for your additional insights into the Iranian situation:  I like to think I am an old dog open to learning new tricks.

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

EIA weekly storage figures are just out:
Crude stocks down 3.4 million barrels
Gasoline stocks down 1 million barrels
Distillate stocks up 1.8 million barrels

This data will be on the net at 1:pm Eastern Time, along with US production for the week as well as imports and price data as of Friday June 23rd at:

Click on "Crude", "Gasoline" or "Distillate" for data on each.

Re: Nigeria
It [MEND] says it aims to bring all of Nigeria's output of 2.4 million barrels a day to a halt unless its demands are met.

"Each step in the history of the Niger Delta struggle has always assumed more sophistication than the previous one," said Oronto Douglas, a human rights lawyer nominated by MEND to mediate with the federal government.

"A total shutdown is a high possibility," he said, adding that triggers could include military reprisals against the militants or electoral fraud in next April's general elections.

Maybe it's time to post on Disruptions in Nigeria again.

The Norwegian blogspot


Recently had a post with excellent diagrams (in English) illustrating the developments in UK natural gas production, net exports, net imports, storage injections and withdrawals based upon data from DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) for the period January 1996 through March 2006.

The diagrams illustrate how UK gradually became a net exporter and through the most recent years again became a net importer of natural gas.

37 - 38 % of the primary energy consumption in UK has been from natural gas in the recent years.

The diagram illustrates how supplies through the recent heating season have been composed from domestic production, storage withdrawals and growing imports.

The most recent data from DTI shows domestic production that continues to decline and growing imports.

Norway supplied most of the imports in 2005, question is if Norway will be able to increase supplies at a rate balancing UK domestic declines until the gas field Ormen Lange starts to flow in the fall of 2007?

Some stats from today's EIA weekly summary:

  • Total Prod Supplied for Domestic Use UP 0.2% to 20.578 Mbpd
  • Total Net Imports UP 3.4%
  • Domestic Production DOWN 7.0%
All numbers YTD 2006 v 2005 (173 days)
Yikes...and there goes the market...DOW down...oil/unleaded gas up...like clockwork.
Due to the oil/gas inventory drops.
Some stats from the Seventies:

1973 Texas oil production UP by 6.3% over 1971.

1973 was the start of the so far terminal decline in Texas oil production.

For all of 2006, on a four week running average basis, total petroleum imports into the US were below the four week runnning average ending 12/30/05--until the week ending 5/26/06.  

Total US petroleum imports, on a four week running average basis have been above the 12/30/05 number since the week ending 5/26/06, but note that the US is not the world.  

According to the EIA, four largest net oil exporters are showing production declines so far this year.  

The four largest producing oil fields are almost certainly declining.  

Again, the US is not the world.  Temporarily high US imports do not mean higher imports everywhere.  IMO, we starting another bidding/demand destruction cycle for declining net oil exports.

Stick to your guns, w.tex!!  You're the only one making sense these days.  Just a little encouragment before you get hammered by the non-believers.
His detractors may have their weapons loaded with belief/wishful thinking, but Westexas has his Big Guns loaded with facts - big difference ;)
We need a graphic of a statistician in a cowboy hat, gun drawn, on a white horse, dust cloud behind him...at least that's my mind's image of westex.

Westex...sorry for the stereotype...I'm from KS originally...so I get all the Oz stereotypes.

His detractors may have their weapons loaded with belief/wishful thinking, but Westexas has his Big Guns loaded with facts - big difference ;)

Well, I am one of his detractors. Detractor is a bit of a loaded word, though. Let's say I have a difference of opinion with respect to the import hypothesis. Imports have been increasing along with refinery capacity. My hypothesis is that imports decreased during the first quarter because so much refinery capacity was taken offline for spring maintenance (more than normal). If the refineries aren't running, they won't be buying oil. If you look at the refinery utilization graphs, and compare that to the import graphs, you will see a compelling correlation.

Furthermore, if imports are increasing because we are outbidding other countries, why has the average price of crude fallen since mid-April when refinery utilization hit the low point? Is this some kind of price war where the price doesn't increase?

Furthermore, you have the Saudis telling the world that they have oil for sale. Any oil trader for any major oil company can pick up the phone and confirm or deny that claim. It may be impossible to verify their oil reserves, but it would be a trivial matter to confirm that they have oil for sale. Too trivial to be able to lie about that and get away with it.

So, my comments have nothing to do with belief or wishful thinking. They are based on my honest assessment of the situation. I won't be surprised to see imports start to drop off in the near future, because I think demand is starting to slip. But I don't subscribe to the hypothesis that it will be because Saudi production is already in decline. At least not yet.


I appreciate your contributions, but feel that you are missing the forest for the trees.  We each make our own assesments, and IMO you choose to weigh your personal experience and insider information more than the geological realities reported so regularly by Westexas.  That's fine, maybe you're right and the peak is still a couple years off, but I don't think so.  :)-
We each make our own assesments, and IMO you choose to weigh your personal experience and insider information more than the geological realities reported so regularly by Westexas.

No, you misunderstand. I don't deny geological realities. I agree that Saudi will peak, and maybe very soon. I agree with the sentiments from Twilight in the Desert. I think Simmons makes a compelling case. I just disagree that the current round of falling exports are evidence that the peak is here. My theory is that falling exports are explained by other factors, and I believe the data support my position.

Like WT said, we have debated this issue already (recently), so there is no point in doing so again. But I will point out one thing. An important factor in hypothesis testing is the falsification test. You have to ask yourself what piece of data might falsify the hypothesis. If falling imports and rising prices are used as support for a theory, I would expect that rising imports and falling or stagnant prices might be evidence against a theory. If not, it is not at all clear to me what would qualify as evidence against the hypothesis. In fact, we can come to completely different conclusions if we arbitrarily look at different time frames.


Robert, I don't think the changes in imports are yet large enough or long enough to really separate noise from signal. We know that the real world is extremely noisy regarding data so a few months of what you point out could have no meaning at all (or could have very profound meaning). I think we need longer term trends to validate either your position or westexas position. A price change from April to now of a few dollars is literally just noise so far. If the trend continues for 6-12 months, then I might sit up and take notice. But a few bucks and 2 months? Not yet.
But what about the imports themselves? From December 30th through mid-April, imports were down 9% (as refinery utilization fell by 4%). From mid-April through mid-June, imports are up 15% (as refinery utilization rose from 86% to 93%). From December 30th through mid-June, imports are up 5% (and refinery utilization is up 4%). Just noise? Why or why not? At what point does the noise become significant (to you)? That noise argument works both ways, you know. There are many variables at play here. We have to consider as many as we can before jumping to conclusions.

As for price, it increased from mid-December to mid-April, and then fell slightly from mid-April to mid-June. Overall, it is up since December, but let's not forget the geopolitical events that took place during that time. Nigerian troubles were not even on the radar until January or February, and the leader of Iran wasn't making too much noise prior to the beginning of 2006.

Time will tell, but I think this situation is going to be blurry for some time. I think demand is starting to soften, and we are just about at the peak of summer driving season. I wouldn't be surprised to see imports start to turn down soon, unless there is a supply disruption somewhere. Production may continue in a plateau for a bit longer, but as demand picks back up I predict production will pick back up. At least for a little while longer.

Peak is coming. I acknowledge that. And we definitely need to be preparing for it yesterday. I just disagree that this is it. And I disagree that we can call it yet, even if this does happen to be it. I agree with those who say that we will only know in hindsight when the peak occurred.


Not to get involved in this too much, but we are really trying to talk about exports (from Saudi, Russia, etc) not imports. We are only looking at import numbers as surrogates for the export data. This will only work if we have the collected import data from all importing nations specified by source (which we don't). It would be better and more direct to just examine export statistics for the countries in question. My problem is I haven't found a good way to get what should be these simple numbers for the 3 or 4 nations in question. Can anyone point how to find them?

I'm not taking a position on cause of the production drops yet, I find them confusing more than anything, and am wanting more appropriate data to look at.

I agree with what you are saying here. Contrary to any theories that are being put forth here, the only data I have been able to gather on global exports shows that they are increasing. Admittedly, this data is far from current, but what else can we use? If China and India(and others) are going to be using more oil, then this additional oil is basically going to be exported from somewhere else. This is the paradox of the peak-export theory. Or rather the flaw.
"Contrary to any theories that are being put forth here, the only data I have been able to gather on global exports shows that they are increasing."

We don't need any theories--what about the fact the EIA reports showing that the production from the top four net oil exporters is down so far this year?

What about the fact that four largest oil fields in the world are almost certainly declining?

This has nothing to do with my comment.

As far as your points on the top four exporters and the four largest fields, I have repeatedly addressed these issues in this forum and will continue to do so.

The top four exporters are not the only exporters. The four largest fields are not the only fields, and are in fact only 4 of the largest 116 fields.

I would gladly discuss these issues but only in the context of  a complete set of data. Otherwise it is just cherry picking.

If we don't need theories, especially ones unsupported by any hard data, then let's stop throwing them around.

If we are going to talk facts, let's talk facts. I count 17 significant exporters. Of the top four, only Norway can be considered in verifiable decline. As far as available data on exports, from 2002 to 2003, Saudi Arabia increased it's share of global exports from 9.3% to 10.5%. In 2003, SA produced 8358 mmbpd. Today they produce 9000 mmbpd. The story is much the same for Russia. For Iran these numbers are flat.  

We can go through the other 13 countries anytime. The EIA should be updating its numbers in the next month, at which time we will have another year of data and a clearer picture of the facts. In the meantime, I'd like to continue to avoid reliance on anecdotal information and certain convenient data which is overused to advance certain already-formed points of view.

I would add Mexico to the list of decliners since 2003, but it has been very gradual. The question of rate of Mexican decline from now is still open, but this is of course a very significant exporter, especially to the US.

I think you underestimate the significance of the "Big 4" fields, as by themselves they account for over 11% of the total world oil/liquids supply and are only now going into decline. This means all the depletion rate calculations based on historical numbers do not include the impact of these fields, which will be in addition to what we have seen till now. I personally think this is a really big deal, but we can't know how big until the numbers going forward establish a pattern. I don't think 11% of the world supply is "cherry picking."

I agree. But we have to be careful how we view things. We are not really talking about 11%, we are talking about the percent change in that 11% and how it compares to the percent change in the other 89%.

My personal belief is that we are in the midst of a world-changing crisis. But this doesn't change the fact that I am on the fence as far as how it will play out and how severe it will be. I'll leave that to all the people here with crystal balls. I can't afford one. So I have to settle for pinning down the facts and filtering out the nonsense.

Look at the MEES data posted earlier. That is how this discussion started, I think. Yet the discussion ends with EIA data. I'm sure the MEES data is very good...or very bad. One thing I do know is that 80% doesn't match the same data from the EIA. Who do you believe? Which is more correct? Or are they both fantasy? Is there some way to get an accurate account from two somewhat contradictory sets of data?

I am also sure that there are those who will choose whichever data for whichever country for whatever time period that specifically advances their argument. That is cherry-picking.

I think the problem is that the ambiguity and incompleteness of data allows people to read almost anything into it. Just like the bible, one can find passages to support nearly any perspective (hope I'm not stepping on toes here).

While I personally tend to believe we are very near or at peak, I do pay attention to the arguments of Freddy Hutter, who points out how wrong peak oilers have been in the past. No one has the whole story. We also know the best experts have been wrong with even the best data.

My hope is that we have enough of a shock that we take serious action and work hard to get a clearer view of reality, but not so severe that we see the kind of suffering some are projecting.

I agree completely. I would also like to add that I pay attention to the arguments of everybody here.
"My personal belief is that we are in the midst of a world-changing crisis. But this doesn't change the fact that I am on the fence as far as how it will play out and how severe it will be."

Well put. I think this is the position of a fairly large number of commenters here. I support your effort to probe in the dark for evidence-based indications of where we may be headed.

It is far to easy to leap at every data point and see it as more irrefutable evidence of a future path that we are already convinced will happen. This applies to cornocopeans as well as doomers - but there are really not any actual cornocopeans at TOD

And I support your efforts as well.
There did used to be. Most eventually became fence sitters, or technocornicopians, or doomers, or some variation/flavor there of.
As discussed in anthropology, those who could not adapt to new external stimuli (in this case the sheer body of evidence against  faith based cornucopian solutions) left TOD, and journeyed elsewhere. Former TOD posters 'fuelaholic' and 'Keithster100' come to mind.
"The top four exporters are not the only exporters. The four largest fields are not the only fields, and are in fact only 4 of the largest 116 fields."

Based on an analysis of the HL plots that Khebab did, I predicted, in January, that we were on the verge of severe net oil export crisis.  Since then, oil prices are up 15% to 25%.  World crude + condensate production is down 1%, and the EIA reports that the production by all four of the top net exporters is down, while oil prices are up.

What do you make of SA saying that they refuse to discount ("leave money on the table")?

They seem to be saying that they like the current price, and don't want to bring prices down with their new surplus.

That's a change of policy...

In my opinion, they are afraid to take actions that might start a price war, and ultimately cost themselves billions of dollars. They are sitting on a finite resource. I don't blame them for not discounting.


I suppose I don't either.  But, that's an enormous change of policy.

They say the don't like current prices, and that they want them lower.  Historically they've been the voice of moderation, using their swing capacity to keep prices within reason.

These prices are making alternatives feasible.  Every month more R&D goes into batteries, and we get closer to the point where cheap, effective batteries make gasoline transportation obsolete.

Have they just gotten greedy?

We're no closer to that point than to pigs flying.
Do you have a specific reason for saying that?  Are you familiar with the A123systems batteries?  Or the Toshiba?
As an RC enthusiast, I've both familiar with the A123 system, and less than impressed by it.  But rather than take my word for it, allow me to quote from respected electrical engineer and RC Battery Clinic owner C. L. "Red" Scholefield:

"The people I talked to at A123 gave me the impression that
they were clueless regarding any of the performance parameters I asked about.
Dewalt is supposed to release a set up cordless tools based on this battery this quarter?
What a joke!
Indications are that the A123 batteries being produced in China by BAK for Dewalt are not even close to production levels required to support the DeWalt program. DeWalt has been suckered on this one, unless they have a backup plan for another vendor.
Good article on Chinese "battery ventures" in March issue of Fortune magazine. It appears they are not immune to being scammed by battery technology con artists in the good old USA."

Also, even though A123 Systems hyped a spec on the battery technology stating it was able to regain 90% of its charge in 5 minutes, the charger DEWALT is producing for its new line of tools is a 1 hour charger.  Go figure.

At the same time, don't get me wrong, I'd personally LOVE an affordable and capable EV in the mold of the cancelled, repossessed, and crushed GM EV-1 from a few years back, or even the 1999 Ford electric Ranger p/u.

But at a manufacturing cost of $120K each (EV-1), EV vehicles of this capability are going to have to become significantly more affordable before they end up in the driveways of more than a handful of people. Similarly, new offerings with modernized (LiMn2O4) technology like the TEPCO/Fuji Heavy Industries R1 minicar just are not going to generate much of a stir in the US.

"at a manufacturing cost of $120K each (EV-1)"

I have heard GM people say that the EV-1 cost 2-3 times a normal production vehicle, but I don't get it.  I can understand that the EV-1 had very high R&D costs, but on the one hand they were mosly paid for by the federal gov (about $850M of the $1B, as I understand it), and on the other that's not a production cost.

EV's should be much cheaper to produce than ICE vehicles.  They have many fewer parts - no carburetor, muffler, fuel system, etc.  Just batteries, controls, and electric motors.  I understand that the batteries were expensive, but that expensive?  They were nothing exotic, just lead-acid, at least in the 1st gen EV-1.

Have you ever seen calculations that show where the EV-1 costs came from??

Small volumes.  No economies of scale or optimized production processes.  Too much speciality work & pieces.

Build 232,000/year for a minumum 5 year production run and costs will drop "significantly".

Really!?!  Do you have specific knowledge, or is that an educated guess?  I mean, that seems to entirely make sense, and as I think about it I don't really think that there is a reasonable possibility of any other explanation for high costs, but...it means that GM is being totally dishonest when it says the EV-1 was too expensive.


Decades old knowledge of automotive economics.  

Why did GM stop making rear wheel drive cars ?  Despite existing designs, tooling , production lines and Ford kept making their full size "Crown Victoria" ?  Because there was enough market for one but not two makers (police cars being a high % of the market).  Below 100,000 cars/year, not economic even with existing designs, tooling, etc.

Speciality cars (Porsche, Ferrarri, Plymouth "Prowler", etc.) cannot be cost justified with their small production volumes without a significant price premium; even when they use lots of "bits & pieces" from high volume production cars.

The lotus elise is low production, complicated, and only costs $42,990 (msrp).


(it also gets 24 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, with a 4.9 sec 0-60 ... so even speed freaks could adopt a more fuel efficient, carbon efficient, lifestyle)

... only costs $42,990

Lotus has been making low volume speciality cars for decades (see also Morgan) and has the systems & suppliers are set up to build them efficiently.  

The EV-1 was a "one off" with a several months production run by GM, and there was probably not a lot of pressure to keep costs down so GM could show a quarterly profit. (Two production runs of 660 & 457 cars).

If a speciality car maker (Lotus would not be a bad choice) got a low cost license for the EV-1 and could be assured of selling 3 to 5,000/year; I suspect that they could do so for $43,000 or a bit less.

Some of the Lotus designs could be extensively modified and, with high tech batteries, make decent EVs IMHO.

I couldn't find any info about A123systems on the RC Battery website. Did Red say anything besides that he had a frustrating time trying to get info from them?  Did he say who he talked to? That's discouraging, but we don't seem to have anything specific yet.  

Your understanding is that BAK is not able to produce the volume needed by Dewalt?  Do you have more info, or a source? Amazon says that they have them in stock and ready to ship.

I couldn't find anything on the Fortune web site about either the article you mentioned or anything about BAK.  Can you give me a URL?

Would you really expect faster than 1 hour charging from a 110V outlet??

I am a little perplexed that neither Robert nor Westexas has commented on the fact that last year Saudi Arabia increased the water injection in Ghawar from 7 million barrels per day to 9.5 million barrels per day. This is over a 35 percent increase in water injection. Over two barrels of water is now being injected for every one barrel of oil recovered. Is this not a clear indication that the reservoir is in its final throws? If not, does it mean anything concerning the state of the reservoir?

See column 1 of page 4 of the above URL for details of this increase in water injection plant increase.

P.S. If either of you did comment on this and I missed it, please forgive this oversight on my part.

I am a little perplexed that neither Robert nor Westexas has commented on the fact that last year Saudi Arabia increased the water injection in Ghawar from 7 million barrels per day to 9.5 million barrels per day.

I haven't commented on it, because it is not relevant to the point I am making.


so does that mean your ignoring it because it damages your belief?
If you don't understand my argument, please cease wasting my time.


Better yet, why don't you explain exactly why it would be relevant to my point? I have also not addressed the Big Bang, relativity, or photosynthesis. Do you think this is because doing so might "damage my beliefs"? No, I haven't addressed them because they have nothing to do with the argument I am making - which you apparently don't understand.


looks like i hit a nerve.
i would think you would not ignore data because it isn't going along with your conclusions.
your belief from what i have read is that exports are increasing and the price is solely because of other market forces then supply and demand.
Saudi Arabia uses water injection to recover oil from their main Field so any increase in the amount of water they use means they are having a decline in the amount of oil they are getting out of the Field.
this of course flies in the face of your theory so you ignore it by not calling it irrelevant.
damn that should be relevant and not irrelevant
looks like i hit a nerve.

No. It is just that this is the second time you misjudged me, and insulted me in the process.

i would think you would not ignore data because it isn't going along with your conclusions.

Well, that would be correct. I wouldn't ignore data just because it doesn't go along with my conclusions. But in your reply above, you implied that I was ignoring this because it damaged my beliefs. Frankly, that's offensive, and doesn't show very good comprehension of the argument I have made.

The water cut from Saudi is not relevant at all to my point. An increasing water cut, by itself, does not mean that their production is decreasing. So, your point fails right there. It would mean that if the total flow rate was constant, but you don't know that, do you? No, you made an unwarranted assumption, which is your problem.

My point is that there are other, sound explanations for the decreasing imports. Mainly, refineries were being taken offline for spring maintenance. Can you rebut that? Can you explain why imports have rebounded nicely as refineries came back online, even as the price has slightly declined? What do you have to offer here, other than misunderstanding my argument, and sniping based on your misunderstanding?

this of course flies in the face of your theory so you ignore it by not calling it irrelevant.

It doesn't fly in the face of my theory. It is irrelevant, just as I originally stated. You made an unwarranted assumption in an attempt to make it relevant. In the future, please don't insult me based on your mistaken notions.


Guys, simmer down.

Robert, as a disinterested and objective third party I did not read any insult into TK's posts, in any shape, fashion, or form.  Try not to be so (over?)sensitive.
TK's question was not necessarily related to your point, but that does not necessarily automatically make it moot.

TrueKaiser, on the flip side Robert is under no obligation to answer unrelated questions. Certainly calling him personally to task as to such is counterproductive or potentially arguementative at best, although you question remains valid and you have a good point regarding increasing water injection volumes for identical (not falling?) production levels.  
Personally, I agree that this is indicative of dimenishing marginal returns (more effort for the same or less return) on the part of depleting SA wells.

Robert, as a disinterested and objective third party I did not read any insult into TK's posts, in any shape, fashion, or form.  Try not to be so (over?)sensitive.
TK's question was not necessarily related to your point, but that does not necessarily automatically make it moot.

The question was not relevant to my point, unless one makes some unwarranted conclusion-jumping (First, that an increasing water cut automatically means less production, and second, that an increasing water cut in a field means decreasing production for a whole country). Then, after making those unwarranted jumps, to suggest that I would ignore an argument because it "damages my beliefs" is highly insulting.

And, just so you know, this is not the first time this has happened. After he read my essay on biodiesel, his response was essentially "Oh, so you are one of those people who believe we can continue our happy motoring ways and that technology is going to save us. Glad to know that so I can attribute the appropriate credibility to your posts." Given my position, and that arguments I have made that we must conserve, that is also pretty insulting. It is a complete misreading of my position, but he never backed off of his initial snap-judgement even after I clearly explained my position. So, in short it is not the first time he has (wrongly) snap-judged me, while insulting me in the process.


>the fact that last year Saudi Arabia increased the water injection in Ghawar from 7 million barrels per day to 9.5 million barrels per day

The article says that SA increasing there filter capacity from about 7 mb/d to 9.5 mb/d but it doesn't say which field the water will be used for. Its likely that the increased capacity was for other adjacent fields. For instance below is text about a company installing 900 km of pipe from the "Qurayyah Seawater Treatment" to Khurais field


"...cover the installation of more than 900 kilometers of steel pipe from the Qurayyah seawater treatment plant to Khurais"



"The Estimated US $750 million package is aimed at the reinjection of 2 million barrels a day (b/d) of treated seawater into the Khurais, Abu Jifan and Mazalij fields to support the production of Arabian Light crude"

Assuming the 2 mb/d figure is correct, that at most 500 kb/d might be used for Ghawar. We also don't know if they are building excess water treatment capacity for future use.

I'm pretty sure that Robert and I don't have the endurance/time for another endless debate, but as I noted last week, I'm not building my case based on a few weeks of import/export data.

I predicted in January (based on Khebab's excellent graphs), that we were on the verge of a severe net oil export crisis.

Since January, the EIA is showing production from the top four net oil exporters to be down from late 2005.  

Since January, we have seen a 15% to 25% increase in oil prices.

According the Matt Simmons (based on comparisons to comparable reservoirs), the best case is that Ghawar has produced about 78% of its URR, i.e., about 35% of original oil in place.   The other three largest producing fields are declining.  IMO, Ghawar is also declining.  

The critical point about Ghawar is that the remaining oil is between the water leg and an emerging secondary gas cap.   From this point on, high production rates = lower ultimate recovery.   Permeability relative to water and permeability relative to gas are higher than permeability relative to oil, so the harder that they suck the oil out, the more likely it is that water and gas will bypass the oil.

Exporters production may be dropping both because of geological limitations and softening of demand. At these prices I can speculate that some countries have found a way to shave off a few percent of their consumption.

The bottom line is that peak exports may indeed be around the corner but the demand flexibility may be higher then you expect. Therefore the term "crisis" might be too strong for what is about to follow in the medium term (say in about 5 years).

Ghawar Assumptions:

Original Oil in Place:  Approx. 170 Gb

Cum. Production to Date:  Approx. 60 Gb

Current Recovery Factor:  35%

Recovery Factor (Retired Aramco Exec.):  No more than 41%
(Source:   Simmons)

Best Case Recovery Factor:  45%
(Source:  Simmons)

As noted above, the remaining oil is not spread uniformly through the structure;  it is in a rapidly thinning oil column between a rising water leg and an expanding secondary gas cap--same situation as Cantarell.

Note that Ghawar produces light, sweet crude.   If Ghawar is declining, the world's largest source of light, sweet is declining, and the world's largest source of heavy, sour (Cantarell) is also declining.

"The Peak of Light Sweet Crude?"


"Famous flavors of light sweet crude include West Texas Intermediate, Brent oil from the North Sea, and of course the output of Ghawar in Saudi Arabia."

Good 2005 EB Article


Published on 13 Mar 2005 by Axis of Logic

Archived on 14 Mar 2005.
by Julian Jackson


High technology extraction is dangerous: if you extract oil from a field too fast, you damage it, causing dramatic declines such as seen recently in the North Sea (up to 9% per year instead of the expected 3% norm). Energy Banker Matthew Simmons stated: "The faster you pull a reservoir, the faster you pull out all of the easy-to-produce oil. What happens is that you lose massive amounts of what the oil industry calls `oil-left-behind' still inside the field." (20 February, 2005)

If this is so, why don't they say so? Probably because they are unstable régimes with booming populations, like Saudi Arabia, and fear that if they told the truth the US might invade them to grab the remaining oil. Or their people might revolt if they found out that their already declining standard of living was about to drop further.

If we have hit the structural production peak of oil worldwide, then the trajectory of prices will be relentlessly upward, with only temporary respites. The spokesmen will blather on about `terrorism' or `refinery fires', but the prices will tell the real story. If the increasing prices start a recession that reduces demand, there will be another temporary `respite' as production continues a relentless decline after we have gone over the peak.

"Oil prices will rise through 2008 and stay high thereafter as demand increases and concern mounts that global production is nearing its peak," according to analysts at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (March 8, 2005)

When Lehman Brothers admits oil is peaking on Bloomberg, its time to fasten your seatbelts. The ride is going to be rocky..

What makes it worse is that these statements were made over a year ago and I'd be curious to ask that same Analyst how he feels a year later.  Not that his mind changed, but the financial impact becomes clearer as we get closer.  This is gonna be baaaaaad.
Well, though I believe liquid fossil fuel production has essentially peaked, there are a few other perspectives to also keep in mind.

One that strikes me is that for the first time since the 1970s, the price of oil is leading to concrete plans to move away from crude oil as a source of energy in transportation.

In some countries more than others, and obviously with a number of problems, including the fact that there is no way to use the annual sunlight captured in plant material to fuel our current petroleum based mobile lifestyles. But this time, the people who would benefit most from stopping such developments seem unable to use price as a barrier to finding alternative - this time, it is beginning to look like sink or swim, and not market manipulation in any sense, in my basic belief.

There may be other reasons for this continuing high price than starting to slide down the slope - dollar inflation/American debt dynamics, for example.

A serious world wide depression is likely to have a very serious impact on oil prices - though I am less certain that demand destruction in terms of people being priced out of the market will actually outrun supply destruction - that is, the physical amount of oil available will not be adequate to the demand that exists (for example, to keep an economy functioning at a level where massive social unrest/disintegration leading to starvation does not occur), even in a depression of massive proportions. After all, if Saudi Arabia collapses in any of a couple of ways, there will be no effective way to compensate in the short term - the market will be replaced by survival considerations.

But at this point, most of the effort directed towards the future seems to be oriented to finding substitutes for what is becoming increasinly difficult to obtain. This is likely to be the dynamic for the next couple of decades, even if most people appear to have a very difficult time accepting it.

And this is where I agree with the idea that depletion is not only inevitable, but somehow incomprehensible until years of experience settle in - that is, after peak, the slope is downhill regardless of what you believe and what you do.

I am somewhat less convinced about the export thesis, though. Moving up the value added chain? Sure - a refinery in an exporting country means more profit for the exporter of value added fuels. But countries like Saudi Arabia or Russia have different dynamics than pure internal/external fuel use - neither country seems to be primarily market driven (well, depending on your view of Putin's Greater Russia dreams and the House of Saud's religious constraints/beliefs), and neither country is likely to use Western market thinking as the basis for their actions.

With the Nigerian situation not improving, a hurricane season which is not encouraging, and what seems to be increasingly clear to be bald faced lying by people in various oil producing capacities, I think the next couple of years are going to look very surprising in retrospect to people who have been lulled by decades of adequate liquid fuel supply.

"I am somewhat less convinced about the export thesis, though"

IMO, the major driver of declining net exports will be declining production, but I think rising consumption will still be a significant factor in exporting countries, because of rising torrents of cash flow--as oil prices go up faster than production drops.   Consider the party land that was Texas in the Seventies, as oil prices went up by 1,000%, and as production dropped.  I think that the largest Rolls Royce dealership in the world was in Midland, Texas.  At the biggest bank in Midland, it took two officers to say no to a loan request. Reportedly, one officer could not turn down a loan without the concurrence of another officer.

Interesting point, though I am not quite sure how that balances - the money pouring in is from selling crude, which would seem to be self-limiting in one sense - the less crude sold, the less money pouring in - though obviously, rising prices with less crude on the market could balance it.

I tend to be a bit more Russia oriented than Saudi Arabia oriented, living in Europe. I think Russia is the best case of a country likely to restrict exports voluntarily, for a number of reasons -

  1. Power - some thing never change, and oil/gas as a weapon is an old Cold War theme
  2. Self-interest - the Russians would like their own industries, not merely be consumers of other people's goods
  3. A very tight power structure - the interests of the powerful/rich are truly the only interests that count in Russia, apart from ensuring that Russia is not destroyed - in the sense of national preservation, Russians are very unified.
  4. They can - the Russians may have come down in the world, but no one doubts their ability to defend their own interests

I don't see Saudi Arabia the same way - they need to balance a number of conflicting interests, including the fact that if they ever lose their balance among a number of interest groups (Muslims concerned about the holy cities, Americans concerned about holy SUVs, Iran interested in expanding in the region, etc.), they will dissolve. Basically, the Saudis aren't really in as much control as it would seem.

I do agree that producing lands are less likely to export as they reap the wealth flowing from crude, it is just that I don't think it will be a very major factor. On the other hand, in a market with decreasing quantities, all factors can be considered major (or magnified), and the thesis of declining exports is the sort of reason to read TOD - the idea would never have occurred to me at all.

It will be interesting to see if it will actually be able to tell decline rates apart from internal use - quite honestly, I think getting trustworthy numbers will be difficult to impossible.

I do think the best test case would be Russia - the Norwegians are simply too few in number to be noticeable, I would think - apart from moving up the value added chain. Both Mexico and Canada are not really in a position to restrict exports - in the case of Mexico, not merely because of NAFTA, but because of very real approaching physical limits.

I also can't seriously see any current African producer being in a position to actually use their oil - they are simply too weak, and someone will take it unless the facilities are threatened/destroyed.

In a way, depending on how things run in the next few years, we may see the greatest brake on exports is destruction of infrastructure - a scary thought. For example, country X supports a rebel movement which destroys enough infrastructure in country Y to halt exports, with the intention of restoring exports to country X a decade later - under their control. Of course, this game can be played by anyone, because it is so truly cheap to deal yourself in at the destruction level - a few hundred AK-47s and RPG-7s, local talent, and some cash - you can even imagine companies getting into this game.

A very self-destructive cycle, and one less likely than increasing internal use from exporters - but also plausible. Worse, what a way to get rich cheap - company A pays 'rebel group' B to put a couple of grenades into a pumping station somewhere, shuts down the pipeline for a couple of weeks for 'repairs' and sits back and watches the price of oil rise a few dollars - total cost could be less than $100,000, which is nicely balanced in a couple of days by increases in the millions plus range. Of course, it could be considered insurance fraud, and if the people involved on the company side got caught, they would be punished, but placing a few bets on a sure thing price rise would be tempting to some.

Hello Expat,

Very thought-provoking post.  In regards to the last paragraph:

Wantonly destroying FF infrastructure for future economic gain or to hoard supplies is what I have previously labeled as 'detrito-terrorists':  during last winter's Russia-Ukraine gas crisis a pipeline was blown up in Georgia [from memory] towards this end.

'eco-terrorists' obviously hate the environmental effects from our addiction.  At some future inflection point, I expect them to attack the oil sands or oil shale industries like the poor tribal Nigerians.

But I give you full credit for the concept of legal corporations or NYMEX traders paying for FF explosions.  Have you thought of a name to describe this kind of activity?  Perhaps ENRON-terrorists, or alleged BP-terrorists might fit the bill [full credit to TODer Greyzone for breaking this story here on TOD]:


Your Quote: "In a way, depending on how things run in the next few years, we may see the greatest brake on exports is destruction of infrastructure - a scary thought."

There is a famous saying among Arabs that has been popular for a number of years, which goes: `My father rode a camel.  I drive a car.  My son flies an airplane.  His son will ride a camel.'

I would hope that the Saudis and other Middle Eastern Arab rulers really believe this and jumpstart an internal Powerdown.  I claim no Saudi cultural expertise at all, but this would be the best way to continue exports to fund a huge biosolar Powerup and a gradual postPeak return to traditional camel-based culture.  The sending home of all the foreign workers would also decrease internal energy requirements and create millions of jobs for the young Saudis so that they would not riot or attack the FF infrastructure.

But maybe they are just as addicted to detritus energy as we are.

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

   I had been wondering about what to call such 'terrorists,' and something in connection with Enron immediately leapt to mind.

There is a strange historical blip to see how this can be done without any actual destruction - in the earlier 90s, there was a reported explosion in a Japanese factory which produced material (resin, I believe) critical for RAM memory chips. The price of such memory chips exploded, and that was the given reason - what is interesting, there has never apparently been any real proof that this fire/explosion occurred.

Please do note that anyone starting such a destruction cycle will essentially be blowing down a house of cards. Destroying infrastructure to deny your opponents resources is an old trick, of course. One reason it isn't really used is that it is so easy for anyone to practice.

That is what made the idea of bumping up a market price intriguing - theoretically, there is no opponent willing to do the same in turn. From an Enron type view, a win-win proposition - after all, grandmothers are always a reliable source of revenue in an Enron world.

Hello expat,

Very good example--makes one wonder just how often price-fixing really occurs across all industries in our internationalized world.  

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

yea but are they strong enough to penetrate their 'reality distortion field'(tm)
I have updated my graphs:

Weekly Petroleum Status Report

  • Gasoline consumption has increased and is close to the observed average for this time of the year
  • Refinery utilization has increased but is still below average
  • Crude and gas stock coverage have decreased
Thank you again, Khebab. Love the graphs, they speak volumes.
Gas Prices in Western Michigan, USA are jumping from $ 2.89 to $ 3.09 today.


Yep...KC, MO went from $2.69 to $2.79 overnight.  Just in time for the 4th.
Good time for a thread on Chinese oil consumption, throttled last year because of price controls, but now consumers are somewhat freer to buy what they want, albeit at higher prices. The link (from peakoil) shows crude imports up 20% and crude exports down 48% over last year.


Iran running one year behind china, about to ration gasoline to its suffering citizens. Protests from this action will subsequently justify price increases and higher supplies/consumption.

All of this latest round of news and suddenly I hear the Mortal Combat theme song in my head.

Oil fisticuffs ahead

To elaborate on the "Mortal Combat"

...(My son loves this song playing as he bashes himself around the house against the couch pretending to be doing battle with some invisible force...my wife just shakes her head and doesn't understand what is wrong with the male species LOL)

So I have this song in my head often :-/


* and . . . Chinese car sales up over 30% (from the Energy Bulletin)*


China Association of Automobile Manufactures released statistics showing that in the first five months China's automobile output and sales hit a record high to 3.53 million units and 2.9743 million units respectively, an increase of 31.77 % and 30.84% over the same period of last year respectively.

The increase would be higher but they are rationing license plates (currently the plates cost about $4100 US)http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-05/25/content_333681.htm
Yikes.  Bub-bye icecaps.
I see reference to Saudi heavy oil, sour, etc. I also see that most of Venezuela's reserves (Orinoco) are heavy. Maybe someone can explain to me the differences here: between heavy and sour, between the Saudi heavy and the Venezuelan heavy, etc. I understand (or think I understand) shale, tar sands and those distinctions.

Also, how much bigger a deal is it to refine the heavier stuff? Is it simply a matter of existing refinery capacity not being geared up for it, or is it inherently more expensive, etc?

Thanks in advance for any help.

I tried to explain some of the differences here . As oil gets heavier it loses, in percentage, the lighter hydrocarbon components, and to get those (such as gasoline) the heavier fractions have to be cracked (heated until they break down). Sour crudes contain sulfur that has to be removed, and which is becoming a world glut, since more and more is being produced and stored.

The Venezuelan heavies are more towards the oil sands and thus have less light fractions than the Saudi.

If sulfur gets cheap enough, or if its storage becomes a big enough of a pain, it could go into sulfur concrete.  This stuff is stronger and more durable than Portland cement based concrete.
Things are starting to get a bit more tense in the Middle East....

Israeli warplanes buzz Syrian president


Putin orders forces to destroy hostage killers: Russian special services told to strike militants who killed 4 workers in Iraq


CNN now reporting: Syria says its air defenses fired at Israeli jets flying over the president's house, forcing them to flee, The Associated Press reports.

Umm...does anyone see this thing kinda spreading out further from just the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?  Let's see...who backs Israel?   Who backs the Palestinians?  

As Jim Kunstler said, history usually does not repeat, but it may rhyme (perhaps quoting someone else).  

For those of us old enough to remember, we may be replaying the Seventies, but imagine if the Seventies never ended. . .

I clearly remember waking up one morning and my father telling me that we were on the verge of war with the Soviet Union--during the 1973 Arab/Israeli war (and Arab Embargo).  

(A historical footnote: there were previous attempts at embargoes during the prior Arab/Israeli wars, but Texas flooded the oil markets.  In 1973, Texas had started declining, and we had no excess capacity.)

In any case, Israel had the Egyptian Third Army surrounded, threatening to destroy them.  Soviet Premier Brezhnev asked Nixon to support a joint Soviet/American effort to end the war.  If the US did not join them, the Soviet Union would unilaterally move in to the Middle East to stop the war.

Nixon responded with a worldwide military alert--in effect threatening nuclear retaliation against the Soviet Union.   In any case, Kissinger was able to work out a deal to forestall World War III.   The "Saturday Night Massacre" occurred at the same time as the confrontation with the Soviet Union.  Interesting Times.

But here we are again.  Oil problems.  A brewing Arab/Israeli problem.  And a Nixon clone in the White House (which may be somewhat unfair to Nixon).

This is all from memory, so it may not be 100% accurate.

I'd say it's unfair to Nixon. He was unscrupulous but he was also a brilliant politician. The guy in the White House now may mirror him in being unscrupulous but brilliant he is not. ;)
In all seriousness this is making nervous with these guys.  Many conflicts, if not most, have been fought over religion.  It's rooted deep in history and it won't go away.  To be honest, the US created the current Isreal problem when they kicked out the Muslims and made room for them.  They haven't stopped bitching at each other since and it's rooted in the foundations of both countries, well only one is recognized.  Who's to say this doesn't bring out the alliances and escalate as the price of oil follows lockstep.  Crazier stuff has happened.
Oil rises over $72 as US inventories drop

http://futures.fxstreet.com/Futures/news/afx/singleNew.asp?menu=economicnews&pv_noticia=MTFH6337 4_2006-06-28_19-23-17_SP55616

Prices also drew strength from closure of a key shipping channel in Louisiana, which limited output at three refineries ahead of the July 4 Independence Day holiday when travel is expected to be busier than ever.

"The shipping problems in Louisiana are supportive," said Mike Wittner of investment bank Calyon. "We're just ahead of the July 4th weekend, so every bit of gasoline output counts."


The U.S. government has agreed to lend 750,000 barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to refineries owned by Citgo Petroleum Corp. and ConocoPhillips <COP.N> located near Lake Charles, Louisiana which have had supplies reduced because of the shipping problems.

The Department of Energy approved a 250,000-barrel loan emergency crude stockpiles for Citgo's 440,000 barrel per day (bpd) Lake Charles refinery.

The plant has been cut off from new crude supplies after the Calcasieu Ship Channel was shut on June 21 because of an oil spill from Citgo's terminal facility. Citgo said the refinery's output was slightly reduced because of the closure.

ConocoPhillips also requested on Tuesday a 500,000-barrel loan for its 225,000-bpd refinery in Lake Charles.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday about nine miles of the channel had reopened and about 11 miles remained closed.

The disruptions come just ahead of July 4 when peak summer travel in the United States is expected to increase despite high fuel prices, automobile group AAA said on Tuesday.

"That the economy is still doing OK and that the Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday makes it attractive for a lot of people to be vacationing," said Mantill Williams, the AAA's director of public affairs.

You know...I'm just not buying this crap that gas prices are almost back up to Katrina levels and we are tapping the SPR because there is an oil spill in a shipping lane.  This is ANOTHER lame ass story coming out to try to explain things that aren't adding up.

You know...I'm just not buying this crap that gas prices are almost back up to Katrina levels and we are tapping the SPR because there is an oil spill in a shipping lane.  This is ANOTHER lame ass story coming out to try to explain things that aren't adding up.

Trust me, the spill happened. I have been getting steady updates on it for several days. It has stopped tankers from being able to make deliveries.


I'm not denying it happened, just that the spill doesn't explain the run up in oil/gasoline prices in the last few days.  I guess the proof on this point would be to watch the prices after they clear the channel.  Which, I expect, should be after the 4th.
It just added to the general nervousness of the market. Same with the gasoline draw reported yesterday. All these little bits of news are bullish for gasoline futures, and gas at the station tends to follow.


Are all these non-geopolitical factors part of the "risk premium" some claim are artificially inflating the price of crude and gasoline?
The so-called "risk premium" on petroleum has been around since the early 1970's, and is now part and parcel integrated into the basic, fundamental, and permanent cost.
Attempts by economic soothsathers to call it anything but is disengenuious at best.  
There is no risk premium, stuff happens, it has been for decades, and will be for decades to come.  
Re: oil independence is naive

Bet you didn't know this.

Executives from Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., Marathon Oil Co. and Shell Oil Co. took the stage at the U.S. Arab Economic Forum on Tuesday and spoke out against the idea advanced by lawmakers that the U.S. is crippled by its dependence on foreign oil.

"Energy isolation is naive; energy dependence is uncomfortable; energy interdependence makes sense," said Shell President John Hofmeister. "We are trying to bring the message to help people understand that we are the world of users and world of producers."...

"When they speak, you should listen to them," Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S., said of the oil executives.

He also criticized using "addiction" to describe oil needs.

"It's misleading," Al-Faisal said. "Oil is like oxygen and water. It's a necessity of life. It is misinformed to think that any country can do without oil."

Like Oxygen and Water


He didn't mention food. Food can also be an addiction even though it is a necessity.  Oil is a necessity-- now, but not in the quantities that we currently consume it.   But so much of our oil consumption is not a necessity and is not necessary for human existence, as oxygen and water are.  SA would like us to be complacent with his little inapt analogy. We've been here before, but this time the prices don't seem to be coming down.

The Saudis are terrified that we will actually begin to do something to cut way back on oil, thus they enlist the aid of the oil companies in their little conspiracy.  

In one sense, however, he is correct.  Oil is necessary for the Saudi's continued existence as they define existence, which is fed by their appetite for luxury and airconditioned outdoor rooms. They are also betting their increasing population on something they must realize is unsustainable.

I was sitting at a red light a few minutes
ago and noticed a Prius was sitting next to me.
Being that I am in Texas, and the temp. was 97 deg.
F., and the windows of the Prius were up, I deduced
it was air conditioned. My question is does the
electric motor or the gas engine run the a/c
compressor? I would think it was the gas engine
and if this is the case then it must run all
of the time if the a/c is on. This wouldn't be
so good for the gas mileage would it?

The first generation (1997 to 2003) could not run its air conditioning unless the engine was running. In contrast, the 2004 model introduced an all-electric compressor for cooling. This not only allowed the use of air conditioning without the engine running when the car is complete still, it also allowed more extensive use of the "stealth mode" (operation on electric motor only).

Original article: http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2006/06/energy_independ.html

The "umlat A" is really greek Delta.

A higher value for the long-run price elasticity of petroleum demand from recent studies is around 0.5, meaning

Ä ln(price) = -(1/0.5) x Ä ln(quantity)

The U.S. currently consumes about 20.6 million barrels per day (mbd) of oil, of which we produce about 8.2 mbd ourselves. To eliminate all of those imports entirely through the conservation incentives induced by price increases with an elasticity of 0.5 would require

Ä ln(price) = -(1/0.5) x [ln(8.2) - ln(20.6)] = 1.84

implying a price of

price = ($70/barrel) x exp(1.84) = $440/barrel.

Some studies have suggested a much lower elasticity. It is amusing to calculate, for example, that if the elasticity were as low as 0.1, energy independence would require an oil price of

price = ($70/barrel) x exp(9.21) = $700,000/barrel.

Of course the last number should make abundantly clear the limitation of this kind of calculation. It is quite wrong to assume that the log-linear summary of the historical relations (which is where the elasticity estimates come from) can be extrapolated to infer the results of a huge, ahistorical adjustment of the magnitude we're contemplating here. Indeed, economic theory tells us that an elasticity can't possibly stay below unity as the price becomes arbitrarily high. If you're spending all of your income on oil, for example, and the price goes up by 5%, your consumption is forced (by virtue of the budget constraint) to go down by 5%, not 0.5%, as an elasticity of 0.1 would imply. While the above calculations should hardly be taken literally, they do give us a sense of what I believe to be the fundamental reality-- trying to eliminate U.S. oil imports entirely through conservation efforts would be an enormously costly undertaking.

American politicians who speak of energy independence have in mind also alternative sources of energy, and here there is not such a simple way to wade through the thicket of possibilities. To take one of the more concrete and tangible possibilities, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge might produce around 1 mbd, which would offset 8% of the U.S. oil import bill. But, even if exploration were approved today, the oil would not come into production for a number of years, at which point a good deal of that new production might be necessary just to replace depletion from existing U.S. fields. Expecting ANWR to result in a significant reduction in U.S. imports from current levels for this reason strikes me as quite unrealistic.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that, even if the U.S. somehow were to achieve energy self-sufficiency, that would not be the same thing as energy independence. It is hard to envision an arrangement that could effectively decouple the price of oil in the U.S. from that elsewhere in the world, even if our imports were zero. As a result, even if we were importing no oil from Saudi Arabia, I would expect a disruption in Saudi production to still have a very dramatic effect on the price that consumers pay in the U.S.

For these reasons, I am open to discussion about the extent to which it might be desirable to try to reduce the amount of oil that the U.S. imports, and strategies for achieving that goal. But when someone talks about "energy independence", I find it hard to take them seriously.

For those who don't want to read...basically oil is needed and so much so that people will pay whatever they can for as long as they can.  Mathematically it's going to take $400 barrel oil before we make DRASTIC improvements.  I disagree that it will take this much, but we are stomaching the prices now and it's going to take a lot more to alter our culture in the US.  The difference in the price it would take, is due to elasticity of demand which seems to vary depending on who you talk to.

Thanks for the link to Hamilton. A few very rough calculations. The US has proved reserves of 21.4 bbo (billion barrels of oil) from OGJ. Daily usage from homegrown sources is 8.2/mbd = 2.99/bbo/year. If current US production stayed flat, that gives us an R/P ratio of 7.2 years. At that point, in 2013, discounting both declines and reserve additions--which may, surprisingly, even out, the US will import every single barrel of oil it consumes.

Gives you pause, doesn't it? It's always been one of the most impressive numbers I can trot out when speaking to those naive about our predicament.

That's correct. US imports could reach 80% in 2010 and 90% in 2020 (currently around 75%) if consumption does not slow down:

I made several simplifying assumptions and your graph looks right. What assumptions did you make in producing this result?

best, Dave

The details are given in the related post (or click on the figure). In summary:
  • Domestic production forecast is based on a Hubbert like approach (URR ~ 230 Gb, K~ 6%)
  • The yearly consumption per capita is growing by 1 barrels/capita/year every 15 years.
  • The US population growth is based the UN population forecast (medium variant).
"trying to eliminate U.S. oil imports entirely through conservation efforts would be an enormously costly undertaking."

This is why one cannot rely on prices alone to obtain the necessary conservation.    It must be combined with rationing through a system of tradeable energy or gas credits. This will not be done because there is no politician who is truly serious about energy independence or anything resembling a serious attempt at conservation.

This looks like an analysis for short-run elasticity.

The interesting thing about this situation is that the traditional economic analysis assumes a linear, continuous mathematical relationship, in which there is always a tradeoff, and diminishing returns for conservation strategies.  The reality may be very different.

If substitutes for oil have a high market-entry cost, and large efficiencies/economies of scale once they've reached a certain market penetration, then consistently fairly high oil prices could allow a new technology to enter which, once it got a real toehold, could completely replace oil.

I think that's what's happening with hybrids.  The problem with EV's has always been the battery.  Hybrids are achieving serious large-scale sales, and batteries are getting an enormous kick-start both in R&D and manufacturing volume.  The only thing holding back hybrids now is the speed with which manufacturers can ramp up battery production.  That's why the ROI of hybrids is now marginal, because Toyota and the others can't supply the market, so they're keeping prices high.  

Once the new nanotech Li-ion batteries (search Amazon for Dewalt 36-volt)are proved (car manufacturers require a lot of lifetime testing before they go out on a limb), and manufacturing volume ramps up, plug-ins become feasible, EV's are on the horizon, and the whole game changes.

The price of oil continues to climb but the prices of oil stocks in the stock market have come to what may be a critical juncture. These stocks have been pretty much tracking the price of oil, but now, with oil right at its high point, the oil&gas stock indexes are not only way off their highs, many of them are drooping through support trendlines that have held since the start of oil's bull run. What's up with that?

It may have to do with a little something that goes on in the stock market known as the margin debt cycle. Investors have the option of borrowing money from their broker to buy stock with against collateral. In up markets, this daring-do is great, but in the unwinding phase, it seems to have awesome stock trashing powers. It's not that it represents a huge portion of actual money in the market (less than 5% typically) but it is the leading edge of the high rolling momentum money in the market and is accurately measurable. So it was with the tech stocks in the late 90s. But we aren't in any wild stock market run now, you may say. True, but there has been a somewhat wild run in a particular area - emerging markets and oil. If you put the margin debt cycle on a stock chart of tech in '00 and this stock group now it looks like this:

The thin red line is the Nasdaq margin debt level. The NYSE debt presents a similar picture although it is not quite back to its '00 high yet. The debt was obviously responding to the tech bull/bear untill '03. After that, the debt was no longer responding to this area of the market. It was, however, clearly responding to emerging markets at first (very fast rise in '03) and then it seemed to lock onto oil in '05 as its first love and has been inseparable ever since, ignoring the huge run of emerging markets in '06. Technical analysts would point out that in both '00 and now, the debt is churning in a volitile topping pattern after a smooth run up to historically dangerous levels. If you ignore the rapid up and down in the margin debt in '03, you have now an exact replica of the smooth runup to a churn top in '00. The '03 margin upburst was understandable in light of the fact that everyone knew the bear bottom had finally been put in and perhaps at least a short term play on a bounce was in order with some leverage. The current gyrations, however, would appear to be nervous money nearing a top.

There has to be a unwinding phase to this cycle, and it may drag the whole stock market down with it (along with an overshooting by the fed as in '00), but it may not be near as bad as the previous one considering the type of stocks involved. The '00 techs had little or no monetary value in sharp contrast to the oils, metals, and mining with floods of cash flows and very cheap valuation. Value investors would step in and put a quicker bottom under any major slide. But, this debt cycle thing does have a strong tendency to completely take over the stock market and eventually trash every stock regardless of value or anything else. Witness what happened at the end of the previous debt unwinding cycle (mid '02 to early '03) when pretty much everything was sharply sold down. So far in the basic materials stocks, oil stocks have moved pretty much in synch with the group. I look for a decoupling to occur at some point between oil stocks and the broader materials stocks for the simple reason that the other materials are subject to the commodity cycle of higher demand bringing on the needed supply. This isn't going to happen readily with oil. I also look for a decoupling of oil stocks from the market in general. This happened in the 70s, when you had a weak economy, no emerging market demand, a lousy stock market, and stellar returns in energy stocks. If we get a big mark down of the oil stocks, it will present a most pleasant buying point.

You are spot on.  What has made this problem SO much worse is that hedge funds leverage themselves to the max.  With hedge funds growing near exponentially, you get the picture.  There's trillions of dollars in assets, much of it securitized by debt, held by hedge funds and most of will unwind as the S&L crises demonstrates.  However this time, we are not in the same position to bail anyone out and MOST will suffer.  
Tate, you are basically saying that the money invested in hedge funds is secured by debt. This does not make any sense whatsoever. Hedge funds are just that, funds. People invest in hedge funds in hopes of making a profit. They take a risk but somewhat less of a risk than the average commodities investor takes because their investment is hedged.

Perhaps there is something that I do not understand about hedge funds. Could you please explain how they are leveraged by debt. Who loans this money and to whom? In other words, who is lender and who is the borrower.  And what bubble would have to burst in order that all the hedge funds suddenly go belly up together as the S&Ls did when the real estate bubble burst.

Hedge funds is a misnomer. Most of these are not "hedged" at all, they are very speculative investment funds not covered by regulation as are mutual funds. Long Term Capital Management was levered 30-1 (they made minor returns which were multiplied by the power of leverage)till they needed the Fed to bail them out before they brought down the whole house of cards. They had borrowed the money from their cronies at the major financial institutions. The "hedge fund" business is a lot bigger than it was in their day.http://www2.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/ltcm.htm  
There does seem to be a strong sense of a global scramble for liquidity--especially as the US real estate bubble deflates.  
According to "Dealing with the Myths Of Hedge Fund Investment" by Schneeweis, Univ of Massachusetts and Editor of The Journal Of Alternative Investments:
The historical record shows that the typical hedge fund's returns have been less volitile by far than the typical stock or stock mutual fund.
A sales pitch, by the editor of a journal devoted to hedge funds and similar "alternative investments".

Beware advice from those who have drunk deep of the koolaid.

You have no qualms with his data, just him?
It also shows that the returns of the typical hedge fund (not run by Soros or Simons) are, to put it politely, mediocre. Less than 6% in 2005.
It is true that there are a lot of hedge funds that want to be what a few hedge funds actually are. My comment simply referred to the volatility issue.

To your point though, the best hedge funds are not accessable by typical investors anyway. The real issue is risk adjusted returns, rather than volatility itself.

That is not why the S&Ls wentelly-up.  They had lots of 4$ to 7% 30 year fixed mortgages durimg teh Carter years when they hsd to pay 16% (from old memory) for 1 years CDs.  Borrow money at 16% and lend it at 5% is a sure path to bankruptcy.

When Reagon came in, he had a mass of bankrupt S&Ls.  Instead of tack;omg teh problem immediately, they deregulated teh S&Ls with the hopes that they could make enough money to climb up to zero net worth.  A few did, the vast majority did not.

IMHO, it would have been cheaper to have dissolved and written off 99% of the S&Ls in Reagan's first month in office. (Or Carter should have done it before he left office).

A quick example.
Ford a Bigger Default Risk Than GM, Derivatives Show (Update1)
June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co., which had its credit rating cut further into junk territory by Standard & Poor's today, is now a bigger risk of default than General Motors Corp., credit derivatives show.
Investors are paying $980,000 a year to insure $10 million of Ford debt against default for five years with credit default swaps. Similar protection for GM costs about $970,000, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. prices.

Prices for Ford default swaps are rising on speculation the company has farther to go in its turnaround than GM. S&P slashed Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford's rating to B+, or four levels below investment grade, from BB-. It has a B rating for GM.

``2006 will be a more difficult year for Ford than previously anticipated,'' S&P's analyst Robert Schulz said in a research note today.

The cost to protect Ford debt from nonpayment is up from a low of about $777,000 on Feb. 2, while for GM it's down from a high of $1.3 million in December.

Ford credit default swap prices rose above GM for the first time yesterday, according to data compiled by GFI Group Inc., a derivatives broker in New York. They were even on June 23 and GM traded at a higher price than Ford on June 26, GFI data shows.

Rising investor confidence in GM showed up in the credit derivatives market this month when dealers stopped demanding upfront payments to take the risk of a default.

I posted this in today's drumbeat if you want the link and more info, but basically the hedge fund it being paid to take on debt.  This is what I mean.  They are making money from debt.  When the debts start defaulting, and these two companies being the largest currently, the house of cards starts to crumble.  About the S&L, I am trying to point out that large companies do fail, and it can be painful.  It will be worse this time.

Hedge fund debt is probably adding to the current market dangers, but hedge funds seem to be a whipping boy for whatever is going wrong in the markets. Actually I run a "baby" hedge fund myself - an incubator fund just for the purpose of performance monitoring and verification, no customers yet. I have been running some virtual mutual funds at Marketocracy.com, where you obey all the rules of the SEC and are subject to all the same constraints as professional fund managers and are ranked as they are (I've been ranked as high as #2 there and #1 among the pros in 5 year average). Hedge funds are named that because you are allowed shorting of stocks to balance or "hedge" your long side bets against a catastrophe in the market, and you can buy futures and other alternatives to just long stock positions. Margin debt is just one of many options open to hedge fund managers that are illegal in mutual funds and is abused by some bad apples. This debt probably has little to do with the rise in the price of oil but will intensify the downside of the stock market whenever it occurs. There are a lot of indications that we may be at a downturn other than the margin debt I pointed out. You have a repeat of the jitters over interest rates in '00. You also have an inverted yield curve in long/short rates (one of history's most reliable predictors of recession). And the total short interest runs in cycles like margin debt being at historical high points at market highs; it has run to about the '00 level. And if you compare the technical condition of the market then and now, it looks like this:

Wedge formations are good indicators. And we are having a wedge break that's a close replica of the market top in '00. Instead of techs leading the market down, it may be the resources, including my beloved oil stocks, this time. However, there are some groups that aren't breaking down at this point, like the steels, transports, and other critical areas. So we may be spared a bear decline for awhile. If I've learned one thing about the overall stock market, it's that it has a mind of it's own and is harder to predict than individual stocks are. A hedge fund can adjust for this type of dangerous market by simply rotating to cash and/or opening up a shorted portion. A mutual fund must stay over 65% in long stock postions all the time. I am hoping for a quick washout of this margin debt excess pestilence, at least in the oils, and a safe relinking of the oil stocks to the price of oil, which is going to continue to climb even if the U.S. economy slows and the rest of the stock market is weak. Oil demand is evermore controlled by non U.S. demand in economies everless dependent on the U.S.

You pretty well summed it up. You should post more stuff.
Agreed. Very good post.
Asphalt: what is it made from, and why is its price rising?  A comment found on Energy Bulletin says:

UPDATE from reader jap:
Actually, asphalt is not made with "heavy oil." It is primarily a much heavier, denser grade of petroleum. In the past, it has sold at a lower price than oil which is converted to fuel. That is no longer the case. In fact, this dense petroleum product is increasingly processed into a "synthetic" oil and then sold for refining into fuel...

Hmm, so is it "heavy oil" or not?  In any case, sounds to me like heavier and heavier oily stuff is becoming fuel material, as we are running out of light oil.  If the "tar sands" are worth processing, and CTL is considered, surely non-sandy oily goo is better?  The "cracking" needed to break the larger molecules into fuel-size ones is expensive in money and energy, but no longer avoidable?  That means a lower EROI.

More in that same comment:

I have always maintained that that the first casualty of peaking oil will be roadways. They are ribbons of petroleum and take prodigious amounts of fuel just to operate the machinery and transport the personnel who lay the roadway.  Keep track of the status of road maintenence this winter and after. It should be a good indication of coming problems with petroleum supply.

So the potholes in the roads are a visible symptom of declining EROI?  Is the desire for liquid fuels now competing with the desire for smooth roads (and for food)?  Should I have kept that SUV after all, since the potholes will destroy my mini-car?

The highway to my town was a dirt road during my grandparent's lives.  We can go back.  Those who find this inconvenient can just stay home. Those who live here and find this inconvenient can move.  

On a more serious note, anything that might retard the building of more highways sounds like a winner to me.  

I parsed that last sentence as "only retards would build highways right about now..." which is, of course, why we keep building them.
Big 3 to ramp up renewable-fueled car production.

June 28, 2006

(Letter to Members of Congress)

When we met with leaders in Washington last month, we were encouraged to find deep, bipartisan determination to address the far reaching impact of our nation's growing dependence on foreign oil.  As we reiterated last month, we believe renewable fuels can play an important role in addressing this national problem.  The good news is that ethanol and other biofuels are well known to our country and to the U.S. auto industry.  For decades, farmers in the heartland have been turning corn into fuel, and, likewise, we at DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and General Motors have been building flexible vehicles that run on ethanol.    

Today, there are more than 5 million flexible fuel vehicles on the road, and the three domestic automotive companies will add an additional million cars and trucks this year alone.  If all of these vehicles were running on E85, they would displace more than 3.5 billion gallons of gasoline a year, or a full year of gas consumption in a state such as Missouri or Tennessee.  

But we are prepared to do more.  We are proud to announce that we will double our production of vehicles that are capable of running on renewable fuels by 2010.   That's more than two million E85 and biodiesel capable vehicles a year by the end of the decade - the single largest commitment to renewable fuels in our nation's history.  

Our hope is that with this commitment, fuel providers will have even more incentive to produce ethanol and other biofuels and install pumps to distribute them.  Without this alternative fuel infrastructure, we will still be missing the opportunity to displace gasoline supplies in the U.S. with home grown and produced biofuels.  Right now, there are 170,000 gas stations in the United States, but only about 700 E85 pumps.  We need business and government to work together to enhance the production, distribution and use of renewable biofuels.

We in the domestic auto industry are doing our part. Last month, our companies endorsed the Energy Future Coalition's goal of getting 25 percent of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2025.  In addition, we have taken the following steps:

o    DaimlerChrysler has committed to produce 500,000 FFVs by the end of the 2008 model year and has endorsed the use of federal and military specification B20 in Dodge diesel trucks in fleet applications.  

o    Ford, in addition to consumer awareness programs and marketing campaigns, entered into a partnership with VeraSun, the second largest ethanol producer in the U.S., to assist in funding of retail fuel outlets for the nation's first "Ethanol Corridor" across Missouri and Illinois -- increasing the E85 infrastructure in these states by about a third. The Corridor will allow an FFV driver to travel from Kansas City, MO to Chicago, IL using only E85.  

o    General Motors, by the end of this year, will have created partnerships in California, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Texas with oil companies, ethanol suppliers and distribution outlets that will add more than 140 new E85 pumps to the approximately 700 already in service, and we are educating the consumer with our Live Green, Go Yellow advertising campaign and website.

Vehicles alone will not get the job done.  To capitalize on this commitment, Congress and the Administration need to continue to promote the production of biofuels, increase incentives for refueling infrastructure and continue incentives for automakers to produce biofuel vehicles.  Eventually, we need to get to the point where most Americans have reasonable access to these fuels at a price that is competitive with gasoline.

We look forward to working with you on the steps necessary to make this challenge a reality for America.


Thomas W. LaSorda
President and CEO
DaimlerChrysler Corporation    

William Clay Ford, Jr.              
Chairman and CEO  
Ford Motor Company

G. Richard Wagoner, Jr.
Chairman and CEO                      
General Motors Corporation

No doubt their next letter will support higher cafe standards and a five dollar tax on gasoline.  Jerks.
Today were the Swedish "Oil comission" report made public. Its a 45 page documet that can be found in Swedish on http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/6316/a/66280

It is a governemnt initative headed by our current socialist party prime minister and the comission has 8 members, mostly corporate and research people.

It is part of a bid to make energy one of the main issues in the upcomming Swedish elections and I hope it also is made out of genuinie concern about our future. Our current prime minister had the same kind of concerns early in his first term when it was importent for the cooperation with the greens but then it was put in the back burner, this makes me sceptical. But regardless of intentions it is very good work!

The four cooperating opposition parties have had very large problems finding a common energy policy due to disagreements on the nuclear power issue but has recently decided on one that I have tried to sum up in short in: http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/6/14/93057/6889#90

My first impression of this report is that almost all of the technical suggestions and principles are the same wich is reasonable since the real world is as it is and some things make sense.

The comission suggest active use of market forces to get things done and select solution.

This report is not the socialist party line but it is probably very influencing on it due to it being an initiative from our slightly despotic prime minister. I get a distinct impression of a larger reliance on centralized government action then the opposition that has a higher degree of market solutions. (Swedish main stream left wing is far to the left on the US scale and move slowly to the right in some issues. Swedish right wing is a lot to the left on the US sacle and moves faster to the right. )

The almost complete absence of nuclear power in the document is intresting. This might be due to the hatred of nuclear power among the greens and left(former communist) party who are the ones the socilist cooperate with and they must have their support to have any chance of winning.

It will be very intresting to see how this influences the creation of a common Socialis+Greens+Left policy before the election.

Overall I am very happy to have sound reasoning on both sides of the election, we have a small win / big win situation if this continues to be an election issue.
This is as if GWB had declared that it would be good to get rid of oil dependency and then personally led comission work with local energy nerds from industry and research.

I will now try to sum up the Oil Comission report exept the supplemets:

Heading towards an oil free Sweden.

Main goals to reach in 2020
Road transportation shall thry efficiency and new fuels use 40-50% less oil.
Heating of buildings shall not use any oil.
Industry should use 25-40% less oil.


Curent oil use 2004:
Transportation 97% oil 95 TWh of the total is oil
Farming, forestry and fishing 79% 7 TWh
Building industry 67% 2 TWh
Heating and warm tap water exept district heating 11% 10 TWh
Industry 11% 18 TWh
District heating 8% 4 TWh
Service industry 6% 3 TWh
Electricity production 1% 3 TWh

Five main reason to lessen the oil use:

  1. Less contribution to the greenhouse effect.
  2. Securing our long term energy supply.
  3. Being a pioneer country for sustainable energy use and efficiency.
  4. Strenghetening our international competetiveness
  5. Use and development of our field and forest resources.

Oil use and global warming is the same problem. Lessening the oil use is the first priority, lessen the use of coal and natural gas is a second longer term priority.

EU is important in this work.

Oil use is not the same thing as oil dependency. (Dont know why that is regarded as important, perhaps it has to do with the world having oil for manny more years. ) No sector in society should be 100% depending on fossil oil even if a total oil replacement will take a very long time.

This development should strenghten our competetiveness in efficiency and bioenergy, especially in wehicle, building and industrial technology. This should strenghten us in the global marketplace and give us new small and large companies, employment, export incomes and regional development. (There is a strong urbanization that is regarded as a problem. Some rural areas need biomass industry to not become depopulated. On the other hand this urbanization saves energy. ) We shall as a nation use our large forest, field and large fresh water resources but also our knowledge in IT.

The sucess will to a degree depend on the price development on the oil market. We think the current high oil prices do not depend on the first stages of physical oil depletion but on a combination of larger demand, political disturbances and technical disturbances during oil production. In the long run the situation will worsen with physical depletion, even larger demand and perhaps large political disturbances.

We do not know how coal will affect this. There is a risk for large scale use for synthetic use that will give a global warming impact.

Analysis and suggestions:

  1. Swedish society should be able to save 20% of total energy use untill 2020
  2. No oil heating in 2020
  3. Road transportation including farming, forestry, fishing and building should be able to use 40-50% less petrol and diesel in 2020
  4. Industry should be able to use 25-40% less oil in 2020

These ambitious goals require massive investments, in particular in transportation, industry and heating. The high oil prices will give market incentives to save energy and switch fuels. An increasing supply of alternative technologies is important.

This is great challange for the whole society. We need confiding cooperation between politics, industry and research.

Forest growth could in the long term be increased with 15-20% by better care and some fertlization. Unused and fallow field not yet planted with forest could give 3000 - 5000 km2 of energy crops or energy hardwood.

Governent money should be used for education, investment support, initial buys of new technology and production facilities for biofuels.

Non energy intensive industry should often be able to save 40% of the electricity used, and general building use should  often be able to decrease by 20%.

More production of renewable electricity. 10 TWh of wind power by 2015. 25 TWh of combined heat and power production in district heating plants. Wide research efforts.

Skepticism against additional natural gas but optimism about biogas as a wehicle fuel. Government should only actively support local and regional biogas and biomass gasification gas infrastructure.

House heating efficiency:

New built houses should with super insualtion, heat exchanging, etc need nearly zero external heat energy. >75% of new built houses should be such in 2020.

Now code needs to be announced well in advance of taking effect to give time for the market to react. The code should depend on how a house is heated and the heating needs and corresponding CO2 emissions needs to be declared for the consumers. Installation of broad band internet is good for telecommunting.

Less tax on energy efficient houses.

A specific campaign for renovating the "million apartment program" that were bult from 1965 and other older apartmet houses.

Less use of direct resistive electric heating.

Energy education of landlords.

General energy education on all school levels.

The care and running of government buildings must set a good example.

Road transportation:

Our personal wehicle fleet use 20% more fuel then the EU average. (Its due to high age, larger cars and less diesel use. )

A larger perecntage of diesel wehicles, saves 25-30% compared with petrol engines.

More hybrid wehicles. Especially trucks and busses in urban traffic where it can save 35% of fuel use. Plug in hybrids could in the future save up to 50% of the fuel use. A break thru in the near term of plug in hybrids would be of immense help for replacing oil for transportation.

Taxation should encourage use of fuel efficent wehicles.

Cars should have an energy efficiency marking system in the same way as refridgerators, etc.

Ecodriving is since 2006-03-01 part of the car driving license curriculum. This should also done for heavy truck licenses and so on.

Energy efficient combinations of road, rail and sea transportation should be encouraged.

Central governemnt should togeather with municipialities and companies act for building of new rail combi terminals and renovation of harbours.

The rules for government procurement should be changed to make it easier to require energy efficient and enviromental transportation.

Government should support the development and use of IT systems for efficient logistics.

The comission where not in total agreement about the need for ethanol tolls against for instance brasilian ethanol.

Goverment should support a number of pilot and demo plants for the second generation of bio fuels such as DME, FT-diesel, methanol and biogas produced thru gasification, ethanol from wood(celulose), and biogas from optimised field crops.

We should continue to try to get EU to allow higher levels of biofuels in standard gasolene and diesel.

A number of pilot and development projects for faster and more comfortable collective traffic and biofuel use should be developed in cooperation with some municipialities.

Collective traffic commuting should be encouraged, perhaps with lower taxes.

One country wide ticket system for all collective traffic. (It is currently a mess. )

Much more money for high speed train lines between larger cities.
Government should give a long term guarantee for lower taxes on train travel.

Alternatives to air travel should be encouraged such as train travel or virtual conferencing.

The CO2 certificate trading should include air traffic.

We should togeather with outher countries support research into more efficient airline engines and new types of fuels such as hydrogen and biomass based aviation kerosene.

Government should be a pioneer in virtual conferencing.

...pages about research being good with lots if exaples...

Some will like this, hemp is included as a possible energy crop.

There is more but I am quite tired now. I guess there will be some official and complete translation somewhere to be found in the future.

Hello Magnus Redin,

Thxs for posting this-- Hopefully our Congress might be interested in reading it, but I believe their first priority is deeply brown-nosing any available cash-rich lobbyist in exchange for re-election funds.

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

Thanks once again, for giving us here in the US a sense of what awareness of the problem would look like if our own government decided to do something about the problems. Oh wait, they have, haven't they?  Resource wars, bogus yet oh-so-politically advantageous corn ethanol, and wishful thinking.  This post produces, simultaneously, hope and despair. Thanks, Magnus.
Your excellent post is, unfortunately, burried at the bottom of this thread and many people will miss it.

Note please that they will try to eliminate oil consumption in buildings, which is much easier than eliminating oil consumption in transportation.

Oil consumption in building is a lot easier, we have already gotten rid of 70% following the oil crisis in the 70:s and 80:s and our previous overinvestment in nuclear power.

8% of the district heating were oil in 2004, 4 TWh, mostly for peak loads. Oil is a practical peak load fuel since the boilers are cheap and they often use old boilers left over from oil to biomass conversion of district heating networks.

The first massive investment in district heating were almost only for oil heating and the reason for the investment were environmental, to get rid of numerous small coke and oil boilers to get better air quality replacing them with a better boiler with a higher shimney and economical, one central plant is cheaper to build and run and could use heavier and cheaper oil left over from refining for the booming car traffic.

The replacements in district heating where resistive electrical heating mostly during summers, coal in an few large plants, biomass and then large ammounts of garbage incineration. Garbage incineration capacity for production of heat will soon be around 100% of garbage produced, if I rember right around 80% of the heating value in garbage is biomass such as food scraps, paper and wood and the rest plastics.
The peaking oil will probably be replaced with wood pellets since they can handle storage and can be used in compact high capacity burners if they are milled into powder.
A new heating pellet is made from lignin from black liquor but that competes with gasification that can produce synthesis gas.

11% of non district heating houses were oil heated in 2004, 10 TWh. The oil replacements have been mostly resistive electrical heating, district heating and some firewood in the first generation and in the second generation ground source heat pumps, district heating and wood pellets. Air source heat pumps are used but they dont work when it is cold outside with a few degress below zero C. The ones who still use oil are people who are to old to make a major change and investment, people who have waited for better technology or cheap oil again, those that do not need to care about cost and for buildings where it is hard to install new systems.

Regarding garbage we have an ongoing debate about sorting or burning. I am for burning more untill we get cleaner fractions. The fairly wide spread volontary sorting of hard and soft plastics from food packages and so on gives a dirty and useless mixture of plastics. I prefer to have reusable containers of higher quality and (Error, dictionary failure! What ever it is called when you pay $0.05 extra for a soda pop and get it back when you return the bottle) systems.

And most new and large garbage incineration plants are combined heat and power plants. The newest one in my home town gives a maximum of 19 MW electricity and 89 MW of hot water.

This is all great, but eventually we need to (and will be forced to) return food scraps and other compostables to the soil, and stop using "disposable" packaging.  There will then be far less "garbage".
That is the goal for recycling, I am quite sre there is time to build other power plants while we work on it.
Blog comment by head of Dallas Morning News Editorial Page:

"Sorry, meant to post these earlier - got sidetracked by a meeting this morning with the Saudi minister of state"

I have an e-mail into the Dallas Morning News.  I asked them if our recent opinion piece on Peak Oil was discussed.

Maybe I can change the lead author to Alan Drake?

SPR Tapped as Louisiana Ship Channel remains closed for the eight day.  Happy 4th of July!

Energy Secretary Bodman Announces SPR Loan at Platts Energy Podium  

    NEW YORK, June 28 PRNewswire -- The U.S. Department of Energy will loan 750,000 barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to two refiners who have been unable to receive waterborne shipments due to the closure of the Calcasieu Ship Channel in Louisiana, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told the inaugural Platts Energy Podium event on Wednesday.
    Speaking at the energy roundtable hosted by the Platts Washington office, Bodman said ConocoPhillips would receive 500,000 barrels of SPR crude for its 239,000 b/d Westlake refinery in Louisiana. He also confirmed that Citgo would take 250,000 barrels for its 425,000 b/d plant in Lake Charles.
    The refineries told DOE they would be forced to shut down without the borrowed crude supplies, which will be repaid after the summer driving season, the secretary said, adding that deliveries of the SPR crude would
be made within "two or three days."

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=ind_focus.story&STORY=/www/story/06-28-2006/00 04389053&EDATE=WED+Jun+28+2006,+03:43+PM

So much for plenty of inventories.