DrumBeat: July 11, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 07/11/06 at 9:34 AM EDT]

"We in OPEC do not subscribe to the peak-oil theory." They just need transparency from consumers.

Oil cartel OPEC scolded consuming nations on Tuesday for forcing it to spend billions on spare crude production capacity while sending confusing policy signals on future demand.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has an estimated 100 exploration and production projects with investment in the region of $100-billion to meet rising demand, but justifying spare capacity to calm oil market nerves was difficult, said acting secretary general Mohammed Barkindo.

Ethanol is not a cure-all for U.S. energy woes
As far as alternative fuels are concerned, biodiesel from soybeans is the better choice compared with corn-produced ethanol, University of Minnesota researchers concluded in an analysis Monday.

But "neither can replace much petroleum without impacting food supplies," the researchers concluded in the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And prices for edible oils are already rising.

Politics Of the Pipelines: U.S. Seeks Ways to Route Natural Gas Around Russia.

IEA Calls on China to Rein in Electricity Use

Peak uranium? (PDF)

... Assuming world nuclear generating capacity remains at 2005 levels, after about 2016 the mean grade of uranium ore will fall significantly from today's levels, and even more so after 2034. After about 60 years the world nuclear power system will fall off the 'Energy Cliff' - meaning that the nuclear system will consume as much energy as can be generated from the uranium fuel. Whether large and new uranium ore deposits will be found or not is unknown.

Robert Feldman gives us The bad, worse and awful news for energy prices. Actually, the news is not that awful from his view. He thinks it's just a supply lag problem, like the "hog cycle" of the '30s.

Venezuela struggles to plug natural gas deficit

"All these gas pipeline projects are strange, because Venezuela does not have enough gas (production) to fill them," said Miguel Octavio, an analyst with Caracas-based brokerage BBO Servicios Financieros.

Oil Prices: How High Can They Go?

More on our crumbling highway infrastructure: So Many Cars, So Little Money

Every dime of California's $116-billion plan to shore up levees, schools and other eroding facilities could be spent on the state's overtaxed transportation system.

And it still wouldn't be enough.

Now it's time to panic: Climate change threatens wineries.
Climate warming could spell disaster for much of the multibillion-dollar U.S. wine industry. Areas suitable for growing premium wine grapes could be reduced by 50 percent — and possibly as much as 81 percent — by the end of this century, according to a study Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
[Update by Leanan on 07/11/06 at 12:58 PM EDT]

$70 oil: Get used to it

"Price is causing some substitutions, but in my opinion it's not enough, " said Peter Tertzakian, chief energy economist for ARC Financial and author of the book A Thousand Barrels a Second.
I know someone called this one...


The president of the Russian Commodity Exchange Union said Tuesday he was skeptical about the prospects for an early launch of an oil exchange in Russia.

"I do not believe that the oil exchange will open this or even next year," Anatoly Gavrilenko said, adding there were too many obstacles to the project, including what he described as armchair management and wishful thinking.

He said it was an illusion that the oil market would take care of itself.

"Nothing will work out without the state," he said.

There's a v. cool conference (video) from William McDonough here:


From bioneers 2000. Totally worth watching, IMO.

He also spoke at the recent AIA Convention:


V. cool, thanks for the link!
Yes, thanks.  McDonough is one of the great thinkers of our time.  I'll listen to him anytime!
Guys, take a look at the future:


An action plan for "global energy security" to be agreed in St Petersburg next weekend envisages a network of nuclear fuel plants in G8 countries combined with the widespread sale of reactors to developing countries - as long as they promise not to use them for making nuclear bombs.

G8 leaders also want to resurrect fast breeder reactors, which are highly controversial because they "breed" plutonium, a nuclear explosive.

The idea is to keep the more sensitive nuclear facilities that can be easily diverted for making bombs within the G8. Other countries would not be allowed to enrich uranium fuel, or to reprocess spent fuel to extract plutonium.

They will be permitted to run reactors to generate electricity but will have to buy fuel enrichment and reprocessing services from G8 countries.

That the future is increasingly nuclear is hardly a news for anyone thinking pragmatically.

The news is that the rich guys intend to overcome local NIMBYsm by selling the "sweet part" - reactors, know-how and enriched fuel to the developed countries, who in turn will be designated for the "dirty part" - producing the electricity, taking the risks and the responsibility for waste management. The latter will then sell back to the rich guys the energy produced and everyone will be happy, especially if it is named Westinghouse or Haliburton.

The question that comes to mind is how long is this schema going to work? How long until China (or Iran or whoever) figure out how to build the things themselves? I would say - not too long and then it may turn out that somebody has layed out the fact for actual switching the places of the developed and the developing worlds. Anybody know where I can learn chinese?

The dirtiest part is going to be the reprocessing of used fuel from old generation reactors and breeding blankets from breeder reactors. This is one of the parts you dont want to have in countries that would make a mess for us if they had nuclear weapons but probably would develop in a good direction with power.

You would want to have the reactors close to home in a post peak oil future to get reliable electricity, high paying jobs and to utilize high grade heat from the next generation of reactors for hydrogen production and low grade heat for district heating.

It is actually a pity the Swedish opinion isent a few years more advanced along the current trend. I would love to have German or Danish intrests building reactors in southern Sweden to export electricity to their owners. There is a public opinion window for getting these goodies before the German opinion probably changes and they want them at home. And the Danes would not have to start all the supporting institutions if they build in their neighbouring country.

30 years should be plenty of time for developing new breeders and reprocessing technologies if we start right away.

This means that Finland and Sweden probably will have started their repositories for used nuclear fuel a few years before a possible breeding boom. But 500 m deep bedrock caverns are usable as overdesigned repositories for fission products.

Wonder if the G8 would trust the nordic countries with their own reprocessing plant in Sweden or Finland? I guess it would be wise to participate in research and the building of pilot plants within G8 countries. We probably have a reputation of being dependable but other countries might complain if they dont get the honour. And we had a nuclear arms program in Sweden in the 50:s and 60:s that dident go as far as producing weapons, that might make someone uncomfortable.

I think the idea is the fuel reprocessing facilities for spent fuel and from the breeders to be within G8 countries, most probably with Russia in the back of their minds. If fuel reprocession is embraced (and if there is whatever amount of sanity in the world we live in, it will) then waste management becomes to huge extent trivial, but still I think they will try to let it stay in Russia or dump it back where it originated.

IMO long before hydrogen, nuclear power will be used to produce liquid fuels - for example nuclear-assisted CTL or methanol from coal. This will make the schema export reactors to China - import methanol, borrowing the difference (OK, again from China) work for a while. IMO, EU politicians will resist local nuclear power till it becomes impossible to avoid it - there is too much inertia in the system and nobody is willing to risk his cosy chair for problems far beyond his/her election horizon.

Just a quick comment - the French generate something like 80% of their electricity from nuclear, and there is absolutely no political movement in France to move away from nuclear power. Opposition to nuclear power is not an EU position - but it very definitely is a German one.
Wind Could be Third of French Energy Mix

FRANCE : July 11, 2006

PARIS - France's wind power share in electricity consumption could jump to 30 percent by 2030 provided the government removes bureaucratic hurdles, France's wind power association said on Monday.

Wind power makes up 0.25 percent of French electricity consumption with a production capacity of 1,000 MW.
A 2001 European Union directive requires EU members to bring their green electricity share to 21 percent of their power mix by 2010.

"The potential we have in France and the government-set tariffs allow us to believe that wind power could make up 30 percent of French electricity consumption by 2030," Jean-Yves Grandidier, head of the FEE union, told Reuters.

He said that the newly-set government's aim to reach 13,500 MW of wind power by 2013 was realistic provided Paris acts to remove administrative obstacles blocking the sector's progress.

"The biggest hurdles in developing wind power in France are the delays in granting building permits, the price rise of turbines and the acoustic laws which are badly adapted to our industry," Grandidier said.

He said that local authorities were taking up to two years to grant building permits of wind farms that should normally take five months.

"Local authorities are struggling to position themselves with regards to wind power projects," he said. "In some regions we are experiencing unofficial moratoriums," he added.

Wind power has come under fire in many regions where turbines are blamed for destroying landscapes and for noise.

"But recent opinion polls show that 80 percent of the public now supports the development of wind power so I'm confident we will progress fast," Grandider said.

The French government has set since 2001 fixed rates for land-produced wind power to incite companies to invest in the renewable energy.

The government on Monday fixed the new purchasing of land-produced wind power tariff at 82 euros (US$104.8) per megawatt hour (against 83.6 euros previously) and a newly-set offshore wind power tariff of 130 euros.

"Fixed tariffs provide a real incentive to produce but the lowering of the land-produced wind power tariff could harm units based in low wind areas," Grandidier said.

"But wind power is the electricity sector growing the fastest in the world so we are very optimistic," he said.

Grandidier said he believes that France could soon catch up with Germany and Spain, which have Europe's largest wind power sectors.

"Spain has 10,000 MW already installed and a target to double that figure by 2010," he said. "So I don't think our forecast is unfeasible," he concluded.

Story by Muriel Boselli


   at least in the region I live in, the main opposition to nuclear power is the waste disposal question - and this cuts across essentially all political parties. (I wrote a bit about this in a comment below). Whether this disgust at creating such a long term environmental problem will be overcome by a desire to keep the lights on (plus lots and lots of lobbying by companies like Siemens) is an open question.

However, you are quite correct in assuming that Germans will happily buy nuclear generated electricity - EnBW is technically one of Germany's largest electrical companies, but it is actually owned by Electricite de France - and the French are massively nuclear in terms of generating electricity. Surprisingly, much of EnBW's electricity just magically appears, without anyone asking where it comes from - though it is not a secret. Better, recently a national Green political figure just joined EnBW's board - nothing like putting an environmentally sound face on a massive nuclear electrical generation company.

If anyone wishes to call the Germans hyprocritical NIMBY types, please be my guest - but also notice that France generally placed as many of its nuclear reactors as close to the German border as possible decades ago, so that if an accident happened, the wind might spare the French having to clean up the results.

Eurpeans are cynical, pragmatic, and always looking out for their own best interests. No wonder OPEC is complaining about how Europe is discriminating against oil through high taxation - it wasn't supposed to work that way in our modern globalized capitalist world. Everyone was just supposed to buy OPEC's oil until it ran out - which it isn't, by the way, according to OPEC.

If you are interested, by the way, Schroeder tried to sell off an old breeder facility to the Chinese - it was cancelled due to massive pressure, more or less equally balanced between domestic and international concerns.

Maybe the Swedes can pick up one unused breeder reactor cheap - something like 1.5 billion euros is the number I vaguely remember. The Germans are getting good at this shipping old industrial facilities to other places - old coal fired steel mills, coking plants, oil refineries (one near Karlsruhe was sent to India maybe 7 years ago). What the Germans aren't selling are the wind turbine production facilities or the solar cells fabs.

You may see a pattern here - dirty, old industrial facilities are being sold to countries without much concern about trivialities like air or water pollution, and cleaner alternatives are being built up.

Of course, there is a fair amount of doubt whether alternative energy forms like wind will actually be able to power an industrial society - and Germans do know their engineering. I too expect Germans to use some form of nuclear power in the future - I just doubt that it will resemble the dinosuar technology which is happily being revived by companies with excellent political connections.

> Maybe the Swedes can pick up one unused breeder reactor cheap - something like 1.5 billion euros is the number I vaguely remember.

No thanks, I would prefer one done with new calculations and lessons learned from previous builds. But I would not say no to a breeder in Sweden.


I like breeders.

But then again, I used to hang out with nuclear engineers, and perhaps they are biased.

You might be waiting a while then - the history of breeder reactors till now is not very encouraging (especially sodium designs, which tend to end up leaking, then burning). The physics seem easy enough, but the engineering details up till now are not.

The fact the technology is generally so bad (though different breeder designs have worked, even over years, it must be noted) is one reason the Germans wanted to get rid of theirs, actually.

Breeder reactors, producing ready made material for bombs, are opposed for reasons which go to one of the main problems with any nuclear program - you get more bang for your buck with nuclear than any other option. Just ask the Iranians or North Koreans or Pakistanis or ....

Yes, sodium is bad. I use it mainly for science tricks to entertain sixth and seventh graders, for that it is great.

We have learned much from our (and others') mistakes with breeders.

My engineer friends and I may be all wet, but IMO, the time of the breeder is here and now.


Complex and expensive safeguards needed?
You bet.

Nevertheless, on a cost-benefit basis, when I do the numbers, breeders look good.

Other people start with different premises and come up with different numbers.

I could be quite wrong. But at least, please let us seriously consider breeders--along with wind, solar, old-fashiond nuclear power generation, coal sequestration, biofuels, and whatever else we can think of.

There is (obviously) no one "solution."

Silver BBs, not one silver bullet.

IMO, breeders are one more silver BB.

I think it is too early for this one. In fact I think that it would be a huge mistake for bringing it up now, because it would put loads of fuel in the tank of those opposing nuclear power, with (or without) any reasons at all. The most likely result will be continued opposition and delay of the nuclear power altogether.

Nuclear could be an issue that unites the world, because it best results (in terms of costs and safety) will be reached if we achieve a much higher level of international cooperation. IMO the coming years will decide whether we will get there the easy way or the hard way.

Thank you for your cogent and clear comments.

We believe what we believe to a large extent based on who we talk to. From age 22 to 30, a majority of my friends were nuclear engineers and nuclear physicists working at the Lawrence Radiation Lab and also Livermore.

I'd be delighted to tell you some funny stories about Site 300, but the Fibbies (F.B.I.) already claim that my dossier exceeds 2,000 pages, and IMO, that is enough.

I you look at it the other way, after 2000 pages several more will hardly make a difference :)
2000 pages? I admire and envy you. I just keep hoping I have a file.
You do. NOW. Why? Because you replied to a comment of mine.
I have associated with a great many people: Mainly for that reason the Fibbies keep my prints on file and (probably) somehow monitor (most likely through the NSA) all of my TOD comments.

Ho hum.

I lived through the Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover eras. Times now are way way way much better.

Quite an odd thing to brag about. And how incompetent are they if they let you know that they have a file and the thickness of it?

I leave it at 50/50 FBI incompetence or you making up a good story wishing that you are important. Truth or fiction, either way you write well.

Any intelligence service analyzing me are welcome to call if you wonder about anything. laughs

Of my former students, two work for the FBI, one worked for the Secret Service, another for The Internal Revenue Service (He carried a gold badge and a gun) and one girl for NSA.

Intelligence is big business in the U.S. I asked the IRS agent for a favor in regard to finding out about my file. In return, I visited his mother in a nursing home and sang songs to her.

AFAIK, CANDU reactors can used LWR "burnt" fuel without repeocessing (just make sure packaging fits) and also breed 0.7 to 0.8 for 1 with thorium.  Using used "waste" fuel makes a 70% breeding ratio look good.

CANDU is a very safe design.  Just a fuel hog (unimportant with used fuel) and low heat densities (smaller reactors).

If you "repackage" LWR fuel into CANDU you are reprocessing.  In fact, you have to chop it up and dissolve it in nitric acid to make new UO2 pellets of the right size.  Might as well take out the fission fragments to clean it up while you're at it.

The residual uranium and new plutonium once cleaned is still more reactive than the natural uranium which CANDUs are designed to use.

However, the CANDU is a sow of a reactor.  I've worked on them and they are complicated, expensive, and low performance compared to modern light water reactors.  Throughly engineered, I will say, but hardly of interest to US utilities given current and projected yellowcake and SWU costs.

It seems entirely possible to take the same pellets and put them into CANDU fuel rods.  Basically a matter of diameter.  Use robots or remote control and take them out of old fuel bundle and put them in the new.

Just design the CANDU to use a common Westinghouse or GE diameter fuel.

If fuel stays cheap, there will be limited appeal, I agree.  But we have LOTS of "free fuel" and cheap thorium.

The U233 bred from Th could be used in LWR (perhaps 70% breeding factor).  A solution to the uranium "shortage".

Granted the author has a bias, but this piece describes two different dry processes for using spent LWR fuel in CANDU reactors. Much of the complexity in the basic CANDU design appears to me to be the result of allowing refueling while the reactor is operating. Can we design a heavy-water reactor that keeps what I regard as the main benefit of the CANDU design -- flexibility of fuel cycles, from unenriched uranium to used LWR fuel to thorium -- while simplifying it?
Complex and expensive safeguards needed?
You bet.

Complex and expensive == Doomed to fail

'That the future is increasingly nuclear is hardly a news for anyone thinking pragmatically.'

..and expensively.

SXR buys uranium assets
NEAL FRONEMAN: Uranium has increased from when we got into the uranium market in 2003 at around $11 to about $46 a pound today - so there have been very significant increases. Our expectations are that the uranium price will continue to increase quite substantially - $50 a pound is a very conservative target, and that's based on the supply and demand gap that's easily demonstrable. In terms of our assets - if you could buy a producing uranium mine in the world now you would be very lucky - they just don't exist. In fact Dominion would probably be one of the first new ones to come into production - a three year lead time for a brand new mine is very short, so people should really just watch us.

--How do Uranium prices track against oil prices?  Does there seem to be a correlation beyond the obvious surface comparison? $11:$46 - $28:$75 (in loosely the same timeframe)

"- as long as they promise not to use them for making nuclear bombs."  Promises, promises..

At $50/pound uranium nuclear fuel is stil 2-3% of the cost of the electricity. It will take a long long rise for it to make a negative impact on the nuclear industry.

The problem is that, despite high prices it needs technological time for new supplies to come online. Historically, invesments in Uranium exploration and mining have been several orders of magnitude less then oil & gas but this is obviously about to change. In the meantime buying uranium mining stock would be a very good idea, IMO.

The price has tripled in three years, and new supplies are being sought in an escalating exploration boom, but we're not sure of the 'proven reserves'..  this buyer (above) saying that you're lucky if you have a producing mine, because new ones just aren't coming online..

It sounds an awful lot like Saudi Princes talking..

3 years is nothing. We should talk again in 5-6 years at least.
USA uranium exploration investment has averaged  around a million dollars a year, until recently I think.  The world spends this much in an hour on oil exploration. If you don't bother to look for something, you probably won't find it.

I think it is counterproductive to draw analogies between oil and uranium.  

The NYT article about Chinese growth in coal-fired electricity production is sobering. China is adding the generating capacity of France every 2 years? Chinese coal consumption and CO2 emissions may triple by 2030? These stats certainly bring home the vertigo-inducing reality of what it means when a billion poor people start gunning for U.S. levels of energy consumption.
I doubt China will be able to ramp-up it's coal production to such levels. This nasty law of deminishing returns plays out everywhere and I expect them to slow down and stall long before 2030.

Extrapolation is a dangerous thing to do.

A very important and often overlooked point.
BP statistical review  China has 114500 million
tonnes coal reserves R/P 52 years
 only 62200 is anthracit or bituminous and 95%
of production is mined from anthracit or bituminos
coal. So the best coal will be run out in 28 years
 i.e 2034. But their coal production has increased
buy over 100 million tonnes a year, for the last
3 years, and they have not started to use the
coal for liquid fuel yet but plans are well in
hand. which means that the good quality coal
will be used up in 20 years. Except that they
will hit peak coal before that and not be able
to continue to expand coal use. Then where will
they get the extra fule from.
 Of course the reserves in the BP review for
coal have not changed from the 2005 report
so how did they produce 1800 short tons last
That's the thing - they'll want to get the energy from the same places we're planning to get it, which means conflict.
What the hell is short ton? Is that like a heavy mile? :-)
long ton= 20 hundredweight= 1.016 mertic tonnes
short ton=2000 pounds=0.907 metric tonne
What's the one law, something like...what can go wrong will go wrong.

So let me get this straight...We've got drought in the midwest due to [fill in the blank(Global WM?)].  So corn crops will die and at the same time we need more of this stuff so we can burn it in our cars.  We're doomed.

Maybe this guy has the best idea... http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060709/NEWS10/607090341/1001

An Iowa judge has denied unemployment benefits to a man who claimed discrimination after being fired from an ethanol plant for drinking "automobile fuel" produced by the company.
hahaha.  Thanks for that one.  In Nebraska, the price of E85 (if you can get it) is now 3.79/gallon and E10 is at least ten cents higher than regular unleaded.  Local ethanol supporters/investors are upset about these prices because its not selling (obviously).  Also, because less gasoline was sold here this past year, we've just increased our gas tax by one cent.  This means that, due to mandates, ethanol is being shipped to be used farther away, that's why its price has gone up locally.  (It makes less sense all the time!)  RR always points out that we irrigate to produce corn to produce ethanol here in some parts of the state, so that gives ethanol produced here an even lower EROI.  In todays local news, many irrigators here are switching to electrical power (from other sources such as propane or deisel) to reduce their overhead costs of growing corn.  (Just a sign of things to come with demands on our power grid.)
In Minnesota E-85 universally goes for forty cents a gallon less than 87 octane regular. (BTW, E-85 is generally rather high octane.)

My smartest daughter, Jill, lives in Lincoln, NE. She tells me your legislators are a mix of Neanderthals and more primitive types.

Now in progressive Minnesota, home of Eugene McCarthy and the late much-lamented Paul Welstone, not to mention the one and only Jesse "The Body" Ventura, we are up 305% in one quarter on E-85 sales. I'm getting kind of old, but with a growth rate like that (were it to continue) we are mostly going to be using E-85 as soon as the car makers put some more flex-fuel vehicles on the road--which they have bigtime tax and other incentives to do so. My next vehicle will most certainly run on E-85, even if I have to pay for the modifications myself.

E-85 is obviously not the "solution" to Peak Oil. But I like it, and it seems to reduce engine wear by about fifty percent, if the testimony of 25 yr. experienced mechanics at Ford can be believed. (And what possible incentive could they have to lie to me?)

Wow, Minnesota is really subsidizing their E85, according to our comparitive prices.  I guess they have to, with all those stations.  You'd all be in trouble if you let the market establish the price.  
We welcome any great Carleton brains here in Lincoln.  As for politics, I try to stay away from that subject, but we are the home of independent thinkers--Bob Kerrey, Ben Nelsen, Chuck Hagel.  I sure did like that Minnesota bumper sticker a few years ago, though, that said "My governor can beat up your governor".  
Murphy's Law.

But the corollary is that things won't go wrong until the worst possible moment and then they will all go wrong together.

So yes, the convergence of PO and GW and maybe some new biological vector attack like West Nile (mosquito borne) or H5N1 (bird borne) can be the combination that collapses the camel's back.

The amazing thing is that these are the real threats to survival and yet the politicians like to focus on "terrrrrrorrrrists" and homeland insecurity. The fiction is more convenient than the truths (... and more porfitable).

Don't forget the ultimate evil- Internet gambling.
Don't forget the ultimate evil- Internet gambling.

Nah...Gay Marriage!

Could global warming dry up wine industry?
New report warns North Coast may get too hot in coming century

Rising temperatures could transform Wine Country's mild climate into one as sweltering as Tijuana, Mexico, eliminating Sonoma and Napa counties' competitive edge in producing world-class wines.

Although not mentioned in the article, Mendocino County, the next county north of Sonoma Cty., is one of the largest producing areas of organic wine grapes.

I attend an all-day pest seminar each year that is mainly for grape growers.  There was a time in my life, many years ago, that my wife and considered starting a vineyard.  After hearing their troubles year after year, I'm glad we didn't.

Top-quality wine grapes can be and are grown from the Tropics to way up in Canada and possibly Alaska.

The problem we face all over the world is low wine prices and absurdly low rates of return on money invested in vinyards.

Peak wine was maybe a few years ago.

In the EU countries there is an ocean of plonk that governments have to buy because nobody wants to drink it.

Surpluses, not shortages, that is the problem when it comes to wine.

Except for gasoline, perhaps wine is the most underpriced good in the U.S.

In the EU countries there is an ocean of plonk

IIRC, surplus French wine was being turned into ethanol. Not sure what the EROEI is :)

They should be hoarding it for after the crash, for bartering purposes of course.
The French wine industry is reported to have sold 100 million litres of chardonnay and pinot noir to refineries in 2005 to turn into ethanol to mix with gasoline, bringing new meaning to the term "exhaust sniffer".
Note that every single storage tank was full to overflowing. They had to do something with it. For at least the last quarter century both France and Italy have been drowning in plonk.

BTW, I am a wine snob. No way would I drink that contaminated swill the French pay mucho dinero for. Give me a good California, or an Australian, So. African, wine from Chile or NZ, but French wine is often adulterated.

Quelle domage!

Quel dommage, s'il vous plait.
I was trying to be funny.

Oh well.

Jack: If they want to drink Merlot, we're drinking Merlot.
Miles Raymond: No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!
Who the hell is Miles Raymond? As somebody said - "As long as it's gonna be that kind of party, I'll stick my d*** in the mash-potatoes."
The whole vineyard business is nuts.  Years ago it was whites.  They lost popularity so growers re-budded to mild reds.  Then they found out that ARX1 rootsrock was attacked by phylloxera lousy so everyone pulled their vineyards and replanted on different rootstock.  Cabs were hot then so everyone went with them creating a glut.  Then it switched to merlot.  Then it went to syrah.  Now growers are rebudding to pinots because it's the hot wine.  In the mean time, glassywinged sharpshooter was infecting vines and now the grape vine meally bug is infesting lots of vineyards and, so far, it is impossinle to control organically so the organic growers are worried.  Then wineries wanted low yields (1 1/2 tons per acre) to have pronounced flavor but wouldn't pay for the expense of removing bunches and lower yields.  Then they wouldn't accept grapes with 22+ BRIX but wanted 28+ BRIX.  The only way to get this is for the grapes to lose water hanging on the vine (hang time)which meant the growers got screwed on a ton basis again.  And, all of this gets into terroir which I don't even want to talk about.  Finally, there is the world-wide glut....
 I hooked up with my bestest buddy on the 4th; came up here to his  father-in-law's ranch in Redwood Valley. 25 acres of Chardonnay last year, but couldn't find a market, cuz most of Mendo had gone to reds.
Also went out and hiked the west fork of the Russian. Major damage in Jan; 6 feet of water in the lowest part of the vineyard. Dug out a 30 foot long,  16 foot deep gully overnight.They filled it with the silt left in the vineyard. Pear orchard across the river lost 4 or 5 trees when the river ate the bank away. Impressive.
Now OPEC is becoming a lot easier to read - 'Energy security has to be seen from two sides of the coin - supply security and demand certainty' - OPEC doesn't care about supply certainty, they only care about demand certainty.

Which, while logical enough, shows just how well they have managed to warp perspectives after a few decades of existence as part of the great global free market - everybody buying oil thought OPEC cared about supplying them.

What a true joke on us all.

Are you laughing?

Yes, yes bad form, but my new OPEC translator just arrived.

OPEC Translation - 'Before we spend the money you have already sent us, we want to make certain you will keep sending us even more money. Or else you can just keep sending us money anyways.'

I should have read the whole article first -

'"What OPEC is really concerned about is discrimination of oil vis-a-vis alternatives - if you look at levels of taxation in Europe, this clearly discriminates against oil and goes beyond environment (concerns).'

My heart is bleeding for those poor OPEC members, being picked on by those ugly European non-oil consumers trying to use alternatives, for reasons which as so discriminating. Lucky there are still the Americans to pick up the slack, competing with the Chinese.

Or is that luck?

This is very touching indeed.

But, for the fairness and all, Europe is hardly making anything meaningful to replace oil dependancy yet. The most effective thing - the heavy taxation, has been around from the very beginning and for the most part has accomplished its goal. IMO too few sensible things have come out from the European beurocrats in the meantime. Most countries are still opposing nuclear power (on idealogical grounds) and instead are going down the path of biofuels which, besides hardly making any dent, promises to be quite enviromentally destructive when ramped up.

In addition Europe is still sitting on the same train as US, as their joint efforts for intimidating and controlling countries like Iran, Russia etc. suggest. And you know how US treats its allies in the end...

I think the point about oil dependency is both correct, and not - that is, Europe certainly uses oil, and there isn't any real replacement for oil in sight. (Which is unfortunate, seeing as how peak is likely now.) On the other hand, in places like Germany, falling back to a simpler lifestyle - things like locally grown food, towns built on a walking scale, cities connected by rail, and so on, are not being planned or discussed - they are just part of living here.

Most European countries are not opposing nuclear power, though Germany definitely is - mainly, regardless of political party, because the Germans have a real problem with dealing with nuclear waste. Another one of those long term planning things which seem to crop up so regularly in Germany - you can call this ideology is you wish, most Germans seem to see this more in terms of morality - if you can't clean up after yourself, you have no right making a mess. Very un-American, I know.

In exchange, the Germans do hope to sell the world wind turbines and solar cells - and since no one is predicting peak wind or peak sun anytime soon, my guess is that the Germans are making a smart move, especially since they will also sell you high speed ICE trains, or a very fast maglev system to go with them. I will say the Siemens is not too happy about this development, being a major nuclear supporter. My guess is that OPEC isn't really happy about this sort of thing either - it is so discriminating against oil, which is unfair. After all, OPEC is entitled to every last drop of your money for every last drop of their oil, right?

In spite of the Green parties proclaimed myths, long-term waste management is a quite solvable a successfully solved issue in many countries. Some of them (France, Russia) are presumably technically behind the level which Germany (rightfully IMO) claims to be. In fact prior to Chernobyl Germany was a leader both in technologies for waste management (vitrification is a Germany-developed technology), and a leader in the nuclear power industry.

Clearly it is all a public relations/political issue. Of course this will soon change (given the German pragmatism), but the question is how fast.

Still, I don't really know if it's a good idea to ramp up conventional nuclear power, when taking into account uranium production and price trends. Nuclear power stations take 5 to 10 years to build (after being approved, which may take up to ten years depending on the country) and have a lifetime of at least 30 to 40 years, and there is definitely no certainty about the availability of cheap uranium in 2040.

Breeder reactors are of course better (and they generally produce more easily manageable waste) but the technology is not quite mature enough yet for large-scale application, and then there's the plutonium issue. Were there not these issues, no one would be using conventional nuclear power anymore.

Make that 60 years for modern BWR:s and PWR:s and almost any part can be replaced as it wears out. The life lenght limiter is probably if the overall building design is ok, if the concrete was of good quality and competition from newer designs with better efficiency.
You've hit on exactly the reason there will be few if any new reactors. It's ten to twenty years before energy out pays off energy in. Maybe longer. As we get deeper in an energy hole even the diehards will eventually concede the first law of holes. Stop digging.
There will likely be a few stsrtups as the lobbyists never quit and the pols always love the big big projects but I would expect the inevitable cost overruns and delays will not be dealt with so kindly a few years out.
Well, first a story, then my opinion.

Sinking Brent Spar was a huge issue, one which took on a number of mythical attributes. What really worked for Greenpeace in Germany was the littering analogy - if it is illegal to throw a coke can off a ship (and it is), why should it be legal to simply sink oil platforms?

Unfortunately, sinking carefully cleaned oil platforms is a fine way to foster healthy ecosystems, as seen in areas in the coastal U.S. (The careful cleaning is relevant, however - and Greenpeace simply lied about toxic sludge in Brent Spar.)

But by this point, the lines were so fixed that a reasonable compromise of creating habitat in exchange for not sinking any problematic or uncleaned structures was politically impossible, and Greenpeace wasn't interested in being exposed as a bunch of lying morons anyways (anyone notice Greenpeace USA offering airline trips to islands as an incentive to donate money, or some such maybe a year ago - and the same stubborn stupidity in dealing with it after people pointed out how contrary this was to real environmental principles?).

As might be guessed, I think Greenpeace is essentially a fraudulent money making machine at this point of their existence.

But the basic point, that sinking uncleaned platforms is not a good way to get rid of them is still true, and the reason many people objected to the practice is still valid, both emotionally and technically - though in the case of oil platforms, the technical problem is manageable.

There are currently no technologies which can deal with disposing of a reactor's containment vessel, for example, apart from moving it somewhere else - and barging old containment vessels from U.S. subs and also the decommisioned Trojan plant only works because Hanford is such a hellishly contaminated area of the planet that a few thousand more tons of 'low level' waste is just lost in the mess. For the record, I have a sister in law who was a materials engineer at Savannah River - anybody advocating nuclear power at least should be aware of the very long term mistakes made at various DOE facilities - and the utter disinterest in having anybody find out about those mistakes, much less deal with them. She certainly thought so, and she really hated people asking various questions, and had no problem working around the reactor 5 months pregnant - not the control room, mind. (If this helps you get an idea of how risky she considered her work - and how cautious her employer was.)

To get back to the point - no one has even come close to dealing with all the long term problems associated with the nuclear infrastructure we have already built, and this is likely to be another little gift that peak oil will present us.

I will also add, the largest problems at Hanford or Savannah are not actually radioactive, they are essentially toxic - some of those 'holding ponds' and barrel mounds are fascinating experiments in exotic chemistry - shame that nobody thought to document what they were doing, ca. 1954.

The East Germans also had a taste of this, as the Russians mined uranium in the 1950s, in fairly typical Stalinist style.

I am very open minded to nuclear in some senses (pebble bed looks promising enough from a safe design perspective, for example) and do consider the anxiety about radioactivity to be more superstition than anything else. But to say that vitrification or some other technological fix solves the problem of A or B is somewhat missing the point - who is going to pay for this 'unanticipated' expense? Essentially, the German perspective is that the disposal cost has to be considered as part of the project, and suddenly, the economics look very, very different. Sort of like fossil fuels - OPEC and the oil companies aren't paying for climate change - we are, since we can't resist the bargain oil represents - as long as we focus on nothing but the price at the pump.

Nuclear power is essentially sold the same way, and in the end, we will likely buy it.

If I am correctly informed the Finns propose to solve the reactor vessel proposal by the following steps:

  1. Blast a wide and deep hole in the bedrock next to the reactor being decomissioned.

  2. Weld the pipe openings in the reaactor vessel shut with thick steel plates.

  3. Cut the active parts of the reactor loop to pieces and fill the reactor vessel with them. Probably with the voids filled with concrete.

  4. Bolt on the lid, your waste is now its own containment.

  5. Put it in the bottom of the hole and pour on concrete.

But this might not be correct, only smart.

The Swedish plan is to cut the active loop into small pieces, sort them by activity, melt and treat all of the steel that can be recycled to minimise the waste, pack it into small containers and store them in an enlargement of the current low and medium level waste facility.

The planning is fairly detailed to correctly size the waste management fund that gets a small % of each kWh sold. I have not read the details, only summaries.

A Swedish company is already doing this with used steam generators. The top layer exposed to the radiactive loop is sand blasted away and the rest of the steam generator is melted, treated to extract some of the radiactive substances and then sold as regular scrap if it goes well. The sand blasted stuff is probably melted into a massive body.  But these parts are not neutron activated as the preassure vessel is. The procedure is much more expensive then the worth of the steel but it did solve a waste handling problem.

Finns are tough and shrewd and smart.

We should study what they do and often do likewise, IMO.

Look what they did to the Russians during the "Winter War" of 1940-41--one of the most astonishing exploits in all of military history.

I am impressed by Finns.

But in Minnesota there are many Finnlander jokes and much ill-feeling to Finns, which I do not fully understand.

For example, commonly heard in Grand Rapids, Minnesota:

"What is the difference between a Finnlander and a thug who will slit your throat for a dollar?"


"The Finn will slit your throat for half a dollar."

As a sociologist I collect ethnic jokes and study ethnocentrism, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.
To discriminate against Finns or to say they are stupid or ignorant or bad . . . . ABSURD!

For my 50th birthday I was surrounded by Finns, including Tapio Piirainen and Kai Lehtinen.
The economics of the backend of the nuclear fuel cycle are  highly dependent on who's doing it.

In the US, a once-through, throwaway cycle costs $100 billion for the government's Yucca Mountain project.

Going to private reprocessing plus actinide burning might cost $20 to $40 billion plus provide new fuel for $1 trillion worth of wholesale electricity.

I would also like to remind everyone that the Cold Warriors building nuclear weapons at Hanford, Savannah River, Rocky Flats, etc lived by a different set of rules than we civilian nuclear engineers see today.

I agree that the pebble bed reactor design is interesting and worthy of development capital.  However, it is not yet ready for commercial deployment.  What the market wants  today is scaled-up light water reactors with proven technology.  No one wants to gamble with billions of their own capital.

You are certainly right about that - though it has been years, and I won't take the time to check, my memory from the media/sister-in-law is that when Dow lost the Savannah contract, Westinghouse took over. Westinghouse, being a commercial nuclear company, started asking some very basic questions at the facility, things like where do you keep the manuals to handle various contingencies? The employees said 'what manuals?' and Westinghouse essentially did an emergency shut down (metaphor here - nothing was really running at the time anyways).

After getting a look at what was still essentially a 1950s industrial facility, Westinghouse immediately demanded more money, and a waiver of responsibility/liability - my understanding is that they did this for better reasons than cash flow - a fairly responsible commercial operator was simply shocked at was going on, and did its best to get the whole thing shut down as quietly as possible.

"There are currently no technologies which can deal with disposing of a reactor's containment vessel, for example, apart from moving it somewhere else"

Sorry, it's the laws of physics - matter is not lost just changing forms. Considering that indeed this is a low-level waste, which will not be dangerous for organisms after several years, sacrificing several square miles of land out in the nowhere looks to me as an acceptable price for avoiding civilisation collapse. I know for some people it is not - but I don't really care, since I have that personal persuation that these people have never been cold and hungry in their lives.

For the DOE irresponsibility I agree completely. This is just another proof to me that we humans have the talant of making a mess with almost anything we get our hands on. Unfortunately the really big mess is already done - we have 6.5 billion people to feed. Since voluntary lemmings-style suicide is hardly an option, I suggest we finally get a hold of ourselves and start acting responsibly. I know that we can act responsibly in regards to nuclear power but whether we will depends a lot on what we do now.

At some point, you run out of square miles, since there is no longer a middle of nowhere - at least from a German perspective. Of course, they don't have any deserts, for example.

I no longer have the link to the Navy document detailing the work at Hanford, Bremerton, etc., but the extensive PCB removal involving soundproofing material on a few older compartments seems to have gone swimmingly - no one thought about at first (the other 'scattered' PCBs in wire insulation and such is considered minor - and in general, that is likely true enough). The seven miles to the Columbia River from the open pit where something like 83 sub reactor compartments, a few cruiser reactor compartments, and so on, are still waiting to be covered with dirt - currently, they are just sitting there, all openings welded shut  - seems like a huge margin just in case something was overlooked, I'm sure. As a matter of fact, I am fairly certain there must be at least some sort of barrier between the surrounding soil/groundwater and the vessels, though the document didn't mention it at all. Right? Nobody would overlook such a basic detail.

But since neither you or I are very unlikely to ever be allowed to check, we can just take it on faith.

Not messing things up is so much smarter than cleaning up afterwards.

I may add my opposition to blasting mountaintops off to fill valleys to get to coal is based on the same basic premise as my opposition to current nuclear power technology - this is just short term stupidity based on greed and a willingness to ignore any future responsibility.

The Finnish plan does sound interesting for new reactors - it won't work at the Phillipsburg nuclear plant near here, which basically sits on the Rhine, though.

As a matter of fact, one reason (among many) the nuclear phase out in Germany was set decades into the future is that quite honestly, no one here does know how to deal with the old facilities in a practical and economic manner, which means the college students of today can deal with their grandparents' and parents' mess. It tends to be a real weakness for the proponents of nuclear power in Germany. If they can solve that major problem, within a reasonable budget, nuclear power is likely to overcome Green opposition in Germany (maybe not - fear of radioactivity is a real superstition). But until now, the German nuclear industry is mainly hoping that when the lights start flickering, the short term will beat the long term, as it generally does in human affairs.

An interesting side note - at least some current nuclear facilities do have a weakness in the water intake/temperature aspect - a number of plants had to be brought offline during severe drought/heatwaves in Europe, since they weren't engineered for such 'extreme' conditions. Don't bet on current nuclear technology as being a panacea - a significant shift in water levels/temperatures at river/lake based sites could essentially make a number of facilities non-functional. Obviously, new facilities can be built with this in mind.

Using the OPEC translator -

'Really, those Europeans are just not following our rules - the only people who are supposed to be getting a cut of our oil revenues are us. Worse, the EU actually seems to be getting semi-serious about not wanting to buy every last single drop of oil we can pump. This is not fair. We want demand certainty, but not that variety. That is discrimination - besides, we really want your euros more anyways, so maybe if you stop discriminating, we can knock a bit off the price - it certainly worked for the Americans for the last 2 decades, and you want to be just like them, right? Right?'

Actually, I think the translator was adding some commentary on that one.

What is this OPEC translator? This is funny as shit. You gotta keep this up. When did you turn into a comedian? I like that last line.

BTW. Does anybody know what the Woody Allen 'Moose' bit is? I can't ever remember hearing it. A certain American comic is claiming it to be one of the funniest pieces ever.

I am a Woody Allen (and Mel Brooks) fanatic, but I do not recall any "Moose" bit, except maybe something he wrote back in the day for "Sat. Night Live" or something like that.
"Here's a story you're not going to believe. I shot a moose once. I was hunting in upstate New York, and I shot a moose.

"And I strap him onto the fender of my car, and I'm driving along the West Side Highway. But what I didn't realize was that the bullet did not penetrate the moose. It just creased his scalp, knocking him unconscious. And I'm driving through the Holland Tunnel and the moose wakes up.

"So I'm driving with a live moose on my fender and the moose is signaling for a turn. And there's a law in New York State against driving with a conscious moose on your fender, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. And I'm very panicky. And then it hits me--some friends of mine are having a costume party. I'll go. I'll take the moose. I'll ditch him at the party. It won't be my responsibility. So I drive up to the party and I knock on the door, and the moose is next to me. My host comes to the door. I say, 'Hello, you know the Solomons.' We enter. The moose mingles. Did very well. Scored. Some guy was trying to sell him insurance for an hour and a half.

"Twelve o'clock comes, they give out prizes for the best costume of the night. First prize goes to the Berkowitzes, a married couple dressed as a moose. The moose comes in second. The moose is furious. He and the Berkowitzes lock antlers in the living room. They knock each other unconscious. Now, I figure, here's my chance. I grab the moose, strap him on my fender, and shoot back to the woods. But I've got the Berkowitzes. So I'm driving along with two Jewish people on my fender. And there's a law in New York State, Tuesday, Thursday, and especially Saturday....

"The following morning, the Berkowitzes wake up in the woods in a moose suit. Mr. Berkowitz is shot, stuffed, and mounted at the New York Athletic Club. And the joke is on them, 'cause it's restricted."

Ahhh. Thank You. I'm going to have to evaluate this.

Jim Norton who is currently available on the O&A show stands by this as top notch. I always trust Jimmy, but nobody ever trusts him. I'm going to have to see Woody's live bit to make up my mind.

"We in OPEC do not subscribe to the peak-oil theory."

Note that we have had prominent back-to-back denials of Peak Oil, yesterday in the WSJ, and today by OPEC.  IMO, continued evidence of the "Iron Triangle" at work.  

If memory serves, Ayn Rand, in Atlas Shrugged, said that one could discern the truth from assuming the opposite of what most of the media and most government officials were saying.   As I said before, this kind of thing always reminds me of someone who, when you meet them, starts by assuring you of how honest they are (I always check to make sure I still have my wallet whenever I hear something like this.)

"Iron Triangle" Description:  http://www.energybulletin.net/15126.html

Congressman Ron Paul:  "Why are people so angry?"


This is a long, but interesting, speech by Ron Paul.

In addition to the items cited by Ron Paul,  I would add a growing sense of resource scarcity to the list.  I think that Americans are beginning to realize that natural resources are finite after all, and they are looking for someone to blame--besides themselves of course.

I sometimes to listen to automotive journalist Ed Wallace, here in the Dallas area (I believe that he also has an online column at Business Week), to see if he has changed his tune on Peak Oil.  Not as of this past weekend.  This weekend,  Ed said that would not see Peak Oil in our lifetimes, in our children's lifetimes and probably not in our grandchildren's lifetimes.  

He said that we have only used about one trillion of seven trillion or more in recoverable conventional and unconventional reserves.  Note that Ed Wallace appears to make his money primarily from selling advertising to auto dealers.  Ed blames high oil prices on the "Big Lie" promulgated by Boone Pickens, et al, to-wit, that oil is scarce and that Peak Oil is close.

Since Ed is really an advertising outlet for car dealers, I consider him in effect the third part of the "Iron Triangle," a representative of the auto/housing/finance leg, providing a trifecta of sorts of Peak Oil Denials--Ed Wallace, the WSJ and OPEC.

I am beginning to notice a little bit of an air of panic among the anti-Peak Oil crowd.

I have a generally favorable opinion of Ron Paul, but I think he pulled his punches a little on this one.  He begins by citing the disconnect between generally positive economic indicators and the sour mood of the populace.  But I think many here would take issue with the consistently upbeat economic picture that is painted month after month by Wall St, the MSM and the US government.  And I would guess that much of middle America would agree that all of this rosy news doesn't carry over to their personal financial situation.

On a personal level, one of my wife's co-workers recently "hit the wall" and the results were heart-breaking.  We had known for some time that she and her disabled husband were having financial problems but it came to a head when she was caught returning employee-discounted merchanidise to a store and receiving a full refund.  Don't ask how she was able to pull it off.  It happened.  Anyway, predictably, she was fired and now she is working to support the two of them on a minimum wage paycheck while they prepare to file bankruptcy. While this is just one story, I know of a number of other folks that are not far from finding themselves in similar straits.

I suspect that average folk, subjected as they are on a daily basis to stories of multi-million dollar CEO pay packages, buyouts, and golden parachutes, are feeling (correctly) that they have been shut out of "the big pinata grab."  And many probably feel (correctly) that when their little boat swamps, they'll be lucky to find that the local food pantry isn't out of canned goods.

The bottom line is -- and I suspect even the most optimistic readers/posters here will agree -- that between Peak Oil and global job-outsourcing/relocation -- much of the American middle class is going to be squeezed completely dry.  I won't go as far as to say that things might not sooner or later even out, oh, say, 20, 30, or 40 years down the road, but many of us Boomers -- especially those at the tail end -- are going to be living a very lean and mean existence in our latter years.

On the other hand, I suppose you have to have some sympathy for those on top of the heap, too: They have the formidable job of "boiling the frog" without having the frog turn on them.

What will be the public mood when the offical unemployment is 8.9% ?  12.3% ?  And gas is [insert large #], NG is [insert another large #] and electricity is [insert, you know] ?
Who said that we're only a couple of missed meals away from a revolution?
"On the other hand, I suppose you have to have some sympathy for those on top of the heap, too: They have the formidable job of "boiling the frog" without having the frog turn on them."

Thanks, Tarzan. A nice mental image -- a truly pissed off frog. I'll take a laugh wherever and whenever offered.

Interesting link:


The interesting part being:

Even if the US devoted all its corn to ethanol and all its soybeans to biodiesel production - which would cause widespread food shortages - the resulting biofuels would cover less than 5% of US gasoline and diesel fuel needs, they calculate.

A better solution in the long run, Tilman suggests, is to produce ethanol from non-food sources such as prairie grasses and woody plants. Such "cellulosic" ethanol may offer much greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Indeed, the US Department of Energy released a report on Friday endorsing cellulosic ethanol as a way to replace 30% of US petroleum fuels by 2030.

Since we all like figures, don't we?

The article about air conditioning mentioned last week included this bit: the amount of extra car fuel used in the USA for AC alone is double the amount of ethanol currently produced in the USA.

About 5.5 percent of the gasoline burned annually by America's cars and light trucks -- 7 billion gallons -- goes to run air-conditioners. That's equivalent to the total oil consumption of Indonesia, a petroleum-rich country with a population size comparable to ours.

If I remember correctly a modern vehicle with air conditioning on, at highway speed, is more efficient than the same vehicle with it's windows rolled down, due to aerodynamics.  Now if you can stand to have the windows rolled up without AC, then more power to you.
That is why Mercedes built sunroofs.  Ventilation with minimal additional drag.

So far this New Orleans summer, I have only run a/c once; to defog windows in the morning.  Warm but acceptable with partially open sun roof.

Local trees help quite a bit as well.


  You are obviously not a Scandinavian born in Boston.  Anything over 80 and I'm dying.  OTOH, I can sit in the 40's with a sweatshirt and be perfectly happy.

From Minnesota, I agree. Anything over 80% and 50% humidity is cruel and unusual punishment.

But minus 30 F., no problem. Just layer up your clothes.

Whoops!! I meant to say "80 degrees F."

Eighty percent humidity would kill me. I do not know how people live in southern regions such as Houston or St. Louis.

I despise air conditioning, though I have it in my car for kids and grandkids.

Never in a hundred years would I air condition my home. What would be the point. I cannot remember the last day temps went above 90 degrees F., though I benefit from a great many shade trees and am some dozen miles away from the "heat island" effect of the Twin Cities.

well as i allways said.
"you can put cloths on but you can't take off your skin."
At 8:22 PM, 20 minutes past sunset, it is 82 F and 70% RH (72 F dew point, slightly below average).

Don't trust air you can't chew !

Ah, sounds just like DC in August.
I refuse to air condition too. Basement, Lake Michigan work fine on the bad days.
Minneapolis had 91 July 3 and July 8, 2006.
On those days my temp topped out at 83 and 84.

Minneapolis is a horrible heat island. Would not live there for all tea in China.

Heat islands are GOOD in Minnesota winters !  And many times in spring & fall.

>Never in a hundred years would I air condition my home.

With a hundred years of GW you might !

No way!

If global warming inundates all of the S.E. U.S. and turns St. Louis into an ocean port (which may indeed happen), then I would just dig a sub basement.

And then a sub-sub-basement.

People who live in tornado zones without a basement or other underground shelter are, I.M.O. just waiting to collect their Darwin Awards.

BTW, I've heard that hurricanes spin off tornadoes, hmmmm?

BTW, I've heard that hurricanes spin off tornadoes, hmmmm?

Tornado spawn is one of the most, if not the most, dangerous parts of a hurricane landfall actually.  Mostly because they're unpredictable.

Back when my car had AC (took if off because of a collision and didn't feel like fixing it, never used it much anyway)...the compensator didn't work right and so when it would cycle on, it was like I had hit the brakes and slowed down about 5mph.  The seamlessness with the throttle compensation working makes it seem like it takes no power to run at all.
I had a 2001 hyundai tiburon 5 speed until last year.  I trash the korean build quality without restraint, but one thing always got me about this car.  I got 2-3 MORE mpg when i used the ac in the summer.  I've always been told that rolling down the windows saves more gas, but when i started keeping track I was alarmed.  I literally got minimum 1mpg improvement and as much as 3 mpg on a trip from STL to the Ozarks.  I came to the conclusion that my comfort is worth paying for (home or auto), so my AC runs  most times.
I am looking into a big investment in PV just to make sure I can have access to some AC in the future, regardless of any stress in the grid's infrastructure.  The only thing holding me back is a worry that new technology (nano maybe?) will make it seemingly worthless.  I don't want to throw away >50k...  But then again if my house is on the market in a powerdown situation, having guaranteed power may be a lot better than a 500 sq. ft. foyer.
The sad pattern is to endorse future technology rather than current conservation.

(I'd gladly pay you in 2030 for an SUV today)

We could use all of our farmland growing corn for ethanol and get 10% of what we need or use 10% of our land growing algae for BTL and meet all our liquid fuel needs. Pond scum to the rescue!
Algae is not the answer.  Neither is hemp, switchgrass, etc.   They have the same problems than any crop has.  Growing it in the lab or on small test plot is not the same as growing it en masse, in monoculture.    
Who said anything about monoculture (which, I agree, is an unmitigated evil)?

IMO pond scum, along with a whole bunch of other good ideas presented on TOD, is one more silver BB.

I like mixed strategies.

If you read the UNH and NREL reports they say it might be best to just grow whatever blows in the wind. You might get a decent oil producing mix but that is neccesary for other BTL technologies. The majority of vehicles are spark ignition and 200 million engines are not going to disappear just because there isn't enough petro to go around. Tranestrification uses only part of the algae's mass where as F-T  uses all of the mass and can produce gasoline. Squeezing algae into pellet stove fuel to displace heating oil, propane, and nat gas could be profitable. Dried algae could elimate coal use in systems recycling flue CO2 and NOx. Algae could be pyrolyzed into charcoal and buried as a carbon sequestration plan.
Why algae, then, and not some other biomass?  Algae requires a lot of water, which is in increasingly scarce.  Why not do what Dubya said, and use corn stalks and such?  Agricultural waste, rather than setting up what would basically be a hydroponic system to grow "whatever blows in."
In spite of being grown in water pound for pound it uses 1/10 the water of traditional irrigated crops. There can be several reasons for this difference number one being the irrigation technique. Overhead spraying leads to evaporation before the water even reaches the crop. Six foot high stalks can transpire considerable amounts of water. Flood irrigation can lead to considerable amounts of water soaking to levels the roots won't reach or flowing into a nearby creek. Algae can use brackish or salty water unsuitable for other crops.
The use of stalks, cobs, and leaves can be combined with algae in BTL projects. Silage though has competeing uses such as cattle feed which means it currently costs more than coal per ton.
A quick comment - Germans do not practice monoculture (I cannot imagine any farmer in this region would ever be idiotic enough to even think monoculture is good agriculture - rotated crops in smaller fields cut down on your pesticide bill, if for absolutely no other reason), and with things like canola/rapeseed, the yield is quite good, since canola/rapeseed seems to fit well into very early spring planting or quite late fall planting - I would hazard to guess, from the yellow blossoms I see around here, that canola/rapeseed actually expands the growing season (so to speak), without crowding out another full crop. Cannot say too much about pesticide/fertilizer use or other soil issues, but no field that I see is used repeatedly for the same crop - not counting some special cases like aspargus/strawberries, where the rotation is more like a couple of years, it seems, and some cornfields which seem to be somehow connected to research.
I don't think you're going to be crop-rotating algae, though.  :)

They've been working on algae from biodiesel since the '70s oil crisis, and the problems have been pretty intractable.  

First is that not all algae makes good biodiesel.  The species they want to grow does fine in the lab, but grown outdoors, it gets crowded out by other algaes/plants.  (Indeed, this commonly used by aquarists to control algae in fishtanks.  Plant heavily, provide everything plants need, and the "higher" plants will out-compete algae for the nutrients, and the algae will die off.)  

They tried to address this by putting the algae tank in the desert, but it didn't work.  Other forms of algae - that didn't make good biodiesel - still took over.  

There's also the usual problems of agriculture:  water, fertilizer, harvesting and processing all that algae.  Really, it's just as bad as growing any other biofuel crop, except you need even more water.

Oops - sure, it is pretty hard to rotate algae and still get workable quantities of fuel. Clearly, I misunderstood since I saw the hemp, switchgrass, etc without thinking about the fact that algae in this sense has to be monoculture - which is really hard to do in the real world.

This time, I did read the whole thing and was still mistaken.

Biodiesel production using algae is another technological promise about the future.  In my view, it's one of those eggs that hasn't hatched.  I might count it later, but I can't count it now.
PetroSun Announces Formation of Algae BioFuels
Thursday June 22, 1:00 pm ET
Subsidiary to Develop Algae-Based Biodiesel
Alternative Energy Resource to Supplement Petroleum-Based Fuels

PHOENIX--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 22, 2006--PetroSun Drilling Inc. (Pink Sheets: PSUD - News), an emerging provider of oilfield services to major and independent producers of oil and natural gas, announced today that the company has formed Algae BioFuels Inc. as a wholly owned subsidiary. Algae BioFuels will be engaged in the research and development of algae cultivation as an energy source in the production of biodiesel, an economically feasible and eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based transportation fuels. The R&D and production facilities for Algae BioFuels will be based in Arizona and Australia.

"PetroSun's formation of Algae BioFuels is a forward-looking strategy," said L. Rayfield Wright, president of PetroSun. "The opportunity to produce a renewable energy product that will assist in providing a healthier planet for future generations cannot be ignored."

Biofuel is any fuel that is derived from biomass -- which contains recently living organisms or their metabolic byproducts. Biofuel is a renewable energy source, unlike other natural resources such as petroleum, coal and nuclear fuels. Agricultural products specifically grown for use as biofuels include corn and soybeans.

Extensive research is currently being conducted to determine the utilization of microalgae as an energy source, with applications being developed for biodiesel, ethanol, methanol, methane and even hydrogen. Independent studies have demonstrated that algae is capable of producing 30 times more oil per acre than the current crops now utilized for the production of biofuels. Algae biofuel contains no sulfur, is non-toxic and highly biodegradable.

The Office of Fuels Development, a division of the Department of Energy, funded a program from 1978 through 1996 under the National Renewable Energy Laboratory known as the "Aquatic Species Program." The focus of this program was to investigate high-oil algae that could be grown specifically for the purpose of wide-scale biodiesel production. Some species of algae are ideally suited to biodiesel production due to their high oil content, in excess of 50%, and extremely rapid growth rates.

One of the biggest advantages of biodiesel, compared to many other alternative transportation fuels, is that it can be used in existing diesel engines, which relieves automotive manufacturers of having to make costly engine modifications. Biodiesel can also be mixed, at any ratio, with conventional petroleum diesel. As a result, the alternative fuel can be used in the current distribution infrastructure, replacing petroleum diesel either wholly, or as a diesel fuel blend with minimal integration costs.

About PetroSun

PetroSun's current operations are concentrated in the Ark-La-Tex region with plans to expand into New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Australia in 2006. PetroSun provides a comprehensive array of products and services to the oil industry. The company's cutting-edge technologies, combined with a proven ability to apply them effectively and safely within a disciplined ROI framework, creates long-term value for PetroSun shareholders and partners. PetroSun is headquartered in Phoenix. For more information about PetroSun visit the company's Web site at http://www.petrosun.us.

Except historical matter contained herein, matters discussed in this news release are forward-looking statements and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements reflect assumptions, and involve risks and uncertainties which may affect the company's business and prospects, and cause actual results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements.

I saw that, and it might mean that my answer is not that far away.  But it's not "hatched" until we know that X barrels per day were achieved at what EROEI and ROI.

(No BPD yet, right?)


Ethanol is a net energy loser.

See the following paper:


The paper you link to discusses corn ethanol, not all ethanol. I don't think anyone at TOD has advocated corn-based ethanol and RR has pretty well demolished the concept in any event. You are killing strawmen, and maybe literally.

Sugar-based ethanol has a proven track record in Brazil and there is no reason it believe that it could not account for 10% of global vehicle fuel use within ten years.

Silver BBs, Cherenkov.

I take it you did NOT read the paper. It  shows that ALL forms of ethanol/methanol recovery from any bio-source is a physical impossibility.

Please read the posted material before getting it wrong.

Where does it say this? I couldn't find it.
I don't know how either one of you read it. But if you did, I congratulate you. I made it through 40 of 52 pages in what seemed like an hour. This was the most awful thing I've ever seen in my life. Flowed like tar sand.

They actually followed standards for footnoting and referencing. This alone makes it one of the most unreadable pieces ever published.

If I was trying to get an important point across and this was my best attempt at doing it - I would shoot myself in the head after.

Cherenkov, please answer Jack's question. Where is it? I'll try to find it again in the morning.

Jack doesn't bullshit. We believe you. We just want a page number.

Great Australian ABC video on peak oil, Run Time 13 minutes.

This video requires only Real Video or Windows Media, unlike the link that was posted yesterday that required Flash Player 8, which I could not get to run.


This video was published last November but for some strange reason I have never seen it before today and I "news.google.com" peak oil every single day. However it came up third today when I news.googled "peak oil"

  After Leanan's link to SA's denial of PO, I was going to point to this Google search result from yesterday, but I'd imagine this must have been well covered here by now..  but just in case.

`Global oil output at peak, set to fall 32% by 2020'
"JULY 10:  The world oil production is at its peak and is set to fall 32% by 2020 as discoveries wane, said Ali Samsam Bakhtiari, a former executive of Iran's state oil company."


Who is Finanacial Express? What's their bent?
Who is Bakhtiari? Known Quantity?

more from that article..

"Saudi Arabia, which produces about 9 million barrel a day, is "struggling" to keep up production, particularly at the Ghawar field, the world's largest, Bakhtiari said. Kuwait's Burgan field, Mexico's Cantarell field and the North Sea fields are already in decline, he said. Russia's production probably already peaked in September 2004, he said.

"Oil producers, including Russia, are overstating their output. The last "super-giant" oil field to be found was seven years ago in Kazakhstan, Bakhtiari said.


Who is Finanacial Express? What's their bent?
Who is Bakhtiari? Known Quantity?

I don't know much about Financial Express, they appear to be a blog site that makes money by click count from "ads by google". They often have some pretty good stuff but sometimes they publish a lot of crap. You must consider the source of each article they publish since they simply publish stuff that other people have written.

Samsam Bakhtiari bills himself as the Senior Expert at the National Iranian Oil Company with 33 years experience in the international gas and oil industry, and lecturer at Tehran University. A profile of him and his experience can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/~asamsamb/sb.htm  Click on "profile" to bring up the above as well as much more about the man,

Also at this site you will find many great articles by Bakhtiari. One very good one is "A Realistic View of Long-term Middle East Production Capacity" May 2003. But they are all very good.

But I do not understand why you ask Jokuhl. Every article you read about peak oil must be weighed and the source considered. Is Bakhtiari a reliable source? I would say that he probably knows as much, or more, about the Middle East oil situation than most. So yes, I do give his site and articles a lot of credence. But then no one is perfect.

Many forums have looked at Bakhtiari and his WOCAP model.  It predicted an all liquids peak of 81-mbd in 2006.  No offence, but his efforts are amateurish.  His forecast was released in 2003.  It was based on the 2002 IEA production figure of 76.9-mbd.  He saw oil rising a mere 1-mbd/yr til 2006, but today we stand at 84.77-mbd not even three years after his projection.  He attributes ASPO's URR of conventional oil in his model not their all liquids URR, yet he graphs "all liquids" figures, not conventional oil which was a mere 63-mbd.  On the surface, this is all a bad joke.  RIP please.
Many forums have looked at Bakhtiari and his WOCAP model.  It predicted an all liquids peak of 81-mbd in 2006.  No offence, but his efforts are amateurish.  His forecast was released in 2003.  It was based on the 2002 IEA production figure of 76.9-mbd.  He saw oil rising a mere 1-mbd/yr til 2006, but today we stand at 84.77-mbd not even three years after his projection.  He attributes ASPO's URR of conventional oil in his model not their all liquids URR, yet he graphs "all liquids" figures, not conventional oil which was a mere 63-mbd.  On the surface, this is all a bad joke.  RIP please.


Bakhtiari gave testimony before the Australian Senate Oil Enquiry lecture yesterday (some great submissions have been made to that enquiry over 180 at last look, 10% from ASPO). The figures he presented regarding current world output were drawn from a variety of sources, including the IEA, EIA, OPEC Secretariat (Vienna), PIW, Argus (London), MEES (Cyprus) and one confidential bank. Why is his figure lower than the 85 mb/d as published by the IEA?   Is it because 85 mb/d is just wishful thinking perhaps? "IEA production data are too high compared to other sources" he said.  I guess we shall see...


Thanks to Ian McPherson of Sydney Peak Oil for sourcing the info.
ok, i see now.  when bakhtiari used y2k/2001/2001/2001 IEA figures for his graph, they were great guys.  But when he forecast a 81-mbd peak, all of a sudden IEA and EIA and a dozen other sources that say we are at 85-mbd are just bullshitting us to make bakhtiari look bad.  Yup, i get it.

When at TrendLines we started graphing the various Outlooks, it was obvious from the extreme disparities that the bottom three had to come up ... and the top three had to come down.  A merging.  And it is happening.  ASPO, Laherrere & Skrebowski are on the way up and prolonging their peaks.  And CERA, EIA & ExxonMobil have had major revisions tempering their targets.  The merging is obvious.

Except to those who are unreasonable for whatever reason.  They permeate our society.  It is not just oil.  They say the Unemployment Rates are manipulated.  The GDP figures are manipulated.  The Mexixan illegals figures are manipulated.  The American casualties in Iraq are manipulated.  And they sit in their cabins with rifles and cans and beer and await TEOTWAWKI... or join a militia group.  Yup, credible pundits for sure, eh.

This is the best piece I have seen you write, Freddy. I have disagreed with you strongly in the past. I will totally side with you here. I always knew you had it in you. Keep it up.

"The merging is obvious." Could not have said it better myself. I hope you understand the full significance of this. I'm not sure I do at this point, but I know it is big. Welcome to the Peak Oil Community.

And don't forget the Mainstream media. Any article the conflcist with the party line and they are bought out by corporations. However, if they write something that supports peak oil - great guys.
Speaking of MSM (as in MSNB_ see), the red haired squawk hen was just squawking about our "addiction to oil" and how the Market must provide more "choices for the consumer" by creating new liquid fuels out of thin Smithian air (like that there ethanol stuff from cronyist corn and cellulosic) so that we consumers will have "choices" when we drive up to the pump.

Ah, another waving around of the magical mystical invisible palm.

They permeate our society.  ...  Yup, credible pundits for sure, eh.


"Punditry" is a specialization within our super-specialized civilization. Pundits specialize at getting their message out via MSM. They specialize at making the lie look less ludicrous. They have been honing their skills all these years. Is it any wonder they are so good at it?

"Accounting" is another specialization within our society. Maybe very closely related to punditry. CEO's command of their accountants: "Make me look good". Enron said that to their high-integrity accountants, Arthur Anderson (RIP). AA complied by stretching the jelly beans beyond truth itself before hack-counting them beans. The "numbers" never lie, you know. All our trusted numbers come from the always-reliable "accountants" and their trustworthy GAAP. Yup, highly credible.

More on specialization here

Geez Freddy, turn down the flame mate.  All I was pointing out was that "the map is not the territory".  We could be getting lied to - is this such an unreasonable claim to make given all the other lies we've been fed by officialdom to date?  Only time will tell who is correct, and in the end does it matter if forecasts are out by a few million barrels per day, or by 5 or 10 years?  In the end the wolf did eat the boy.  Shouldn't we be discussing how we are going to get off this automatic fossil-fuel driven escalator to disaster called human progress?
I put it to you that 1 mbd growth year-on-year is all we're getting since the last quarter of 2003. Most recently, a lot less. Seems like the joke's on you.
Nice concise video.  Is there any way to download it for later off-line viewing?  The links say "download" but it seems to play as a stream only.
Try right clicking on the download hyperlink, and select "save target as".  It should allow you to enter a directory/filename at that point.
I've noticed that there has been some cleavage developing (and not in the good way) between Nymex prices and USO.  Anyone know what's up?
The weird things that happen as raw materials grow pricier...

Keep the change - literally

MANILA (Reuters) - Smugglers have tried to ship out millions of older one-peso coins from the Philippines, not for their face value of less than 2 U.S. cents each but for the copper and nickel content as metals prices soar.

The central bank said customs authorities seized a 40-foot container at the weekend that was loaded with 2-3 million coins, weighing 12.2-18.3 tonnes, bound for Japan. Any export of coins worth more than 10,000 pesos ($191) must be declared.

This story goes back 2,500 years with variations.

According to legend and some fairly reliable history, it was King Midas who reigned when coined money was invented.

Now, for the grand prize, guess when inflation/coin-debasement began.

As usual, whatever Greeks did, Romans did much Bigger, and Longer and with More Horrible Results.

Then sometime around 1,000 a.d. (if memory serves. I was just a kid back in the day.), the Chinese invented printed paper money, and everywhere governments found an alternative to explicit taxes.


Which is a tax on those least able to bear it, the most regressive tax of all. How many of you already knew that Social Security payments have an inflation cap?

Now, for extra credit, how high is that cap?

And how do we reduce the real burden of the Baby Boomers?

Three guesses, and the first two do not count.

And how do we reduce the real burden of the Baby Boomers?

They get killed.

At least you have to credit them with trying to recycle.
They lack imagination...they just need a small runner taking 9,999 peso loads out to the bigger boat far offshore. :)
Pretty much of a new poster here though I have been lurking for over a year. I would be interested in hearing comments on Samam Bakhtiari's latest speech in Australia. Looks like he has retired and may have more freedom to speak up. So far there has been very little said here on what I think were some interesting comments aside from "we are there."

In particular his comments on:

The world has peaked.

"World production is now about 81 million barrel a day, about 3.8 million less than the International Energy Agency's estimate for the first quarter."

"Oil producers, including Russia, are overstating their output. The last "super-giant" oil field to be found was seven years ago in Kazakhstan."

"Saudi Arabia, which produces about 9 million barrel a day, is "struggling" to keep up production, particularly at the Ghawar field, the world's largest"

First Simmons, and now Bakhtiari. Looks to me like me may be there.

I tried to figure how to do Quotes in auto format but no luck. Perhaps someone could help.

The link is here. http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=133464

I featured that article in yesterday's Drum Beat.  It was also posted at PeakOil.com, both in the news section and the forums.  It didn't get much response.

I would guess the problem is that it's not really news.  Bakhtiari is a peak oiler.  He appeared in The End of Suburbia.  He's been saying we're at peak for awhile now.

Iran as a country are peak oil believers.  Their politicians talk about it openly.  They've said they want to keep production slow and low-tech, to save some oil for their children and grandchildren.  

Of course, peak oil skeptics think they are just trying to jack up the price of oil.

Not to speak ill of the dead and retired, let me sum samsam bakhtiari with this:  a few months ago, in his book report on Colin Campbell's "OIl CRISI", he took glee in that both he and Colin are predicting a peak of oil in 2006 (pg 51).  Now in July, while he has the attitude "this is my story and i'm sticking to it" ... Campbell has moved on and is touting peak in 2010 and 89-mbd.  WOCAP's peak is 81-mbd.

Be assured none of his work can pass the scrutiny of TOD.

Thanks for the info.

    I noticed ASPO Europe dropped the link to his website a while ago and thought it was because they didn't want to get him in trouble with the authorities. Looks like that may not have been the reason.

Michael Goodwin seems to think that WWIII has already begun.

There are also the bombs hitting the Bombay subway and killing over 100 so far.

Couple that with the Mexican election controversy and maybe oil's upward climb just got fresh legs?

Sounds like Goodwin is channeling John Robb.
The following was something I gathered together and tried to upload to Energybulletin.com, but either it hit the "bit bucket" instead or it wasn't found suitable for putting on that site. I was about to delete it from my system and thought I would post it here first just in case someone might benefit from any of the links. I appologise in advance if this posting is just a waste of bandwidth:

Interstate Highway System
Happy 50th Birthday

As Today, June 29th is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Interstate Highway System bill by President Eisenhower perhaps it would be appropriate to have each of you put on your predicting caps and give your prediction of what the Interstate Highway System will look like on its 100th Anniversary!  
I will predict that they will still be paved, but with some type of man made material that is presently not even known. There will still be plenty of vehicles (but not as many as today due to lower population) and they will be powered by man made liquid hydro-carbon fuels. Guess I am an optimist?

While on the subject of roads, I did some Googling on asphalt prices, asphalt to gravel and a few other similar searches.
I was quite amazed at the number of places in the USA and the world that have or are in-process of converting some of their low volume secondary paved roads back to gravel roads because of the cost of maintaining the asphalt paving.
I had thought this would start to happen sometime in the near future after we had a good rear view mirror verification of Peak Oil, but I find that is already happening.
I wonder what will happen after crude goes up significantly again? Will they find ways to convert even more of the crude to fuels leaving less asphalt - Which will then be even more expensive and in shorter supply?
At some point they will probably begin taking the asphalt paving off secondary roads to salvage it by mixing it with a small amount of fresh (expensive/scarce) asphalt to reconstitute it to make fresh paving material to keep up the surfaces of the primary paved roads.

Here is a site in Minnesota where the County Commissioners were trying to put some roads back to gravel and having a few of the people living on them complaining. Makes you wonder why they think the rest of the population should have to keep spending large amounts of money to keep a paved road for just a few people ?

"Benson - I would like to have the following written comments noted for the record: a letter from
John G. Bakker in favor of maintaining the paved county roads, a petition from individuals
affected by County Road 66 opposed to turning the road back to gravel and asking the County
Board to maintain all paved county roads, a petition from individuals affected by County Road 60
opposed to turning the road back to gravel, a notebook of information prepared by residents living
along County Road 63 in favor of keeping County Road 63 paved."

Here is a California site talking about 4 counties switching paved back to gravel because of maintenance costs:

"A significant piece of the revenue and spending puzzle is funding for local street and road maintenance. There is currently a tremendous disparity between funding for bigger ticket projects on the state-owned highway system, at the expense of funding for repairing local roads and streets. The state-owned highway system comprises only 13 percent of the state's entire road network. The local street and road network comprises 83 percent of the state's entire 373,000+ lane-miles of roadways, and 41 percent of it is in serious need of repair. Yet in 1997, spending on the state highway system averaged $62 per lane mile and spending on the local streets and roads network averaged just $7 per lane mile. Kings, Yolo, Glenn and Humboldt counties are now literally reverting paved roads back to gravel due to the cost of maintenance."

Here is the URL to a chart showing asphalt price increases supplied by California Department of Transportation
And this chart shows prices have more than doubled since January 2005

Here is a USA Dept of Transportation site talking about Finland converting paved roads back to gravel:

"In the late 1980s, many Finnish low-volume gravel roads were paved. This option was reasonable at that time because the price of bitumen was exceptionally low. No heavy structural rehabilitation was carried out on these roads before paving. It was assumed that these cheap and light pavements would last some 5 years. Now many of those roads have reached 10 to 15 years in age, still without any proper reconstruction, and are becoming increasingly deteriorated. For almost a decade now, the Finnish government has been reducing its spending on public roads. Maintenance and repair efforts have been concentrated on the main road network, and the minor network has deteriorated more and more. Calculations show that from the road agency's point of view, upkeep of gravel roads is economically feasible compared with maintaining paved roads that are in poor condition. Therefore, road authorities have converted some of these paved low-volume roads back to gravel roads."

Here is another Government site that gives some excellent information on asphalt paving vs gravel for roads. Towards the end of the document they give some excellent information on the costs of constructing asphalt paving, maintaining asphalt paving, constructing gravel and maintaining gravel roads.

Figure 16: Gravel Road Maintenance Cost per Mile
Year    1    2    3    4    5    6    Totals
Equipment    270    280    290    300    310    320    1,770
Labor    90    100    110    120    130    140    690
Materials    -    -    4,000    -    -    -    4,000
Equipment    -    -    2,500    -    -    -    2.500
Labor    -    -    2,300    -    -    -    2,300
Stabilization/Dust Control
Materials    800    900    1,200    920    950    975    5,745
Equipment    30    35    70    40    50    60    285
Labor    100    110    150    125    140    150    775
Totals    1,290    1,425    10,620    1,505    1,580    1,645    $18,065
Let's consider the cost of a double surface treatment operation and the projected cost of maintaining it before anything major has to be done to the pavement (end of pavement life). We see in Figure 17 that the estimated cost to double surface treat one mile of road is $20,533. Estimated maintenance costs over a six-year period could be:
Patching . . . $1,800
Striping . . . . . . $500
Sealing . . . . . $2,000
Total maintenance . . . . . . . . . . . $4,300
Construction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $20,533
Total cost over six years . . . . . $24,833
When we compare this cost to the cost of maintaining an average mile of gravel road over the same period of six years($18,065), we find a difference in dollar costs of $6,768.It is not cost beneficial to pave in this hypothetical example, even without considering the costs of road preparation (#7).
This is not a foolproof method, but it does give us a handle on relative maintenance costs in relation to paving costs and pavement life. The more accurate the information, the more accurate the comparisons will be. The same method can be used in helping to make the decision to turn paved roads back to gravel.
Figure 17: Paving Options (Costs and road life are estimates and may vary)
Option    Life    Cost per Mile    Cost/Mile Per Year    Calculations    Maintenance Per Mile/Year
Chip Seal-Double Surface Treatment    6 years    $20,533    $3,422    Based on price of $1.75 per sy; 20 ft. wide x 5,280 ft. = 105,600 sf 105,600 sf ÷ 9 = 11,733 sy 5 $1.75 = $20,533      ?
Bituminous Concrete-Hot Mix    12 years    $58,080    $4,840    Based on estimated price of $30 per ton; 1 sy of stone and hot mix/cold mix 1" thick weighs about 110 lbs. Therefore 3" = 330 lbs. per sy. 11,733 sy (1 mile of pavement) 5 330 lbs. = 3,871,890 lbs. 3,871,890 lbs. = 1936T 5 $30 = $58,080    ?
Cold Mix    8 years    $48,390    $6,048    At $30 per ton, using same formula as hot mix, 2 1/2" of cold mix equals 1,613T 5 $30 = $48,390    ?
*These costs must be determined before any conclusions can be reached regarding the most cost-effective pavement method. The thinner the pavement, the greater the maintenance cost. Traffic, weather conditions, proper preparation before paving and many other factors can affect maintenance costs. No Kentucky data exists upon which to base estimates of maintenance costs on low volume roads of these paving options; and, therefore, we offer no conclusion as to the "best" way to pave.

I doubt that most of the people moving out into their country McMansions while working in town are going to be too happy to have to start driving on washboarded gravel roads to get to town and work. And will high fuel costs result in less snow plowing in the winter? (Do they really need to plow when there is only an inch or two of snow?)

How long will city governments be able to continue to accept responsibility for the paved roads in new subdivisions? (Sub-Division contractor paves them once and turns them over to the city to maintain in perpetuity!)  And if the city/county can't/won't maintain low traffic volume paved roads, will the home owners be willing or able to afford the costs of maintaining and repaving them every 5 or 10 years?

How long before the cost of asphalt paving reaches the point where upgrading existing roads with new construction converting 2 lane highways to 4 lane highways will be brought to a halt?

China Interstate Highway System Construction

Another interesting bit of highway information is the road building activities in China. By the end of 2008 they are planning to have over 50,000 miles of expressways built in China - Exceeding the 46,500 currently in the USA. Anyone think they are building expressways for people on bicycles? This information gives a pretty good idea why China is going all over the world trying to lock up long-term crude oil purchase contracts.


"China plans to increase about 50000 kilometers of roads this year, of which new expressway will be 4561 kilometers, new first class highway will be 1963 kilometers, and new second class highway will be 8279 kilometers.

Meanwhile, the total length of roads will exceed 1.4 million kilometers, of which expressway will exceed 16000 kilometers, which ranked the third in the world. (Panorama)"


"In 1989 China had lots of bicycles and only 168 miles of expressways. By the end of last year--a year during which China spent $42 billion building roads--it had 18,500 miles of expressways, and the plan is to reach 51,000 by 2008, according to the Ministry of Communications. That would top America's 46,500 miles of interstates. Roads are being laid so quickly that China used 40% of the world's cement (part of the mix) last year."

I doubt that most of the people moving out into their country McMansions while working in town are going to be too happy to have to start driving on washboarded gravel roads to get to town and work. And will high fuel costs result in less snow plowing in the winter? (Do they really need to plow when there is only an inch or two of snow?)

Those SUVs will finally be somewhat justifiable (but driving them much will be unaffordable).  Not just for the gravel roads, but also for the poorly maintained paved roads.  I sometimes wonder whether my econo-car was a good idea after all.

The costs of road maintenance should, in principle, be computed to include the cost in vehicle maintenance and replacement due to bad road conditions.  Then again, the cost of being able to drive fast and at all times should be included in the big-picture of transportation costs.  E.g., if they skipped salting the roads around here the cars will last much longer (rust kills most of them first).  If, instead of salting, we stayed home when the weather is icy, will the lost "productivity" be more than made up by the longevity of the cars?  And that's not even counting the enhanced family life...

They have actually studied the costs of plowing and salting highways vs. not plowing and salting.  It came out to be a wash.  That is, the cost of plowing was equal to the cost of the deaths and injuries that occurred on unplowed roads.
We have been on this little up and down country road for about 45 years.  When we first came out here, we had a VW bug; lots of ground clearance and weight on the driving wheels,  We could churn right  by all the whales stuck in the snow, and when it got really deep, we stayed home and had a nice domestic good time.

Even now, when I go into town in slippery weather -dippy road with lots of curves- it looks like a SUV separator.  All the stuff in the ditch is them, not us (the stickshift econoboxes).  Of course I realize that most of that is in the head of the drivers, but still---.

Also, it was way better when the surface was gravel. Easier to grip in the snow.

But all that is passe, right?  With GPS, all we need is personal helicopters running on plutoniun 238, into which we step, expressing our desires with appropriate deference, and off we go into any weather, warm, safe and anesthesized.  Prozit, wot?.

Even now, when I go into town in slippery weather -dippy road with lots of curves- it looks like a SUV separator.  All the stuff in the ditch is them, not us (the stickshift econoboxes).  Of course I realize that most of that is in the head of the drivers, but still---.

I know them all too well... "I gots me the 4WD and I can do anything!" as they barrel down the snow and ice slicked roads.  Tailgating.  I usually pull over and let them go by, and have on occasion had the sheer delight of seeing them in the ditch a few miles down the road.

Some great points in there.

Got me thinking about a few other factors that feed into gravel/dirt roads, which I can see becoming more likely as your post surmised, unless we see some new combinations of roadway materials that we aren't using yet.

  1. Emergency vehicles and Government Vehicles will have to become more 'off-road' capable to be able to access a wider variety of surfaces, in order to reach everyone.

  2. Those McCommuters out on the county roads may have to also accept a decreasing MPG as roads get less smooth.. BUT, they'll also be driving slower, so who knows?

  3. Are we going to see livestock pulling loads again?

  4. Thank God for Mountain Bikes!
/ Those McCommuters out on the county roads may have to also accept a decreasing MPG as roads get less smooth.. BUT, they'll also be driving slower, so who knows?

Unfortunately they'll be driving so slow that they'll hit the backslope of the MPG curve and probably get worse mileage.  If you go more than 25mph on a dirt road you're /asking for a rock puncture, and any more than 35mph you might just hit a soft/loose patch and take a drifting adventure off the road.  However...those are speeds an EV would handle with gusto.

Dirty formatting demons...

Those McCommuters out on the county roads may have to also accept a decreasing MPG as roads get less smooth.. BUT, they'll also be driving slower, so who knows?

Unfortunately they'll be driving so slow that they'll hit the backslope of the MPG curve and probably get worse mileage.  If you go more than 25mph on a dirt road you're asking for a rock puncture, and any more than 35mph you might just hit a soft-loose patch and take a drifting adventure off the road.  However...those are speeds an EV would handle with gusto.

One other major trend to consider: privatization.  State governments are turning roads over to private companies, and allowing them to charge tolls and run them as for-profit ventures.  Or allowing them to build the roads and charge tolls.  

I think you can see which way this is going.   The wealthy will drive on paved toll roads, while the poor will have to make do with gravel.

Tolls used to be the way infrastructure got built.  I worked on an old turnpike a few years ago.  There was a tiny house, extremely close to the road.  Turns out, that was the tollkeeper's cottage.  It predated the Revolutionary War.

When the Brooklyn Bridge first opened in 1883, the tolls were thus:

Pedestrian: 1 cent
One-horse wagon: 10 cents
Cow: 5 cents
Sheep: 2 cents
Hog: 2 cents

There's a toll bridge near where I live, that costs $1 to cross.  It's weird, because many people cross that bridge every day (cheaper housing on the other side).  Yet it's still quite a barrier in many ways.  A lot of older folk still remember when the cost was so prohibitive that normal folk didn't use the bridge.  Instead, they waited until winter, and drove the car across when the river froze.  This is reflected in things like the phone book, and the Chamber of Commerce promotional materials.  Businesses on the other side of the river aren't listed, even though they're only a 5 minute drive away.  

How much of that cement went into the 3 Gorges project?
You can get to the article about California's road problems at http://ktla.trb.com/news/la-me-roads10jul10,0,4399728.story?coll=ktla-news-1 without having to register.
California is the future.


Minnesota should become quite crowded.  Those fleeing from CA & AZ, New Orleanians relocating upriver, Floridians, and ???
I think one of the problems that is often overlooked is that all of the States have plenty of money. It is just that it is allocated by unfunded Federal and State mandates to go mostly to the welfare/entitlements piece of the pie.
If we went back to the level of personal responsibility we had in the 1950's with the resultant decrease in unfunded mandate spending we would have more than enough money to repair and reconstruct out transportation system - Including roads, railroads and airports.
Maybe after the collapase (?) people will once again begin taking more responsibility for their own lives and the government can return to doing government things (public infrastructure)?
Well, I just had to check this one out. The Oregon governor's proposed budget for the next biennium allocates 28% to education, 22% to human services, 17% to "administration" (ugh!), 13% to economic and commercial development, 7% to each of transportation and public safety, and dribs and drabs elsewhere -- not exactly the "mostly to the welfare/entitlements piece". I expect you'll find many other state governments have similar allocations; education ain't cheap, especially when you have fleets of yellow buses trucking students a measely 1 mile to school.

I'm not sure I believe that government should be responsible for infrastructure, anyhow; the discussion of infrastructure improvements always sounds like "I want my transportation costs subsidized". Wal-Mart's success is largely due to its warehouse-on-wheels, which is in turn the result of the money spend and borrowed to build the highway system.

Another flaw in the personal responsibility/1950's argument is the fact that cheap energy was then fueling a growth economy with its attendant jobs and opportunities.  We're in a situation where the opposite is either about to occur or (more likely) is already occurring.  Please keep in mind that the entitlements whose funding you would redirect toward infrastructure came into being precisely because of a collapse: the Great Depression (a time, by all accounts, of great personal responsibility).
I downloaded and analyzed the "Peak Uranium" file.

The fundamental error is graph 1: "Depletion of world known recoverable resources, 2006-2076."  It postulates that no new ore bodies will be found.

The problem is that uranium exploration was suspended about 25 years ago.  With ample resources and underutilized mines, there has been no economic rationale for investment in uranium exploration.  As I noted previously, a 50 year consumption to reserves ratio is very high for heavy metal extraction.

However, academic and industrial R&D in uranium geology has continued, albeit at a low level.  Today, we know much more about uranium ore bodies and concentration process than 25 years ago.  There is plenty of reasons to expect that renewed exploration investments will find plenty of decent and economic ore.

It is important to remember that uranium has only had economic value for a short time relative to other mining targets.  It's still the new boy on the block. By analogy, we've passed the oil seep phase and are barely into anticlines/synclines.  Salt domes (Spindletop) have yet to be understood.  Ghawar awaits?

If one tried to apply Stuart's methods to uranium mining history, one would conclude the we are barely off the front plateau of the Gaussian curve.

The recent price rise in yellowcake is simply a result of demand rising faster than physical supply.  Call it "price gouging" if you will.  Current yellowcake production is mostly from a dozen or so mines globally. Don't think that we can double electrical output with another dozen or so mines?

The rest of the report is peppered with "concerns" and "serious implications" but few verifiable conclusions.  

I could go on but it is basically another anti-nuclear hit piece pretending to contribute to serious discussion but instead deliberately muddles and confuses the issues.

If anything, this can be read as urging the deployment of nuclear fuel reprocessing, breeder reactors, and thorium fuels.

The "uranium depletion" argument strikes me as the most laughable of all. Actually few of the resources the humanity uses today have 50:1 reserve to production ratio. It is akin to starving yourself to death because you have only 50 years of food left in the fridge and you don't want to use it up right now.
My main concern with uranium is not depletion, but the same problem all mining will have with peak oil.  At the very least, it's going to make raw materials more expensive.  At the worst, it really will be peak uranium...not because we're running out of mines, but because we can't maintain production without cheap and abundant oil.  Mining is already taking a hit in Africa, due to the fuel shortages and power outages.  I've no doubt we'll continue to mine, even if we have to use stone knives and bearskins...but not at current levels, let alone a ramp-up.
In 100-200 years when our nuclear powered civilisation hits the natural limit of uranium extraction somebody will say this: "No, we should not start building wind turbines/solar cells/whatever for replacing nuclear power - we will not be able to build and maintain them without cheap uranium".

At the end it all comes down to EROEI, and IMO it is strongly positive for nuclear power (seen estimates between 20 and 50). and bound to grow as technology improves. FWIW it is also positive for wind (solar aside), but the limiting factor there would be capital cost and natural resources invested per unit of useful energy, in which it is ~10 times worse then nuclear.

At the end it all comes down to EROEI, and IMO it is strongly positive for nuclear power (seen estimates between 20 and 50).

That sounds high to me.  The DOE estimated an EROEI of 24 if we ever got fusion working.  Fission they estimated was something like 15.

That compares to 30 for Middle East oil (including importing it here), and 45 for hydroelectric.

Yes, hydroelectric is better than oil, judged on EROEI alone.  But of course, oil has advantages over electricity.  

Yes, hydroelectric is better than oil, judged on EROEI alone.  But of course, oil has advantages over electricity.

If hydroelectric was as widely available as oil, if it could provide the same energy density (instead of needing to be stored or converted to liquid fuel) it would have been our choice instead of oil. Unfortunately we are way past peak hydro (at least IMO) and the capital invesment to get an unit of energy in usable form from hydro are way higher.

After oil starts to become insufficient, we need to make a choice which will replace it - and the next best one that has a realistic potential for expansion is nuclear. The EROEI matters because low EROEI processes (e.g. tar sands) in the long run will end up hardly being able to sustain themselves. Nuclear can do it, and is even better than hydro, because unlike hydro, fuels can be synthsized directly using the heat from fission with a much higher total efficiency.

Peak hydro???
Sorry, should have expanded on that :)
By that I mean that the best sites have been utilised and probably half of the feasible capacity worldwide is already developed. The more correct term would be "peak marginal return" on hydroelectric. Future developments will be more and more investment chasing less and less return.

Compared to that, and given the resource base nuclear is it's infancy.

I don't think nuclear can keep us in the style to which we have become accustomed.  Unless you mean using nuclear weapons to take over the last of the oil.  

Nuclear is not competing with oil now, which suggests its EROEI is not as good.  Our previous energy transitions have all been to better sources of energy.  And even so, the transitions were rocky. (See WWII.)  

And no, I don't blame the anti-nuclear movement.  That's been a factor here, but other countries have had limited success with nuclear as well.  Safety issues, cost overruns, etc.  

I do think France will prove to have been very smart with their "socialist" policies.  Building nuclear plans when it wasn't economical, protecting their local farmers against globalization, etc.  Building nuclear infrastruture when oil was cheap was the way to go.  

I don't think nuclear can keep us in the style to which we have become accustomed.

I never claimed that either. There will be a forceful power down in the next decades one way or the other. The question is how to avoid a total shootout or a return to the 19th century. Despite what some people may be thinking it was not a good time back then.

Nuclear is not competing with oil now, which suggests its EROEI is not as good.

Too broad-grained statement. Nuclear, NG, coal etc. did once replace oil in some of its applications. Why are you assuming they would not do it in future even though the necessary technology is readily available? IMO it is simply too early for this to hit the mainstream, but the franatic anti-alternatives propaganda by the Saudis officials leads me to believe they are thinking the same.

 Building nuclear infrastruture when oil was cheap was the way to go.

Partly true of course, but it doesn't mean in future we won't be able to do it, it will just be a little more difficult. If you take a look at the 1:15 EROEI, most of the inputs are for mining and enriching the uranium. For both processes most of the input is not oil, but electricity for the mining equipment and the centrifuges. The oil inputs would be so minimal that a single CTL factory or ethanol plant could cover them indefinately (ok, for all practicle purposes indefinately).

"There will be a forceful power down in the next decades one way or the other. The question is how to avoid a total shootout or a return to the 19th century. Despite what some people may be thinking it was not a good time back then."

Don't assume too lightly that more development and more energy always leads to a better society, or that that is impossible without. History is not a linear progress that started at utterly bad and slowly got better as technology, population size and the economy grew.

I am not assuming anything - this is my opininion. I could see how we could maintain even a reduced version of modern agriculture, healthcare, industry, transportation etc. etc. without considerable energy inputs (at least on the same scale to what we have now) I would have not seen reasons to worry.

But I don't and frankly said, I think nobody has even the slightest idea. All the talking about organic farming etc. etc. are from people seeing partial solutions to a complex problem, affecting all elements of our heavily interlinked societal structure. Who is doing farming without machinery nowadays (except Somalia for instance)? Who is building and maintaining machineray without energy, or let's say without the technologically needed energy?

In just 30-40 years, oil will be in the history, natural gas will be almost in the history and coal will be at present levels at best. Thus some 2/3 of the energy base of our society will be gone in a very compressed timeframe. Considering that it took 200 years for the system to evolve to the standards of today I don't think it is even remotely possible to reinvent it in such a timeframe - assuming of course that we are trying to avoid a total anarchy in which the system will "reinvent itself" at the price of millions lives and years of disorder.

This should read:
If I could see how we could maintain even a reduced version...
By a different path, you have come to much the same conclusion that I have.

EVs may give a 2:1 energy savings.  But a 50% reduction with added normal growth "only solves the problem for a generation" (an older quote of mine).

Electrified intercity and freight railroads and Urban Rail both promise 20 to 1 operating energy savings over today with comparable capital energy savings (NYC subways are 100+ years old). Recycle worn rail & rail cars with some added new metal 2 or 3 times/century.  IMHO, that is sustainable.

I want to maximize hydropower, and I see possibilities (especially in Canada).

Wind Turbines, once built, can be largely recycled every 25 or so years (reuse towers for at least two generations).  EROEI for a recycled WT should be in the low hundreds.

Reducing grain feed beef would go a long way towards sustainable agriculture.  I keep wondering about orchard farming.  What is the yield ? IMVHO, orchard farming is the most practical way to reclaim  abandoned suburbs.  

I agree that a lot will change. But a return to the energy consumption of the 19th century will not ensure a restore society to its 19th century form. It will be different, and it just might be better in some aspects.

Once the population declines, there will be a some more breathing room. And that might happen surprisingly fast: in the third world: war, hunger & thirst; in the first world: suicide/not breeding, disease & old age (people kept alive by abundant medicine and luxury).

Nuclear power can replace oil and gas for home heating.

The first and largest contribution to replacing oil heating in small Swedish houses were resistive heating with electricity from our overinvestment in nuclear power. That the power producers dident go bankrupt back then might be due to the very cheap to run hydro powerplants.

Todays economics is more favorable with heat pumps, less total cost for the users and more money per kWh for the producers.

How about a 20 year program for getting rid of oil and gas use for home heating in the US? But you realy need a stable grid for that, guess what one of our main paranoia reasons are for maintaining grid quality.

You are reminding me of a point that has not been emphasized enough here: our first and most immediate goal should be displacing NG first from electricity generation and then from heating. Then we can use the displaced NG to increasingly fuel transportation - this should be pretty straightforward and the investments would be trivial (compared to all other options).

IMO it would be the best way to go in the next couple of decades.

Better is to switch to methanol/ethanol powered motors
thence to fuel cells.
Natural gas can be readily reformed into methanol/ethanol.
Ethanol not is nasty as methanol.

http://www.che.msstate.edu/academics/faculty_staff/Zappi/consortium/production_of_ethanol_from_synth .htm

The nice thing about ethanol is it can be made from numerous feedstock and is a pretty good energy carrier.

The less gasoline for regular motors but this can be
negated a lot by a move to fuel cells.

I suspect the plan for E85 is actually to move to
nuclear/NG coal sources in the future for it and its
the easiest way to transition our current fleet.

I'd take the current corn based solutions for E85 to be the pork barrels they are but don't discount other ways to produce ethanol.

So don't discount ethanol as a energy carrier.

Basically were looking at three alcohols


Butanol actually has the best properties.



Proponol's are another but I don't think they offer any
advantages over Butanol or ethanol.

My point is the easiest way to go to a multi-source situation for organic fuels is to switch to the alcohols as a energy carrier.

I'm actually researching a liquid nitrogen/co2 electricity->
h2 + co2 => syngas type strategy.

Liquid nitrogen is used in the place of pumped storage the trick is to produce it efficiently or cheaply.

Sorry could not understand the reaction...
N2 + CO2 + electricity -> H2 + CO ???

Otherwise I agree for the liquid fuels proposed; it depends a lot on the efficiency of the processes vs using the NG directly.

I am rather fond of natural gas / biogas as a wehicle fuel. The tankage is somewhat clumsy and it is a litte more awkward to hande then gasolene. But it burns very clean, you already have the distribuition infrastructure, no liquid fuel synthetisation plants needs to be built and if you build biogas plants they can use other raw materials then the ethnaol plants and thus complement them and even use their byproducts as raw material.
"I don't think nuclear can keep us in the style to which we have become accustomed."

I'll agree with that.  I've made this point in earlier threads too.  With lower EROEI, there is less net yield meaning that a larger chunk of the economy has to be devoted to energy production.  

Back in the old solar/agricultural economy almost everyone was a farmer looking at the back end of a mule or ox all day.  The net yield of such an system is maybe 3% when the weather is good.  That was usually paid in taxes to an aristocracy for warfare and social status.  The old standard was one soldier per 100 persons or 1% for defense.  Civilizational development until about 1800 was the accumulation of millenia of 3% yields.

Our 20th century oil economy supported historically high global population and wealth growth (and warfare intensity).  A future nuclear-based economy (on top of agriculture and coal, etc) will be better than a solar agricultural economy but not as good as recent oil economy.

Hopefully, population is stablizing globally so future net energy yields can be devoted to per capita standard of living improvements.  Another bright side is that warfare will get more expensive too so we should have less of the big stuff (social disorders are another matter.)

The portion of global production of concrete, iron, copper and use of human labor going to energy production will increase leaving less for other pursuits.

Nuclear engineering looks like a good career choice for bright young folk once again.

"I don't think nuclear can keep us in the style to which we have become accustomed."

To be frank, I agree with that point only partially and only in the medium term (some several decades from now).

True the EROEI is not as good as oil. True that capital investment is much higher than for oil. But this is all the current state of technology. In spite of the years of development nuclear is in fact still in a development/testing stage compared to other energy sources and to its potential peak - being mostly slowed down because of the safety concerns (and rightfully IMO). For that same reason it has not benefited from the other foundation of contemporary civilisation - economy of scale. You can hardly effectively mass produce nuclear plants when the competition in the sector is limited to 2-3 producers, the orders are for 3-4 reactors per decade and the regulations are so harsh (and changing all the time).

So I do think that in the long run nuclear can provide comparable living standart, but the road to there would probably be a very tough one.


You make some solid arguments for optimism.  Thanks.

As I tell my management when the topic of innovative reactors comes up -

"Put me in Coach!"

The mining can be fueled by nuclear electricity via cables or synthetisized fuel.
I hope by the time this becomes an issue we develop a feasible electricity storage solution. In fact I can hardly think of an invention needed more than this one now.
I think they can 'close the loop' with uranium mining by using  machinery powered by nearby electrical generation. This is well established for coal. The proposed 'super pit' at Olympic Dam in the Australian outback will be 3.5 km X 3.5 km in surface area X 1km deep. The fossil inputs via diesel and explosives will be used by critics as evidence that nuclear is not so GW friendly.  
Maybe the better analogy is "stop working and you'll run out of money."

BTW, I'll want to dig a bit about how many uranium mines are operative today.  I read some country stats a couple of months ago and my estimate of "a dozen or so" was based on that but I should dig a bit to further elucidate my claim.

I must have missed this discussion with this graph used...

I found that on an economics blog talking about oil.  The Saudi's have DOUBLED their rig count in a little over 2 yrs all the while production has DROPPED?  Is that the story in a nutshell?  

PS how do you adjust picture size?

This one, maybe?
We had the same experience in Texas in the Seventies.  Based on the HL method, Saudi Arabia is now where Texas--the prior swing producer--was at when Texas started its decline in production.
Light Rail in Manila increases Capacity by 50%

One of the beauties of rail is the ability to increase capacity by just adding more rolling stock up to quite high levels.  Minneapolis and Dallas need to buy more NOW, but we are not as organized and well run as the Filipinos.

Manila Light Rail is on the "heavy " end of the spectrum.  40,000 poeple/hr in one direction is "pretty good".


LRT 1 will get12 new trains
Manila Times
11 July 2006 | 11:00 PM

  TWELVE new trains for the Light Rail Transit line before the year ends to meet the mass transits increasing passenger volume, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) said Tuesday.

The 16-kilometer LRT 1 is Metro Manilas first rail system. It has been running since the mid-80s.

Mel Robles, LRTA general manager, said the air-conditioned four-car trains will expand the capacity of the line to 40,000 passengers per peak hour per direction (pphpd) from the expanded capacity (Phase I) of 27,000 pphpd.

In 2005 LRT 1 had had 76,809,417 passengers surpassing its annual target of 74,282,309.

The project is intended to cope with the present and expected increase in volume of passengers using LRT Line 1 and the additional passenger demand to be generated under an integrated Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 1, 2 and 3 system.

Evangeline M. Razon, LRTA project manager, said the brand-new trains will require additional upgrading and equipment for signaling, telecommunications, traction power supply and distribution, track work, automated fare collection system, and additional civil works for some stations and the depot to accommodate the new trains and the enhanced headway.

Earlier, Takeshi Kikukawa, a Japan International Cooperation Agency expert and advisor who conducted a study on the LRT operations, said that he recommended a fare adjustment and the adoption of fare discounts on peak and off-peak hours to further increase ridership.

Part of the recommendation is a fare adjustment but theres still no specific rate set. It is still to be computed by considering many factors such as social benefits and the ability of the government to subsidize and passengers power to pay, he said.

For the fare discount, Kikukawa recommended cutting fares during off-peak hours to attract more passengers and reset them to a higher rate during peak hours. Special discounts are also proposed during weekends to entice the public to use the LRT instead of jeepneys, buses and taxis. --Darwin G. Amojelar

"but we are not as organized and well run as the Filipinos."

I am guessing you have never been to Manila. Am I right?

[Irony Alert] was missing above.

Only by reputation.

Minneapolis is in dire need of more vehicles (about 12 to 15) to handle current loads (peak hour, peak direction ridership is stable, all other ridership is increasing almost every month).  They are getting ONE extra LRV for the extra load as well as two more to handle a short extension of the line.

Dallas is also running inyo capacity problems.

Peak Oil hits and they (plus many other US cities) are SOL.

Meanwhile Manila does the logical, low cost thing.  They order more vehicles and, at mionimal cost, expand their capacity by 50%.  Capacity need today and even more tomorrow.

In the case of Minneapolis, increasing capacity by 1/3rd would cost ~7% of the original cost to build.  Such a bargain ! And they need that capacity today, will need it more tomorrow !

Which society appears better run ?

http://www.farmfutures.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=CD26BEDECA4A4946A1283CC7786AEB5A&nm=News&type= news&mod=News&mid=9A02E3B96F2A415ABC72CB5F516B4C10&tier=3&nid=024CBE3051F14952B5317C 4B2D230BE5

Robert is going to love this, from the Energy Bulletin.  It's not cost effective to make ethanol from sugar in the US, because of price supports for sugar.

Tech firms go mining for megawatts in Wash.

QUINCY, Wash. - Microsoft is pouring concrete in a bean field on the west end of town. Yahoo is digging up a field of alfalfa out on the east end. Google, which declines to comment, is said to be sniffing around for its own field of dreams here in the semi-desert outback of eastern Washington.

This small farm town, population 5,300, has become the Klondike of the wildly competitive Internet era. The gold in Quincy is electricity, which technology heavyweights need to operate ever-larger data centers as they fight for world domination.

Their data centers -- air-conditioned warehouses filled with thousands upon thousands of computer servers that talk to Internet users around the globe -- are extraordinary power hogs. Microsoft says electricity consumption at its data centers doubled over the past four years and will triple over the next five.

The electricity is hydroelectric, from the Columbia River.

Oh, and the reason they suddenly have electricity to burn is that they are no longer required to sell cheap power to Seattle, etc.  IOW, residential power rates are going up.
Hot off the press. AP that is.
Short Wheat Harvest could drive up Prices!


Hope you are all getting ready to tighten up your belts and open your wallets wider for food!

Time to start that organic farm/garden.
Does anybody know if this Iranian Oil Exec is for real?


"CANBERRA -(Dow Jones)- The limit of global oil production has been reached and daily output is set to decline sharply by 2020, sending prices soaring, analyst and former advisor to National Iranian Oil Co., Ali Samsam Bakhtiari, said Monday, according to a report on Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "

The Discover article about ethanol...

Life After Oil

Everyone from GM to President Bush is suddenly infatuated with ethanol. Here's how Big Corn could really replace Big Oil.

It's pretty much the same thing that anti-Pimentel paper said awhile back.

Most researchers agree, more or less, on the energy required in the conversion process, but unlike Patzek and Pimentel, they include an energy credit for the coproducts. Most of the discrepancy, though, comes from different measurements about the growing of corn. Patzek and Pimentel count many more inputs than the others, including labor energy expended by field hands and energy embedded in farm equipment and in the ethanol factory itself. Such external sources are not normally calculated when the fuel is gasoline.

And FWIW, Discover has this to say about the number of gas stations that offer E85:

For now, E85 remains a distinctly boutique concern. The roster of places to buy it grows every day, but the numbers are small: just over 600 stations, about a third of them in Minnesota. Many states have no stations at all.
Before getting a wet spot from the hype of ethanol/methanol, it would behoove you to read actual scientific literature that examines the ACTUAL thermodynamics of the COMPLETE fuel cycle.

Lucky for you I have a link to that paper right here:


Chill.  I know ethanol is not the answer.  In fact I got flamed to a crisp here when I first said so, many moons ago.

Don't shoot the messenger. I just quoted from the article, which is one people at this site had previously expressed interested in.  

Hello from L.A.,

This city is in big trouble when Peak Oil arrives. So many Hummers and SUVs, flying along at 80 on the freeway. People driving 2 blocks.

Anyway, that's not why I am posting. Do you have a direct link for that Discover article? There are some factual errors within, and I couldn't find it up yet on Discover's site. I plan to submit a letter in response.

By the way, but I couldn't help but shake my head at a TDP article I ran across in Discover:


This is why I caution people against getting too caught up in alternative energy hype:

Still, Appel looks wearier than he did when Discover broke the news about his company's technology (see "Anything Into Oil," May 2003). Back then, when the process was still experimental, Appel predicted that the Carthage plant would crank out oil for about $15 a barrel and rack up profits from day one. But the plant was delayed by construction problems, and federal subsidies were postponed. After it started up, a foul odor angered town residents, leading to a temporary shutdown in December 2005. Production costs turned out to be $80 per barrel, meaning that for most of the plant's working life Appel has lost about $40 per barrel.

Predicted production cost: $15/bbl
Actual production cost: $80/bbl


The August issue is not up yet.  The link is for version I scanned in from my dead-tree copy.  

They should put the new issue up in a few days, though I don't know if it will be accessible to the public.  Discover is weird.  Some of their articles are available to nonsubscribers, some aren't.  And some are available for only a couple of weeks before being put behind the paywall.

If they move to Ireland, many problems are solved (from the same article):

We thought we would get $24 a ton for taking the waste," says Appel. "Instead, we are paying $30 a ton." That alone raises his production costs about $22 a barrel.

Which brings us to why Appel and his technology are likely to move to Europe. As the United States has crawled toward making its food supply safer, Europe has sprinted, eager to squelch mad cow disease as well as to stanch global warming and promote renewable energy. The result is a cornucopia of incentives for thermal conversion. Last summer Appel gave presentations to government officials and private investors throughout Europe, and the company is planning projects in Wales, Ireland, England, and Germany. Europeans are making the pilgrimage to the Carthage plant. In May Renewable Environmental Solutions ran 360 tons of beef waste through the Carthage plant for a visiting delegation from Irish Food Processors, the biggest beef operation in the British Isles. The Irish newspaper Sunday Tribune wrote that CEO Larry Goodman "is understood to be planning a biofuel facility . . . and hopes to have it built by next year."

The transatlantic lovefest is no wonder. In Ireland, plant operators would get an astronomical $50 per ton to haul slaughterhouse waste away, another $30 per ton in carbon dioxide emissions-reduction credits, a guaranteed price of up to $92 per barrel, and a 20-year price guarantee. "In a 500-ton-per-day plant, our production costs would be under $30 a barrel, and we could sell for about $100 a barrel," Appel says. "It's just amazing."

Nuclear energy is the ultimate dead end. It is an asinine, kill all the humans, strategy that only an engineer could like or love.


  • The global nuclear industry requires approximately 68,000 tonnes of uranium ore a year to operate.3

  • Approximately 36,000 tonnes of uranium a year is manufactured from `primary sources' (mining).3

  • Nearly half of all uranium supply is now provided from military sources (decommissioned weapons stocks and reserves) as well as spent fuel recycling.3

  • The European Commission estimates that there may be only 2-3 million tonnes of exploitable uranium sources globally.4

  • At current projections of nuclear capacity, uranium mining operations will need to increase output by 100% within 10-20 years to meet demand.4

  • It is estimated that global exploitable reserves of uranium will likely be depleted within 30-40 years.4

  • If all the world's existing fossil fuel based power stations were replaced by nuclear, there would only be enough uranium for 3-4 years.4

  • The average nuclear power station produces between 20-30 tonnes of used nuclear fuel each year, amounting to 8,800-13,200 tonnes a year globally (not including military, research and medical sources).4

  • A complete lifecycle analysis of the nuclear process-chain (mining, transport, operation, storage and decomissioning) reveals that the average nuclear reactor produces 20-40% of the CO2 of a typical gas fired power plant. Powerful greenhouse gases such as HFC and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) are also produced in unknown quantities.4

  • A typical 1,000-megawatt pressurized-water reactor (with a cooling tower) takes in 20,000 gallons of river, lake or ocean water per minute for cooling, circulates it through a 50-mile maze of pipes, returns 5,000 gallons per minute to the same body of water, and releases the remainder to the atmosphere as vapour.5

  • Many governments have dumped spent fuel rods and drums of radioactive sludge into the North Atlantic (26 known sites), the North Pacific (21 known sites) and the Arctic (6 known, but many more suspected) oceans.6

  • During the period 1953-2002 the Canadian Government has given the nuclear industry approximately $14.5 billion in direct subsidies.8

  • The US government spent nearly $67 billion in direct subsidies to the nuclear industry in the 50-year period between 1948-98.9

  • Members of the OECD (the 30 most industrialized nations) are estimated to have spent $318 billion on nuclear energy research and development by 1992.10

  • The European Union spends 61% of its research and development funding for energy on nuclear despite the fact that the industry only contributes 13% of the EU's energy supply.11

  • In France, if the nuclear industry were not exempt from paying full accident insurance, the premiums would increase the costs of nuclear generated electricity by 300%.11

you forgot to add that there are different grades of uranium ore.
the light sweet stuff so to speak has the Uranium-235 & Uranium-234 that are so sought after for nuclear reactors and weapons. Uranium-238 while unstable, is not unstable enough to sustain a chain reaction.
these are basically the average percent values of each kind of uranium in a ore.
U-238 99.284%
U-235 0.711%
U-234 0.0055%

plutonium is not natural and is basically made using uranium so it shares the same fate.


Listen. It glows in the dark. People love it.
Nuclear power is the ultimate big dick.
They will have their nukes if it kills them. And you and me.
Only their accountant is allowed to tell them they cannot afford a 12-inch penis and right now the accountant is afraid to speak up.
Sometime after they have gonnorhea syphilis and AIDS the accountant will get up the nerve to break the really bad  news.

Ah, the war of the cut-and-paste!

So many "concerns", so few facts.  This is more than I can spend time rebutting but that may be the purpose of this tactic.

I did devote considerable effort to addressing the uranium depletion issue in my earlier post yesterday at 2:22 pm.  I specifically responded to the linked pdf in the main posting.

After about 60 years the world nuclear power system will fall off the 'Energy Cliff' - meaning that the nuclear system will consume as much energy as can be generated from the uranium fuel.

60 years? only if current levels of nuclear power are maintained. if you ramp it up to replace other electricty sources it shrinks to 5~6 years.

as for the so called other sources.
uranium form the earths crust.

The uranium content of granitic rocks varies, but is of the order of 0.0003%. One of the standard
assumptions concerning nuclear energy is that if it came down to it, this uranium could be used in
nuclear power generation. It is easy to see that this is completely impossible. Taking the yield of the
last diamond in Figure 6 (G=0.0003% and Y=0.2), a very optimistic assumption (Huwyler,
Rybach and Taube, 1975) and using the value of c for hard ores in Table 4 and the total mass of the
natural uranium needed (see page 2 of the appendix) one finds that 4.952 x 103 x 0.654/(0.0003 x
0.2) = 54 EJ would be needed to mine and extract the uranium needed for 24 years full-load
operation of a 1 GWe plant operating with a uranium burnup of 46GW(th)day/MgU. The total
electrical energy delivered to the net by a 1GWe nuclear power plant in this period is 0.751 EJ, or
seventy times less than the energy required for mining and milling alone. As pointed out above,
the lessons of practice in the chemical industry indicate that the actual energy needed for extraction
would be much more than was assumed by Huwyler et al. for such a lean ore, so that, if it were to
be attempted, the recovery of uranium from granitic rocks would be much higher than the
theoretical calculations predict. There is thus not the slightest possibility that the uranium in the
earth's crust could deliver energy in nuclear reactors.

pulled from
refrence this was made from

sea water uranium

Because of the low concentration of uranium, very large volumes of seawater would have to to be
processed in order to extract useful quantities of uranium. With an expected extraction efficiency of
about 0.3, 1 gram of uranium could be extracted from 1000 m3 seawater. There are several unsolved
problems in the extraction process, such as large losses of titaniumhydroxide (about 15 kg titanium
per kg uranium extracted, ORNL 1974), and pollution of the adsorber beds by organic materials of
the sea, however. In any case the process needs enormous pumps that would consume large
amounts of electricity. Regeneration of the eluant by steam stripping is also an energy-intensive

same source as above
also i need to point out the following. as long as the top quality uranium ore exists a nuke plant from construction to decommission and dismantling emits 33% the c02 of a coal plant. sounds good right? well it would if we were close to running out of top quality uranium(we have been eating allot of former nuclear bombs for this stuff already) and when we do the c02 cost of nuclear power can be as high to even higher then a coal plant.

as for breeders..
a study by the japanese produced the following.

"A successful commercial breeder reactor must have three attributes: it must breed, it must be economical, and it must be safe. Although any one or two of these attributes can be achieved in isolation by proper design, the laws of physics apparently make it impossible to achieve all three simultaneously, no matter how clever the design."

though personally, i know your either going to ignore this or disembowel me for daring to show cracks in your fantasy's.

So what are your alternatives? Coal? Gas? Starving in the dark? It really is the best option for now, and 50 years is a heck of a long time.

There is a lot of nuclear research going on now into other fissile elements like Thorium, and of course fusion, which may prove viable within that time.

60 years? only if current levels of nuclear power are maintained. if you ramp it up to replace other electricty sources it shrinks to 5~6 years.

That's a trick, we use it up in less time than it takes to build any new power plants!

Today is the one year anniversary of the Econbrowser article
How To Talk To an Economist about Peak Oil and IIRC the beginning of the rise of Stuart Staniford in the PO community.

posted by Professor Hamilton on his site a few days after the above article:

"Stuart, I'm extremely impressed. It appears that you took a look at the spot-futures data, along with perhaps my essay on contango and some of the other literature, and correctly concluded that there's absolutely no way to interpret that data other than to believe that the storage arbitrage that I've been talking about is an extremely powerful force that one sees very dramatically confirmed in each day's price structure. You then reformulated a hypothesis consistent with what the data were forcing you to conclude, and did all this in less than 24 hours with, I'm supposing, no formal economics background. Sounds to me like the behavior of a real scientist, and, I'm guessing, a brilliant one at that."

Stuart is one of the smartest people on the planet. We're lucky to have him here at TOD.

Although I'm gettting a little to worry that he's starting to believe some of that economic theory he's working out...  

12 economists in a room and 13 opinions. In any case, congratulations to Stuart, who is on vacation and not reading Hamilton's kind remarks.

Someone had asked last week where Israel got its oil. One answer indicated that it got 60% of it from Nigeria. I thought Oil Drum readers might like to know that Israel also gets some oil from Russia. Also, Russia and Israel have worked out an arrangement whereby Russia ships oil to the Mediterranean port of Ashdod, which Israel then runs through a pipeline to the Red Sea port of Eilat. From there, the oil can be loaded on tankers and shipped to the far east. This arrangement works well for Russia, which otherwise does not have a good port for getting any oil to the far east. Also, the Suez Canal does not allow large tankers to pass through, so this is a good way to get oil from the Mediterranean to the far east without going all the way around Africa. The capacity of the pipeline is not very great at this time, but it may be expanded in the future. A link is here:

The pipeline was originally designed to ship oil the other way - to allow Israel to buy oil from the Shah of Iran, loaded in Eilat and piped to central Israel. Times change.

Israel does not have any domestic oil production to speak of, but does have generous natural gas reserves.

Thanks for sharing that.
Israel used to have an oil producing field, --after the 6 day David versus Goliath war. Israel gave the oil fields back to Egypt in exchange for a promise of peace. So far, so good on the sourthern front. Not so good on the northern front today.

Anyway, even if the ME "producers" refuse to sell to Israel, it is not that impossible to create shell companies of various nationalities and move the contracts around. Oil is a commodity after all. Two ships meet privately in the middle of the ocean, at night, and exchange bodily fluids if need be.

Some glow in the dark thoughts; I think the nuclear industry will boom in the next decade as 'users' weather the oil depletion storm better than 'non users'. There should be more decisive action on waste so that it is buried in deep dry rock quickly, not stored above ground. Innovations like laser enrichment should improve the EROEI, though perhaps not starting with extraction from sea water. Given that fast breeders seem to have unsolvable problems, I think uranium will peak within decades. Hopefully by then we will have solved other issues like cheap storage of intermittent energy, but mainly on what is the right population. I don't think we will repeat the cheap energy dependence mistake because there will a long remembered period of hardship before enough nukes can be built.