DrumBeat: July 3, 2006

Update [2006-7-3 9:37:36 by Leanan]: Russian oil output hits record high in June
Russian oil output recovered from a deep winter slump and reached 9.69 million barrels per day in June to exceed the previous post-Soviet high of December 2005, the energy ministry said on Monday.

June production was 2.7 percent higher than in June 2005, in line with forecasts from the government and analysts.

BP oil and gas production falls 2.5% in Q2

BP Plc (BP.L) expects its oil and gas production to have fallen 2.5 percent in the second quarter -- more than some analysts had expected -- raising the challenge the oil giant faces in meeting growth plans.
Thai hunger for cheap energy throws lifeline to Myanmar
Myanmar, one of the world's poorest nations, is under a series of US and European economic sanctions imposed over the junta's human rights abuses and the house arrest of 61-year-old democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

But their effect has been weakened because neighboring China, India and Thailand are spending billions of dollars for a share of Myanmar's vast energy resources to solve their fuel problems at home.

Malaysia Suspends Biodiesel Effort over concerns that palm oil needed for food will be turned into fuel.

The Dehcho Indians take A Stand in the Forest.

For three decades, the Dehcho have been resisting the $7-billion project, which is backed by other native groups in the Northwest Territories. But the Dehcho are under mounting pressure to drop their opposition to a project that would serve North American energy markets as the United States strives to reduce dependence on the Middle East. Canada is already the largest foreign supplier of natural gas to the U.S.

The companies that want to build the underground pipeline — Imperial Oil, Shell Canada, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil Canada — estimate that it would carry 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day, which industry experts say is enough annually to heat more than 3 million homes for a year.

Republican Rep. Dan Lungren of California has a solution to the energy crisis: a $1-billion prize for the first American automaker to sell 60,000 midsized sedans that could travel 100 miles on one gallon of gasoline.

1920 treaty holds key to Arctic energy riches

Lawyers, experts and diplomats agree north Barents Sea oil and fishing rights are developing into a diplomatic flashpoint. They also agree that there is no clear answer.
Gas companies on 'treadmill' of demand

In Nigeria, Consumers protest power outage.

More on the Interstate system: With so many vehicles using it, America's interstate highway system is overworked.

Aging infrastructure The system is also getting old. "We are at the end of the useful life of the lot of the freeway that was built in the late '50s and early '60s," Vieth said. "In the next 10 to 20 years, there is a tremendous amount of work that will have to be done to keep the Interstates as a valuable part of the system."

Green fears grow as Britons binge on gadgets

Two scientists warn of The False Hope of Biofuels.

Update [2006-7-3 9:59:33 by Leanan]: This may have been posted before, but what the heck, it's worth another mention. BeyondPeak.org has the MP3s of May's Peak Oil and the Environment conference posted. My favorite is Joseph Tainter's Energy Gain & Social Organization, of course. He thinks our political dysfunction is setting us up for "catastrophic change" rather than a smooth transition.

Update [2006-7-3 12:21:34 by Leanan]: Extreme Commuting Going Global

More Americans than ever are willing to trade time in their car for the dream of a big house and a big yard. Nearly 10 million people now drive more than an hour to work, up 50 percent from 1990. Many are doing what California real-estate agents call "driving 'til you qualify" for a mortgage. In places like southern California, each exit along the interstate saves you tens of thousands of dollars.

...And what's happening in the United States is a harbinger for the world. The long commute is now cementing itself in Europe and spreading from Japan to the rest of Asia as well. Indeed, University of California Urban Planning professor Michael Woo says that Chinese commuters travel as far and spend as much time in cars as Californians—more than an hour a day. And American commerce is right on their tail: McDonald's opened its first drive-through window in China last December, and plans to open hundreds more.

I would like to see some recommendations for summer reading. Over the past several months I've made more than a hundred recommendations and recorded more than a score of others' "must read" lists. Now I want more.
Derrick Jensen - Endgame(Vol. II):Resistance. That'll get you thinking.

I'll look at that one again.

Perhaps you've read these, if not, worth some time.

Elizabeth Kolbert's "Fieldnotes from a Catastrophe" good review of gloabal warming science.

"Cobra II" about the war in Iraq.

"1491" about the state of the New World at European contact.  

... if you need music for the boat. Cassandra Wilson has a new record "Firebird". You can hear cuts at NPR. Oil's mentioned somewhere <g>.


The new Dixie Chicks is worth a listen. "Taking the Long Way" is their comeback album after lead singer Natalie Maines stated she was "ashamed the president was from Texas" several years ago.
Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and It's a Long Road to a Tomato by Keith Stewart who's farm is just a few miles down the road.  Also Epicurean Simplicity by Staphanie Mills. All great summer reads.
From the same author: The Culture of Make Believe, very sobering.
Also might want to consider reading Jensen's Endgame Vol. I, The Problem of Civilization, as it lays the groundwork and justification for Vol. II, Resistance.
Thanks, Oil CEO.
  • Natural Capitalism - A.Lovins et al
  • Cradle to Cradle (Remaking the way we make things) - William McDonough
The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken is also excellent.

And if you want some good news, "Good News for A Change" by David Suzuki and Holly Dressel is v. good.

In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni by Guy Debord.
The 1950's science fiction you so miss is now published in the form of graphic novels Try The Invisibles series from Grant Morison. Anything Grant Morrison. V for Vendetta from Alan Moore. The Transmetropolitan series from Warren Ellis.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
(a Pulitzer Prize-winning book)

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Probable the two best books I have every read.
Mind blowing is a good description of both.

The author (Jared Mason Diamond) is no lightweight.

I've read and reread and underlined and taken notes on both of those--definitely should be on everybody's top 20 list.
I've got them in mp3 and hardcover format.
I'm not easily impressed, but they are impressive works.
With this kind of information available, if our civilization falls, it our own damn fault.
American Theocracy by Keven Phillips is pretty good thus far though I have not finished it.
  Ever checked out Karen Armstrong's 'The Battle for God'?  It covers about 500yrs of the changes in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and how the fundamentalist movements in each have developed into what we see today.  Pretty useful, sober perspective on this often overstated subject.
Great book. I've read that one and also one of her other books.
The End of Faith. by Sam Harris.  What lots of people think and few have the guts to say out loud, but most certainly  needs saying.
Great book.  Definately recommend it.
this is a great book. imo
Almost anything by John McPhee,

I recommend :

Conversations with an Archdruid

Curve of the binding energy.

Basin and Range

Other - Walden's Pond

Tom Brown's - The Tracker, The Search

Curve of Binding Energy

Start with that. Highly recommended. Totally relevant to our discussions recently about nukes and oil-shale. Going to dig my copy out of the basement right now. Thanks.

I think McPhee forecast the terrorists flying planes into the World Trade Center too, if this is the book I read the line, "How soon before terrorists (or maybe it was bombers etc) fly a plane into the World Trade Center?"
If you called this, you get total credits. I still haven't entered the basement. Happening soon. I'm going to put up credit this is not exactly the case.
In the final chapter, McPhee and Ted Taylor (ace nuke designer from Los Alamos, retired at the time of writing) wander around the WTC while Taylor holds forth on the likely effects on the towers of a notional 1-kiloton (i.e. tiny) improvised nuke, depending on where it might be planted.

I wanted to put in a quote here, but like all my best books it's out on loan. Taylor speculates on a scenario where the bomb goes off between the towers and they end up essentially intact but leaning against each other. Creepy.

BTW the stored energy of the fuel load (not the kinetic energy) of the two WTC aircraft combined was of the close order of one kiloton. Obviously it was a lot less than 1000 tons mass, but 1 kilo of Jet-A1 burned in air releases about six times the energy you get from 1 kilo of TNT. This is because a high explosive carries its oxidizer around with it (in a handwaving sense) while the jet fuel gets its oxygen for free.

The book was published in the late 70s. It really gave me the chills to read it in 2005.

McPhee has a book coming out later this year about the cargo transportation systems of the USA. It is called "Uncommon Carriers", essentially an anthology of articles he has published in the New Yorker over the past few years. The chapter on the Wyoming coal railways is superb - makes you realize the sheer scale of what we're discussing here.

I read one of those articles in the New Yorker. About UPS. Excellent(like it wouldn't be).Why have I missed the others?

OK. I'm heading towards the basement.

Oil CEO,
After you finish rereading "Curve of Binding Energy" and trying to make the wheelbarrow bomb in your garage, go back to McPhee's "Basin and Range," which has some of the best writing in it that he ever did.
Don, pursuant to our previous discussion on "Dualism", while I have not yet been able to locate the specific reference I previously mentioned, I would recommend "Religion Explained" by the evolutionary anthropologist Pascal Boyer.
Thanks. Cultural evolution (Julian Steward, Lynn White et all) has been a central intrest of mine for almost fifty years. I've written some (unpublished) papers on the topic.
"The Vermont Papers", Bryan and McClaughry, at Powells.  If you are trying to figure out how a society might simplify and run locally, this is the cookbook.


JEM by Frederick Pohl is set in a dystopian 21st century where oil and food scarcity are the primary drivers of global realpolitik (first published 1979). The publisher's jacket blurb goes something like this (quoting from memory):

   The facts of 21st Century life are very simple.
   The world is divided into three power blocs, mutually
   dependent, mutually indispensable.
     The Fats produce food.
     The Greasies produce oil.
     And the Peeps produce people.

This isn't a Soylent Green kinda deal - the members of those blocs are existing nation states (except that Scotland seems to have become independent - there is a reference to "the hardliners in Edinburgh holding out for higher prices" somewhere in the text).

Armageddon breaks out when the Chinese refuse to pull their drilling rigs off the Mid-Atlantic ridge - pretty stupid place to look for oil IMHO but maybe it will be the Spratlys in our own timeline.


Not really sundeck-and-beer material, but the works of Edward Tufte on the visual presentation of complex datasets will make you see almost any data in a completely different light. Tufte was prof of social sciences at Yale before quitting to lecture, publish and consult on this topic, and he has made it his own.

  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
  • Envisioning Information
  • Visual Explanation
  • Beautiful Evidence

You can order the books from Amazon or Tufte's website, or find them in bookshops in any major college town. IMHO they decline slowly in quality in publishing order, but even the worst is very very good (haven't read the most recent yet). The tone of his more recent books sometimes comes across as being a bit intellectually arrogant.


You should try to make time to attend his one-day seminar if you live in the States and he is passing through your state. Some of the books are thrown in for the ticket price.

The downside of becoming a Tuftean is that you will never again be able to look at a graph or statistical chart without seeing ways in which it could be improved - sorry, present company NOT excepted, though the graphics on ToD are way above the run of what you normally get on the web. Part of the problem is the limitations of MS Excel, of course.

Nice Op-Ed from Rep. Dan Lungren of California.  We have had the X-prize winner fuel space travel.  Why Not better mileage cars?   Sure it might seem like something is just not being said and it will be a total failure.  But it seems to me that Giving a prize is only half the reward.  60,000 new cars that do what they say they are supposed to do would really force SUV that guzzle a bit further off the market.  

Aren't some of us out there asking to lengthen the peak into a long slow slide instead of a fast drop?  

Though he Did Not Mention Peak Oil,  he did talk about the reasons we should be worried, and the reasons we should get more proactive.  We can't win a race by sitting in our computer chairs watching music videos all day.  Sometimes we actually have to get up and walk to the newsstand and chat with our fellow citizens and get them thinking too.

They are offering an X-Prize for fuel-efficient cars.

The challenge: Build the world's most fuel-efficient production car - one that gets maybe 250 miles per gallon and causes little or no pollution. The payoff: prize money from the group that awarded $10 million for the world's first private spaceflight two years ago.
Okay I stand corrected.  Though I do wonder where the 1 billion dollars will be coming from, oh yeah never mind, I'll just get my wallet out.  

But still 100 miles a gallon and able to be sold in the standards heavy US auto stream,  should be an easy one to get going.  

As to it all being a "Let us save Detroit while we still can"  well, in one light, what is wrong with that if you get them to move in the right direction.  I know they are sluggish dino's but getting them to move toward a GOOD goal is better than letting them just die.  It might even save you and me some money.  Think about if they really fail and we have to bail out the retirement plans for them that will cost far more than 1 billion dollars. The 100 mpg car might even save a few of them from extinction.

"$1-billion prize for the first American automaker to sell 60,000 midsized sedans that could travel 100 miles on one gallon of gasoline."

So an "American automaker" that manufactures its high mileage cars in Mexico is eligible for the prize but a "foreign" automaker that manufactures its cars in Ohio is not. Why not just call it what it is: a bailout for the Detroit automakers.

It is an admission that the U.S. cannot compete on the world market. If we are going to solve our problems, protectionism is not part of the answer.  Just like what they did with the hybrid incentives. Guess what?  Toyota has already reached their 60,000 quota.  Ford and GM don't have a prayer.  
For a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon?
No no.  I was referring to the tax credit for buying a hybrid vehicle.  After you seel 60,000, the credit is reduced. This was put in there by the American auto companies to help them compete against Toyota.
Doesn't the plug in version of the Toyota Prius already get 100 mpg?
Is there a standard way to calculate plug-in mileage?

As you probably know, plug-in hybrids charge up over night and start out each morning as electric.  They can go some distance all-electric before starting their gasoline engine.  So if you only go half that distance, and then home again, you are getting "infinity" miles per gallon (and using miles per kilowatt-hour instead).

When anyone quotes a flat MPG for a plug-in hybrid they are making an assumption about the distance covered on your daily drive.  Maybe you burn no gas for the first 10 miles, and then X gallons for the next 10 miles ... or 20 ... or 30 ... and then compute an average.

It gets complicated.  To really know the typical MPG we're going to have to know the typical daily driving distance for an American.  And of course if we aren't typical ourselves ... our results are going to vary.

A plug in has a higher capacity battery (duh).  People typically describe plug in the way you described it.  One starts the day with a fresh charge and one runs on electricity  only (assuming one stays below a certain speed, usually 30 something).  After one's ration of juice is exhausted, one automatically goes back to normal hybrid mode. As you say, the mpg in this scenario clearly depends upon miles traveled per charge.

However, keeping in mind the larger capacity batttery, wouldn't normal hybrid mode also experience greater gas mileage because one could charge it up to a higher level while coasting, breaking, etc?  

In addition, of course, if one exceeds a certain speed, one cannot rely on the electric engine alone. This also seems to complicate the determination of mpg.  

To further complicate the issue, what happens as one increases the power of the electric motor?  Does this hurt mileage because one is drawing energy faster than the battery.  Probably so. But isn't this counterbalanced somewhat by the fact that one can use the electric at higher speeds?  

Getting a standard that will be meaningful for the typical driver will be even more difficult than with conventional autos.  

Those who wish to offer a prize need to very careful in defining their parameters. Otherwise, they might get punked.

I'm sure the bigger capacity would help during normal driving ... some.  But my experience with a Prius is that normal driving is give-and-take enough that you don't generally charge over time.  Full batteries come after long downhills (off a mountain, for example), but not that commonly otherwise.

That surprised me at first, but then I thought about it ... if you've got a charge, and the choice is to spend gas or electricity ... you'll spend the electricity, to save the gas.

... I'm probably not explaining well.

my experience with a Prius is that normal driving is give-and-take enough that you don't generally charge over time.

Same with Civic Hybrid, which I drive.  

My understanding of the plug-in Prius is that the computer, which monitors the battery level and adjusts electric use accordingly, is hacked so that it always thinks there is a completely full charge, which of course is often the case if you've just pulled the plug to go for a drive.  Therefore, the computer will maximize the use of the electric motor far longer than it normally would with the stock Prius.  You still have to practice good hybrid driving technique (pulse & glide, gravity is your friend, etc.) to get the 100+ mpg.

This concept is right on the money, imo.  Even if I leave the house with a full battery charge in the morning, which is usually difficult for the reasons you describe, by the time I finish my 20-min commute I usually have less than I started with, especially if I have AC on, etc.  A full charge on a larger battery every morning would be very cool.

My understanding of the plug-in Prius is that the computer, which monitors the battery level and adjusts electric use accordingly, is hacked so that it always thinks there is a completely full charge

Plus the larger battery of course.

Incidentally, last weekend on a 65 mile drive on a flat stretch of freeway, with a mild tailwind, I averaged 73 mpg at 60 mph in my Civic Hybrid.  Cruising at that speed it's pretty much gas only, with the battery remaining fairly static (neither charging nor discharging).  Over the 8000-mile life of the car it has averaged 46.6 mpg, about 40%/60% city/highway.

I think Hybrid technology is still in its infancy.  There are great gains to be made in battery and fuel efficiency.

Assuming we don't all die off first :)

So what I'm gonna do as soon as I get my bike auto transmission well and truly launched is make an electric vehicle with a small battery chamber designed for fast slip in and out.  Then I have one battery at home and one in the vehicle and one in town where I go.  And I change them as appropriate in seconds, always have plenty of poop, and the vehicle is not burdened with a big load of batteries.  Simple.

Then, everybody gets envious, steals yet another of my great ideas, and the world is saved.  Thank you all for being so thievish.  And the only reckoning of this contribution of mine to the lovely new world toward which we are going is this little note in that TOD book  (excellent idea!), but what the hell do I care, I will be totally recycled by that time.

Alright, maybe I will have to hitchhike once in a while if I don't watch that charge meter.  Did it all the time in the 40's.  Met lots of good people.

It seems to me that the Russian government and Russian oil companies have some very powerful motivations for reporting higher production numbers, which makes one wonder how sustainable the reported production increases are, but time will tell.  I would also note that a lot of people are selling Russian assets, from BP to Marathon, to the Russian government itself, via the Rosneft IPO.

An excerpt from the article on Russian oil production:

Russian oil reserves are also becoming depleted and the country needs to tap major new deposits in new areas such as East Siberia to support growth.

State oil firm Rosneft, which controls the former key production unit of YUKOS, Yugansk, continued to show the best annual growth rates as its output rose by 7.4 percent versus June 2005.

But its month-on-month growth of 0.3 percent versus May 2006 was only about a half of the rates seen in the past months.

Rosneft has ramped up production as it is preparing to sell up to $11 billion worth of its stock in London and Moscow in Russia's largest ever IPO in July.

Russia's top oil producer LUKOIL (LKOH.RTS: Quote, Profile, Research) also added 5.2 percent on its annual rates. Its June production also rose by 2.0 percent versus May 2006 due to bigger output at its Siberian Urai unit, the data showed.

LUKOIL had no immediate comment on the month-on-month rise, which was exceptionally strong, given that Urai's production was flat or grew only modestly in past years.

"It seems that LUKOIL has added Marathon's (MRO.N: Quote, Profile, Research) production to Urai's figures. So the organic growth should be much smaller at around 0.5 percent," said Vladislav Metnyov from Troika Dialog brokerage.

The phrase "Pump and dump" comes to mind.
2,7% higher than June 2005's level is not higher than the level of December 2005, by anyone's figures. So I don't know what to make of the news story.
A significant decline in Russian production, however, is in my opinion extremely unlikely.
I will be on vacation until the middle of next week or so, and until then won't be posting much. I have just posted a brief summary and link to some of my blog essays that got a lot of hits, or were picked up by other web sites. I have broken them down into Ethanol, Panderers, Conservation, Biodiesel, Butanol, Peak Oil, and Miscellaneous:

Summary of Archived Essays

I should be writing new material by the middle of next week. Have a safe 4th everyone.



I have an idea for a best-selling book which I freely offer to you or anybody else on TOD who would like to do well by doing good.

How about a compilation of the twenty most popular posts (and an edited selection of comments to omit the rants)from the past six months published as a trade paperback? With an aggressive publisher, I see no reason why this could not be a best seller for weeks.

This could be a kind of "Anual Editions from TOD" series.

I hereby give anybody to quote my wit and wisdom, along with attribution to "Don Sailorman."

Because I have other projects going, I don't feel like doing this one. Also, I don't need the money, but from what I read some of the commenters here do.

I have an idea for a best-selling book which I freely offer to you or anybody else on TOD who would like to do well by doing good.

How about a compilation of the twenty most popular posts (and an edited selection of comments to omit the rants)from the past six months published as a trade paperback? With an aggressive publisher, I see no reason why this could not be a best seller for weeks.

Hi Don,

I have been thinking about this for some time. That is just one reason I tend to heavily reference my blog entries. I think I could eventually pull enough material together for a book. I think the first section of my archived essays is a good start to something like "Refuting Ethanol Propaganda for Dummies." I need to work on that title, though. :)

But, if we just sorted through and pulled some of the best material together from The Oil Drum, there is probably already a good book or two there for someone willing to pull it all together.



I think this project will require only about 300 person-hours, plus later time to promote the book on morning talk shows, a tour of bookstores for signings, etc.

If you can make the time, I nominate you. Failing that, a number of commenters claim to be writers. We need somebody who has or can get a first-rate agent.

Depending on the publisher, I'd like to see the book published in two formats:
  1. An inexpensive paperbeck, small pages, black-and-white graphs
  2. A $12.95 large format (Sort of like Dushkin's "Anual Editions series" aimed at college classes and others who can afford a pricier book with bigger graphs in color and a CD in a plastic pocket which contains the same information so that computerphiles can waste electricity to read the articles--which would then be very handy for accessing Internet links.

Any other ideas out there?
Any other ideas out there?

Yes, put all of those AAA posts into some form of heavily cross linked Wiki...
I have a question about this. Who do our words belong to?
I was wondering that myself.  The site has a Creative Commons license.  Does that mean everyone who posts here is covered by that license?
It is an interesting question. Could somebody simply cut and paste what other people have written here an publish it without their permission. Then there is the issue that none of us is really a person, except fot Stuart and Robert Rapier. We are all just handles, pseudonyms, and monikers.
Interestingly, the license specified covers "this work" which refers to the entire blog, not any one article. Viewed from that perspective (which is how I suspect it would be viewed legally), any contribution here by anyone else is covered by the same license. In fact, we can quote the Creative Commons License:

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5

You are free:

    * to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work
    * to make derivative works
    * to make commercial use of the work

Under the following conditions:
by - Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

sa - Share Alike. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.

    * For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.
    * Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

This license gives anyone the express permission to copy this work, to build upon this work, and to reuse this work for commercial purposes. Now given that I suspect the license applies to the entire blog, including comments, I believe that anyone could reuse it to create the suggested book covering the "Best of TOD" articles and comments. Your only requirement would be to give proper attribution to each contributor.

uh, huh, now you see why it is not such a bad idea to sign your work! :-)

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

We're all people, regardless of our "handles." You don't have to use your legal name for copyright to apply.
I wasn't going to comment, because IANAL (perhaps the oldest shorthand on the internet, and telling that it was so widely known, for "I Am Not A Lawyer").

But since others are jumping before our copyright lawyer shows up ... I think you'd have to ask posters for an explicit statement as they create their accounts.  I used to track "copyfight" issues a bit, and my understanding is that congress wanted to make it hard for people to "accidently" give up the rights to their work.

IANAL, but I'd say everyone here holds their copyright unless they explicitly state otherwise.

Hmmm. Interesting. We will be discussing this some more, I'm sure. We haven't even scratched the surface of the issues the clash of intellectual property theory and the internet and digital revolutions has set off. Copyfight, I like that. Did you coin it? Make sure you own it if you did.
No, it's a wider term.  A good one though.
For what it's worth, here's my blurb:


This is a public service announcement
With guitar

Know your rights - all three of them

Number 1
You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a crime!
Unless it was done by a
Policeman or aristocrat
Know your rights

And number 2
You have the right to food money
Providing of course you
Dont mind a little
Investigation, humiliation
And if you cross your fingers

Know your rights
These are your rights

Know these rights

Number 3
You have the right to free
Speech as long as you're not
Dumb enough to actually try it.

Know your rights
These are your rights
All three of em
It has been suggested
In some quarters that this is not enough!

 - The Clash

from Combat Rock, the second best album of all time, after Exile on Main Street

Large print format for those aging baby boomers in power. This is the year of the big 60.
"Why Ethanol is for Drinking, Not Driving"
How about: "Ethanol and driving don't Mix"
Or "Ethanol: We Fudged the Numbers So You Don't Have To!"
Hey Keithster,

I would be interested in your take on my case study of Pacific Ethanol:


Look at the last section, and tell me what you think is wrong with it. Give me your counter-analysis of why PEIX is not overvalued.



Looks interesting. I will work on this today. Check back here tomorrow, and I should have something posted.
I agree with your positions. No reasonable person thinks that ethanol will emancipate the US from foreign sources of liquid fuel and no one believes that the ethanol industry in its current form will contribute substantially to liquid fuel stocks. However, I do believe the industry will evolve to make a significant impact.

Ethanol's Potential as an Oil Replacement
This section is basically the energy return on investment (EROI) argument with the added bonus of the corn crop size argument. Your combined argument is that the raw materials for ethanol will never be as abundant as oil. You don't speculate on the future, you take current methods, ramp them up and note which ones are implausible. I agree that current methods won't scale but new methods will. In its short history, the ethanol industry has a good track record of overcoming technical challenges. Here are some successes:

Total Efficiency
It is great to see you stating that ethanol offers a net energy gain. You use 1.09, I like to use the 1.3 number from this report (Science 27 January 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5760, pp. 506 - 508) but we both agree it is net positive. The report from Science goes on to say that gasoline is slightly negative-this is stunning! The thermal cracking of petroleum to produce gasoline was invented in 1913 and catalytic cracking was invented in 1937 and loads of chemists and engineers have been perfecting the processes ever since. Industrial scale ethanol has only been around since the 1970s and yet it is now more energy efficient than gasoline production.

Corn to ethanol conversion rates
With today's technology, one bushel of corn yields 2.8 gallons of ethanol. And that number is constantly increasing. Just a few years ago, that number was closer to 2.5 gallons per bushel of corn. Now the seed companies like Monsanto are starting to develop ethanol-optimized corn. Look for this area to 'grow'.

Energy Sources
Ethanol plants often use natural gas to power the heating steps but they can use coal, or they can burn one of the co-products, distiller's grains. They can also gasify biomass. In the July 2004 Ethanol Producer Magazine there is an article called Power Switch that says, "A CHP project proposed for the Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-op, a 20-mmgy plant in Little Falls, Minn., is expected to use waste wood chips. Sebesta Blomberg, a Roseville, Minn.-based firm that provides facility management, consulting, engineering and design/build services, is designing a biomass gasification addition to the ethanol plant. The wood chips and VOCs would be burned in a gasifier. This would go through a thermal oxidizer into a boiler, which expels clean air and high-pressure steam. The steam then travels through a turbine that produces process steam for the jet cooker and electricity to run the plant."  This plant opened recently and is in operation.
Of course, everyone knows about using a closed-loop plant that burns cow or pig manure.

Enzyme Production
Genencor and NREL worked together for 4 years to achieve an estimated cellulase cost in the range of $0.10-$0.20 per gallon of ethanol in NREL's cost model. This represents an approximate 30-fold improvement in enzyme cost in that model.

Environmental Improvements
An article in the current issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine makes this statement in an article about ICM, a technology provider to the ethanol industry, "This new MEF (minimum environmental footprint) design will use no outside thermal or electrical energy source, such as natural gas or coal; will use no fresh make-up water; will produce no visible plume from the distillers grains dryer or boiler; and will produce only a very minimal level of noise and odor."  The US hasn't built an oil refinery in 30 years, but we built over 100 ethanol plants. It is a lot easier, safer, cleaner, more acceptable...

Biomass source
I think I read a couple of posts from you talking about cellulose so no need to go into again but for the benefit of others-why not use grass or willow that don't need fertilizer.

General Comments about this section
I am a molecular biologist by training, and I participated in the sequencing of the human genome. A lot of people said that couldn't be done but now scientists have sequenced the genomes of hundreds of organisms. Biology is racing ahead, and I look at the developing industrial biorefinery industry, and I think the same techniques that worked in health research can be applied to improve enzymes, harness organisms to do work and scale up processes. I understand your scepticism about ethanol, but you can't extrapolate using current methods. Just like someone looking at the first oil well in Pennsylvania in 1859 could not have imagined 2006.  

The Brazilian Example
Yeah I agree. Brazil's experience is different than ours.

Ethanol Investing
You asked me to about an analysis of why PEIX is not overvalued. It is overvalued-I sold a while ago.

I didn't find this section persuasive though. Basically, PEIX has not even finished their first plant yet so I don't see what kind of analysis an outsider can do on their business plan. It is too early and there are too many unknowns. You even missed a few of the knowns like the part of their business plan built around selling the wet distiller grains to the million cows in the central valley. The things I do know are quite impressive:
-Good cash flow- $110 million in revenue in 2005 just by marketing other people's ethanol
-Deep pockets- Bill Gates money, bank money etc.
-Experience-They have been distributing ethanol since 1984
-Political connections- The ex-Secretary of State for California is the Chairman and CEO
-Access to ports for overseas shipping (Don't laugh, Japan is interested in ethanol).
-They will have the latest and greatest technology in their plants. Heck, if 30 year old plants are making gobs of money then why can't they with new plants!?

Like I said, it is too early and there are too many unknowns. I just look at what I do know and add in my judgement about the macro trends such as peak oil, geopolitical troubles, greater adoption of ethanol etc. and make an investment decision.

In the interest of full disclosure, I started watching PEIX when it was at about $6. I bought in before Bill Gates, and I made a boat-load of money. It was the second or third best stock I ever owned. God I love this stock. I told people on www.theoildrum.com about this stock in April, I think, and if you invested then, you still would have made a load of money if you sold at the right time. I started selling it as the price was going to ridiculous levels. I no longer own any ethanol stock, but I will get back in after the hype dies down (probably when the driving season ends).

Let's see. If you buy at exactly the right time and sell at exactly the right time you can make money on the stock market. Sounds right.
Don't listen to what I said then, listen to what I'm saying now. Trust me. Sure.
Actually, I said the same thing then too. Or don't trust me. I don't care.
The report from Science goes on to say that gasoline is slightly negative-this is stunning!

No time to address the entire thing, but I will address this. It is simply not true. It is an apples to oranges comparison. I addressed it here:

Energy Balance For Ethanol Better Than For Gasoline?

In addition, a number of people had rebuttal letters published in Science (including TOD's thelastsasquatch) that pointed out the invalid comparison. The authors admitted in their replies that they should have called their metric something else, as it wasn't comparing the EROI of both processes.



Good information. Can you breakdown the EROI for gasoline derived from different grades of oil? Or for oil from different regions? I wonder how different the EROI is for gas derived from Canadian Tar Sand oil vs. Saudi crude. As these sources of oil dwindle, how will that affect the EROI?
Somebody who knew nothing about oil, but was a good listener, a decent tactician, and a better than average writer, could write the best book on oil currently available by simply editing and paraphrasing what goes on here. And I'm sure more than a few people are already aware of that.

Do you see those yellow 'This and That For Dummies' books that have sold God knows how many copies(most of which probably still go unread)? And I think there is another series,"...For Idiots." I'm not making this up.

Think of what an Oil Book with the TOD logo on the cover would sell. And then once it did. A series on every energy topic under the sun. All under the same brand. Sir, we have a mineshaft gap. Mein Fuhrer! I have a plan!

Yep there's a "for idiots" series too, orange and blue covers. The For Dummies series is yellow/black.

And has that nerd guy.

TOD could easily come up with a TOD series of How To books, like How to really go car-free, how to drastically decrease electricity consumption, etc.

Re: Mexico

What if we see the following in Mexico:  falling oil production; civil unrest as a result of no clear winner in the presidential election; a slumping economy because of the above factors combined with slowing foreign investment.  I wonder where millions of unemployed Mexicans may decide to head?

Small events can sometimes have big consequences, e.g., the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the kidnapping of one Israeli soldier.  

Last week, according to media reports, two illegal immigrants (one from Mexico, another from Honduras) admitted to deliberately targeting an 18 year old girl in Central Texas--running her off the road, raping and stabbing her and leaving her for dead.  She played dead and crawled and walked a couple of miles before she found help.

Small events are like matches.  They can only cause big fires if there is a large supply of fuel.  Justified or not, I think that there is an enormous pool of resentment building against illegal immigration into this country.

In any case, before too long I predict that a lot of native born Americans are going to be competing for jobs now taken by illegal immigrants.

Westexas said:

In any case, before too long I predict that a lot of native born Americans are going to be competing for jobs now taken by illegal immigrants.

A lot of people seem to think that immigrants (illegal or otherwise) "take jobs" from the locals.  This is a great mistake that displays an ignorance of economics.

Every immigrant is both a mouth to feed & a pair of hands to work - just like everyone else is.  Any sane economic system would be able to cope with adding one person to both the supply & demand sides of its equation.  Taking immigrants out of the economy would destroy as many jobs as it frees up - though the jobs destroyed would mostly be unidentifiable, since they would be the jobs selling the immigrants the things that they buy, or supplying the companies that produce the things that immigrants buy, or providing services to the companies that supply the companies that produce the things that immigrants buy ... .

This is not to say that there wouldn't be a large political outcry, which will get politicians elected &/or laws passed.  It just means that, to the extent that the anti-immigrant brigade are concerned about unemployment, they will be shooting themselves in the (collective) foot.

"A lot of people seem to think that immigrants (illegal or otherwise) "take jobs" from the locals.  This is a great mistake that displays an ignorance of economics."

I didn't say that illegal immigrants are taking jobs from locals.  If a job offer is made, that job is taken by whomever accepts the job offer.  I am predicting that more native born Americans will be competing with illegal immigrants for lower income jobs in the future.

US taxpayers are spending vast sums of money to provide health care, food and other financial support to illegal immigrants and their children.  And of course many of their children are US citizens.  One can argue that the inexpensive labor more than offsets the cost of the health care and other subsidies. But what happens as the economy starts contracting, especially if we have a new flood of immigrants from Mexico?

I have previously pointed out that younger US workers are going to get hammered from all directions in a post-Peak Oil environment--giant student loans; ferocious job competition; high tax rates to support ever greater numbers of people on welfare(who are often having children at high rates) and high tax rates to support ever greater numbers of people in retirement.

My post from awhile back..."which group or proups are going to take it in the shorts.  I mean which ones are going to get fingered for the problems we face"

My wife watched a show on imagration.  In the past history of the US they are welcome when things are OK, when things are not so good the get the blame.

To all the illegal haters out there I have a story.

I work in Ag. There were 4 of us white people working together when two of them started going off on the mexicans in the local area...There's too many of them, they take our jobs,  they are in our schools,  etc. One said if they couldn't get the jobs they wouldn't be here.
Finally I asked.

"When was the last time you saw a car load of white people drive up looking for work?

That killed the conversation.  BECAUSE IT NEVER HAPPENED IN 21 YEARS.

We raise our pampered beauty queens and sports star children.  Hard physical work is below them, both socially and economically.  

"If they paid better wages...."  BS, It's hard, dirty, sweaty work and white kids don't have to because they can find better work in airconditioned buildings.  If you paid $15.00 an hour for picking fruit then some engineer will build a fruit picker and save the farmer a fortune.  

A mechanical Blueberry picker cost >$140,000.00.  The ammount of waste/ leaves and plant damage still make a greater return than hand picking, gets it done on time, it can't go on stike then your ass is swinging in the wind, and you don't have to listen to a bunch of whinny ass kids all day.

Every job in Ag was never meant IMHO to afford you a 1,800 sq ft home 2 cars and 3 kids while picking strawberries.  We are talking about crawling on hot dirt picking fruit. No degree needed here.  We were more than happy to heve the mexicans until the economy changed.

A bit of a rant but lets get real about the illegal mexicans, they work hard on crappy jobs and show up.  It's a small wonder that they get hired.

Will they get blamed - yes I think they will.  Along with Oil Co CEO's  ;-)

This only applies on the ever-expanding cheap oil economy.  And before that, in the expanding colonialist economy.  

We're all immigrants, or descended from immigrants (unless you're living in Africa).  Most of us quite recently in the U.S.  Immigration was a good thing, at least in the short term.  Big country, lots of resources, not much population, at least by European standards.

But it clearly cannot go on forever.  The petri dish is getting full.  We can't keep expanding.  Population is going to be the issue of the post-carbon age.  And limiting immigration is going to be the easiest way to to limit population.  

IOW...things are going to change.  There will be white people, black people, Asian people, showing up looking for work.  Today's pampered beauty queens and sports stars will be tomorrow's blueberry pickers.

That's the double-edged sword.  Scandinavia seems to have a nice stable society, more ready for peak oil than the US ... but the reason my grandparends bugged out was the lack of growth.

Good thing, because I'd probably be a little more uptight had I not grown up Californian, with all the Hispanic influences ;-)

So I'd say growth is good when you can find it.

(now I'm off to make my breakfast tacos ....)

This is only true in an expanding economy.  More workers, more consumers, ever-expanding population, ever more growth.  It's all good...as long as we have the resources to support it.  

It's going to be very different in a no-growth or negative-growth environment.  Then we'll be facing what Jared Diamond calls "overcrowded lifeboat syndrome."  

Even if one accepts the economic argument in favor of immigration, where does one draw the line when the poor countries of the world continue to explode in population?  I live in a tourist area.  The tourists clearly add to the economic gross numbers  of this area.  However, this doesn't necessarily translate into an increase in the average well being since the population increases to provide services to to the additional tourists. However, if one defines well being as partly an inverse function of the number of people clogging up the highways and clogging up the mountain trails and trailheads, then, on balance, my quality of life has been reduced over the last several decades.

The U.S. has become a safety valve for the failed policies and results of the Mexican government and arguably, NAFTA, for that matter.  To what extent does this safety valve make it less likely that Mexico will do what it is necessary to provide a decent standard of living for its poor?  As long as one can export one's problem, what is the incentive to fix it?  

Ablokeimet: It might display an ignorance of your textbook economics, but it displays a surplus of common sense. Just relax and think for one second: an influx of immigration into the US would obviously affect a US worker competing for jobs differently than it would affect a US employer looking for cheap and/or well-qualified labour. It is called economic competition, winners and losers. There are persons in the USA who stand to benefit greatly by increased immigration but these are not the average schmuck looking for a job.  
Well - this is the first time in quite a while that I've been taken as being on the side of the employers!  If I'd been writing longer posts and putting my arguments in full rather than just giving the abbreviated version, nobody would be making that mistake (for the record, I'm an active unionist).

My original proposition stands: that the economy can't distinguish between an immigrant and a native-born person (their dollars look & smell just the same in every transaction) and that everyone, immigrant or native-born, is both a pair of hands to work (i.e. a source of supply) & a mouth to feed (i.e. a source of demand).  If the economy can't stay in balance after adding one person to each side of its supply & demand equation, what's wrong is the economy, not the person.

This is the overall view.  There are, however, some qualifications which need to be added.

The first qualification is that the rate of immigration should not be above the ability of the economy to cope.  In particular, the rate of expansion/renovation of economic & social infrastructure necessary to cope with immigration should be within the ability of the economy to generate.  In practical terms, new households need housing, water, power & transport.  If people are living in tent cities or twenty to a house, it's a problem and the rate of population increase may be a contributing factor.

My reading of US economic history (which admittedly, is not that extensive) indicates to me that the US has coped with considerably higher rates of immigration than today, as a proportion of population rather than absolute numbers, for extended periods of its history.  It is certainly the case in Australia, where I live.  So, short of a catastrophe in Mexico that causes US immigration to increase to significantly above historic rates as a proportion of population, the qualification regarding the rate of immigration is not likely to be relevant.

The second qualification is that economic balance at the macro level can co-exist with imbalance at the micro level.   Just because immigrants create as many jobs as they take, that doesn't mean that nobody finds themselves in a state of increased competition for employment.  In particular localities or occupations, immigrants may cause a surplus of labour relative to demand.  If the immigrants are particularly concentrated in some localities & some occupations, it is not only possible, but probable.  This will be counter-balanced, however, by rapid growth in labour demand elsewhere - possibly to the extent of creating shortages.  A flexible economy, with easy access to useful training, would make these imbalances short-lived.

If "the average schmuck looking for a job" is having trouble finding one, I'd blame a system that allows employers to train workers to be productive for their current employer & nobody else and then puts the rest of the cost of training on the worker.  In a society where demand for various types of labour is varying rapidly & unpredictably (even without the added complication if immigration), this is a recipe for economic inefficiency.

My reading of US economic history (which admittedly, is not that extensive) indicates to me that the US has coped with considerably higher rates of immigration than today, as a proportion of population rather than absolute numbers, for extended periods of its history.  

The difference is the petri dish is full now.

  • USA acres/person = 8
  • UK acres/person = 1

USA's petri dish is nowhere near full!
UK rainfall & fertility/acre is better than US.  UK imports food, energy, etc.  Their "petri dish" runneth over !

Iceland has less than 3 people/km2; yet, without fishing, they cannot feed themselves !  Even with a couple of km2 of greenhouses.*

I think our "petri dish" is a bit ovwefull; but with adjustments, we can barely make it.

*Ultimate Jeopardy question.  Name the only European nation to grow bananas commercially.

Who is Iceland?

Been there, seen them.  Albeit in the mid 1970's when my dad was stationed there for the US Air Force.  But great country, finally making vodka and other nice things, not to mention nice looking ladies.   I got my start at rock climbing and rock jumping there.   They still are top on my retirement list of places to go.

Thanks Alan for all the info you provide about them.

John Howe states in his book, "The End of Fossil Energy" that the US should reduce its population to 70 million by 2150. This is probably a WAG at what the population should be for comfortable sustainability. The fact is that by 2150 fossils will not be factor except for the CO2 still in the atmosphere.
The situation is not nearly as complicated as you would describe it. A shortage of labour drives up wages. A surplus of workers lowers wages. Some people benefit from higher wages, other persons benefit from paying lower wages. Anyone who talks about "what is good for the entire US (or Australian) economy without facing this reality should publish their own economics textbooks (they would probably sell like hotcakes). The funny thing is, for years now American workers have bought the crap you are selling so they could get their $19 DVD player at Walmart. Well, they got their $19 DVD player so they should stop complaining.
Population is the problem. In my opinion we need to adopt a "no mas" policy on immigration. We should also remove tax credits/deductions for having more than 2 children. We should make it clear that population control is the key to achieving a sustainable and humane world. The BS fantasy that growth and population growth is desirable has to be crushed.
You forgot to mention the gangs of them in our prisons.  The world has been sending America the tired the poor and hungry for centuries.  Just recently have we been really digging our heels in and screaming, HOLD ON.

I moved back to North Little Rock, last month, to find that my parents have more hispanic nieghbors.  They have jobs, and kids, but speak very little english.  Its an old neighborhood, I think my parents are the only ones left that have not moved out or died off, from the time they were the newcomers to the block.  That was 29 years ago.  I also discovered an undercurrent of dislike for the Hispanics that never seemed to be there before.  

I don't know, but I do feel a change going on.  I am not sure what will happen, but I don't see it being any good for Hispanics that can't speak english in the coming years.

50 years ago, take out hispanic and put in black youths, and see what would have happened in the above news article, about rape and stabbing.

As I suggested in an earlier post elsewhere on TOD, all we have to do is sentance each adult illegal immigrant to five years hard labor in the oil shale mines.

We'd get some cheap shale (just rice, beans, corn, tomatoes for food) and also discourage more illegal immigration.

each adult illegal immigrant

What do we do with the children? Dry distill 'em for hydrocarbons?

Children can work in the fields weeding by hand, etc. I've seen Mexican children as young as six years old put in twelve hour days in 105 degree temperatures in the central California valley west of Sacramento.

Babies can be watched by their elder siblings. This is also current practice.

Be careful, somebody is going to start taking you seriously, and then you'll really be in trouble. What was it Colonel Klink used to threaten? I'll send you to the Eastern Front. It'll be off to the shale-mines for us.

That reminds me- Philip K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

LOL, so many dangerous threads today!  I wasn't smart enought to stay out of the other one, but I'll do better here. ;-)
Which other one? Are they still ripping it up about Israel over there? I've been afraid to peek. Are they drawing blood yet? I won't go near it. Not yet, at least :)
I'm hoping we each said our peace. :-)
I want you to know I totally support your position. More than totally support it. It looked like you weren't even breaking a sweat and in a mostly single-handed manner, so I let it go. I had to agree with Jack, though, that this site is about oil - so I bit my lip. I actually brought up Gaza first a few days ago, so I'm hardly innocent - but that's never my goal. I struggle like hell to keep my ridiculously pro-Israeli leanings away from this forum. Mike Hearn posted the location of Prosperity Well yesterday(today). When I was 7, I lived about 2 miles from there. I love Arabs. They are like everybody else. I've never understood Blind Faith. I've never understood Blind Hate. We'll talk about the mideast some other time. Keep up the good work. Peace is right.
One of the underlying tensions in all these "dangerous" threads --and I think we are in denial if we don't own up to them-- is that we have adjoining geographic areas with highly differentiated levels of economic prosperity. Naturally, the prosperity gradient will entice people to migrate from the low prosperity region to the higher one.

So it is roughly the same thing whether you are talking about the:

  1. Mexican/USA border, or
  2. Palestinian/Israeli border
  3. Nevada/California border (some light humor here)

Most of the border crossers are simply trying to get across for a chance at a better job and a better life. Of course the incumbents are going to see the new transplants as threats to the established status quo for various reasons. So I guess the more interesting --and less provocative question is-- after TSHTF due to PO or other calamities (i.e. GW), where will the highest prosperity regions be and where will the lowest prosperity regions be, and how does one get oneself ingrained as an accepted local in a high-prosperity region before its inhabitants decide it is time to close the border?
You make good points, but people should remember that under the current tax structure and economic policies of the USA, the important people will tend to make more money if immigration increases (legal or illegal). As it is not a problem for the persons that own the country, any attempt to address it will be half-hearted.Ask anyone on Wall Street their opinion of illegal Mexican immigration into the USA-they see two positives-1.tends to lower wages 2.increases the size of the consumer market. Until these immigrants start taking away portfolio management jobs, little will be done on this one.  
What makes you think I was not serious?   :-)

BTW, some time you offered to set up a website for me. Offer still open? I'd like to post my science fiction novels for free access by anybody. I'll retain copyright for book and film purposes.

The offer still stands. We'll get in touch tomorrow. I'm off to do the whole cookout/fireworks thing soon.
Thanks. In my "public user info" I've listed my e-mail for all and sundry.

Have a wonderful 4th of July plan. Beautiful woman, Lit major, exactly half my age for brats, kraut, maybe some Margaritas or tequila shots with salt and lime. Purely a platonic relationship, of course, . . .;)

Not seeing the email addy. Sure you got it checked off?
Where is the site? Would you like to co-host it or just make brilliant and witty comments?

For a name, I'm thinking of "Adventures of C.C. Eggum," because Caesar Cadwallader Eggum is the teenage hero of my series. It begins just as he's going through puberty a few months befoe TEOTWAKI and ends in Volume 5 with him and his wife Kari of 70 years going out on the first starship. It is a multigenerational saga, in the tradition of R.A. Heinlein.

Oh, one other thing--do you like to do stage or TV appearances? As you may have guessed, I'm a great ham actor and can teach most anybody "the method."

Do you know about the Baen Library?


Yes, thank you.
"50 years ago, take out Hispanic and put in black youths, and see what would have happened in the above news article, about rape and stabbing."

If this were a few years ago, I think this rape/assault story would have been largely accepted for what it is, a random case of violence.  But, I think that Americans are feeling economically squeezed and looking for scapegoats. Having said, that I agree that we have to do something to reduce immigration.

FYI--I would be careful about approaching cars in Texas.  Ever since conceal and carry was passed in Texas, I have been a very considerate driver.  I always assume that all the other drivers have these characteristics:  they just got laid off from their job; their home is in foreclosure; their dog died; their spouse just left them and they have a loaded handgun in their lap.

BTW, some recent case histories of "Frontier Justice" in Texas, in roughly reverse chronological order (most recent first):

A man is waiting for his daughter, outside his ex-wife's house.  A couple of youths start smart-mouthing him.  The man gets his handgun from the car.  The accounts differ from here, but the two youths are shot and badly wounded.  The youths had no weapons. The grand jury does not indict the man.

A man witnesses a murder at a mall.  He returns to his car and gets his 44 Magnum.  He approaches the assailant, who has just gotten in to his car, preparing to pull out.  The witness executed the assailant with one shot to the back of the head. The grand jury did not indict him.

A man witnesses the murder of a state trooper.  The witness goes to his truck, get his deer rifle, and executes the assailant with one shot to the head.  No criminal charges were brought.

A man's daughter is beat up by her boyfriend.  The father gets his gun, goes looking for the boyfriend, finds him and executes the boyfriend.  One problem--the father shot the wrong guy.  This one did go to trial, but the jury acquitted the father.  I think that the jury foreman was quoted as saying that "A man has a right to defend his daughter."

My personal favorite:  A man finds out that his wife is sleeping with a local (ambulance chasing) lawyer.  He gets drunk, grabs his shotgun and starts blasting away at the lawyer's house.  In this case, the man was sent to jail, but before handing down the sentence, the judge chastised the shooter for missing the lawyer.

You gotta love Texas.

FYI--I knew two of the shooters in these cases.  

Conceal and carry is also easy to get in Minnesota, though you must take a gun safety class (even if you could teach one yourself). Here we carry guns in our vehicles mainly to kill deer and bears that inconsiderately run into our vehicles.

I know one family that totalled out three trucks (including one humongous SUV) from deer strikes during a period of about five months. Damn long-legged rats!

Your Texas-style justice is likely to spread rapidly, but I hope it doesn't come to mellow and nice Minnesota. Really, people here are mostly nice--except for the outsiders . . .  

People here in Texas are mostly nice too. I think you might have some inkling of why. ;)
And on the first hour of the 7th Day, GOD BLESSED TEXAS!

I want to say this. I love your writing. And I always have. This last post about these gun/murder/court-cases is one of my favorites. I laughed and cried all the way through it. I don't go to the movies anymore because I know where to get the quality stuff now. The real stuff.

I know that we have traded shots recently. And I know this is going to continue. There is no reason why it shouldn't. We both need good, live-fire training and moving targets to practice on.

But I also want you to know that I am indeed a lot closer to your thinking and your position than you may imagine. Call it Devil's Advocate, or whatever. I agree with many of your points. I challenge you because it is in my nature to do so. I want proof beyond a reasonable doubt. However, don't take this as a sign that we are on the same page. We still need to work towards that.

We are both Americans, we are both on the same team.

Happy 4th of July,

Yes. Must remain skeptical. It is the only cure for confirmation bias, which is epidemic.


From linked article:

"The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion ... draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises ... in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate. --Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, 1620"

I am not saying any one group fits this criteria better than any other - doomers, cornocopens, fence sitters can all have confirmation bias.

So the cure for us is to foster skepticism. We should all welcome those who give our posts a tough argument more than those who blindly cheer us on. I'd rather be right about peak oil than regarded as a hero at The Oil Drum.

"I'd rather be right about peak oil than regarded as a hero at The Oil Drum."

I would rather be very rich.

Thanks for the kind words.  As I told Robert, I don't think he's the Anti-Christ, we just disagree about whether the world can show increasing production from here.
Only 1 in 13,500 mexicans that live in California (which is a predominately hispanic state now, ie. there are more hispanics in CalifornIA than any other race) actually voted for the Mexican Presidential elections. Why is that? Could it be that they don't like either candidate? or could it be that they never took the time to register vote? Could it be "voter apathy"? who knows. I doubt any civil unrest will happen. as long as they are fed and have a job, they dont really care! As they are predominately Catholic, they will vote for any American President candidate who is pro-catholic. Just my observations.............
WesTex you make some very good points! And a lot of native-born Americans already ARE competing for jobs with illegals, even though illegals have driven the wages down, native-borns are still willing to work those jobs. They generally don't get hired because they're not desperate enough and willing to jump at the boss's every word. And some actually are, but it's difficult for one member of the group considered mainstream middle-class to believe another member of that same group can be that desperate. Poor whites make well-to-do whites VERY nervous, There but for the grace of God go I, and all that.

So, generally the native-born person is turned down because they "need to speak Spanish" or some such rot, and eventually after enough of this they're living in their cars, leave the state, die, or something.

This is only going to get worse, a lot worse.

Everything else the same, you have more leverage (power) over the illegal so you will prefer these. Long live the glorious invisible hand.
Any thoughts from everyone here as to how much longer you believe oil prices will remain in the $70+ range and when do you believe we will see the effects on the US economy of these prices??

PS. Since I am a truck driver I get to see alot of this great country. Last week I was driving in Texas and you would think that $2.80/gal was not much of a big deal. As I cruised down 35W and back up hwy 45, I noticed far more SUV, and I mean the real big ones, driving along passing me while I was doing about 75 mph.. The SUV's seemed to far out numbers other vehicles in Texas and most were probably traveling a great distance. No thoughts of conservation in Texas as far I could tell..

Texas is a big state; drivers have always gone fast. In Nevada I routinely drive at over 100 m.p.h. and have never gotten so much as a warning, because people pass me going 110 to 120. Montana is another fast-driving state.

In Wisconsin, speeding laws are strictly enforced. One of our Minnesota governors was ticketed for speeding some years ago, and he paid the $180 or whatever it was with good humor.

On I-35 in Minnesota, people routinely drive 20 m.p.h. over the limit. Big SUVs equal BMWs and Corvettes and Porsches as some of the worst offenders. People who drive Ford Rangers (small pickup trucks), for some reason (low income?) often obey the speed limit.

When gas first hit $3 people seem to restrain their driving for a month or two, but since the start of summer people have simply gotten use to high gas prices.  Within the last month or two everyone at work who bought a new vehicle has opted for a full size SUV or full size pickup truck.

I know these people, and I guarantee that none of them will ever even drive off road.  What a bunch of mindless lemmings.

What kind of work do you do and where are you located?  The meme currently seems to be that people are angry about gas prices.  I guess that anger just leads to shooting themselves in the foot.  Appropriate response to angry SUV owners would be, "bite me".
I'm not the above poster, but I have a similar story.  I know a woman who just traded in her Saturn Vue (fairly high mpg for an SUV) on another new Saturn Vue.  She apparently got a 6 year, zero intereset, loan.

Six years.  Zero interest.  Amazing.

If there isn't anything in the fine print that puts some interest or fees back in (1) GM is spending its guts out to keep sales up, and (2) I'd say damaging us all at the same time.

That is quite common.  The "catch" is that only people with perfect credit histories qualify for the zero-interest loans.  The offer gets a lot of people into the showrooms who don't qualify...and who eventually end up buying cars on less favorable terms.  
I'm in Northern alabama.
And I work in a DOD laboratory.
I think that US gasoline consumption is up by 1.2% or so, year over year.  Andrew McKillop predicted all of this. Absent large increases in interest rates, he does not expect to see consumption decline until oil goes well over $100 per barrel.

As Leanan continues to point out, I think that we are initially seeing the reduced consumption in developing countries.

BTW, the Sunday New York Times story on China's rapidly growing car culture was very interesting--car sales up by over 50%, in the first three months of this year versus last year.  They quoted one Chinese driver as saying that "driving is a right."  The author noted the explosion of gated suburban communites around large cities.  (I think a link was posted yesterday.)

Andrew did say there would be limited impact on the US economy until sweet crude hit $80/barrel. He got at least one interesting thing correct even while the folks over on energy resources, specifically Fred Hutter, asked him to get "help." B^)

A review of his predictions might be in order.

how much longer you believe oil prices will remain in the $70+ range and when do you believe we will see the effects on the US economy of these prices??

I think oil prices with "vary" with an upward bias.  I think T. Boone Pickens guess of $80 on 1/1/07 seems "about right".  So 2007 will largely be $80+, not in the $70s.  How much "+" ?

I see an economic recession as likely in 2007.  High oil prices will be one drag; higher interest rates and falling housing starts (and "weak" prices) will be the other major negative with some pressure from the suto industry.

Just my take on the near term future.

alan...hi...i would have potentially agreed with you about higher interest rates until the last fed meeting...ben told us...once again ...he wants to stop raising interest rates. this seems to me to be a clear signal...he works for mr. bush...doesn't he?...the economy will not be allowed to tank without all monetary guns blazing.
The last election that President Bush has an interest in is Nov. 06 (don't want a nasty D Congress to make life too difficult).  He has alreay said that he is disinterested in the judgment of history.

So that's why I saw a recession starting in 2007, after 11-06.

i'wasn't referring to the possibility of resession...that's one that i can't figure the timing of yet...but there seems to be an undercurrent of oh, interest rates will continue to rise, and i don't think they will, if ben can help it. there is a great deal at stake in november..continued control of congress..consolidation of the neo-con position...why is GDP so high (>5%) and it doesn't feel like it?..preping for november, in my opinion.
My thoughts are not good news for you Reno.

Oil is almost certain to remain above $65, and most probably above $70, until this year's hurricane season tails off towards the end of 2006. Spikes to $85 or higher are quite probable. I expect a price spike to $85-ish probably in September / October, and I expect oil to average over $80 in 2007 unless...

The only thing that will cause a significant drop in oil price happens: a significant US recession. That would probably not be good news for you and your work, either. I think there are probably mild signs that high gas prices are affecting the US economy already and I expect those signs to become more noticeable over the coming months to the extent that the US will be entering recession by yearend 2006.

So, rocks and hard places spring to mind. Recession and lower oil prices, possibly averaging in the low $60's in 2007 but unlikely to drop below $56; or just a mild reduction in growth and average oil prices around $80 in 2007.

If that seems bad, all the risks are for it to be worse rather than better. A hard winter, severe hurricane damage, geopolitical upsets, supply disruption, sharp depletion rates for major fields, etc, could all impact both oil prices and the US economy in the painful direction. The only positive advice I can give is: plan accordingly. If you are hoping for a significant improvement you will be disappointed, sorry :-(

I expect to see a price spike to $100 before September. It will pull back, but it's likely we will see a new high every year. It depends alot on the weather. Once oil production starts declining only a permanent recession will prevent a hyperinflationary blowout. Instead of grand economic stimulus programs the government will have to cut spending every year to save the currency. The politicians will probably think they can solve our energy problem with some grand spending program. 100 years of burning more fossil fuels has messed up our minds.

I don't have much faith in the accuracy of my predictions. I consider myself a peak oil optimist. Matt Simmons is a peak oil pessimist. I will remind the reader that Matt knows alot more than I do.

New Tar Sands plants cost ~$60,000/barrel/day.

But how long do they last ?

How long till they exhaust local reserves ?  Run out of natural gas ?  Just wear out ?

In comparing new rail to new tar sands plants, I would like a life expectancy #.  The first NYC subways still in service are about 100 years old BTW.

The first subway in Manhattan opened on October 27, 1904. This remains in use today as:
  • The 4, 5 and 6 lines from City Hall to Grand Central Terminal
  • The 42nd Street Shuttle from Grand Central Terminal to Times Square
  • The 1, 2 and 3 lines from Times Square to 145th Street

These trains run standing-room-only at midnight. At rush hour, you're lucky if you can even find a space to stand.

It's hard to imagine a public investment that has been more useful to more people for so long.

I should qualify "public investment" by noting that the subway was built as a private enterprise but has been a public or quasi-public operation for many decades. One has trouble earning a profit in transportation, as the owners of the airlines will tell you.
Satellite photos from Burgan in Kuwait:

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=28.895334,47.956352&spn=0.108059,0.161018&t=k&om= 1

And what I believe to be a part of Ghawar in Saudi Arabia:


If anybody can explain what these images are really of, please do! I can't think of any good reason to trap the oil in pools like what they seem to be doing there .... If you scroll around some of the fields you can see gas burning taking place - cool :)

Amazing pictures! it really illustrates how complex and huge is the Saudi's oil production infrastructure!
Wow, found even more info. The picture of the complex is so clear you can make out the word SHAYBAHGOSP on a roof - this is the Gas/Oil Separation Plant (gosp) in the Shaybah Field, one of Saudi Arabias most desolate and isolated areas.

The Shaybah project was a global effort and involved contractors from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Argentina, United Kingdom, France and Greece. It includes a central gas-oil separate plant (gosp) with two satellites, 140 oil production and gas and water injection wells, and hundreds of miles of pipeline, including one connecting the field to the processing facilities 640 kilometers (400 miles) away in Abqaiq, where Shaybah crude is stabilized and blended with crude from other fields for export. The project also includes an airstrip and terminal, an access road, a fiber-optic cable communications link with Abqaiq, and facilities for 750 full-time residents. The Shaybah oilfield lies 800 kilometers (500 miles) southeast of Dhahran in the Rub-al-Khali desert and is more than 500 kilometers (over 300 miles) from the nearest town.


I wish I could edit posts - here is another (better) image of the Shaybah facility:

Gas/Oil separation plants like this one also do water injection to maintain field pressure. Shaybah had about 15billion barrels of proven reserves in it but the Saudis claim more were added since the sites opening in 1998. It sends about 600kb/day onto Abqaiq, for less than a dollar a barrel!

About 650 engineers work at the complex - all male. It can reach over 50 degrees C in the shade during summer. Doesn't sound much fun to me ....

Those first three links look a lot like crop irrigation circles in the Texas panhandle.
Those first few of Ghawar are too far inland and are definitely center-pivot irrigated crop circles.  You see them all over the place in the western US.

I believe this is Ghawar:  http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=k&om=1&ll=25.403895,49.679146&spn=0.180493,0.27259 8

Why? Zoomed up close it looks just like a regular towm surrounded by lots of trees. I don't see much evidence of oil production there (storage, pipelines or whatever). Not that I'm any expert (as already shown :)
FWIW, here is a link to a map of the Ghawar area with a lattitude and longitude grid.  You can use Google Earth to see whats actually in these areas.


This is the Abqaiq processing complex:

http://www.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Qatar&ie=UTF8&t=h&om=1&ll=25.929333,4 9.687707&spn=0.013875,0.027122

You can see what appear to be well heads attached to pipelines scattered around near it. So maybe that's what the oil fields in Saudi Arabia look like.

I'm pretty sure that the first photo is of Burgan though, and that seems to be full of squareish storage pools and pipes. Hard to believe there's any agriculture in that area.

The pipelines seem to run alongside the roads in many cases and be partially (but not completely) buried:

http://www.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Qatar&ie=UTF8&t=h&om=1&ll=25.908944,4 9.689617&spn=0.006939,0.013561

At any rate, really interesting to explore! This new high res imagery is great.

Hey Mike,

I'm glad this satellite imagery is catching on. Those shots in the UAE of the GOSP and airport are amazing. It looks like another planet. I would highly recommend switching to Google Earth from the simple maps. It uses the same images. The seamless zooming, tilt, and rotate functions make it ten times the experience. You can simply post links like this:


Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site

Use the "degrees" option as opposed to "degrees, minutes" to get the Longitude and Latitude. The output=kml tag opens URL in Google Earth.

Once to get an image you like you can take a snapshot as a JPEG.

Right, I'm using Google Earth to find them. But for quick browsing and looking at the images it's easier for people to use a browser.

Burning oil well in Kuwait! Oops, looks like it might be pretty hard to put it out ...

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=29.843492,47.847766&spn=0.006691,0.010064&t=h&om= 1

I should be doing something productive ...

Look for huge black clouds coming from oil fire near center of Kirkuk.
That's not a well fire - just the ground flare at a Gathering Center. Lots more to be seen all over the Middle East - in fact, everywhere in the world.
OK, I'll take your word for it. I'm going by what it says on Google Earth. What's a gathering center?
A Gathering Center is where the flowlines from the wells come together, the wellstreams commingle, and the produced fluids (oil, gas and water) are separated. The oil is then pumped to export facilities; the gas is flared, reinjected or compressed for export (some is generally used as fuel); and the produced water is cleaned up and evaporated (in lagoons), dumped or reinjected, or injected into disposal wells (i.e. into non oil bearing strata). This would be broadly equivalent to what Saudi Aramco refers to as a GOSP (Gas-Oil Separation Plant). All the GCs in Kuwait have active flares; the ones in Iraq are quite clearly visible for the same reason.
My dad worked around oil feilds in southern Illinois when he was a kid, about 60 years ago.  He mentioned something about dumping some wastes in setttling ponds.  I don't know what these are in the pictures, but the old Mo-Pac yards here in North Little Rock, Arkansas used to have something like that, a collection of all the old oil in a big black pool.  I used to walk by it everyday in 1975 on my way to sixth grade.   I think they were forced to clean it up recently.  Out in the Desert who cares!
First thought is for separation purposes - let the gas evaporate and the water sink into the sand - if indeed these are oil pools.  You can also see lots of ghost images of earlier activity.

Cheaper and easier than building lots of gas - oil - water separators.

Everyone should look at these pictures.  I've sent URLs on to industry friends to see if they can elaborate.

Cry Wolf -

A large chunk of the Saudi oil infrastructure came into being during the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, well before there was much environmental awareness, much less specific pollution control and environmental protection regulations in place.

Up until the US started to promulgate and enforce environmental protection regulations in the early 1970s, unlined 'pits, pond, and lagoons' were extensively used throughout the US for a variety of storage, waste treatment, and waste disposal applications. The oil industry was no exception. Many of these created such serious groundwater contamination problems as to become Superfund sites requiring enormously expensive remedial efforts.

In a desert country like Saudi Arabia, which has over three times the land area as Texas,it was probably all too easy, even up until quite recently,  to just dig a shallow pit in the sand and dump oil production wastes there, where rapid percolation into the ground and evaporation into the hot desert air made it appear that the stuff just 'sort of 'went away'.  One would hope that these days they do things a little more in accord with modern waste treatment practices.

Here's another to maybe send along, submitted by Plucky Underdog the other evening. Separation pools? Pretty darn big.

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=k&om=1&ll=25.179874,49.340522&spn=0.013613,0.01978 4

Lots of this kind of activity in the adjacent areas too. Some looks pretty haphazard like maybe they're rendering the heavy solids for asphalt to use locally. That must be dried up salt around all the fringes. Can't tell for sure if all the black is oil or water.

Central Ghawar (Uthmanlyah?)
I think the circular structures in these images are crop irrigation circles. In the center of the field is a source of water, whether it's piped in from a desal plant or from a well in an aquifer under the field. A long boom with sprinklers circles the field once or twice a day, making artificial rain.

They look so dark mostly because the desert is so light in the satellite image. Note that the areas of natural foliage (to our eyes desert foliage is usually gray to brown, since it requires water to be really green) are much much darker than the bare sand. The image processing for satellite images keys off the average brightness, which is that of the sand. Therefore foliage looks almost black.

I also see some areas that look like old brown circles not presently under irrigation. I have seen a similar sight looking down out of a plane over western Texas / eastern New Mexico: green circles in the desert.

Why would they be growing crops such a huge distance from any cities? That explanation just doesn't make sense to me.
Could be where the water is. Transport of the food crop is no problem over those distances.

Why would they grow crops in West Texas for example? Answer: Ogallala.

They are circles of crop irrigation.  I've flown over roughly this area of Saudi Arabia at a moderately low altitudes--there are vast areas of crop irrigation in just this pattern as described above.  Not that I'm saying that it makes sense, but that is what is happening...
Some of the circles are clearly green - hard to see how that could be oil...  Are there freshwater aquifers in the Ghawar area though?  For some reason, it sticks in my memory that water injection there is being done with treated seawater.
Saudis distill fresh water from seawater; I believe that sometimes they even use natural gas that would otherwise be flared off, but I've been told some of these plants are oil fired?

Anybody have solid data on this?

I tend not to trust colours on satellite photos much, they get a lot of post-processing done to them. The sand around the processing facility isn't that red according to somebody who worked there, for instance.

On the other hand, I guess I can believe Jeff if he has flown over them. It doesn't make much sense to grow crops like that when not near any rivers or sources of fresh water and yeah most of the fields are being injected with seawater (they need processing stages to remove the salt ...), which implies there isn't lots of water just lying around.

The other curious thing is that some are clearly pie-slice shaped which isn't what you'd expect from a pool. So I guess they aren't oil fields after all. It's surprisingly hard to find the fields given how large they are!

Ah ha:


Center Pivot Irrigation in Saudi Arabia is typical of many isolated irrigation projects scattered throughout the arid and hyper-arid regions of the Earth. Fossil water is mined from depths as great as 1 km (3,000 ft), pumped to the surface, and distributed via large center pivot irrigation feeds. The circles of green irrigated vegetation may comprise a variety of agricultural commodities from alfalfa to wheat. Diameters of the normally circular fields range from a few hundred meters to as much as 3 km (2 miles). The projects often trace out a narrow, sinuous, and seemingly random path. Actually, engineers generally seek ancient river channels now buried by the sand seas.

Desalination plants have been built to produce fresh water from the sea for urban and industrial use, thereby freeing other sources for agriculture. Facilities have also been put into place to treat urban and industrial run-off for agricultural irrigation. These efforts collectively have helped transform vast tracts of the desert into fertile farmland. Land under cultivation has grown from under 400,000 acres (1600 km²) in 1976 to more than 8 million acres (32,000 km²) in 1993.


You need soil as well as water. I would imagine they evaluated soil quality and nutrition in locating irrigated fields. Sand doesn't grow much, even with water unless there is a lot of input.
I hear they're are going to grow corn for ethanol.  :)
Right, in air-conditioned greenhouses like our hemp grower friend ;)

Just a thought -- you know, making synthetic ethanol, or perhaps butanol, would be a way to liquefy natural gas for overseas transport. Wonder how that would compare in efficiency with refrigerating the gas to transport it.

Here is a more regular cluster of those circles in SA, not far from one of your links: http://www.google.com/maps

It is 33 miles from Al Jubayl on the coast of the Red Sea, according to Google Earth.

Here is what I know for a fact to be a cluster of evap lagoons adjacent to the Lokbatan-Dag oilfield in Azerbaijan. The oilfield is centered around a mud volcano that last erupted in late 2001 - that gray area (diagnostic of fresh mud flows) immediately inland from the lagoons. If you scan southwest along the Azeri coast using Google Earth you can see the symmetrical cones of many other mud volcanoes.

Google Maps: http://maps.google.co.uk/?ie=UTF8&ll=40.288561,49.707985&spn=0.091791,0.158272&t=k&o m=1

Google Earth: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=40.288561,49.707985&output=kml  

Eruption picture: http://images.google.com/images?q=azerbaijan+mud+volcano the picture of the eruption with lots of obvious smoke & flame

The locals scrape some extra cash by scraping salt from the margins of the evaporation lagoons and selling it. You probably don't want to put it on your fries though: it is rumored to be rich in uranium and other nasties.

Big shout out to Oil CEO for revealing the trick of linking to Google Earth.

The Big Shoutout is the only thing I work for - Score!

Flubbed it on Brazil. I'll double on Germany now. Let's go with your opinions. No time to be shy.

Pre Game analysis....

Duhhh, excuse me, my geographic ignorance is showing. The crop circles and Al Jubayl are on the Persian Gulf; the Red Sea is that water thing on the other side of SA.
Kentucky governor takes limo to cross the street

Fletcher's minuscule Town Car commute raises hackles, cries of hypocrisy

FRANKFORT, Ky. - When Gov. Ernie Fletcher's day is over, he leaves his Capitol office, climbs into a Lincoln Town Car driven by a state trooper and returns to the Governor's Mansion -- which is just across the street.

Meanwhile, his administration is encouraging Kentuckians to get out and walk more for their health.

Hello TODers,

Just read Leanan's top link on the Dehcho Indians' resistance to the proposed spiderweb of pipelines across their ancestral lands.  This brief quote from the article I found interesting:
Government officials say their demands are unrealistic. "It would give 4,500 people the power to govern an area about half the size of France," said Tim Christian, the chief federal negotiator. "And we certainly have not done that anywhere else [in Canada] and do not believe that is an appropriate model."

This is the SUSTAINABLE LEVEL for this Canadian forest-->4,500 people scattered across an area half the size of France for centuries.  The Canadian Govt, if truly far-sighted, should see this as the ONLY APPROPRIATE MODEL.  

Does anyone doubt our outlandish degree of planetary OVERSHOOT?

Our genes are not our friends.

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

i honestly think the majority of people will not see that our population is the problem till we are packed onto the planet like so many teens in a telephone booth.
Hello TrueKaiser,

Thxs for responding.  You are probably correct--> see my post on overcrowded Gaza living conditions below.

If I had the proper skills: I would like to investigate the US national electrical grid to determine what major cities are best abandoned to Olduvai Gorge, then shift the majority of these people, and grid transfer the power to those cities best equipped to survive a while longer.

Take Arizona for example:  we have hydropower, a huge nuclear powerplant, and a coal-powered generation plant up North, but we are in drastic pop. Overshoot in relation to true sustainability.  Additionally, we are at the ends of the TX & CA pipelines-- they will cut us off at some postPeak inflection point.  The water & wildfire problems statewide are becoming increasingly dire.

If most of the multi-millions of Arizonans were transferred to the Seattle, Washington area, which has a lot of hydropower of its own, and the AZ juice was sent to the Seattle area--would this be a workable option?

IF SO, the Governors of AZ & WA should be coordinating this postPeak plan.  The Seattle area should be building huge mass-transit systems, along with dense, walkable, permaculture-thick urban settings.  Arizonans could be taxed very heavily, with the funds going straight to the Seattle area, and other Washington cities, to jumpstart this plan.  WA could offer a one-time rebate to any Arizonan that moved there.

The sooner this gets started before Peakoil, the greater the chance of reducing violence.  If every Arizonan who moved to Seattle was required to do permaculture or farm labor vs. opening a pointless tanning salon, SUV dealership, or other wasteful endeavor--this would initialize the required tremendous manual labor shift to offset the coming loss of 'energy slaves'.  I would like to see 60% of the WA/AZ citizens being daily devoted towards this end, ala Zimbabwe, in the next five years to feel that appropriate progress is being made.

I think this induced change would create widespread MSM discussion that our genes are not our friends; this would greatly increase cooperation, reduce violence, and most importantly, vastly reduce the birthrates nationally.

If Olduvai Theory is true [and I believe it is!], national planning to optimize the grid decline is essential.  Other states could undertake similar plans: Tx to Minnesota, Florida to the New England Area, and so on.

Supercomputer simulation of this needed trend of grid analysis and migrational shift could be easily done: if we can convince our leaders that a Foundation for predictive collapse and directed decline is a NATIONAL EMERGENCY.

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

The US started a couple of "New Towns" a couple of decades ago.  Columbia Maryland (1/2 way between DC & Baltimore) was one.  There have been several more in Europe.

Instead of filling the edges of existing cities (the current ad hoc way we do it), it may be worthwhile to create some "New Cities" that will be functional Post-Peak.

The current administration is unlikely to act.

I think "New Towns" with 100,000 to 300,000 residents, good freight rail access (preferably two lines) and river/ocean access would be best with good agriculture land nearby (but not directly on the good farm land.

An expanded Vicksburg is one option (good farm land accross the river in Louisiana, one track railroad bridge over the Mississippi, wooded hilly land unsuitable for much farming).  Warm enough to have limited heating requirements.

The clifts may have wind potential, and some small hydro.

Another choice might be Northern California close to Oregon.

Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

Thxs for responding.  I agree with that other TODer of nominating you for President to get your suggested transit reforms jumpstarted.  That would be a huge stretch, of course, but maybe Secretary of Transportion for the next President's Cabinet might be attainable.  I think Norman Mineta let the country down by not endlessly ranting and raving about the drastic need for more RRs.  Keep your options open, and the ideas coming!  We need someone to try and ramrod thru Congress legislation for much more transportation change.

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

Sometimes I see my role as pre-positioning ideas (straws) so that when panic sets in and politicans start "grasping at straws" at least one of the straws is a viable, if partial, solution.

But I have to make the ideas visible enough first.

Whoa, wait a minute. Minnesota is over full now! We do not have the energy or food capability to sustain the people that are already here. Please redirect the Texans to Washington DC or northern Canada.
As to those in Zimbabwe, I would bet that the vast majority of them would like to be living in Rhodesia right about now.
Don't worry: All the wimps and wheezers and whiners and most of the mean people go to Florida or the parch belt, i.e. Southwestern part of United States.

I recall somebody (Kingston Trio) made a hilarious song about all the troubles in the world, and the refrain was:

". . . and Texas needs rain!"

Texas is going to be in tough shape as the Oglala dries up and oil production continues to diminish. Plus, of course, higher fossil fuel prices will kill their agriculture and destroy people with long commutes.

Minnesota is for Minesotans! We don't need more people!! You cannot endure our winters nor can you "speak Minnesotan." Stay out foreigners!!!

You bet.

I agree with everything you wrote, if you'd just put in "outstate Michigan" instead of Minnesota.  


Right.  I'll keep it quiet.
Upper Peninsula? Love that place!
Yes, the UP is part of it.  I agree, it is really beautiful.  With Global Warming coming on, you might be able actually to swim in Lake Superior!

I'm from the western side of the Lower Peninsula, about halfway up and within 10 miles of the beaches.  It is heavenly in the summer, but in the winter, the area often gets "lake effect" and "lake enhanced" snowstorms.  Sometimes it can be a near blizzard near the lake, while 40 miles inland, the sun shines.

I DO swim in Lake Superior, even as late as early October. It is much cheaper to charter yachts after about 15 Sept. Also, the Apostle Islands (most of them) are pretty well deserted after labor day, and, most important of all, NO Bugs!
If you don't wear a wet suit when you swim in Lake Superior in October, you're truly more a man than just about everybody else!
Bob, why not become friends with something as intimate as our own genes?
Hello Splinter,

Thxs for responding.  Please tell me how--you will have to scientifically refute the leading genetic scientists and writers across the planet: Darwin, Dawkins, Morrison, Hanson, are just a few.  The Nobel Prize winning theory that can pass the peer review system must be carefully detailed and logically exhaustive.

Every lifeform on the planet, but us, is willing to live totally in the moment; to face reality head-on in a very tight feedback loop.  They walk, fly, crawl, swim, slither, or slime in true somatic existence, or DIE TRYING.

Every since our ancient ancestors genetically harnessed the leverage afforded by tools and fire; when we became EXTRA-somatic, we have held off reality at arm's length or greater. Please ponder the implications of this sentence.

Instead of fighting the invading bear or wolfpack with our own tooth & claws [somatic-style, w/tight feedback], we adopted sharp sticks, rocks, and burning logs.  Today, we can fight off 'invaders' with .50 cal sniper rifles, remote-controlled Predators drones, or ICBMs.  Our harnessing of FF detritus and other resources have made us Ultimate Extrasomatics!

How do you stop wasteful consumption with the associated dopamine rush?  How do you stop the genetic full body chemical flush of reproductive desire?  How do you stop the desire for the convenience of 'energy slaves'?  How do you stop greed, lust for power, jealousy, envy, prejudice, and hundreds, thousands, or millions? of other genetic lizard brain level primal responses?  How do we stop the desire for inclusive fitness?

Can we develop a drug that instantly creates real totality awareness?  Can it force us to exclusively use our grey-matter to induce universal common sense?  Can we somehow disable our primary computer--the lizard brain?

Our fellow TODer, the LastSasquatch, states that we cannot overcome evolution, but there might be a way to 'trick' ourselves into acting differently.  I surely hope the leading genetic researchers find the required breakthrough before we get too far postPeak.  This is the only way to make our genes our friends, at least as far as I can see.  Time will tell.

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

I have never had any desire to have children, which, of course, is different than the desire to have sex.  Clone me. I am the answer.
Hello Tstreet,

LOL! Me too-->I have no biological offspring myself.

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

Bob, on second read, I would love to see every word of your comment in orange. It would do for a nice book project, but, LOL, apparantly it should be categorised "adult".
Humans can be trained. After 100 years of consuming more resources every year our programming is completely geared towards more growth. We need to be reprogrammed with an entirely new set of objectives. Sustainability.
Hello Oaksmoke,

Thxs for responding.  I agree that humans can be trained for sustainability, but will they accept this new programming easily or violently?  That is what I am trying to ascertain.  Past declines point to a very bad collective human reaction, but the Japanese Edo period may offer some hope.

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

During the Edo period, do you know how a Samurai tested his new sword?
they tested the sharpness of the blade by how many prisoners it could cut through in one strike.
Hello Don Sailorman,

I believe TrueKaiser's answer below is correct.  I think the premier swordmakers also preferred to temper the new red-hot blade by quickly qwenching it inside some poor bastard's abdomen versus the standard method of dipping it into a bucket of water.  I can't exactly recall now where I saw that technological tidbit, as I was shocked: perhaps a TV documentary on PBS, or maybe just a  movie special effect. Yikes!

Regardless, such tactics by the elites made the peasants listen and obey sustainably for over 250 years.

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

Brief addition: the swordmakers did not understand the alloying process, but the blade insertion into the human transferred minerals to the red hot steel to help make it strong, but flexible, and to help retain a keen edge. They probably thought the spirit of the vanquished warrior transferred into the blade when he was slaughtered.

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

The correct answer is that the Samurai took his brand new sword and made a special kind of downward slashing stoke that severed both arm and a lot of shoulder.

If the sword failed to cut through all that bone, flesh, muscles, etc., then the samurai would return the sword to the swordmaker and demand a better one. The swordmaker was not paid until his sword passed the peasant-cutting test.

Nice folks, those Edo Japanese;-)

We will just let the free market deliver the training so that corporate profitability is maximized. The giga-yeast will get more sugar.
I don't want to be trained. I don't want a trainer or a reprogrammer.
Unless she's very good looking and has a fabulous latex wardrobe.
"That's what I'm talking about!"

"Stop it, stop it...stop it, you frickin'pervert."

"Whaat? Whaaaah. What. What are you talking about? It's not me, goddamnit. It's these guys, it's Sailorman and oldhippie. It's not frickin' me. I'm tellin' ya. It's not me."

 - Latex, 7/4/06

Thanks Bob. I will ponder on your topics and respond on it later. If you want, send me your emailaddress at jhdewm at gmail point com.

For sure we will run into materialism as a fully satisfying scope to enable us to become friends with our genes.

But before we do, you can help me with the scope of the Olduvai theory.

It says: "Industrial Civilization can be described by a single pulse waveform of duration X, as measured by average energy-use per person per year".

Figure 2, too, states the model covers all people in the world (world average energy - use per person). Which implies all people of the world live in a industrial civilization. For what percentage is that really true?

Next the model implies it's possible and required to define all available energy in terms of "barrels of oil equivalent" (which can clearly be linked to "industrial"). I guess it's easy to argue also the sun is a source of energy. Is this factor included in the oil equivalant used? If it is, this implies inclusion of everything we (don't) know about how much sun energy there is and will be, and how much of it we can effectively convert into "work".

Duncan divides the broad sweep of history into 3 phases, the third being "a new period of equilibrium". I guess this leaves open "a period of a new equilibrium". Anyway, the future part of the pulse doesn't tell us anything about a possible stone age+ level of energy available and that being sufficient.

Did anyone publish an update on the Olduvai data after 1996?

Since you draw "the LastSasquatch card", I'll rephrase my second line: can you send me your emailaddress? I rather prefer my learning in a less public way, until at least I have a better understanding where we (dis)agree to (dis)agree. Thanks :)

Hello Splinter,

Here is the link to Duncan's latest update [PDF file]:


Then you will know as much as I know.  I make no claim to any expertise, that is one reason why I keep my email address very constrained.  I prefer to refer people to the original experts or sources on the WWWeb as I am lacking in statistical analysis, engineering acumen, financial and economic analysis, and a host of other skills including touch typing!

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

Bob, this sounds like the Existential Hamlet Soliloquy all over again.. to be or not to be, to suffer them or end them..  you recite a litany of the failures and downfalls of ~some~ of our nature, but we are not over the cliff (yet), we are simply precariously close to it, as we seem to get ourselves, again and again.  This is the deciding point between epiphany and disaster, and looks to me to be part and parcel of our dualistic nature.  Is it ME or US?  Do I Stay or Go?  More later. Work break is over..
Hello Jokuhl,

Excellent! Can't wait!  Hamlet X 7,000,000,000 collective soul-searching decisions = ???

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

I have some genes in my jeans. Occasionally they escape, but that's not a topic for this particular forum.
Yes it is. Levis or Wrangler? Don't be shy.
You've seen Brokeback Mountain by now. That ain't no excuse.
Have you ever considered being half of a standup comedy team? You know, Rowan and Martin, the Smothers Brothers, Bob and Ray, etc. Many of my students told me I should quit teaching and go into standup comedy.

But I know some people who make their living that way, and it is brutally hard work.

But still, vaudeville, etc. will work well in a powerdown scenario.

Anyway, we could have a lot of fun together.

I've got it! A TOD standup comedy team . . . . teach with humor instead of fear.

I'd be too scared. All those people laughing at you. Did Woody Allen ever do standup? For how long? How did he get started with movies?

The talent already out there is too good. Dave Chappelle. Dane Cook. Hard to compete with that. Plus I like the clique I hang with. Savinar's cool. But he will be unseated.

When I first saw the term "crack spread" on this forum, I was taken aback. Wait a minute, I thought that was under another browser tab ... :)
Maybe there is some hope after all...

From the Los Angeles Times:

Pioneering Technology Lab Now Puts Energy Into Solar

PARC and others are tackling the mechanics as well as the efficiency of photovoltaic power.

"The Xerox Corp. subsidiary known as PARC has produced super-efficient solar systems that experts say could make photovoltaic power -- sunlight converted directly into electricity -- available on a large scale at prices competitive with fossil fuels for the first time. PARC's technology is one of several promising approaches in the field."

reads through the article
all i see is hype of a salesmen and no hard data.
I agree that the article isn't very enlightening.

Somewhat more information about what they are doing is here:


thats basically the same but it seems to be written in a way to get someone hyped up to invest in it. it attacks it's supposed competitors with the very valid scarce resource and high manufacture costs, but doesn't go into details about their offering other then giving some rough goals.

till i get some hard proof on this i am throwing it in the growing pile of hoax's and scams. also if i was a betting person i would put my money on these people disappearing overseas after getting one or two major investors to give them money.

Hello TODers,

The current conditions in the Gaza Strip will become postPeak commonplace for Phx, Vegas, and other areas, unless ASPO's Energy Depletion Protocols are adopted, voluntary pop. controls are the norm, and huge Powerdown programs jumpstarted.

I think most people truly cannot mentally deal with the obvious ramifications of Duncan's Olduvai Gorge Theory.
Living conditions in Gaza grim

GAZA - Mahmoud Mughari speaks bluntly. "I normally wash and shower twice a day. Now I can only do it every four or five days. The children smell. We all smell. We are worried that this will cause diseases."

Outside the home in central Gaza he and his family share with his elderly parents, five married brothers and their children - 48 in all - Mughari was describing the impact made by Israel's air strikes in Gaza last week, one of which severed the waterpipe serving this refugee camp of 57,000 people.

The first problem, Mughari, says, is that power - which would normally be running, among much else, refrigeration and fans in 33C temperatures - has been cut from 24 hours a day to eight.

The second is that water previously available two days out of three is now available for only four to five hours every third day. And the third is that the impossibility so far of ensuring electricity and water coincide makes it impossible to pump the water up to the roof tanks and provide a steady supply through the taps.

Mughari's family have been storing their rationed supplies in two blue 250 litre barrels, saving most of it for drinking and - when it is possible - for cooking. And to escape the heat, he says, members of the family have started sleeping on mattresses on the pavement outside the house.

As one of only two brothers working - the other three are unemployed tailors - Mughari has not received the $405 a month payment for three months from the job creation scheme he works on.

I have posted before that packing a single, well-insulated  house with family members is the best way to defray expenses--it should also makes it obvious to these unfortunate people that: "Our genes are not our friends."

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

Hello Bob,

(View from the other side of the world - what is so grim about the conditions?)
The conditions described would be considered "excellent" by the millions teeming the cities of India, especially in the north. For example, the capital, New Delhi, touches 45C (113F) and above in summer. Power and water supply can be very irregular - sometimes no water at all for days on end. Water for a few hours a day is a luxury there. The only difference is there is no Israel to bomb them regularly!

I myself am from the south-western state of Kerala, blessed with very high rainfall. But even there, people do not take anything for granted, especially power and water supplied by the typical bureaucratic Govt. agencies.

Welcome to reality! ;-)

that is the problem where i live.
the reality to them is the power being on 24/7 and water being only a handle twist away.
no one can fathom livin in conditions where water is hard to get at and power is only for the rich or at best on for a hour or so but not on regular intervels.
Hello Maram,

Thxs for responding.  Welcome aboard from me! We need all the different perspectives we can get from people outside the US here on TOD.  I wonder how long before Phx living conditions are similar to New Delhi.  We, in the Asphalt Wonderland, are already hotter than New Delhi--113F is a normal heat season temperature.  Sadly, the typical Phoenician takes everything for granted.

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

An earlier post wanted a recommend for summer reading.  Try "Roughing it in the Bush"  by Susan Moodie. Written in 1852 it is about a well off girl who moves to Ontario in hopes of a better life only to Rough it in the Bush.  She goes into great  
detail about what life was like back then.  You can read it on line.  http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/moodie/roughing/roughing.html
Have you seen this  over at CNN?


Meanwhile, American production of crude oil also has gotten more expensive because the easiest places to drill have mostly gone dry, said Rob Schlichting, a spokesman for the California Energy Commission.

"It looks like we may be coming to the end of cheap oil. The really easy-to-pump product has been pretty much pulled out of the ground unless we have some new finds," he said. "More often, we're going to offshore areas like the Gulf of Mexico, which are more expensive to drill in."

Looks like MSM is preparing the masses for the truth.

I'm watching Michael Palin's Travels: Sahara, on the travel channel.

My god, these people are going to die en mass post peak.  Heck they are barely alive now.  Hanging on by a thread in the middle of the desert.

I haven't seen this so it is hard to comment. I Love Palin and have seen many of his shows in this series. Could you elaborate? I'll check the show as soon as I can find it on bitorrent. Links appreciated.
They were showing a refuge camp in the Sahara that has to have all it's water trucked in.

Refuge camps are in a tenuous situation to start with, as budgets get tight an oil supplies dry up these people have no real options but to die.

Would anyone know the average API of Russian oil.
Middle twenties.
$1 billion is chump change for the Big Three. They spend tens of times more than that each year on R&D.
It's ok, we are all going to be saved by Ugandan oil:
"This week, rumours of successful oil exploration in Lake Albert finally exploded in a frenzy of excitement fuelling talk that Uganda could soon become a continental oil giant like Sudan, Angola, Egypt, Libya et al.

Hardman, the Australian firm that has been prospecting for oil in the Albertine basin told Museveni that it is early days yet, but there is every indication to believe that the oil fields are commercially viable. Initial results show that the fields are capable of producing at least 4,200 barrels up from 1,500 barrels per day."


The three zones tested from one well have a combined flow rate of 8700 bpd.  Australian Hardman have 50% and UK listed Tullow Oil have the other 50%.
But then, you north americans may be in trouble:
"Canadian oil pipelines could face capacity constraints by 2008 because of a surge in heavy crude oil from the Alberta oilsands, the National Energy Board says.
The demand for natural gas for oilsands production alone is expected to triple over the next decade to about 2.1 billion cubic feet per day from about 700 million cubic feet, according to the report, An Assessment of the Canadian Hydrocarbon Transportation System."
Below is a link to sydneypeakoil.com

This talks about some nano technology development which can help extract a lot more of the oil out of the wells.

Can someone please shed some light on this?


This has the same material and a few lines more.


Thanks in advance.

This takes the cake, for the time being at least. Was back home from office reading one of the saner blogs related to my hobby when I stumbled on this:

Is there anything crazier?

I sincerely hope it doesn't get any worse.
That story explains a few things I noticed in the mall carparks when I worked in the US for six months. I have to admit to playing along in the same thought, but didn't stay too long outside as it was too hot for me (near Philidelphia) during lunch time.