DrumBeat: August 17, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 08/17/06 at 9:13 AM EDT]

US suffers world's first climate change exodus

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The first mass exodus of people fleeing the disastrous effects of climate change is not happening in low-lying Pacific islands but in the world's richest country, a US study said.

"The first massive movement of climate refugees has been that of people away from the Gulf Coast of the United States," said the Earth Policy Institute, which has warned for years that climate change demands action now.

Institute president Lester Brown said that about a quarter of a million people who fled the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina a year ago must now be classed as "refugees".

"Interestingly, the country to suffer the most damage from a hurricane is also primarily responsible for global warming," he said.

Russian Pipeline Monopoly Warns Lithuanian Refinery of Long Shutoff

‘Powerless’ India eyes energy booster from neighbours

Sino-Cuba energy relations raise concern in Washington

Tom Whipple on Rethinking America's Cars.

Interior Department to Open Alaska Wetlands to Oil Drilling

The Politics of Dancing

Matthew Herbert's latest masterpiece sounds off against the oil industry

...Speaking of which, your latest album, "Scale," is a statement against the oil companies and our relentless pursuit of fossil fuels. It's a timely subject, but one that the world has been struggling with for quite a while. What made you decide to pursue this topic at this particular moment?

Personally, it was part of my research for "Plat du Jour," my previous record, which was all about the food industry. I've been reading about oil for a long time but went a little further and realized the biggest consumer of oil is the food industry. We associate oil with cars and high prices in our gas tanks, but actually it's the entire structure of our civilization in the West. I've always been aware of it, but it wasn't until "Plat du Jour" that I realized quite how entirely we rely on it. Then reading further, it seemed we may have actually reached "peak oil," in which case we've got quite a big adjustment immediately ahead of us.


Barclays is pleased to announce the latest addition to the iPath Exchange Traded Note (ETN) commodities family.  The iPathSM Goldman Sachs Crude Oil Total Return Index ETN began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol > "> OIL> ">  on August 16.


Looks like Tom Whipple reads TOD. and your posts. This is from his Aug. 16th article now on the Energy Bulletin.

"Anyone who studies peak oil for very long soon learns that oil-for-export is going to dry up a lot faster than oil-for-domestic-consumption and those countries that import most or all of their motor fuel are going to have problems very soon."

BTW, eight of the top ten net oil exporters (top ten based on 2004 numbers) are showing production declines relative to December (EIA).  

Meanwhile, demand is exploding. Russian car sales are up by double digit percentages.  A GM executive recently said that the only thing limiting car sales to the Middle East was limited transport capacity.

In regard to a different matter, doesn't it seem like we are seeing a little bit of an "Empire Stikes Back" pattern, i.e, it seems like there is a lot of anti-Peak Oil stuff out there.  The auto/housing/finance and the media groups don't intend to go quietly into to the night.

Ever since the ceasefire in Lebanon, the price has been dropping. $70.77/barrel as I write this. What has changed? Nothing.
Crude-oil prices dropped more than a dollar a barrel Thursday as traders responded to a report of above-average U.S. oil stockpiles and a lack of bad news to drive prices higher.
No bad news. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. Is this a first?

Yesterday, The Economist called for the privatization of the national oil companies (NOCs). Let's think about that for a second. Now, aside from the outrageous arrogance of this and despite the fact that The Economist is a One Trick Pony -- what were they going to do, praise state-ownership? -- the bottom line is that the NOCs are guilty. Of what? Not pumping the oil fast enough, not investing enough money to produce more crude for export.

Their position strikes me as insane, the logic of unsustainable growth stretched to its absolute limit.

Oh, "Piratization" (as I prefer to call it) is a big theme amongst TPTB. Especially privitazation of what was once public domain. In the olden days, they used a more quaint terms, 'stealing'.

I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen, despite (or even because of) the stupidity of it.

Piratization was the plan for Russia, until Putin showed up and started arresting "oligarchs."
The German government still owns 100% of Deutsche Bahn AG, the German railway company. According to the German constitution, the government has to keep 51% of the shares.

The government is always short on cash, so there are plans to sell 49% in an IPO.

The debate is if only the trains should be privatized, or the whole company, including railway stations and tracks.

The CEO lobbies that the whole company should be privatized. However, in the last 20 years, about 50 billion dollars have been invested into high-speed tracks and stations by the tax payers. Compared to that number, revenues and profits are tiny.

The CEO and the union think that the 49% of the company should be sold for 2 billion dollars, so that there is a suitable ROI.

I would call that piratization. Hopefully, the parliament is smart to reject such ideas.

That is still the plan in Russia.  Putin just took control for his own chosen cronies instead.  
Privatization is just another form of welfare for the rich.
called for the privatization of the national oil companies (NOCs). ... aside from the outrageous arrogance of this ...

That's what the Iraq war is trying to achieve, and the message is that the guzzling superpower should do more of that.

"Perhaps someone can enlighten me. Is this a first?"

IMO, we are in a temporary period of stability, before another drop in available net oil exports--and another round of bidding for declining exports.  

I fail to see how we can expect to see rising net export capacity when the EIA is reporting falling production among the top exporters, and we have concurrent reports of rapidly rising consumption in most of the exporting countries.

Total US petroleum imports are up year over year, but three-fourths of the 2006 weekly import numbers (four week running average) are below the 12/30/05 number, while oil prices have been trading in a range of 15% to 30% higher than late 2005.  The two uptrend price cycles this year correspond to import declines.  IMO, refiners had to bid the price up to keep the petroleum coming.

Right now, the US, China and Europe are primarily bidding against regions like Africa.  Soon, the US, China and Europe will primarily be bidding against each other.

I am waiting for the "Iron Triangles" explanation that the $8 "risk premium" in a barrel of oil has evaporated because there are no more risks in the world.

How convenient that this has all happened right before we head into the fall elections...but then again...I am a bit of a conspiracy theorist...so this does not surprise me.

Mix a little terrorism in with some good economic news....perfect for re-election.

Look for surpressed prices until Dec/Jan.

I agree that oil prices are going to stabalize and possibly fall heading into elections.  However, the summer driving season is over and I really don't know the true impact of what that means, I do believe people generally do drive more during the summer months.  Demand may have been reduced in this country.

You see this in some of the warmongering discussion of Venezuela -- the fact that they are not producing at a rate that certain industry experts think they ought to be is literally almost used a case for war.

Them bastards aint pumpin' our oil fast enough!!

The WSJ basically makes this argument. The Economist hints at it. It runs very deep in certain schools of political thinking: that all resources really are ours (well, "the market's" -- but same diff in the end), and that means they should be under the control of multi-national corporations (because nobody else can exploit them efficiently).

See, for instance, this video game. It's a low culture manifestation but shows how pervasive this thinking is:

And related story:

Venezuela lawmakers blast video game

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- A U.S. company's video game simulating an invasion of Venezuela is supposed to hit the shelves next year, but it's already raising the ire of lawmakers loyal to President Hugo Chavez.


Pandemic describes Mercenaries 2: World in Flames as "an explosive open-world action game" in which "a power-hungry tyrant messes with Venezuela's oil supply, sparking an invasion that turns the country into a war zone." The company says players take on the role of well-armed mercenaries.


Lawmaker Gabriela Ramirez said "Mercenaries 2" gives a false vision of Chavez as a tyrant and Venezuela as being on the verge of chaos. She said the game could be banned under a proposed law aimed at protecting Venezuelan children from violent video games.


It will be interesting if oil really spikes and we start looking for someone to blame. That someone will quite likely be Chavez.

"If we had those extra 2m barrels a day this oil shock wouldn't be happening! Let's get 'em!!"

If we 'transfered' our troops fron Iraq to Venezuela they could fly home for the weekends.
If we invaded Venezuela would Catholic and Protestant militias start fighting each other.
Invading Venezuela could create Hispanist terrorism, a new breed. We already have the Moslem world hating us. A radicalised Hispanic movement sprouting suicide bombers would be a disaster, given the open border with Mexico, and Hispanics working in landscaping and having easy access to ammonium nitrate.

Bush! Stop making enemies!

I can't tell if you're joking or not. I kinda hope so.
And not just fertilizer, but leaf blowers!

Hispanic is a term invented by the US Census so we can be more racist. Latino is more proper and more accurate.
And maybe I just don't watch enough Fox and CNN..I have a hard time understanding why bombing civilians and shooting drones is legitimate warfare while fighting foreign invaders with an improvised explosive device set off by a cell phone is terrorism. Terrorism is an inflamatory word, and I resent this use of the term. If you would like to use an inflamitory term, then look in a mirror and use the term "racist".

Hey you know what? I've been engineering for 30 years. Using the available tools, and not "specing pie in the sky" always worked for me.

When you are oppressed you use the available tools.

Probably the most important peak tool.

How, exactly, is a leaf blower the most important, "peak tool?"
Michael Lynch on CNBC this morning promised $30 oil, perhaps not this year, but probably soon thereafter.
Well, a severe enough recession could certainly give us oil below $40.  I'm not sure that most people would agree that this is a desirable outcome though.
Oil in nominal terms of $40 are forgetting that everything else would be cheaper in a deflationary environment.  So when oil drops to $40 from it's current perch, it may still be high relative to the other nominal prices we would be paying for everything else.  I keep going between inflation or deflation and today I read a nugget on economists talking about a crossflation environment with both inflation and deflation happening at the same time.  Not quite stagflation since there would be lower prices for many items(most cited are houses and cars, specific to SUV's).  Anyone know anything about this or have any info already about this possibility?
Google does'nt know crossflation, so it seems to be a new or long forgotten concept.

The standard definitions of inflation and deflation simply rule out something like crossflation, because they refer to the "level of prices". So, if some of the prices go up and some down, and the monetary supply is constant, then the level of prices is constant. So, deflation and inflation cannot happen at the same time.

Crossflation should not be defined as inflation and deflation at the same time.

In our context crossflation might be defined as rising commodity or energy prices and sinking equity prices happening at the same time.

People would need to spend more on energy and food, while their houses and shares lose value. Demand for most other goods would decline, prices of these goods sink. Suppliers of these other goods would lay off staff, some go bankrupt.

Some consumers will be unable to pay the energy bills and will go bankrupt. They lose their houses, but the banks will sit on a pile of foul credits.

That, in the end, could result in banks going bankrupt, and we are back in 1929.

Seems to be an interesting concept.

Siggi...you da man!  No really, you've hit the nail on the head as I recall.  The major focus was rising energy/food prices while we watched housing collapse along with other large purchases such as cars, mainly quoted was SUV's that would be given away would further lower prices.

This is what I've been throwing around in my head for a while now.  Im wishy washy when it comes to inflation or deflation, but I lean more towards inflation due to our massive debt.  I don't think we're going to declare bankrupcy to the other nations for fear of the unknown, although I would like to see what would happen.  So next is inflation to destroy the debt.  I could see a mild deflation, followed by inflation as we struggle to service debt.

I think the key to much of this may be housing, specifically the next two years as ARMS reset.  Fannie Mae could be the weak link, but again I think the gov't would try it's hardest to prop this up. At some point there is only so much life support that remains effective.

Where was the original "nugget"? Would be curious to read it.

If commodity and energy prices are going up, that pretty much assures that we'd be in an inflationary environment. My question is whether you can have rising commodity prices against the backdrop of US economic slowdown, given that we consume about 30% of the world's extracted resources.

The counterargument to an staflationary scenario is: ok, we might have inflation if basic materials and energy start to run and housing at least stabilizes; but if housing continues it's slo-mo implosion, that is simply too big a piece of the economic pie not to seriously affect demand for most commodities. If the US is an anchor to world economy, then global demand has to slow and you'll see easing in commodity pricing, slack labor, along with decreasing asset values (maybe) -- hardly an environment conducive to inflation.

Another factor, is a possibly ongoing erosion in the US$. That would certainly be inflationary. It's tough to game. I wish I had a few supercomputers to run a model...

A steep decline in petroleum production--either for geological or political reasons--would seem to be stagflationary for sure. It would guarentee recession or worse and still drive inflation. I been reading this sight quite a while though, and I haven't seen much to convince me we're facing a steep and immediate decline.

70% of our current GDP output is dependent on us buying $hit.  We've tapped savings, now we're getting the last drops of equity out the houses to pay for the increasing costs we're forced to deal with.  When the people have to service this debt, it will become unbearable.  I just don't see anything but down, when we're counting on us to buy more when some are cracking under the burden of their current debt, I just don't see rosy times in the next 2 yrs at least.  After that, my thoughts are less organized.
I think this is all about what you mean by inflation. Actually inflation means an increase in the money supply. The inflation most people refer to is something else, ie the price of goods which is different. Further you can talk about asset price inflation or goods price inflation.

I think we will have monetary inflation - meaning that the supply of money will continue to be increased by the Federal Reserve. In terms of price inflation I think asset prices, ie houses, will fall (deflation) whereas the cost of living will increase (inflation). I don't see these two outcomes as mutually exclusive. We have just come out of a period where assets prices have soared and consumer price inflation has been low - primarilly due to low cost manufacturing in China. We will likely to see that trend reverse.

From wiki:

In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices, as measured against some baseline of purchasing power. Inflation may likewise be regarded as a decline in the purchasing power of money. In some models of economics, this is equivalent to a fall in the demand for, or an increase in the supply of money. Inflation is the opposite of deflation.

In some contexts the word "inflation" is used to mean an increase in the money supply, which is sometimes seen as the cause of price increases. Some economists still prefer this meaning of the term, rather than to mean the price increases themselves. Thus, for example, some observers of the 1920s in the United States refer to "inflation" even though prices were not increasing at the time. Below, the word "inflation" will be used in the former way unless otherwise specified.

To keep talking about inflation we've got to agree what it is.  Let me point a few things out.  Inflation described above is not based on MS increases.  Unless there is some mathematical proof that price level increases and MS increases are equal, I dont think they are the same thing necessarily.

I was taught that the FED doesn't "set" FF rates per se, they engage in FOMC and they contract the MS to increase the FF rate.  Sounds logical, but that's more difficult than it has to be.  For 16 straight meetings the FED increased borrowing rates.  Yet the corresponding MS measurements were all rising at the same time as interest rates rising.  Is that not a complete contradiction of what I've been taught?  If the whole point to raising rates is a reduction in the MS, then why would our MS be increasing in the face of increasing FF rates?  

The whole lag time of 18-24 mos is bunk, since the FED instantaneously resets these rates as the NY FED trading desk.  So if tomorrow they raise the rates, then that MUST mean they are selling bonds to suck up the cash TODAY, right NOW.  So wouldn't next months money measurement correspondingly drop?  You would think, but that's not what has been happening.

Wouldn't it be far easier for the FED to just "set" the FF rate at 25bp higher each time without doing anything, but announcing it?  I only realized this after my class was finished, so I was unable to quiz my proff.  If we stick to using this MS inflation increases, then we're talking about 8% inflation as we speak.  Doesn't sound near as good as 3-4%.

Before I learned about peak oil, I was kind of thinking that capitalism was really just like a game, and that nothing bad could happen because the people who control capitalism, the top of the top have it all set. I guess not. It still does seem like a game though. It seems weird that all they can do to control it is what Alan Greenspan's job was and such.
Around here I seem to always find someone to call capitalism a Ponzi scheme.  While I do disagree and firmly believe it's not the same as a Ponzi scheme, you're right it's a game and those at the top enjoy the fruits of their dominance.
Care to explain how it is different from a Ponzi scheme?
Too many words too little time.  Try a search, it's been discussed at length before and it boils down to the true definition of ponzo scheme in it's historical contect from which it has been removed.
I was asking you to explain a statement you made. You're telling me to google it? So, I type in "tate423 ponzi" and it will tell me what you are thinking? Amazing. I didn't realize google was quite so powerful.
Your attempt to be condescending has failed miserably and shown more about you than you may suspect.

If you didn't feel like engaging with a question it would have been polite to either ignore it or say so. Your half baked attempts to reference the world - as if your knowledge and opinion is naturally the only correct one - is...well, I'll use "amusing," for now.

My original post indicated there was a prior conversation on this site discussing ponzi schemes as it relates to capitalism.  If you want to know how it is different, then take the time to read what's already been said here at length. If everyone on here simply answered all the same questions over it would get a bit tedious.

If you didn't feel like engaging with a question it would have been polite to either ignore it or say so. Your half baked attempts to reference the world - as if your knowledge and opinion is naturally the only correct one - is...well, I'll use "amusing," for now.

You mean to tell me you didn't see the part of my post which read, "too many words too little time."  I already told you a day ago I didn't feel like engaging this question, so why throw out some smart ass question unless you wanted a smart ass answer?  Oh and where in the five sentences above do I attempt to reference the world?

I can't believe you actually believed the "people at the top" had everything under control.  You're giving way too much credit to people's general intelligence, especially the "people at the top".  You just have to look at all the problems we've suffered from to see that far from following any grand plan, we're instead constantly flying by the seat of our pants.  

I don't really agree with the idea that capitalism is a ponzi scheme.  I think statements like that are trite, but otherwise of no usefull value whatsoever.  Capitalism is not a perfect system, and in fact it certainly has a lot of issues, but the roots of the problems we face today are not a result of capitalism, it's a result of our own lack of forethought and planning.  

It's like when people say capitalism is bad because people borrow and spend their way into debt.  Capitalism allowed them to do that, but it didn't cause them to do that.  Blaming a system is just a way of passing the blame along.  

The articles and debates I've seen do make a good case for deflation sometime in the near future. Not today or tomorrow, but in a few years. Deflation does still happen, Japan has been dealing with it for years now.

Instead of equating inflation/deflation with prices do remember that....
Inflation = expansion of money and credit
Deflation = contraction of money and credit

Here are some sites that make an interesting case for deflation:

(a little old but still good)

(he often writes on inflation/deflation and includes peak oil in his analysis, see his Aug 11 article)
Also all his deflation articles are linked here:

(does the inflation/deflation debate)

(ties it to historical Kondratieff periods)

(lots of guest articles, sometimes on inflation/deflation)

My thoughts on the deflation / inflation argument are like this...

I think we are likely to see a sudden sharp correction in asset values, most notably housing. You could call this deflation, but in my mind the gains in recent years were never real and this is simply a correction to more realistic values.

Once that is out of the way then the underlying inflation would start to cut in big time in net energy importing countries. Demand for energy would no doubt fall for a while, but not as far as some might expect, housing and other assets would be cheaper thus allowing a proportion of the public MORE discretionary income... Those sat on negative equity as in the eighties would mostly be allowed to carry on servicing their debts if they could and those that could not would likely become bankrupt for a time later to return [ could be as little as one year now in the UK ] as reborn consumers...

If we really are at peak this will most likely not dampen the demand growth in India, China etc.. to a great degree either and at the same time we might start into decline proper, we will certainly find a decline in net export capacity...

Ironically the rise of inflation will help those caught in negative equity as their debts will shrink in real terms and they too would most likely gain MORE income due to wage inflation...

I could be well off beam here.....??????

Keep this in mind.  When your home is losing value on paper and you can't pay for food b/c it cost more, what is happening?  I suppose the aggregate net loss or gain in money supply would determine true deflation vs inflation when we're talking price levels.
Well, he's been right so far ....?
This was not yesterday, but the 10th. A friend e-mailed me the article almost exactly a week ago. Is it my mistake, or didn't Saudi help the US destroy the soviet union? Yeah, we really need to invade Saudi ASAP and privatize their oil....

The editorial board over at The Economist are smoking some weird shit. I wish I could get my hands on some of it--must be a pretty potent retardation inducer, whatever it is. Seven years ago they had the same lame ass fa-la-la-free-market, supply-side economic fantasy about crude oil--just another commodity! They wrote then that prices would fall to $5 ( http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_TRRTPT )... They are so on the money! snicker

Yesterday I was going to ask if there had been a discussion of this idiocy here at TOD--I guess it's happeneing now...

What to make of such floating-on-clouds statements like this:

"These companies are certainly sitting on a reassuring amount of oil. Saudi Aramco's proved reserves alone could keep the world supplied for several decades. But it is only exploiting ten of its 80 or so fields, so will be able to pump at the present rate for about 70 years even if it never discovers another drop of oil. In fact, Aramco and other NOCs are likely to find plenty more if they look, since their territory has not been very thoroughly explored. Only 2,000 wildcat wells have ever been dug in the countries around the Gulf, according to Leonardo Maugeri, an Italian oilman, compared with more than 1m wells in the United States." ?

Either they are really right, or really wrong--and from reading this excellent website, one of those choices stands out at as being to obvious to comment.

The Economist seems to believe that not only all fields, but all wells, produce exactly the same amount of oil.
I suppose it's because not only on every subject, but in every article, they write exactly the same kind of stuff.
There are many who believe their own lies, pronouncements, and propaganda. If you tell them long enough, you start to believe in them, for you have forgotten the truth. Up is down, black is white. Orwell spoke of this phenomenon, as did Freud. They are predatory, sociopathic, neurotic, and delusional.
We call them "leaders".

Then there are "true believers", fanatics, zealots, devotees of the echo chamber, they hear only the sound of their own voice and can see only what they choose to, their minds are closed. When presented with evidence to the contrary, they shut down, a mental or emotional defensive strategy, or simply chant the same mantra louder. They are either brainwashed, ideologs, or just plain ignorant.  

Then there are those who are paid to act as soothesayers (in the traditional meaning of the term, that is to say things that soothe), these run the gamut from fawning sycophants and hired henchmen to think tanks, focus groups, and paid 'experts'.

Which do you think applies to editorial board of "The Economist" and their ilk?  

It is just as you perceive it, despite their ever-shriller claims to the contrary.

"Is this a first?"

No, it's not a first.  Commodities flucutate wildly and the fluctuations have very little, if anything at all, to do with, "news."  The fluctuations also have very little, if anything at all, to do with, "supply and demand."  The only impact, "supply and demand" might have on the price of oil (although it's almost painful for me to admit that it has any impact at all) is a kind of "supply and demand fear premium," which represents the fear some traders have that, at some point in the future, demand might actually reach supply (supply being, "supply capacity," as reported by CERA, which is true supply, not the supply charted by Stuart Staniford, which is actually just demand) at which point supply and demand WOULD determine prices, sending them through the roof.  

Current oil prices are determined by speculation, along with a range of, "premiums," the, "Iraq premium," the, "Iran premium," the, "hurricane premium," etc., etc.  There might also even be a, "Mathew Simmons premium," or, "peak oil premium," although minimal, which represents traders' fears of future geology-induced falls in oil production.  There is also the, "booming global economy premium," having to do with increased global demand.  The thing about all these premiums, though, is that they are just guesswork.  Oil futures are priced based on what these premiums should be worth at some point in the future.  No one knows this for sure, which leads to the premiums constantly being readjusted up and down, which creates up and down movements in commodities prices.  Supply and demand, since supply always outstrips demand, given the spare capacity in places like Saudi Arabia, plays no direct role, other than the, "supply and demand fear premium," mentioned above.  There has yet to be a person/entity who went out looking to buy a barrel of oil and couldn't find anyone to sell him one.  As, "peak oilers," I would presume that you would expect the, "supply and demand fear premium," to get larger and larger until, at some point in the future, it is the main driver of oil prices.  Personally, I don't think this has happened yet, since oil prices have basically mirrored the price rises in other commodities over the past few years, none of which are, "peaking," leading me to conclude that oil is still behaving as, "just another commodity."  In other words, I believe that the , "supply and demand fear premium," is still minimal,  and we can expect oil prices to flucutate both up and DOWN, sometimes significantly so, just as they have always done in the past.        

As I have stated before, I believe we are seeing the beginning of a major, DOWN flucuation right now.  A high level of complacency has created a very dangerous situation in commodities markets.  Most market participants are still clinging to the belief that the recent, almost 10% pullback in oil prices, from the high of over $78 a barrel, is  a very temporary phenomenon which will soon reverse itself.  People aren't scared at all.  No one is panicking.  In fact, the opposite is true, since people are so convinced that this is all temporary and overdone, and that, very soon, we will see $80, $90, or even $100 a barrel oil.  This type of complacency in the face of declining prices is typical of downward corrections.  Expect to see a series of lower lows in commodities prices over the course of the next few months.  At each of the lower lows, partipants will be more than eager to jump back in, claiming that, "the decline is over now," and that we will soon be witnessing new record highs.  A small bounce will follow, seemingly proving them right, but then, soon enough, a new lower low will be made.  The pattern will repeat itself several times.  At each new lower low, there will be very little fear in the markets.  This lack of fear will be the proof that the correction isn't done yet.  Finally, we will experience a collapse, at which point fear will suddenly rise.  At the bottom, expect most people to be claiming that, "commodities still have a long way to fall."  This will be the buy signal.  

Michael Lynch is predicting $30 on CNBC (see above). Is the buy signal when Mike predicts $4?

As I said before,  I fully realize that some of the most dangerous words in the English language are "It's different this time," but the world has never been at the 50% of Qt mark before, based on HL work, although regions, such as the Lower 48 have.

I am not a perma-bull.   In late 1990 and early 1991, I argued vociferously that we should hedge against a fall in oil prices.  My point was that there was plenty of capacity and that as soon as the US launched the air campaign, it would become apparent that Iraq was not a threat to world oil supplies, and prices would fall.  Oil prices in late 1990 were a clear example of oil prices not being supported by fundamentals--but again, I recognized that.  My partner at the time and I were in the process of trying to secure some hedge positions when the air campaign started, and oil prices, as I predicted, fell.

I seen nothing remotely like the 1990/1991 situation in world oil markets.  Instead, what I see is falling world oil production and falling production in the oil exporting countries.  Let's see, falling oil production against rising oil prices.  Where have we seen that before?  Oh yes.  The Lower 48, when it crossed the 50% of Qt mark.

You said, "There has yet to be a person/entity who went out looking to buy a barrel of oil and couldn't find anyone to sell him one."  However, in poorer regions, we have seen multiple examples of countries having to reduce consumption, because of high oil prices.

Soon, it will be the US, China and Europe bidding against each other for exports, and not just against regions like Africa.

Finally, as I said before, it it weren't for the HL analysis, I would agree with you and I would be selling oil contracts and virtually all energy assets, based on some of the crazy things that have been reported.  But the world has never been at the 50% mark before.

Your explanation of market psychology is good, but I can not agree with you ignoring the supply/demand fundamentals.

Oil is not "just another commodity" and in general commodities are not some abstractions that people just bid on. They have intrisinic(sp?) value and people pay for them because they need them. I agree that your scenario may very well happen for the short term, driven by the well known market herd mentality, but the medium to long term trend is just one - up. There are several undeniable facts to make sure this is the case:

  1. World spare capacity is almost gone. No significant growth is expected in the medium term, quite the opposite actually
  2. People need (or want to) consume more.

Combine 1) and 2) and you get higher prices in future, irrespective of what the short term fluctuations may be. Personally I have a small investment in gold&silver mostly as an inflation hedge. It wouldn't bother me a lot if gold goes to $500 in the next 6 months, as long as I have placed my bets on a long-term rise.
"long term trend is just one -- up."

I agree with you, although, eventually, even that trend will run its course.

I look forward to the mid-November day when I can join other TODers in being bullish on oil prices, my only fear, and sometimes I wake up at night in a cold sweat, thinking about this, is that, by that point, everyone else will have turned bearish.

Just think about the October/November headlines that we will be reading:

"China Demand Waning"
"Is Recession Inevitable?"
"Did the Fed go too far?"
"Iran Reaches Deal with Russia and China on Uranium Enrichment"
"Treasuries Continue to Rise"
"Nasdaq Breaks Below 1700"
"Flight to Safety Lifts Dollar"
"Oil Production at Record Highs"
"Oil Demand Seen Lower on Warm Winter"

Normally, by the time a market bottoms, sentiment has become so bleak that most people are predicting a further collapse, and they miss out.

On most of these headlines I would not bet much (especially for the oil production on record heights). I do think like you that we are in for a temporary dip and therefore I prefer to wait for now. If at least some of these headlines do come true, the beginning of the next year would be a great time to buy.
Just replace those headlines with others then.  The point is, when oil is falling, the media will find headlines that justify its fall.

Funny you should say that...

Oil drops below $71 a barrel on Jon Benet Ramsey news
-- www.fark.com
CNBC just had another oil analyst, Ben Dell, on predicting that oil prices will be at or below $50 in the fourth quarter.  There sure does seem to be a lot of people out there predicting lower oil prices.

Lower 48 peaked at about 50% of Qt.

Russia peaked at a broad plateau, centered on 50% of Qt.

The North Sea peaked at about 50% of Qt.

The world is at about 50% of Qt, and production, as predicted, is down.

We now have credible reports that all four of the world's largest producing oil fields are declining, and the EIA is showing that eight of the top 10 net oil exporters are showing production declines since late 2005--while oil prices are up by 15% to 30% since late 2005.  Falling oil production and rising oil prices--see the Lower 48/Texas case history.

What part of this is difficult to understand?  Find me a case history where a region has shown rising oil production when its four largest producing fields were all declining.

The best prediction of next quarter's price is this quarter's price. Many many studies have found that it's hard to beat predicting "more of the same".
Price is about more than supply. If demand falls of a cliff because of a bursting housing buuble/immenent recession it is possible demand will fall quicker than supply in the short term.
I agree with SAT to a large extent. My gut feeling is that oil prices will be lower and falling in November than they are now. The however is Iran and what action America will take against it. If bombing looks very likely, and then oil prices will rise, then possibly fall when the SPR is released. Then they may rise on fears of the Straits of Hormuz being blockaded for many months and oil facilities in the Gulf are damaged to various degrees. If there is no tension against Iran, and normal oil price trends resume, then oil prices will fall from October onwards until the beginning of December.

If Mexico's oil production keeps on its downward spiral, the market will discount it against new supplies arriving. I looked at OPEC's oil production figures, and it is amazing how many downward corrections have occurred in previous years figures, in this and previous issues. Current OPEC forecasts are predicting increased oil production for Norway and Mexico in 4Q 2006 and 2007 rather than falls, as experience should be telling them, just to keep yearly figures from being so pessimistic.

It surprises me that the oil market believes OPEC production forecasts (in that it moves the market to a certain extent). So long as more oil comes onto the market this year than last year, the oil futures will discount peak oil. It is just that OPEC figures obscure how little is actually arriving each year. They predict 1.3 Mbpd at the begining of each year of non OPEC oil but are now getting 0.2 Mbpd when the final figures are totted up the following year. OPEC seem to be using every trick in the book to hide the very small yearly increases from non OPEC sources and the oil market seems to believe OPEC. OPEC oil production and spare capacity are deliberately opaque, so I believe they are pumping at near capacity to maximise profits at $70+ per barrel. As their production is hovering around the 30 Mbpd figure, I take it that must be about their maximum figure. So increased oil production each year is very small and more strain is going to have to be taken by OPEC.

2010 oil futures are trading at $70.00. That is suggesting the sum of opinions believes  in a tight market but not in peak oil. I agree that are wrong. But I think we are not very far from the point at which the long dated futures rise over near term prices.
Clearly Westexas you are not aware of La-La land. They increased their production from 85 million to 100 million in just a few years . Michael Lynch and Daniel Yergin taught how everyone how to pee oil.
SAG sez
(supply being, "supply capacity," as reported by CERA, which is true supply, not the supply charted by Stuart Staniford, which is actually just demand)

... yeah right. In fact, Nigeria would just whizz back up to full production, except they just can't find any clients for their oil. This must be true, because Yergin includes it in his supply capacity numbers. Likewise, insurgents will stop blowing up pipelines in Iraq, if only the clients were there.

Supply and demand, since supply always outstrips demand, given the spare capacity in places like Saudi Arabia, plays no direct role

mmmm right! This requires nothing less than a religious faith that SA has this spare capacity they claim to have. However, they are scrambling for drilling rigs in order to offset production decline, and they haven't got the number of rigs they claimed to need to meet their targets... yet you and Yergin still take their original numbers...
... on faith.

Luckily, their bluff doesn't get called, since some buyers have been priced out of the market.

Nickel is now in restricted trading on the LME.  Nickel prices have doubled in 6 mos.  Why will this be lower at the end of the year than it started?  It may be cheaper a few mos from now, but YoY is where the change really lies.  Same for almost all base metals....YoY changes are phenomenol and even if they give back modest gains, for the year, they would still be up.
According to Bloomberg, there were some rather large short positions taken that are now being forced to cover, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=aSoQhJUXcnYQ&refer=canada
I read this, but my point is still YoY increases in prices.  If it crashes from here on out, but it's still up say 25% from last year, it's still tearing it up.

You may be familiar with a gentlemen named Richard Rainwater.  He turned every dollar that the Bass Brothers inherited into $100.  He has a certain reputation for accurate predictions.  Enclosed is an excerpt from a December, 2005 Fortune Magazine article on him.  BTW, I hadn't made the connection before, but world oil producton has been falling since this article came out.  

Excerpt from "The Rainwate Prophecy"

 "This (Peak Oil) is a nonrecurring event," he (Rainwater) says. "The 100-year flood in Houston real estate was one, the ability to buy oil and gas really cheap was another, and now there's the opportunity to do something based on a shortage of natural resources. Can you make money? Well, yeah. One way is to just stay long domestic oil. But there may be something more important than making money. This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind. I don't want the world to wake up one day and say, 'How come some doofus billionaire in Texas made all this money by being aware of this, and why didn't someone tell us?'"

These are timeless observations - I was reading about market crashes, going back to "tulip-mania" in the Netherlands - and the same pattern always emerges.  Luckily it is spread out enough so that most people don't watch it happening.
I feel oil is bound to eventually perform a new trick, as you recognize.  Nobody ever ran out of tulips!

Here is a question- do you think if the market knew the true state of our oil reserves - say that they would peak in 2010 - that the price would rapidly adjust?

I'm working on a theory that the oil markets are underinformed and therefore aren't accurately pricing oil.


That would throw the efficient market hypthosesis out the window, but I fear it didnt matter anyway.
Oil wont fall to much further OPEC's costs of production are soaring. They just have to mention "reducing production due to oversupply" and this market will spike again. What price they do announce is the 64 dollar question. Of course somthing out of their control could accur and oil will continue its run up.. OPEC has lost controll of the upside but they can control the down and make no mistake they will....
Hello Westexas,

I agree with your points, which brings up another speculative thought process in my mind.  As an export crunch makes it increasingly difficult to maintain our SPR, much less fuel our industries and lifestyles: will we see a desire arise to build a Strategic Horsepower Reserve {SHR}?

Preventing, as long as possible, the return to Duncan's Olduvai Gorge requires keeping the electrical juice up to supply critical needs.  When the critical liquid fuels shortages become commonplace, if the utility companies have adequate horses and draft animals to haul wooden utility poles and heavy spools of wiring, then they can use the remaining precious fuels to power the heavy-lift cranes and other heavy equipment, for which there is no substitute.

It is currently common to see utility company pickups and cars motoring around the Asphalt Wonderland reading meters and doing simple repairs-- these could easily be accomplished by bicycle postPeak.  Where the need for draft animals comes into play is when the transport of heavy equipment is required.  I believe that people will be willing to pay heavily for electricity to power a refrigerator--it will be the last appliance they wish to give up-- sitting in the dark will be acceptable if your tummy is full.  My guess is that utility companies will be the only postPeak corporations that will have sufficient surplus cash-flow to support large herds of horses or my speculative SHR.

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

Hello TODers,

I wonder if people know that the first 'suicide bomber' in America was a horse [involuntarily for the horse, of course]?
Historical Precedent: The Inevitable Horseshoe Connection

Did you know about the involvement of horseshoes in the first attack on lower Manhattan by terrorists? No, not the bombing back in 1992 [or 2001]. On September 16, 1920, a group of anarchists or "Bolsheviks" sent a horse pulling a wagonload of dynamite to the doorstep of the Morgan Bank on Wall Street. The wagon exploded, killing 38, wounding 300, and permanently scarring the building; the scars are still there today.

Also, the first energy crisis that occurred in America was caused by the epizootic of 1872 that killed so many horses that men were compelled to manually pull streetcars, horse carts, fire engines, etc.  The great fire of Boston and the crash of 1873 were partly attributed to this epizootic.

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

Was the horse-and-buggy bomb manned by the terrorist? If so, that moron is America's first suicide bomber. The horse doesn't really count as a "suicide bomber" becuse it had no concept of "bomb" nor could it know it was hauling it to the target. No doubt that this horse-and-buggy bomb gave Zionists the bright idea of the truck bomb. The leftist invented the forerunner of the truck bomb.

But tries at blowing up buildings have a longer history. Consider the Guy Fawkes "gun powder plot" that was foiled. That Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up England's Parliment. I wonder if he tried to time the explosion to optimise the lobbyist kill ratio. That is, when the House of Commons were voting themselves a pay raise. His method was to build the bomb on-site instead of a carriage bomb.

He timed it so that the gunpowder would go off on the State opening of Parliament, so all political power would be wiped out at once (King and all members of Parliament). I don't know whether he had a trail of gun powder so he could run away and survive, but the fuse would have been lit when everybody of significance was inside the building.

Needless to say, Anarchists conside Guy (or Guido Fawkes as was also known as) to be the sanest man to have entered the Houses of Parliament.

Somewhere on the Web I found an AT&T manual for linemen threatening them will all manner of dire consequences if they mistreated their horses (which would have been bad PR for the company.)

Yeah, we'll see it happen.

Regarding the Herbert remark,

does anyone have a breakdown of "oil for gas" vs "oil for food."

Where are the hurricanes?
Soon.  According Jeff Master's blog on Weather Underground, there have been many factors against tropical cyclones this year.  High wind shear, lower sea temperatures, dry air from the sahara, dust reducing solar radiation input and unfavourable weather systems have all contributed to what seems like a "quiet" time in the Atlantic.

However, that may all change, and quickly.  We've still got several months of peak hurricane season left, so don't think we're in the clear.

I'm concerned that, due to the less than favourable conditions out to sea, tropical cyclones may form closer to land and intensify quicker than we're used to.  Less time to prepare may mean general panic as the media hypes a medium strength storm after all the viewers that were glued to the box during the Katrina tragedy.

I'm worried that, just like a nightclub or stadium fire, the danger is from panic rather than the disaster itself.

I am also concerned that if we don't get a powerful hurricane just like Katrina this year, people will completely dismiss climate change.  I'm certainly not wishing death and destruction on any of our coastal areas, but I would like to wake some more people up to the dangers we are facing.

Plus I'm fairly convinced we're heading for an economic hard landing in 2007/2008.  Would that get blamed on the storms?  Would peak oil disappear off the radar when the recession hits?  Or will destruction of oil rigs in the Gulf counterbalance the reduced demand for oil due to recession?

I hope against my better judgement that we don't have any Katrina tragedies this year.

The Houston-Galveston Metropolitan Area provided a great example last year of a media induced panic during Hurricane Rita. The MSM whipped up everyone's fears with comparisons to Katrina, but did not make the point that if their viewers did not live in a flood-prone area, evacuation was more dangerous than staying home. Dozens of people died while stuck in traffic or out of gas.
  Personally, I evacuated from Galveston to Houston to an area that I knew was fairly safe. I had just my 80 year old father to worry about, and I figured that he would be more safe in his apartment than on the road. So we stayed there and didn't even lose power.
  It seems like we are being prepared to panic again.But, the MSM loves stirring up delicious fear because it keeeps us all glued to the TV instead of talking with one another. and finding individual and collective solutions. And, unfortunately the Blogosphere is also guilty of the fearmongering, possibly from people wishing to be important as Paul Reveres or wishing to be smug. The I told you so impulse.
  A mass die-off is pretty improbable, and if we all moderate and change our personal behaviours we can mitigate the worst effects of fossil fuel depletion. So, to quote Confucious, think before you act. And a good example converts a heck of a lot more people than exhortations and fear-mongering.

The die off is not going to happen. The ONLY way there would be a significant die off is if oil production suddenly dropped by 20% year over year for a decade. Then, maybe...

If it happens in small (painful, but bearable) slices of 5 or 10% a year, it's not going to be causing a dieoff, except for MAYBE in regions that are already well into their own dieoff (certainly nothing good for Darfur in that situation...).

Here's what would happen.

  1. More power plants, coal, nuclear. This takes a few years. In the meantime....

  2. More efficient cars. No more hummers, they would be discouraged or outright banned.

  3. No more heating oil. People would switch to electricity like they should have done decades ago. This will be OK due to #1.

So, lets see, these three steps (more or less immediate, given that we have some spare electrical capacity as it is, and we could conserve a fair bet more by dialing back the AC, etc... if really needed) would save what, 30% of our oil, maybe more?

What comes next?


  1. plug in hybrids would be all the rage overnight. See extra electrical capacity above in #1, this would pretty much succeed in replacing a sizeable chunk of our automobile fleet in the course of a few years (maybe 5 or so?).

  2. Farm equipment is a natural fit for electrical power. It doesn't ever travel far, could charge up overnight, and the extra weight is generally a good thing. I remember our old disker set, we threw rocks on top of it to give it enough weight to really cut into our hard soil. Food would be pretty much the last thing affected.

  3. Long haul trucking. Most of this is moving to rail anyway. It moved away from rail primarily as an attempt to break up transportation monopolies, but that is now reversing. the trend would be accelerated.

So, what are we down to now? Maybe 50% of oil consumption when we're driving plug-in hybrids and plowing fields with electrical tractors. What's left?

Oh yes, the standard canard, mine equipment too mine all the coal (or the wildly smaller volume of Uranium for the nuclear option)....

Coal mining equipment is electrical anyway, no problem there. In fact, pretty much all mining equipment is electrical (The big GE steamshovels, or whatever they call them now, are all electrical, and carry around their own generators as a matter of convenience).

Trains are all electrical anyway, even the diesel ones are diesel electric, you just can't make a diesel engine or a clutch large enough to get one of those things moving.

Fertilizer is made using hydrogen that is derrived from natural gas. It could be made using electricity (see #1 above) just as easily, not a problem. The day natural gas is more expensive than electricity, expect to see a mass conversion.

What's left? A few percent. Maybe planes and plastics. Both of which could be done with biodiesel, or ethanol, or whatever. Given that everything else would be electrical, the EROEI (I shudder at even using that worthless term) doesn't matter. Who cares how efficient it is to turn nuclear power into ethanol, if you get only 50% of it back as ethanol, it doesn't really matter. Same goes for plastics, and frankly, it'll be a LONG time before we can't scrounge up enough oil to fly our planes and make our basketballs.

In exchange for all this, what do we get?

1a) No significant CO2 emissions (if we go the nuclear route).

1b) The nastiest, most polluted planet this side of Venus (if we go the coal route).

2) Pretty much no trade deficit, as without oil imports to boost it up, our books would be much more even.

And at what cost? Well, about $0.10/KWh or less ($200/barrel for oil, roughly).

Doesn't seem like such a bad exchange to me. I think peak oil will be the best thing that ever happened to us (in situation 1a above, which is where I think this is really heading). Our lifestyle in 2050 will look fairly similar to our lifestyle now. Hate to break the doomer bubbles, that's just the way it is.

A ban on hummers?  Not many politicians will support that, this is not the land of diminished expectations.

We should all convert to electric heat?  Why?

Long haul trucking is going to rail?  I don't think so, I mean I know more track is being laid but to put all freight on trains would require an insane ramp up in track miles.  You'll always need the trucks to cover the 'last mile' of delivery anyway.

You can take this as glass half empty or half full, but I'd call the general trend in California to be toward small cars:


Yeah, you're totally right. People would rather starve to death and die off (you are a doomer, right?) than ban Hummers. No political will for it, even if 150 million people starve, yeah, I can see that.

Read the post above and you'll understand the electric heat reasons. Here's a hint, it doesn't depend on hydrocarbons. That is what we're talking about, right?

Long haul trucking is largely going to rail now. The rails already carry most of the coal that makes most of our electricity (in addition to iron ore, etc...) a volume of material that is probably greater than all the junk found on the shelves of walmart. But maybe you're right. People don't want to build rail lines, much better to let half the population starve, and the other half live in caves, I know that's what I'd vote for.

Seriously, in order to show that 90% (or is it 99%?) of the world is going to die off you have to show that there is no viable alternative. We did some amazing things in WWII for much less serious reasons, and the same will happen after peak oil. Show that it won't be enough. You can't.

Look at all the steps above, all easy to imagine in an emergency, and together more than enough to solve the problem. So, why would people die off again? They'd have to vote themselves into it long after the writing was clearly on the wall, and I don't think too many people vote for the "I'll kill  you all" canidate knowingly. This is why the greens never win, and the oil barrons won't either once things go badly for oil production.

"electric heat reasons. Here's a hint, it doesn't depend on hydrocarbons. "

"The rails already carry most of the coal that makes most of our electricity"

Care to explain this apparent contradiction?

I know it's not my dog in this fight, but simply saying that the burden of proof is on the other person does not make it so.

coal is not a hydrocarbon, it is merely carbon.


Besides, it's easy to make electricity without fossil fuels, it's not easy to make heating oil without fossil fuels.

I work in Intermodal.  I talk to draymen and their businesses.  Long haul trucking is dying, and at best on life support.  I have contacts at the five largest carriers and every last one of them tell me the same story. They can't find drivers to drive a long haul route, and increasingly these shipments are being put on the trains.  It is becoming very cost innefective to haul something hundreds of miles on a truck.  It's WAY more efficient, and slowly, more cost effective to put this on train.

You're right trucks will cover that last mile of delivery, but that's going to be the brunt of it.  Intermodal deliveries in the country are growing and at last check it was to the tune of nearly 5-8% a year.  Every single quarter we reset a record.  There is no reason for this to stop. 2nd quarter fiscal results also set a new record.  This country is moving back to trains as we speak.

Remember, the world had something of a dieoff from 1929 to 1945, and oil was dirt-cheap, as was food.  The problem is that one thing broke, and that broke something else, etc., etc.  What we speculate about at TOD is what will break what.

How much of our economy depends on a crypto-empire of 3rd world sweatshops?  What if those sweatshops were to close due to a social collapse that our media can't be bothered to talk about?

How much of our society depends on artificial injections of cheap consumer goods via home equity loans?  What happens if the tap is turned off?

By 1932, Republican farmers in Iowa were forming armed mobs to battle the foreclosure men from the banks.  It only took 3 bad years.  Compared to us, that was a prudent, well-prepared society of grownups.

Did the world population actually dip in that time period (1929 to 1945)?

I know it sucked to live in certain places at certain times then, but that's true now as well.

Nobody will die because they can't get cheap crap from wallmart. Be serious. I could see that causing a substantial depression, but even that would be unlikely. The cheap crap from wallmart is what ruins our economy, not what makes it better.

In order to show a dieoff you have to show that there is no viable alternative for producing what we need to survive. You can't. The examples of gas strapped countries producing enough oil to make their food and fight a war at the same time from various sources are too substantial. Show that it's different this time, but you can't because it isn't different. When TSHTF, nobody is going to vote for the "I'll kill you all" canidate, so don't whine about political will, show that even with the political will it won't be enough. Once again, you can't. I showed above what would be possible with the political will, tell me why it won't work, and for reasons other than the whining of soccer moms.

Yeah, just replace all the farm equipment for every farmer barely making ends meet as it is. No prob.

Yeah, you're right. People will just lie down and die instead. The american voters will happily let half their number starve before voting for such a thing, my bad.

I take it you're a doomer then?

Kurt Vonnegut is the subject of a featured article on the new Rolling Stone issue with Christina Aguilera on the cover. He says "It's the End of the World." I started reading it in the store, and that view is explicitly explained to be a result of hydrocarbon dependence of our society and saying imagine all the trucks stop and other such things. It kind makes me think of the worst too, and just thinking about whose side is usually correct about whatever it is, sides political ideologically speaking. I'll just do whatever I can, so hopefully I'll make it through. Kind of stupid, but I also thought about what Christina Aguilera thinks of this proclamation that is written on the side of her saluting 20's frame. Is that what that look is from? That's ironic a little too I guess.
When you say electric heat that would be heat pump, likely on buried loops (just like GW's ranch in Crawford).
Would peak oil disappear off the radar when the recession hits?

I think that the main effort that those of us who have learnt about Peak Oil will need to mount in the coming years is to push PO as the true underlying explanation for the economic problems, while mainstream pundits will come up with endless unrelated theories and promote many actions that will not help.

Whether or not it serves a higher purpose to promote that view, it's not really correct.  There are some severe structural problems with the US economy right now - major trade deficit, major budget deficit, largest national debt ever, negative savings rate, housing investment bubble popping, largest wealth gap since Rockefellar's time + rising corporate profits, stagnant wages, and hidden inflation.  High energy prices is only one cause (though it's the one we're least able to defeat with denial, because it's a worldwide condition).

Not to mention the fact that we're stuck occupying a relatively large country that descending into civil war in the world's most volatile region and the one that holds by far the richest concentration of energy resources.

Also facing what could be a multi-decade weakening trend in our currency.

All in all, not a happy picture.

They are in Asia this year. They are called typhoons over there.
Don't you know that if it doesn't happen in America (or to America) it doesn't count? You must be one of those "scientific" types who get all hung up on things like "facts."
A slow start doesn't mean we are getting off easy, Hurricane Andrew didn't for until August 16.
Where are the hurricanes?

Just because the USA hasn't gotten clobbered (yet) this year, doesn't mean there have been no hurricanes. The western Pacific has had a very bad year. Typhoons (which are hurricanes) have been battering Asia all summer, and Saomai was particularly devastating:


Good news! Let the cornucopia overflow. Oil (and minerals) enough for a million years! We are saved!


If the present annual volume of such extractions were merely to continue, it could do so at least for the next 100 million years. By that time, a total of 10 billion cubic kilometers or roughly 2.4 billion cubic miles of earth would have been extracted, which would represent a little less than 1 percent of the earth's total physical volume. If economic progress in coming centuries serves to increase the annual rate of extractions by a factor of 100, then mining operations could continue on that vastly larger scale for a million years, before 1 percent of the earth's volume had been extracted. The exhaustion of useable, accessible mineral deposits is simply not a problem for an economy as free as that of the United States was until a few generations ago.

A few generations ago, we were increasing our extraction rate by 7%/year. If we could continue that rate of increase for only a thousand years (not a million, as Reisman hopes to), we would consume, each year, a mass of oil equal to the entire galaxy.

Economists and numbers, not a good mix (Just kidding Don).

Honestly, I don't know why people post crap like this here.  Yes, there are relentlessly clueless people in the world.  So what?

If we're going to mount a campaign to argue against such people in an effort to reduce their influence on mainstreamers, then we'd do some tangible good.  But trotting these morons out here for much-deserved pinata practice does no good.

It's good to keep an eye on what other people are thinking.  Even if they're hopelessly wrong.  :)
Oh quit your bitching Lou, I love posts like this, and I would bet the vast majority of others on this list do also. Such posts are a constant reminder of the stupidity of the general public. It helps explain why no one will hear, or wants to hear of "Peak Oil".

They believe our way of life will last forever. They are indeed true believers. And the more post we read like this the more we start to realize what the true problem really is.

- It is the true believer's ability to "shut his eyes and stop his ears" to the facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy. He cannot be frightened by danger nor disheartened by obstacle nor baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence.
 - Eric Hoffer: The True Believer.

 - Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain't that a big enough majority in any town?
 - Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn.

We need the comedy.  :-)

Rick D.

With apologies to Oilmanbob above:

...if we all moderate and change our personal behaviours we can mitigate the worst effects of fossil fuel depletion.

The operative word here is "if".  Too many people choose to remain blind to reality, therefore there can be no moderation and change.  IMO, we will see the "worst effects" at the very least.  

Still hoping for sudden mass enlightenment...........

That's what we need: weapons of mass enlightenment.:)
it requires changing the stories we tell each other.  it's not impossible.  it just requires time.
If you have ever had a 3 year old then you know how much they like hearing the same story over and over and over and over....... The same applies to politics and religeon. People want to here the familiar more than new ideas. The more conservative the more power old stories have in your life. Even the so called liberal Dems are stuck with the old formula of blaming big business interests for whatever ails this country. New ideas like carbon taxes or floride-thorium nuclear reactors are ignored by the MSM. The MSM focus on sound bites over complex explanations is a reflection of old story obsession. A world view of Good vs Evil instead of serious introspection and innovative problem solving is a very hard sell. Peak Oil needs an interdisciplinary mindset absent from the specialist vs specialist thinking of politics, business, and academia. Where were the public health specialists when the Congress debated the Energy Bill? Where were the criminologists to explain the connection between mercury from coal burning and an area's crime rate?
There are True Believers on all sides of this ;-)
Ah yes, lewrockwell.com

Purveyors of abiotic oil creationism, too.

Laugh, cry, laugh again.

Pinata practice. Like it.

Lighten up a bit, Lou. (I should follow my own advice sometimes) Anyway, the author George Weisman has a real job as professor of Economics at Pepperdine University.

In a tolerably free, rational society, motivated human intelligence is easily capable not only of continuing man's ability to extract this volume of useful materials from the earth but also substantially to increase it. If the present annual volume of such extractions were merely to continue, it could do so at least for the next 100 million years.

100 million years

I know this may be a bit embarrassing to some other economists. And 100 million years ago...

Earth during the Lower Cretaceous

Have a good one... Dave

and this is what our planet might look like 100+ million years from now.

then followed up by what it might look like 250 million years from now.

That's really neat. So, Pangea will go back together. Cycles of nature. I wonder if it'll have another Carboniferous Age. Hope not. I hate to think that future humans or whatever intelligent species (hominids have been around 5 million years I think) is here after us to do the same thing. That would be ridiculous. People don't think about millions of years in the future.
Today I came across an interesting paper published by the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) called "Possibilities to produce and use biofuels in transportation in Finland".


The whole thing is only available in Finnish, but there is an extended abstract in English, pages 19-33 of the PDF. The paper explains the EU principles behind the drive for biofuels and, somewhat surprisingly, draws pretty much the same conclusions as many TOD'ers: ethanol and biodiesel are not really viable, at least not the way they are produced today. And they don't even begin to consider the EROI in any meaningful way...

Which is why, in Germany, biodiesel is already taxed with 10ct/l and the tax will increase to the same amount as the tax on conventional diesel in 2012.

By then, the government hopes that BTL will work on a commercial scale. It's called "sundiesel" here. Both VW and DaimlerChrysler are in it. The potential seems to be huge, but I have no idea about the EROI.

This should be of interest:


Renewable Energy Demand Reaches U.S. Front Lines


At remote U.S. military bases in Iraq, one of the most oil-rich countries in the world, American commanders are pleading for solar panels and wind generators to save the lives of troops forced to protect lengthy and vulnerable supply lines that wind through the country and feed the military's voracious fuel appetite.

The urgent request for renewable energy systems was submitted July 25 by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer, who commands U.S. forces in western Iraq's restive Anbar province. The document pointed to the vulnerability of American supply lines to insurgent attack by ambush or roadside bombs, and said reducing the military's dependence on fuel for power generation could reduce the number of road-bound convoys.

Electricity to power everything from computers to air conditioners on U.S. bases is by means of monstrous diesel-fueled generators kept running 24 hours a day. Feeding those generators -- and fueling the many vehicles used to patrol Iraq's roadways -- requires fuel convoys that originate as far away as Kuwait. The document said the majority of the supply convoys on Iraq's roads are carrying fuel.

"Without this solution [renewable energy systems], personnel loss rates are likely to continue at their current rate. Continued casualty accumulation exhibits potential to jeopardize mission success," the request said.

AC running off of PV panels?  Would be funny if it wasn't so sad.
The solutuon for that problem is called inverter.
I think he's referring to air conditioning, not alternating current.
That's right.  And when the Pentagon forces the rest of us to pay for enough PV panels to run air conditioners for 130,000+ troops in a certain very hot country, that will further hasten the inevitble bankrupcy of the USA...
So I should join the military to enjoy my A/C in the future...thanks for the heads up.
Not only that, running A/C (massive draw on/off cycling, induction loading) from PV (direct current, battery buffered steady state supply) is horribly inefficient. A lousy use for PV.
yup A.C. and the computers they use require a 24/7 base load.
this is somthing both wind and solar don't provide.
We never run our AC at night - I beg to differ with your comment.
i was talking about iraq. a desert country that does stay very warm during the night hours.
also just because you don't doesn't mean others do the same as you.
Want or desire is one thing, "require" is another. But yes, Iraq is hot at night. Still the AC demand is considerably less at night and of course PV would not be the only source of power. It's the old peak load issue.
While I agree that PV for AC seems like a bad idea - even ridicuous - on the surface, I paused a moment to reflect on numbers I have heard for how expensive gasoline or diesel is in Iraq. The cost is huge, transportation by tanker is dangerous and by very heavily guarded convoy, and the liquids are needed for ground transport. I don't recall the cost figures but remember them being astonomical per gallon. Perhaps in this situation, having PV on the roof and wind turbines makes sense. You don't have to transport dangerous fuels, availability is generally predictable, and you have room. The more I think of it, it may actually be quite cost-effective relative to inefficient ICE generators running on diesel in this setting.
yea but the main reason it's a option to them is because it's cheap to make those things elsewhere in both energy and money. we won't have that same advantage when we are in the same postion.
It's August and the day/night temperature differential is 30-40 degrees in Iraq. While temperatures in Baghdad can hit 110-120 during the day, lows of 70-90 can occur at night and that is quite comfortable after a broiling hot day. Remember also that generally humidity is lower there so hotter temperatures are not as bad as high humidity locations having the same sorts of temperatures.
yea but any modern computer there would require a.c. of some degree.
Heat stress is cumulative. I would hope they had fans at least at night or the winds blow hard to allow opening a window. Never mind the sand blizzards. But an OR will need A/C to try to keep that ultra-fine powered sand out. The sand is like talcum powder, not beach sand. That's why they get the sand blizzards in the first place.
  Guantanamo already runs off of electricity generated by wind. Too bad they can't run it just from the energy in the screams of tortured prisoners.
What about 19th Century prisoners treadmills :-(
In the 1800s those treadmills were actually like a Stairmaster. As the prisoners get the workout, a wheel on the end is hooked with a belt to whatever use.
Which makes me wonder.  Do you think we might go back to chain gangs that actually accomplished tasks?  Will Prison become an insitution of cheap(someone's gotsta make a buck) slave labor?
Being done now. Where have you been? Terrubly inefficient, usually benefiits go to the politically connected, costs borne by public purse.
yup it's the same guy in Arizona who is making them wear pink cloths and eat bad meat and bread.
Forced labor in our prisons is older than our country, and has been continuous throughout.  Go watch Shawshank to see how it's invariably run.
These are for state issues like plates and such.  What about renting these guys to farm or other labor intense activites.  Instead of corn subsidies, what if we provided cheap labor for the farmers?  
Who knows. It may well come to that.
Indentured Servitude, dropping from Yeoman to Serf has happened before. There are lots of ways the bankrupted can be forced to pay off bad debts as labourers housed in barracks on farms, or conscripted into the long war against terror. Also, to ensure a constant supply, minor crimes could end up with heavier sentences. Even the spectrum of 'crimes' can be altered to suit.
Hmmm..like drug laws.  Good point.
Powerful symbolism : oil extraction requires renewables to be viable.

On a similar theme :

The first deep-water offshore wind farm is being commissioned at the moment, in the North Sea near Scotland. Two big turbines (5 Mw each) will be used initially to power an oilfield, but the longer-term aim is to reuse some of that offshore infrastructure that will soon be producing nothing...


A couple of weeks ago, I unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a visit for a photographer friend, who is preparing a book on alternative energies.

Re: Tom Whipple on Rethinking America's Cars.  I'm glad he's thinking about the re-thinking.  But his thinking is currently lacking in two ways:

Lacking the laws of physics.  No cheap add-ons will make a 2-ton vehicle efficient for moving one human.  All the hype about various technologies aside, the main predictor of fuel economy is vehicle weight: fuel consumption is proportional to weight in stop and go traffic.  Although that's not quite true in theory for constant-speed highway driving, even the official highway MPG figures are closely relater to weight, as I found when I looked at various cars I considered buying.

Lacking imagination.  Need to get out of the SOV box.  The way we'll get the most use out of each gallon of fuel in our cars is in sharing the ride with additional reasons and additional riders.  That of course means that some of those 200 million vehicles are redundant, that's not a surprise.

Another alternative for existing 'rolling stock' (hehehe....some cars today remind me of railroad cars):
Strip 'em.  
Strip them down of any unnecessary weight.
Vtpeaknik is spot on, it is mass that makes the difference regarding efficiency. See Leanan's link concerning automobiles packing on the pounds. We're back to 1975 regarding average automobile weight, a time of massive roadgoing dreadnaughts. There is a lot of dead weight on modern vehicles.

Back in the gas crisises of the 70's, an small autocentric counterculture grew up around the concept of getting more mileage out of your car. Sort of today's "tuning" craze, but in reverse.
Mileage races were even held, where first prize went to the driver who could go the farthest distance on a pre-determined (limited) amount of petrol.  Some folks even removed the radiator (and hood, more dead weight) and used the (now exposed after stripping the interior) heater core to cool the engine, just to shave mass.

Strip them down of any unnecessary weight.
Vtpeaknik is spot on, it is mass that makes the difference

It's been done but I doubt it will suit the American taste...

Click for more palatable views.

Take a standard 1/2 ton pickup with a 350 cu in V-8 engine and add an auxilary overdrive transmission behind the regular automatic or standard transmission and you can go from 10 mpg to 20-25 mpg. When running lightly loaded (transportation) you use overdrive and when hauling a load you go out of overdrive.
I'm planning on adding one to my 77 Chevy 1/2 ton that I use for farm hauling.
These overdrive auxilary transmissions are readily available on the market. Do a Google and you'll find plenty of them.
You get better specific fuel consumption from a "loaded" engine than one that is running lightly "loaded".
Take a standard 1/2 ton pickup ... and add an auxilary overdrive transmission ... and you can go from 10 mpg to 20-25 mpg

Proof please.  For me, the fact that GM hasn't put such gearing on it in the first place proves that that claim is wrong.  Imagine the sales they would get if they could advertise a truck that does everything the current model does, and also use half the fuel when lightly loaded!  And it would cost them almost nothing in manufacturing cost to change the gearing.




Most new pickups already come with an overdrive, but it is the older vehicles that usually have poorer fuel economy than the new vehicles that need the auxiliary transmission.
Some of the new vehicles have 5 & 6 speed transmissions to help increase fuel economy.
Low income folks are usually the ones driving the old gas hogs and they can't afford the 20-40k price of a new vehicle. A 2-3k auxiliary transmission would be a big help to them by keeping the cost reasonable and giving them much better fuel economy.
Maybe the "Government" could institute a program of financial assistance for these folks to increasae their fuel milage and decrease their fuel costs and consumption?

New (2006) GM Silverado pickups with overdrive barely get 15mpg now.

The '77 model you refer as an example to is a rolling smokestack and incredibly inefficient anyway (carbureted , pushrod, cast iron block, shot catalytic converter assuming it wasn't built for regular gas, etc), and should be scrapped immediately anyway.
80% of automobile pollution comes from just 20% of the vehicles on the road.  
Guess which 20%?

While weight is a factor horsepower is a bigger factor. 1 gallon in 6 is burned when the vehicle is not moving. That's nearly 2,000,000 bbl/d!!!
OK, so reduce engine size to zero and save 1/6.  Or reduce mass to 1/2 and save 1/2.  What's more important?

That said, I agree that the engines in US vehicles are much larger than really needed.  Which also adds weight.  And I agree that US drivers idle their cars unnecessarily, e.g., while parked for shopping.  God forbid the car may heat up (or cool off) a bit.  Of course, shade trees are not usually planted in parking lots.  Too low-tech.  They're so much cheaper than PV panels.

And I agree that US drivers idle their cars unnecessarily, e.g., while parked for shopping.

I think the idling is more to due with sitting in traffic than even our desire to shop.

I was hoping you'd see the benefit of the relatively inexpensive conversion to idle-stop hybrids.
I do. I was just responding to VTpeaknik about when idling occurs.  I can honestly say I rarely see anyone idle their cars and leave to go inside a shopping venue.  I surmise that people are generally just too worried about it being stolen.
Interesting things are supposedly happening with cylinder deactivation for low-torque situations, but you'll have to find refs yourself, don't remember where I read that.
The graph only goes down to 2000# and the last data point seems to be at 2600#. We must be in Murica.
Actually, the main predictors of fuel economy are weight in city driving, and aerodynamic drag in highway driving.  Since frontal area and drag coefficient play a big role in aerodynamic drag, aerodynamic drag increases with the square of the velocity, and heavy vehicles tend to have poor aerodynamics as well, it shouldn't be surprising that massive vehicles tend to have poor city mileage (due to mass) and poor highway mileage (due to air drag) at the same time.  

As the RMI's Hypercar page on aerodynamics puts it:
"Regardless of its slipperiness, an American car the size of a Ford Taurus moves about 6 tons of air out of its way per mile. It takes power to displace that air. Air drag consumes about 30 percent of the engine's power in the city, rising to 60-70 percent on the highway (as air resistance rises and other losses, such as braking, are reduced)."

With freeway driving, the aerodynamic drag does go up in proportion to the square of the speed. But, here's the kicker. The horsepower required goes up in proportion to the CUBE of the velocity! Why, you have to up the gear ratio by two to double speed with the same engine RPM. And that's at the same time you need to quadruple the torque at the axle.

My Kia has a 100hp engine and a rated top speed of 100mph. (never mind it'll take half an hour to attain it!) To get the same car to attain 200mph, it'll take an 800hp engine. Covering twice the distance, it would have 1/4 the mpg compared to 100mph. Note the speed and power is comparable to a NASCAR car in this example.

On another site, there was a model done that accurately predicted a drop in Wal-Mart sales this year.  The purpose of the model was to see if a peak in energy could be captured by predicting a peak in a company's sales dependent on cheap energy. The sample company was Wal-Mart.  Interesting idea and model for any interested.


The media seems to feel that Wal-Mart's drop in profit is the result of the corporate behemoth's disastrous invasion of Germany, not higher energy prices.

No matter.  It'll catch up with them soon enough.


This has also been reported by German media. It is quite interesting why Walmart failed in Germany, but that's really off-topic.

Walmart stated the withdrawel from Germany had cost them 863 million dollars, which would explain the drop in profits indeed.

Is the drop in profits or same store sales?  Profits would be hit by the loss in Germany and by higher energy prices (assuming Wal-mart just doesn't force its suppliers to lower labor costs).  A drop in same store sales could be caused by energy costs hitting the lower classes hard and making it so they do without.
Any links to these interesting ideas?
"The Politics of Dancing"

As far as I can determine, this is the FIRST Wang Chung reference to appear on TOD. Can anyone cite a previous one?

I don't get the reference, either to the Chinese philospher, general or British 80s new-wave group?

On the other hand I was very suprised to see TOD leading with a quote from one of my favourite electronic music producers Matthew Herbert!

We'll all have to wait a little longer for a first TOD Wang Chung reference.  "Politics of Dancing" is actually by Re-Flex, not Wang Chung.
OK, I'll do the honors.  How's this:  um, lets see...  Richard Heinberg was overheard to say "Everybody have fun tonight, everybody Wang Chung tonight," because the party's over.
I just love the 80s, especially the music.
It's baack! Nuclear pitch for oil sands
An upstart Alberta company, which includes oil patch heavy hitter Hank Swartout as a backer, has a deal with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to market the Candu nuclear reactor to firms in Calgary looking to operate oil sands projects.
DETROIT - Just a few years ago, the subcompact car in America was a tiny, cheap econobox with a noisy engine and no frills that few people wanted to buy.


Maybe it's this thinking the "econo boxes" are cheap that hampers Detroit thinking.  My brand new when I bought it 2001 Tiburon by Hyundai was a thrill to drive and I enjoyed it.  It wasn't tiny, it was comfortable & I know it wasn't noisy.  This was a korean import and the japanese realized a long time ago that small doesn't mean cheap.  My replacement car was a 2 dr civic and it cost slightly more almost 4 yrs later.  Just a few years ago?  Someone is out of touch.


DETROIT - Just a few years ago, the American subcompact car in America was a tiny, cheap econobox with a noisy engine and no frills that few people wanted to buy.

I think that was intentional: the US manufacturers, because they had such bad products on the small end, wanted to convey the social message that only losers would drive a small car: changing the market.

Their large cars are better and their profitability on wasteful trucks even higher.

Why else does Europe get the new Ford Focus, which apparently is quite good, and the US for 2007 will be stuck with the same car from 2000?

This is reinforced by the large fleet sales of stripped, boring, dreadful automatic-transmission-anaesthesized American small cars to rental fleets.

Ford is one of the worst run auto co's today.  They wanted to make a minor functioning repair to the front end of the new fusion and I remember reading it would take 7 months before they would show up in a showroom.  That's just too slow to make an extremely minor change.
Having noticed a trickling down of oil prices lately, I began to wonder.  Since supply and demand seem to be pretty tight, and it's generally agreed upon that this is the cause of the high prices, it would therefore seem likely that a small drop in demand would cause an amplified drop in prices.  So how much will the end of "driving season" in the US affect prices?
Don't the refineries have to start making heating oil pretty soon?
I've been mulling that over for a bit...is there a lull between "gasoline season" and "heating oil season"?  This would be a good point for Westexas or someone to jump in with a flurry of graphs, but I suspect it won't happen.
On the ethanol front:  For a car which has been built specifically to run only ethanol as a fuel, what is the lowest proof at which one would be able to operate?
I know you have been asking this question without getting an answer. I don't personally know. I don't think there is a problem running at 190 proof, and this is an important break point. To get from 190 proof (95% alcohol) to 200 proof requires that the ethanol/water azeotrope be broken, and that requires a bit of extra work. I know that some of the ethanol in Brazil is classified at hydrated, but I haven't seen how much water that entails. Of course, more water in the ethanol obviously means less energy content.
Yeah, I figured I'd drop it in a fresh thread and see if anyone came up with anything.  I just did some quick googling for "hydrated ethanol" and came up with numbers such as 5% and 8% water content (googling is all about knowing a piece of what you're looking for), so that's interesting.  I'm not an ethanol advocate, the destruction of the topsoil and aquifer depletion just isn't worth it, but I'd be willing to venture a guess that an engine with a sky-high compression ratio and special injectors, maybe a few other tricks, could run on something down to 150 proof.  While there may be less energy content because of the water, less would have to go into distilling it (which I'd imagine should radically change the EROEI).  I don't know exactly what that means for the water in the combustion chamber though(i.e. whether it'd absorb so much heat as to wipe out the gain from not distilling).  It's probably worth noting that hot rodders have been using water injection for a looong time in super tweaked tweaked engines to control detonation.  Here's one system: http://www.aquamist.co.uk/  Then again, the "beauty of ethanol" is it being a "drop in" replacement, so a highly modified engine would probably not be feasable.  Would be interesting to know how that would change things however.


"With proper attention to engine conversion techniques, you can expect to achieve exactly the same or possibly better gas mileage with 160 proof proof ethanol as you do with gasoline."

FORGET THE GAS PUMPS--MAKE YOUR OWN FUEL by Jim Wortham & Barbara Whitener, Madison, Indiana: Marathon International Book Company, 1979     ISBN 0-915216-43-4 on page 23 also advocates 160 proof ethanol for car engines tuned for ethanol use.


states in question and answer form:

"Q. What is the octane rating of 180 proof ethanol?

A. 180 proof ethanol is equivalent to 105 octane. You would need to modify your engine to run a fuel this powerful. This involves carburation (or fuel injection) and timing."

"With proper attention to engine conversion techniques, you can expect to achieve exactly the same or possibly better gas mileage with 160 proof proof ethanol as you do with gasoline."

That claim is not remotely credible. Pure ethanol has about 75,000 BTUs/gal, versus 125,000 for gasoline. But 160 proof, 80%, is only going to have 60,000 BTUs, or less than half that of gasoline. Whomever made that claim must have been imbibing some of that 160 proof.

Actually, now that I think about it, the net BTUs will be even lower than 60,000, because a portion of that energy is going to be required to boil the 20% water in the alcohol. I am too tired to go to the trouble of calculating the net, but suffice to say that you aren't going to get half the mileage from 160 proof that you do from gasoline.
Just for argument's sake, let's say that the 160 proof has 60,000 BTU available as compared to 125,000 BTU for gasoline.  You can get more out of the 60,000 BTU ethanol than you can for the 125,000 BTU gasoline...because of the octane rating.  Today's flex fuel vehicles are set up to run on gasoline but they just happen to be able to use ethanol...they're just not good at it.  An engine specific to ethanol could be built smaller and lighter with a high static compression ratio and would be suitible for turbocharging (again, smaller and lighter, with better volumetric efficiency).  So while the gas vehicle may get 20 mpg, the ethanol vehicle might get 12 mpg...the ethanol vehicle would win because it's getting more miles per equivalent BTU.
You can get more out of the 60,000 BTU ethanol than you can for the 125,000 BTU gasoline...because of the octane rating.

No. With a higher compression engine, you could get more work out of 60,000 BTUs of ethanol than you can out of 60,000 BTUs of gasoline. But no way can you close the gap and get as much from 60,000 BTUs of ethanol that you can from 125,000 BTUs of gasoline. This seems to be what you are saying.

The Saab Bio-power, optimized for E85 with a higher compression ratio and running on E85 (with 25% fewer BTUs) still gets 12.5% less fuel efficiency than it does when running on gasoline (although Vinod Khosla told me it was 18% less, the press release from Saab implied 12.5%). Throw in 20% water, and that gap is going to go way up.

With a higher compression engine, you could get more work out of 60,000 BTUs of ethanol than you can out of 60,000 BTUs of gasoline.

That is exactly what I'm trying to say (see my fake fuel mileages toward the bottom of that post).  If you had 60,000BTU's of ethanol (or any higher octane fuel for that matter) and 60,000BTU's of gasoline (or any fuel of lower octane)...you can make a car run farther on the 60,000 BTU's of higher octane fuel than you can on the lower octane fuel because you will be able to convert the higher octane fuel more efficiently.

The Saab Bio-power, optimized for E85 with a higher compression ratio and running on E85 (with 25% fewer BTUs) still gets 12.5% less fuel efficiency than it does when running on gasoline (although Vinod Khosla told me it was 18% less, the press release from Saab implied 12.5%).

Though the Bio-power gets 12.5% less miles per gallon, it should be getting 25% less on a BTU basis.  More gallons might be going out the tailpipe...but it's using BTU's 16% more efficiently.  Isn't a 16% increase in efficiency a good thing?  More for less.

More gallons might be going out the tailpipe...but it's using BTU's 16% more efficiently.  Isn't a 16% increase in efficiency a good thing?  More for less.

Right, but the point is that you aren't going to make up a 50% loss in BTUs, as the original article claimed. That's my point.

Also remember that the Saab BioPower makes 20% more power on E85 (IIRC). So you could downsize the 2 litres to 1.67 litres and still get the same power as the 2 litre on gas. The mpg cost would then not be 18% but a mere 2%.
Yeah, I have agreed that in principle, it should be possible. I am just waiting for someone to actually do it before I will say it can be done. There may be some other technicality that comes into play.

This is what I'm talking about when I mention turbo(super)charging, octane, high compression and the like.  This car has been modified to take advantage of, in this instance, supercharging (and a LOT of it).  This is a civic that makes 487 horsepower.  I have the same base engine that he started out with and mine makes 105 hp.  Now this guy did a lot of things to beef up the components to take the power which took the displacement down .06 liters with a destroked crank and longer con rods.  But here's the point...it's a 487 horsepower car that gets 30mpg  my same car has 105 horsepower at 37mpg.  That's a 382 horsepower and a mere 7 mpg difference.

If you took those same techniques and cut the cylinders in half...to two cylinders (half the displacement) you could (though usually things don't work out quite so linearly) have an engine which is 800cc and 243 horsepower.  What you wind up having is an engine with great peak horsepower, but using it's volume more efficiently more of the time.  It may not double the fuel mileage, but it'd probably be more fuel efficient than the original 1.6 liter 105 horsepower engine while making more than twice the power.

The extension into ethanol would be that the greater octane would allow you to push the limits of that further.

A classic real world example of this can be seen in the new Pontiac Solstice.

The base model Pontiac Solstice has a 2.4L engine, makes 177hp, and gets 20/28 mpg.

The GXP Solstice has a 2.0L Turbo engine, makes 260hp, and gets 22/31 mpg.

The GXP does however cost $5500 extra.


Funny that GM would make you pay more for better mileage.  The Japanese seem to have an opposite POV and are printing cash.  Hmmmm....
Whoops! That last reference should read:


Hi All .. usually I don't post as  have no real "facts and data" to contribute but I want to comment on the issue of Venezuela and the USA's global view.  In March I strayed down to Virginia Beach, a long way for this Canuck.  Aside from once again being reminded that Americans at home are very friendly generous people I saw a bit of why the USA is such a problem for the world.  Once you see all the military power concentrated there (four nuke aircraft carriers side by side for instance) you can understand why americans have such faith in their military power.  As well there was an article in a right wing paper detailing the projected sailing of the USS George Washington leading a training squadron into the Carribean Sea.  The writers comment was rougly "this will scare those Venezuelans to mess with our oil".  The discussion of the Cuban development of oil is framed in the same tone.  The only reasuring thing for the world is that hurricane Katrina showed that US resources are limited and that everyone cant be attacked at the same time.  As many of the problems related to peak oil originate with the USA, so would the real solutions.  However I am not very optimistic that this will happen voluntarily.
By the way, I have checked the TOD Canada and it seems to be an empty page.  Unlike the agressive Americans, we Canadians seem to have our heads in the tar sands, dreaming we are ok.
Regarding the article citing an exodus from the South due to climate change, is anyone here considering relocating?  My wife is in the process of applying for master's programs (which will necessitate a move), and while she researches schools, I research climates and job markets.  Hopefully she'll be accepted somewhere in upstate New York, but anywhere north of here (Tulsa, Oklahoma) is looking good right now.  So far this month, we've had four days with high temperatures under 100 F (38 C).  It makes this town a lot less livable than it used to be.

I grew up in Tulsa. The high temperatures that you're seeing are not new. One summer when I was home from college (might have been 1980), Tulsa "experienced" temperatures over 100 degrees F for thirty days in a row.  That was the one summer that I actually worked for an oil company!   Hope you find a cooler place to live, soon.


1980 was the hottest summer we've ever had down here in Georgia. Some days hit 108 degrees. We still talk about it. Most records still date from that year.
You cannot use that year as a baseline, it was extremely unusual.
I think that I don't mean to use 1980 as a baseline; rather, I would say that it is hard to know for sure whether Oklahoma is just now, based on this one very hot year (I was in Choctaw for the 4th of July, so I know it's been hot there!), becoming unbearably hot. It's been that way before.  I would really want to base a such a big claim on "becoming" on more years (decades?) of data. Of course, Tsulio's assessment is probably correct!

The drought there has been awful, too. This last winter, in the central part of the state, my younger sister had to cut down her cedar trees since they are such a fire hazard. Now, she has less shade, so her house is hotter, so she's running the AC more...it's a bummer.

I think that I don't mean to use 1980 as a baseline; rather, I would say that it is hard to know for sure whether Oklahoma is just now, based on this one very hot year (I was in Choctaw for the 4th of July, so I know it's been hot there!), becoming unbearably hot.

Hi Amy,

I was born in Hugo, OK and raised on a ranch outside town. When I was 10-12 years old, which would have been about 1980, I delivered newspapers to the downtown businesses. I remember one summer when the temperatures on the downtown bank displays stayed in the 110-115 range for quite some time. Most of my relatives are still down there, and they tell me it has been a hot, miserable summer. But at least they have air conditioning now, unlike when I was a kid.

Electricity prices have to go up. It is the only solution.
Heard a piece on the BBC. Agreed with Simon Jenkins. About air travel. There's a lot of things that have to change.
Wasn't 1980 the year that Pinatubo (sp) erupted and spewed large amounts of dust/ash into the upper atmosphere? If I recall, the temps that year were blamed on that eruption. I do remember the intense sunsets that fall - I was fortunate to be living on the water in St. Pete Fl and every evening was a light show.
I have no reason to stay where I am.  My fiance and I will move north/northwest I believe.  I would love close to the ocean, but the east coast and south are of no interest.  There are only two states that I like and a third that might work too if it weren't for brutal winters that may make it hard to stay warm at times.
Big Gav has a post up at Peak Energy about The War On Hair Gel

As he puts it:

Grist has an interesting piece on "The Priest and the Prophet", which contrasts the "cradle to cradle" green industrial revolution vision of Bill McDonough that Viridian types advocate, versus the apocalyptic vision of ecological collapse promoted by Derrick Jensen in his book "Endgame" (which I noted being promoted at Cryptogon, of all places, replacing his nifty "President Death" logo).
SW Portland Oregon PO community discussion:  survey results

Thanks Westexas and AMPofD for helpful comments on the mini-survey I conducted Tuesday evening here in SW Portland Oregon suburbs.  About 20 people (mostly older, retired, moderate-income, civic-minded, a bit more on the liberal side politically (judging from post-film discussion)) turned out to see "The End of Suburbia" and stayed for an hour discussion afterward.  It was a community meeting sanctioned by my town's City Administrator at a local historical center.

I asked them to take a voluntary, anonymous, brief survey beforehand.  A few results are intriguing, and while I would certainly not make a big deal of these data, they are somewhat better than mere anecdote.  In general, the survey results and discussion bolster my sense, about which I've posted, that suburbanites are ready to take some action and make some sacrifices in relation to addressing PO challenges.  They readily grasped the EROEI idea even if most clung to the hope that biofuels could possibly "save" us.  End of Suburbia remains an effective piece for raising PO awareness, and all were interested in a followup meeting in a few months to see the sequel and further discuss PO.  I distributed a handout with useful websites, including TOD of course ;->.

Using a 1-5 scale (1=strongly agree to 5=strongly disagree):

  • people were mildly PO informed (mean of 2.47), but moreso they thought than others in their social circles (3.67)
  • people were not sure we could solve oil depletion-related challenges and maintain our current standard of living (2.93)
  • faith that the federal govt. is taking action is abysmal (4.7)
  • only slightly less lack of faith local govt. leaders are doing anything (3.87)
  • people strongly supported raising CAFE standards (1.33)
  • people were surprisingly willing to support a carbon tax on gasoline (to get to $5/gallon) (2.07)
  • recent higher gasoline prices have not altered their driving or spending behavior much at all
  • all have already taken some energy efficiency steps in the home
  • there is very strong opposition to opening up ANWR or the west coast to oil drilling (4.64)

I won't waste more bandwidth here, but if you want more detail feel free to email me.  

"Last Days on Earth" is a program that could change the way you see your world and yourself.

The world's top scientists, including Stephen Hawking, considered the foremost living theoretical physicist, describe seven riveting scenarios detailing the deadliest threats to humanity.

I'll watch.  I'm sure Hawkings will piss a bunch of people off, but so be it.

I'm sure John Stossel will dismiss any suggestion of resources being limited or the ecosystem being fragile.  I mean, Give Me a Break (tm).
He seems to focus on the nuclear threat to humanity. I am reminded about something I read I think from one of the PO experts who said it's easier for people to conceive of our technology overcoming us rather than having a resource us run out to fuel it. Could PO lead to this like with China? I doubt it. I think the elites care about themselves and wouldn't. But then there's Iran. Or is that just rhetoric, and am I just being caught in the same scare that was formed about Iraq. I don't know.

Does anyone know what happens when people just stop maintaining nuclear power plants? I hope nothing bad. Other things that could could be a threat just because people stop handling them?

Link TV is running Pres Clinton's address to the Global Philanthropy Forum in SF several times tonight and into the morning. He talks about diet changes leading to obesity, the AIDS foundation, and at some length about starting a climate change NGO (non-governmental organization) later this year.

My Xootr had a seized seatpost. While it was being serviced, I got to test ride an Ego electric scooter. The shop owner was only evaluating the Ego, and doesn't really like the idea of electric bikes, but he admitted it probably has some application for going to work. I rode the more expensive LX model, with dual mirrors, horn and turn signals:


The Ego is attractive in photos (IMO), and looks well-built in real life, too. The shop fellow showed me the brakes and what he called a clutch, which was actually more of an electric throttle. It had plenty of pep, but I found a nit.  Even going down hill, throttling back will slow you right down.  Unless that braking is regenerative, not being able to coast is frustrating, if not a waste of energy.  I guess I could get used to it, but I'm working from home right now, so I have no commuting needs.:-) (I eat better, too.)

Interesting. Range 25 miles. 23mph top speed. 100-foot dash in 2.9 sec. 18mph up hills. 5-hr battery charge time. 2-hr fast charge.

List price $1200. Batteries are $180 with shipping. Warranty on batteries is 6 months.

too fast for the sidewalk and too slow for the streets.
But its just right for a clogged freeway full of SUV's trying to commute 30 miles to a McMansion.
actually this kind of vehicle is banned from free-ways. first cop that sees you will at best give you a ticket.
A quick look at the site points out "automatic braking" which will result in the herky-jerky action. Another clue is the motor has brushes, so it likely does not have regenerative braking. You'll have to modify it to put the desired glide back. I agree with you that the herky-jerky action will be maddening and unless it is regenerative, pointless.
It does have regenerative braking, according to the description at Real Goods - "The eGo's regenerative braking system captures your momentum as you ride, recharging the battery and optimizing the DC motor's range..."
Matthew Herbert...something to add to the Peak Oil Soundtrack.

Herbert's last full-length release, 'Plat Du Jour' from 2005, was a highly political concept album that used the food industry as both sonic source material and subject matter. Beneath its deceptively glitzy surface, 'Scale' is no less serious, taking as a key theme the end of the oil era and the violence done in pursuit of this finite fossil fuel. But this is not an angry or even an overtly political record. Much like its sonic experiments, the subtext is subtle and playful.

Guys, I am making a powerpoint presentation on peak oil. Anyone has a link to Yibal production profile/ figure?
Thanks in advance.