EU oil imports set to grow by 29% by 2012

An oil production, consumption, import-export model for the 25 EU states (plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland) is presented, based on data published in the 2006 BP statistical review.

Applying a 0.5% growth in consumption and a 8% production decline rate points to EU oil imports growing from 9.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2005 to 12.6 million bpd by 2012 - an increase of 29% over the next 6 years.

The EU will have to "fight" for these additional resources in an oil import market already hot with competition from the USA, China and other developing countries.

The European Union

The European Union, with a population of around 460 million, consumes over 15 million barrels of oil per day and is the world number two oil consumer after the USA. This article looks at EU oil production and consumption with the aim of establishing future import trends and EU energy security. A recent report has highlighted the fact that EU energy imports are rising and this is happening at a time when Russia is tightening State control over its oil and gas assets.

The EU has 25 member states and has grown in stages since it was formed in 1957:

1957 Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands

1973 Denmark, Ireland, UK

1981 Greece

1986 Portugal, Spain

1990 "East Germany"

1995 Austria, Finland, Sweden

2004 Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia

The European Union

Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are not formally a part of the EU. But these countries are part of the EU trading block and given Norway's strategic importance as an oil and gas exporter to the EU, these countries are included within the statistics reported here. All of the oil import and export figures are taken from the 2006 BP statistical review. This does not provide data listed separately for Latvia, Estonia, Malta, Cyprus and Slovenia. These small countries, therefore, are not included in the database. However, they are so small that their exclusion will not affect any of the conclusions.

Oil production

Including Norway, the EU has 4 significant oil producers - Norway, the UK, Denmark and Italy.

Norway is by far the most important oil export country, with 2005 average production of 3 million bpd, compared with consumption of only 213,000 bpd, Norway is a significant oil export land. Of great significance, however, is the fact that Norwegian oil production peaked in 2001 and is now undergoing rapid decline - 7% in 2005.

Norway: Production, consumption and exports

The UK turned net oil exporter to net oil importer during 2006. The UK therefore, has changed from being part of the EU oil security solution to being part of the oil security problem.

UK: Production, consumption, imports and exports

Denmark, in many ways is a small-scale version of the UK oil story. With a smaller population (5.4 million) and lower oil production than the UK (377,000 bpd average during 2005) Denmark is a significant second tier producer that has exported oil since 1997. However, Danish Oil production looks like it may be peaking. A Hubbert Linearization (HL) performed by Khebab (note that this link goes to Khebab's edit grid spread sheet), points to ultimate recoverable reserves (URR) in Denmark of 3.05 billion barrels of which 1.74 billion have already been produced. Produced oil represents 57% of estimated total recoverable oil and a decline in Danish production may be anticipated in the near future. In 2004, Denmark had produced 50% of the indicated URR

Denmark: Production, consumption, imports and exports

Hubbert linearisation for Denmark provided by Khebab

Italy, is a large industrial nation with a small amount of oil production - 118,000 bpd in 2005. This does not significantly impact upon oil imports in Italy or the EU.

Italy: Production, consumption and imports

Oil production decline model

EU oil production is dominated by the North Sea. The two big players there - the UK and Norway peaked in 1999 and 2001 respectively. Denmark looks like it may have peaked in 2004. These countries, therefore, dominate the oil decline model for the EU.

Norway declined at 7% in 2005.

The UK declined at >10% in 2004 and 2005 and has declined at around 13% so far this year.

Decline in Denmark looks like it is just about to begin.

EU production declined at 8% in 2005.

It looks like decline in Denmark and Norway may accelerate. However, until more data become available with the passage of time, last year's average decline of 8% is applied to the EU production data going forward to 2020. This may turn out to be conservative and may need to be revised in light of new data as it becomes available.

Oil consumption

Two major events have shaped Europe's geo-political and economic development since the end of WWII. The first was the establishment of the EU in 1957 and the second was the fall of the Berlin Wall followed by the Soviet Union in 1989 / 1991. The EU has brought political stability and economic prosperity to Europe.

The big economies, Germany, the UK, France and Italy, all display similar patterns of oil consumption. Sharply rising consumption in the 1960s and early 1970s was curtailed by the twin oil shocks of 1973 and 1979. Following a period of adjustment and reduction in oil consumption (e.g. closing of oil fired power stations) oil consumption stabilised during the mid 1980s and has remained fairly constant ever since. The population of these countries is rising slowly, is aging and per capita consumption of oil is therefore falling slowly.

Oil consumption in the Big 4 EU economies

The big 4: Germany, the UK, France and Italy

Population 260,946,000

Group as % of EU = 56.2%

Oil consumption 2005 = 8,147,000 bpd

Per capita oil consumption = 11.4 barrels per annum

The per capita consumption of the Big 4, is significantly lower than most other groups and this may be related to more wide-spread poverty in large urban areas, higher population densities in the urban areas, economies of scale or redistribution of wealth from large to small countries.

It is note worthy that oil consumption in Germany, France and Italy has been falling in recent years. This may be related to on-going de-industrialisation combined with growing introduction of renewables and conservation related to environmental awareness. Economic growth has also been anaemic within the Euro currency zone that the UK is not a member of.

Between 1965 and 1985, the Northern and Benelux countries displayed a similar pattern of oil consumption to the Big 4 industrials described above. But, after 1985 a curious thing happens. Like the Big 4, the oil consumption in the Northern countries remained stable post 1985. However, consumption in the Benelux countries began to rise steadily. At the present day, oil consumption in the Benelux countries stands at 25.2 barrels per capita per annum - the highest in the EU by far. The reason for this steady growth in oil consumption is not clearly understood but it may be related to growth of petrochemical industries in The Netherlands and Belgium, the presence of large transport hubs such as Schipol airport and affluence flowing from the location of the European parliament in Brussels.

Oil consumtion in Northern and Benelux countries

Benelux countries: Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg

Population 27,183,000

Group as % of EU = 5.8%

Oil consumption 2005 = 1,880,000 bpd

Per capita oil consumption = 25.2 barrels per annum

Northern countries: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark

Population 24,636,000

Group as % of EU = 5.3%

Oil consumption 2005 = 968,000 bpd

Per capita oil consumption = 14.3 barrels per annum

Spain is treated separately from the other large European countries because it exhibits an oil consumption pattern that is quite different to the Big 4. Dictator General Franco ruled Spain until 1975. Following a period of adjustment after Franco's death, Spain was admitted to the EU in 1986. Spain's economy has benefited from EU membership, and the population is still growing steadily, in part due to migration from wealthy northern Europe. Oil consumption in Spain has been rising steadily for the last 20 years. The per capita consumption is now on a par with other wealthy European countries, but oil consumption may continue to rise with continued migration.

Oil consumption in Spain, Small countries and East European countries


Population 43,064,000

Group as % of EU = 9.3%

Oil consumption 2005 = 1,618,000 bpd

Per capita oil consumption = 13.7 barrels per annum

The small countries include Ireland, Portugal and Greece, who like Spain, have benefited from EU membership and have had steadily growing oil consumption for the last 20 years.

Small countries: Austria, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland and Greece

Population 41,204,000

Group as % of EU = 8.9%

Oil consumption 2005 = 1,501,000 bpd

Per capita oil consumption = 13.3 barrels per annum

In terms of oil consumption, the East European group is perhaps the most significant. These six countries were admitted to the EU in 2004 (along with Latvia, Estonia and Slovenia). The oil consumption of these countries plunged with the fall of the Soviet Union and the introduction of market prices for fuel. Today their per capita consumption of oil, 5.2 barrels per annum, is less than half the EU average. With a population of nearly 68 million, and ambition to reach west European living standards, this group of countries represents a powerful driving force for EU oil demand. For East Europe to reach per capita consumption of 10 barrels per annum would add around 1 million barrels per day to EU oil consumption.

East Europe: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Lithuania

Population 67,680,000

Group as % of EU = 14.6%

Oil consumption 2005 = 969,000 bpd

Per capita oil consumption = 5.2 barrels per annum

Oil demand model

Attempting to forecast future demand for oil in Europe is in fact much more difficult than trying to forecast oil production decline. Two possible scenarios are envisaged. One where the status quo prevails and ample supplies of liquid fuel remain available at reasonable price for the foreseeable future. In this scenario, increasing awareness of climate change and introduction of more renewable energy (bio-fuels) may continue to slowly drive down demand for oil amongst the Big 4 and northern countries. This falling demand may be offset by rising demand in East Europe and the Mediterranean countries - Portugal, Spain and Greece. These trends have been established for several years and point to demand increasing at a rate of about 0.5% per annum and this is the demand growth used in the EU oil import model.

The second scenario is one where competition for fuel leads to sharply higher energy prices, inflation, recession and reduced demand. Only time will tell whether the status quo will prevail or not. Personally, I consider this latter scenario increasingly likely approaching 2012±3 years, which is when I believe the World will witness peak oil production.

Oil import model for the EU + Norway

EU energy security linked to North Sea production

Prior to 1975 the EU states imported virtually all of their oil. With North Sea oil production, dependency upon imported oil had fallen to below 60% by the late 1990s. In the year 2000, however, the import dependency curve turned and started to rise and will continue to rise sharply for the foreseeable future.

EU dependency upon imported oil fell during the 1980s and 90s. But the trend changed with peak EU oil production in 2000 and from now on, the EU will become increasingly dependent upon oil imports

Falling oil prices through the 1980s and 90s mirror decreasing dependency of the EU on imported oil. The turning point in oil prices and their recent rise is also mirrored by rising depdendency of the EU on imported oil. The global oil market is obviously more complex than this, but falling North Sea production - which is set to continue - is one key factor that explains current high oil prices. Oil price data, annual averages, 2005 base, from BP 2006 statistical review.

In the period leading up to 1995 the World had ample surplus oil production capacity and EU dependency upon imports was falling. Now, surplus capacity has narrowed significantly and EU dependency upon imports is rising. If the status quo prevails, then the EU may need to import an additional 2.8 million bpd by 2012. This represents a rise of 29% in imported oil over a six year period that needs to be set against a backdrop of falling production in many oil export lands. The EU will need to use its economic and diplomatic muscle to fight for new supplies from emerging export countries such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Angola where it has to be noted that BP and Total already have a significant presence.

Finally, it is worth noting that in a general sense, the fall in oil price from 1980 to 1998 correlates with falling dependency of the EU on oil imported from outside of Europe. The oil price low of 1998 falls close to the EU oil production peak in 2000 and the rise in oil prices since correlates with increasing dependency of the EU on imported oil. Of course there are many other variables that have contributed to the oil price evolution. However, at peak in the year 2000, the EU produced over 6.2 million bpd and I believe that when oil production in the world's number two consumer started to fall that this has had and will continue to have a significant influence upon the oil price. Put more simply, rising oil production in the North Sea correlates with falling oil prices, but since the North Sea peaked in 2000, oil prices have begun to rise again.

KSA, Russia and Norway probably account for close to half of net world oil exports.  Based on the most recent EIA data, I estimate that their combined net crude + condensate exports are currently falling at annual rate of about 3%.  (I assumed that their 2006 crude + condensate consumption was about the same as 2004 total liquids consumption).

I focused on these three countries in my original January, 2006 post on net exports because they were--based on Khebab's HL work--well past the 50% of Qt mark.  

IMO, Russian data continue to be a problem.  I have repeatedly wondered about the reliability of the reported production numbers, and the EIA has recently revised Russia's 12/05 to 6/06 cumulative oil production downward by about 50 million barrels.

In any case, collectively these three regions are showing declining production and declining exports, despite historically high (nominal) oil prices.  


I've read comments from you that Russian production is reported to be increasing, while Russian export currently are declining.

Out of the blue:
Could the Russian be building up tank farms like SA? As far as my understanding goes, there is some concensus in Russia that it's unwise to flood revenues from oil into the domestic economy. So as an alternative i would think it could be natural that the Russians would wish to have an strategic reserve - or maybe not - would the world biggest oil producer spend money on maintaining a strategic reserve? I see that such idea might be plain stupid, but i appreciate comments.

Regretably i presently don't have opportunity to get the numbers (production, domestic consumption, export) which hopefully would riducule or justify such assertion. Well, the data is poor anyway.

Hi Papirus, strategic oil reserve in russia -

two thoughts spring to mind -
- one is that Russia is reported to be setting up a state oil fund to invest surplus taxes. whether this has actually happened is difficult to see yet. This is logically a better
investment than tank farms
- secondly, if you are sitting on huge reserves, why would you not simply leave the oil in the ground and pump less. I'm not sure it makes sense to build a lot of storage above ground.

if you are sitting on huge reserves, why would you not simply leave the oil in the ground and pump less

Strategic flexibility at some future date, perhaps?  Peak oil is about limits on the rate of production, not reserves.  If you anticipate the world entering a mode in which the oil market is driven by constraints on rate of production (including your own), then having a reserve from which you can release or withhold oil allows you to be, effectively, a swing producer.  That's a very powerful position to be in.

Installing a second pump in your tank is far easier than doubling or tripling your count of mile deep wells to suck oil from tiny crevices in the rock little by little.

It makes good peacetime sense to install storage aboveground, if you're planning on using it strategically.

Actually do agree that there are benefits for above ground storage - but I see these as more on the demand side than the supply side of the equation. It is extremely interesting for countries with an oil deficit to build such storage sites for security of supply reasons, but can't see it for a major exporter. Russia has also shown no tendency towards trying to influence prices downwards. To my mind therefore the ability to hugely increase export rates from a storage site at short notice might be less critical ? (this is a question).

Going the other way - ie. reducing production to manipulate the market - I stand by my view that its easier to simply produce less for a while. :) This is what opec does.

Ever consider that exporting countries building reserves may not be doing it to quickly work the market, but rather are storing above ground supplies in preparation for quick mobilization for their own use?

War would be an obvious reason to have those oil supplies at the ready.  Since WWI and WWII proved that rapid ramp up in industrial ability and the ability to mobilize quickly, even if the target of a first strike, is critical to getting on a winning footing, then I could easily see the Russians or other nations wanting to have an oil supply which can be used rapidly and not be dependent on geology at hand.

Not everything is about market warfare, and I think there are a lot of players getting more nervous about energy than what is let on.

In mutually offensive wars, a cubic kilometer of oil in one place is among the first targets of missile or air attacks.  Which is why I said it makes peacetime sense.
> It is extremely interesting for countries with an oil deficit to build such storage sites for security of supply reasons, but can't see it for a major exporter

  1. Russia oil assets can be thousands of miles from population centers and ports capable of loading tankers. Should Russia experience a technical issue that prevents them from tranporting oil from its fields, the SPR can be called upon for the emergency.

  2. Exporters typically have long term contracts with customers. A distruption could be costly for them

  3. Some fields are located in northern regions. A severe cold snap could force a temporary production shutdown.
The current issue of the Oil & Gas Journal has some interesting numbers regarding  total EU energy production, consumption and imports.

Although consumption did not increase from 2004 to 2005, total energy production fell 4.5% from 2004 to 2005, pushing up imports from 54% of consumption to 56%.  Not a promising trend.

Crude oil production, -9%;
Gas production, -5.8%;
Coal, -5.7%;
Nuclear, -1.3%.  

2005 total energy consumption per capita (Tonnes of Oil Equivalent, TOE):  

EU, 3.6 TOE
Japan, 4.1 TOE
US, 7.8 TOE (We're #1!; We're #1!)

I think the conversion factor is about 7.3 barrels/tonne.  IMO, the EU is going to be able handle higher energy prices much better than the US; however, the export/import trend is not promising (for any energy importer).

This is one reason the EU, in general, seems so accomodating to people like the Russians, the Iranians, the Libyans, the Nigerians, etc. And at the same time, so motivated in searching for alternatives.

But the current American method, as practiced in Iraq, does not seem so promising, either in terms of oil production, or in improving the lives of Iraqis.

Europeans are very cynical, we could both agree - they would rather buy off dictators than smash societies. In part, this comes from European experience in doing such smashing in the past, and then getting nothing but ruin in return.

The wheel turns - Europeans now believe a standing military and the willingness to use it a handicap in terms of their well being, while America is abandoning exactly what a number of its founders thought important, such as avoiding the waste of having a standing military absorbing taxes, requiring government to tax its citizens heavily, or go into debt. Further, the founders in general sought to prevent a class of people arising who think military glory is a worthwhile goal (this included General Washington, by the way) - shocking how many of the founders were opposed to the military as an institution - I guess that comes from being occupied by what they thought to be an unjust power unconcerned about the will of people who had to pay the bills in blood and money.

Europeans now believe a standing military and the willingness to use it a handicap in terms of their well being

A belief that has largely been backed by a military presence of the US in Europe.  I wonder if they would be so quick to think like this if the US left NATO, or perhaps even more importantly, left NATO during the Cold War.

Also how much strain is removed from European governments in terms of defense funding due to the provision of their protection being handled by the US?  Could some of these already highly taxed European societies manage to raise taxes further to sustain an Army capable of making their diplomatic, and self defense threats/promises viable?

You make it sound like charity, while both sides in the cold war had a clear strategic interest in maintaining military presence in "their" respective parts of Europe. It was unrestrained military buildup that turned Europe into lesser powers.

Who is a military threat to Europe, by the way? European countries taken together have more soldiers than the US, and enough high-tech toys to put out small fires. For anyone with conqueror ambitions, the bomb is a sufficient deterrent. Not having an army suitable for conquest is one temptation less for the ruling elites.

You make it sound like charity, while both sides in the cold war had a clear strategic interest in maintaining military presence in "their" respective parts of Europe.

Not meaning to make it sound like charity.  I understand the strategic importance for the US to have been present when they were.  However I think Europeans of late, due to the anti-Americanism, take for granted the defense edge they have which is provided by American forces.

European countries taken together have more soldiers than the US, and enough high-tech toys to put out small fires.

More soldiers may be useful, but how well trained?  Britain certainly has some well trained units, but how does say Spain, or Greece compare?

As for toys... how many of those toys were sold to the Europeans after American tax dollars funded the research.  Granted there are weapons divisions in Europe, but most of their toys were bought from American defense contractors.

I'm not trying to take anything away from European defense forces.  They have some fine soldiers, and are worthwhile allies.  But don't go marginalizing the benefits that the US has provided Europe simply because you disagree with the current actions of the US.

I'll also be really curious what Russian removal of resources will do to promote European hegemony under the EU banner.  I could easily see the EU becoming a LOT more Imperial once resource rich countries start looking after themselves, and all those diplomatic deals start to fall through.  What would a few cold winters or record breaking summers without steady energy do to motivate the EU towards militarism?  Ugly thought, but certainly not unthinkable.

Actually European defence technology is mostly home grown.

The reason being nationalism, and also the Americans refuse to sell us the latest stuff-- the only country that gets that is Israel (which then sells it to China ;-).  They won't even let British companies have it-- you know the people standing beside you in Iraq. (we are seriously talking about pulling out of the Joint Strike Fighter over access to the software).

It's inefficient, we run higher costs because we don't have your economies of scale and volume platforms.  The separate national fiefdoms bugger us. But we do have our own weapon systems technology (in some areas clearly superior eg conventional submarines, some forms of artillery and light armoured vehicle etc.).

We (UK) use your nuclear systems, but we were offered the chance to co-develop with the French, and went with the US.

Put it another way, there is no 'Europe' on defence, what there is is different nations of different force projection capability.  Its unsurprising the world didn't want the Germans to develop force projection (but they had the best armoured forces in NATO).

We don't spend as high proportions of GDP on defence, but then our labour costs are generally lower, too.  What we don't get is your economies of scale.

I don't think Europe is likely to get 'Imperial'.

I do think Europe is likely to strike its own deals with oil-producing states, not necessarily to the US's liking.

A lot of oil producers don't want to be dependent on the US alone, either as a customer or as protection.  Hence the Saudis buy their air force from us (the BAe Al Yamamah II project) not from the USA.

This has bearing on the Palestinian problem, and also Venezuela, amongst others.  Interests will diverge.

However I think Europeans of late, due to the anti-Americanism, take for granted the defense edge they have which is provided by American forces.

Anti-Americanism that is partially motivated by a different view on the effectivity of armed intervention. So I think the difference in strategical choices motivates the anti-US-sentiments rather than the other way around.

I'll also be really curious what Russian removal of resources will do to promote European hegemony under the EU banner.  I could easily see the EU becoming a LOT more Imperial once resource rich countries start looking after themselves, and all those diplomatic deals start to fall through.  What would a few cold winters or record breaking summers without steady energy do to motivate the EU towards militarism?  Ugly thought, but certainly not unthinkable.

Conquering and occupying an already much more militaristic Russia or parts thereof? Whoever thinks that would work, let alone yield a net energy benefit deserves to become history instantly. Besides, the Baltic and the Black Sea are very nice blockade points even without large forces.
In any case, for the foreseeable future (which is short) Russia and the EU have needs and abilities that are complementary. There's no use in rushing to make enemies.
But the US did away with conscription, and Europe didn't.

That raised apparent US defence spending, and suppressed apparent European spending.  But in terms of diversion of what were, in fact, smaller GDPs, Europe was holding its end up.  

And the basing infrastructure was on European soil, and therefore 'free'.

The US was pursuing a strategy of forward defence: fighting the next war on someone else's soil.  A good strategy to be sure, but hardly altruistic.

And to think once upon a time, the Royal Navy felt exactly the same way about the Americans enjoying the benefits of HMS fleet, without paying a farthing (or pence? or shilling?).

Except of course, when the American merchants were not allowed to trade with areas the Royal Navy thought its own to protect - try the opium trade.

See where this is leading? Americans keep talking about the 'protection' they are so graciously providing to nations who don't want it (not that Europeans won't take it when it meets their interests, of course - just like American merchant ships did in the past). Of course, if Europeans where as enlightened as Americans, they would have supported the Iraqi invasion, instead of opposing an invasion considered illegal by many, by margins ranging from 60% to 90%.

Amazing how many Americans tend to view European opposition to such a shining success story in the Middle East (how many dead and tortured Iraqis this week? Who knows and who cares seems to be the general American attitude) as anti-Americanism, from some unnamed 'elites.' I guess the Europeans have the misfortune of belonging to that reality based community which the Bush League swept aside in their triumph of will.

I guess the idea that Iraq was a stupid strategic move of the type which only later generations can fully measure is hard for many Americans to accept, especially as the former world champions in invading and exploiting other societies said it was a stupid idea before it happened, while it is happening, and will undoubtedly lead to them to remark on its stupidity for generations into the future.

Unless the problem is that the press isn't reporting the success stories in Iraq, of course. What a comforting thought, that the problems in Iraq are the media, and anti-Americanism in Europe.

Though anti-Americanism among the Iraqis does seem to keep growing, doesn't it? I guess that is because Iraqis just don't understand how wonderful a 20mm armor piercing round through the window (and just coincidentally, through a family member) is, or what a friend a 500 lb through your roof is (it brings a whole meaning to having a blast at home). Really, such people are so ungrateful of the American protection they are now enjoying, without even having asked for it. Americans are just so misunderstood, and all they get for their generosity is resentment and abuse.

Must be real hard living with yourself as an American these days, knowing that all your niceness is so misconstrued. Lucky you can just snatch a few people off the street and torture them to reassure yourself of America's goodness in fighting the good fight, regardless of what other people think.

I wouldn't dispute much of what you say here. Clearly American 'protection' of various nations, shipping routes, etc. has a primarily selfish motive. It has also clearly been harmful to those on the receiving end of American justice, rightly or wrongly.

However, I don't think you can deny that there have been benfits as well. So it all comes down to an accounting of how much good versus how much bad, minus what would have happened if the US didn't try to police the world. Clearly this is too complicated.

More crucially it is entirely subjective. It all depends on what you value and how you think it would have turned out otherwise.

I do think US foreign policy lately has been a disaster and a net negative. Americans need to take an accounting of what has happened and what is the best course of action for the future.

But even if you accept your claim at face value, it is not clear what would be the best course of action for the US, or the world. Do you think another round of American isolationism is the ideal answer, or that the UN could effectively run the whole show? As much as yuo can rightly tout increasing gloal anti-Americanism, I can assure yuo that what US leaders are told behind closed doors in not the same thing.

Asians love to be able to count on the protection of the US, which they can criticize while cuddling up to China. But they know China would not look so cuddly if the US went home. If that happened it would set off an arms race here and could lead to regional conflicts. Then who would intervene?

How effective has Europe been at stopping problems, even in their own back yard?

Again, I am not claiming that what you have said is wrong, only that it is easy to find faults. I think you live in Germany. Didn't they have a go at running the world? How did that work out? How can Germans live with themselves?

These are excellent questions.

I think, on the whole, that Europeans were fairly comfortable with the military role played by the US during the Clinton era (not trying to personalize this, still less to become party-political! Just a matter of historical dating, you understand?)

i.e. this "global policeman" thing, while a lot of the intellectuals didn't like it at the time, was not contested by the "European street", and sure as hell looks like a golden age now. The US engineered an end to armed conflict in the Balkans, and truly put Europeans to shame in doing so.

In the meantime, Europe as a defense community struggles to get any traction (Rumsfeld splitting it down the middle over the Iraq war is probably the proximate cause of this, and this paralysis was undoubtedly his aim). It'll take time to get co-ordinated, but the UK and France have the technology, know-how and logistics to form the backbone of a credible Euro force, filled out by the other members. It can certainly defend its own territory, and project a viable presence anywhere in the world. For the life of me I can't see why Europe actually needs to go begging cap in hand to the US to defend it (against whom?)

For the US : The worst possible outcome, for the world in general, would for the US to go into an isolationist phase. The best possible outcome (my preference) would be Wes Clark as president -- he understands this stuff. (Any other general, Dem or Rep, would be a good second choice).

I agree the the acceptable period under Clinton now looks like a golden age and feel a temptation to want to go back to it. But I also think that is now futile. It was broken then, but could be sustained because it still functioned and other options looked worse.

But tacit bargains can't be expected to endure. The US post war role worked while it was needed and the pain of not having a policeman was fresh in people's minds.

The bargain is no longer valid. It now needs to be reformed or undone. I agree that Europe no longer needs defending as it is hard to image today's Russia or anyone else invading.

Perhaps the best option is a Clinton type approach - Wes Clark's version of I feel your pain involunatry world policemanism. Clearly that would be better than what we have now.

Or maybe it would be best to the US to adopt a tempory isolationist stance. Would the shit hit the fan and the world call for the US to come back, or would they party to the theme of good riddance for generations.

Again, I don't know. My main points here are that this situation is compex, we don't know the alternaives and the consequances are huge. It is easy to follow one's emotions to one extreme or the other. I could argue either ideological extreme now or after 20 beers. But I less hasty and more sober approach is needed.

I appreciate the good responses from you and expat. My favorite commenters here are those I disagree with. We learn or by debating than by agreeing.

I hope it is clear that there are different ways to view these complex situations and there are reason why we disagree other than because one of us is evil, stupid, or manipulated.

Well, my ideal answer would be American isolationism, though obviously, it is long past time for that solution. Though I shudder to agree with Patrick Buchanan in anything, it has been my conviction for 25 years that America's involvement in WWI was the greatest single mistake in U.S. history - though I am open to the slave compromise in the Constitution being worse, at least in terms of morality if not global reach. Of course, getting involved in Europe's bloody and stupid wars was something that America's founders warned against, but then, presidents from Virginia have never had any problem with hypocrisy in terms of slavery is freedom or war being the best way to give peace a chance.

As for the UN - strange that an institution designed by Americans to serve American interests is so disparaged by Americans that the current American ambassador to it joked about blowing part of the UN building up. (And people say Americans have no sense of irony.) It is part of the dismantling of 50 years worth of American designed and implemented international institutions which is so incomprehensible to me - no nation has ever been as wasteful as the U.S. And the reasons for throwing away such power seem so short sighted and petty - for example, international conventions prevent torture, so America, needing a free hand, just throws it out. No wonder Bush was so worried about an international justice system - it would have tied his hands, where the American system uses plastic ties, hoods, and shackles. What an insult to American values that other people find torture barbaric. Oh wait - that used to be the other way round when I was younger, when the evil empire was the Soviets, with their mandatory ID for travel and wiretapping and secret detentions. You just needed to ask a Republican about those sorts of evils, and why America was superior.  

And that part about Germans living with themselves? Partly they can because they are brutally honest about their mass murdering, warmaking past. Their past is also part of what motivates Germany in being a society deeply interested in pacifism, and trying to live in a way which avoids war - such as avoiding conflicts based on struggling for natural resources, which is one reason renewable energy sources are a major goal here. Of course, this is only one motivation among many, and German society is diverse.

But every German who goes to school visits a concentration camp as part of learning about their history. In Virginia, it is pretty hard to find the slave quarters in all the Virginian founding fathers' estates I'm aware of, and they tend not to be part of the guided tour, in general. It certainly was not part of the tour before the end of the civil rights era - who cared about slaves? After all, the  the slaveholders' views on freedom were important, not how their unpaid help lived.

Yes, it is easy to find fault. What is hard is to live differently as a result. I thought around 2 million dead Southeast Asians would be enough for America to reflect about itself and change, but I was wrong.

I thought around 2 million dead Southeast Asians would be enough for America to reflect about itself and change, but I was wrong.

Spend a bit of time in Vietnam, which incidentally has fought and won a war against China after the ones the fought and won against the US and France. Sit in people's houses in the Mekong Delta where they still have pictures of their sons who opposed the Communist goverment and were sent to "reeducation camps" afterwards and still can't get jobs now, thirty years later.

You would certainly have to agree that much more than 2 million dead in Southeast Asia would be enough for China to reflect about itself as well.

In the US, people did protest and air their concerns openly. The Vietnam war created massive changes in the psyche of Americans and dissent in the US is now as common as patriotism.

You may get your wish of American isolationism. It may be for better or worse. I honestly don't know.

I agree with you on the Germany issue. I do think the country has admirably accepted its wrongs and I do not desire to hold against today's Germans the faults of the forebearers. Similarly, I do think that the US changing the rules, when it suits them, particularly regarding the appalling sanctioning of torture is a shame.

American anti-UNism and UN anti-Americanism is ironic. But it would also be expected had one been able to anticipate US global dominance. What power has ever agreed to be counterbalanced?

At the end of day, I think the situation is complex. There are many parties at fault. To see the US role as all good or all bad is naive at best. I also do think Americans are wrestling with this very issue.

In the German case, the role of the Nazi party came to an abrupt end and the time for reflection was forced on them.  As a country, Germans responded admirably, but not every individual did.

Personally, I would like to see a world where there is a better system of global governance and a stronger counter weight to US power. However, were it my job to represent the bbest interests of the American people, I don't think I could honestly say, abandoning the military and ignoring the countries lead role in international affairs would be for the best.

At some point, the US will be forced to step back and everyone will hope something better arises in its place. But the world is the one who will bear the consequences and owes its self a more responsible approach than merely seaking to tear the US down without doing the hard work of seeing if there is something better.

Well, actually, I spent time growing with people like the Marines and Navy carrier pilots and Army armored officers that spent time in Vietnam. I also knew some of the children of South Vietnamese military / political figures that left before, during, and after the fall of South Vietnam. ('Little Saigon' in Ballston was also a great place to eat in the mid-80s. DC was always good that way - you could count on various ethnic groups connected to Cold War adventures opening up at least a couple of good restuarants in the region - the El Salvadoran places were the only the only ones that gave the Vietnamese ones a true run for quality and price.)

And notice your list (you left off the Japanese) - the Vietnamese don't want anyone else involved in deciding what happens in Vietnam. Whether the result is one we would approve is beside the point. And we all know that communist police states are bad, with their use of torture against 'enemies,' their ID requirements for all citizens for all travel, and their inability to change themselves when faced with new challenges. (Castro's Cuba hasn't really changed - it just survived a reduction in its external resource base.)

The United States became involved in a colonial/civil war mainly due to lies and flawed strategic thinking, and a generation later, America becomes involved in a colonial/civil war due to lies and self-interest (the flaw in the thinking is more along the lines that no strategic planning seems to have been allowed to enter the neo-con world view). But unlike Vietnam, which even now seems to have a touch of something resembling tragic idealism attached to it and where the U.S. wasted lives and treasure in part (however small) on principle, Iraq will be a lot harder to deal with - the U.S. cannot walk away from the oil that easily.

In my view, the only solution for many problems facing the U.S. is to turn back the clock and start again. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. The last 25 years was the time to prepare to deal with peak oil, not the next 10. Two oil producers with declining production invading a third oil producer (just coincidentally created as a 'nation' by one of the decling producers) is not preparation, it is amoral desperation. To use a German term, it is an 'Armutszeugnis' - 'evidence of incapacity' to use a stilted translation, though a literal translation of 'evidence of poverty' adds a certain touch.

I understand perfectly that the shoe has been on the other foot before in regards to Americans excepting British naval protection.  And its something that allowed America to get itself into the position it is in today as the world's super power.

But to say nations don't want American protection isn't exactly true either.  When the idea of isolationism comes up from an American candidate it gets derided both by politicians here and statesmen abroad as being "naie" in the global community we live in.  So which is it?  Does America need to get their troops home or keep them abroad?

It seems to me Europeans want it both ways.  They want American involvement when its convenient for THEM, but when its America looking at its own interests perhaps to the detriment of certain European interests then there is a cry for the Americans to mind their own business.

Sorry, but our American boys and girls are not the mercenaries of the European nations.  They serve American interests first and foremost.

I agree that the Iraq war in its present state is looking pretty messy right now, and that its execution has been lacking.  But what a lot of anti-Iraq war people forget was that we were maintaining a no-fly zone and military embargo for near a decade, and that situation was untenable to maintain long term.  So America was going to be faced with the situation in Iraq regardless of 9/11 or not.  And the two choices were either pull out, and let Saddam rebuild to full strength, or go in and take him out.  Considering the screams that would've come from around the ME, and probably the rest of world had we just upped and left, the US was pretty much damned if they did and damned if they didn't.

The Iraq War was a given, and this was recognized by the Democrats and Republicans alike.  Clinton had plans drawn up to do something very similar.  Multiple democrats made statements about the situation in Iraq needing to be resolved during Clinton's era.  The only difference is the Republicans rightly or wrongly had the gumption to go do it.

It seems to me Europeans want it both ways

I think not. I can't see the Euro strategic interests that are advanced by having US troops on European soil. Two European nations have an independent nuclear deterrent. What is it that we want from the US, again?

The Iraq War was a given, and this was recognized by the Democrats and Republicans alike.  Clinton had plans drawn up to do something very similar.

I'm not sure how true this is, but let's assume it is. He would not have intervened without a truly broad coalition; the motives and objectives would have been clearly stated; he would have planned for the occupation, rather than forbidding any planning; etc... Globally he would have acted pragmatically, rather than being driven by neocon wish-fulfillment fantasies.

And it still would have been a mess.

But he probably would have cut and run after a year or so, which would have been preferable for all concerned.

Two European nations have an independent nuclear deterrent.

Great for those two nations, but can the rest of Europe count on France and the UK to come nuke an aggressor opponent?  Those nuclear deterents are pretty much for French or British national interest, not collective European interest.  Perhaps that will change if the EU succeeds in a united Europe into a single entity, but for now, that is not the case.

Secondly the French do not possess the conventional forces to handle some of the potential threats to European nations (Russia is it resurfaces as a more Imperial power for example).  The UK I think could fend off aggression from their island, but not sure how that helps the rest of Europe either.  Like it or not, the disjointed European armed forces are not in a situation to go it alone just yet and that is only talking about outside aggression.  The story changes again if say an internal European power decided to go Imperial.  I know Europeans like to think they are above all that now, but sorry, given the right motivations, that can change on a whim.

He would not have intervened without a truly broad coalition

You mean like:

Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.

And that doesn't include several Middle Eastern nations who provided basing rights to launch the operation from i.e. Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.  Or Isreal who provided Air corridors, and "secretly" intelligence on Iraqi forces.

So how broad must broad be?  Sorry, but the "lack of a broad coalition" is strawman argument.  There was a very sizable coalition going in and even with some of the pullouts by smaller nations, the list of countries is still solid.  Just because France and Germany didn't sign off on it, didn't mean there wasn't a sizable coalition.

the motives and objectives would have been clearly stated

The motives and objectives have been clearly stated.  To oust Saddam in light of his refusal to cooperate with weapons inspectors, liberate the Iraqi people, and promote democracy in the region.

Granted the reasons themselves have been a little misguided, but W did say why he was going in there and I think he has some sincerity in those reasons.  I also think he is misguided or overly optimistic about how to accomplish some of those goals, but I have serious doubts that he is somehow this tyranical idiot one moment, evil genius taking over the world next moment demogogue the Dems and a lot of the world portray him to be.  

What I personally think is he is actually decent guy who got some bad advice about a Catch 22 situation with Iraq.  Frankly I don't care who is in the White House, if they had to deal with the crap this president has, I doubt any of them would've fared much better, and quite a few would've fared worse.  As I said.. Iraq was going to have to be dealt with, and W ended up with the hot tater.  Short of maybe a Reagan or an FDR, I can't think of too many other American presidents who would've been able to handle the situation with any sort of "ease".

I know Gore wouldn't have done better, and Kerry would've been a nightmare in 2004.  Pulling out at this stage of the game is a mistake, but so is staying the current course of the current administration.  Some other tactic needs to be implemented.  What that is I'm unsure, but neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have it right in my opinion.  Which makes things really frustrating as we get ready to vote.

Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.

Hey, I'm sure you forgot a few. Nauru. Vanuatu. The Gilbert and Sullivan Islands.

Of course Europeans want it both ways - how utterly normal for people to act that way. For example, Americans want to be loved and respected for their noble goals, not for they actually do in a place like Iraq. Those 'mysterious' Iraqi death squads are not so coincidentally looking a lot like the Central American death squads of the 1980s - which included people who could gun down nuns, priests, and a bishop, and slaughter entire villages. Admittedly, slaughtering an entire village in Iraq using death squads is much harder than in Central America - Iraqi peasants are very well armed in comparison. Of course, flattening an Iraqi city or two is well within the proven skills of the American military.

The Cold War was not about America selflessly sacrificing itself to protect Europe. After all, the American concept of how to make peace in Europe after WWI was ignored, and look at what happened as a result.

But I do keep wondering how long everyone is going to have faith that America retains the power it did a generation ago. That was one of Bush's greatest mistakes, in my opinion - he has put on display for years the limits of American power, both soft and hard, and quite honestly, there was no reason to. Saddam would have happily sold oil to the West - he was already, after all - and the rate of dead and tortured Iraqis would likely have been the same, with the blood on Saddam's hands, not America's.

See, Europeans know how to play that sort of game, since they are so cynical. Not only do they want things both ways, they will actually balance pragmatism against principle while admitting (openly or not) they have interests which outweigh their principles.

I keep taunting, in a way, but again, Carter said America had a strategic interest in mid-east oil, and he backed it up with actions. Why is it not possible for any tough interrogation, decider type person to say the reason America remains in Iraq is oil? I mean let's be honest - after all, knocking off a dictator who did have the massive strategic point of being an opponent of Iran/Shias/anyone threatening his power without having any replacement means that if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, the Iranians will be able to fill the power vacuum, and just coincidentally take over a significant percentage of those oil reserves which were supposed to be pumping for the West.

Truly, can you imagine that if a Democratic president like Clinton or Carter had committed such an epochal strategic blunder, the major Republican complaint would be that the American media was too negative? And again - I don't care for Democrat or Republican - I have never, in my entire life, voted for either, and can never imagine voting for either the rest of my life - and for those believing this is throwing away a vote, thank you for demonstrating how deeply flawed the current American political system is. As a side note - in 2004, I voted for a candidate who was pro-gun, anti-Iraq War, anti-abortion, and pro-debt reduction - and his reason for running is that since the Democrats couldn't even be bothered to field a candidate, he thought it important to support democracy by at least having two candidates run. 'Best democracy money can buy off' is probably the simplest way to sum up the current American system. Until the number of citizens clearly outweighs the number of consumers, that won't change either - and remember, all the economic news is about consumers, since an informed citizenry tends to make life harder for corporations. Democracy is always a flawed system, which is one of its charms - other systems trumpet their benefits, while democracy is embodied by how it handles never-ending problems.

expat and alistairC, many thanks for stepping up to bat on this one. It is a tireless, depressing, and unfortunately often futile task to attempt to correct the delusions held by US consumers (can't use the word 'citizen' any more) about the 'benovelence' of their empire. One of the more frustrating things about TOD is that many very clever people immediately abandon their critical thinking on this point. (And the irony of a large fraction of peak oilers suddenly talking about idealism when confronted with the invasion of a nation with enormous oil reserves!)

As for 'the Europeans' wanting to be protected by the Americans.... pfffft. The fact that US bases remain on European soil is to do with the weakness and greed of European leaders. I would venture that most Europeans (as opposed to politicians) want the US out. Europe faces no military threats and can take care of itself in any case. And who would think the 'protection' afforded by military incompetents is worth anything anyway? As expat has already pointed out, the world now has very good evidence of just how ineffective US military force really is. People were scared of the myth. Now they see the reality, and laugh.

Ah, why bother. The future will soon teach the Americans, but I doubt they'll be listening anyway.

the status quo prevails and ample supplies of liquid fuel remain available at reasonable price for the foreseeable future

In an article I wrote on Exports I hope to see posted here at TOD, you'll see how dificult this is.

Finally, it is worth noting that in a general sense, the fall in oil price from 1980 to 1998 correlates with falling dependency of the EU on oil imported from outside of Europe.

Yes, I found the same thing. In the eighties the North Sea plus Alaska basically broke the price. It is my belief that this caused the Soviet Union to collapse.

Intersting then to note that with Alaska and the N Sea in decline that we now have a resurgent Russia.
Collapse and now recovery.

They scrapped something like half or more of their industrial capital. A lot of it still wouldn't be economic if it didn't get subsidised energy.

Call it Japan in the 1990s, but on a 10-fold scale.

Effective standards of living are probably still below 1980.  I think on a GDP per capita basis they are just climbing above 1990?

We can thank Seward for buying Alaska from Russia back in the mid-19th Century. Boy would the world be different if they hadn't done that.
How different?

Alaska maxed at 2m b/d?  So never more than 10% of US consumption, less than 5% now.

The Gold Rush of the 1890s was valuable to the world economy at a time of slump, but much of that gold was found in Canada.

I could have seen something going really wrong in the Cold War, even to border clashes, but in fact in 1919 the US and Canada invaded at Vladivostok*, and I could have seen Wilson taking Alaska under US 'custody' during the Russian Revolution, just to keep Japan from getting it.

The Soviets might never then have gotten it back.

* funny anecdote.  Our late neighbour opened up the branch of the Royal Bank of Canada in Vladivostok in 1919.  And we think we live in a globalised world now.

Sigh. The EU desperately needs an energy policy. It is desperately unlikely to get one any time soon. This is one of the most dramatic outcomes of the stalling of the EU constitutional process.

The blame for that whole debacle is of course squarely on us French citizen-wankers, with our national debate and referendum. Hearts in the right place, stunning lack of geopolitical pragmatism and Euro-patriotism.

Pass the sackcloth and ashes. I'll pass on the flagellation.

The EU's energy policy is for open market competition.

The EU commissioner responsible has threatened everything to get the governments to abandon their 'national champions'.  I want to write Heidi Krohle, but it's not quite that.

Instead, each country is consolidating around 1-2 'super utilities' which control power production and distribution, and sometimes gas distribution as well.  Witness the Gaz de France/ Suez merger, or the takeover fight for Iberdrola in Spain.

The Brits having completely deregulated their markets early, are left out in the cold.  Gazprom will be along for British Gas (Centrica), sometime soon.

There's no EU strategy to reduce energy, or oil consumption per se.  And an end-run around the CO2 permit trading scheme (the scheme works well, but the polluters were given too large an allocation of permits).

That's what I mean. The EU is WORSE than an empty shell in this, as in so many other respects. It not only forbids itself from having an active energy policy, it actively works to destroy any national energy strategies that may subsist.

My theory was that a more engaged, accountable EU government would be obliged to respond to the wishes and needs of the population, instead of the applying loony 19th-century "free market" policies in a world that requires a proactive stance.
I may have been wrong; but we'll never know now. And we get the worst of all possible worlds : militant deregulation with no effective accountability.

Public accountability.

I think there was a survey that showed that the average American would pay $10 more per month to fight global warming.

When you get to that level of public awareness (is Europe much better?) then it isn't public accountability that is an issue.  Anyone for cancelling their cheap flights?

I'm not sure Churchill was 'publicly accountable'.  If the British public had known what Churchill and the Cabinet knew about British defence in June 1940, we probably would have sued for peace. We certainly should have sued for peace. Until Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941, there was no prospect that we could do anything other than fight him to a draw.  Churchill was a manic-depressive, a drunk, a dreamer, a gamble, a lifetime failure.

No rational or sensible judgement would have thrown the British task force down to recapture the Falklands in 1981.  It was a fool's errand ordered by a madwoman with a crazy gleam in her eye.

Drastic change takes unreasonable people, with unreasonable goals, and unreasonable methods.  When the ship's in a storm, you just better damned well hope the Captain knows what he's doing, because it isn't something one can vote on.

Maybe we can change the world fast enough, and in time.  But I'm not optimistic.

I'd be interested in the maximum people would pay on this web site. Of course, saying what you would pay and paying might be two different amounts.  
I've already said I want motor fuel to be $4-$5/gallon in the USA, as a means of forcing people to consider their use when going about their business.  Yes, I'm willing to pay that much.

I expect that we'll be paying that and more all too soon, but all the money will be flowing to exporters instead of R&D and general revenues and the US consumer will be much the worse off for it.

  • ration long distance flights to one per person per annum

  • limit CO2 emissions from driving and other forms of local travel to 2.0 tonnes per household per annum

  • limit general CO2 emissions to 2.0 tonnes per household per annum

Of course this is still enough to destroy the world if all 9 billion of us (world population in 2050) did it.

Meyer Hillman: How we can save the Planet .  He was the guy who said in the early 70s the problem was the planners and the economists were restricting bicycling and walking in favour of driving.

dohh.. I mean tonnes of carbon pa, to get from Carbon to CO2 you multiply by 3.667
Are you talking tradeable quotas here? I think you ought to be. Anything else leads to cheating, and is inequitable.
The EU needs a reasonable grid infrastructure.
There are more than 5000 MW off-shore wind power waiting to be installed in the north sea, most blocked by problems (missing permissions and lawsuits ..) with submarine cables.

And there must be a linking of the north german, danish and swedish grid, urgently, to make sure wind power can reliably provide for basic load.

Couldn't agree more!

Don't even mention the UK planning constraints which are blocking wind power.

The London Array (mouth of the Thames) of over 200MW is blocked because the local Kent council doesn't like having a substation where the power comes onshore.

Europe will strangle itself into historical irrelevance.

I read that the UK has the highest wind potential in the EU. How could a nation NOT use such a treasure?

(Aside from the fact that wind energy would be highly beneficial for most developing countries; the philippines are said to have a potential of 80,000 MW ..)

More than anything, the British love the countryside.

British people may work in cities, but if they can, they live in small villages.

This is a relic, perhaps of being the first country to industrialise.  It has been over 150 years (?) since the majority of the people had anything to do with rural living.

Also of the Romantic Poets who wrote about nature.

Wind power is seen to be despoiling the Countryside. Our Ramblers (group of those who like to walk in the country) has just won a court case blocking windmills that can be seen from a National Park in Scotland.  To quote them 'windmills spoiling the views over the distant Cairngorms'.

NIMBYism.  Not in My Back Yard.  Everyone is for Renewable Energy, but not on their doorstep.

VT - you're beginning to sound like James Lovelock now (which is a backhand compliment).  I think in reality vast numbes of Brits have never been to the countryside, and many, when they get there, throw thier fag ends and lager cans all over the place.

But those who live in the country do cherish it.

One of the big problems with wind for me still (and I'm going to stop posting on this until I get my hands on some data) is that the enthusiasts wrap up their arguments in a way that I find a bit suspect.

To refer back to the Sinden article that you posted the link to - I find a lot of this stuff quite impenetrable - I may just be in moron mode - but Im quite used to working with numbers.  If you look at his Figs 12 and 13 and look at the "data mode" - i.e most frequent occurence - you see that during high electricity demand the mode capacity factor is just 12% and for low demand hours the mode capacity factor is just 3%.  In other words while the mean capacity factor is around 27%, the most common occurrence is somewhere between 3 and 12%.

I've heard second hand (through my wife) that the big untilities hate wind - and are only puddling along cos they feel obliged to do so.  So at the moment I'm going to sit on the fence here until I convince myself that wind is a great idea with an EROEI around 30.

It doesn't matter whether wind is a great idea, it's one of the only ideas.  Maybe in the future power will be spotty depending on the wind and the weather (how much power is available for solar), but I suppose that is still better than there being no power at all.  In reality I think we can and will do better than that.  

People like to point out all of the problems with wind, as if we can just decide it's too much bother and not use it.  The reality is there is a big problem with the status quo that being that fossil fuels are going to start running out.  The long term viability of a power plant designed to operate on oil or natural gas is nil, because there won't be anything to run it.  So, rather than having wind power available only some of the time, we'll have oil power available not at all.  

Well said.

I would add coal is irrelevant unless we can get practical carbon sequestration built.  The US DOE FutureGen project is already behind schedule-- 2012 is the target date, I believe.

We are far more likely to bow our heads to renewables, but go on building coal fired stations.

Carbon sequestration at the Peterhead gas fired power station will be achieved by reacting the CH4 (methane) gas before it is burned producing CO2 and H2 - which are easily separted from each other.  The H2 is then burned in the power station and the CO2 piped off shore to the Miller Field (BP) where sequestration will mean a lot more oil production.  Great plan from BP - gets them CO2 credits - whilst producing lots more oil!

Sequestring CO2 from coal fired plant seems incredibly challenging to me - how on earth do you separate CO2 from flue gas - temperature 500C+, mixture of NOX, N2, O2, CO, CO2, H2O and dust - how do you do that without using a huge amount of energy in the process?

Intermediate Gasification Combined Cycle Cycle.28IGCC.29

the above is a little more pessimistic than some of the industry reports I have read.  American Electric Power has applied for licenses to build 3 600MW units.  Southern Company already runs one.

Main problem is a 25% higher capital cost (the gasification phase requires kit) although this will fall over time vs. pulverised coal, given learning curve effects.  You get 10% higher efficiency (but sequestration and transport would burn up to 30-40% more coal for the same MWhr output).

FutureGen (IGCC with Carbon Sequestration) is behind schedule but is the US DOE demonstrator to show the practicality of the technology.  CHina is a jv partner.

The IPCC has a full report on all the alternative technologies, including IGCC. torage.htm

The technology for clean coal is coming.  Since power plants are a 30 year bet however, we need to make the utilities invest now to prepare for when CSS is universal. versity.pdf#search=%22socolow%20co2%20wedges%22

It is one of the key Socolow 'wedges' to get us to 2050.

Once again, we are in a race against time we may lose due to politics and structural rigidities.  By the time there is a political consensus for action, it may be far, far too late.

When I read that one of the leading climate change 'sceptics', used to work for a thinktank funded by tobacco companies, to deny the link between smoking and cancer,,,1875762,00.html

I begin to understand Jared Diamond's point about societies collapsing because their elites cannot adjust their behaviour.  Unlike the European media, the US media gives these guys equal time, in the interests of 'balance':

linking to (halfway down)

It would be unthinkable in America that the rightwing political party would refuse to have global warming sceptics address their conference.

Another leading sceptic, Linzen at MIT, who is a genuine climate scientist, thinks there is global warming, but that increased cloud cover will defeat it.  Which is a hell of a thing to bet on, when if you lose you can lose everything.

As I said above I'm going to stop posting on wind - however, I got EROEI numbers that vary from 2 to 30.  As I pointed out above if the most frequently occuring capacity factor is 3% - and if that sets your base load limit - as opposed to the 27+% quoted by wind enthusiasts - then that reduces an optimistic EROEI of 30 by a factor of 10 = 3.

An EROEI of 2 to 3 would mean that a wind farm would spend between 33 and 50% of its life repaying the energy used to construct it - not leaving a lot of net energy for us punters to use.

This is the skeptic argument - which goes too far the other way.

What I want to aim at is a proper understanding of how wind may be optimised in practice so that measures for storing energy and using energy when supply is available are put in place along with the turbines.  Otherwise we are going to end up with a lot a wasted energy - the exact opposite of what needs to happen right now.


25GW of wind will set aside 5GW of other power (statement by the National Grid Co.).  So 'capacity value' or 'capacity credit' to the grid of 20%.

Now that 25GW will produce 61.32 Twhr of power, on a 28% load factor (capacity factor) (the historic experience of UK stations under DUKE, for those running for a full year ie not started up in the year). Or about 17.5% of current UK power consumption of 350TWhr pa.

(as we build more offshore wind power, capacity factor should rise, ditto with bigger turbines on land)

In return, the system will have to hold 20GW of fossil fuel power-- CCGT and coal-- in reserve-- 25-5 = 20, then add 5GW for the fact that no one gets a capacity credit of 100% (but your capacity credit is higher if you are not running much, because you are not down for maintenance or already committed).  CGCGTs are 90% capacity credit.   25GW say.  Most of which will run at very low load factors (aka capacity factors).

I am not sure where you get your very bad return on energy invested?  Most of that fossil fuel power is already built, and assuming the same capital cost per Kwhr of wind (it's actually much lower for a CCGT) then you have only doubled the energy cost of building your system if you have to build entirely new backup plant for your 25GW of wind.

There are estimates of the cost of having the grid at 20% wind.  I think about .18p per Kwhr.  So 5% of UK electricity prices (wholesale).

There are other tricks which we haven't tested yet.  Backup generators, to be reliable, have to run every couple of months, so the owners are willing to link them to the national grid for emergencies.  Active demand management (eg interruptible power) is a growing area (shut down all air conditioning plant during a July peak, on 30 minute rotating schedules).

Let's take it to the limit.

I cannot believe, over the next 15-20 years, the UK cannot find c. £50bn to build 50GW of offshore and onshore wind power-- learning curve effects offsetting inflation.  Which at a capacity factor of 27%, would generate 118TWhr of electricity per annum or something like 30% of total demand in 2020 of 400 TWhr.

This would take 10GW out of the existing power system, but 40GW of backup power would be needed, consisting mostly of fossil fuel plants that don't run very much.

The problems will be getting the planning, the turbines, and the skilled manpower to do it.  The planning and the local political struggles will be the real logjam.

We need a Winston Churchill of Wind Power and Renewable Energy.  A Margaret Thatcher, who lacks the traditional political instinct to hedge, duck, dodge, weave and compromise.

VT - you sure know a lot about this and right now I'm going to have to bow out under the shear weight of information.

If it is the case that coal fire can be switched on and off at an hours notice - saving fossil fuel and CO2 then I would be an instant convert to wind.

So why have the Danes not done this?  Why do they balance their wind against foreign hydro power, when they could balance this against their own coal fired plant - and save CO2 at home?

I'm sure you are about to tell me the answer.  I will conatct those who operarte Longannet in Scotand and learn about the thermal / fuel dynamics of big coal fired plant.

Also note in the SDC report Figure 8, that it is coal and not gas that is used to balance - I find that a bit surprising as I would have thought it easier to fire up and down gas - but I guess running down coal saves more CO2.

One source of energy return on wind of about 2 comes from Heinberg - Partys Over, p164.  The big number of 30 comes from Vestas - and I know they have been way over-optimistic here, and i get pissed off when folks can't just try to be objective in their reporting.

I'm planning to attend the Oil Depletion conference in London next month and the ASPO conference in Boston this month - you going to either of these?

I need to consult my 'in house expert' (with 35 years career building utility plants) ;-).

I don't know what the warm up time is on coal fired units.

My own take is we will have coal, but it will be coal with sequestration.  How soon we get those units built is one of those save the planet questions.  One reason I am a big bull of wind is it is something that can be done relatively quickly-- the technology exists and the issues are pretty much solved.  Even new nuclear is 8-12 years away.

If you put coal in your report, wind looks better from a CO2 point of view ;-).

Denmark: If your goal is saving CO2, then balancing your wind against hydro, any hydro, is better than against coal (your own or someone else's).  It may simply be Norwegian Hydro is cheaper than coal, so you take the cheapest power you can get.  

On overoptimism, one thing I neglect in my calculations is depreciation.  Wind is a (relatively) new technology at this scale.  Already the Vesta turbines have had gearbox problems.  I suspect we are underestimating depreciation/ overestimating product llife.

I missed the British Wind Power conference (Glasgow, next week) due to work commitments.  Doubt I will be doing the Peak Oil one-- as I've said before I am not entirely convinced about PO, my main interest is the Global Warming angle (I spent some time recently trying to come to grips with the scientific evidence, and came away much more scared than I intended to be).

I bought Houghtons book several weeks ago now and have not had time to open it.  Will read this on the plane to Boston.
I hope to meet you there !  What dates are you staying & where ?

I will arrive a day early and be staying at the convention hotel Buckminister.

Best Hopes,

Alan Drake

Alan - I've registered - not yet booked a flight - on my to do list for this week.  The CEO has found me a hotel down town - but has not yet told me where it is.  I'll let you know.
I am arriving early afternoon on October 24th and leaving a week later (my first visit to Boston and I will do a bit of sightseeing, a no guilt holiday :-)

That first day might be a good one to visit if you can come early.

Best Hopes,


The coal plants I know do not often turn off & on.  But old natural gas steam plants (data from City of Austin scheduling) is that it would take enough fuel to run the unit at 100% capacity for 30 minutes just to heat it up for service.

Coal steam plants should take as much at a minimum.

Best Hopes,


I'll have to look more into it.  I thought the Sustainable Development Commission piece I also referenced was pretty convincing.

I think a lot of utility execs hate renewables on general principle, because they hate environmentalists, and secretly think we should have lots of nukes.  That's fine if you have state-controlled vertically integrated monopolies like France, where you can stick it to the consumer, but much more difficult in a UK context with free power markets.

Scottish Power is going large after wind.  nPower is doing a lot, too.

VT - I missed the piece by the Sustainable Development Commission - could you post it again please?

The other big question here, relates to a point made by many posters, the technology for introduction of many forms of renewables exists, but we lack a government Energy Department, and any form of cohesive energy policy.  How is that barrier to be over come?

Still not sure where you are based yet - UK or Canada - or both?

Agreed - this looks a very comprehensive report.

The key questions for me are wrapped up in their Figues 8 and 9.

  1.  Figure 8 tracks daily power use / consumption and it is coal that is used principally to vary generating load.  So do the coal fired power stations actually burn less coal / produce less CO2 every night - or do they just power along as normal - but adjust down the power output - to make things look good.

  2. This report focusses very much on load / capacity factor for wind and opts to use the most optimistic value of 35%.  My main argument is that it is not the capacity factor that is key but the standard deviation on the capacity factor.  Combined cycle gas may well have a capacity factor of 90% ±1% - in other words it is highly reliable and predictable.  Wind may well have a capity factor of 35% but that is ±35% - in other words in could be 70% or it could be 0% - in other words it is spiky and noisy.

  3. This is amply demonstarted by Figure 9.  The fact that the noise is predictable is completely irrelevant.  Combining Figures 8 and 9 - you have to ask the question - is any CO2 saved.  Do they switch the coal fired plant off completely for 2 days while the wind is blowing and then switch it back on again when its not? When its gusty - the switchning on and off needs to be done on a 1 to 6 hour frequency.

You also need to be very wary of reading charts like Figure 9 - to the untrained eye - a very good match - but a cynic may point out that the wind speed forecasts are actually up to ±20% out on gusty days.  Only on the 5th and 6th of May when there was a gale blowing does the forecast match reality.
re 1 & 3

If a turbine is just spinning, it burns a lot less fuel.

UK grid works on a '1 hour closed gate' basis (technical appendix).  Suppliers bid into the pool 1 hour ahead of anticipated demand.

So the NGC is comfortable with fossil fuel being started up within 60 minutes.  Because that is how the system works right now.  The grid operator has to be ready for, and is, things like sudden nuclear downtime (which can, and does happen).

A CCGT (or at least the gas turbine part) can be fired up and running within seconds.  Coal fired you have to keep the system hot, I don't know what the lag is, but it is hours not days.

CCGTs right now are chiefly peak power anyway-- they only run 3-4 hours a day, given the gas prices.  Coal is your more typical mid merit station.  Nuclear is baseload.

With active demand management tools we are in even better shape.

I agree with your general point we need more resource power: be it interconnects with France and Norway, pumped storage, or something more sophisticated like flywheels and batteries (fuel cells).

I'll try to look at those tables in more detail in time-- not right now.

relying on Norway isn't necessarily a very good idea, since our generating capacity is soon stretched to it's limits. Norway is already a net importer of electricity (about 7 TWh in a year with normal precipitation and temperature, IIRC). This will ofcourse change if (when) Norsk Hydro continues to dismantle it's aluminium plants, but getting the power from one region to the next can be tricky. When the Ormen Lange field gets online, and those massive compressors start running, there will be a shortfall of 1.5 TWh in the county of Møre and Romsdal. The county doesn't have enough generating capacity, and the grid doesn't have the capacity to import it from neighbouring areas. A new line from the south is planned though, but the excact route is yet to be decided, since most of the communities along the way are afraid the sight of technology in rural Norway will scare away the Germans and their "whonmobilen". The ministry of oil and energy has actually proposed to "solve" the crisis with mobile gas powerplants of the same kind that is used in military operations in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq, if necessary. This should give an idea as to how seriously lacking the infrastructure is. More than one government, both conservative and social democratic, has pretended the problem didn't exist, but it turns out it didn't go away just because they wished it to.

This is what you get when the politicians are completely powerless to build anything due to NIMBYism. No gaspowered (CO2 is viewed as a very bad thing), no hydro (people want their beautiful rivers to flow freely) no wind (people don't like the idea that somewhere along the coast there might be a wind turbine visible even if it's offshore and only visible if you have good eyes and it's an exceptionally  clear day).

I actually think this situation poses a risk for British energy security, as most homes in norway are heated with electricity, although a significant percentage has wood for backup. I wonder what will be top priority in the event of rationing, will it be the NG compressors, Hydro's alu plant at Sunndalsøyra, or old ladies in cold houses? I think no politician will risk the lives of the population, the impact on the chance of reelection would be to big. since the norwegian hydro dams presently only contain about 2/3 of what they usually do this time of year, they are estimated to be between 6-9% full next spring. If less snow than usual fall in the Norwegian mountains this winter, and/or next summer is a dry one the situation a year from now could look ugly.

There are some positive signs, the ruling coalition has decided a gasfired plant can be built, but with the provision that CO2 sequestration will be added "in the future". How long it will take to build this plant I don't know, but I suppose it will take some time.

Norway still has plenty of hydro potential, but they are too rich to develop it.  Even the most benign run-of-river plant is not possible.

Perhaps an undersea HV DC line from Iceland ?

Best Hopes,


Too rich, or too snobbish as I sometimes think to myself,  too tolerate the sight or even the thought of harnessing the power of nature. New shoppingmalls on prime farmland, or the wide scars alpine ski slopes  make in a mountainside is a different matter though. I have a feeling one dry year, or several in a row, could change these attitudes a little.
Jaha - I really find it amazing the Norwegians will burn gas to make electricity when you have so much un-used hydro potential - and that gas could be much more efficiently used else where - like England (I'm Scottish) who without Scotland would be a massive energy importer.

Interesting points you make about the Ormen Lange compressors - can you elaborate on this a bit.  Is it because the gas has to be transported such a long distance?  This is interesting from the perspective of developing "marginal areas" like the Russian Barents Sea.  I would never have considered Ormen Lange "marginal" - but if there is only enough power in no more to run this beast then...  A point I need to double check is that the pipeline I believe makes land fall in England somewhere (not St Fergus the main Scottish gas gathering point).  This I beleive is political because Scotalnd has a new parliament, and with elections in May, the party who wants independence for Scotland may win most seats this time around - most folks here woudl prefer not to be in Iraq.  So this new pipeline may become a vital artery for England.

Can you also elaborate on the state of Norwegian hydro dams - I ski in Norway every March and the dams have been half empty for the last 2 years - I've heard various stories here - would be interested in the facts.

The county of Møre og Romsdal consumes a lot more electricity than they produce, and the import capacity is reaching it's limits. The link is to, affiliated with energimann's blog "kveldssong for hydrokarbonar". Page 5 of this newsletter show's the current consumption and production in the county. The graph show's consumption in various sectors, notice the blue line showing "kraftintensiv industri", growing from just over 3 TWh per year in 2001 to more than 7,5 in 2010. The increase from 6 TWh in 2006 to 7,5 in 2010 is the Ormen Lange compressors. The potential for new hydropower in this county is said to be limited, but NVE says there is a potential of 2696 GWh/year in small scale power alone (less than 10MW rated capacity each) in the county the 3rd biggest smallscale hydropower potential of any county. How many large rivers are off limits due to environmental concerns I don't know. The powerline from the south is scheduled to come online in 2012 according to the mentioned newsletter. The likely result is that a gasfired plant is finally going to be built, as all the parties in the current coalition government now agrees that carbon sequestration doesn't have to start from day one. Small powerplants, mostly run of river, are getting more attention lately, so this could improve the situation long term. My point is that for it's first years of production the Ormen Lange field's electricity supply is subject to the risks of a grid stretched to it's limits, and it seems to me this should be taken into account when planning Britain's energy future, since it is supposed to provide up to 20% of the NG supply for a while. I would like to research this topic a bit more, I don't feel I have all the facts yet.

As for the state of the dams, this is statnett's latest prognosis for the next 12 months. The red line shows the expected levels if the next 12 months are as dry as the dryest year for the past 60 years, the blue line shows the wettest year. The prognosis takes into account such things as the current level in norwegian and swedish dams, expected available danish windpower, price elasticity in the event of high prices, available thermal power (recent problems with swedish nuclear shows up in the prognosis of a month ago). an explanation is available in norwegian. Most of the information on is available in english, but not the prognosis it seems.

I'm sorry if this is a bit incoherent, but it's the best I could do for now :)

And you are right, the langeled pipeline ends in Easington.
Coal power plants (and any steam power plant) can be built to vary output.  The heat rate (BTUs of fuel/kWh in the US) increases a bit when it is off the sweet spot (varies with plant, but typically at 90% to 100% of nameplate) but typically the heat rate does not vary increase by more than 10% in the 40% to 100% of capacity range.

At 5% capacity, one may see heat rates double.

Scheduling plants can be complex, and adding wind increases the complexity (hence the value of good forecasts of load and wind speed).

One again, a small amount of pumped storage can solve many of these issues and make a high % wind penetration work quite nicely.

At some point, it becomes cheaper to turn off (spill in hydro lingo) 1% of total wind generation at awkward moments.  Any high % wind grid will have moments like that.  At bit like the recent negative price for UK NG.

BTW, it is entirely possible to build a reliable grid with just wind and pumped storage (some hydro, some air).  Quite a bit of wind will be "spilled" (I only know hydro term), just as Iceland spills 5% of their hydro some years.

My SWAG is that a 100% wind + existing hydro + pumped storage grid for the UK would spill 30%-40% of the wind energy.  Unless used for "other purposes".

Arguably what we need is a strategy, more than a government department.  We do have an Energy Minister.

this is what I really want the UK to have.  Ontario has peak power of about half the UK (35GW or so), so it is a major entity in its own right.

However the generation authority is still government owned, so you can do a planning exercise to 2020 and beyond.  They loused up their nuclear and subsequent privatisation so badly the privatisation got scrapped, now the OPA is picking up the pieces.

Thanks for the links VT.

Do you know anything about the new UK Energy Institute?  I kind of fancy a job there - "Director of Research" would suit well.  I've been in touch with Profs here in Aberdeen - but no one seems to know anything about it.

No.  Interesting idea.  Thank you I will look it up.
I have 'working class' in-laws, Cockney, who now live in the countryside.  I think they genuinely love it-- there's no falsity about it.  Latterly, they hated suburban London.

I suspect the British love of the countryside is genuine.  Of course it's a bit like America: people love National Parks, as long as they can drive their Recreational Vehicles to them.  Britain is the same: people want to be able to drive somewhere nice and have a picnic, and park.

The opinion polls show most would rather live in a village than a town or suburb.

We all want the convenience of good motorways, and electric lights that work.  But in someone else's backyard, please.

As an American, how different my feelings are!

Last month I travelled east of Wichita just a bit.  South of route 400 there appeared a wind farm neither I nor my travelling companion had ever seen before.  We went closer to look at it.  Our reactions were positive.

After getting home, I researched it a bit.  It appears to have been the subject of some legal wrangling in early 2005, and must have gone up last year or early this year.  I counted 98 towers, and supposedly it's rated at 150 MW peak; I guess that means they're 1.5 MW GE units or the equivalent, and maybe 2 towers aren't up yet (I counted half a dozen turbines not moving on a day with a pretty good breeze out of the north).

Of all places on earth, Kansas should be just full of those things.  If I lived there, you could call me an IMBY!

But off Cape Cod, Senator Kennedy has effectively blocked a 500MW wind project.  NIMBY is alive and well, just not in the Midwest.

You would be amazed how many groups there are out there, some backed by the coal industry I believe, that are 'anti wind' simply because it is green and environmental, rather than because there are solid arguments against it.  As someone said over a fight over some windmills on a mountain in NC said 'amazing how many bird lovers there suddenly are'.  (something similar is going on re DDT-- the (false) story that environmentalists are killing African babies by supporting a ban on DDT is one the Wall Street Journal is running very hard with-- DDT was actually banned because it was ineffective, long term).

Sadly it is on the coasts that the power is needed and there that NIMBYISM is most powerful.  It seems somehow typical of Texans' pragmatic views that the most pro-oil state in the Union, should also be rushing to embrace wind power.

I guess having low population density helps.

It seems somehow typical of Texans' pragmatic views that the most pro-oil state in the Union, should also be rushing to embrace wind power.

Texas has a unique situation from a power perspective.  We are on our own grid, seperate from the Western and Eastern US/Canadian grids.

Secondly Texas has always been aggressive about ensuring we have plenty of power, and has made it a business in exporting spare capacity.  Low population density helps I'm sure, but don't underestimate the Texan's desire for lots of power.  We like big toys, and we need power to run the big toys.

Personally I sometimes think Texas should leave the Union and go back to being a Republic.  Of all the states out there I think we could be a very viable and powerful Nation on our own, and ditch half the crap that goes on in Washington.

I am reminded one of the main objections to being part of the Mexico was that Mexico had forbidden slavery ;-).

Teasing aside, Texas always has that independent streak.  It benefits heavily from US central government spending (NASA in Houston, cotton subsidies, military bases).  I read somewhere that 1/4 regular Army soldiers in Iraq are Texans, so I guess you could say the Nation gets its payback.

> Everyone is for Renewable Energy, but not on their doorstep.

Yeah - opponents tried to impede the wind park "Butendiek" 34 kilometres (20 miles) west of the north german island Sylt (a place where the rich and wealthy reside ..) and filed a lawsuit in 2002 which was rejected 2004.

What is visually perceptible by an average human in 20 miles distance, after all?

environmentalists also oppose nuclear power.

I agree with them re cost & safety but

I don't think we have any choice.  None whatsoever.  We are going to need to keep nuclear power in the fuel mix, to have any chance of getting through the 21st century.

I can see how we can produce 30% of the world's power from wind. I can see how other non-hydro renewables, solar, CHP etc. are maybe another 10%.  That still leaves 10% to Hydro, say (which will be less reliable with global warming) and the remaining 50% gap to be filled.  Gas I think will run out too quickly and is a source of CO2.  It cannot be filled by coal without some form of carbon sequestration (which we don't have yet but maybe will have-- but injecting the CO2 underground doesn't solve the problem forever).  That leaves nuclear.

It amazes me how many environmentalists oppose wind power.  usually the line is 'local, community power, not big wind farms', which shows an ignorance of economics, and how the power grid works.

I agree with you in terms of nuclear power. It would be wiser to keep these reactors (instead of turning them off, as the german administration decided).
The stuff (nuke waste) is here and has to be stored. So why turn german reactors off and import electricity from unsafe nuke plants in Slovakia?

I don't think nuclear is a good option for the developing world - unstable political regimes, difficult technology ... Since developing countries urgently need energy, wind power seems a good choice to me.
There might also be solar updraft towers some day, which could be great for desert environments.

According to Sharman here: ormance%20data%22

the Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and German grids are alrdeay pretty well connected.

Overview of Sharman's article here:

I have read about the Krieger's Flak wind park in the baltic sea, where 3 Nations (Sweden, Denmark Germany) are running wind turbines - 3 national companies (WPD, Vattenfall, Danish Offshore), each with its own submarine cables.
It was said there is no grid link at all (maybe that info is outdated?) And the comment said also there are no such plannings for the north sea.
Just a comment on the linking of Swedish, German and Danish grids.

The nordpool region (Norway, Swedem and Denmark) is alrady well interconnected to the German grid! Quite a lot of capacity too.
Norway is about to build a 700mw link to the Netherlands - starting in 07.

Hydro is already used together with coal and other fossil fuels to balance wind power already - though this is really a market mechanism more than anything else. Wind is usually operated on a base load philosophy in terms of power sales so will simply take the prevailing prices.

The blame for that whole debacle is of course squarely on us French citizen-wankers

Alistair Connor - you do not sound French - but this is definitely one for my wall.  This no doubt will boost our Euro viewing numbers!

I think French nationalism has provided a vital counterweight to US imperialism - darn their goes the US viewing figures too.  And you make great cheese, bread and wine and produce cars and soccer players with vavavoom!

IMO the French rejection of the Giscard drafted Constitution was a great victory for common sense. The Parisian elites all approved and the MSM were also pro but the majority voted no for a variety of reasons. I opposed the fundamentally undemocratic structure of the EU
a) laws made in secret by the Commission and the Council of Ministers;
b) a special  status created for central bankers to put them aboe all democratic control;
c) despite the record of corruption and cronyism, the Constitution simply stated that Commissioners were all  good people striving for improvement for EU citizens and not to be subjected to democratic controls;
d) a Constitution that required memebership of NATO regardless of what past, present, and future aggressions undertaken by its leading member, the world's worst warmonger.
Energy policy remains with the nation states and some are very good. This very afternoon I had a meeting with someone to convert my winter home from fossil fuels (gas) to non-fossil fuels (solar and a heat-pump), all for free.  Various subventions cover about 70%of the capital cost of convertion and the remaining 30% is covered by my paying to Electricity de France the annual gas bill I have previously paid to Gaz de France. Cost to me ZERO and after 5 years I stop paying my gas bill. If the USA adopted the energy policies now commonplace in France then US oil consumption would be halved for higher living standards.
I was wondering with Benelux if the key was their petrol prices?

Basically if their petrol prices are well below France and Germany, a lot of people cross the border to fill up.

It should be a small factor, but something like 30 million people live in France and Germany within a days drive of Benelux.

Another factor in the case of Luxembourg is simply GDP per head.  Luxembourg is the richest developed country in this regard, I believe, even above the USA.

That said, I think the main factor is probably the petrochemical industry, although I haven't dug up any stats on size.

Its an amazing chart though isn't it?  Cheap petrol could have something to do with - if thats the case - then they really need to get their act together.  Hopefully some Dutch / Belgian folks will call by to explain.

I left a reply to one of your comments earlier today at the end of the Gave thread.

Go to and click on "Sankey diagram" (to the right on the screen). It is in Dutch, but it's easy to notice the huge export of imported energy. Is that regarded as consumption in the BP-stats? It should be, because Holland has some of the world's highest prices at the pump, ...and it has more bicycles than people, and 40% of its freight goes by water, and lots of other things that contradicts the high consumption.
tryser - I looked and looked and couldn't see a "Sankey diagram".  However, I believe you may be right - and here in lies a message that movement of refined products also needs to be taken into account - though I imagine thsi will not distort the over all EU picture.

Would this also apply to Belgium and Luxembourg - who actually have higher per capita consumption than the Dutch - see map posted by Dave a ways down the page.

I'm from Belgium and i was very surprised by the numbers.
I never thought hour consumption/capita would be double that of the bigger countries.

prices are high here also. i don't think thats the reason, the only one i can see is more petrochemical indusrty and two major harbors, Antwerp an Amsterdam.

Luxembourg is too small i believe to make a big difference in these numbers.

Sorry. Go to the bottom of the page to energiestromen (Sankey diagram), then click on "Sankey diagram" (to the right) to enlarge.
Actually, petrol and diesel prices in the Netherlands are the highest in the World!!
The reason we import so much oil, is that in the Netherlands there is a huge chemo-petor industry.
In Rotterdam there is Europe biggest refinery, wich uses a lot of imported oil, but that is exported again as petrol, diesel and avaition fuels. Remember who provided the US with extra fuels after Katrina? Right; it was the Netherlands!

Also in the Nothern part of the Netherlands, Akzo Nobel has a huge chemical plant for all kinds of oil derivates. Besides that, there is a lot of transport going on in the Netherlands with the port of Rotterdam (biggest of the world), a lot of trucking and Schiphol airport.

Besides that, we all love to drive in the Netherlands and a lot of people spend hours each day in traffic jams.

But we allso show that 8 dollars a gallon doesn't slow driving down; we drive more and more each year. And it also doesn't rip the economy apart; we thrive here, we live like kings in France, no poor people here.

Roger from the Netherlands

I would summarise your excellent essay above as:

- the EU has done as much as any developed country (except Japan) to do something about oil dependence as evidenced by static consumptions per head despite rising GDP (over the long run).

EU countries in general have high gasoline taxes and modern public transport systems.  We pioneered high efficiency modern diesel engines, for example.  With half our sales of new cars with these engines, in some sense we are already where the US hopes to be in 10 years with hybrids.

We drive fast, but we don't have the SUVs.  

- the EU experience also sets the limits on those policies, in and of themselves.  We still burn lots of oil (and lots of coal for power).

An increasing fraction of our heat and power comes from Russia via gas pipelines.  There isn't, practically, another source in scale in the future.

And courtesy of Chernobyl, we have almost entirely abandoned nuclear power as a source of new electricity especially in Germany and Sweden and the UK.  France has a relatively low commitment to gas because of its nuclear strategy, but still gets 35% of its energy from oil (v. a range of 35-42% for western Europe).  With existing automotive technology, electricity isn't a substitute for oil in any case.

Matt Simmons commented that whilst Europe has great public transport, it means that most of the freight goes by road-- there isn't the spare capacity on the rail network.  So, like North America, we have our challenges.

In a PO or global warming scenario, we are still in a very bad position.  We don't have military strategic reach to secure oil supplies in the way the US (at least in theory) can.  Nor do we have obvious ways of reducing oil consumption without hitting our standard of living (whereas the US could simply drive more efficient cars- -we've already done the easy bit).

You can see how this, amongst other factors, will drive us towards a closer rapproachment with the Arab world, over questions like Palestine.  The US has Canada and Venezuela, we do not.

Europe has Russia, or at least it could have it if it abandons the cold-war attitude towards this country.

Russia could also do its part to abandon its Cold War attitudes towards Europe and especially its close neighbors.
If I am a seller I have the right to ask for the market price for what I am selling. If you don't agree that's your problem.
In Cheney-speak that is "blackmail".  But when that sock puppet dictator in Georgia shells the capital of South Ossetia that is "democracy".
Hi guys - politics and history are not my strong points but here goes.  I was born 1957, my father, the youngest of a family of 7 was born in 1911.  His eldest brother went to France in 1917 and lived for 2 weeks.  My father was in WWII - N africa and S Asia.

I grew up during the cold war - but never really felt threatened - the prospect of mutual destruction and the fact that "the Russians love their children too" and the fact I was young made the cold war pretty much seem like a phoney war.

I feel a lot more threatened now - not for my own sake but for the sake of my kids - aged 13 and 16.

The way things are panning out in central Europe perhaps give rise for concern - most of the old East European states are now being consumed by the the EU - where they will sooner or later prosper.  Lots and lots of Poles and Baltic states folks in the UK right now - and we need them to keep the economy going.

Going further east though you have the former Soviet Rebublics - Ukraine, Belarus and the smaller states to the South - and oil rich Azerbaijan and U and oil rich Kazakhstan.  Resource rich Russia is now resurgent, and the E European states are now part of the Worlds second most powerful economic block - leaving the former republics in a no mans land. So I guess the former republics are squeezed bewteen two economic powers to east and west and have the added problem of a N-S sectarian / cultural divide.

The way things stand at the moment the worlds energy will be divided between the OECD countries and the energy producing countries - and the poorer countries are going to be squeezed, get pissed off, get angry.

We still live in a world of unfished 20th Century business - Israel / Plaestine, disintegrtaed Soviet Union and so on.

You guys sound like you live some where east - and I would certainly be interested to hear objective views and analysis of how recent history has affceted you and in particular how energy prices and energy availability are affecting you now.  And what do you think needs to be done?

I'll hand this discussion over to Prof Goose and Heading Out - who seem to be more politically aware than me.

Well this topic is very close to me, as my home country (Bulgaria) falls into this category.

I think there is no single answer to this question - the most exact one I can thnk of is "it depends" :) Being a small player is not necessarily a bad thing, it all depends how you play your cards. I think that some countries like the Baltic republics are successfuly balancing the Western and Russian influence and  as a result are benefiting from their strategic location between those two. Others (Poland comes to mind) have alienated themselves from Russia while also causing troubles to their EU partners - not very wise long term, IMO.

In general I find the critique towards "imperialistic" Russia very hipocritical. Russian policy is no more "imperialistic" than the EU or China, not to mention USA. A big part of it is a mere reaction to the antagonistic policy of the West, which even now, 15 years after the end of USSR refuses to treat it as an equal partner. Well, if it was me not being invited to the party I feel I have the right to attend to I'd also try to find some back door, ain't I?

As for Bulgaria - we've been leaning to one side or the other for a while until we found some kind of balance where I think we are pretty comfortable. EU is our major trading partner and with the acceptance of the country next year this should become stronger. All those years, even while it was collapsing, Russia has been a reliable energy supplier. Thankfully we did not break our relations with it during some too west leaning governments. Now we have relatively stable relations and I have not heard of many serious complaints from them misusing their monopolystic position. We were also allies with US in Iraq, but this changed recently - you know you should be watching for the rats leaving the ship...

Russia may not be imperialistic but it has certainly lurched away from Democracy and human rights under Putin.

The increased press censorship and what happened to Yukos are both pretty disturbing.

It is also not above meddling heavily in politics of its neighbours: supporting separatist groups in Georgia and cutting off Georgian exports, cutting off gas supplies to Ukraine and trying to influence the elections there, etc.

I know we are supposed to think long term and all that, but take a look at the price of a barrel of oil: it just broke the $60 floor and is heading lower.
Yeah, and just think of the explanations for the oil price surge given some months ago when you read this
Down- down - down it goes. Check out this Marketwatch article:{37AB3C1B-8432-48E6-9A8D-2451B4AF6530}&dist=bnb

Could we see $50 soon - the world is awash in oil. Maybe some areas ARE declining - but it sure look like others are more than making up the slack. Too much in fact.

I think at $70 we begin to see a lot of demand destruction among the poorer countries and at $50 we see capacity destruction everywhere, medium term, as producers begin to re-access their 2007 budgets - and perhaps start to delay large cap projects.  And don't forget that we're in the consumption low between driving and winter heating.
Watch the time frames. Prices are set by the marginal demand/supply which, at least in theory, is instantaneous. To translate some of the jargon marginal demand is just current consumption and marginal supply is just current production. Prices are going down because production is currently, and probably temporarily, greater than consumption. This temporary over production could continue for quite some time until the overproduction is reduced by an OPEC agreement, hurricanes decreasing supply, political unrest in production areas, or field depletion.

As oil production drops due to peak oil production being reached prices will probably go back up.

The problem is that this site has promising for a long time that production will go down - when in fact the oposite seems to be happening. All those graphs and spreadsheets look really nice - but maybe someone is leaving something out?
Maybe that is why Stuart has been so quiet lately?
Worldwide, I wonder if demand destruction might not be as hard as its cracked up to be.  At least for the first couple of years post peak.
OK, really good.

Azerbaijan and Kazahkstan oil will be headed to Europe, I think. At least, this makes the most sense cost-wise. Kashagan is delayed and problematic. However the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) megaplex is humming right along. The BTC is open and nobody has blown it up yet.

Generally speaking, the EU is closer to the import supply sources than we are in America ("land of the brave, home of the free, land of school shootings, etc.")

EU Oil Maritime Transport & Consumption
Click to enlarge

Have a good one -- Dave

Thanks for the map Dave - your right that BP operated ACG oil will be Euro bound through the BTC pipe - which is quite deeply buried - but emerges on the Med just N of Syria - where I heard the Russians are building a big naval base.  Also Total and BP have heavy presence in Angola - so I imagine a chunk of that will be heading our way too.  So where are you guys going to get your oil from?
Haven't you heard? We've got Jack. (double entendre intended)
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a drum of oil
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And the environment did spoil

2 Oct 2006

Excellent post Cry Wolf.

I myself have for some time argued that the EU are worse off than the US, as EU in total has less energy resources than the US (this includes oil, natural gas and coal).

Further I have argued tha EU will on a relative basis have an accelerating import need for energy as the sources in the North Sea dries up. The proximity to Russia and the Middle East could help facilitate future EU energy supplies. But I think this will come at a (political) cost, which few of the responsible within EU would like to talk loud about

Discussing this with a high ranking military (whose nationality I am not at liberty to disclose) who are responsible for CIMIC (Civil Military Cooperation, or something to that effect) and who is also aware of "Peak Oil", had for some time seen that the EU and US could find themselves in increasing competition in the same areas (Middle East) for the dwindling global supplies of oil (and natural gas) in the near future.

The link below

leads to an earlier post showing the projection for oil production from Denmark based upon HL together with actual data as of end 2005 from the Danish authorities. the URR based on HL for Denmark came out with 3,3 billion bbls.

The link below

leads to an earlier post showing the projection for oil production from Norway based upon HL together with actual data as of end 2005 from NPD (Norwegian Petroelum Directorate). the URR based on HL for Norway came out with 29 billion bbls.
The diagram in the post reflecting the projection of oil production from NCS based upon HL also includes the projection from NPD for the years 2006 - 2010.

Again CW, Thank you, this was an excellent and important post.

See my post on total EU energy consumption and production up the thread.
Hello Westexas

First of all I have for a long time considered your net oil import/export export model also as an important tool to understand how the increased oil prices redistributes the flow or net exports, which I like yourself expect will go into a steep decline in the near future.

The diagram (which has been based upon data from BP Statististical Review 2006) in the post behind the below link

shows the trend of the split between OECD, China and other net importers for the years 1985 - 2005.

Currently I am preparing a post (text in Norwegian, and with new diagrams with English text) that I plan to post in the near future. The post is about the net oil exports from the top 15 export countries that all had net exports of 1,0 Mb/d or more in 2005.

These 15 countries produced 61,9 Mb/d of a total of 81,2 Mb/d or 86 % of global oil production (BP data).
The same 15 countries had an estimated total net export of 40,3 Mb/d out of total estimated global net exports of 43,7 Mb/d or 92 %.

As BP does not give any consumption data for exporters like Angola, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria, I used country wise consumption data for these 4 as CIA World Fact Book publishes these.

As of 2005 (again based upon BP data) KSA, Russia and Norway had net exports of 18,7 Mb/d out of total net exports of 43,7 Mb/d or close to 43 % of global net exports.
EIA data for these 3 countries shows that for the 7 first months of 2006 average production is down approximately 300 Kb/d (crude oil, lease condensate and NGL's) compared to the same period of 2005.

I would expect consumption in KSA and Russia is growing due to increased revenues and general economical growth. Norway consumed 213 Kb/d in 2005, and as Norway is lightly populated I would not expect a significant increase in oil consumption through 2006.

One measure that I have found interesting is to look upon how energy intensive the various countries economies are, in other words how many dollars/euros/pounds are created from each TOE (Ton Oil Equivalent) or specific energy efficiencies.

Still the degree of self-sufficiency of energy will grow more important with time and also the (remaining) energy resources for every country. In my view increased imports of energy acts as a tax on the value creation for any country, and especially now with the latest price hikes.

Thanks NGM2, maybe you can cast some light on a couple of points.

The ramp up in Danish production late 90s - is that water injection on Dan and other chalk fields - that's what I'm speculating but don't know - what caused it?

Also on your link to the Norwegian HL curve - the OD have a production hike this year and next - any idea where that comes from - Skrebowski doesn't have any big Norwegian projects comming - and I believe you mentioned earlier that Troll west oil was declining at 20% per annum - and thats one of Norway's biggest producer now?

The UK DTI are also spreading propoganda now:

Ever thought of doing your web site in English?  I speak and read fluent Norwegian - but can't write it - or ingilish very well.

Again thx CW,

When it comes to Denmark I don't know the reason for the production ramp up, and I have a problem to locate the Excel file from DEA (Danish Energy Authority) that contains the production history for all Danish files including 2005. These data might shed some insight of the reason.
I will send you an e-mail later when I have located this file.


I don't know what justifies the production hike for NCS this year and next (2007) reflected in ODs (NPDs) latest forecast. And I pride myself to know a lot about this, as this is what I, among a lot of other things, presently consult on.

Alvheim will start to flow by summer 2007 and as you are aware of it takes time to build up to the planned plateau of 70 kb/d, which could be expected some time in 2008.
Fram East will start to flow this year and will build towards a plateau of 45 Kb/d by next year.
Volve will start to flow next summer and build towards a plateau of 50 kb/d by 2008.

In addition there are some minor developments that at best could totally add 75 kb/d in 2007 on an annual basis.
On an annual basis I would expect something like 50 kb/d from new developments/in fill drilling/improved recoveries in 2006 and an additional 150 - 200 kb/d in 2007.
These are all oil developments on NCS.

Presently the production on NCS is falling at an average rate above 20 kb/d every month, so it is hard to understand that the added production from new developments will fully offset the existing and (presently) accelerating decline from the maturing base on NCS.


I confirm that historical production data from NPD as of July 2006 documents an annual decline rate for the oil production from Troll of 20 % (20,3 % to be exact from July 2005 to July 2006). More details about Troll and the accelerating year over year decline in the linked post below with diagrams (in English)

What is scary is that the relative year over year decline rate is presently accelerating for most of the fields on NCS.

Presently Troll is the third largest producing field on NCS, with 194 kb/d, based on average daily output for the 7 first months of 2006, behind Ekofisk and Grane.
Yes, I have discussed with my associates with whom I developed the Norwegian web site to start writing in English (as my Latin presently is pretty lousy ;-)). This site and the blog associated with the site has helped increase interest and awareness of "Peak Oil" and other energy related matters in Norway.

A different approach could of course be to write for an established English site.

CW, as I wrote in my reply to Westexas I am now in the process of completing a post (in Norwegian) about developments in global net oil exports and how the price increases (for oil) is redistributing the oil flow between OECD, China and other importers. This post also includes a lot of hard facts and statistics, and I could notify you when it is posted and as you read Norwegian, and if you (and The Oil Drum/The oil Drum UK) are interested I am willing discuss a translation of subject post (into English) and then we could post it on TOD/TOD UK as a "test".

How about that?

And CW, I like my new acronym NGM2 and is now considering adopting it.

Energimann or NGM2

Hello NGM2,

Personally I think it would be a great idea if you wrote a guest post - but I am pretty new here and these decisions lie with the TOD bosses, Prof Goose and Chris Vernon.  I sent you an email - which I hope you got.

Back to Norway production.  Ormen Lange is due to come on soon?  Do you know how much NGLs will be produced there?

You shoud write to the OD and ask where they see all that new production comming from.  I will write to the UK DTI with same question - re Buzzard arresting UK decline for 3 years!



I've got your e-mail and I am in the process of preparing a reply, but it could still take me a day or two.

With regard to the gas field Ormen Lange it is scheduled to come on stream Oct 2007, and will gradually build towards an annual plateau of 20 Gcm by contractual year 2009 (which starts Oct.1 2009), according to presented plans.

I don't have any data of NGL production, but according to NPD's resource accounting at end 2005 the Ormen Lange field contained initially;
Natural gas:    375,2 Gcm (G; GIGA or Bcm as most English prefer)
Condensate:     22,1 Mcm  (M; MEGA or more commonly million)  

This translates into an initial GOR (Gas Oil Ratio) of close to 17 000 Cm/Cm (if I have done my math) suggesting a very dry gas, in other words at 20 Gcm/a, or more precisely closer to 18 Gcm/a (as the Buyers over a year takes approximately 90 % of design capacity or 90 % ACQ (Annual Contractual Quantity).

Using initial GOR and a plateau of 18 Gcm/a this suggest a daily production of 18 - 20 kb/d condensate from the fall of 2009 from Ormen Lange. Normally the GOR increases with time for gas fields.

Yes, I have discussed/considered to take an initiative towards OD (NPD) to get a clarification from them about where they see all this new future oil production is to come from.

It could be that they are about to implement new revolutionary technology on NCS that will reverse the decline rates on the mature fields. What do I know! ;-)


Here's the UK DTI oil production "forecast".

I'm going to pursue this one.  Do you have a conatct name at the OD who prepares their forecast data?  I just find it amazing that these government organisations can produce this kind of crap - and it is crap for the very reason that their 2006 forecast has a 29% range.

So if its not Ormen Lange - what is it?  Kristin / Lavrans - pretty small fry I believe.

Revolutionary technology - Hugo Chavez is your man :-))

I presently don't have a contact name at OD.
The range you describe tells it all, doesn't it?
Kristin started to flow last fall and is building towards plateau, but NPD doesn't report oil, but condensate presently from Kristin.
Lavrans is dry gas i.e. high GOR and thus small quantities of liquids, and presently there has not been submitted a formal development plan for Lavrans.

By the way both STATOIL (last Friday) and Norsk Hydro (today) have during the last week revised down their production forecasts for 2006 (STATOIL also for 2007 down to 1,300 MBOE/D from 1,400 MBOE/D).

Hugo Chavez ? I honestly don't know, but perhaps pigs may soon start flying?


So the OD are revising upwards production forecasts while Statoil and Hydro - two of the biggest producers - are revising their forecasts down.
Absolutely CORRECT CW.

In one of mye posts on my site I published my forecast which is a "Bottom Up" approach with a forecast from HL, which is a "Top Down" approach and both mine and HL came out with a forecast of 1,6-1,7 Mb/d (regular oil) for 2010, whereas NPD's (OD's) forecast for 2010 from January 2006 is above 2,4 Mb/d.

THAT'S A DIFFERENCE OF 0,8-0,9 Mb/d!!! by 2010 (less than 4 years away) and time will tell, but giving that both STATOIL and Norsk Hydro are revising down their output guiding (forecast) for 2006/2007 something is strange here.

As you are very well aware of "Peak Oil " is all about capacity.


Europe has very very little domestic energy resource, and with the drop in the North Sea, it is falling fast.

I think the main resources left are brown coal in former East Germany, and coal in Poland.  Norway is of course an entirely separate issue (hydro and oil and gas!).

So we are down to nuclear, which we are scared of (except for the French), and renewables, if we choose to embrace them and make them work.

For transport, and heating, we are pretty much reliant on external oil and gas for the foreseeable future.

Expect to see us cuddling up to all kinds of unsavoury folk to guarantee our security of supply.

Surely the UK has a ton of coal left to exploit? I recall hearing some time ago that there was several decades worth still to be mined.
Oil's at $58.63

I'll just say that it is close enough for me to give Self Aggrandized Trader (aka SAT) his due.

Score. You're up One-Nil. Nice Job.

For everybody else - Stick Foot In Mouth.

I just hope he's right! $57 / 15 Nov - and that there's not an excursion into the 40s before then.  Still trying to ditch this buying on the peaks selling on the troughs strategy.
I ditched any strategies I had at $63. SAT is my man now. I don't make a move without him. I learned my lesson. I still gotta get you those hotel directions, don't I? I'll email you soon.
If memory serves, SAT was predicting $80 plus range next year.

I can see that.

I have to admit, I really had to hold myself back today.  I was itchy to start making some oil purchases once I saw it hit the mid-58's.  That's a great price.  If we get another bloodbath like we saw today, I'll be buying.  

I've been saying for a long time that I'm waiting for HUI to hit 260 before I start buying gold shares.  It closed today at 282, so we're getting close.  Just another 8% fall or so left for gold shares.

I'm not sure oil has another 8% left to fall.  I think it's gotten ahead of itself.  I'm sticking with a low of $57.

Once I start making purchases, I do it little by little.  Say, for example, HUI hits 260 and I start buying.  By the time it hits 250, I'm making my heaviest purchases, and even if it bottoms out at 240, or even 230, I make sure I still have money left to keep buying all the way down.  If, on the other hand, 260 turns out to be the bottom, I'm forced to buy the dips on the way back up.

No matter how you look at it, it's a lot better to be talking about buying oil now that it's at $58, rather than $78, or gold now that HUI is at 280, rather than 390.  

I'm getting antsy.  I haven't been long anything (other than TLT) for a while now.    


It starts to look like a plateau

So am I. But who cares about what I say? No, SAT is known for his $57 price. Where have you been?

I've got a response to that email you sent me on Russian production. Just give me some more time. I've been sidetracked. Sorry. I've got numbers. You're not wrong, but you need to include product exports. This is what will continually make you're work hard.

Some figures for Ireland.... (Population 4 million)

In the document: A Baseline Assessment of Ireland's Oil Dependence -in figure 3, it displays the historical growth in oil consumption in Ireland over the last 40 years.

The figures show it rose from 2 million tonnes per year from 1965 to just over 6 million tonnes per year in 1980, then a reduction to 4 million during the recession in the 1980s and starting rising again around 1989 from 4 million to approximately 9 million tonnes per year today.

This growth has paralled the growth in the number of cars in Ireland, which is included below along with the optimistic projection of growth in these by the National Roads Authority (NRA) who in calculating their estimates have taken no account of Peak Oil, but have based it largely on economic growth projections.

Year Cars
1976 551,117
1981 774,594
1986 711,087
1991 836,583
1996 1,057,383
2001 1,384,704
2006 1,661,655  (projections of growth by NRA from 2006 onwards )
2011 1,876,168
2016 2,028,235
2021 2,160,704
2026 2,262,455
2031 2,334,765
2036 2,389,788
2041 2,433,164

Ireland since the mid 90s has undergone rapid and high economic growth and it is a very very car dependent culture now. The property boom still in full swing has contributed to massive urban sprawl, combined with the building of motorways and large shopping malls, both of which have encouraged ever more driving. The public transport system has largely been underfunded and give some token attention, although recently the capital Dublin got a new tram system, although it is not near enough.

Even though Ireland is the home of Dr Colin Campbell, the issue of Peak Oil and its awareness has not impacted very widely amongst the public at all. Ireland is very dependent on its energy for imports particularly for transport and so is highly vulnerable.

Terence, thanks for your input here.  Its a bit of an eye opener to see such high per capita consumption among many of the smaller EU countries.  Urban sprawl and car dependency - how did you guys manage to achieve that?
Short answer matey, your money!

Ireland had the highest level of EU subsidy for years: both to farmers, and for road construction.

Ireland's excellent infrastructure, which is part of what attracted so many multinationals (along with a highly educated workforce, and 10% corporate tax rates) was built largely with EU money (about 2% of GDP for 20 or so years I believe).

It's now almost the richest country in Europe, I believe.  The new challenge is that after 1979, birth control became widely available, so Ireland is going through the demographic maturation that the rest of Western Europe has already gone through-- right now they are in the sweet spot with few dependents (old or young) and a large labour force.

Cars came naturally to this and suburbanisation. They are late arrivals to this game, but the last 10 years the mushrooming of shopping malls and highways has been impressive, to say the least.

From one perspective this is money well spent.

Only been to Dublin once, 15 pints of Guiness and two bottles or red - and I had a presentation to make to the Exploration Manager of Enterprise Oil the following morning - maybe that's why I'm sitting here now?

Corrib Gas Field - another one of these one-off discoveries to the west of the British Isles.

> one-off discoveries to the west of the British Isles

A question about Icelandic off-shore possibilities.  Volcanoes and oil do NOT mix, but there has been occasional interest in drilling (but no drilling) on the outer edge of Icelandic waters.  Is there any real hope of finding anything economic ?


Alan, Iceland is a hot spot on the Atlantic mid-ocean ridge - oceanic as opposed to continental crust.  I think virtually 100% of oil and gas occurs in continental crust.

One of the first things you need is a kerogen rich source rock - formed in anoxic conditions in the continental environment - I could go on but enough said.

The Faroes are a different matter - they are volcanic, related to the rifting of the Atlantic ocean - and sit in continental crust.  Problem there is that the prospective sediments lie under thick basalts (erupted lavas) and it is difficult to see through this with seismic.


Urban sprawl came natural because owning your own house in Ireland is a very big thing and as far as I know ownership rates are one of the highest in Europe.

Besides for many years we have had a centre right government and combined with the cultural backdrop, anything Green is looked on with suspicion and thought in terms of the hippy type. Along with years of planning corruption which has been exposed in a series of never ending tribunals, sustainable solutions and ways of living were never going to get a look in. There is too much money to be made building roads etc. Actually we had tram lines in Dublin closed down in the late 1950s and this occured at the same time car companies set up car factories in Ireland -now long since gone. I have often wondered did these tram lines get closed down behind the scenes by the car companies in the same way as tram lines were closed earlier in the USA cities.

Some other facts are. We have very good wind resources and with national electrical capacity at 4400 MW with wind capacity at around 350 MW. I recall that the latest figures show wind providing around 6 to 7% of electrical power. And there is more capacity coming onstream.

On oil, we have no resources although in the 1970s there was exploration done off a fair amount of the coasts -but see paragraph below. We had a gas field off the South called Kinsale that provided quite a lot of gas during the 80s and early 90s and this all spurred the growth of domestic use of gas for heating. In recent years a fair amount of Natural Gas electrical capacity was added (~1800 MW) which often was oil power stations being converted. Oil powered electrical production is around 860 MW. Note most figures comes from the national electrical supply board, the ESB ( But back to gas, there is a smaller field near Kinsale, called the Seven Sisters that produces a reasonable amount. I think of the order of 30% but can't be sure.

Corrib Gas off the west coast of Mayo has yet to come onstream and was planned to start in the next year or two and would probably supply around ~50% of our gas until 2020 when it will run out. All the rest of gas comes via pipeline from the UK and presumably from North Sea. And in 2020, we will be well past everyones estimate of Peak Oil and Peak Gas too. We will be plunged into the very worst of things then, if events elsewhere have not alreayd unfolded and serve to cut demand and help us power down more slowly.

Currently Ireland being a military weak (and corrupt) country has caved into Oil multinationals and has more or less given Corrib Gas away. Over the years politicians gladly reduced taxes and royalities to almost zero. Corrib Gas is now owned by Shell/Statoil. And the government will now have to buy it's own gas back at market prices! So unlike Russia who are rightly seizing back their chief assests right now, Ireland is avoiding conflict with these giants and in recent days has instead put the resources of the state security at their disposal to deal with protestors to the gas terminal in Mayo. (See or )

There has been persistent rumors for years -since the 1970s that the oil companies did in fact find oil reserves off the west of Ireland but decided to sit on them until the future when conditions changed. Officially they said they found nothing, but there was a big controversy at the time, when they removed all Irish workers from all the exploration rigs. Now with the construction of the gas terminal on land in Mayo, the speculation is that this is the trojan horse and it will be used for these other un-announced oil finds nearby. Time of course will tell.

On the gas situation there is a good documents with graphs and figures on the Feasta website about the gas supply situation in Ireland. It is called: HOW WILL WE HEAT OUR HOMES WHEN GAS GETS SCARCE at

Lastly there has been talk lately of bringing a program for biodiseal and farmers are getting excited by the prospect, and some other vague nosies, but since actions speak louder than words and the bulk of money is continuing to go into motorways, I would definitely think Ireland is NOT spending its money wisely and each year is making itself more and more vulnerable and unprepared for the post Peak Oil world.


Peat is the answer.

If you get gas from the UK - then already that will come from Norway or Holland or Russia - via the UK.

Kinsale Head has been the only main viable HC project in Ireland.  The adjacent Seven Heads gas field has been a disaster.  As was Conemmara - poor reservoir quality.

When the big EU economies hit the buffers this could have a bad knock on effect to the smaller beneficiary states - but as I said a prosperous Ireland has been a good thing.  Long may it last.

The Irish miracle : from the late Neolithic to the seven-euro latté in less than a generation!
On the gas situation there is a good documents with graphs and figures on the Feasta website about the gas supply situation in Ireland. It is called: HOW WILL WE HEAT OUR HOMES WHEN GAS GETS SCARCE at

Listening to the Travel program on BBC Radio 4 this am, there ws a discussion about providing Ruandans with Silicon based technology to provide electricity for cooking... to replace scavenging for wood.

Why not show them to grow Eucalyptus which matures as 90 ft trees in 9 years in South America ? Perhaps this is a route for Ireland ?

Drastic change takes unreasonable people, with unreasonable goals, and unreasonable methods.  When the ship's in a storm, you just better damned well hope the Captain knows what he's doing, because it isn't something one can vote on.

Maybe we can change the world fast enough, and in time.  But I'm not optimistic.