Wednesday, August 31, 2005

labor day

I'll be on vacation for the next few days, through the American holiday of Labor day.

Here are a few of my favorite sites to check out for the duration:

Peak Energy Aussie
The Oil Drum
The Energy Bulletin

Uncertainty swirls in the wake of the Hurricane as I prepare to take my leave.

What is the fate of New Orleans? The major Ports?
How much oil production was taken out?
How many Oil Rigs are floating free? Seven? Twelve?

Noting that Deffeyes has predicted a peak date of November, 2005, and Matt Simmons expects the peak any time: If enough oil production infrastructure was destroyed or damaged by the hurricane, say, 400,000 barrels a day, and if it takes more than a few months to get it all back (as seems likely) --

-- Peak Oil may have hit the globe when the Gulf rigs were evacuated.

Strange. Are we ready? Are you ready?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

There be Awl under that there bridge!

Two rigs appear to be drifting and another rig that was in a dock in Alabama broke free of its restraints and collided with a bridge downriver (of the more than half of the 231 offshore rigs currently working in the Gulf were in Katrina's path) but according to TOD there are at least 6 rigs on the loose. Rigzone has a special report on the damage.\

Via Peak Energy Australia -- A wrap up of the effects so far. Meanwhile, New Orleans is steadily taking on water.

Monday, August 29, 2005

the gulf coast

Not to minimize the local, human side of the hurricane story, but some quick facts about this region from an energy perspective could prove very important in the coming weeks:

Approaching Storm Slows Oil Output in Gulf of Mexico
Gasoline prices for consumers may climb further as refining capacity is stretched by the storm. Chalmette Refinery, which is about 10 miles east of downtown New Orleans and processes 190,000 barrels of oil a day, shut down over the weekend. Calls to officials at Chalmette, a venture between Exxon Mobil and Petróleos de Venezuela, went unanswered on Sunday. Valero Energy said it was shutting down its St. Charles refinery in Louisiana, and Chevron was shutting down a refinery in Pascagoula, Miss., Bloomberg News reported.

Elsewhere, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the nation's largest oil-importing terminal, 19 miles off the coast of Louisiana, stopped receiving crude oil from supertankers on Sunday. Altogether, about 6.5 million barrels of crude oil a day are imported along the Gulf Coast, largely to ports in Louisiana and Texas, while roughly 1.5 million barrels of oil a day are produced in domestic waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Roughly, the region is an entry point for 1/3 of the daily oil supply for the United States.

While I am not suggesting by any means that the entire Gulf Coast will be affected, strictly in terms of infrastructure, a significant portion of the United States oil supply could be "gone" for weeks, months, or longer. Ten percent gone for at least a month wouldn't surprise me, just as Americans are driving towards gasoline day, (also known as Labor Day).

Call it Psuedo-Peak. The temporary effects will be about the same.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

unintended hurricanes redux

As much as I joke and kid on this blog, the weather unfolding in the Gulf simply is not funny.

Currently, Sunday Aug 28th, 2005 Katrina is a category 5 hurricane "(rivalling) Camille of 1969" -- heading into the heart of gulf oil production.

They are keeping a tight watch of the story at The Oil Drum -- I recommend their analysis.

Friday, August 26, 2005

oh, you humanity!

Very funny peak oil related site that I highly recommend, (See sample post below...)

Lemmings on the Ledge

More notes from the LIGHT* underground:

(Lemming Institute of Geo-rooted Thinking)

Oh you Humanity !!

Oh your Hubris !!

In the 1930's, you humans started building a network of Zeppelins to carry yourselves haughtily about the planet. The venture ended in a fiery disaster.

Around the same time, you humans began to rely on oil extracted from the underground to carry yourselves and your food stuffs swiftly about the planet. That venture too will end in a spectacular disaster.

Many of your experts already warn you of the Petro Plunge that is coming. Yet you deny and defy all logical arguments with cliff-noted cliches.

"It's carried us this far and it will carry us further," you say.

Guess what? That's what the passengers on the Hindenburg said.

detroit style

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Kudlow, Keeping it $urreal

Permit me to take a contrarian view on the oil price shock. I say three cheers for higher energy prices. Why? Because I believe in markets. When the price of something goes up, demand falls off (call it conservation) and supply increases (call it new production). We're seeing a tectonic shift.

As Dan Yergin has advised us, energy supplies in the next few years will explode. Now the public is even favoring nuclear power. And the government is stepping out of the way by giving FERC the authority to override localities who oppose nuclear power, liquefied natural gas or other forms of energy.
So supply will rise exponentially in the years ahead, demand will slow a bit and we'll all live happily ever after. The moral of this story: markets work if you let them.

Argh! Whack! Whack! Whack! (MonkeyGrinder dents his forehead on a brick wall.)

Gotta watch these politcal animals. Peak oil is not the primary narrative being spun in the mainstram media, best efforts of Matt Simmons notwithstanding. The Oil Drum has a discussion that touches on this as well.

I am certainly surprised to hear Yergin admit energy supplies will explode. Must be in the $2500 dollar CERA report, and not the abstract. Which energy supplies are set to ignite? The earnestly manic Kudlow doesn't say, but most likely, it is the LNG terminal closest to where you live.

KABOOOM!!! Hate to see it, probably true.

Saint Jerome, keeping it real.

I saw a reference to oil expert Craig Smith in Richard Daughty's latest article, in regards to rising oil prices. I took a look at the abstract for his upcoming book, Black Gold Stranglehold.

In Black Gold Stranglehold, Jerome Corsi and Craig Smith expose the fraudulent science that has made America so vulnerable: the belief that oil is a fossil fuel and that it is a finite resource. This book reveals the conclusions reached by Dr. Thomas Gold, a professor at Cornell University, in his seminal book The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels (Copernicus Books, 1998) and accepted by many in the scientific community that oil is not a product of fossils and prehistoric forests but rather the bio-product of a continuing biochemical reaction below the earth's surface that is brought to attainable depths by the centrifugal forces of the earth's rotation.

Jerome Corsi explores the international and domestic politics of oil production and consumption, including the wealth and power of major oil conglomerates, the manipulation of world economies by oil-producing nations and rogue terrorist regimes, and the shortsightedness of those who endorse expensive conservation efforts while rejecting the use of the oil reserves currently controlled by the U.S. government.

Good heavens. Saint Jerome Corsi, paid liar and all around greaseball has found a sustainable, non-finite source of oil amongst the seminal soaked pages of Thomas Gold's masterwork?

Well, knock me over with a feather. Apparently, in upside down world, Thomas Gold DID impregnate science.

This nonsense is driven by the same cabal of Corporate - Statist think tanks which might try to sell property in Alaska -- (It is warm there now! Global Warming is a Boon!) -- without mentioning the swarms of ravenous bugs, buckled roads, and sinkholes.

Were it to stop at gooey re-hashing of Thomas Gold's theory, this book would be silly enough.

Saint Jerome is not one to be deterred -- he cranks out books faster than some people use toilet paper. Atomic Iran, anyone? (Queue spooky atomic music.) He excoriates those who endorse conservation -- which makes PERFECT sense if you live in upside down world, wherein the oceans are not acidic from carbon uptake, and the oil bubbles afresh out of the ground, in the magical quantity of 84 million barrels at present, and (est.) 110 barrels a day in 2020.

Corsi also notes there are untapped reserves, which is true. Stack these reserves up end to end and they might run the U.S. for a few years, if extraction isn't too expensive. (The California Coast, ANWR, etc.) Is that the answer? Three more years of burnin' oil, and then "expensive" conservation? So what, Jerome?

Expensive, for our civilization, is allowing fools such as Saint Jerome to ramble unchecked.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

the answer is D, none of the above

I got a kick out of this title, as the content of the article simply didn't bear out the promise. (And thanks to reader James Moe for the tip):

Easing gas pains with new fuels
Alternative energy may effectively combat rising prices

(B)ut in the short run, believe it or not, all that people can do is try to curb their discretionary driving and in effect, react to the high prices by consuming less.
But (ethanol) is more expensive than conventional fuels and it does require taxpayer subsidy.
Nuclear energy doesn’t have much to do with transportation (...) I’m somewhat skeptical that that will happen is natural gas prices come down, because of liquefied natural gas, and then I think most new power plants be natural gas.

So, you heard it first, from the professional expert:

Ethanol requires subsidies.
Nuclear energy doesn't help move cars around.

And then, the magic white whale of LNG is proposed, which is fine in certain respects, but again something of a non-sequiter as a way to "ease gas pains."

Maybe maalox will power our future.
Meanwhile, the price of gasoline will continue to climb.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

the id barks again

The Id (Latin, "it" in English, "Es" in the original German) represented primary process thinking — our most primitive need gratification type thoughts. The Id, Freud stated, constitutes part of one's unconscious mind. It is organized around primitive instinctual urges of sexuality, aggression and the desire for instant gratification or release. Freud borrowed the term Id from the "Book of the Id" by Georg Groddeck, a pathfinder of psychosomatic.

Everyone in the world, including my favorite peak bloggers mobjectivist and big gav have picked up on the latest blood soaked spittle from Pat Robertson.

From the August 22 broadcast of The 700 Club:
ROBERTSON: There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
PSST! Hey Pat! I know Jesus said -- "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household." (Matthew 10:34-36, NASB) -- but certain facts need to remain occulted from the sheeple!

In particular, one shouldn't expect a fruit basket from the neo-cons this year if one persists in dragging oil into the picture; oil has NOTHING to do with bringing democracy to Venezuela, just as it has NOTHING to do with bringing democracy to Iraq. So it is written. Don't slip up again, Pat, or someone might get covert on your ass.

Clearly what has happened here is Pat Robertson is so old and addled that information about the world that should be suppressed from the masses is instead blabbered out to the wide-eyed faithful that compose his audience, perhaps stunning them into writing another check for the ministry.

Now, beyond the fact that covert operations aren't covert when Ol' Scratch shouts them from the mountaintop, "taking out" world leaders is generally known to be a risky proposition. Imagine the blowback if for example Hugo Chavez chokes on a pretzel next week and dies. A disgruntled human not allied to Pat Roberston and his Earth-bound masters may decide to string Pat Roberston up by his balls, and his family too. Global politics can be tricky.

Anyways, I was so interested by this statement from Pat Robertson that I thought I would call up his terrorist compatriot Osama bin Laden and get his comments:

MonkeyGrinder: "Hi O.B. -- What do you think of this call to assassinate a foriegn leader, by the God-fearing Pat Roberston?"

Osama Bin Laden: "In today's wars, there are no morals, and it is clear that mankind has descended to the lowest degrees of decadence and oppression. What did Hugo ever do to the U.S. but call names and kick out bankers?"

MG: "So -- Pat is a terrorist, but he is fighting for the other side? "

OBL: "Don't misrepresent me, you snaggle-toothed goat! Pat is allied with the America, in word if not deed. I act for Muslims, and I would agree with Pat Robertson when he says `America is polluting the whole world.'"

MG: "Is oil a good reason for a man of faith to assassinate another man?"

OBL: "Not really. Rare to hear it so openly - have you noticed how the media strives to keep the people occupied with minor matters, and to stir their emotions and desires until corruption becomes widespread among believers?"

MG: "I had noticed that. Which American news outlets do you follow?"

OBL: "Fox News is most helpful to my cause. The American people have put themselves at the mercy of a disloyal government (...) The American government is leading the country towards hell, and Fox News is an instrument of that leadership, and Pat Robertson a poodle of that leadership."

MG: "Do the ends justify the means?"

OBL: "Are we talking about infidels?"

sucker bet

The $10,000 Question via New York Times
I don't share Matthew Simmons's angst, but I admire his style. He is that rare doomsayer who puts his money where his doom is.
After reading his prediction, quoted Sunday in the cover story of The New York Times Magazine, that oil prices will soar into the triple digits, I called to ask if he'd back his prophecy with cash. Without a second's hesitation, he agreed to bet me $5,000.
I didn't try to argue with him about Saudi Arabia, because I know next to nothing about oil production there or anywhere else. I'm just following the advice of a mentor and friend, the economist Julian Simon: if you find anyone willing to bet that natural resource prices are going up, take him for all you can.

I predict Julian Simon is going to be rolling around in his grave, sooner rather than later. This macho man throwdown will prove a bridge too far for the cornucopian set.

Oil isn't Joe Random natural resource; oil is that which digs copper and tin out of the ground, melts it, and transports it. Oh, you thought people did that? The guy with the hard hat? Oil production peaks whether or not one knows "next to nothing about oil production".

John Tierney gave Simmons his due in this column, but from the start framed it as an "issue" which could be spun into a useless confection of empty rhetoric wherein he praised the past acumen of his mentor; slavishly following the form without realizing that there may be limits in the world. Something to entertain the grandchildren with when the doomers were proved wrong yet again.

Would that we be so lucky.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

backwards facing people

Engineer Poet poses the question:
Yemen is a very sunny country, and the same things (solar technology) should work there too. They aren't using them. Is it cultural factors, the Yemenis just don't grasp what's going on, or has nobody tried?

The question encapsulates a description of human limitations.

Technically adept, science fiction readin' blackberry typin' Westerners have almost as much trouble understanding Yemenis as they have understanding us.

Human thinking is bounded in practical terms by experience.

A liberal arts education (not necessarily formal) gives one a sense of alternatives. One step past thoughtful imagination is the ability to follow through on something new and different, something which may fall outside the expectations of a given culture. Technical or scientific training can certainly bootstrap “out of the box” thinking in a free society.

In Yemen, building a solar powered oven to bake bread is within the realm of possibility, but of course, there are in fact cultural, educational, and technical reasons why it doesn't happen. That wood is close at hand certainly doesn’t help. It is also culturally appropriate technology, even if self destructive.

Relating this back to the West, you often see discussions of alternative energy framed as if oil will be followed by SOMETHING, (some energy source) because that is how Westerners are enculturated. Westerners have a built in limitation in their thinking – there is a kind of faith that usable, potable energy will follow expectations and desire. See economists.

Technology that uses energy is often confused with technology that is energy positive. (In the relative sense of course, no one is holding their breath for a perpetual motion machine.) Ethanol is a good example of this, and it is destructive practice to boot. It would be better to let fields lie fallow than to soak all the minerals out of the ground in worship of liquid fuel.

The evidence on the ground for an impending energy glut is thin. Significant alternative infrastructure must be built and the world is quite close to Peak Energy. This isn’t bad news of itself. Conservation and equitable sharing of global energy resources could take the globe through the next thirty years in relative comfort.

Thirty years – gives us plenty of time to get the tokomaks fired up.

Friday, August 19, 2005

sulfur breath

Thursday, August 18, 2005

deer in headlights

PO sucks arse!
When I started looking into PO and learned what was going on, I sort of just sat on the road and watched them big bright lights get closer, then I kind of ran around in small tight circles yelling "fuck,fuck,fuck", now I just watch adverts for plasma screen tv's and hugh motor vehicles with bemusement. Im currently trying to work out things I should probably be starting to hoard, and wondering where I can get a firearm and when I should get one.

Amen, but don't forget to hoard things like a clued in circle of friends, good neighbors, and useful knowledge.

That said, this seems an interesting exercise -- compare the price of a random big screen plasma TV with some "Post Peak" items that might come in handy. Using US dollars, August, 2005.

Samsung 40" LCD HDTV (LN-R408D) -- $3999.99

Could instead buy:

Storable food for two, year supply -- $1200
Gasoline, 100 Gallons -- $270
Store of long lived food seeds -- $230
Weapons and/or Ammunition -- $800
100 ounces spending silver -- $800
Extra survival Gear -- $699.99

Side benefits:

Less time spent watching TV means more time spent raising awareness for Peak Oil, and thus potentially eliminating the need for the survivalist gear.

dog days

This should be a summer for Americans to remember.

Cheap gasoline, functional economy, and dead fish.

So, the fish are kind of an omnious harbringer of the high weirdness to come -- things to try and forget, for a few days at least, while one enjoys this last flood of energy washing over the world.

But really, if gasoline were to get expensive, and the economy were to stop functioning, (expanding credit requires expanding usable energy to sustain itself) --

-- strange things would happen.

Not to be corny-mystical. Rather, note, that when cherished cultural myths are tossed to the ground, and shatter as if they were hollow statues of Lenin, the best we can hope for is that times will be tough.

In more practical terms, expect a lull after labor day, when gasoline prices settle down from cheap to cheaper. Might be a good time to sock away some supplies for a rainy day.

Enjoy the summer. Fly somewhere exotic, where they don't hate Americans. (The planes will fly, until they don't. Take advantage.)

Sit on the grass.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

path of least resistance

Yemen - wood stoves booming via Energy Bulletin
The government’s recent move of raising prices of cooking gas has led the people in the countryside to resort to using wood for baking bread in their clay oven. The people there have decided to go back in taking care of planting trees as a source of charcoal used in cooking food and making tea.
Local sources have told the Yemen Times that the new tendency has been very necessary to dispense with gas-heated ovens especially the rise in prices of cooking gas from 200 riyals to 400 riyals and in some areas the gas cylinder price could reach at 70 riyals.

Come on, ye lazy citizenry of Yemen! Spit out that Khat! Where are the wind turbines? The nano-solar panels? Don't you think you could all chip in and buy at least one pebble bed reactor? The better to toast your goats like corndogs in the fryer! Also, for giggles, you could use open source software to track who has extra energy and then you could trade energy credits!

Instead, it is back to the trees. The Baobobs of Yemen -- making a small, pathetic comeback in the oil age, after they had largely been chopped to bits previously -- only to be targeted again, at the first whiff of trouble.

Trees are the last line of defense for sequestering carbon. If billions of people start targeting forests for fuel globally, humanity is in serious trouble.

Think of locusts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

turn that frown upside down

A wary Wal-Mart
On one hand, higher gas prices will continue to cut into the pocketbooks of Wal-Mart's predominantly low-to-mid-income customers.
At the same time, Schoewe said more expensive fuel was costing Wal-Mart more on the back end of the business, primarily to use its vast trucking fleet to move freight around the country to its stores.

Damn that Kunstler and his Negative Prognostications made so he could Sell Books.

Now beloved cornerstone of American enterprise is losing money.
If only Kunstler were an optimist, this wouldn't be happening.

Burn him at the stake, before he causes more trouble.

I guess oil is a fungible commodity

Venezuela ... says US market not vital
'We do not want to sever links with the US government, but if the attacks keep increasing, as they recently did, this will put at risk the relations between Venezuela and the United States,' Chavez said in a speech yesterday.

Chavez added: 'The two oil tankers that ship oil everyday to the United States might go somewhere else.'

I don't know much about Chavez, but I think someone should tell him that waving a red flag in front of an enraged bull is never a good idea.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

refined nonsense

Oil tops $67 as US demand soars
"The petrol and gasoline situation in the US is probably the most worrying factor at the moment," said Simon Wardell, at Global Insight. "It looks like it could be an ongoing problem, because a shortage of refining capacity is not something that can be resolved quickly."

In the world of energy psuedo-experts, the foolish idea that we are desperately short in refinery capacity has become entrenched. This idea makes little sense and is a good way to identify snake oil salesmen.

First, as SW points out,
All of those calling for a build out in refining capacity are bat shit crazy. You don't make an investment to process a raw material that will not exist by the time the project is completed. The world does not need to have the ability to refine 90 million barrels of crude oil per day because we will never produce 90 million barrels of crude oil per day. What does make sense is the conversion of some of our refining capacity to deal with the increasingly poor quality of the remaining crude oil.

However, further, if there really were a huge surplus of of oil, which COULD NOT BE SERVICED by refineries, than the price of a barrel of oil would likely drop. We'd be drowning in the stuff, natch. Millions of barrels of oil, morosely waiting to be refined into something useful.

This implied surplus is a myth.

The bean counters at the oil companies have built the exact refinery capacity that is needed. Sure, things get squeaky tight from time to time, but demand for oil (not gasoline; OIL) has not dropped and will not drop...

...but production sure will.

Friday, August 12, 2005

gas tax

In Washington State, where I live, a gas tax was recently passed in Olympia. The tax was about 10 cents a gallon -- and since it went into effect in July, the sharper folk of our fine state may have noticed gas prices rising by more than 10 cents due to good old market forces.

The tax may be short lived - the forces of populist buncombe have converged to repeal the law via state wide voter initiative 912. And maybe they are onto something, seeing as some money is earmarked for the pig-dog Alaskan Way Viaduct, and then again, maybe not.

I'll have more to say about the law - if it isn't repealed.

For now, this.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Would you like fries with that?

Via Past Peak, bad news about the permafrost, reprinted in full below.

It is hard for me to add anything, but wouldn't it be silly if nature had gifted us with just enough stored oil, methane and coal to kill the world? Just by a squidge, of course.

Idle speculation; we who plan on living at least 50 more years have our work cut out for us.

Put the gun down, chimp, the time for playing Russian Roullette has passed.

This is truly ominous news. Guardian:

A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today.

Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres — the size of France and Germany combined — has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" — delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures. [...]

The researchers found that what was until recently a barren expanse of frozen peat is turning into a broken landscape of mud and lakes, some more than a kilometre across.

Dr Kirpotin told the magazine the situation was an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming". He added that the thaw had probably begun in the past three or four years.

Climate scientists yesterday reacted with alarm to the finding, and warned that predictions of future global temperatures would have to be revised upwards.

"When you start messing around with these natural systems, you can end up in situations where it's unstoppable. There are no brakes you can apply," said David Viner, a senior scientist at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

"This is a big deal because you can't put the permafrost back once it's gone. The causal effect is human activity and it will ramp up temperatures even more than our emissions are doing." [...]

Western Siberia is heating up faster than anywhere else in the world, having experienced a rise of some 3C in the past 40 years. Scientists are particularly concerned about the permafrost, because as it thaws, it reveals bare ground which warms up more quickly than ice and snow, and so accelerates the rate at which the permafrost thaws.

Siberia's peat bogs have been producing methane since they formed at the end of the last ice age, but most of the gas had been trapped in the permafrost. According to Larry Smith, a hydrologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, the west Siberian peat bog could hold some 70 billion tonnes of methane, a quarter of all of the methane stored in the ground around the world.

The permafrost is likely to take many decades at least to thaw, so the methane locked within it will not be released into the atmosphere in one burst, said Stephen Sitch, a climate scientist at the Met Office's Hadley Centre in Exeter.

But calculations by Dr Sitch and his colleagues show that even if methane seeped from the permafrost over the next 100 years, it would add around 700 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year, roughly the same amount that is released annually from the world's wetlands and agriculture.

It would effectively double atmospheric levels of the gas, leading to a 10% to 25% increase in global warming, he said. [...]

"If we don't take action very soon, we could unleash runaway global warming that will be beyond our control and it will lead to social, economic and environmental devastation worldwide," he said. "There's still time to take action, but not much.

"The assumption has been that we wouldn't see these kinds of changes until the world is a little warmer, but this suggests we're running out of time." [...] [My emphasis]

It's all happening very quickly, much more quickly than anyone had supposed. As these feedback loops kick in (warming leading to feedback effects that increase warming that increases the feedback effects) the process may continue to accelerate rapidly, producing truly drastic changes on the scale of years rather than decades or centuries. The human consequences would be staggering.

Meanwhile, aboard the Titanic (which, as everyone knows, is completely unsinkable), the band plays on with mad abandon, and it's all engines ahead full.

Oil surges above $65

Wake me when it breaks $80.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

rumbles in the desert

Watching Saudi Arabia nerviously. The article below talks about "terrorists" and "militants" interchangeably. Sounds about right. For militants in Saudi, living off the land means sucking at the teat of light sweet crude, so there isn't much margin for error in their resistance.

Thus concerns about a coup and possible disruption of the oil supply are paramount, as a bevy of eighty year old princelings jockey for the throne.

Saudi fears send oil prices soaring
Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office also said there were "credible reports" that militants were planning attacks in the near future. It said British citizens in Saudi should maintain "the highest level" of vigilance.

The new price rise comes less than a week after the death of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia caused concerns that the kingdom could change its oil policy, despite analysts' predictions that there would be little alteration.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Postcards from the Pétrole Epoque V

March of the Pigs via SeattleOil (Wes)
In one application (WO 2005/015989 to be precise) Monsanto is describing very general methods of crossbreeding and selection, using artificial insemination and other breeding methods which are already in use. The main "invention" is nothing more than a particular combination of these elements designed to speed up the breeding cycle for selected traits, in order to make the animals more commercially profitable.
According to (Christophe) Then, "I couldn't belive this. I've been reviewing patents for 10 years and I had to read this three times. Monsanto isn't just seeking a patent for the method, they are seeking a patent on the actual pigs which are bred from this method. It's an astoundingly broad and dangerous claim."

The big wheel keeps on turning. This is the penultimate result of oil fueled globalist mythology enacted as consensus reality.

It is horse shit.

Like clutch of obdurate donkeys, Monsanto mercenaries with scientific training belch out technology that seeks to enslave farmers and consumers in a web of corporate controlled products.

Have a tasty slab of MonsantoPork. Slathered delightfully with a crust of liver destroying MonsantoCorn, salted with Dioxin.

Are similar products, long available in the global commons - Pigs, Corn, etcetera - slated for a round of MonsantoFlu? Who knows - if it isn't patented, it is fit for consumption only by socialists and other rabble.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

delectable oil sand morsels

What does it tell us that everyone in the world has a stiffie for the Canadian oil sands?

French firm snags oil sands project
"Total can go anywhere they want -- Russia, Venezuela, offshore West Africa -- and they've chosen to go after the oil sands of Canada," said Raymond James analyst John Mawdsley. "There's a good reason for that: political stability, huge resource base, known technology. It's something, frankly, that no other country in the world has to offer."
"It speaks to a huge vote of confidence in the long-term potential of the oil sands as a sustainable, dependable source of oil to global markets," said Ari Levy, a vice-president at TD Asset Management Inc.

The plot thickens in energy sector
Another subplot emerged this past week when China's CNOOC Ltd. scrapped an $18.5 billion takeover bid for U.S.-based Unocal Corp. over political opposition in Washington.
"You'll see them looking elsewhere, and Canada is the perfect place for them to be, given that the oil sands needs a lot of capital and has a long reserve life," Arif said. "That's exactly what the Chinese are looking for."

Last time I checked, natural gas had peaked in North America.

Are we getting a little desperate?

Last time I checked, it takes tremendous natural gas resources to produce tar sands oil.

Last time I checked, thirty odd natural gas terminals were on the drawing board for North America, and none had yet been built or even attained permits.

Fear and loathing, baby, fear and loathing. Maybe those ballooning stock prices mean all is well.

Friday, August 05, 2005

summer vacation

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Simmons on Bohai Bay

Eons ago, in January, Mobjectivist posted on recent Bohai Bay discoveries in China and I followed up. Finally, a quick postscript from Matthew Simmons:

Saudi Oil and the World Economy
Ottawa, Canada: There have recently been large oil discoveries in China's Bohai Bay. How do you see this affecting the oil supply situation over the next decade?

Matthew Simmons: The Bohai Bay is probably a very productive area but you're talking about fields that have production profiles of 50-100,000 barrels a day each and they're apparently not very long life reserves. So you'd have to have scores of them to replace the giant fields of Saudi Arabia.

Duality in Peak Oil discourse

I expect some of my ideas regarding Peak Oil to seem contradictory, especially were one to survey some random posts from Peak Energy. I will try and clarify why this is – and why it will continue.

The primary duality could be described by analogy to Schrodinger's cat: is the poor grass monkey in the box alive or dead? It is unknown until it is observed.

Peak Oil puts Western Civilization in a similar box. After all the Hypercars are dreamed and ethanol brewed, there is still no guarantee of a pulse twenty years down the line. To observe the outcome of our experiment is to finally determine it.

Our civilization will struggle forward, perhaps with better habits and a carbonated ocean, or it will collapse globally, local pockets of oil notwithstanding. There is no way to rationally assert an outcome at present.

The probability for a good outcome will naturally increase if active steps are taken to honestly frame and address our problems by an international coalition of governments. The Rimini Protocol is a good example of a positive idea. It might undergird our civilization, providing a stable platform for addressing global energy solutions.

The Rimini protocol is also a wild-ass crazy idea, entertained by certain holy fools, oil geeks, and few others. It describes a future unthought and unrealized by most people living in our civilization.

This goes to the core of Peak Oil duality as I perceive it. Oil is “built” into our civilization. Peak Oil could, even now, at this late date, be addressed with serious effort. Apollo like energy projects. Conservation plans: Jimmy Carter-esque mandates to stop being wasteful.

None of this is happening.

Oil Shock – via Richard Daughty
• The largest declines in oil production last year occurred in the U.S., where output fell by 160,000 barrels a day, and in Britain, where output declined by 230,000 barrels a day. We're near the bottom of the barrel for many of America's oil fields.
• America imports 58% of its oil -- and we import more and more oil all the time. In fact, U.S. oil imports jumped 5.3% last year over 2003, versus a 5% rise for the world. So our dependency on oil from people who'd like to kill us is increasing, and increasing faster than the global average.

Today's energy crisis is transforming the world -- from geopolitics to the financial markets to the gas pump to the price of 75% of everything you consume on a daily basis.
I'd like to be able to tell you that the U.S. government is doing everything it can to prepare for the coming energy emergency...but I can't. In fact, when I think about how little prepared this country is for the changes that are about to hit us, my hands automatically clench into fists. America is unprepared -- but YOU don't have to be.

So the duality can be expressed thusly: Regarding the post-peak era, good things could happen. But there is no evidence that they will.

Our civilization has a high level of complexity, driven by the present glut of energy. You can’t replace a river of oil with a can-do attitude and elbow grease. When you fly to Europe from the United States, approximately the same amount of energy is used as was expended in the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Individuals should prepare for the worst and work for the best. Duality.

Harmonizing these two outcomes can lead to some surprising conclusions. Most “knowledge workers” I know view investing in precious metals such as gold and silver hopelessly old fashioned and tainted by Y2K hysteria. Few suspect that in a few years, “intellectual property” will be about as valuable as an investment condo in a saturated housing market.

With or without the comfortable auspices of your local neighborhood supermarket, we’re entering a bull run for commodities. No one will lose their shirt on commodities if civilization sticks around with its bevy comfortable human interfaces. In fact, one should make a bundle, just as happened in the 1970’s.

If we ascend into anarchy, having a pile of doubloons gives one something to barter with besides personal labor potential.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

CNOOC bid dead

Chinese Company Ends Unocal Bid, Citing Political Hurdles
People familiar with Cnooc’s decision to pull out of the bidding say the Chinese company was reluctant to increase its own initial bid because Washington seemed unlikely to approve the deal and had even adopted legislation that would slow the approval process. Unocal’s board of directors had also done little to favor Cnooc, which is based in Beijing and is also known as the China National Offshore Oil Corporation.
“The way the U.S. government has treated Cnooc and politicized the deal will largely frustrate Chinese companies,” said Han Xiaoping, the chief information officer at Falcon Power Limited, an energy consulting firm based in Beijing. “The companies not only in oil but all other industries will no want to play the game by the U.S. rules.”

I had speculated that CNOONC would raise their bid. It didn't happen. Too much heat. It is certainly the case that oil is a strategic asset for any country, but the difficulty lies in the fact that the free tradin' United States will import Chinese goods, but won't allow China to convert these earnings into other valuable assets.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

shot across the bow

I've generally taken a skeptical view of massively increasing nuclear power to keep our future rolling. There are a lot of good reasons to avoid it; and the argument for it seems to be desperation. (As in, "Argh! We must have energy at any cost!") Similar reasoning explains why coal is now being flogged as the latest "gateway" energy source, a bridge to a hypothetical.

Peak Energy Australia spotted an Amory Lovins argument that nuclear is insolvent in both in terms of financial returns, and by implication energy returns.

Competitors To Nuclear: Eat My Dust
Whenever nuclear power's competitors (even just on the supply side) were allowed to compete fairly, they've far outpaced central stations. Just in 1982–85, California utilities acquired and or were firmly offered enough cost-effective savings and decentralized supplies to meet all demand with no central fossil-fueled or nuclear plants.
No wonder the world's universities have dissolved or reorganized nearly all of their departments of nuclear engineering, and none still attracts top students—another portent that the business will continue to fall, as Nobel physicist Hannes Alfvén warned, "into ever less competent hands,"

For me, the gold standard in evaluating nuclear would be an end to end lifecycle analysis of energy returned on energy invested. This turns out to be one of the most complicated energy research projects one could take on; it is beyond my means as a part time blogger. If anyone knows of such an analysis, please drop a comment.

However, I tend to think that in practical terms the high cost of nuclear implies that useful energy return is dubious, and carrying with it a toll of nuclear waste.

So I really value Amory Lovins analysis on this one - cannily playing to the market forces set using a comparison of the heavily subsidized nuclear industry and renewables.

Monday, August 01, 2005

the king is dead, long live the king

Oil hits record as Saudi king dies
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices shot to a record above $62 a barrel on Monday as the death of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, U.S. refinery outages and tensions over Iran's nuclear ambitions rattled the market.
Crown Prince Abdullah, who is Fahd's half brother and has been Saudi Arabia's de facto leader since Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995, was swiftly pronounced monarch of the world's largest oil exporter after Fahd died on Monday.

Oil prices can hardly be described as "shooting" to $62+ a barrel - more like dribbling to same. Given that oil should be priced at $100 a barrel, just so people stop taking it for granted, I would say the prices were remarkably stable today.

Meanwhile, the acting King, 82 years of age, is now the King of record. This is fine. As long as there is no coup. Civil war in Saudi is the last thing we need.